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Smartphone - Electronic Eyepiece...

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#1 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 24 August 2020 - 03:10 PM

Last night I had such beautiful views of the Moon with my new Lunt 102ED. The most crisp, detailed views I've ever had. I really wanted to share the view but holding my phone up to the EP was a futile task. I've had smartphone holders in the past for just this purpose and they've all been rather clunky and still somewhat difficult to line up. 

 

I've also shared the views of the Moon and planets through the EP, and a lot of new people have a hard time lining up their eye to the EP, typically wanting to grab the EP or scope. Now, I have a manual Alt-Az mount and they can really push it off the target trying to find the best way to look through the EP. Also, not everyone's idea of focus is the same, nor is their eyesight. 

 

I had an idea, using the techniques in EAA (which I've done before), but I wanted something that would allow others to easily see the view without touching the scope, taking photos of the Moon and planets through the EP, and have the ability to upload those photos to social media almost instantly. Most EAA requires laptops, tablets, special cameras, lots of wiring (or wireless) connections, etc. Basically nothing simple. 

 

I typically use a Celestron 8-24mm Zoom (sometimes with a 2X Barlow). The Celestron Zoom allows me to take the rubber eyecup off and with the threaded end, have the ability to screw it right into the adapter of my Canon EOS camera. With my new mount, I really did not want the extra weight of my DSLR camera throwing off my balance point so much. 

 

I've seen all kinds of homemade adapters that you can make for a smartphone case, and so I thought, why not use the adapter from my Canon EOS as the adapter? All I had to do was find a way to glue it to the smartphone case with the appropriate eye relief and get this ring centered. I made up some hard fiber spacers for the eye relief, and glued it all up to the camera body, with the center of the Canon EOS threaded ring centered, so when I screw my zoom into it, it all lines up. Voila! The beauty of using a camera/EP adapter ring is that, unlike all other "clamp-on" adapters, the phone does not rotate when the zoom is rotated on the EP. I also do not ever have to fuss with aligning the phone with the EP. Screw the EP into the camera adapter and it's all ready. No wires, no fuss, no extra equipment needed. 

 

I now have an electronic eyepiece that allows others to see the view through the EP in realtime, by looking at the phone screen instead of struggling to see in the EP itself. It also takes photos of the Moon and planets, and also allowing me to post instantly on social media to share with others. Nothing really all that new, but I just thought that if anyone is interested and has a "threaded top" EP (like the Celestron Zoom), just get a cheap DSLR camera adapter that allows the eyepiece to thread into it. It doesn't even need to match any particular brand of camera because it's only going to be glued onto the back of your (possibly extra) smartphone case. I just happened to have an older phone when I upgraded so I've dedicated my old Samsung Galaxy S9 for the "camera" duties on my scope exclusively. I downloaded and use Camera FV-5 Lite for my camera operation on my Android. No phone service needed to share as I can use my wi-fi to upload which means any old, previous phone can be used. I can also down load the photos to my laptop for editing later if I want to.

 

All that is needed is a DSLR to EP adapter ring, some fiber spacers (large, hard fiber washers if you don't have the materials), some glue (I used Duco cement) and a little time. 

 

This works great! Can't wait to try it out on the Moon soon...

 

All glued up and waiting for the EP to be screwed in place...

 

6f106c_33ea38e2d11a4ae387829643866ff8ed~

 

Celestron 8-24mm Zoom screwed into the camera adapter...

 

6f106c_89961eb4e1944a9b9586ce8b3ec726d3~

 

"Electronic eyepiece/camera" inserted into the scope's diagonal and ready for some testing...

 

6f106c_760dc2bdd24e439aa521a5a2e530d5b1~

 

A realtime view through the EP...

 

6f106c_45cd56e04f0942e7b23a7936cb1a4ffe~

 

Works rather well. These photos were taken of some trees about 3 blocks away...

 

6f106c_22dba4b755074221a8afc81871357abb~

 

And one Zoomed in shot of the top of a branch on one of those trees...

 

6f106c_303f4a987f3f47578c62af174a6ccecb~


Edited by MarkMittlesteadt, 24 August 2020 - 03:30 PM.

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#2 cmooney91

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Posted 25 August 2020 - 07:37 AM

looks nice and stable. 

 

I wonder if the phones camera would be able to pick up brighter dso like open clusters.



#3 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 25 August 2020 - 08:48 AM

looks nice and stable. 

 

I wonder if the phones camera would be able to pick up brighter dso like open clusters.

My phone camera will pick up anything the eye can see through the eyepiece. Whether or not it could take a decent photo of it would depend on if you have a mount that tracks (mine does not) and the camera allows for long exposures. I downloaded the Camera FV-5 Lite app to give me more control over the camera. I guess it would take some experimentation. 

