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Despite the wonderfully clear skies last night, I couldn't muster the energy to go out for a session, so just played around with a Mickey Mouse All Sky Camera I have assembled out of bits. Really it is just a cylindrical Tupperware container with a hole cut in the lid for a plastic dome to be fixed into place. I used parts of smart camera bracket to hold the camera in place inside the container, with a Fujinon zoom lens attached. To provide a bit of dew control I just wrapped an 8" dew strip a couple of times around and wedged it in place just underneath the dome. After some messing around with focus and aperture setting, I got it working reasonably ok. Despite being a complete muppet in IT terms, I managed to get an old laptop setup in my shed with teamviewer on it so I could access it from the house either on my laptop or phone. It seems to work well, got some good views last night, fun watching the planes go over and the constellations slowly moving. If nothing else it is useful to see if it is clear or not. There is obviously a fair amount of distortion as soon as you get off axis, probably a combination of the lens and the cheap dome. I'm not looking for quality so no need to do anything about this. I will have a play with the aperture to get the best results. With the light pollution around here it is a tricky balance to draw the fainter stars out without blowing the whole lot! I experimented with 30 and 60 second exposures, plus fiddling 'in the dark' with the other settings in SharpCap. A bit of fun, although this morning the dome had frozen over so clearly more heating required! Later I did pop the Heritage 130P out later on (after watching some appallingly bad film Mrs Stu had selected!) and had a quick run around a few objects. I was struggling with the eyepiece position on the alt az mount. I have the mount quite high on a pillar so I can clear the hedges so the eyepiece is either ontop or below the tube. I fitted an L bracket I had spare and although that added a bit of flex visible at high power, it was definitely more comfortable. The Skysurfer V RDF I have fitted is also a little too close for comfortable use so I need to find a way of extending that out a little. M42 was surprisingly good at low power, clear green tinge to it unfiltered and the Trapezium split showing all four components at x27. Didn't try higher power. Not having much time, I wanted to check a few doubles to see how the optics stood up. Polaris first, and whilst the primary was a little messy, the secondary showed beautifully as a tiny sharp pin point, really nice. Collimation seems pretty good but will check more thoroughly next time out. Sigma Orionis next, and with the 6mm setting on the Nag Zoom, x108, all four components were visible, even the very faint fourth was quite clear, a nice result. Finally Algieba. Reasonably tight double at 4.7" separation and mag 2.2 and 3.6 components. This too gave a nice split, again stars are not nearly as clean as in the Tak, and bit 'hairy' but as a quick grab and go it was still a nice image. Actually that was not quite finally, I had a quick trawl across the Auriga clusters, and the additional aperture showed it's worth here, really quite pleasant views, well worth a look. I guess I'm just reinforcing what others have said. This is a very capable little scope, very compact and light but great fun to use. Now I've finally found my plumbers tape, the focuser is much smoother and holds position well, no real need for an upgrade. Here area couple of screen shots from the world's worst ASC EDIT Found some pics of the beast itself ?
This is an upgrade of my Mark 4 with different camera and several additions including Peltier TEC cooling to reduce noise and using the Raspberry Pi for image capture and control. In addition I shall be using WiFi to connect from a desktop computer for control and image transfer. I'm currently learning how to use the RPi almost from scratch - I have used Linux in the past.
This will be a thread detailing some of the changes and additions I will be doing to my ASC/Weather Station project. This is version 2.0 as I'll be making some very big changes from the initial project and I think continuing on in the existing thread would not have made much sense. So, I still want to use an APS size sensor as after seeing the quality and light capturing capabilities of the now defunct Opticstar DS-616C XL camera and Meike lens I simply cannot go back to using a smaller lens/sensor combination. One thing is certain, I won't be paying £400 or potentially more for another APS astro sized camera so with that in mind I plan on heavily modifying a Nikon D50 DLSR and use the same lens. I chose the D50 primarily due to it having a CCD sensor (ICX453AQ) very close in specs to the one in the Opticstar (ICX413AQ) and the fact that I got a hold of a fully working body for £25. Now there's a few issues with going down the DSLR route which I plan on addressing as follows: The oversized camera body can be stripped down to bare essentials and fitted in the existing case with some moving of parts around Uncooled, the sensor is quite noisy so to cool it I plan on using the existing Opticstar enclosure with the TEC and hopefully get it purged with Argon to avoid dew formation. Also, since the box will need to be completely sealed to achieve this, there's simply not enough room inside for the main board to which the sensor connects to. The only way around this is using an 39pin 150mm long FPC extension which I managed to find and will be arriving shortly. This means I can have the sensor completely sealed with enough slack in the connection to place the mainboard anywhere I want. The D50 uses the NEF file extension as a "RAW" file format but it's not truly RAW and a heavy median filter is applied to all long exposure images to smooth out the noise. It works great for day to day shots, but in an application such as mine it'll most probably eliminate or severely affect my stars as most of them at the FL I'll be using the camera at will be a few pixels across and the Nikon median filter is very aggressive with such small features. The way around this is what's commonly known as Mode 3 on Nikons. Nikons have a additional Noise Reduction mode which takes the long exposure light first then straight after an equal length dark with the shutter closed, then applies the dark on the light and you get a further noise reduced image which again works very well, but not so much for AP. With mode 3 you essentially have the NR feature on and take an exposure but then immediately shut down the camera after the light has finished exposing. What this does is it causes the camera to dump a REAL RAW image onto the SD card without applying the median filter OR the Noise Reduction process. This obviously results in a much noisier image as expected, but all the stars will still be there and the image in this way can then be dark-subtracted and processed to my liking. I'll post some test shots I've taken to illustrate this. The D50 uses a hybrid shutter, both the CCD electronic shutter and mechanical shutter are used depending I think on the exposure length. If a high enough exposure is used, from what I understand, one can use exclusively the electronic shutter, but for longer exposures the shutters work in conjunction. Now I know the ICX413AQ in the Opticstar is more than capable of taking long exposures solely with its electronic shutter despite the fact that in its datasheet they recommend a mechanical shutter for proper use. So, my thinking is since the D50's sensor is similar to the ICX413AQ the only thing preventing the camera from being able to take any exposure using exclusively the electronic shutter is that its mechanical shutter is in the way and I don't think that the camera would prevent the CCD electronic global shutter itself to still open and close when required. However, this is all a theory at the moment and the only way to confirm it is to test the camera with the sensor outside when the FPC cable arrives. More on this later... In terms of capture software available, the D50 is actually very poor and I could only get digiCamControl to see and control the camera via USB. But I won't be using this as when the camera is hooked up to the PC its SD card is identified as a storage drive and the camera can be used as it would normally with the images appearing on the drive after being written to the SD! Since I'm using my VB app to process the images I would just point the app to that folder and should work. That's all I can think of for now but if and when new ones come up I'll add them here. Next I'll be describing some of the other changes planned.
Computar 2.6mm F1.0 CCTV lens This high quality ultra fast ultra wide angle CCTV lens is great for use with a highly sensitive CCTV camera for video recording meteors. These ultra fast lenses were discontinued by Computar several years ago and are now very rare. They originally sold for over $300 each. Excellent condition. Lenses free from scratches and internal dust. DC auto iris tested and working. £85 + £8 postage to UK mainland