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Xbox Livecam Mod (Cliff)


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This was a shot taken through my 130p with Xbox cam and is only unprocessed coz I don't know how to work out the software! :(

Hope to do better, eventually...

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OK, as promised, two images of Jupiter, one from the Xbox cam, the other from the Toucam Pro II. You can see the Toucam is more sensitive as it picked up two moons and there is more detail on Jupiter

I went off Cliff's instructions and figured I would take pictures and explain in a bit more detail...Thanks for the initial mod Cliff. Here is the beginning...Materials used: 1. livecam 2. Plastic ru

Found another bit of film from last night which gives a little more detail from the xboxcam...

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[ATTACH]88048[/ATTACH]

This was a shot taken through my 130p with Xbox cam and is only unprocessed coz I don't know how to work out the ****#=! software! :(

Hope to do better, eventually...

Thats ok dude more practise just keep at it looking great.

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Additional - Still trying to find right combination of camera settings in sharpcap to get a reasonable pic of the moon, nothing seems to allow it to look natural. Mostly exposure/gain/contrast issues but all of it makes a difference. If anyone knows the way to go whilst using xboxcams with sharpcap let me know - will try anything at this point.

Thanks

All the best

Jay.

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Thats ok dude more practise just keep at it looking great.

Cheers Cliff,

And a huge kudos for the cam mod, would'nt be able to get webcam avi's without it. Love the youtube vid with strange lights and Figure tune (Aliens) too.

Many thanks

Jay:hello2:

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Its a lot better than mine was, I deleted it in disgust haha! I now have my Eq 5 with RA drive so will try with that once I get power to it, Im wondering whether to go down the route of rechargeable batteries or a 6v dc mains adaptor. It doesn't state anywhere what polarity the socket/plug is so thats the only thing stopping my trying my 6v dc adaptor.

Another thing I was wondering if anyone knows, it came with a much shorter mounting dovetail, which was shaped for the main and angled securing bolts. I have used this, but the tube rings look too close together now after the usual dovetail. Is this a stronger joint or a weaker one? Which dovetail is best?

Regarding sharpcap, set your exposure to manual, and get used to getting that right first, I wouldnt mess with white balance as it'll just mess things up leave that on auto once you get the exposure right you'll get far better images. Only up the gain if you're trying to get planets Id reckon although Im willing to be put right as Im only guessing at this point. Just going off my photography background.

Edited by daz395
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Hi,

I just fiddle with exposure and gain to get a picture that isn't overexposed. There is a histogram in Sharpcap and that can help, go for about 75% exposure max. Then stack using Registax, I often use version 5 rather than 6 as it seems to make a better job when the images aren't all perfect.

Registax will re-align and balance the colours automatically after stacking by clicking on a button. There are lots of tutorials out there and it is just practice, I must admit its a bit hit and miss with me.

Finally post process in something like Image Analyser, ifranview or Paint.net. These are all free and i use one or sometimes all three to set the colour, contrast and brightness correctly.

I would say that for every time I take pictures I spend about 2 hours processing in Registax (never seem to be able to get it right first time) and then up to another hour post processing. Usually I stack something post process, then think I can do better and start again. You have to have lots of patience and of course a fast machine helps.

every time you shoot and process the same object it seems to get better as you know what works and what doesn't.

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Hey Daz,

Cheers, the pic is not the best i've got but the only one I thought to save an image from in registax.

Congrats on getting your set=up going, not sure about the motor drive - my AZ goto needs 12v tip positive, and i use an adapter from a Energizer battery charger. Soz i cant be more help. Charging batts is a bit 'not up to the task' as far as I can tell from powring my mount, loving the EQ5 as no need for power yet.

My mount is set up without the small white dovetail thingy - its in the box still. I cant see it holding the ota very well, I have the long black bar with the rings already attached - about a foot apart, dunno if that helps....I guess the little one is for SCT's or compact Mak type OTA's?

Anyway hope your doing well,

Good luck with your scope and fingers crossed for the weather.

Cheers

Jay

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Hi,

I just fiddle with exposure and gain to get a picture that isn't overexposed. There is a histogram in Sharpcap and that can help, go for about 75% exposure max. Then stack using Registax, I often use version 5 rather than 6 as it seems to make a better job when the images aren't all perfect.

