Re: Video camera for scope

From: Rick Baldridge (
Date: Sun Jan 18 2004 - 16:07:25 EST

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    International Occultation Timing Association (I.O.T.A.) has several papers
    on the accuracy and sensitivity of video methods.   Main Page.
    A good article about the differences in the Supercircuits PC23C and PC164 is
    Both the PC-cameras are quite good and low light, however one big drawback
    is they do not have exposure or gain control built in, which makes exposing
    planets and close-ups of satellites difficult.  (However, one I.O.T.A.
    member has written a paper on how to add a gain control to the PC-23C and
    offers to retro-fit a PC-164 for a small fee.)  If you just want to track
    satellites and use the camera to video sat-star passage timings, etc., they
    are both quite good.  The PC-23C has a built-in microphone - the PC-164 does
    not, but Supercircuits sells a 9V battery powered microphone.  See:
    PC-164C  (approx &130 US)
    PC-23C  (approx $90 US)
    Pre-amp microphone  ($13 US)
    I highly recommend the PC-164 and the additional cost is well worth the
    extra sensitivity.
    The AstroVid "StellaCam EX" is an EXCELLENT camera for all types of
    astro-imaging, planetary imaging and satellite tacking since the exposure
    can be controlled from 1/10,000 sec up to integrating 128 frames together,
    but it is much more expensive at about $750 US.   With it, I can image stars
    about 1 magnitude FAINTER than I can see through the telescope visually, and
    it does very well on nebula, galaxies, etc.  Some examples including my
    tracking of  the J002E3 rocket body (suspected Saturn S-IVB stage) can be
    seen at:
    Click on "What's New - Customer Images!" on the left, then scroll down about
    half way.
    What I found cool about the StellaCam is with frames integrating for several
    seconds, any moving object will appear as a streak, making them obvious on a
    monitor.  When searching for geosync sats or sats with ill-defined or moved
    orbits, one can simply point the camera and start recording, and satellites
    show up as short lines!
    Since I have some experience as a satellite tracker and occultation timer
    (similar requirements!), I'd be glad to answer specific questions off-line
    Rick Baldridge
    Campbell, CA  USA
    Subscribe/Unsubscribe info, Frequently Asked Questions, SeeSat-L archive:

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