Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

Use of Video Astro Cameras by CN Members??

This topic has been archived. This means that you cannot reply to this topic.
156 replies to this topic

#76 JAT Observatory

JAT Observatory

    NOT a Wimp

  • *****
  • Posts: 10185
  • Joined: 20 Feb 2005

Posted 03 January 2007 - 10:43 PM

This picture is not very good as I had a rather hard time trying to take a photo of the LCD display (the color balance is also set wrong on the digital camera). The intent here is really to show another way of viewing the output of a astro video camera. In the picture below a Mallincam was connected to my finder scope. The output is being displayed on my PDA. The picture on the PDA is really much better than what is shown here.

Posted Image

#77 rolandskythree

rolandskythree

    Soyuz

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 3544
  • Joined: 24 Jan 2006

Posted 03 January 2007 - 11:20 PM

Nice shot...and typical for the camera. My wife and I did a presentation tonight on videoastro, but nothing was as impressive as them going out to see the high res monitor where we had quickly set up a 10 inch Meade under hazy skies and they saw nearly the same scene live. At the same time I pointed to the region in sky because you could not see Orion AT ALL. But the camera kept doing what it does best and presented the scene in color with little degradation from the lousy conditions...including a full moon within 45 degrees of the object. It does not get much better. Thanks for showing yours.

#78 BradH

BradH

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1058
  • Joined: 19 Jun 2004

Posted 04 January 2007 - 12:15 AM

Marcus no thats a finder, and another great way to use the camera.

Roland

I was amazed that I even got a image of orion. I couldnt believe it picked anything up with the cloud cover. Its really an amazing camera.

Brad

#79 Jack Huerkamp

Jack Huerkamp

    Vendor - Waning Moon

  • -----
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 1089
  • Joined: 13 Oct 2005

Posted 04 January 2007 - 08:27 AM

Marcus,

That is cool being able to view the output of the MallinCam on your PDA! :)

Jack Huerkamp

#80 JAT Observatory

JAT Observatory

    NOT a Wimp

  • *****
  • Posts: 10185
  • Joined: 20 Feb 2005

Posted 04 January 2007 - 07:40 PM

Brad,
Thanks! The lens arrived today. I had to adjust the mounting ring on the camera to get in focus but the lens work inside the observatory for a scope monitor!

Thanks again!

#81 BradH

BradH

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1058
  • Joined: 19 Jun 2004

Posted 04 January 2007 - 09:24 PM

No problem Marcus.

Iam glad you can use it.

Brad

#82 Futzman

Futzman

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 731
  • Joined: 16 Apr 2006

Posted 07 January 2007 - 11:43 PM

Here are some of mine using a DFK41AF02 (1280x960) color, firewire video camera.

M1:

Posted Image

35x18sec stacked images with software field de-rotation (alt-az mode).

m42:

Posted Image

Not real good but it does demonstrate you can do imaging with a video camera, even in alt-az mode, by taking many, short exposures and stacking them.

#83 JAT Observatory

JAT Observatory

    NOT a Wimp

  • *****
  • Posts: 10185
  • Joined: 20 Feb 2005

Posted 12 January 2007 - 12:43 PM

One of my video cameras is being used to monitor my dome’s slit position in relation to the telescopes. Thanks to Brad I have the ability to keep an eye on the dome from the scope’s point of view. I lowered the camera’s gain as well as decreased the iris on the lens in order to use the camera from dusk to dawn. The beauty is this setup provides real-time remote video of the dome’s movement as well as where in the sky the scope is pointing. This is helpful for remote observing during spotty weather.

While I have a cloud detector at the observatory it sees an area about a 120 degrees around the observatory. But I have no idea from the cloud detector which direction the clouds are moving or how fast. Real-time video gives me a better idea. The image on the screen is much better than the highly compressed screen capture shown below. That image is from the camera mounted off the side of the Stellarvue refractor. The dew shield from that scope can be seen toward the top of the frame. The dark object at the bottom is the dew shield from the 10” SCT. Using this camera you I am able to remotely verify the dome’s position. The image is skewed on an angle because the mount is a GEM and pointed east.

I have the ability to remotely switch between this video camera and the one one attached to the F50 finder. One camera is connected using S-video and the other via a RCA jack. The other nice thing is the setup allows me to hear audio from the observatory by adding a small mic. Scope and mounts sometimes make strange noises before they suffer a failure, so it nice to be able to hear remotely.

Posted Image

#84 BradH

BradH

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1058
  • Joined: 19 Jun 2004

Posted 12 January 2007 - 02:32 PM

Marcus

Very cool. I would hate to see your user manual :roflmao: :roflmao:.

Brad

#85 JAT Observatory

JAT Observatory

    NOT a Wimp

  • *****
  • Posts: 10185
  • Joined: 20 Feb 2005

Posted 12 January 2007 - 06:41 PM

The user manual is not to bad. It now includes a short appendix on the video cameras and can be found here .