Registax will re-align and balance the colours automatically after stacking by clicking on a button. There are lots of tutorials out there and it is just practice, I must admit its a bit hit and miss with me.

Finally post process in something like Image Analyser, ifranview or Paint.net. These are all free and i use one or sometimes all three to set the colour, contrast and brightness correctly.

I would say that for every time I take pictures I spend about 2 hours processing in Registax (never seem to be able to get it right first time) and then up to another hour post processing. Usually I stack something post process, then think I can do better and start again. You have to have lots of patience and of course a fast machine helps.

every time you shoot and process the same object it seems to get better as you know what works and what doesn't.

Oh man, thank you DrRobin,

Post-processing! I haven't even gone past registax, yet! I got the copy of Photoshop10 from SkyAtNight magazine, didn't think to use it. Cheers!

I did find last night that i had the pic in shot and focussed alot sooner than the previous evening, but I know so little about what the parameters actually do that I overfiddle in my haste to get a usable avi. file, get lost most of the time. I really appreciate the help, though, as anything I can use as reference is a big bonus. Do you get decent pics with the stock IR filter? As i went straight for the altair screw in and have not noticed any great improvement - then again I dont have a comparison, looking at getting another xcam and wonder if I should keep the IR or get another screw-in?

Thanks again ppl,

Best,

Jay

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Hey Daz,

Cheers, the pic is not the best i've got but the only one I thought to save an image from in registax.

Congrats on getting your set=up going, not sure about the motor drive - my AZ goto needs 12v tip positive, and i use an adapter from a Energizer battery charger. Soz i cant be more help. Charging batts is a bit 'not up to the task' as far as I can tell from powring my mount, loving the EQ5 as no need for power yet.

My mount is set up without the small white dovetail thingy - its in the box still. I cant see it holding the ota very well, I have the long black bar with the rings already attached - about a foot apart, dunno if that helps....I guess the little one is for SCT's or compact Mak type OTA's?

Anyway hope your doing well,

Good luck with your scope and fingers crossed for the weather.

Cheers

Jay

Hiya Jay, thanks for the advice though its much appreciated :-) I'll have a nose about online and see if I can find out if its positive tip, most are but knowing my luck I'll have everything running back to front or worse blowing some circuitry. Those power tanks are stupidly expensive for what they are, I reckon a car starter type thingy would give a nights worth of 12v if not more before needing a recharge.

So far I have the auto focuser up and running... 9 volts, Ive fitted the RA drive which is 6 volts, then if I add a GOTO down the line thats 12 volts! Why caht they stick to a set voltage for everything? 9v rechargeables wont fit in the focus controller either, its hard enough getting a normal duracell in there with the wiring, even than the back wont fit but its so badly designed it just comes off anyway. I expected a lot better quality for near on £50! The RA drive connections are wide open to the elements too.

Best part was they think you're supposed to guess how its fitted too! lol! NO instructions at all for fitting just how to use it in pigeon English.

I'll stick with the long dovetail I think like you have, it does seem like the short one is for MAK's or SCT's/small reflectors.

Im glad Robin has chipped in with advice for the software, Im probably lucky in having photoshop and lightroom as I used to teach em in college before I had me strokes, so I had em on a teaching licence.

Its damn expensive if you have to buy them. Im waffling again here so best shut up haha!

I was going to ask my son to help me set the scope up outside but just had a rumble of thunder, typical!

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Hiya Jay, thanks for the advice though its much appreciated :-) I'll have a nose about online and see if I can find out if its positive tip, most are but knowing my luck I'll have everything running back to front or worse blowing some circuitry. Those power tanks are stupidly expensive for what they are, I reckon a car starter type thingy would give a nights worth of 12v if not more before needing a recharge.

So far I have the auto focuser up and running... 9 volts, Ive fitted the RA drive which is 6 volts, then if I add a GOTO down the line thats 12 volts! Why caht they stick to a set voltage for everything? 9v rechargeables wont fit in the focus controller either, its hard enough getting a normal duracell in there with the wiring, even than the back wont fit but its so badly designed it just comes off anyway. I expected a lot better quality for near on £50! The RA drive connections are wide open to the elements too.

Best part was they think you're supposed to guess how its fitted too! lol! NO instructions at all for fitting just how to use it in pigeon English.

I'll stick with the long dovetail I think like you have, it does seem like the short one is for MAK's or SCT's/small reflectors.

