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Old 24-07-2010, 11:20 AM
robz (Robert)
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Question Common CCD SECURITY cameras and USB adaptor?

Hi Guys, just an idea as I am new to astrophotography.
At the moment, all the webcams around are CMOS based, even the more expensive Logitechs, Microsoft etc.

I know about the TOUCAM but they're not available in W.A.

I was thinking along the lines of using one of Jaycar Electronics higher quality security cameras and a VIDEO to USB 2.0 convertor box?

Is this a possibility for any good planetary imaging?
Or, is it a waste of effort and money?

Cheers
Rob.
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Old 24-07-2010, 02:22 PM
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wasyoungonce (Brendan)
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I had a look at the jaycar cameras. IMHO this is not the the best option.

Most, as you said, have a video out & you have to convert this. I suspect control of shutter speed and other things like gain will be poor to non existent for these cameras.

The basic Web cams have a myriad of software controls that make them more suitable for your needs. I know the old ToUcam is no longer available but I suspect there are many suitable web-cams are out there, indeed new ones, that have better resolution than the old ToUcam.

You just need to research & trawl the net. Try these links, here and here here.
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Old 24-07-2010, 07:20 PM
robz (Robert)
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Thanks wasy, those are great links.
Yeah, I see your point.........either a good webcam or dedicated imaging device seems the way to go.

Webcam specs are so confusing as is CCD vs CMOS..............can't decide if all the hype on CCD's is justified........CMOS has come a LONG way
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Old 24-07-2010, 08:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robz View Post
Thanks wasy, those are great links.
Yeah, I see your point.........either a good webcam or dedicated imaging device seems the way to go.

Webcam specs are so confusing as is CCD vs CMOS..............can't decide if all the hype on CCD's is justified........CMOS has come a LONG way
Generally the ToUcam was so good because it was responsive down to below 1 lux (even below .1lux) and it had did 640 x 480 uncompressed. The basic control software was re-written by many people to give better control...things like WcCtrl.

But that was like 3 years ago. I reckon that newer fire-wire interface web-cams would be better at giving much higher frame rates at higher resolution.

All that said. It's the sensor chip that really matters. One of the links shows a comparison of sensors.

I think most people moved on from web-cams when the new crop of DSLRs could do HD video!
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Old 24-07-2010, 08:19 PM
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try http://www.shopping.com/xPO-Philips-SP900N

Adrian
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Old 24-07-2010, 08:30 PM
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ballaratdragons (Ken)
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Why do people keep thinking ToUcams aren't available any more

Google it and you will find them.

Here's a place in South Australia that always sells them, and the adaptors etc. They modify them too. http://www.telescopes-astronomy.com....am_philips.htm


Regardless of what is now available, the old ToUcam is still brilliant

And on those Security cameras:
The Lux rating doesn't make them any good for imaging, but I use one in my Finderscope so I don't have to go outside to use the finder.
It only shows the Brightest few stars, which is perfect for what I use it for: 3 star alignment on start-up

Last edited by ballaratdragons; 24-07-2010 at 08:58 PM.
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Old 24-07-2010, 10:04 PM
robz (Robert)
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Thanks AGAIN GUYS!

Going to get a 900NC !

All the best!
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Old 24-07-2010, 10:08 PM
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Thanks AGAIN GUYS!

Going to get a 900NC !

All the best!
A purchase you won't regret.
And when you are finished planetary imaging with it (if ever), and want to move on to Deep Sky, use it as a guiding camera
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Old 25-07-2010, 08:50 PM
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That's interesting, you can still get them, the SPC900NC.

Well done.
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Old 26-07-2010, 05:07 PM
robz (Robert)
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Uhmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm??????......just how sensitive is this Phillips 900NC /TOUCAM?

There are CCD SECURITY CAMERAS WITH 0.05 lux, and the SONY SUPER HAD ExVIEW chip for $150.00????............JAYCAR qc3298
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  #11  
Old 27-07-2010, 12:54 AM
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mswhin63 (Malcolm)
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I have tried a couple of security cameras and they seem to have a low S/N ratio (which is bad although with a number of frames the noise can be averaged out quite well), but i noticed they have a good CCD response though which prevent that jerky movement that webcams seem to have in low light. Using webcams in unguided scopes need an enormous number of frames to get a clear pic by weeding out all the stretched/distorted frames.

Security and unmodded Webcams are really only usable as planetary cams.
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Old 27-07-2010, 01:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robz View Post
JAYCAR qc3298
This camera is 500x500 pixels. It is tiny and you'd have a hard time getting anything on the sensor. The philips is 1.3Mp so close to 1400x1000 pixels. Still small but way bigger than that other thing. If you can modify the philips for long exposures your laughing. http://www.pmdo.com/wintro.htm is a place to start.

Last edited by Tandum; 27-07-2010 at 02:03 AM.
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Old 27-07-2010, 06:47 AM
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Some time ago, I purchased a Jaycar QC 3289, the high end colour, low light camera they sell for "pro" surveillance work.

