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Meade LX65 experiences? Also, Mallincam advice...

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#1 moondigger

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 09:15 AM

I recently asked a question in the mounts section about recommendations for a GoTo mount to hold a small OTA, like a Celestron C5+ or a Meade ETX 125. I was interested in something that could maybe handle a C6 in the future (as a possible upgrade idea). If any who offered me advice on that thread are present for this one, thank you for your advice there. My thinking on this has evolved a little bit since then, and I'm considering the following:

 

A Meade LX65 mount with a 6" or 8" ACF OTA. Why the LX65? Because at least on paper, it looks like it meets most of my requirements. It has enough carrying capacity to handle the small OTAs I previously mentioned. (Actually, it can handle both at the same time.) True, it requires a separate adapter to enable WiFi capabilities, but considering the possible cost savings with the LX65 bundle, the extra $175 for a WiFi adapter seems reasonable.

 

I should mention here that the LX65 mount and tripod cost only around $250 when bundled with the 6" ACF OTA or $200 when bundled with the 8" ACF OTA, vs the cost of the OTAs alone.

 

I'm also considering trying out some video observing with one of the lower-cost Mallincams. Hence my interest in either the 6" or 8" ACF OTAs included with the LX65. So I'm seeking input on the following questions:

 

1. Any experiences, either good or bad, with the LX65? I can't find much feedback on this relatively new mount in Google searches.

 

2. Is video observing with one of the lower-end Mallincams doable with a 6" OTA, or is the bump up to 8" required?

 

3. Any recommendations for a suitable Mallincam model?

 

Thanks --



#2 astro42

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 10:23 AM

I had 2 LX65's with OTA packages one with a 8" which was really undermounted with the LX65 on the thin legs.

Also had the 6" OTA and was a lot steadier on the LX65 than the 8" was but both mounts where poorly made in my option.

The QC was terrible on the main  plastic section the hole mount just seem cheap to me.

I ended up send both back for refund.


Edited by astro42, 15 April 2019 - 10:51 AM.


#3 mclewis1

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 08:23 PM

2. Is video observing with one of the lower-end Mallincams doable with a 6" OTA, or is the bump up to 8" required?

 

3. Any recommendations for a suitable Mallincam model?

 

Thanks --

Size (aperture) of the ota isn't as important as f ratio (lower is better) for video/EAA observing. The one benefit of the larger ota is that with a focal reducer to bring down the f ratio the image scale is a bit better (objects will be bigger) ... f5 on a 6" ota is 760mm, while f5 on an 8" ota is 1000mm or so. The bottom line is however I don't think the extra money required moving from a 6" to an 8" just to get that image scale difference is worth it.

 

Are you talking about the Mallincam SkyRaider series of cameras or one of the legacy analog video models?

What's your budget for the camera?

Color or B/W?

In general as a starter camera you can't go wrong with an IMX224 based model (SkyRaider 1.2c). It's a very versatile camera (does DSO as well as solar system observing). If however you want to step up a bit the 287 based model is faster (more sensitive), it's just not as good a choice for solar system viewing. Beyond that your budget will determine the  sensor size (and therefore camera choice). No matter which camera you'll also want a .5x focal reducer to go with it.



#4 moondigger

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 09:32 PM

Astro42 -- Thanks for your reply. It seems there really aren't a lot of people with LX65 experience. I'm crossing it off my list, though I am intrigued by the Meade ACF optics. I'll probably find a way to mate a 6" or 8" ACF to a different mount.

 

Mark -- Honestly, I have very little knowledge of the video astronomy options out there. I was at a community event a couple years ago, and by far the most popular scope, with lots of people lined up, was one with a MallinCam. I couldn't tell you if it was an analog or digital setup. I didn't even get a close look at it myself -- I was too busy with my own scope (a 14.5" Dob) and with checking out the views from another guy's 20" Dob. 

 

Therefore any advice you can offer is greatly appreciated. I guess my main priorities are: light weight, ease of setup, and reasonable "wow factor" for family and friends (who aren't nearly as interested as I am in faint, mostly colorless fuzzies). The best thing I ever showed them (based on their reactions) was Saturn and Jupiter in my 14.5" Dob. I'd like them to get excited by some DSOs too. My guess is that they would be far more impressed by the output from a MallinCam than even my best eyepieces. (And after a couple decades of peering through eyepieces myself, it might be interesting for me to see things in a new way as well.)