Im glad Robin has chipped in with advice for the software, Im probably lucky in having photoshop and lightroom as I used to teach em in college before I had me strokes, so I had em on a teaching licence.

Its damn expensive if you have to buy them. Im waffling again here so best shut up haha!

I was going to ask my son to help me set the scope up outside but just had a rumble of thunder, typical!

Thunder? Wondering where you are as its forecast for only small clouds here, though the accuracy of the weather dot com thingy is questionable.

That's impressive teaching photoshop, it's totally over my head with the basics, let alone the tech stuff! I wouldn't worry about if you're 'waffling' mate, it's actually good to hear from you, besides I'm also prone to boredom and this forum is a great way for astro-peeps to keep in touch. See if you can get a workable pic of the moon next time you get the chance - it'd be good to compare notes.

Anyway, gotta get some munch and maybe get the 130p out to cool.

Catch ya later,

Jay

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Thunder? Wondering where you are as its forecast for only small clouds here, though the accuracy of the weather dot com thingy is questionable.

That's impressive teaching photoshop, it's totally over my head with the basics, let alone the tech stuff! I wouldn't worry about if you're 'waffling' mate, it's actually good to hear from you, besides I'm also prone to boredom and this forum is a great way for astro-peeps to keep in touch. See if you can get a workable pic of the moon next time you get the chance - it'd be good to compare notes.

Anyway, gotta get some munch and maybe get the 130p out to cool.

Catch ya later,

Jay

Yup, Im up in NE Wales it was just the one rumble, I had a yellow alert from the Met Office on my phone regarding flash flooding and thunder storms earlier... typical my lads just gone out clubbing now so Im stuck indoors and its actually looking pretty good, misty with the odd cloud but Moon is crystal clear! I daren't try get the scope out myself I'll do something stupid like get a crutch caught on something and go head over heels.

Teaching photoshop wasn't too bad as long as you didnt get the know it all, there's always one who knows everything but turns up just to heckle and ask stupid questions to throw you off track. I usually deal with them by taking a photo of them on my phone, and using that for the class to work on with liquify :-) great fun and normally shuts em up. Strokes are a nasty blow to anyones life though, I loved my job and now i cant do it because of the stress plus my memory isnt brilliant anymore. Hence why I tend to waffle a lot about a simple question.

Talking of simple questions, how on earth do you use this RA drive (anyone?) when you switch it on, no lights come on... so I pressed the 8X button and it sprung into life moving REALLY slowly but i could see it moving, I let go, the light turns green.... I press 2X it doesnt seem to move but I understand its only moving a twice the speed of a clock. So is it moving when you dont press anything and the green light is on?

Once Ive managed to get the scope outside with the RA drive going and my lappy connected (I bought a 10 metre USB repeater cable) I'll run off a few vids of the Moon and see if i can work out registax. I have got registax 5 and 6 so I'll compare both but I do seem to recall 5 being more useable than 6.

Glad Im not boring you, Ivejust as many questions as I have answers but its all good in the end I think :(

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Hi,

I retained the original IR filter on my Xbox camera. I suspect there isn't much in it between the stock IR filter and a low cost 1.25" screw in filter and if you glue a piece of plastic pipe on the end of your Xbox it's going to be difficult to get a filter to fit.

The stock IR filter also gives the CCD some protection against dust when not connected to the camera. I don't have a screw in filter any longer to make a comparison, my other two cameras all have an IR window built in, so no need for one.

Re software, I didn't see that PSP was been given away with the mag, I might have got that. Except one of my colleagues bought PSP a couple of years ago, about £700 I think. He thought it was great until he tried Paint.net and now PSP doesn't get used anymore. I guess it comes down to what you like best.

No thunder up here, it's cloudy and misty, so no chance of looking through a scope tonight.

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Ive left my IR filter in the xbox camera for the same reason as you have, it does offer some protection over the sensor. The nosepiece Ive bought fits the camera perfectly and is threaded for filters which will come in handy with the moon and light pollution. I saw a guy on youtube converting a HP 1080p web cam as its exactly 1.25" and just needs the back end of an EP pushing onto it to enable it to be slipped into the focus tube. Apparently (he kept saying the ccd) its great in low light but it wasnt shown actually used! Which after watching a video for 20 minutes was a massive let down. I was expecting to see results but there were none, the camera was a HP HD-4110 but from what Ive found its a CMOS not a CCD. Im not willing to spend that much money to see if it works though. I think another troll through youtube is necessary.

