WebCam & Video Misc. Issues

MAPUG-Astronomy Topical Archive     AstroDesigns


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: Video Camera Advice --part 1 of 6    Top

From: Bruce Gillespie <> Date: Mar 2003

>I'm considering the purchase of one of the following : Astrovid
>StellaCam EX, OR SAC8 OR MINTRON, 12V1E-EX.
>Any experience and/or words of wisdom on either or all of these three?

I got the StellaCam EX - and am still on the learning curve, nothing decent to show for the expense so far. The control box is a bit tedious, though I see they now offer a Serial I/F so one can control it from a PC (I can see another upgrade coming on ...) It has a lot more modes and controllability than the others. I must say I think I am going to need a remote controlled fine focus since its very sensitive to focus and to keep moving between the scope and the PC is a very tricky.

I have also got the Video Capture Essentials PCMCIA Video Capture device - and that seems to work well. Nice software. I did some market research, decided not to go with any of those USB devices (Belkin etc.), this one seemed more professional. I got all this from John E Cordiale at Astrovid, they handled things well, no problems (though didn't tell me about forthcoming RS232 i/f on Control Box)

The April Sky &Telescope has a review of 'low cost' video cameras, so check that out as well.


Subject: Video Camera Advice --part 2

From: Edward Registrato <>

The Astrovid 2000 is a good black & white camera. I own one and use it a great deal. I have had high school students (age 15-18) that used it the first night and it works right out of the box every time.

There are limits, however. It will not do deep sky images. It is (in my opinion) only for Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Solar, and Lunar type images. We also have it connected to a 35-80mm lens and have used it for meteor showers, wide area views and daytime camera.

We have connected it to a HELIOS-1, a 76mm Televue and into the LX200 10" classic. The output first goes into a super S video machine and then that goes into a video capture card in our computer. We can frame grab some good images that way. I can send you a few if you want to see them. We have taped eclipses, moon craters, and solar activity.

Don't expect CCD quality images that you see in Astronomy or Sky & Telescope. You wont get them that good when you try to print. The data is just not there. The images are fine for viewing at high school levels. Photo Shop helps but can not improve the amount of data.

The camera also works for showing an image to large groups on a monitor. I have used it with wheel chair bound individuals and older nursing home residents that can not look through the scope. Looking at Jupiter and the moons is probably the favorite view for these groups.

As for customer service... I rate it very good. They have not responded to my last email for help but that has not been consistent with the response I have gotten in the past. I have no experience with the other cameras they have.


Subject: Video Camera Advice --part 3 of 6

From: Tony Floyde <>

I have been looking at the Mintron cameras myself and the camera they produce that has frame integration and on screen display which is called the Sirius in the UK and cost 275 and for the life of me I can't see the difference between that and the Astrovid Stellacam EX except the badging and a 1.25" tube so I believe that the Stellacam is the Mintron, in the UK the price difference is 275 Mintron 645 Stellacam what would you do. A friend of mine has the Stellacam bought when it first came out before I found out about the Mintron really rates it he lives in a light polluted city and can image things he cant see with his eyes. The Mintron is used by the military to monitor tunnels it saves on attaching image intensifiers to the cameras. Mintron also do a colour version with a 1/2" CCD that is the same as the B & W only it only goes down to 0.0001 Lux on integration as opposed to the B & W which goes down to 0.00001 Lux on integration. For what it's worth save some money and get the Mintron over here in the UK you can get the B & W and the Colour version Mintron's for the cost of the Stellacam.


Subject: Video Camera Advice --part 4

From: Bruce Gillespie <>

> for the life of me I can't see the difference between that and the
> Astrovid Stellacam EX except the badging and a 1.25" tube

Perhaps you are right and the camera tube is the same, but the Stellacam EX has a custom made control box to switch modes, gain control, frame accumulation modes etc etc - surely that involves some significant electronics and processing power in the box beyond the camera? If you look at most of the others they have automatic gain control which can be quite annoying. That's why I went for the "StellaCam", besides I like lots of settings to tweak.

However if use is recording occultations, perhaps the simpler models or even an adapted Webcam or Video camera will do. See Massey, Dobbins Douglas "Observer's Guide to Video Astronomy" (Sky Publishing, 2000) for comprehensive background on this.


Subject: Video Camera Advice --part 5   Top

From: Russell Croman <>

Webcams are definitely the cheapest way I know of to get into digital astrophotography, assuming you already have a computer to run the camera, and of course a telescope.

> Is your picture the best 500 frames out of 1800 frames?

Yes. I used a free program called RegiStax to automatically pick the sharpest 500 frames.

> Did you just run the web cam as a true "web cam" and stream the
> images or did you take 1800 stills?

I used another free piece of software called K3CCD Tools to stream an AVI file to disk. It was running at 15 frames per second for two minutes. Generates about 800MB worth of data.

