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Use of Video Astro Cameras by CN Members??

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#1 rolandskythree

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Posted 12 November 2006 - 11:26 PM

I would like to have some feel for the number of CN members that use video astro cameras, what cameras they use, and a short description of how they use them and how they like it.

Why ask? Some off-line discussions with CN members and my observations of responses to a couple posts I have generated indicate little information about these tools, yet the video astro activity on yahoo groups is pretty lively. I note also that other categories of equipment or observing (like ccd imaging, photography, etc.) have logical places for discussion, but the video astro field has no home. I don't know if it is lack of interest, lack of acquaintance with the video astro tools, or something else.

My wife and I operate (or have operated) Stella CAM EX, MallinCam Pro Dob, and the more recent MallinCan Color Hyper. I have friends that operate the STELLA Cam II and acquaintances that have ordered the STELLA CAM III. If CN members use these tools or similar ones, this is the kind of information that I am trying to capture.

Thanks

#2 jason_milani

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Posted 13 November 2006 - 12:45 AM

I use a Mallincam Hyper color. I previously used a Mintron and Stellacam II.

I find this the only way to view deep sky objects from my light polluted sight with a small scope (or large scope for that matter) and get pleasing results. In fact, i'm selling my large aperture scope to concentrate on smaller scopes with the Mallincam.

I'm sure i'll eventually like to bump up in aperture in the future but for now a 110mm scope with the Mallincam and no focal reducer and a broadband nebula filter brings out M42 like a 20" scope. It fills the entire monitor screen.

Isn't technology great??

#3 Don W

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Posted 13 November 2006 - 11:30 AM

I have a Mallin Cam Dob but haven't had a chance to use it yet.

#4 BradH

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Posted 13 November 2006 - 11:42 AM

My Mallicam Hyper Color is on the Fedex truck :jump: I will try it in my ED80 if the weather breaks. Iam waiting for my TMB 13., Hopefully it will be it by the end of the month. From the single shots that Jack had taken with his 6" refractor, I think Iam really going to like it for DSO.

Jason
What tv (CRT, LCD, ect) are you using? We both live in cold winter areas. Iam thing about getting a LCD but Iam not for sure if the cold will hurt it, I will leave it in my skyshed.

Brad

#5 jason_milani

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Posted 13 November 2006 - 12:56 PM

Brad, i use it on my laptop in my observatory. It works fine, in fact better depth and resolution than a 20" LCD monitor i had purchased for it. I heat the observatory just enough to keep it a few degrees above the outside air temp. I also had used a CRT color monitor which was nice but took up a lot of room and it died on me anyway, so the laptop monitor is what i use with a PMCIA video card and composite video jack. This setup works out well and also allows me to capture images.

#6 BradH

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Posted 13 November 2006 - 01:03 PM

Thanks Jason

I was thinking about getting a USB to Video adapter for my laptop.

Brad

#7 jason_milani

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Posted 13 November 2006 - 01:18 PM

Brad, i used one of those also. It works fine but i like the video card because it's attached to the laptop which makes it easier if i want to take it into the field. Actually the USB - TV adapter has a wider range of video monitor adjustments on it's software program.

#8 Gord

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Posted 13 November 2006 - 01:29 PM

I've been using the MallinCam for a few years now. Currently have a Pro and a Color II. I'm planning on adding a Hyper as well. They are my first choice and recommendation for anyone wanting to play with imaging.

I use the Pro for deepsky work and the Color II for planetary mostly. I think for the Hyper, I will still go B&W, but that's because I'm more of a purist looking for as much sensitivity as possible when doing deepsky. It's pretty cool being a complete amatuer and yet having a tool that lets you go so deep that you see stuff that isn't catalogued with a designation yet.

I've know Rock for almost 10 years and can still remember his first prototypes of what is now the MallinCam. He's come a long way since then with it and is developing new features and improved performance at an ever increasing rate. It's gonna be really cool to see what he's come up with in a year, 2yrs, 5yrs... As Rock says, Cool!

