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Use of Video Astro Cameras by CN Members??

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#26 jason_milani

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Posted 14 November 2006 - 12:55 AM

Here is a live monitor image of M13 taken with a point and shoot digital camera. The quality is not very good but it gives a decent look at how these camera's perform. The live image is sharper than this photo shows.

M13 - Celestron C9.25 @ f/10 (no focal reducer!) and only 2.1 second integration time on a Mallincam Hyper Color camera. 2.1 seconds is the minimum exposure time. It also integrates at 6 and 12 seconds which are way over exposed on M13 in a scope this size.

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  • 1250937-DSCN1500.JPG


#27 Jack Huerkamp

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Posted 14 November 2006 - 09:06 AM

I have two eyepiece cases full of expensive oculars and in the last 2 years I have let them collect dust. I even won a 30mm Meade 5000 at a recent stargaze and sold it to a member of our club who is still into direct visual observing. Using my 17.5" from New Mexico Skies in June of 2005, I observed all members of Hickson 50 (five galaxies ranging in magnitude from 18.5 to 20th) live on the screen of my 10.2" DVD player. And that was with a MallinCam PRO DOB limited to a 2.1 second exposure.

Jack Huerkamp

#28 Gord

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Posted 14 November 2006 - 10:02 AM

Jason,

You can go less than 2 seconds with the MallinCam's, and I often do, especially on the brighter objects. Your M13 is a perfect example. It's way burned out at the core. I find with my 10" newt, I really have to use 1 sec, or 0.5 sec to really see any details in the cluster. Or, pull the FL out much longer so that the cluster (or just the core) fills the screen and then go for a longer exposure. The camera is just so sensitive, it sees to much light.

I find I do the "take a picture of the screen" thing too! Easy way to get a quick pic of what you are seeing. But you are absolutely correct, it doesn't look anything like this when you are seeing it on the screen.

To further Jack's experience about seeing the Hickson 50 galaxies, one of the guys in Ottawa was able to capture them with an 8" SCT and the new MallinCam Hyper B&W. It was on an outing to a dark sky site at a higher altitude (1800') and there wasn't any detail like in the bigger scopes, but they were seen.

The view of this group that night was pretty good through Rock's 16" SCT:

http://mallincam.tri...res/h50_w16.jpg" border="0

I think the biggest advantage from all of these types of systems (MallinCam, StellaCam, etc.) is the simplicity. You don't even need the monitors that people are talking about. All you need is a TV (one that can take an RCA video input). And the learning curve is as steep as plugging the cables between the camera and TV and inserting the camera in the focuser. That's it.

From the time you first get your hands on one to the time you get amazing images is a few minutes. 10 min tops.

Now if it would only stop raining so I could actually get to use mine again... :p

Clear skies (Please!),

-Gord

#29 rolandskythree

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Posted 14 November 2006 - 10:52 AM

You are right that an extra monitor is not essential. It is a "nice to have". I will say, however, that when my queen and I enjoy studying an object or I am sketching an object, having the high res monitor is very nice. Also, with a good CRT one can be near the scope but off axis to the CRT to be able to see the output. Then I can adjust either the camera menu or the telescope focus. Meanwhile, the other people can still watch a nice image right in front of the monitor.

#30 JerryWise

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Posted 14 November 2006 - 10:52 AM

Hey folks, you are messing up some budgets here. With what Roland and the others said, this is getting awful tempting.

Hour after hour I sit beside the scope watching the Canon 300D take 5 minute exposures of stuff. I still want to do that but there is a real potential for added enjoyment here.

Some of us use a Dual Dovetail clamping plate to put more than one scope on an EQ mount. On mine is a Meade LX200R 10", Orion ED 80 and I can find room for a Tak 60C using duct tape and nail gun. I can see a nice widefield view being displayed using the Tak or ED80 while the Meade/Cannon combination is going deep and long and the other small scope is autoguiding. I thought at one time observing through one scope while photographing through the other was the way to go. Learned real quick no can do because of vibration. This just might be the trick.

#31 BradH

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Posted 14 November 2006 - 11:23 AM

Here is the reason I think I will be happy with the TMB 130 on DSO. The picture (swan) was taken by Jack Huerkamp, single shot using a 6" refractor. By the way Fedex just dropped of my Mallincam Hyper Color :jump: bad new clouds and rain on the way :bawling:.

Brad

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  • 1251280-Swan single frame 6.jpg


#32 Talstarone

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Posted 14 November 2006 - 02:26 PM

[quote name="JerryWise"]
Some of us use a Dual Dovetail clamping plate to put more than one scope on an EQ mount. On mine is a Meade LX200R 10", Orion ED 80 and I can find room for a Tak 60C using duct tape and nail gun.

