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Use of Video Astro Cameras by CN Members??

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#51 BradH

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 06:36 PM

Marcus

I cant wait until your first light. I hope the weather holds up for you.

Brad

#52 JAT Observatory

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 10:08 PM

The fog rolled in just as I got it connected. :(

#53 MikeS

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Posted 17 December 2006 - 12:59 PM

Maybe someone can give me some guidance on this, or direct me to some references.

I am going to be getting a MallinCam Hyper Color Camera. I also have an Orion Sirius mount that has the capability to be used wirelessly via Bluetooth. I currently have a Moonlite CR2, so I have no idea how to remotely adjust focus.

I have a Sony 52" HDTV in my living room.

Is it possible, practical and what would I need to operate the scope remotely (wirelessly) from my living room and view the image on my HDTV?

BTW, I do have a laptop with TheSky6 Serious Astronomer edition software.

#54 Tele

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Posted 17 December 2006 - 08:34 PM

Hey cool,
I will put in my 2 cents here. I am a died in the wool visual observer and ATMer but I found a stellacam ex for $235 on Ebay. I promptly built a poncet platform and hooked it up to my 14" dob. I have stability issues with that large of a scope so I put my 8" f5 up on the platform. I took them out just two nights ago under very mediocre skies and enjoyed quite an evening. I'm not much interested in long exposure photography but a night with this video camera was fun. I just pushed the exposure to 2 seconds and hit the snap shot button on my laptop software when I liked what I saw. We sat and oowed and aawed as I clicked away. I took those 80 or so snap shots and loaded them into Registax and in 5 minutes I had this image... next time I will pay closer attention to my focus :foreheadslap:

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#55 Jack Huerkamp

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Posted 18 December 2006 - 11:19 PM

Mike,

It is possible to view the MallinCam's output irelessly. I have done so in the past. I bought a 1.2 GHZ, 2 watt transmitter/receiver set and feed the camera's signal into the transmitter at the scope. I placed the receiver on the video input to my 61" Panasonic HDTV projection TV. I then am able to observe the camera's output in the comfort of my living room - which is extremely beneficial on those hot, mosquito filled nights here in southeast Louisiana.

I got my TX/RX set from the VFM Store. Here is a link to the long range transmitter that is the closest to the one I bought:

http://www.vfmstore.com/tr100412.htm

Mine is 2 watts and cost $279, but is no longer available. The company is located in Hong Kong, but their cheap shipping is via Global Post and I received mine in 4 working days. You can't beat that for $15. I ordered a second one for someone in our club and it too arrived in 4 working days.

Jack Huerkamp

#56 Bob A (SD)

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Posted 23 December 2006 - 11:18 PM

I have a StellaCam II for use with my MN56 - EQ6 SynScan. Monitor viewing helps offset neighborhood light pollution and acts as an aperture multiplier. I'm pleased with it thusfar although I haven't had my rig out as much as I would have liked (health issues unfortunately). Haven't messed with image capturing much to get the process down yet either.

#57 rolandskythree

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Posted 24 December 2006 - 11:51 PM

For those who have participated in this thread, thank you for providing some feedback. I trust it was helpful to the moderators. Many of you cited positive experience with video astro cameras and several have recently acquired them. If you need further technical information in this arena, then I suggest posting new questions here in the equipment section forum since video astro (as yet) still has no home in CN.

For detailed tech discussions, images, issues you can always go to yahoo groups (the video astro groups) where you will find some avid writers and good helps.

If I see questions posted in this forum with video in the title, I am sure several people I know will try to answer the question or review what is posted. I post once in a while and plan to post some in the sketching forum. However, the field of video astro is much much wider than just sketching, so that forum will not serve the large population of users and the variety of technical questions and discussions that are possible. My posts are not that frequent since I enjoy observing (doing it) much more than writing about it. When I get excited about something, I will try to post something.

How big is that population video astro users? I am not sure, but I believe it is over a 1000...owners of the Stella Cam and MallinCam series are probably a large portion of the population.

As far as recent reports since I started this thread, I have tested myself or seen results of tests or image posts in the last 6 months where the video astro cameras are used on a variety of newtonians, refractors, and the like. I have tested and have been pleased with results of live imaging with the MallinCam series on a C-5i, C-8, 12.5 Dob, a 16 in RC, and an 80-mm older "uncorrected" refractor during the last two months. My wife and I both will never go back to to pure EP use -- having seen what we can do with video astro cameras.