-Gord

#9 half meter

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Posted 13 November 2006 - 01:51 PM

I use the very sensitive PC-164 Sony Ex-View HAD video camera to record occultation events of stars by asteroids and then submit the recordings to the IOTA for them to analyze. When combined with other recordings of an event, the IOTA can determine the shape of the asteroid.

For personal viewing I use the Collins I3 image intensifying eyepiece with its HDTV quality image resolution instead of a video camera.

#10 rolandskythree

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Posted 13 November 2006 - 05:10 PM

CRT research....Jack H. and I did a pretty thorough search and then each ordered the VMC-8614F (Sanyo 14 in 800TVL). It is excellent. See the reports on video astro group in yahoo groups. It is worth following the activity

Roland

#11 Jack Huerkamp

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Posted 13 November 2006 - 07:16 PM

I agree with Roland on the use of the Sanyo 14" Super hi-res monitor. I have used a 10.2" Audiovox DVD player, a 12" MallinCam 800 line B&W monitor and the Sanyo; and I find the last to be the best for viewing DSOs. I have played back both B&W and Color recordings made with MallinCams and the Sanyo Color works well with the B&W videos.

Of course there is always a negative. The Sanyo consumes about 95 watts of AC power and weighs about 31#. The DVD player weighs about 2 # and has a battery that allows for about 2 1/2 hours of operation without additional battery support.

Jack Huerkamp

#12 Tom T

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Posted 13 November 2006 - 08:17 PM

An aside: I'm gonna stickie this thread because I think it's an interesting and perhaps under talked about concept and I'd like to see how much interest there is in it.

Tom T.

#13 Talstarone

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Posted 13 November 2006 - 08:47 PM

It certainly has sparked an interest with me ;). I have often considered a way to take actual video clips of planetary events(occultations and transits of Jupiters Moons). I have considered getting an Olivon Color Video Eyepiece. I know it is not an actual video camera, but for someone just experimenting with the idea 68.00 is a wise investment. It is able to capture 30 frames per second of uninterrupted video.And unlike the Meade Monochrome Eyepiece this one hooks directly to your laptop with a USB cable and comes with software. I know it is a very small step and investment but I would hate to put a lot of money into something until I have a good try at it. I would appreciate it if one of the many knowledgeable members here would take a look at the specs of the color eyepiece and let me know if they think it would be an acceptable starting point.Olivon's web address is www.olivonoptics.com It is pretty easy just go to eyepieces from the home page to fine the product. Thanks for any and all help. I look forward to following this thread and hopefully becoming engaged in video capturing celestial targets myself. Thanks for bringing up such an interesting topic. :)

#14 JerryWise

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Posted 13 November 2006 - 09:26 PM

I'm interested in this too. Just don't know anything about it. This is a good idea. Let's others not in the hobby see what we see.

#15 rolandskythree

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Posted 13 November 2006 - 10:06 PM

Jerry, there might be someone closer to you than me (in Virginia) that has one of these types of cameras so you can see the results. If not, you are welcome to watch with us. I will tell you, however, when I sit in an easy chair beside my wife using the color Hyper on our 12.5 Dob (with a platform) and pick out the structure of the Dumbbell in color, we get pretty mesmerized. It is hard not to make an order for one after that. We took the camera to a friends observatory last week (he has a 16" RC at 3200 feet elevation on top of a mountain) and his report was pretty interesting to our local club.

Want to come?

Roland

#16 Pedestal

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Posted 13 November 2006 - 10:07 PM

Yeah, I've been browsing the websites and musing... But I know nothing about it. Interested in learning....

#17 Sky Captain

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Posted 13 November 2006 - 10:23 PM

I use the very sensitive PC-164 Sony Ex-View HAD video camera to record occultation events of stars by asteroids and then submit the recordings to the IOTA for them to analyze.


This is one of my favorite camera's as well. I have been doing video astronomy for more than 4 years now, and it's hard to beat sitting in the living room on a very cold night and do some planetary or lunar viewing. I have done some solar viewing as well. For WIDE field star viewing, I use my newly purchased 160mm F1.8 C mount lens and the EX PC164 camera. Simply amazing.