:lol: Isnt that a Federal Offense mentioning a Tak , duct tape, and a nail gun in the same sentence. :lol:

Congratulations on the new camera Brad! :) I guess another case of the scope curse. Seems as if anytime you purchase something for a scope the clouds and rain come in a seperate box right behind yours. ;) Hope the cloud/rain clears up for you soon so you can enjoy the new camera. :)

#33 skyguy88

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Posted 14 November 2006 - 03:04 PM

Hi Roland,

I've been using a mintron (SAC) for a couple of years. Our Astronomy Club (Prescott, AZ) does about 25 outreach programs a year, (public and school star parties). At these group events, we can observe and discuss eight or ten objects in an hour, pointing out details in nebulae, seeing hundreds of well-resolved stars in globulars clusters that fill the screen of a 13 inch TV, seeing sattelites crossing the screen (particularly in the neighborhood of M42), on a good dark night, making out the structure of a few galaxies (M51, M 33, NGC 1365), and seeing the central star in M57. No standing in line, no viewing ill focused targets, and far more detail than you can see in an EP. In general, the camera provides a different and far more intensive experience for a group of casual observers.

There are some negatives. The TV produces more light than other observers would like to see (I need to provide light shielding). Switching camera settings and optics to move between planets and DSOs takes too long - I tend to stick to DSOs. And nothing complares with the elegance of a well focused EP view of the dark sky.

Aside from the public programs, the fact that I can see far more detail than can be seen in an EP makes my personal observing more rewarding.

Fedex just delivered my new Mallincam Hyper Color camera. I'm going to turn a fan on to drive the cloud cover away before sunset.

Bill McDonald

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.5, .3 FR
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Mallincam color Hyper

#34 Jack Huerkamp

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Posted 14 November 2006 - 03:43 PM

The view using even small scopes with a video camera can be very rewarding. Here is a single frame of the Dumbbell Nebula taken with a MallinCam Color HYPER on an Orion ED80.

Jack Huerkamp

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  • 1251669-M27 Single Frame ED80.jpg


#35 Bob S.

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Posted 14 November 2006 - 10:23 PM

Astro video has really been changing my viewing habits to a certain extent. I first tried a STV Deluxe. Moved on to a StellaCam II, and now have a MallinCam Color Hyper. I also owned a Collins I3 and sold it and got the I3 thin film version. Assistive optics have really made my visual observing much richer. I can study DSO's like I never dreamed possible. With my 20" Starmaster and the I3, I was seeing the Ie component in the Trapezium of Orion. With the MallinCam and my 20", I can study the Pillars of Creation or study the complexities of the Horsehead nebula and even look at protostars in the horse's nostrils and mane. With the I3 and my WO FLT-110, I was able to capture the Horsehead and Flame nebulae in all of their glory in one view. I think assitive optics are facing similar resistance for adoption that setting circles and GOTO's did a half a dozen years ago. Now you see GOTO's and DSC's everywhere and people wonder how they lived without them? I am now exploring the possibility of putting a small studio quality 4" monitor next to the focuser and viewing many DSO's with my MallinCam or I3 in my 20". All of this is opening up a new world that was frankly unimaginable just 5 years ago. Although the video cannot in any way compare to the incredible image quality of conventional eyepieces, it is only a matter of time until the technology matures and the differences become much more trivial. Bob Schilling p.s. We are going to be putting my MallinCam in a 28" f/3.66 scope on Friday and with the focal reducer, it will behave like a f/2.2 scope. Can you imagine :shocked:

#36 Jack Huerkamp

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Posted 14 November 2006 - 10:31 PM

Bob,

I wish I could be with you at Chiefland's this weekend. The views through that 28" will be spectacular. Grab some frames with your AverTV Card and post them for all to see.

Jack Huerkamp

#37 Bob S.

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Posted 14 November 2006 - 10:48 PM

Jack, I have the AverTV card and my laptop already packed. Bob

#38 rolandskythree

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Posted 14 November 2006 - 10:58 PM

Thanks for your description of the public use of the video astro tools. This is what we do also, although we enjoy private observing as well. But NOTHING compares to putting a child or an elderly person before a monitor, briefly pointing them to the area of the sky they are looking, then turn on the camera and hear them lose their breath as they see the wonder of God's heavens appear before them on the monitor...and show them what they could not see with their eyes or reach with their bodies at a big scope.

#39 rolandskythree

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Posted 14 November 2006 - 11:05 PM

Excellent post. Please let me know if you post some images and where if you don't mind. I have never seen the camera output from a base scope this big or capable. It ought to blow your socks off. Point well taken about the 'apparent' resistance to these new tools. This is precisely why I made the orginal post.

