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SPC900 - imaging success at last!


Martin-Devon
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As a complete imaging newbie, I started off struggling with my SPC800 - the flashing was problematic and did not work as straightforwardly as some of the Stargazer links suggested. However, I finally got there with a flashed SPC900 - and then was bewildered about what to do next - Sharpcap, Registax etc - never seen/used these before.

The breakthrough came with a link to the website Astronomy Shed and if you go to the tutorial tab, there are a whole series of incredibly useful videos going through the very basics step-by-step of how to set up a SPC900, how to capture images, how to use Sharpcap and Registax. In one night on these tutorials I learnt more than I had in weeks of googling everywhere else. To see the videos you need to register on Astronomy Shed, but this is no different from registering on the Stargazers Lounge or Sky-At-Night website, and again, I cannot recommend these videos highly enough (at least for beginners).

I tried my SPC900 on Saturn for the very first time last night, and "bingo" it all worked - I've attached an image of what I obtained. It's not perfect, but bear in mind this is my very first attempt and there is a lot more optimization of capturing & processing that I need to learn.

Just a few things I noticed last night:

(1) Centering the image EXACTLY in an eyepiece before putting the webcam in is essential. I used my 36mm Hyperion on Saturn to centre - but this had to be SPOT ON in the middle so that when the SPC900 is put-in then it is on the screen area (the SPC900 images like a 6mm eyepiece, so crucial that the centering is done properly)

(2) On my CPC800 I had to back-focus quite a lot to get the image from the SPC900 onto the Sharpcap screen

(3) It is crucial that you turn up the exposure and gain to almost maximum to see the image on Sharpcap -for the first 20 minutes I was getting nowhere - wondering if I had centred or not on Saturn since I could not see anything by going up/down with the focus, and then when I pushed the exposure and gain tabs in Sharpcap right up - and then checked centering of focus with 36mm, and then put in SPC900 and back-focussed - there was Saturn shimmering and dancing around! So it was crucial to initially push the exposure & gain sliders right up to just see the image on the Sharpcap screen

(4) Once you have the Sharpcap image optimized (I used the settings recommended by Astronomy Shed tutorial), you can back-off some of the gain & exposure a little to make a more balanced image - then capture in Sharpcap

(5) This morning I processed the AVI images captured last night on Registax - very first time using this - but used the settings and simple step-by-step recommended by Astronomy Shed tutorial - and it worked first time!

Some links you may find useful below. I have to thank Stargazer lounge member “Space Cowboy” also for his very helpful comments in earlier posts.

http://www.astronomyshed.co.uk/forum/viewforum.php?f=19

http://stargazerslounge.com/imaging-tips-tricks-techniques/115493-embarrassing-jupiters-webcam-clinic.html

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This is really useful since I'm just starting down the same path :D Thanks for the tips!

My only trouble when flashing the camera was that I forgot to have sharpcap previewing the image while I tried to same its firmware, had to crtl+alt+del and start over with a preview running.

Great image by the way :p Well done!

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Thats a brilliant first image Martin, much better than my first attempt.

I've also found that starting off with a lower power EP such as a 32mm and gradually dropping down to a 10mm helps a lot, making sure the image is centred every time.

I then add the Barlow into the mix with the 10mm and make sure it's centred.

Then the webcam go's in without the barlow, centred again and finally introduce the barlow. Sounds a bit of a pain to do but in reality it only takes about a minute at the most.

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Hi

Great image !

I had a go at Saturn with my webcam and SharpCap / Registax last night.

Not as good a result as yours, but I was out fairly early so I guess there was a lot of atmosphere to contend with. (still pleased with my image though)

Thanks for tips and links, plenty to study

Neil

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