Meade's DSI & LPI Misc. Issues

(Deep Sky Imager & Lunar Planetary Imager)

MAPUG-Astronomy Topical Archive     AstroDesigns


Subject: DSI Blooming Images    Top

From: Ian Rhodes <> Date: Apr 2005

------Original Quote----------
The DSI unit was tested again last Saturday at many different settings in the manual and automatic mode and still with problems of a unknown nature. It appears that the camera cannot cope with varying different light levels making it impossible to focus on anything terrestial or deep sky.

I have managed to take darks which seem to suggest that the camera is working correctly but when it is pointed at stars it appears to streak down the screen without any clear definition. It does recognize that something is there and in the right place but can not focus clearly on it. The telescope is perfectly collminated and the focus mechanism is working properly and the camera has been set to match the flip mirror which is all ok. I noticed that on Saturday for a period of two seconds that the camera did focus perfectly on the eskimo nebula and surrounding stars implying that for some reason it responded properly and suggested that the expected result would be stunning, unfortunately I could not capture this as it disappeared just as quick.

The setup consists of a Latop Avent 7003 P4 2Ghz 512mb Ram XP Pro

I have tried this many times without luck. When I try the long exposure the result is total obliteration of the picture even on a mag 10 object. The blooming explanation seems to fit as when the exposure is ramped down it does come to focus but then the long exposure is no use and the results that are obtained are considerably worse than my SAC7B camera. This seems to be a very common problem which is being widely reported across the net, but without a clear explanation on how to remedy it. It may be that I am asking too much of it and should lower my expectations, however as explained in earlier correspondence that it has worked perfectly for a few seconds and as far as I am aware I did not alter anything to make it work.

I had a quick look across the net for causes of blooming but again everyone has heard of it, but few know why. I am going look further into it because as you say it may be down purely to overexposure or a combination of factors.
------End of Original Quote---------

Alas I think I have this thing cracked due to a very useful lead from Glen. Firstly I good understanding of what is happening here is important I went Apogee's site <> and read this document which outlined why this happens. Now the picture on there site is only weak example of what is happening at my end. It has however lead to ignore what Meade have said in there manual about "it rare to ever have to touch the Gain and Offset controls". I have achieved just (literally) to achieve a stable and focused image in broad daylight.

  • 1) Click on the <colour> button
  • 2) Select <Reset>
  • 3) Click <OK>
  • 4) Click <Auto Exp> button it is at this point where the blooming really is pronounced. You will also notice that the Gain has gone straight to 100
  • 5) By lowering the <Gain> I have found this removes most if not all the wild streaking that was present before.
  • 6) Now apply the same tweaking to the <offset> slider until you are happy with the picture.
  • 7) Remember as well that contrast can also be ramped up through the <spin Box> to give more definition.


Subject: Meade's LPI as an Autoguider?    Top

From: Todd Brower <> Date: Dec 2003

-----Original Message-----
From: Jesse Ruder <>
I would like to know if any of you might have some direct experience using the LPI as an autoguider. The internet is filling up fast with info about the LPI's interesting, though modest, imaging capabilities, but --so far-- nothing about its autoguiding performance.

I have one and after surviving the challenging installation process, I am intrigued by the simplicity of the software Meade provided for it. I should add that just in case any of you are thinking about getting one, the software installation was reminiscent of a minefield I crossed a long time ago. It took many frustrating hours discovering the booby traps that Meade's installation instructions overlooked including in their documentation.
-----End of Original Message-----

I was able to get the LPI to autoguide my 8" LX200GPS. It plugs into one of the serial ports, so it will only autoguide a meade mount. The trick to get it to work is that you must be set to guide rate on the AutoStar controller and you must set the guide rate in the menus to 40% sidereal or less. I also had to set the guide correction in the LPI software to 0.2 instead of 0.5. With these changes I was able to calibrate and guide good enough for photos. Without these settings your are doomed to have the LPI overcorrect and the stars will run in circles.


Subject: Experiences in Installing LPI Software    Top

From: Jesse Ruder <> Date: Dec 2003

I took notes as best as I could during the experience, but for reasons to follow they don't represent a foolproof recipe for installation success. Here goes:

The computer in question is a 5-year old Dell Inspiron 3500 (laptop) with a Pentium II, 300 Megahertz CPU, 256 Megs of Ram and a 6.1 Gig hard drive, with about 3.5 Gigs still open. I am running Windows 2000 Professional on it. The various references from Meade on what the LPI system requirements were, conflicted a little--one from another. After many hours of ducking and dodging problems, my laptop turned out to be enough to run the LPI software. I wish I could tell you what all of the problems were, but alas, My memory on some of the matter is a little fuzzy. I will do my best.

#1. LPI needs an OS of Windows 98 SE or better.

#2. A Microsoft program called "DIRECTX" must be downloaded and installed first.

#3. Another software item from Microsoft which is included on the Meade installation CD must be loaded and installed. It is called ".NET FRAMEWORK 1.1." This is where my first big problem came in. dotNET... would not install. I think I got an error message about the "Installation Wizard." After going back to the first step several times with the same failure. I called Meade a few times along the way. They told me that many LPI users have installed the software with no problems at all. They didn't add that there must be something wrong with me, but I heard it anyway. The Meade web site troubleshooting page suggested that dot NET... could also be downloaded from the MEADE website. The Meade site told me where on the Microsoft site I could find it. I followed the instructions and tried to download dotNET... At some point the download failed, over and over.

