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The Revolution Imager - When If Ever Should We Recommend It?

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#1 barbarosa

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Posted 19 January 2020 - 05:00 AM

Is the Revolution Imager ever the best choice for someone new to EAA? Should we ever suggest it without also pointing out that the image is similar to that of a 1954 TV and inferior to every CMOS astronomy camera we might know about.?

 

I suggest that we are not doing the newcomer a good turn if we fail to direct them to a better camera. More than that we are either going to discourage them with when they see how truly bad the images are, or we are going to consign them to  replace everything  in order to get the image that they could have had in the first place.

 

The Revolution Imager is almost the sole example of that golden age when security cameras from Samsung amazed us with color images displayed on CRTs. Although you can still  buy the Mallincam Micro, the era has passed for most of us. So why does the RI survive and why do we ever recommend it to someone who wants to try EAA?

 

The usual reasons are simplicity in setup and use. No computer or software needed. And that was and is partly true. It glosses over the many questions that follow about menus and settings and noise in the analog signal. I also recall that many owners of analog cameras sooner or later started posting about frame grabbers and software when they realized that improvement was possible.

 

People, even old farts, use smart phones, tablets, and yes even PCs and they view images and video in HD and UHD resolution. If they are new to  EAA they are more likely than not to have a go to mount and may run it via a smart phone or computer.

 

So why then wouldn't steer people to a modern CMOS camera or at least point out the performance inferiority of the RI?  Why don't we always suggest  a low cost CMOS camera with an HD quality digital  image that can run on fairly simple and free software on a  cheap  tablet or pc. We never seem to  recommend any other analog security camera even though there is nothing unique about the RI, the Mallincam Micro is still for sale and it might be the better camera. 

 

I am not bashing the Revolution line, except maybe the Fun Star which comes close to being a total waste of money. The RI is arguably a good example of an analog security camera  repurposed for astronomy. But I think it is an inferior product when compared with cameras from ZWO, Rising Tech, Altair and many other vendors. To recommend the RI is akin to telling someone that Walmart is the place to get these   "20x60 Extremely High Quality Perrini Binoculars With Pouch Ruby Lense"  for astronomy.  They will work but will they encourage further interest in astronomy?


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#2 Steve C.

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Posted 19 January 2020 - 01:49 PM

The Revolution Imager delivers a workable introduction to EAA for a small cost. It's fairly easy to set up and use, and if you want to get deeper, nothing's stopping you from breaking out the credit card. And you can then sell your RI on the used market and recoup at least half your cost.  And if you decide EAA isn't your bag, you can still sell it.

 

Now, the above wouldn't apply if you're an experienced observer, and you have a fair idea of what you're getting into.  But if you're just a year or two into the hobby (way of life/obsession), then the RI is a good product and I wouldn't hesitate recommending it. 

 

I'd compare the RI to a 6" Dob for getting started. I would not recommend a C11 or 5" APO to someone just starting out.


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#3 mikenoname

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Posted 19 January 2020 - 03:26 PM

No computer or software needed.

 

As someone who started his EAA journey with an RI 1.2, I think this pretty much nails it.

 

To use a vastly superior modern CMOS camera you have to be at least moderately computer savvy, have a laptop available to use for the purpose, and be willing to get more than one piece of software installed, configured and running with the astro gear. That is way too big a bite for the vast majority of EAA noobs.

 

Yes, there are menus to slog through on the RI that are not very intuitive, but everything else is handed to you on a platter for a pretty decent price.


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#4 nvastro

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Posted 20 January 2020 - 12:35 AM

Is the Revolution Imager ever the best choice for someone new to EAA? Should we ever suggest it without also pointing out that the image is similar to that of a 1954 TV and inferior to every CMOS astronomy camera we might know about.?

 

I suggest that we are not doing the newcomer a good turn if we fail to direct them to a better camera. More than that we are either going to discourage them with when they see how truly bad the images are, or we are going to consign them to  replace everything  in order to get the image that they could have had in the first place.

 

The Revolution Imager is almost the sole example of that golden age when security cameras from Samsung amazed us with color images displayed on CRTs. Although you can still  buy the Mallincam Micro, the era has passed for most of us. So why does the RI survive and why do we ever recommend it to someone who wants to try EAA?