 

Honestly, I don't even know what the output options are for a MallinCam. I assume I would connect it to a laptop computer? Maybe a tablet? It may seem like I'm completely ignorant here... and I am. But I'm getting the optical tube and GoTo/tracking mount first. That gives me a little time to learn about the MallinCam options before jumping in the deep end.

 

(BTW, the problem with the big Dob is that I had a rotator cuff injury about a year ago and it has never healed completely, making it a chore to transport. I'm probably going to list it in the classifieds here soon.)



#5 SeattleScott

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 10:13 PM

Mallincam makes analog video cameras and CCD cameras. I have the video because I don’t want to have to mess with setting up a laptop in the field. I use a WiFi adapter with my phone for my screen, although so far I have only done this with Rev Imager. If the skies ever clear I can try it with my new Mallincam. It is still analog so I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. Of course you can always just get a small monitor to view with also. The advantage of the CCD cameras and laptops is a laptop PC is much more robust for stacking and enhancing images than using the analog video cameras. My iPhone can make some impressive improvement to photos in about five seconds using the automatic contrast enhancements but with a laptop you can just keep stacking and stacking and stacking, etc. You can really push the boundaries of EAA versus traditional long exposure AP with a CCD camera. Someone wrote a review about doing EAA and how impressive the image looked after a ten minute exposure. Well at that point you basically need all the same equipment and setup as if you were doing long exposure AP. Analog video is more about how much can I see in ten seconds, or 20 or 30. Not ten minutes, or 20 or 30. Video astronomy is more like visual observing on steroids. CCD can quickly become more like short exposure AP. I mean do you want to see a lot of stuff? Or would you rather go home with a few masterpieces? Spend a little time on a lot of targets or a lot of time on a few targets? Not that you can’t spend a short amount of time on each target with CCD, but shoot, you drug a table out and setup your laptop, you might as well make it worthwhile.

You should be mindful about clearance. If you are using a fork mount, there has to be enough clearance for a camera and a couple cables sticking out the back to clear the base. And don’t forget to leave room for a focal reducer. I have seen a couple people do video astronomy with an 8” Nexstar SE and Rev Imager. But Mallincam is a longer camera. So something to consider. If you get an Eq Mount you don’t have to worry about clearance. Also you don’t have to worry about field rotation. If you go CCD and laptop, the software can derotate the image. But if you go analog video you can only do about 20 seconds on an alt az mount. My new Mallincam can do up to two minutes I believe, so an alt az fork mount would not allow it to reach its full potential. I suspect I will mostly keep it around 20 seconds anyway, but why buy a Porsche if you live on a tiny island with no highways? So I would strongly consider an Eq Mount if you are buying a high end video camera. For Rev Imager it doesn’t really matter because it cannot do more than 20-30 seconds exposure. Also a nice strong Eq Mount like an AVX will keep it more stable and reduce blurs in the image from the breeze or whatever.

Scott

#6 moondigger

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 10:38 PM

Mallincam makes analog video cameras and CCD cameras. I have the video because I don’t want to have to mess with setting up a laptop in the field. I use a WiFi adapter with my phone for my screen, although so far I have only done this with Rev Imager.

 

This is one of the things I don't understand. Are you saying you can get the analog output from the MallinCam to display wirelessly on your phone? I would assume that would work with a tablet too? Or am I completely misunderstanding what you're talking about? 
 
Another thing I would like clarification on is something I noticed while looking through the options on MallinCam's website. The SkyRaider models that Mark talked about in his post are listed on the website as "guider cameras," and they appear to be the size of an eyepiece, and fit into the scope in a similar manner (i.e., in place of a traditional eyepiece). That seems convenient from the perspective of not having to worry about a large camera hanging off the back of the scope and hitting against an alt/az fork.

 

 

Video astronomy is more like visual observing on steroids. CCD can quickly become more like short exposure AP. I mean do you want to see a lot of stuff? Or would you rather go home with a few masterpieces? Spend a little time on a lot of targets or a lot of time on a few targets?

