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Smeghead

webcams suitable for astronomy

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i think this might have been asked before, but i couldn't find the thread (sorry to duplicate).

is there a list of webcams that are good for astronomy (with or without modifications) ?

using a very old and battered one at the moment, and it really needs replacing !

thanks for your help

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I currently use a Phillips Spc 900

Iv been advised the microsoft live cam cinema he it very good when modified. I think I will be trying this one next. I'm after advice aswell tho to be honest. Are lower frame rates better for a higher quality picture?

tomlines-albums-webcam-images-picture7807-jupiter-recorded-data.jpg

I recently took this without any tracking. 300 odd frames n stacked in registax. I'd like any advice in a bigger n better picture

Thanks

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I have also looked at webcams but it's even harder to fathom than telescopes. The Philps one mentioned by Tinker1947, for example, needs windows xp in order to set up the drivers? hardly the cutting edge of technology (why they can't remedy this I don't know; laziness?) Most others seem to need modifications beyond the remit of most laymen (i.e you will bust the thing attempting to modify it), and also most are only good enough for planetary imaging. I concluded that anyone who seriously wants to go into AP may as well save up and buy a DSLR :)

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I use a Phillips webcam for planetary imaging on a laptop running windows 7 and also got the drivers for vista ok. I did get it when Morgans were selling them cheaply, I think it was £25 for camera, nose piece and flashing at the time. Even if it's limited to planetary imaging I thought it was good value.

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I use a Phillips webcam for planetary imaging on a laptop running windows 7 and also got the drivers for vista ok. I did get it when Morgans were selling them cheaply, I think it was £25 for camera, nose piece and flashing at the time. Even if it's limited to planetary imaging I thought it was good value.

Thanks tbird. Morgans are out of them but Sherwoods seem to have them in for £35. I just need to know if they are pre-flashed for W7. If so, I might actually take a chance and get one :) As you say, for planetary photography, you can't complain at that price!

Edited by Catweazel

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Catweazel,

My Philips webcam works on XP, Vista & 7. I've never downloaded any drivers or software for it & I've had it for 2 years. I got mine for £30 from Ebay but I saw recently the guy has bumped his prices right up so I'd avoid getting it from him.

They generally come pre-flashed for planetary photography when you purchase them. The only other optional modification required is if you want to take long exposures or if you want to use it as a guidecam.

They are best suited to planetary photography & are much better than DSLR cameras on the Moon & planets. So if you want to photograph DSO, I would recommend a DSLR but definitely use a webcam or dedicated planetary camera for within the Solar system.

The Philips is a good webcam though, I would definitely recommend it. For the price it is an impressive piece of kit. I know there are better planetary cameras out there but they usually cost £100 plus.

Jeff

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Catweazel,

My Philips webcam works on XP, Vista & 7. I've never downloaded any drivers or software for it & I've had it for 2 years. I got mine for £30 from Ebay but I saw recently the guy has bumped his prices right up so I'd avoid getting it from him.

They generally come pre-flashed for planetary photography when you purchase them. The only other optional modification required is if you want to take long exposures or if you want to use it as a guidecam.

They are best suited to planetary photography & are much better than DSLR cameras on the Moon & planets. So if you want to photograph DSO, I would recommend a DSLR but definitely use a webcam or dedicated planetary camera for within the Solar system.

The Philips is a good webcam though, I would definitely recommend it. For the price it is an impressive piece of kit. I know there are better planetary cameras out there but they usually cost £100 plus.

Jeff

Thanks for the advice Jeff, I was obviously looking in the wrong places when I looked into webcams in the past? I will definately give a Philips cam a try :)

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I think the confusion is that the basic SPC880 from Morgans requires flashing to become a 900. The software that is used to flash the firmware available from the Morgan web site will only run on an XP platform. If you buy the pre-flashed version it will work on all windows platform from XP to W7 (32 bit), although under Vista and Windows 7 you have to manually apply the driver.

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thanks for the replies.

are any HD webcams suitable ?

(probably just my naive thinking, but better res = better images ? )

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thanks for the replies.

are any HD webcams suitable ?

(probably just my naive thinking, but better res = better images ? )

Watching with interest. :)

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Used my Philips SPC 880 (pre flashed from Morgans) the other night and was pretty pleased with what I got for the first attempt. Will need to do alot of reading to get the most from it.

I also have a Microsoft Lifecam HD which we use with Skype, don't think the wife will be impressed it I butcher that so I'll have to get another one. Saw this on Astronomy Shed on how to adapt them:

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I currently use a Phillips Spc 900

Iv been advised the microsoft live cam cinema he it very good when modified. I think I will be trying this one next. I'm after advice aswell tho to be honest. Are lower frame rates better for a higher quality picture?

tomlines-albums-webcam-images-picture7807-jupiter-recorded-data.jpg

I recently took this without any tracking. 300 odd frames n stacked in registax. I'd like any advice in a bigger n better picture

Thanks

Tom, you will get much better detail if you take between 2000 and 2500 frames, as that will give the software more good frames to use in the final stack. I usually use 25 - 30 fps for Jupiter (so that's about an 80 second .avi), although some people do seem to like less fps better.

Also, change your "Colour Space / Compression" setting to YUY2 as it is the best.

Experimentation is the key for what works best for your setup.