For those who read and have experience, please post. Tom Trusock wants to know how much interest there is as well. Roland

#40 Bob S.

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Posted 20 November 2006 - 07:33 AM

Well, we tried to get the MallinCam up and running on my friend's 28" f/3.66 and met with very limited success. It was due in part to us not being able to have the monitor close to the telescope (placed it about 40 feet away) and in a trailer. So, I shared it with a fellow who does a lot of astrovideo and we placed it in his C8 with Fastar that had a focal ratio of f/1.9. Well, in that scope, the field of view was magnificent as was the color presentation of numerous objects. He had a large color monitor with a red mask but periodically, we would lift up the mask to see the beautiful color images that the MallinCam Color Hyper was showing everyone. A little group of people would easily form to see the views. Terry was very kind to use my camera and his very sophisticated equipment to show how well the camera can strut its stuff. Bob

#41 Raven911

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Posted 20 November 2006 - 06:57 PM

Does anyone ever use these video cams for still imaging, other than just live viewing? It would seem to be possible that you could sum and add frames together and it would be pretty good for that as well.

My SAC 8 is pretty much a modified video camera and shares a lot of their idiosyncrasies, though it is for designed primarily for still imaging. I have thought pretty seriously about getting a PC164EX but have never followed through with it, since my SAC can basically function as one in live mode.

#42 rolandskythree

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Posted 20 November 2006 - 08:42 PM

The answer is "yes" but it is because I have heard people talk about using it as an still imaging device. If someone does not post a better reply than this, I suggest you go to the video astro group in yahoo groups to get some detail. Jack H. (who is out of the net for a few days) does record on a DVD recorder and uses a card to capture periodic frames, so I know that the foundation stone for doing still image development is present.

Roland

#43 rolandskythree

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Posted 20 November 2006 - 08:47 PM

Sounds tantalizing....provide some descriptions when you get a chance or post an image. Were you able to bring the camera image to focus ok on the 28" or was it just monitor issues?? I look forward to seeing what you get. Wish me luck...if we have good weather Friday at McKormick Observatory in Charlottesville, there is a chance (not a big one) that we might be able to pick a dim object and get the camera to focus on that well-known antique refractor. If not, then we put it on a 10 inch.

#44 Raven911

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Posted 20 November 2006 - 10:47 PM

It seems like you could take a program like Astrovideo or something and grab a few hundred frames and stack them to have the same effect as a regular imaging camera.

#45 Gord

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Posted 21 November 2006 - 10:15 AM

Raven911,

Yes, this is how I do all my imaging. It's really the same as using a regular astro CCD camera, it's just that the exposures are a lot shorter. This however is the real advantage to using a video camera and a not so high-end mount, or a scope that is pushing the mounts capabilities.

Since the exposure is so short (2 - 12 sec), it's really not a huge problem for even the most basic mount to handle it. That or like my setup where I have a C10N-GT which is really pushing the limits of the mount. I can easily use this setup to get great shots where it just wouldn't be possible with a normal CCD.

I would equate video imaging with visual observing in terms of the demands that it places on the setup. Certainly much more forgiving than having to image 30 sec, or 5 minutes, etc.

Cheers,

-Gord

#46 OscarU

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Posted 22 November 2006 - 02:59 PM

Hello, I want to know if i can use the pc-164 camera for deep space imaging. ยจ

Thanks

#47 Demorcan

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Posted 23 November 2006 - 12:17 AM

I am glad to see this topic brought up again. It seems a lot of gains have been made in the past year.

#48 jason_milani

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Posted 23 November 2006 - 02:34 PM

Here is a single frame of m37 with my mallincam hyper color camera with a William Optics Zenithstar 110mm refractor, an f/6.3 focal reducer and 6 second integration.

I had to change the format to a GIF image so it doesn't look all that nice but it gives you a general idea. The on-screen image is much more clear.

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  • 1265808-m37-1.GIF


#49 rolandskythree

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 12:02 AM

In case anyone is interested, 4 sketches from 11 Dec are in the gallery (rolandlinda3) where I did a quick sketch of M42 cloud folds (one arm), M43, the Horsehead area (I think), and the planetary in M46. These are pretty basic and I don't claim to be an artist. Since I only had pencils, I just made notes on the color and a few features.

#50 JAT Observatory

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 06:07 PM

I just received my Mallin Cam. As with my other systems the camera will be used remotely. The camera will be connected to a Slingbox so the video can be accessed remotely via the network. I will also be building a aux cable to get it to an RS485 to 232 converter. The power supply will be connected to a remote computer controlled AC outlet. This should be a fun project.


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