#86 Jack Huerkamp

Jack Huerkamp

    Vendor - Waning Moon

  • -----
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 1089
  • Joined: 13 Oct 2005

Posted 14 January 2007 - 03:33 PM

Marcus,

Your setup is really neat. I can see why you need to be able to remotely adjust the parameters on your MallinCam. I am sure that eventually Rock will develop a way to both change the camera settings using a PC and also turn the Peltier cooler and HYPER switches on and off remotely.

Jack Huerkamp

#87 JAT Observatory

JAT Observatory

    NOT a Wimp

  • *****
  • Posts: 10185
  • Joined: 20 Feb 2005

Posted 14 January 2007 - 09:34 PM

Jack,
I have my fingers crossed. The remote camera settings are the missing link for my system right now.

#88 rolandskythree

rolandskythree

    Soyuz

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 3544
  • Joined: 24 Jan 2006

Posted 18 January 2007 - 12:47 AM

Just a little observing note from two sessions for readers who might not have used video astro tools...

1. In January at my house we had an observing period a little bit before full moon with a C-5i (a very little SCT) that was mounted with a Stella CAM EX (older generation camera). The night was clear but overwhelmed with moonlight. I brought a friend over who had not used the video astro method of observing. During a two hour period we viewed details of M42, M43 and then ran over to M79 just above the horizon. After these items we went lunar hopping and adjusted the camera accordingly to highlight the border definitions of the "seas". Then we went to the last edges of craters being lighted before full moon became official. We could have had a audience of 10 people and what we did would not have been any different....except to answer dozens of questions about what was being seen. All viewing was done with a 14 in Toshiba high res B&W monitor and all viewing was, of course, live. For a normal classic viewing night using EPs, it would have been a complete washout.

2. A week earlier we took the MallinCAM Hyper Color, set it up on a Meade 10in Go-To, used the high res color monitor at the scope sight but "beamed" the signal from the monitor into McKormick observatory where a club meeting was being held on video astro tools. At the end of the presentation, we simply shut down the powerpoint and the projector picture of M42 filled a 3 foot by 4 foot screen. I ran out and changed a setting on the camera to increase some sensitivity and then ran back in to explain the change. We had never done the wireless transmission before, but it worked out pretty well. I did not have the settings correct on the projecter and the size of the image was too big, but it will worked pretty well. After the meeting was shut down about 10 people went to the monitor sight at the Meade 10 inch as we studied various parts of M42/M43 in color. The moon was full, but the image was relatively undisturbed. (The observatory is also in the center of Charlottesville VA skyglow.) We played with the settings and watched the object before going to the full moon and spending 30 minutes there.

While we watched M42, a thin layer of clouds obliterated the object but we could still see the sword. The image of the object, because of the way the camera worked, never blinked. Contrast and noise had increased slightly, but it would not have stopped a public viewing session at all.

For those who use these tools, these summary reports are not a surprise. For the uninitiated, however, I really recommend trying these tools. As I said during the presentation, it has doubled the opportunities for my wife and I to observe....purely due to being able to observe with marginal sky conditions. Further, we can link DSO and lunar viewing and not miss a beat, which is very helpful during significant parts of the lunar calendar when many observers just plain quit observing. Last, when the crowds thin and we are alone, we can sit together and slowly meander over a few objects of choice to marvel and how He made them. It just does not get much better.

#89 bobalex

bobalex

    Messenger

  • -----
  • Posts: 472
  • Joined: 24 Feb 2007

Posted 25 February 2007 - 06:59 AM

I purchased a Stella Cam EX several years ago to use with my Meade 10" GPS scope. I am very pleased with the results. I am able to watch Triton's motions around Neptune and easily 4 or 5 satellites around Uranus. I estimate that on excellent nights under dark skies, I can reach 16.5 magnitude with this arrangement. The one drawback I noticed was the development of "hot" pixels on the monitor apparently caused by cosmic rays striking the chip in the camera. The view of extended objects such as M42, M17 etc. and globulars is awesome when using this camera.
Bob

#90 rolandskythree

rolandskythree

    Soyuz

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 3544
  • Joined: 24 Jan 2006

Posted 27 February 2007 - 03:04 PM

Thanks for sharing, Bob. The thread has been dormant a bit. My EX was just sold to our club, which is discovering the joys of using these tools. My have since moved to MallinCam products and been very pleased. However, the EX was still doing good. Like you, it had developed a few hot pixels. It is, unfortunately, the drawback to a sensitive chip. However, it is not a showstopper. Hope you continue to enjoy your camera.

You can see what we are doing with a C-5i with the MC Pro Dob by going to the rolandlinda3 gallery in member galleries. It is amazing to me that these little tools make a little scope look like a powerhouse.

Clear skies.

Roland

#91 bobalex

bobalex

    Messenger

  • -----
  • Posts: 472
  • Joined: 24 Feb 2007

Posted 27 February 2007 - 05:07 PM

It's amazing the detail that you were able to see on the various celestial objects that you have sketched with a small scope such as the C-5i. Sketching is one thing I haven't attempted yet with my Stellacam EX and this will give me something to look forward to in the future. I am first going to try some digital photography using my 10" along with the EX and see how that works out. I'm sure that it won't show the detail that you have been able to sketch.
Bob

#92 Sky Captain

Sky Captain

    Metal Whisperer

  • *****
  • Posts: 12248
  • Joined: 07 Nov 2004

Posted 27 February 2007 - 06:27 PM

I'm looking for a more sensitive camera myself, than what I have. Is the SAC Mintron at Orion a good choice for the money or is there a better option for me?