My best to the community that did respond to this thread and hope you are having as much fun with these tools as I am for live observing (both public and private). I am a registered CN member so you can always send me a message if you want to.

Again, I encourage posting of video astro reports and questions. There are enough new users coming on line in the CN community alone who will benefit by your reports. If things are posted, questions from newbies and novices will probably follow. As a matter of consistency, if you care to follow my suggestion, please list the video camera (and its key settings/configuration), base scope, and sky conditions up front since it will eliminate an often repeated question in other forums when posts do not include these essentials.

I always enjoy somebody's live observation report where they tell me about the wonders about what they have seen with their video camera, so please include a little "gee whiz, look what I saw" paragraph if you can.

Have a good holiday. And remember that the wonder of the created heavens awaits our observation.

#58 Sheldon

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Posted 01 January 2007 - 12:31 AM

I have a Mallincam Color Hyper on order. It will be used with a variety of scopes ranging from an 80mm Orion Express to a 12.5" F/6 Meade Research Grade Newt. The feed will go to a laptop via Mallin's video signal to PC converter.

Any input I can get from people who have experience with this camera setup will be greatly appreciated.

#59 JAT Observatory

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Posted 01 January 2007 - 01:12 AM

My problem is I have not been able to get my PC to connect to the camera. I need to be able to control it remotely. I am using my as a video finder connected to a modified Stellarvue F50. Since my camera has issues with a remote cable I have ordered a Gstar-EX B&W version. The plan is to ditch the Mallincam when EX arrives.

The Slingbox setup I use works pretty well. If needed I can capture the video from any PC on the network.

#60 jason_milani

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Posted 01 January 2007 - 05:26 PM

Here's an image of M42 taken last night with a William Optics Megrez 90mm scope at f/7 with the Mallincam Hyper Color. This is one single captured frame at 12 second integration with zero processing.

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#61 JAT Observatory

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Posted 01 January 2007 - 07:35 PM

That's a nice image.

#62 jason_milani

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Posted 01 January 2007 - 08:50 PM

Thank you. I just wish the center was not so washed out. Other than that all i can say is it's simply amazing that such a "live" video image can be produced in light polluted skies with a 90mm refractor. :)

Technology is amazing!

#63 Jack Huerkamp

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Posted 01 January 2007 - 09:22 PM

Jason,

That's a nice image of M42 - especially when you consider the size of the scope. I did a public outreach session in my backyard in November, and I was using my C-8 at about f/4 with MallinCam HYPER. One of my targets for the crowd was NGC 253 in Sculptor. South from my home is looking toward Slidell, LA about 3 miles away - the worst light polluted area of my sky. Despite this, I was able to show the crowd the galaxy. Attached is a comparison of a single frame grabbed from the DVD recording to a stack of 17 unique frames from the same video. I subtracked a dark frame from the stacked image. The advantages of stacking are obvious.

I hope in the new year to do more observing with my ED80, 6" f/5 refractor and C-8 to show what is possible with smaller scopes.

Jack Huerkamp

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  • 1335132-NGC 253 Single vs Stack Reduced.jpg


#64 Jack Huerkamp

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Posted 01 January 2007 - 09:31 PM

Marcus,

Sorry about the problems with interfacing you camera with your computer. I spoke to Rock on Thursday the 28th and he is thinking about coming up with a hand box with the HYPER and Cooler switches on it as opposed to on the camera. It will require a fairly heavy multi-conductor cable to provide for switch and PC control remotely for those like you who have remote observatories or for those who have scopes where the focuser height requires the use of a ladder to make camera adjustments. Due to the number of conductors required, he will not be able to use the mini-DIN connector on the rear of the HYPER, but instead will have to mount a connector on the side where the switches currently are mounted. Hopefully when he has completed his design and testing on this device, he will be able to offer it as an upgrade to current HYPER owners for a nominal charge.