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#18 Sky Captain

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Posted 13 November 2006 - 10:31 PM

I think a Mintron or Stellacam would be even better coupled to my fast lens. The best platform for this kind of work (in my case anyway) has been the Meade GPS. With it on the deck and a few cables running into the house...nice!

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#19 Emanuele

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Posted 13 November 2006 - 10:42 PM

oh my gosh..why did you guys had to bring this topic up? :( another gadget to put in the wnated list!

:grin:

oh....yes, great topic!!

Those cameras are pretty cheap! How do you mount them at prime focus?

#20 rolandskythree

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Posted 13 November 2006 - 10:57 PM

Yes, a gadget, but more. We went from medium and high mag EPS 100% of the time for "close" views in our earliest observing years to 90% of the present time with video astro and 10% with high mag EPs. Believe me, there is no comparison with respect to what you see. Even lunar images are superb and are slightly better than good EPs in a Denk II binoviewer (which we really like). But to sit back in a chair and discuss the details of an object with my lovely wife or with a small group or a large group...the best Nagler's don't permit that set up.


Roland

#21 Emanuele

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Posted 13 November 2006 - 11:00 PM

Yep Roland...... I think I will have to get one of those cameras for the same reason you stated...sharing with others: in this case is my mother and father as I do my observing from their backyard.

So...what would be the best camera (reasonably priced) and what accessories will I need with it?

:)

#22 Sky Captain

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Posted 13 November 2006 - 11:12 PM

Those cameras are pretty cheap! How do you mount them at prime focus?


On mine anyway, I use C mount to 1.25" adapters which just screws on to the front of the camera.
In the photo, the 1.25 adapter is on the upper left with the camera on the right. The chrome adapter in the fore ground is a 3\16th's spacer adapter that can be used to get the right focus on certain camera\lens combo's.

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#23 Emanuele

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Posted 13 November 2006 - 11:15 PM

Kerry! Appreciate you help thank you so much!
So I can get those adapters with the camera? Who sells those EX camera online?

#24 rolandskythree

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Posted 13 November 2006 - 11:28 PM

Others might chime in, but Astrovid offers the StellaCam series and MallinCam offers another series. Both groups are pretty hyped about their products. There are other types but I confess ignorance beyond these two relatively common competitors that do about the same thing. I recommend watching the activity on the videoastro group in yahoo groups...many of their members can speak more proficiently than I. I am pretty pragmatic...I want what works...and my wife wants reasonable comfort for observing periods as well as Color. If you want color, then the Color Hyper (MallinCam product) is the latest rage. With a focal reducer set up in addition to the regular nosepiece, camera, wires, and power supply, your talking about 1290 with shipping (little over 2 good Naglers). There is a modest learning curve but not bad. You need a good high res monitor (we use the Sanyo 8614F @ 322 USD). Some prefer the B&W cameras...they are a little less and the monitors are less. Details are a little bit better but no (of course) color. Astrovid has info on their line. Go to WaningMoonII.com for info and examples of the MallinCam line. I don't sell them or own stock in the tools, but I do have a wife that LOVES these tools in addition to my really enjoying them -- in case it seems like I am selling them. But don't take my word for it...look at the images but especially the way people as a group are doing live viewing on monitors or big screens or projectors and still seeing great detail. Last, if high haze or crummy conditions begin to set in, you can still use the tools when the straight EP guys say the night is "bad" for viewing. EX: We used a Stella CAM EX (previous generation of a video astro camera) on a C-5i (pretty small scope) at a public gathering and went from star clusters to M42 during a period when high thin haze almost made the Sword invisible. We kept going while the 15-18" Dob guys could not realistically continue unless there was a clear space through high altitude haze!! Roland

#25 Emanuele

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Posted 13 November 2006 - 11:36 PM

Thanks Roland...

Acutally that is a pretty steep price as of now for me. I was thinking that the Sony EX view cam would be a great little addition to my equipment! Price is around $170!!

:)


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