 

The usual reasons are simplicity in setup and use. No computer or software needed. And that was and is partly true. It glosses over the many questions that follow about menus and settings and noise in the analog signal. I also recall that many owners of analog cameras sooner or later started posting about frame grabbers and software when they realized that improvement was possible.

 

People, even old farts, use smart phones, tablets, and yes even PCs and they view images and video in HD and UHD resolution. If they are new to  EAA they are more likely than not to have a go to mount and may run it via a smart phone or computer.

 

So why then wouldn't steer people to a modern CMOS camera or at least point out the performance inferiority of the RI?  Why don't we always suggest  a low cost CMOS camera with an HD quality digital  image that can run on fairly simple and free software on a  cheap  tablet or pc. We never seem to  recommend any other analog security camera even though there is nothing unique about the RI, the Mallincam Micro is still for sale and it might be the better camera. 

 

I am not bashing the Revolution line, except maybe the Fun Star which comes close to being a total waste of money. The RI is arguably a good example of an analog security camera  repurposed for astronomy. But I think it is an inferior product when compared with cameras from ZWO, Rising Tech, Altair and many other vendors. To recommend the RI is akin to telling someone that Walmart is the place to get these   "20x60 Extremely High Quality Perrini Binoculars With Pouch Ruby Lense"  for astronomy.  They will work but will they encourage further interest in astronomy?

Amateur astronomy is a personal hobby.   One can enjoy their hobby with whatever equipment they like. By the way, not everyone is rich and has the financials to buy lots of equipment.  Amateur astronomy is an expensive hobby.   It is not a matter of analog vs digital, cmos vs ccd, etc...  Just because some  enjoy astronomy a certain way, does not mean that everyone should follow that path. The night sky is for all of us to enjoy, whether visually, or astrophotography, or EAA...There is absolutely nothing wrong with analog video.  Since you don't need a computer of software, life becomes so much easier(Just connect the few cables and you're ready to observe).  But if you prefer to use a computer and software, by all means, do so.  There's nothing wrong with that either.  

 

The great thing is that we have choices and we choose based on our patience level, experience, interests, etc... There is no one best type of camera(it's all opinion based)  So, please enjoy the beautiful views of our universe! 


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#5 Eddgie

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Posted 20 January 2020 - 09:39 AM

I do not really do any camera based EAA, but even I have thought about getting a Revolution Imager because it is about as much complexity as I would ever see myself wanting to bother with. 

 

See, I think the difference here is that to my way of thinking, the R2 does a better job of embodying the basic 
EAA philosophy, which is "Electronically Assisted Astronomy" in lieu of an eyepiece, which I always took to mean more like looking at things on a screen rather than through an eyepiece.  In this respect, I think that the people using image intensifiers are closer to the spirit of the intention of the EAA forum than people that are using advanced cameras and lots of software to do things like take hundreds of exposures and play with them.  

 

That is exactly the opposite of what I want.  I want the simplest way to actually see what the telescope is pointing at and even pressing a shutter button is more than I want to do.

 

But heck, I don't even like using my cell phone to take pictures through the eyepiece of my image intensifier.

 

That being said, I have seen some wonderful pictures taken by people using the R2 imager, and while I have never used one, I recommend it often!!!  It is clearly easy to get a decent enough result and someone that is stuck in light polluted skies that wants to see the Dumbbell Nebula better than they can see it today can spend half the price that they would spend on an Ethos eyepiece, and see far more of the Dumbell than they could see with the Ethos.

 

Can they buy a better camera and spend the time and expend the effort to capture a better image? YESBut what if they just want to see the Dumbbell Nebula better??  Would they be better buying an Ethos eyepiece, or an R2?

 

For people that are struggling with light pollution, I always recommend an image intensifier first, but in the very same paragraph, I almost always recommend EAA and provide a link to the R2!!!!

 

$299! And you get to see the Dumbbell Nebula in color! That is tempting even to me!


 


Edited by Eddgie, 20 January 2020 - 09:46 AM.

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#6 selfo

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Posted 20 January 2020 - 10:46 AM

I dipped a toe into EAA over 3 years ago with a R2 camera and I am glad I did. You can get a decent image from the get go without a lot of fuss and knowledge of imaging. You cant image my joy at seeing a grainy image M42 for the first time through that little monitor.   No doubt that the images produced from the Revolution imager are inferior compared to the line up of CMOS cameras today but as some have posted already the virtue of the Revolution imager is ease of use.  Because of that it’s easy to master and I was able to concentrate on mastering Sharpcap which does have a steeper learning curve without having to worry about the camera.  BTW Sharpcap works well with the R2 and produces much better images that the little monitor that comes with the package.

