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Moretus, Clavius & Tycho


Leedsgreen
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Dear All,

Finally received my new CCD yesterday and had my first proper chance to use it tonight (what, no clouds)! It's a Point Grey Chameleon with the more sensitive ICX445ALA chip. The main thing is that it offers much more real estate than my older SPC900NC (1296x940 compared to 640x480).

Anyway, first effort attched. I'm made up with the clarity, particularly around Tycho's walls!

Thanks for looking,

Nick

post-16684-133877563466_thumb.jpg

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Thanks for the comments, Cliff and James!

James, no probs:

1. I bought it from Edmund Optics:

Point Grey Chameleon USB 2.0 Camera - Edmund Optics

However, I notice it's gone up from £371 to £396, since I bought it. Unfortunately, this doesn't include P&P and VAT, making it now £484 (compared to the £455 I paid).

2. Whilst £455 is expensive, it is cheaper than DMK 31/41 that I was looking at and has one of the new EXview HAD CCD from Sony that are much more sensitive (ICX445ALA). The max. resolution is 1296x964 with a fps of 18 (in 8-bit mode). Rate drops to 12 in 12-bit (I'm still exploring if the extra bits are worth it for moon). Camera also offers ROI (640x480) at 30fps (or any combination you choose to use). Not as fast as the Flea3 and Bassler Ace cams but much cheaper! Data spec found here:

Point Grey - Imaging Products - Chameleon - CCD USB 2.0 Camera

Also, Firecapture works like a charm with it. Allowing plenty of control for astronomy use:

FireCapture

3. Used Avistack for stacking. Whilst Registax 6 is much quicker, I still prefer Avistack look but need a bit more time with R6 to get better results!

Hope this all helps. The camera is a 40th birthday gift to myself (with contribution from others). Feels extravagant but has helped soften the blow of reaching middle age! I spent ages investigating and comparing it to others but it seems a good deal (i.e. extra real-estate for lunar imaging, ROI for planets, sensitive, USB2.0 and pretty cheap). I plan to write a review after I have got used to it and will post on SGL if I do.

With best wishes,

Nick

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Darn good considering the size of scope. Guessing that the sensitivity helped. I tend to find that when I push the magnification, the exposure time increases and this affects the ability to grab sharp images. What sort of exposure times were you using and did you use any gain when doing so? I got a DMK41, to enable me to grab large bits of the moon/sun, seems like I ought to have gone for the PG camera instead.

Cheers

PEter

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That is nice, and im interested in the camera too, look foward to the review. wonder how sensetive this is compared to 618ccd frames per second is a bit of a issue as i want 60 fps for jupiter when it returns but for lunar the larger chip is nice isnt it. For a small mak thats nice going. well done

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Dear All,

Thanks for the feedback and encouragement, it's much appreciated!

Neil, there's a .pdf sheet here:

http://www.ptgrey.com/support/downloads/documents/TAN2008006_Sensor_Response_Curve_Comparison_for_ICX445.pdf

where PGR compare the ICX445 (Chameleon) to a few other CCDs, including ICX618. What's interesting is that the two are quite comparable even though the ICX445 has smaller pixels (3.75 v 5.6 microns). Of course, the frame rate is lower on he Chameleon, as you point out, but I've managed to get 25fps this evening using ROI.

Peter, frustratingly, when I switched to 12-bit recording (for the attached shot) Firecpature doesn't seem to produce a .txt form (as it does for 8-bit shots) with all the relevant info in. Unfortunately I can't remember what shutter speed it was at. To be honest, I'm still trying to work things out. If you notice, there is some faint ghosting in the image (look at top of moon), which I'm trying to deal with. However, when imaging chimneys in distance this afternoon (in strong sunlight) the ghosting was removed by using a red filter, so I'll be keen to use this on next lunar shots. Like you say, though, when having a go at Saturn later this evening, I had to decrease the shutter speed, which met I couldn't image at 30fps anyway. I suppose that's a limit of my small(ish) scope (and f/30).

I'm still working out how to use the cam to its full potential (and justify the cost!) but so far it looks worth it :)

Cheers,

Nick

PS Red channel Saturn from this evening attached. A bit over processed but nice to see the major division in the rings.

post-16684-133877564963_thumb.jpg

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Yes, I'll have to see if using a red filter can reduce the blurring more than the effect on exposure time. Your image is razor sharp... if you are being critical, then there is a wee bit of ghosting, but the initial impression is very positive!

Cheers

PEter

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Ok thanks for info on the camera. its a shame they dont seem to stock the flea 3. and ill bet the price is higher even if they did. its a shame, as that would be my first choice. as planets and fast speed are important to me. your new camera looks like a great lunar camera, and general allround camera

Edited by neil phillips
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There's no question about the higher sensitivity Neil, but being a modded SPC it's still limited to SPC fps etc....and I've JUST started to have a go at Firecapture so still feeling my way around. The Chameleon would deffo be my Lunar choice now but then ideally the SKYnyx 2-1 or Lu135 would have been (had I had the brass) prior to the new Exview HAD chips.

Lets face it these ARE Next gen as far we're concerned. Lets not dismiss the 205 and 424 chip just yet tho-plenty of life still in them !!

Nick, how are you finding Firecapture ?? It seems the more I look into it the more I find. With a bit of luck they're ought to be some support for Ascom and Truetech FW soon :)

Edited by beamish
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Beamish,

Thanks to the link to your shots. It's great to think that there's a few of us out at the same time! I have found Firecapture pretty amazing so far. The PGR Flycapture SDK software that comes with the Chameleon is OK but a bit fiddly and is provided for industry/ research etc (and people who can write further C++ code). Firecpature just does what we astronomers want, which is great becuase the last programming I did was for my ZX-81!

Firecpature does have a few anamolies that I want to work out (i.e. no gamma control when using 12-bit capture). It maybe that I'm doing something wrong (or it's not possible) or that the programme needs updating but Torsten seems really approachable for help as well, which is great.

Cheers,

Nick

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Hi Beamish,

Had a play with Flycapture SDK this evening and it appears that whilst the gamma slider can be moved for 8-bit capture, it won't budge for 12-bit capture. I wonder if that means 12-bit data has enough 'leg-room' (in post-processing) so gamma correction is unecessary? I'll ask the guys at PGR and let you know if I hear back.

Nick

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