I typically only observe the Moon and planets (which are already rather bright objects one could almost treat as "daytime" subjects as far as taking photos or video. 



#4 bk227865

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Posted 25 August 2020 - 02:16 PM

The cpu/gpu on modern smartphones should be powerfull enough to do some live stacking on dso's ....

 

 

So i'm officially holding my breath for a livestacking android app  .......bow.gif

and maybe in a second stage a wifi eVeyepiece ?


Edited by bk227865, 25 August 2020 - 02:25 PM.


#5 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 25 August 2020 - 03:11 PM

The cpu/gpu on modern smartphones should be powerfull enough to do some live stacking on dso's ....

 

 

So i'm officially holding my breath for a livestacking android app  .......bow.gif

and maybe in a second stage a wifi eVeyepiece ?

I'm only using my phone for two reasons. People I share the view with at the scope for the most part don't know how to look through an eyepiece and always feel the need to grab the scope when aligning their eye to the EP. Secondly I just want to take some pics of the Moon and planets occasionally to share with friends. I have no interest in full on EAA or astrophotography any longer. Been there, done that...which is why I've simplified to a refractor on a manual Alt-Az mount...and more importantly why I want to just use an old phone for a camera. I don't want more gear to drag out, or to spend any more time on processing. My observing is strictly the KISS approach. 

 

My mount is all set up in my garage, ready to take out. I just want to throw my scope on it, put my zoom EP with my phone attached into the diagonal and start viewing...maybe take a few pics along the way to share. 

 

But yeah...if they made an app that allowed for live stacking, I'd like to try it out. If it can't be done directly on the phone itself, I won't be doing it. 

 



#6 Joey44

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Posted 25 August 2020 - 05:49 PM

But yeah...if they made an app that allowed for live stacking, I'd like to try it out. If it can't be done directly on the phone itself, I won't be doing it. 

 

Deepskycamera is an android app currently in development that looks promising. It takes advantage of the fact that modern android cameras can take multi-second exposures in manual mode. Currently it just takes a series of individual photos, but the developer says that in-app stacking is coming. There is a pre-release free version available on the Play Store.
 


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#7 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 22 September 2020 - 12:14 PM

I've been enjoying the process of using my smartphone as an electronic EP and casual photography...nothing too great as I'm still experimenting...

Photos below were my first attempts. Since these were taken, I've downloaded and installed Camera FV-5 and Video FV-5. Way more control over the camera now. Just need more cooperative weather. 


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#8 tel65

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 08:14 AM

I’m impressed with your photos. I’m about to spend over £600 on stuff to be able to see an image like that on my NexStar 5se. I think I’ll try your method first. I have a few old iPhone X cases. I’ll have to have a look at the end of my zoom lens to see if that has a thread on it. If it all works out for me then you’ll have saved me a fortune.
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#9 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 08:58 AM

I’m impressed with your photos. I’m about to spend over £600 on stuff to be able to see an image like that on my NexStar 5se. I think I’ll try your method first. I have a few old iPhone X cases. I’ll have to have a look at the end of my zoom lens to see if that has a thread on it. If it all works out for me then you’ll have saved me a fortune.

If you have a Celestron zoom it will have threads under the rubber eye cup. If you don't have threads, you can easily make your own phone adapter by finding something similar to the EP's top lens cap, but perhaps a little stronger (less flexible to keep the phone's weight from pulling it out of alignment). Then use an old phone case as the phone's platform and affix this new endcap/EP attachment adapter to the case, and cut out the center of it. This will allow you to simply push the phone (with adapter) over the top of the EP and the phone's camera should line up with the EP.

Today's phone's actually have some pretty decent camera's on them. They aren't ideal, nor are they a replacement for many of the dedicated astrophotography cameras, but to start out they work quite well. Especially if you download an app to have more control over the camera. I use Camera FV-5 and Video FV-5 to control my camera. The Moon pics I take are with the Camera. The planets are using the camera's video, then opening the video in PIPP, then AutoStakkert, and finishing it up with Registax to stack the individual frames. iPhone's may use different camera control apps, so check those out. Lots of people are taking some amazing photos with nothing more than their phones.

I've found that by using my phone's camera as an electronic EP, I can actually see more detail than just visually through the EP directly. When others want to look through my scope they don't need to struggle seeing through the EP because they can just see the image on my phone. Keeps their hands off the scope too. laugh.gif

Edited by MarkMittlesteadt, 23 September 2020 - 09:21 PM.