 

 

From the Revolution imager I went to the ZWO 385 and recently to the ZWO 533 and I learned a lot along the way.

 

 

 

I see postings on this forum sometimes from individuals wanting to get into EAA who have little experience observing visually much less through a camera and am surprised that they are directed to buy a 294 or some other high end camera.  While this may be appropriate in some cases these cameras coupled with having to learn Sharpcap may frustrate some. 

 

 

 

For very little cost the Revolution images offers a good chance at success in a hobby which is very expensive.

 


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#7 CA Curtis 17

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Posted 20 January 2020 - 11:43 AM

A colleague of mine from work decided he wanted to get into EAA.  I had a choice of lending him my R2 or ASI224MC and explained the differences to him.  He opted for the R2 to start and has been playing with it along with all the necessary accessories for the past 5 months.  Last we talked, he wants to buy a camera of his own so I plan to sit down with him again and go over his options.  If he wants, I will lend him my ASI224 so he can experience first hand the differences before he commits.  Either way he goes, I think the R2 was a good start for him.  

 

Regards,

Curtis


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#8 Starman27

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Posted 20 January 2020 - 12:40 PM

We have multiple R2 imagers in our astronomy club including mine. They get a lot of use at public star parties and outreach programs. They are an excellent entry level tool to EAA.


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#9 barbarosa

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Posted 20 January 2020 - 04:35 PM

Let's talk about cost. The RI bundle goes for $299. Can we match it in price and beat in in image quality for about the same or even a lower price? 

 

$110 Win 10 computer on Amazon

$140 to $180 CMOS camera from Rising Cam  or a $143 IMX290 camera on Amazon

$13 for an IR/UV filter on Amazon

$7 or less for a USB cable on Amazon

$10 for a .5x reducer.

$0 for software

Battery not required

Foam Case  if wanted  $15 to $30 on Amazon

 

Grand total for a CMOS kit with a 290 sensor ~$303 ~$340 or less.

 

The RI is not the low price winner.


Edited by barbarosa, 20 January 2020 - 05:14 PM.


#10 Steve C.

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Posted 20 January 2020 - 04:49 PM

Let's talk about cost. The RI bundle goes for $299. Can we match it in price and beat in in image quality for about the same or even a lower price? 

 

$110 Win 10 computer on Amazon

$140 to $180 CMOS camera from Rising Cam  or a $143 IMX290 camera on Amazon

$13 for an IR/UV filter on Amazon

$7 or less for a USB cable on Amazon

$0 for software

Battery not required

Foam Case  if wanted  $15 to $30 on Amazon

 

Grand total for a CMOS kit with a 290 sensor ~$303 ~$340 or less.

 

The RI is not the low price winner.

There is also value in having a turnkey solution with one purchase and support from the seller. 


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#11 barbarosa

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Posted 20 January 2020 - 05:35 PM

Is the RI easier to connect? 

 

The RI bundle entails cables and connections for battery to display, and camera to display.

A CMOS setup entails a cable from the camera to the computer.

 

The RI is not easier to connect.

 

Is the RI simpler to operate? At first glance yes. But on closer consideration maybe not.

 

 

The RI has an on screen menu for camera settings, accessed and controlled by five push buttons. The CMOS camera uses   software that will have camera settings as buttons, sliders and drop down lists accessible from keyboard and mouse. The basic controls functionally the same, except that some are easier to see in the software as they are not down a level or two in a menu.  The RI menu is far from intuitive, a fault shared with other devices having layered menus and limited space for labels. The software may have a greater range of settings options, but these may be optional or have workable defaults.

 

The RI interface and operation are not clearly simpler than those of some of the free camera applications. 

 

Those who are new to EAA need or should have the option of  low cost equipment that is easy to operate. I agree that might be very good to have, point and shoot if it exists. But it doesn't. 

 

I don't know where the lines should be drawn between EAA, cheap electronic eyepieces and traditional imaging. I don't even think the lines we have drawn make much sense. I don't save and post process artful images. I think that I do live imaging with whatever exposure and stacking time suits the mood and target. The mount and scope are about 30 feet from where I sit right now. In nice weather  I may sit near the mount and listen to the owls while viewing a DSO.  If i had night vision gear I probably would use it, just as I use other things.