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I think the confusion is that the basic SPC880 from Morgans requires flashing to become a 900. The software that is used to flash the firmware available from the Morgan web site will only run on an XP platform. If you buy the pre-flashed version it will work on all windows platform from XP to W7 (32 bit), although under Vista and Windows 7 you have to manually apply the driver.

Mine (also pre-flashed by Morgans) works fine with both Vista 64 bit and Windows 7 64b bit.

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i got mine from here

Philips Astro Cam - A geat way to get into Astro Imaging

no problems with it what so ever

again as above tho - with webcam is resolution key or not

iv heard the lifecam cinema hd is quite good but would it result in better then pics then my current 'astrocam'

the lifecam is on offer for £25 from pc world

I was going to ask the question, but this gives me a good answer. I hadn't come across the Sherwoods site before - I was looking at the webcam from Telescope House which is priced at around £60-£60, yet Sherwoods is on at £35. Not a huge difference, but is the cheaper one missing anything?

I've got a laptop, etc, ready to go - do I need a Barlow to help out at all?

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it helps, i have a 2x and it makes a difference, just remember apperture/mag rules

i was advised the image from the cam is the equivilent of aroun 4-6mm eye piece so bare that in mind when looking at barlowing as you may go over the useful magnification - the 2x works fine with mins. ive even stacked a 2x and a 2x in to a 4x and still got clarity on a night of really good visibilty so im considering purchasing a 5x but i doubt ill be able to use it very often

i think im guna get a 4x tho as the 2x+2x combo obvisouly has more glass and there for more onstruction and lack of quality

in coventry for the last 3 nights the conditions have been (dare i jinx it) perfect!

super clear with no atmospheric abberation i believe the term is

really nice viewing conditions

ill ask teh forum tho, with my set up. would a 4x damage the image over a 2x?

im looking for a biogger better picture on my skywatcher 130 using the above astro cam

what would u suggest? a 4x barlow.......possible or a waste of money?

thanks all, hope my limited knowledge helps

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Used my Philips SPC 880 (pre flashed from Morgans) the other night and was pretty pleased with what I got for the first attempt. Will need to do alot of reading to get the most from it.

I also have a Microsoft Lifecam HD which we use with Skype, don't think the wife will be impressed it I butcher that so I'll have to get another one. Saw this on Astronomy Shed on how to adapt them:

yeah, this is the sort of thing that concerned me about using webcams, the link given here links in turn to a site about the modifications needed to use this webcam for AP Instructions for Converting Microsoft Lifecam Cinema HD Webcam for Telescope Use -by Gary Honis it looks horrific and there is no way that most folk would attempt this! :)

for those with the SPC880, does it need all of the above gubbins done to it as well, or is it ready to be used as is? Also, does it need an adapter to attach it to the eye-piece of the scope?

Thanks.

CW

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I just installed the software on the disc I got & it was ready to go.

When you're looking for one, make sure that it is pre-flashed & has the 1.25" adapter & it'll be ready to go. If it doesn't have a IR & UV blocking filter fitted on it then I would recommend purchasing one asap. It will work without it but the sensor would be exposed to dust.

Jeff

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Tom, you will get much better detail if you take between 2000 and 2500 frames, as that will give the software more good frames to use in the final stack. I usually use 25 - 30 fps for Jupiter (so that's about an 80 second .avi), although some people do seem to like less fps better.

Also, change your "Colour Space / Compression" setting to YUY2 as it is the best.

Experimentation is the key for what works best for your setup.

Interesting!! I was avised to set to 10 fps and that you could go as low at 5 if the seeing was excellent! That does mean that you need to limit your frames to around 1800 as jupiter rotates quite fast.

I guess there must be some kind of balance point between FPS and number of frames to stack!

As you say experimentation is the key! Perhapes I'll try upping the frame rate and get more frames next time round!

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some good points here.

looking at the replies it looks like a spc880/900/toucam is the current way to go as the current crop of hd webcams are too fiddly to convert.

bit of a shame as i'd have liked to get a hd webcam.

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I ran a capture at 16:58 tonight whilst Jupiter was in deep twilight. 3000 frames with around 94% stacked. - Taken with a Morgan's flashed SPC880

Here are the settings in Sharpcap


[Philips SPC 900NC PC Camera]
Resolution=640x480
Frame Rate (fps)=10.00
Colour Space / Compression=YUY2
Exposure=-6
Brightness=64
Contrast=32
Saturation=0
Gamma=21
ColorEnable=255
BacklightCompensation=0
Gain=34

The AVI was processed in Registax 5.1. It's not the best image of Jupiter that's featured on SGL, but hopefully will give you some idea of what you can get with a £30 web cam, and an 8" scope.

post-23388-133877718764_thumb.png

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So I've taken the plunge and have ordered the webcam from Sherwoods. It's very unlikely now that I'll get three fantastic nights of viewing like I've had the previous three! (same with snow - love it, but no chance this year after my wife bought snow shovels).

A chance to cut my teeth on some solar system imaging, and then onwards!

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Congrats on the decision. I promise you within 2 or 3 nights of trying it u will get something good. The one I uploaded at the very start was only my second ever attempt. Let us know how u get on :-) good luck

Ps. The first time u see a planet in your eye piece is unbeatable. But it's pretty close when you first see it on your laptop screen lol. I'm a tech lover n this was brilliant for me!

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