That's the nice thing about using web cams for planets... you can get enough data in a short enough period of time that planet rotation doesn't smear things out.

> Where did you get this camera? Locally, or mail-order/web-order?

I had heard (on the "QCUIAG" yahoo group) that the Philips ToUCam Pro is one of the better webcams. Apparently they are in low supply (like maybe they aren't being made anymore). I got mine from <>. I think they still have some.

> Did the post processing add a lot to the image? If you just took 500
> frames and stacked them, how good does the picture look?

The raw image is quite a bit blurrier than the processed one. Processing algorithms have gotten very sophisticated, and available to amateurs, of late.

> How did you mount this to you telescope?

I got a 1.25" adapter from an Australian guy named Steve Mogg:
   <> It replaces the lens on the webcam and slides right into an eyepiece holder.


Subject: Video Camera Advice --part 6 of 6     Top

From: Bob Thompson <>

I heard about an inexpensive B/W video camera from SuperCircuits in Austin, Texas <>
that has a sensitivity of 0.04 Lux and operates on 12 volts. It is only $89.95 so I ordered one. It is the model PC-23C and includes a microphone and audio circuit built-in. The CCD has 510 by 492 pixels and produces 460 TV lines of resolution. On my first night out with my 10" f/6.3 LX200, I watched a 10th magnitude star as it was occulted by the 1st quarter moon. I could see the dark limb of the moon as it closed in on the star. I could just see several 12th magnitude stars above the background noise (or skyglow?) level with the moon in the sky. And this is in the city with severe light pollution! I have not had a clear moonless night to see if I can do any better. I could not see individual stars in M13 or M3 but will try again on the next clear night. Give it a try, I think you'll like it.

Update (Oct 2002): new SuperCircuits PC164 that has even lower lux, in a smaller package.


Subject: On-line WebCam Resources List    Top

QCUIAG Discussion Group:
   <> Homepage for QCUIAG

AstroCam Group:
   <> French
   <> English

Camera-Modification Websites:
         Author of Keith's Image Stacker software (Mac).
   <> Huge list of webcam mod & software sites

Commercially-Modified Webcams Websites:
   SAC Imaging: <>
   Perseu: <> Portuguese
                <> English
   Comparison of models: <>

WebCam as a Guider:

Image-Acquisition Software Websites:
   Astroart <>
   Astro-Snap <> French
                     <> English
   K3CCDTools <> select "My Software"

Image-Processing Software Websites:
   RegiStax <>
   Iris <>


Subject: Web Cam URLs

From: Thad Floryan <> Date: June 2005

Might want to check Eric Ng's stuff; he shoots from downtown Hong Kong and has produced some of the best planetary photos ever (along with some excellent DSOs) using the ToUCam:


Subject: WebCam Advice --part 1 of 5   Top

From: Clifford Peterson <> Date: Sep 2003

I have been seeing stacked webcam photos of bright objects that actually look very good. This has sparked my interest and am thinking of getting a device to experiment with.

MAPUG already has members that are working with these devices and know much about the subject so I would be interested in any suggestions for a device selling for about $150 or less. I have seen articles where a Philips USB ToUCam Pro was used but it doesn't seem like there are many sold in the USA. Is this a good cam or should I be looking in other directions?


Subject: WebCam Advice --part 2

From: Todd Brower <>

I've been having some pretty good luck with the QC 4000, I think the quality is pretty much the same as the ToUCam. I've done this for a QC 3000 but never really put time in for much testing/usage. I did get a pretty good M13. I'm going to set up a water cooler for it soon and restart testing but for now my QC 4000 is good for the planets.

The QC 4000 software comes with an interesting feature that I have tested but haven't had much luck with it as of yet. They call it "face tracking" and it seems to be somewhat of a software image stabilizer. You zoom into the image and turn on face tracking and it is supposed to keep the imaged centered. The time I tried to use it on mars, it kept changing the zoom level in and out but that may have been because it was moving too much due to atmosphere. Also, I think you may have to use the software that came with it to capture the AVI. I've been using K3cddtools to capture and perhaps it didn't know how to deal with that feature. It's an endless adventure.

You will want the IR filter if you use the ToUCam. You'll have to put your order in pretty quick for the adaptors unless you want to go the route of making your own from a 35mm film holder.


Subject: Web Cam Advice --part 3 of 5  Top

From: Roger Hamlett <>

The 'point' about the ToUCam, is 'multifold'. Perhaps 90% of the cheaper webcams, use CMOS sensors, which are not designed with any thought of 'low light' usage. Unfortunately, their sensors perform relatively poorly for astronomy. The ToUCam Pro, uses probably the best webcam sensor, in the form of a small Sony CCD. The internal amplifier, has about the highest gain of any webcam (also good for low light), and the drive chip used is one for which there is a 'known' relatively simple modification to give long exposures. There are even modifications to use the basic control board, and operate a more expensive larger CCD!.