Paint.net is a GREAT prog, I used to use that as a photoshop cut down for the very beginners as thats basically what it is. It didnt tend to scare the life out of people before they'd at least had a go. GIMP is something else, utterly confusing but it'll do anything the big two will do, it just takes a lot of working out but then again, its free.

Glad you're clear of the thunder, I think we're heading into a big storm over the next few days down here.

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Hi,

I tried a MS Lifecam HD Cinema, which is also CMOS. It was pretty good on the planets, but I bought a DFK soon after, so put it up for sale. A lot of these cams don't have an LV mod so they are only any good for bright objects.

I might try my Xbox on Saturn next time out, see how it compares with a DFK. I made a similar comparison with the Lifecam, not as good, but not far behind either.

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There are a few in here using the lifecam cinema to pretty good effect. The sensor in the HP camera was HUGE at least 4 times the size of the xbox cam, Id say it was a similar size to a 4/3rds dslr sensor. It also takes 14mp stills which if that can be converted to long exposures or even stacked 'should' give great results.

I wish I could find the vid now, but I only came upon it by random and never bookmarked it. It will be interesting to see the difference between your DFK and the xbox cam, probably huge Id imagine. I intend to get a full t piece set up for my Sony A500 dslr now my EQ5 is set up with an RA drive, it has a ccd sensor so it should be pretty good.

Im awaiting the moon to show itself through my rear living room window but I bet it clouds over before it arrives. Its SO frustrating that I cant get outside with it! :S

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Like DrRobin, I also thought about targeting Saturn with my xbox cam. So on Saturday I had a little play with my scope and cam. Here is my resulting effort. I did try again using my x2 barlow but I couldn't find any thing, only darkness on the screen :(. Any hints or tips to keep me thinking whilst waiting for my next clear night when I'm not working?

post-35645-133877781611_thumb.jpg

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Hi,

Nice. I wonder what settings for exposure and gain you used? When I imaged Saturn with a DFK31 I got 29 frames per second through an 11" SCT, but when I put a good quality 3x Barlow in line I could only get 3 frames per second.

The reduction in brightness, the smaller field of view and the fact that I needed to re-focus all meant that Saturn was very difficult to find and that was on an EQ6. I would therefore suggest the following reasons why you didn't see anything with the 2x barlow:

1) Too feint for the Xbox (depends on what settings you used without the 2x barlow);

2) Focus too far away, making Saturn very dim;

3) Saturn not centered, therefore out of the field ov view;

4) All three.

Here are my tips, get Saturn in perfect center without the 2x barlow and then make sure your finderscope is also perfectly aligned. Then wack the gain and exposure up to maximum onthe camera. Try adjusting focus to see if you can find Saturn, it will probably be miles out.

The other way is to practise on a bright star or even better the moon. Find the focus point for your scope and camera without the 2x barlow and then find out how much you have to move the focus with the barlow in place. You might find that you can't reach focus with the 2x barlow without an extension tube or shortening the light path.

You could get your finder and camera with 2x barlow focus and aligned on the moon and then use you finder scope to find Saturn. Saturn should then be in the middle of the Xbox frame.

My Xbox only goes down to 7 frames per second, so it just might not be sensitive enough to use with the barlow.

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Hi,

I retained the original IR filter on my Xbox camera. I suspect there isn't much in it between the stock IR filter and a low cost 1.25" screw in filter and if you glue a piece of plastic pipe on the end of your Xbox it's going to be difficult to get a filter to fit.

The stock IR filter also gives the CCD some protection against dust when not connected to the camera. I don't have a screw in filter any longer to make a comparison, my other two cameras all have an IR window built in, so no need for one.

Re software, I didn't see that PSP was been given away with the mag, I might have got that. Except one of my colleagues bought PSP a couple of years ago, about £700 I think. He thought it was great until he tried Paint.net and now PSP doesn't get used anymore. I guess it comes down to what you like best.

No thunder up here, it's cloudy and misty, so no chance of looking through a scope tonight.

Thanks

Yep, will definitely use the existing IR as I think the idea of protecting the chip is a good one. I have the proper nosepeice with the IR screwed in so its kind of protected, but it still looks a little exposed in there.

