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Ships and Stars

New to EEVA, Video Camera or NV tube?

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Hi all,

Sorry to be running in circles here on SGL. My goal, like the vast majority of visual astronomers, is to see faint nebula and various DSOs in 'real-time' or near-real time. I am under widely varying LP conditions ranging from some horrible urban floodlights near home, down to Bortle 2/3 at my dark sky spots.  

After buying and selling a Mullard 1332XX Gen 2 tube earlier this year (it was way too heavy), I simply looked at getting my hands on a larger scope with more aperture to do this. I already have a 20" dob, so anything bigger is going to cost an absolute ton and push the limits of what I can transport. I've heard EEVA results will far outstrip any increases in aperture us mere mortals can afford, unless you happen to own a 40" dob in the Nevada desert. Some of the NV tube phone images I've seen here on SGL are amazing as well.

I've read a small bit on what EEVA is and basically I gather there are two avenues - one is using a low light video camera to view through a monitor or laptop, and the other is using an NV tube attached to an EP like a 55mm TV plossl.

I'd prefer to keep things light and simple without cables, don't want to do any live stacking or drag a laptop around, and want to look through an eyepiece, not at a monitor. However, I do have a budget, so understand I may have to go the camera route. 

What  EEVA set-up would you choose for around £500-£1000, and if you could, what higher end set-up for around £1000-1500+? I buy most of my gear used, so I'd keep an eye out for any bargains. 

I'm looking at:

1.) old school like a Watec 910HX (how do you even view the image, analogue to digital then on a laptop? Is it a disappointing low-res view? Can you run a Watec off a 12v leisure battery in the field?)

2.) something like an Atik, ZWO or Starlight Xpress viewed through a laptop

3.) a proper NV tube that attaches to an eyepiece or prime focus  (probably the most expensive, but most effective option). 

4.) Are thermal cameras something you can use, and are they crazy expensive?

To make a simplistic eyepiece analogy, I'm looking for the Baader Morpheus of the EEVA world, great quality, but not Ethos expensive.

Ideas?

Edited by Ships and Stars

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Ships,

I can’t comment on EAA but hopefully can give you some help on the night vision side. My personal preference is for nv rather than eaa since nv is live and ‘feels’ very similar to normal raw glass observing. However as you have noted it’s generally much more expensive than the entry eaa systems.

It’s at the very top end of your budget but for 2000 euros you can get a monocular fitted with an ex-military night vision tube. Anything cheaper just won’t give decent results. You will also need an ha filter and possibly a long pass filter (although as you view at dark sites you can probably skip the long pass filter). For 2000 euros you will only get a green tube and won’t have gain control either (which is useful to ‘tune’ out the scintillation that you often get when using ha filters).

This thread gives the link to the French company that sells the Ex-military European nv options (Europeans can’t buy the USA tubes due to itar laws).

There are only 4 nv users on SGL to my knowledge (me, PeterW, Highburymark and Alanjgreen) but there’s a fair few posts on it over the past two years if you search for night vision. 

Edited by GavStar
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The fact is that you already have a powerful scope(20", wow!). You could try EEVA with a zwo asi 294 or an attik infinity paired with an 8", F/4 scope and you would see more than the 20"...but EEVA with a camera and a 20" dob is going to be very (extremely)  difficult to track an object and not very rewarding fov-wise, unless you are hunting for tiny and faint galaxies. Is your dob goto with extremely good tracking???

So, if I were in your shoes, and already had considered of splashing an extra 3-5.000 £ to upgrade to a 28-30" dob, then I would definitely go with a proper NV device gen3 or gen4 (Gavstar and his gang know more about those "proper" specs). That way, there is no need for excellent tracking, big fov with a reducer or afocal, no laptop/cables, and a look-through-the-Eyepiece effect.

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Eeva or video astronomy has changed a lot over the years,, going from analogue to digital cameras,, even techniques have changed moving along with advancement in software. 

Really depends on what you want to see. 

Live or near live views is one way to go,, other's stack images. To get better results. 

Video astronomy was not like astrophotography where aperture was king,, lot of us use small fast scopes like the skywatcher evostar ed80 with the dedicated focal reducer / this gives us a nice widefield of view,, but no set rules with video or eeva,, use what you have and enjoy. 

Analogue cameras seem to be coming back into fashion,, lucky I've held on to mine lol. 

The Samsung scb has been a good servant to us video astronomers with a few mods and if you can get one cheap from ebay you can do OK with it. 

I like the sensitivity of the watec and have a couple of 902h cameras, and they still hold there money lol. 

Zwo is probably the most widely used camera,, in my honest opinion,, and good back up,, and with the new asiair Pro version now getting delivered should be a great asset to us.. It uses the raspberry pi4 board and should make cable management better,, this was a bug bear using analogue kit years ago,, but if you had an Observatory was no big deal. 

Stellarmate is an other alternative to the zwo asiair Pro. 

But at present,, I like using my Canon live view dslr with backyard eos and astrotoaster software. 

 

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Thanks all! Lots to digest here. 

I do have tracking on the dob, it seems pretty good once on target, I can walk away for a bit and come back and the object is still in the the EP, but it might not be AP-level tracking.

The NV tube route appeals to me, but would have to wait until a real bargain came along. I think I've seen the French fellow's website before.

In the meantime, I might just go the second-hand Watec route for a play to see how that works, can always sell it on if I don't get on with it.

Sorry for the short reply, looking after the children this morning as the wife's price of getting away tonight for some astronomy!

Cheers all!

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