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Well after following this tutorial here;

Instructions for Converting Microsoft Lifecam Cinema HD Webcam for Telescope Use -by Gary Honis

I got myself a Lifecam and decided to give it a go. A screwdriver, scissors, £13 spent on Astroboot and about an hour later I ended up with this;

cam.jpg?psid=1

Pretty nifty Id I do say so myself. The nosepiece is threaded so in the pic I have a 25% Moon Filter attached, if anything it helps keep dust of the sensor when not in use.

To keep the cam in place I used some foam and secured it in place with a bit of bluetack, not sure if this will lead it to overheating though as there's not much ventilation.

Not had a chance to use it at night yet, but I've had it hooked upto my scope and pointed it out the window and it works! So all is good so far, just looking forward to some planetary imaging ;)

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Nice looking job !

One of the really cheap 25mm eyepieces that come with some scopes or can be picked up for a couple of pounds also works really well as a housing for the lifecam. Just unscrew the plastic ring that holds the lenses in place, wrap some flocking or something similar around the housing and push it into place and screw the nosepiece back on and that's it.

John

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Very neat looking - mine looks more like John's, tucked away in a sacrificed 25mm Celestron eyepiece body.

You'll probably want to get an IR filter, otherwise things look very odd colour-wise. There was one on astroboot for £6 the other day, don't know if it's still there.

Robin

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Looks really neat - I'm thinking of doing something similar.

What is the name of the "nosepiece" bit that is screwed into the camera adapter ?

I think it was something along the lines of 1.25" nosepiece to T-thread adapter. Again, just saw it on Astroboot and thought it may work.

So an IR filter would be a better bet than moon filter? At the minute I am shooting the moon in the morning, even though at the moment it seems quite tiny. Practice is practice though!

Imaging seems the easy part, processing is another kettle of fish ;)

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Another question quickly.

I've noticed dust specs when webcam imaging, I've got a rocket blower and blown down any surface/mirror I think could cause it, but theres still some little persistant ones. Which surface would usually cause this, the webcam sensor, moon filter or the secondary mirror?

Cheers!

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Another question quickly.

I've noticed dust specs when webcam imaging, I've got a rocket blower and blown down any surface/mirror I think could cause it, but theres still some little persistant ones. Which surface would usually cause this, the webcam sensor, moon filter or the secondary mirror?

Cheers!

Im afraid it's on the sensor surface. I had the same problem and used a soft screen cloth to carefully rub it away (like the ones that come with the iMac and iPhone for example. These cloths are very soft and don't cause scratches).

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Hm... now there's an idea for a project... ;-)

So is that MS Livecam Cinema HD equivalent to the Philips SPC900 but with higher resolution? Or is it not as good as the Philips in darkness? Or is it even better?

I guess what I'm asking is: Is it worth "upgrading" from the SPC900 to the MS Livecam?

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Hm... now there's an idea for a project... ;-)

So is that MS Livecam Cinema HD equivalent to the Philips SPC900 but with higher resolution? Or is it not as good as the Philips in darkness? Or is it even better?

I guess what I'm asking is: Is it worth "upgrading" from the SPC900 to the MS Livecam?

The SPC900 is a CCD, while the MS Livecam HD is CMOS and it doesn't have gain control (yet) either.

So if you already have the SPC900, I would stick with that. Unless you want to do high resolution Lunar imaging. Then the MS Livecam HD can really excell in that.

Seen some great stuff with it.

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I'm using the SPC900 for some lunar and planetary imaging and was going to use it for auto guiding as well. I was just tempted by the higher angular resolution (more pixels on the same sensor size) of the Livecam. But if it's CMOS with no gain control, then I'll better stick with my SPC900.

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I'm using the SPC900 for some lunar and planetary imaging and was going to use it for auto guiding as well. I was just tempted by the higher angular resolution (more pixels on the same sensor size) of the Livecam. But if it's CMOS with no gain control, then I'll better stick with my SPC900.

Yes I find it really strange the MS LiveCam HD doesn't have gain control.

Strange thing is that when you put exposure on Auto, then the webcam can go way beyond what I can control manually. Wich seems to indicate it has gain control afterall. Just that it's not accessible for us (yet).

So I hope MS gets it's act together and gives us a firmware update for Gain control or that someone else manages to hack it open for us.

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If you want the specs of the LifeCam CMOS there's plenty of detail here:

http://www.ovt.com/uploads/parts/OV9712%20PB%20v1.1%20WEB.pdf

John

Well there you go! I knew it! This sensor has gain control (and actually uses it when you set exposure on Automatic), just that Microsoft is screwing up as usual and only delivers half the functionality! ;)

Just a matter of enough people kicking MS in the nuts till they give us a fix for it! :)

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With the right capture software that supports the abilities of the LifeCam HD it could get quite interesting.;)

John

Well in this case it's the firmware that is limiting capture software of accessing manual gain control!

Robin's Sharpcap capture software is excellent and I enjoyed using it with the livecam. (enjoyed as past sentence, as I have the QHY5v now :))

I could control everything, except gain control.

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Would the MS lifecam be ok to use as a guide cam as well as a planetary cam?

No one seem to have tried it yet.

But as you do not have access to manual gain control nor long exposure. It will be somewhat problematic and you will be limited to very bright stars.

I asked the same question a while back.

But as I got the QHY5v now, it's no longer an issue for me. :)

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Here is my lifecam modification, using a series 500 25mm PLossl cheap eyepiece. The inside takes the mod cam very well, no need for glue and all. The only thing I had to do was cut the cam inner casing down so it was level with the sensor , this is because I used the screw in stop down that the eyepiece has inside, to keep the cam firm inside the eyepiece.

cam_mod2.jpg

cam_mod3.jpg

cam_mod1.jpg

Edited by sbooder
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