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Jarndyce

Alternative webcam to Philips SPC900?

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I'm after a budget webcam to experiment with astrophotography.

I've heard good things about the above webcam - one advantage is that 1.25" adaptors are readily available for the philips.

However, these things are like hen's teeth, and those that do appear on ebay go for frankly, inflated prices, as they are no longer in production.

So does anyone recommend an alternative?

I've got an old Logitech Messenger - and frankly, it's pretty poor.

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The Toucam Pro II has the same chip and is pretty much the same camera bar the firmware which can be upgraded.

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Cheers guys.

No problem getting the adaptors, it's the actual camera that's the problem.

Gaz, unfortunately, the Toucam Pro II appears to have been out of production for a while now, and the same problem applies.

Philips' new range of wbcams are more highly specified, but appear to be all CMOS, whereas the old SPC900 was a CCD, which was supposed to be better.

I can't find anything that is a direct replacement for any of the Toucams. Although there will be a few appearing second hand from time to time, we can basically write them off.

Other people seem to be asking the same question:

http://www.astronomylog.co.uk/2008/10/11/philips-spc1300-webcam-for-astronomy/

But even this latest version from Philips appears to be out of stock everywhere.

Anyone know anything about the celestron neximage, although it seems pricey...?

http://www.365astronomy.com/celestron-neximage-p-178.html?zenid=9b1a4d382c6f5379d337fbbadcc40fca

There must be a reasonable webcam out there?

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Hi Jarndyce,

If find a good alternative I too would be interested in one.

Good hunting.

John

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There has been some work done with the trust wb-5400, while it doesn't have a hardware long exposure mod to its name, the guy who wrote wcrmac and wcctrl for the spc900nc has been doing some software mods that allow you to get 1.4s exposures from it, so while it doesn't give quite the same functionality as the toucam/spc900nc cams its something to consider if you want a cheap experimental guidecam, that can also be used as a planetary cam.

http://www.burri-web.org/bm98/soft/wcctrl/index.htm see here for more info, as I recall you may need to jion the yahoo group for more info, but I can tell you it does work.

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Try Amazon Market Place, I recently saw one in PC World (of all the places) ...

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Pretty much most webcams use the same M12x.5mm lense fitting nosepiece so fitting one made for a toucam would not be a problem... also see my reply on the other thread but... webcams are cheap enough these days, why not do what we had to in the good old days - go buy one and try it yourself! The main issue you will likey find will be the control interface offered by the manufacturer, most options will not be available and so your chances of getting a decent *low light* image from them will be lessened.

Arthur

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The Celestron Neximage uses the same chip as the Philips SPC 900NC, comes ready adpated with a 1.25" nosepiece in Celestron's own custom body and can be modified for long exposures in much the same way as the Philips and is readily available at reasonable prices from Ebay, Amazon and Celestron suppliers such as Telescopeplus.co.uk.

Brinders

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Hi, It's a shame that the guy's who modified those webcams (now discontinued in manufacture) havn't looked for current webcams to modify. Most of the latest ones are now cmos but looking on eBay I found one that looks like it might be of some use.

It's the aGent V4 3.0MP CCD webcam. All the specs on their website look good, 3MP video, 5-8MP snapshot. Low light capable.

The trouble is all the specs are just advertising bumf and what we really need to know is the actual lux value and the model number of the ccd chip so we can see if it can be modified for long exposure.

I was going to email and ask but I dont think I'll get the answer I was after and at £35 +p&p it's a bit to much to buy one just to find out.

Anyone willing to take a gamble?

Cheers

John

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Would be good to have a review about this webcam from an atronomer and to see if there is an adaptor to fit a telescope.

Cheers

Neil

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John, I'm working on that agent v4. I wasn't going to say something till I'd got it up and tested, but fitting the adapter is easy. When I've worked it all out I'll post up the pics etc on how to do it. It really will do 3Mp, although whether at the 30fps is a good question. I can't help on the lux number as yet, but I'll try and find the ccd model number.

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Ok, here's some images of the guts of the thing. As you can see, I was a little ham fisted dismantling it and crushed the sensor :) The webcam has a single PCB within it, with the components mounted top and bottom. The lens cell fitting takes the SPC900 ep adapter nicely. When the new one has arrived I'll write it all up and include the details on dismantling, reassembly and hopefully first light. But this might enable you to work out if it can be LX modded. The only software that I can get to talk to it at anything above 640x480 is Amcap.

IMG_3432.jpg

Writing on the PCB

IMG_3433.jpg

The largest chip on the bottom

IMG_3428.jpg

the next largest chip on the bottom

IMG_3431.jpg

The rest of the components are all really small and whilst they have writing on, it's only a couple of numbers or letters.

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Oh well... I wonder if they'll offer a refund as it's stated as being a CCD :)..

How can you tell which is which Arthur ?

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Sounds very interesting.

I did wonder what you were working on, John.

Thanks for your work on this.

Can anyone else give a definitive answer as to whether it is a CCD or CMOS chip?

As John says, it claims to be CCD.... :)

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Its caturing software that seems work well with the Logitechs are allows use of the full chip resolution.

The trial is a free download.

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Gotcha. The software it comes with is Amcap and that allows the full resolution. I can't actually test it out though till my replacement arrives... thanks to my attempting to open it with a bit to much force which it doesn't actually need :)

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