At this point I called Microsoft. The people I spoke to admitted that They didn't know how to help me but eventually put me in touch with a fellow who could. His name was Dupak. He works for Microsoft, but lives in India. I had to struggle to understand his accented English, but about five to six hours later, managed to get dotNET... installed by following a procedure different from the ones provided by Meade. Dupak saved the day for me. DotNET... was downloaded from a different page on the Microsoft website and there were a few other steps I am not certain about. The most important were the entry of two items at the command prompt level as follows:

msexec /unregister **
msexec /regserver **

*I must warn here that in a later attempt to recover from an disk failure, I tried to repeat this step and it failed, so I may not have taken notes as well as I might have--sorry.

After more hours than I counted, it finally worked and my shiny new LPI performed like a charm in my living room. I used a tiny LED about 35 feet away as a target. I plan to try it outside purely as an autoguider when the weather is once more fit for arthritic toes. But the thrilling tale does not end there.

After getting everything working, my hard disk died, not to be brought back to life. While I wait for a new hard disk for the laptop I tried to install the LPI software on my desktop computer. It is a Dell Dimension 8100, Pentium IV, 1.4 Gigahertz machine with about 3/4 Gig of ram and a 40 Gig hard drive. Like my deceased laptop, it too runs Windows 2000P. NONE of the problems mentioned before occurred. The installation was performed completely from the Meade supplied CD. When I tried to run the program. It reported that the LPI driver could not be found. During the installation the system had reported at one point that the driver had been successfully installed. I ignored that and went through the process again. After this trial, I tried again to run the program so as to play with the LPI camera and lo and behold. It all worked perfectly just as it had eventually done on my now inoperable laptop.

Some additional comments are in order:
I must emphasize that my installation difficulties related only to my older less well-equiped laptop. Except for the minor driver snag the installation on my much more muscular and modern desktop went smoothly.

Also, Todd Brower gave me some results from his LPI experience. He reports that two adjustments were required to get the LPI to track properly. First is to set the Autostar guide rate to 40% of sidereal or less. Secondly, the LPI program has a default guide correction of 0.5 which must be dropped to 0.2. Without these changes, Todd added that the LPI over corrected and made the stars run in circles.


Subject: Using the DSI with the Classic LX200    Top

From: Jerry Howard <> Date: Feb 2005

I am still learning the imaging techniques, but I have learned some about how it works with the "Classic" LX200. The DSI control program, when connected, reports "Connected LX200:Classic version - Autotrack only," and appears to function normally.

It seems to work ok with the old Meade "Epoch 2000" control program, the "Autostar Suite" that comes with the DSI, and with "TheSky6." The last one, TheSky6, has some additional features, such as Park Positioning and upload of telescope site and time data to the LX200. [these appear to be also available with "Autostar Suite" if used with the LX200GPS] With all programs, you have to deselect the comm port and reselect it after switching to and from DSI.

I sent the following to the vendor tech, who I had talked to before ordering the DSI. It might be useful to others:

It appears that, although Meade's information suggests the software only controls the LX200/Autostar and LX200GPS/Autostar models, it actually works fine with the LX200 Classic with only a few considerations:

IMPORTANT: Running scope from the computer does not provide "Too Close to Sun" protection. It will slew to or across the Sun if so instructed. I don't know if this is true for the Autostar-equipped scopes.

The telescope must first be aligned in the normal manner- using the keypad - for either Altaz or Polar (1 star or 2 star as desired)

Then click "Telescope\Protocol\Autostar via Comm Port" and the program locks to the telescope with Autotrack selected on and is ready to go. [To select an imaging target off the screen, deselect "Autotrack", slew to the desired target, then reselect "Autotrack"]

The function " Telescope/Update Autostar" of course does not work. I did not want to try it for fear it would attempt to upload data and possibly corrupt the LX200 "Classic" ROM. As a safety precaution, I deactivated the Update function by changing the name of the folder "Program Files\Meade\Autostar Suite\Updater" to "....\Updater_NA" Then if an update is attempted the program merely pops up a "Updater Module not found" message. Clicking "OK" resumes normal operation without any problem.

It also works to control the scope from a remote computer, provided the "Netscope" module is running on the computer physically connected to the telescope. [The "Create New Tour" and "Add New Tour" functions still create and modify "Tour" data files, but of course there is no "Autostar" to upload them to unless you use an LX200/Autostar scope.]

To use the DSI, first release the Comm port [ Telescope\Protocol\none ] then run the DSI/Meade Imaging screen [Image\DSI Imaging] Connect to the comm port with the DSI module [Telescope\Connect] -- the Status window then reports connected to LX200 Classic in Autotrack mode. Set in the focal length of the scope and continue.

The DSI module can be used with "TheSky6" in the same manner. Just create a Field of View Indicator for the DSI (if desired). Using TheSky6, center the desired target, Run the DSI module from the Start Menu (or a Shortcut). Release the comm port from TheSky6, [Telescope\Link\Terminate], pop up the DSI module, connect to the comm port and continue.



CCD Topics: Page 1  Page 2 Page 3 CCD Page 4

MAPUG-Astronomy Topical Archive   AstroDesigns   Top