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ASI294MC camera

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#1 Stargazer3236

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Posted 14 August 2018 - 08:54 PM

I would like  to know: Would I benefit from getting a cooled camera instead of a non-cooled camera? I live on a tight budget and spending $1080 for the ASI294MC Cooled seems kinda out of reach. For $300 less, I can get the ASI294MC non-cooled. I live at a latitude where the nights are cool (typically, except for when we have heat waves and high humidity). My latitude is 42* north, up in Massachusetts, where we experience 4 seasons of weather. My Fall, Winter and Spring seasons are all relatively cool to cold starting in September through to early spring, with the crux in the middle of winter down in the 30's and 20's, but late Fall nights tend to dip into the 30's at night.

 

I know the TEC cooling of the camera would be useful in the summer, but the other three seasons would be fine without the TEC cooling, right?



#2 jgraham

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Posted 14 August 2018 - 09:17 PM

Good question. For over a decade I used uncooled cameras and they worked fine, particularly for the less demanding practices of EAA. Using the automatic dark subtraction function that Meade used for their DSI cameras and the automatic dark function of my Canon cameras let me keep going right through the warmest months of summer. Things would get a bit dicey when the sensor temperature climbed over 100F, but it was still very useable. Modern software like SharpCap will let you automatically substract darks and stacking will improve things even more, particularly if you have a bit of natural drift. So, with the right techniques and software you should be able to do fairly well using an uncooled camera for EAA.



#3 Alien Observatory

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Posted 14 August 2018 - 09:19 PM

I can not answer for all, but my experience is a non cooled cam will work very well, If matched with a reasonable aperture telescope ( + 8 ") and a Reasonable F ratio (F6.3 or lower).  It is not an issue with the planets and the moon or bright DSO's, but the faint stuff might show a lot of noise.  Stacking in SharpCap will also reduce the noise factor, but short exposures are needed (less than 20 seconds or so).

 

I am living in + 90 F temps and have been able to use and evaluate many non cooled ZWO Cams.  If you can afford Cooling....Great ....if not it should not a big issue...

 

Pat Utah smile.gif


Edited by Alien Observatory, 14 August 2018 - 09:26 PM.

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#4 Stargazer3236

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Posted 14 August 2018 - 09:55 PM

Thanks for your comments. I typically do not stack over 8 seconds and rarely go to 15 seconds, so I think I will be alright! I always use Sharpcap 3.1 Pro when I image DSO's, so I can subtract out a dark frame and I also use Sigma Clipping too.


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#5 selfo

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Posted 14 August 2018 - 11:56 PM

I don't have the experience of many of those in this forum but like you I went through a lot of hand wringing trying to decide if I want the extra expense and additional power needed for an cooled camera. Its not a problem if you observe from home but I travel to Dark sites and don't have access to electricity so additional power demands were a concern..  I don't have any experience using a cooled camera so I cant comment on its virtues but I have been very happy with my uncooled ASI 385.  I have been able to use 1 master dark taken at the beginning of the observing session and that seems to be adequate for the entire night.  Little or no amp glow visible.  That said its summer here in the mountains and the temperature fluctuations during the night are not nearly as high as what will occur in the Fall so I may need to do additional Darks over the course of the night .  Even so doing a Dark is no big deal. It only takes about 5 min.  

 

Just my 2 bits worth..

Stewart



#6 OleCuss

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Posted 15 August 2018 - 08:11 AM

Cooling is nearly always better in terms of imaging quality.  If you can reasonably get a cooled camera - do it.

 

But if it isn't reasonable, get the un-cooled.  Smaller, lighter, cheaper, less power-hungry. . .  All of those are good reasons why someone might choose not to get a cooled camera.  They can be compelling reasons. . .


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#7 FrankG

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Posted 15 August 2018 - 08:44 AM

I have the 294 PRO and find the image improves noticeably with the cooling operating, particularly as the evening goes on - winter and summer. The longer the exposure the more apparent improvement. I rarely do exposures more than 25 seconds.

Frank



#8 davidparks

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Posted 15 August 2018 - 11:15 AM

I will parrot what others have already said here:  Cooling won't make much (if any) difference with short exposures (<30s) as is typical in many EAA practices using stacking software.  Often (and typical) of EAA is the goal of enhancing your observation, that is to say, the live viewing.  EAA is not necessarily the production of high quality images, although images are often saved and shared.  For producing higher quality images, generally longer exposures are used (>60s), and cooling definitely makes a difference.  Not just in the noise reduction of cooler vs. warmer, but also to keep the sensor at a constant and fixed temperature, which is repeatable, and calibrates easily over time  (or many nights).

 

I love EAA for many reasons smile.gif not least of which is that you can accomplish so much with very modest gear, and I'm all for keeping things simple waytogo.gif Uncooled cameras are not just 'fine' but achieve fantastic results.

 

Like most things in this passion, it all depends on what you want to do with the camera, how you want to use it, what other gear you are using, and what direction you may seek in the future.  Should you ever have an interest in guided longer exposures, you'll probably want the cooling.  Also to consider, is the ASI294 cooled has a built in 2 port USB2 hub, which also uses the power connection, to run additional gear.  Utilizing this on-cam-usb-hub, I connect my guidescope cam (ASI290mini), and Sesto Senso robotic focuser, so that I only need 1 usb3 cable connection to my computer.  (others might connect a filter wheel, or other items)


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#9 RazvanUnderStars

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Posted 15 August 2018 - 10:19 PM

If budget is a consideration, think that any camera bought today will become obsolete technically in, say, 2 years. So one thing you could do is to buy the uncooled version now, save some money, enjoy it fully while improving the technique and if/when the time comes to upgrade it, you'll decide based on the budget situation then.