Jack Huerkamp

#65 jason_milani

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Posted 01 January 2007 - 10:55 PM

Very nice Jack. I'm beginning to process and stack images but i'm still tooling around with processing software. It takes a lot of time to get where you want to be. (and i guess i'll never get there anyway) ;)

#66 JAT Observatory

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Posted 01 January 2007 - 11:57 PM

Marcus,

Sorry about the problems with interfacing you camera with your computer. Jack Huerkamp


Thanks Jack, me too. The camera seems to be able to take some decent images but I need to be able to control it remotely. I emailed Rock and he sent me a wiring diagram. The diagram he sent was different than the one included with the camera. The manual with the camera stated the interface was RS-485. I had tried a RS-485 interface with no success. I also tried an RS-232 as per Rock's email. The camera just will not talk to the PC. Controlling the switches on the side aren't a big deal. I can rig a wireless interface to easily handle them. It is the internal camera settings I need remote access to.

Did you get your cable built and working? Is it an RS-232 or 485 interface?

I also read the comments on the other forum about having to connect the camera first before running the remote control software. I can't find an basis for that statement. Even reading the users manual for that software doesn't support that statement. But to be sure I exported and saved the registry setting before installing the software and then again after. A compare of both exported registry files didn't not show any entries that would cause the camera not to function if the software was run 1st without connecting the camera. I also used a system restore point with the same result.

When the GStar camera arrives I will either see what Rock will charge to test and checkout of the remote interface. or just sell the camera at a discount to someone because of the serial port issue. But for the time being it will continue duty as a video finder. Also because of its sensitivity it has the potential to be used as monitoring camera in the observatory if a wide angle lens is attached. In any case having the camera is not a loss as there are some other projects I can use it for, so no matter what it will be OK.

#67 BradH

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Posted 02 January 2007 - 12:02 PM

Marcus

I have a Tamron wide angle lens (I think thats the name) it came with a Stellacam I used to have. I have never used it. If you want it let me know its yours. Just send me your mailing address.

Brad

#68 Jack Huerkamp

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Posted 02 January 2007 - 12:10 PM

Last Friday I went over to a friend's observatory to observe the moon during the afternoon. We ended up using not only Johnny's 8" Meade LX200, but a Quantaray (Nikon knock-off) 70-210mm lens with a C-mount adapter. The objective on this lens was 52mm and it was f/4 or so in speed. This lens worked exceptionally well on the moon providing excellent lunar detail at all zoom levels. Johnny had gotten it off of E-bay for about $60, so on Saturday morning I looked for one. I found one that for which the bid was closing in 30 minutes. I won the lens for $27 plus $14 S/H. Anyone looking for a nnice lens that will provide a FOV from about 4 degrees to 10 degrees ought to look into one of these.

Jack Huerkamp

#69 BradH

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 12:55 AM

I tried to get a few hours with the Mallicam and the TMB 130ss last night but the clouds rolled in:nonono:. Here is a shot of Orion (2 seconds). A single shot no processing.

Brad

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#70 BradH

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 12:57 AM

Here is one of the moon no clouds.
Single shot no processing.
Brad

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  • 1337224-moon 4.JPG


#71 BradH

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 01:01 AM

This shot is a (6 second) of Orion with cloud cover. Its not a great picture but I was surprised that I got anything with the clouds.

Brad

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#72 BradH

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 01:02 AM

Marcus

I found the Lens it will be on its way.

Brad

#73 JAT Observatory

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 01:51 PM

Thanks Brad!

#74 Jack Huerkamp

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 06:16 PM

Marcus,

Rock made me a 30' cable to test and it should be coming with my latest order of cameras. Hopefully I will receive it next week so I can try it in a dark sky. I have another customer whose camera is coming with my cable, and he is planning on trying to come up with some relays using an RC model aircraft system to turn the switches on and off. He has a small SCT in a Robo-Dome which is just large enough to house the scope and camera. There is no way he can get into the mini-dome to tweak the camera settings.

WRT having to have the camera connected prior to installing the software, I got that from Rock. I will let you know what happens as I already attempted to install the software without a camera connected to the PC and got an error message stating that the software could not detect a camera.

Did you order a GStar cable with the camera? Shevill Mathers has tested his GStar cable with his B&W HYPER and it works perfectly.

Jack Huerkamp

#75 JAT Observatory

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 06:35 PM

Jack,
The camera and the cable where seperate but the cable is for the GStar camera.


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