#93 bobalex

bobalex

    Messenger

  • -----
  • Posts: 472
  • Joined: 24 Feb 2007

Posted 27 February 2007 - 07:25 PM

I am not familiar with the SAC Mintron's capabilities. Maybe someone who owns one can help you. The only one I am familiar with is the Stellacam EX.
Bob

#94 Jack Huerkamp

Jack Huerkamp

    Vendor - Waning Moon

  • -----
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 1089
  • Joined: 13 Oct 2005

Posted 28 February 2007 - 10:47 AM

This post New Moon I had the opportunity to observe at Chiefland Astronomy Village in Florida. Although I brought my 17.5" Coulter mirrored AstroSystems TeleKit, I ended up using Bob Schilling's 20" Starmaster and Mike Harvey's 28" Starstructure. Bob has a 28 second MallinCam Color HYPER PLUS and I had a later version that add a 56 second exposure limit. Both scopes performed well with the cameras set to 28 second exposure limits. Attached is a single 28 second frame grabbed from the DVD recorded while using the 28" Starmaster.

Jack Huerkamp

Attached Thumbnails

  • 1452666-M51 28 Single Frame Text.jpg


#95 Jack Huerkamp

Jack Huerkamp

    Vendor - Waning Moon

  • -----
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 1089
  • Joined: 13 Oct 2005

Posted 28 February 2007 - 11:51 AM

Also attached is a stack of five 28 second frames taken from the same DVD recording. There is a slight amp glow visible at the upper left of the image. In talking to Rock Mallin, he said that the latest batch of CCD sensors were more sensitive and the gain on the camera needed to be turned down.

Jack Huerkamp

Attached Thumbnails

  • 1452772-M51 28 Stack of 5 28 Sec Text.jpg


#96 Jack Huerkamp

Jack Huerkamp

    Vendor - Waning Moon

  • -----
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 1089
  • Joined: 13 Oct 2005

Posted 28 February 2007 - 12:50 PM

Brad,

Here is a single 28 second frame of M1 taken with the MallinCam Color HYPER PLUS. It was obtained using Bob Schilling's 20" Starmaster running at about f/2.5.

Jack Huerkamp

Attached Thumbnails

  • 1452904-M1 20 021807.jpg


#97 BradH

BradH

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1058
  • Joined: 19 Jun 2004

Posted 28 February 2007 - 01:20 PM

Very nice images and only a single frame.

What makes the PLUS diff from the normal HYPER?

Have you had the PLUS in a smaller scope yet and if so how did it do.

Now that the weather has broke some up here and I have the new AP 900 up and running I will be spending some with my HYPER.

The last time I used the HYPER I went to Orion and what a veiw using the TMB 130. Problem I didnt have my laptop out and was to lazy :foreheadslap: to go in get. I wish that had some images of what I saw because the view was breath taking.

Brad

#98 skyguy88

skyguy88

    Ranger 4

  • *****
  • Posts: 328
  • Joined: 13 Nov 2006

Posted 28 February 2007 - 07:26 PM

Hi Kerry,
I have been using a SAC mintron for several years. It's a great camera. Always draws a crowd at star parties. I have moved on to a Mallincam Hyper color, but the SAC camera is still a gem and was a lot less expensive. My only reservation would be with SAC which has essentially disappeared. Most of their cameras are gone from their website. One of the two that remains is the SAC 9V, which, if I'm reading the specs correctly is the same camera as the older SAC mintron, and sells for $400. But lot's of luck contacting SAC. The Yahoo SAC board is overloaded with complanints from customers who have problems and can't contact SAC.
If you buy from Orion, you will have some protection.

Bill McDonald

#99 Jack Huerkamp

Jack Huerkamp

    Vendor - Waning Moon

  • -----
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 1089
  • Joined: 13 Oct 2005

Posted 28 February 2007 - 07:36 PM

Brad,

The difference between the HYPER and the HYPER PLUS is the maximum exposures. The HYPERs were either 6 and 12 or 7 and 14. The PLUS is 7,14,28 and 56 seconds.

I have used a B&W PLUS in my friend's 8" Meade LX200 GPS in ALt-Az mode at a cub scout outreach event and we were looking at the Horsehead in 56 second mode with a 10 day old moon about 25 degrees away from it. I also used my 1981 vintage C-8 with a wedge at Chiefland and Bob Schiling was impressed at how similar a 56 second view in an 8 was to a 28 second view in his 20". I will try to see if I have any DVD recordings that I can grab frames from and to process images.

Jack

#100 BradH

BradH

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1058
  • Joined: 19 Jun 2004

Posted 28 February 2007 - 07:55 PM

Thanks Jack.


CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics