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curtisca17

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Everything posted by curtisca17

  1. I have put together a series of blog articles on my web site as an introductory guide for anyone looking to get into EAA. So far the topics covered include mounts, telescopes, cameras, key accessories and, most recently a survey of typical software used for EAA. I will add more to the series as time goes by. Please take a look if you are new to EAA or, if you are already a pro please take a look and give me your feedback so that I can make this even better. You will find the series here, just scroll down for each edition: https://www.californiaskys.com/blog/category/eaa-for-beginners Best Regards, Curtis
  2. New Members 14 10 posts Location: California, USA I posted this over in the EEVA forum, but I think it will be of interest to a lot of folks doing all other types of astronomy as well. I spent a large part of last year improving my setup for use in the field. This included replacing my power hungry laptop with a mini-pc, adding a power and USB distribution hub to make everything neat and computer controlled, learning how to make Anderson PowerPole connectors, and, certainly the most time consuming aspect, testing several different lithium based power sources and solar panels to replace my lead acid batteries and gasoline generator while in the field. I put all of my learning together into a presentation that I gave last Sunday night on The Astro Imaging Channel. This video presentation is available to view on YouTube here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6cCSPgtmd7U I organized this around what I think are the 3 basic questions one needs to answer when designing a power setup for the field: 1. How much power does one need 2 What are the latest in lithium based power options 3. What is a good way to connect everything I hope others will find this helpful Best Regards, Curtis
  3. Martin, Thanks for your comment. There are so many power supply options out there that it is hard to know which are worthwhile and which are not. As I mention in the video, I have had success with the solar generators from Jackery and Maxoak, but solar generators have a lot of added features that not everyone needs and is willing to pay for. In that case, there are some very good LiFePO4 batteries available but one just has to add their own connections just like we do with lead acid batteries. Regards Curtis
  4. I spent a large part of last year improving my setup for use in the field. This included replacing my power hungry laptop with a mini-pc, adding a power and USB distribution hub to make everything neat and computer controlled, learning how to make Anderson PowerPole connectors, and, certainly the most time consuming aspect, testing several different lithium based power sources and solar panels to replace my lead acid batteries and gasoline generator while in the field. I put all of my learning together into a presentation that I gave last Sunday night on The Astro Imaging Channel. This video presentation is available to view on YouTube here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6cCSPgtmd7U I organized this around what I think are the 3 basic questions one needs to answer when designing a power setup for the field: 1. How much power does one need 2 What are the latest in lithium based power options 3. What is a good way to connect everything I hope others will find this helpful Best Regards, Curtis
  5. Mike and Rob, Thanks for your kind comments. Night Vision is an interesting approach in its own right. One that I have no experience in either. Which is one of the reasons for not including it in the history. I would say that it does fall under the category of Camera Assisted Viewing since Night Vision instruments are truly cameras as well. They are just designed to be very sensitive in the IR which is the basis for the ability to see in low light situations. Very early in my career I had the opportunity to work at GE in Syracuse NY on NV technology for the military. Was an interesting and challenging opportunity but I chose a career in data storage systems in sunny San Diego, CA instead. Best Regards, Curtis
  6. I got into EAA when I bought my first video camera from Mallincam in 2010 and have enjoyed it ever since. I also have watched this pursuit change over the nearly 10 years now that I have been a part of it. And I have tried to share what we do with others through a number of talks given to local astronomy clubs, outreach events, an article in the March issue of Sky & Telescope, postings and through my website. Around 2014 I began to be curious about the development of video astronomy for deep sky viewing in real time and started researching the topic. Well, after more than 5 years I have finally assembled the information I have been able to collect into an article on my website which I would like to share. I tried my best to be complete and verify information from multiple sources. I will tell you that there is a fair amount of misinformation out there and I tried to make sure that I do not repeat it. I used every resource I could get my hands on to fill in as much of the details of the decades long journey that is analog video astronomy of the deep sky. My summary is based on material I have found in a number of books including Steve Massey's two books on video astronomy, Antony Cooke's book "Visual Astronomy Under Dark Skies", Robert Reeves "Introduction to Webcam Astronomy", along with dozens of articles in Sky and Telescope, Astronomy Magazine, Sky News and more over the past 30 years. It also includes a review of thousands of early posts on the Yahoo Groups: "Video Astronomy", "Quickcam and Unconventional Imaging Astronomy Group",and "Mallincam," along with hundreds of posts on the CN EAA forum and the Stargazers Lounge forum to help me pin down details about each camera along with dates and features. To dig still deeper I also exchanged emails with a number of individuals on the CN forum and others including Rock Mallin, Jack Heurkamp and Jim Ferreira who had first hand knowledge of the early days that I did not. Multiple attempts to reach out to Steve Massey were unsuccessful, hence I could not pin down more details