 

I'm leaning more toward the visual observing on steroids concept... spending a little time on a lot of targets. But only if the improvement over faint fuzzies in the eyepiece is significant enough to renew the interest of family and friends that I vacation with.


Edited by moondigger, 15 April 2019 - 10:38 PM.


#7 SeattleScott

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 12:25 AM

Previously I have used the Rev Imager, an entry level video astronomy kit for $300. After about a year I got the WiFi adapter and larger battery. The WiFi adapter allows streaming the analog video to a phone or tablet. The tablet provides greater image scale, sort of like greater magnification, due to a larger screen. You can capture images using WIFIAV app. If you want to also control your scope with your phone using SkySafari then you need a phone and a tablet, or you have to keep swapping back and forth between the wireless networks. I like using the WiFi because my phone is much better resolution than a cheap LCD monitor, I always have it with me so I’m not bringing out any extra gear (although you could argue the WiFi adapter is extra gear), and it is wireless so no cords to get wrapped around the scope as it slews. And I can easily save images. Easier than setting up a table with a laptop!

I took my Rev Imager to a dark sky star party once. I estimated I was resolving galaxies equivalent to about a 20” Dob using my Rev Imager with my 4” Apo. Granted the view through my buddies 18” Dob was cleaner, clearer. But I was seeing just as much detail on galaxies with my Rev Imager. It is also great on nebulae. Star clusters it isn’t as great at since the stars are not as pinpoint as through the eyepiece. I saw a picture of M13 on Mallincam website that was much better though so hoping my premium video camera will do a better job with clusters.

My mom and dad came to visit. My mom likes the idea of stargazing with me, but she doesn’t get around very well and can’t stand very long. So it was kind of fun saying I had Andromeda lined up, and as she started to get up, I was like where are you going? Have a seat. I’m streaming it here on my phone.

Scott

Edited by SeattleScott, 16 April 2019 - 12:37 AM.


#8 burb scope

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Posted 15 May 2019 - 09:30 AM

Astro42 -- Thanks for your reply. It seems there really aren't a lot of people with LX65 experience. I'm crossing it off my list, though I am intrigued by the Meade ACF optics. I'll probably find a way to mate a 6" or 8" ACF to a different mount.

 

Mark -- Honestly, I have very little knowledge of the video astronomy options out there. I was at a community event a couple years ago, and by far the most popular scope, with lots of people lined up, was one with a MallinCam. I couldn't tell you if it was an analog or digital setup. I didn't even get a close look at it myself -- I was too busy with my own scope (a 14.5" Dob) and with checking out the views from another guy's 20" Dob. 

 

Therefore any advice you can offer is greatly appreciated. I guess my main priorities are: light weight, ease of setup, and reasonable "wow factor" for family and friends (who aren't nearly as interested as I am in faint, mostly colorless fuzzies). The best thing I ever showed them (based on their reactions) was Saturn and Jupiter in my 14.5" Dob. I'd like them to get excited by some DSOs too. My guess is that they would be far more impressed by the output from a MallinCam than even my best eyepieces. (And after a couple decades of peering through eyepieces myself, it might be interesting for me to see things in a new way as well.)

 

Honestly, I don't even know what the output options are for a MallinCam. I assume I would connect it to a laptop computer? Maybe a tablet? It may seem like I'm completely ignorant here... and I am. But I'm getting the optical tube and GoTo/tracking mount first. That gives me a little time to learn about the MallinCam options before jumping in the deep end.

 

(BTW, the problem with the big Dob is that I had a rotator cuff injury about a year ago and it has never healed completely, making it a chore to transport. I'm probably going to list it in the classifieds here soon.)

"It seems there really aren't a lot of people with LX65 experience" - Probably because they have been on backorder for so long.  Mine will ship shortly, after ordering it 3 months ago.



#9 carolinaskies

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Posted 16 May 2019 - 06:11 PM

The LX65 should be mounted on a 2" field tripod, those 1.75 models are notoriously shaky.  



#10 mclewis1

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Posted 17 May 2019 - 07:58 AM

Moondigger,

 

Just checking in on your "education" ... how are things going? Do you understand more of your options when you talk about a Mallincam camera?


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