The Sky at night mag did a starting issue of image processing tutorials four parts i think starting jan 2012, I dont think it will be the £700 version - its called Serif Photoshop 10 - and only the 'special effects' functions are anywhere near 'user friendly' or intuitive, everything else (I find Layers hard to follow) is too unfamiliar to say whether its a full version or not, I had to phone a number and give details in return for a unlocking code.

But I will look at paint.net as anything that will simplify things or is user friendly can only help at this point.

Sorry to hear that Daz, can only imagine the effects of losing your teaching position. Plus not being able to get your gear set up in a hurry, not good man.

I can promise you dont come across as talking too much or anything like that, don't worry. I always think i ask too many questions, but if i hadn't my 1st scope would probably be a **** one and my 2nd would most likely be broken! And not to mention there isnt anyone else i know nearby that is into astronomy as much as me, certainly not enough to get a decent scope or ask to borrow mine. So it's good to know like-mnded people - too many of my mates/associates think aperture is something only a camera can have. :(

Anyway, appreciate the replies - a big help, I can finish my other xbox mod now. Will try a moon filter in the thread end, leaving the original IR filter in place.

All the best,

Clear skies, collimated scopes etc.

Jay

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Hi all, due to having my knuckles rapped for using foul language in this thread even though I self censored it. I'll probably have to leave, my illness (3 strokes and vascular dementure) means I accidentally swear in public, and Im obviously doing it in here too, so I best stay off the forums in case anything else occurs.

I did enjoy talking with you all, but obviously someone has reported me. Jay, be wary of using any *'s like you did up there you'll get pounced on too.

Take care

Daz

Edited by daz395
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Put me normal skycam back to normal lens didnt work with fish eye lensso it's back to original lens as i was making startrails.

also sorted modded xbox cam also with telescope but thats ready for solar viewing ready for venus transiit if lucky enuff capture it.

have 2 cams ready for transit 6th june 1 xbox cam attached to me newt and 1 ps2 cam attached to me 50mm

Edited by Stargazing_Cliff
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Hi, very interested in any sharpcap settings or tips for capturing Saturn via this cam.

I've modded two Xbox cam's - one goes into my scope as an EP (seems to give about the same detail as about a 6mm EP), and the other modded to fit over an EP (so I can get wide shots, full moon etc).

I can just about get Saturn using the over EP cam but it's VERY small and grainy (even registax spat it out in disgust) but I cant get anything at all with the cam inserted directly (thats after I've focused using a 6mm EP and then swapped over to the cam) - any hints?

As a by the way, I know the over EP isnt exactly the greatest choice - but I cant seem to use a reducer so it's my only option. I'm actually quite pleased with what it can do given what it is - here's a pic of last nights moon using it :-)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/65293078@N04/7301342242/

Edited by symbiosis
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Hi,

You are right the equivalent focal length of the Xbox will be about the same as a 6mm eyepiece as it is the chip diagonal that sets this. The point of focus however, may be completely different to your eyepiece.

An eyepiece has a focal length, in this case 6mm, but the point of focus may be inside or outside the eyepiece, actually at 6mm it is probably inside the eyepiece.

The point of focus for a CCD is at the point of focus of the telescope. Generally, I find that the focus is wound out further for my cameras than for my eyepieces, so you might need a short extension tube depending on your scope. Best way is to try it on the moon or even during the day on a distant object until you get it right.

I have never tried 'eyepiece projection' with a camera, it does allow you to vary the magnification, but I prefer the direct connection.

Regarding Registax, if you tried ver 6 and it didn't like your images, I would try ver 5, I find it works better on lower quality images.

If your image is a little small, try the 'drizzle' setting set to 0.5 when stacking, it will increase the time taken to stack but will be worth it.

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DAZ

No way, man! Honesty to god, I was censored once or twice, but everything you have wrote that i have read is not in any way offensive. Its for very mild swears too, the kids on here, thats all. Seriously dude, I wouldn't worry bout it.

I actually read a lot (write too) and your language is fine, totally normal and innoffensive. Sorry, I dont mean to be funny but I didnt want to let you think your communication is flawed, that's all.

I recieved a message from moderator about a mild word and I changed it, no worries.

Wah, hoping u wont leave the site...

Jay

Edited by Aenima
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