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Laptop/netbook for webcam pics?


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I'm hoping to get into astrophotography with my Skywatcher Exp 150p using a webcam. What is the minimum requirement computer-wise for capturing the images. I have two desk tops suitable for manipulation software, just want something to take outside to record as it were. Has anyone tried a very long USB lead? Would it work?

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There is a maximum practical length for USB of 3 or 4 meters, the power just drops out after that.

A netbook is pretty much perfect, from what I can tell. If it has the juice to run the webcam at 5 frames per second, it will be fine.

Alan

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I have been using a Samsung N110 which I was given after my sister in law got a macbook.

It runs the webcam (through sharpcap) pretty well - drops a few frames at 15-20 fps, but at 10 fps is pretty solid. Long battery life as well (over 6 hours normal use, but it hasn't run out yet on an evening of recording)

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Im planning on doing the same, capture on a laptop and then just transfer it over to a desktop.

I use an old Toshiba Satelite U200, im not sure what its spec is but its nothing special and seems to be up to the job.

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I have just purchased an Acer Aspire, it will give me about 4 hours use according to the spec which should be enough for what i want to use it for.

Just waiting for my webcam to arrive and clear night to go out and try it

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FWIW, my 2p ...

Go for:

1. As many USB's as poss (I think a lot come with 3, but you can run out quickly)

2. HDD size - particularly as you are going to use a webcam and take avis

3. Battery life - a long session on a winter evening can expire a battery surprisingly quickly [may be worth considering investing in a spare if you plan to do a lot away from home - at a dark site?]

EDIT:

Just re-read OP. Don't worry too much about extra USB's if you are using a webcam

Edited by Demonperformer
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Just a note - when a manufacturer says in its brochure that the battery will last 4-5-6 hours this is with the laptop turned on and thats it, the battery will go down a lot quicker when being used as when being used it gets warm then the fan runs etc etc...

If you are going to use the laptop in your own back garden then why not install a "correctly rated RCD protected 240v outlet" in the garden these are weather protected and unless you feel like it's going to rain then plug in. obviously you wouldnt even use a laptop outside on battery if it were going to rain.

** If you do wish to install an outside socket, get it installed properly by a qualified sparky **

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Just replaced my old laptop which had 2 worklng USBs but I needed more when I added more on, so I added a USB hub. (guide camera, DSLR etc.)

Decided my minimum requirement was 3 USBs.

Had an external socket professionally installed for the lawn mower a few years ago when I had a conservatory put up.

Now run the laptop off the extrnal socket via extension lead, but use a waterproof box for the extension reel and laptop adapter. Stops it all falling into the damp grass.

Once all your kit is set up, battery time does drain and the older the battery the quicker it drains.

But for astro photogaphy laptop or notebook is the way to go.

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I've got a Samsung N10 for solar imaging and its great. Its light enough to hold in one hand and the battery lasts for hours on end. Its got a decent size hard drive (although its amazing how quickly a webcam avi eats memory!!)

Helen

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I have a nice 20m extension lead in the garage for when i cut the grass so i can always get that out and plug my netbook into the mains if the battery is getting low or i know im going to be doing a long session.

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I use a ACER Inspire One 11.6" netbook with Windows 7 Home Premiumn and 2gb RAM

Phillips SPC900nc works fine

Sharpcap works fine.

Registax 5 and 6 work fine , i have processed my short captures on the netbook ok

GIMP to clear up final image works fine.

Stellarium - flickers on start up but clicking full screen and then back again so there is a status bar at the top of the screen eliminates this for some reason.

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One issue I found with a netbook is the limited screen size. Its ok for most uses, but some programs (Meade envisage for instance) would like more than 1024x768 sized window, and as a result although I can run it, the bottom half of the window is not visible even in full screen. This bit has the focusing assist bit - so I can't really use that part of it.

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About using stellarium on these devices - keep a fairly constant lookout for updated graphics drivers. The graphics units used in them is generally a lower speed variant of a bigger GPU.

As soon as you get one, go online and find the most recent graphics drivers. Most should have zero issues running stellarium.

Alan

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Thanks guys,

It looks like a netbook will do the job then - and a lot cheaper than an otherwise unneccesary laptop. As it happens.... I am a spark (in the tradesman sense) so no problems there. Many thanks, (that's a few each folks) Paul

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