on the GSTAR camera series. To cross check information I also reviewed hundreds of on line web sites and postings by individuals which included camera specifics and pictures. I also bought several vintage cameras to see for myself and to begin to build a collection which spans the history of this hobby and save that history from oblivion. I am still looking for any and all such vintage cameras (Mintron, Watec, Supercircuits, Stellacam, Mallincam, GSTAR, Polaris, ITE, Orion etc.) to add to this collection, but it has reached the point that I cannot justify the expense and am hoping to find individuals who have some of these cameras just collecting dust and are willing to donate these to help preserve history. Maybe one day I can get S&T do publish an article on this history. I hope I have done justice to our little branch of the astronomy hobby. It is necessarily long as it spans nearly 3 decades. I would appreciate feedback where I am missing detailed information and anywhere that I may have not gotten things exactly right. Here is the link: https://www.californiaskys.com/blog Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all Curtis
  7. Shriva and Pete - thank you very much for the compliments. Rob - I thought it was clear from the text that all images were from the ASI224MC, but apparently not. I will edit the image labels to make it glaringly obvious. The blog is not meant as a comparison of the different camera performances since I could not afford to buy so many cameras, especially all with the same sensor. The purpose is to give newcomers an idea of what they can see with this sensor and let them know about all of the different versions available and key differences and similarities in features. Another good point about the ASI224 diameter. Thanks for your inputs. Best Regards Curtis
  8. I would like to share a blog summarizing the features of the many USB cameras using the Sony IMX224 Color CMOS sensor on my web site. These include the ASI224MC, both Rising Tech cameras, the Mallincam Skyraider AG1.2C, the Altair Astro GPCAM3, the QHY224C and the Revolution Imager224. I did not test all of these cameras, but wanted to capture all of the common and different features in one place. I do, however, provide images from the original 224 camera, the ASI224. If anyone has any corrections, please let me know. The blog can be found here: https://www.californiaskys.com/blog Best Regards Curtis
  9. Todd I'm sure you can do much better than what i share. Check this guide for some helpful insights on live stacking which does use USB cameras, although the process is not fundamentally different. https://www.cloudynights.com/topic/596760-unofficial-sharpcap-quick-start-guide/page-2?hl=%2Bsharpcap+%2Bunofficial+%2Bguide#entry8399976 Regards Curtis
  10. Todd, The ASI224 is a good camera to get started with as others have confirmed. Works quite well when paired with Sharpcap SW which will allow you to stack images on the fly and extend the overall exposure to many minutes without star trailing. I am glad to see that you also bought a 0.5X FR as that will help speed up your system and allow much shorter exposures which is critical with an Alt-Az mount. As for the 6SE, I think given your desire to test the waters, it is a fine choice. I wrote about it here: https://www.cloudynights.com/topic/540494-light-weight-portable-low-cost-eaa-setup/ And you can find more images taken with the ASI224MC and 6SE on my web site here: https://www.californiaskys.com/ Obviously one can put together a much better, and more expensive, EAA rig than the 224 + 6SE, but I can heartily recommend it for anyone looking for a relatively low cost, light weight, portable and easy to set up system. You do not have to polar align since it is an Alt-Az mount, but Sharpcap will counter field rotation very well for, in my case, at least 5 minutes. If you like EAA you can always move up in class. If you want to stay with Alt-Az you can get a Nexstar Evolution which will track better than the SE or you can get an EQ mount if you really want to go to long single frame exposures. I like my Hyperstar immensely but I think I would use it on a larger optical tube like an 8" or larger. I can second the suggestion of the MC MFR5 II which is more versatile and I think gives better results than the much cheaper 0.5X reducers. However, it is quite expensive and I am only able to get down to ~ f/4.5 without serious vignetting. Good luck with your entry into EAA. Best Regards, Curtis
  11. Like most security cameras it has DNR (Dynamic Noise Reduction) which allows it to average up to 6 frames inside the camera. This is not the same as stacking since it is not summing the data, but averaging it. Still, this process cleans up the background noise very nicely and as a result gives an image which shows more detail. Maximum exposure is 5 sec so with DNR=6 it will average over 30sec. DNR can be turned off or set to any number of frames up to 6. No computer require. Now, i you want to use a computer, just like any other analog video camera the composite video output is feed through a video capture device (like a Pinnacle Dazzle or equivalent) to the computer. The image can be viewed, frames can be stacked and stretched and dark frames can be subtracted using software like the free Sharpcap. Instead of repeating everything I wrote on CN, you can read more and see pictures of the camera kit here: http://www.cloudynights.com/topic/537372-revolution-imager-r2/ Best Regards, Curtis
  12. The R2 is a very nice analog video camera which does quite well on DSOs. While limited to 5sec exposures it can average 6 frames internally to reduce noise and bring out more detail. It comes with a 0.5x focal reducer, UV-IR filter, LiIon battery, UTC hand control, 7" LCD monitor, cables and a carrying case for $300. A very nice setup for a beginner, someone on a budget or for outreach. Here are a couple of images I took with it at a dark site with a Celestron SE6 (6" SCT on an Alt-Az mount) using Sharpcap to stack frames. M51 and M20 are 90sec stacks, M27 is a 60sec stack and M63 is a 5min stack. Note, because Sharpcap can translate and rotate frames I could do this on an Alt-Az mount without star trailing. Best Regards, Curtis
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