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#10 nic35

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Posted 16 August 2018 - 08:53 PM

Take a look at the dark current charts for the 294. It becomes an issue as temperature increases.

Darks can be used, but you need to be careful about matching the darks to your imaging temperature.

I observe in MA and am glad to have bought the cooled version. I suspect I would have been frustrated with the uncooled version, as I am with my uncooled rt224.
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#11 DonBoy

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Posted 18 August 2018 - 08:59 PM

There is a new ZWO Native driver that changes the Dark Current values  that make it as low as other ZWO cameras.


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#12 ippiu

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Posted 19 August 2018 - 02:38 AM

There is a new ZWO Native driver that changes the Dark Current values  that make it as low as other ZWO cameras.

Download link, please?



#13 RazvanUnderStars

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Posted 19 August 2018 - 06:52 AM

The general download link is https://astronomy-im...oftware-drivers, there's a single driver for all ASI cameras. The change log for the Windows driver is below. As it doesn't say anything about the dark current, I hope Don will provide the details about the dark current feature. 

 

v3.0.0.5  2018.08.17
-------------------------------------
- add 120MC-Mini,183GT,1600GT,4300

v3.0.0.4  2018.05.04
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- add 120MM-Mini

v3.0.0.3  2018.01.22
-------------------------------------
- add 1600GT

v3.0.0.2  2017.10.12
-------------------------------------
- add 294MC
- fix driver date


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#14 Rick Evans

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Posted 31 August 2018 - 04:14 PM

I have a 294MC pro I use for DSO imaging. My imaging is in latitudes 38 and 42. Keeping the temperature constant for dark frame subtraction as well as lowering noise is the main benefit I get from cooling.

 

However, if your primary interest is EAA observation you'll likely do fine with the uncooled camera.  The 294MC has great sensitivity and when using SharpCap with Display Histogram set to Auto Stretch On it  easily shows many DSOs with short exposures. And, you can bin for higher sensitivity.


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#15 Stargazer3236

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Posted 31 August 2018 - 11:37 PM

I just purchased the 294MC non-cooled from High Point Scientific on Friday. I am awaiting delivery for Tuesday. I normally use dark frame subtraction, histogram stretch, sigma clipping and short exposures to capture my DSO's.

 

Lately, I have been using my AT60ED F/6 apo refractor for wide field shots. I am working on a little project to turn my Meade F/6.3 reducer/corrector into a usable reducer on my AT60ED. Going from F/6 to F/4 is my goal. I just ordered some adapters to make this work on my Apo refractor. If this works, I won't need to buy a dedicated 0.8 reducer/flattener from Astronomics and save myself about $100 in the process.

 

Possibly in the next few months, I am buying the Sky Watcher 100mm F/9 ED apo refractor as a planetary imaging scope.



#16 mvas

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Posted 07 September 2018 - 08:17 PM

There is a new ZWO Native driver that changes the Dark Current values  that make it as low as other ZWO cameras.

Is there a document that explains how the latest ZWO Native Driver reduces the Dark Current values?



#17 glend

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Posted 09 September 2018 - 12:21 AM

It would be worth reading through the threads related to the uneven cooling characteristics of the ASI294, including the Beta Test thread. And really the time to research this is before you buy.  The 294 sensor cannot be cooled in the way other ASI cameras, and has to use an undersized TEC. Suggest you read threads like this:

 

https://www.cloudyni...uneven-cooling/



#18 mclewis1

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Posted 09 September 2018 - 07:51 AM

None of which have any really negative impact on using the camera for EAA observing.



#19 mvas

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Posted 09 September 2018 - 10:17 AM

It would be worth reading through the threads related to the uneven cooling characteristics of the ASI294, including the Beta Test thread. And really the time to research this is before you buy.  The 294 sensor cannot be cooled in the way other ASI cameras, and has to use an undersized TEC. Suggest you read threads like this:

 

https://www.cloudyni...uneven-cooling/

I have read that thread, but it does not answer my question:

" ... Is there a document that explains how the latest ZWO Native Driver reduces the Dark Current values? ..."

 

per DonBoy in msg #11, of this thread.


Edited by mvas, 09 September 2018 - 10:20 AM.


#20 mvas

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Posted 09 September 2018 - 10:21 AM

None of which have any really negative impact on using the camera for EAA observing.

I was hoping to use the ASI294MC-COOL for both EAA & Imaging



#21 BJS

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Posted 09 September 2018 - 12:00 PM

Perhaps you should go ask that question in the ZWO forums on their website?  I am sure Sam can answer it.  Have not seen any answer here on CN's.



#22 mvas

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Posted 09 September 2018 - 03:27 PM

Perhaps you should go ask that question in the ZWO forums on their website?  I am sure Sam can answer it.  Have not seen any answer here on CN's.

I already have a PM sent to ZWO.
I am waiting for a reply

Since DonBoy had posted here, I was hoping he had more information about how this happened  ...


Edited by mvas, 09 September 2018 - 03:31 PM.


#23 BJS

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Posted 09 September 2018 - 04:35 PM

Don has said nothing since posting that reply.  Perhaps you can catch him broadcasting on NSN and ask him directly?  He may not know any more than what he said?



#24 OleCuss

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Posted 09 September 2018 - 06:08 PM

Still a good idea to ask the question on ZWO's forum.  You just might get an earlier and possibly more complete response.


Edited by OleCuss, 09 September 2018 - 06:08 PM.


#25 DonBoy

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Posted 09 September 2018 - 09:54 PM

This all I the info i have  on the Dark Noise reduction.

 

 

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