#10 tel65

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 09:25 AM

Cheers mark. I’ve just had a look at the eye piece of the zoom. Good news it has a thread. Now all I have to do is find a camera thread. I’ll look into apps on iOS to see what is recommended for night shots. It might take me a while but I’m sure I’ll get there in the end thanks to your ingenious idea. I’m sure A lot of other people will be equally impressed.
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#11 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 09:34 AM

Cheers mark. I’ve just had a look at the eye piece of the zoom. Good news it has a thread. Now all I have to do is find a camera thread. I’ll look into apps on iOS to see what is recommended for night shots. It might take me a while but I’m sure I’ll get there in the end thanks to your ingenious idea. I’m sure A lot of other people will be equally impressed.

Because you are only gluing the threaded camera T-ring to the iPhone case, you can buy any T-ring meant for DSLR cameras. It doesn't have to be camera specific. It only needs the inside threads on the front to match the threads on your EP top 

Is your Zoom a Celestron? If so, this T-ring will work, although most EP threads are the same (but check with the EP manufacturer to be sure, if it's not a Celestron Zoom).

 

NightCap seems to be the best iPhone camera app for astrophotography. 


Edited by MarkMittlesteadt, 23 September 2020 - 09:36 AM.


#12 tel65

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 09:39 AM

My zoom is a skywatcher 8-24. But I think it’s very similar to the Celestron one. My cousin is into photography so he will probably have a ring that I can butcher.

#13 tel65

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 09:41 AM

Just had a quick look at the nightcap app. Looks like it’ll do nicely. Thanks for the advice.
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#14 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 09:53 AM

My zoom is a skywatcher 8-24. But I think it’s very similar to the Celestron one. My cousin is into photography so he will probably have a ring that I can butcher.

I think the Skywatcher 8-24, Meade and Celestron zooms are pretty much the same, just rebranded. 

 

I found this info for you about the Skywatcher zoom...

 

"Under the eyecup there is a M42x0.75 (T2) thread, which allows you to connect any intermediate ring for connecting the DSLR to the eyepiece and in this way make direct projection pictures (Standards Cameras: Canon EOS / Nikon / Sony Alfa / Pentax K / Olympus E)."


Edited by MarkMittlesteadt, 23 September 2020 - 09:56 AM.


#15 tel65

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 10:01 AM

Thanks mark. I just had a little manual look in the eyepiece with my iPhone X, I can see I’m going to have a little difficulty locating the ring as the cameras on the phone are in the corner. I’ll look into your idea more when I get the chance to have a play.

#16 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 10:25 AM

Thanks mark. I just had a little manual look in the eyepiece with my iPhone X, I can see I’m going to have a little difficulty locating the ring as the cameras on the phone are in the corner. I’ll look into your idea more when I get the chance to have a play.

All you need to do is find some kind of way to mount the ring so it's centered over the camera lens, and afterwards seal off the open areas to keep stray light out. 

 

You could find some thin (but firm) piece of flat plastic that is a little larger than the phone case (so it can be under the entire T-ring's outside diameter), and cut a hole in it where the camera lens is only. Then glue that to the phone case, before gluing the T-ring to that. Then trim off the plastic around the outside of the T-ring.

Check this DIY idea out. Of course, what you'll want to do is modify this approach using the T-Ring rather than a sloppy "slip over" cap. Just an idea.

 

I also suggest taping the T-Ring to your platform and experimenting on the lens placement using a distant terrestrial object, and going through the zoom settings on the EP to ensure you have the phone's camera lens perfectly centered. Then mark the T-Ring's location before gluing it to the platform. You'll need to find a glue that works on both, metal and plastic. I used this Duco Cement.


Edited by MarkMittlesteadt, 23 September 2020 - 10:45 AM.


#17 tel65

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 11:20 AM

I do have an idea for the phone. I could use 6mm black Perspex which would be bigger than the phone With A circle cut out to fit the ring with the lens. That way the phone would sit flat on the Perspex. I could then mark the position of the phone for optimum view and glue a spare case into that position. If needed I could still glue spacers before glueing the case to the Perspex.
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#18 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 12:22 PM

I do have an idea for the phone. I could use 6mm black Perspex which would be bigger than the phone With A circle cut out to fit the ring with the lens. That way the phone would sit flat on the Perspex. I could then mark the position of the phone for optimum view and glue a spare case into that position. If needed I could still glue spacers before glueing the case to the Perspex.

Yes, I like the idea of using a spare case because you know that the camera will always be aligned properly with the EP without having to play around with it under dark skies like one must do with every other commercial phone adapter. Just put the phone in the "camera adapter case", screw in the zoom EP and you're ready to go.

 

I'm fortunate that when I upgraded phones, we kept the old phones and cases, so while I have my Galaxy S10, my S9 and cases can be dedicated to being solely spare astronomy cameras. ;)




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