As an astro cam, it's OK ... sort of. I use a Meade LX90-8" with UHTC and a f/6.3 reducer, and M42 with the cam + scope and reducer is pretty grainy, and not good for colour. THis is at 160x accumulation.

Saturn at f/30 is OK, colour is acceptable but as you would guess, f/30 is not easy to manage on this scope and is most of the time above the limits of seeing.

I also have a GStar-EX and that is a completely different kettle of fish. It actually delivers the goods. With 128x accumulation, I can see the arms in M83 in near-real-time (about 1 second updates). I can see M1 as a "blobby thing" (completely invisible at the eyepiece).

The Jaycar camera is good for what it's intended for, but in my opinion not suitable for astro work.

Regards,
Tony Barry
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  #14  
Old 28-07-2010, 04:56 PM
robz (Robert)
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Cheers everyone for the input.

I've decided against security cams due to the excellent response here........you blokes know your stuff!

Here's something of interest..............an Astrophotographer's swear word...............CMOS
After seeing a low end Microsoft VX2000 in action in our IT department, my jaw dropped to the ground!!!

For the hell of it, I looked up various webcam reviews and discovered that the Microsoft LifeCam VX-5000 was a ''killer cam''.
As it was on special everywhere at this time of the year, I bought one for $49 ..............spent more on a lousy dinner/night out!

Now I'm aware that CMOS has a reputation for being ''less sensitive than CCD, but this particular Microsoft model has a new chip under the hood that collects 2.4 times more light due to larger pixel area/light gathering etc.

Anyhow, as a straight webcam, this thing has a massive reputation amongst professional reviewers, and when I connected it up last night, I was BLOWN AWAY by the quality of the image......low light capability was superb and in general the picture was a great leap ahead of most Logitech stuff and others that I have seeni n the past.Even the noise level was very low...........impressive!.

I'm hoping that it can be modded as some CMOS webcams have for imaging.
On the other hand it may image as is without any fiddling?

Planetary imaging is what I'm trying to eventually capture, so it will be interesting to see what goes with this cam?
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  #15  
Old 28-07-2010, 06:07 PM
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renormalised (Carl)
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Grab a GStar-EX camera or a DBK21...they'll outperform any webcam you care to mention, despite the fact that the toucam and the 900NC are great cameras.
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Old 29-07-2010, 10:25 AM
robz (Robert)
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Yes, I realise that theses are superior cameras and have a price tag to match.
The prices are reasonable however compared to many others.

I was merely pointing out the fact that this Microsoft webcam has a new generation of CMOS device that may produce some surprising results.

Curiously, the 900NC was canned as a quality webacm in the professional reviews.................. they were not impressed........apparently
The Logitech pro 9000 killed it in most areas(especially low light performance).
The VX 5000 was mentioned to be every bit as good image quality and low light performance wise to the MUCH more expensive Logitech

I guess that in the end, fantastic images can be obtained from webcams just as easily as the more costly astro cameras providing the seeing, equipment, collimation etc. are up to it.............eh?
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  #17  
Old 29-07-2010, 11:23 AM
robz (Robert)
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Here is what has made me think a bit laterally on astro cams :

http://www.pmdo.com/wovt.htm
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Old 29-07-2010, 11:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robz View Post
I guess that in the end, fantastic images can be obtained from webcams just as easily as the more costly astro cameras providing the seeing, equipment, collimation etc. are up to it.............eh?
Yes, you're right there. Some webcams and the equipment they're mounted on have produced some fantastic results...just have a look at what SkyViking (Rolf) produces. But it takes time, patience and lots of technical know how, plus a good site with good seeing, to produce those results. Not everyone is capable of that, nor is every bit of equipment as you would appreciate.
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Old 29-07-2010, 01:25 PM
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wasyoungonce (Brendan)
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Quote:
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Here is what has made me think a bit laterally on astro cams :

http://www.pmdo.com/wovt.htm

Yeah..but tha'ts a modified & cooled webcam. Obviously these guys are very cleaver in modifying these but the SPC900NC, straight from the box, with nose piece & UV/IR filter gives very good images for the price. We are mainly talking planetary use here.

But without these guys trying them out we would never know if they were good for astro work so I humbly bow down to them.

I know there are users who have obtained great DSO images with Web cams but IMHO due to their pixel size and chip size they are better suited to planetry.

I still vote for the SPC900NC.

Edit:

If I had the mulla...then no doubt I'd be using a DMK cam..but I don't so SPC900NC for me! I'm happy with mine.
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Old 29-07-2010, 09:40 PM
robz (Robert)
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The webcam has been dismantled.............easy job, except I went backwards

Here's what it looks like . A 5c piece is there as a size comparison.

The entire lens housing has two screws holding it at the rear of the board.Removing it exposes the CMOS chip, ready for mounting in to an acceptable ''astro case''.
I have noticed that in dimly lit environments, the main processing chip in particular, as well as the back of the CMOS chip area can get quite ''warm''(even slightly hot) in no time at all............maybe some cooling could be considered in this respect?
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Last edited by robz; 29-07-2010 at 09:57 PM.
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