 

Astronomy can be a high cost hobby, I am in awe of what some spend on mounts and glass. I would like to see those who have a limited budget or who live in or near city skies get as much as possible from the hobby even at a casual level. 

 

It bothers me when we suggest that someone buy inferior equipment, for all we know it may discourage as much as encourage.  

 

It bothers me too that we assume that new folks, the EAA tyros are going to be overwhelmed by the complexity of using a computer. This is unlikely to be true of the young and as for the old farts, how many of them are already using smart phones, tablets, and a computer controlled mount and perhaps a planetarium program.

 

You can buy a bicycle or a car or a big truck to learn the rules of the road. You can learn to drive a a semi without having ever driven a bike or car. There is no best order. If what you need is to learn to drive a car, no one says you should start with a stick shift and a crash box.



#12 barbarosa

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Posted 20 January 2020 - 06:52 PM

There is also value in having a turnkey solution with one purchase and support from the seller. 

Absolutely true. After sale support and warranty should always be considered and some buyers might just prefer the single seller option.  That the  "... Revolution Imager is guaranteed for 90 days to be free from any manufacturing defect." could be critical for some buyers.

 

I can't fairly include that in a price comparison, but you could buy a ZWO 120 color cam with a 1 year warranty from a US dealer for $149. I hear that many US dealers do support  what they sell and ZWO has an active forum.

 

The buyer must decide but there are longer warranties on other brands sold by US dealers.

 

As for a computer you can get them with a 30 day return window from Amazon for as little as $59 and electronics tend to fail sooner rather than later.

 

A 30 day return period is more than sufficient protection for the filter and reducer.

 

But I understand the comfort of buying from a single reliable dealer and of paying extra to get expert advice and help. 



#13 Lindhard

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Posted 22 January 2020 - 11:59 AM

Hi

 

I read this in another thread about Novae

 

Equipment: 20" dobsonian f3.6. Televue Delite 18.2mm & PVS14 night vision device.
Outcome: 4 supernovae observed successfully.

 

It seems that he saw the novae with a sort of image intensifier

 

Would the Revolution Imager be a good choice for such a purpose? I do not need a lot of pictures, just a live view when I observe. 


Edited by Lindhard, 22 January 2020 - 12:00 PM.


#14 crn3371

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Posted 22 January 2020 - 07:37 PM

As someone contemplating EAA I find myself periodically checking this forum for a R3 announcement, or something new from a competitor. There’s a lot to like about the turnkey aspect of the R2, but every time I look at the grainy, pixelated, images I find myself turned off. 


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#15 Lindhard

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 01:48 PM

As someone contemplating EAA I find myself periodically checking this forum for a R3 announcement, or something new from a competitor. There’s a lot to like about the turnkey aspect of the R2, but every time I look at the grainy, pixelated, images I find myself turned off. 

I feel the same way but it seems that a lot of people find it useful (except in this thread...)


Edited by Lindhard, 24 January 2020 - 01:48 PM.

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#16 barbarosa

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 10:29 PM

New to EAA? Start by buying a piece of history. While supplies last you can own the legendary Mallincam Micro The very same camera that others bought for $59, but you get a factory fresh LN-300 that has "Mallincam" printed on the case. A Mallincam exclusive. Only $129 direct from the importer and you will own the camera the started the EAA low price revolution. Yes the legendary  Mallincam Micro, with your choice of sensors. For just $129 you get features like,

  • 1024x digital slow shutter (twice that of the nearest competitor)
  • 17 second exposures for 85 seconds total with DNR activated
  • 3D-DNR (not just 2D) and WDR! 
  • Raccoon stars
  • True NTSC image quality
  • 12 page guide to the simple camera menu
  • 83 page guide to the camera, the longest in the industry.
  • support group with therapy available.

Time tested technology it enthralled your grandparents, it will captivate you. shakecane.gif

Five year price rollback Get it for what you would have paid in 2015!

 

Note: this is a real camera actually offered for sale by the actual Rock Mallin, identical to the original RI and some would say better than the R2. I was not compensated for this off the wall plug, nor do I expect Rock to send me a Christmas card.

 

Note: The tone of this post is that of a send up, a satire. Sorry but sometimes good people miss that.

 

 




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