It is generally surprising how 'good' many webcams can be, but for really deep sky work, the modifications rise to the point of being as complex as building a new 'cookbook style' camera (long exposure mod, new CCD, Peltier cooling, etc. etc..). However the key thing is that the ToUCam can take some quite good images 'out of the box', and with relatively small modifications can match the performance of some of the earliest 'proper' CCD cameras, for a very small price indeed. Hence it is the 'favoured' unit. There is also a Quickcam model, that is similar, but with slightly lower amplifier gain, that works nearly as well.

Unfortunately, for some reason, Philips elected not to offer this model in the US, but as Ron points out, one of the astronomical dealers has 'stepped into the breech' in this regard.


Subject: Web Cam Advice --part 4

From: John Mahony <>

Actually, there are two: Scopetronix and Astrovid. Both sell the camera and adapter for $150. You can save some money by ordering separately: The camera is available from <> for $92 +~$8 shipping, the adapter is $20 +~$4 shipping from <>. Fortunately, Pocketscope is a small company that sells a little microscope kit, not telescopes, so they haven't jacked up the price for Mars Mania.

My best Mars image is at <> if you want to see what a ToUCam can do.


Subject: Web Cam Advice --part 5 of 5     Top

From: Ron Mollise <>

Let me take this excellent information one step further. On the Moon and planets, the ToUCam and similar webcams (like the Quckcam Pro 4000) will equal or BEAT--undeline that, BEAT--the most expensive integrating cameras on the market. No doubt about it.

They are not quite as well-suited for the deep sky, but people are doing remarkable work with them anyway. For those like me who lack the time and skill to do the mods themselves, SAC <> offers several cameras that are professionally modified up to and including long exposure, cooling, and decent housings. Even if, like me, your main interest is the Solar System, a long exposure camera offers some nice being able to capture planetary satellites and asteroids.


Subject: Digital SLR Camera vs. CCD Part 1 of 2    Top

From: paastroman <> Date: Aug 2005

Both DSLRs and dedicated CCD astronomical cameras both have their pros/cons.

   1. Easier initially for astrophotographers already used to using 35mm cameras.
   2. Can be used with or without a computer.
   3. Alot of megapixels for the amount of money spent.

   1. Not as sensitive as a dedicated CCD imager.
   2. Some DSLR's need a IR filter removed from in front of the CCD chip.

Dedicated CCD Imager --
   1. Alot more sensitive that DSLRs.
   2. Specifically designed for use in adverse (i.e. colder conditions, dew)
   3. On SBIG two-chip models (Imaging and guiding CCDs) there's no need for a guidescope in most instances.
   4. Most dedicated CCD imager can be controlled over a network. DSLR not sure???
   5. Not as hard to use as people think.

   1. Alot of money per megapixel when compared with DSLRs.
   2. Needs a computer.

DSLRs have a cheaper initial investment and can be pretty flexible. I own both and I prefer my SBIG two CCD camera over my Nikon D100 for astro imaging. The Canon Rebel DSLR is A LOT of bang for the buck and is hard to find many cons especially when you consider it price. If I didn't want to spend much money it would be a DSLR. If I had $4,000 or so it would be a dedicated CCD imager. To a point DSLRs are a great deal.


Subject: Digital SLR Camera vs. CCD Part 2 of 2    Top

From: Doug David <>

It basically boils down to the right tool for the right job. Each has its merits. For planetary imaging nothing beats the ToUcam Pro. The ToUcam makes planetary imaging easy. Processing the images with Registax (free software) is as easy as a few click of the mouse.

For deep space imaging both the digital SLR (Canon, Nikon, etc.) and the CCD (SBIG, Starlight Express, Meade DSI, etc.) cameras are both great. The DSLR cameras are easier to use than the CCD cameras but they aren't as versatile. The DSLR cameras are color, so less processing is involved as in CCD cameras with color filters. However the CCD cameras are more sensitive, are cooled (except the Meade DSI), and give you more flexibility in processing, but will take more time to learn the ins and outs of CCD imaging.

If money is no object, it's hard to beat the SBIG cameras with built in autoguider chips. If you don't want to spend thousands maybe a DSLR is for you. If you are on a small budget, then the DSI or DSI Pro is a great way to get your feet wet without shelling out a ton of cash.

Either way you go, I would suggest getting a ToUcam for imaging the planets to compliment your CCD or DSLR camera. At $165 with the 1.25" adapter, it's a very inexpensive way to get great results on the planets. I have an SBIG camera and the ToUcam kicks its butt on planetary imaging.

You can see my ToUcam images and my other images at: <>



Subject: Canon 20Da Results

From: Doc G, Date: Oct 2005

In my opinion, and I have been studying his images in considerable detail the past two days, Mr. Vaughan is a very fine astrophotographer. His work with several media shows universal attention to guiding, focus and depth of imaging in my opinion. I would say that his 20Ds images are among the best.

His images do and always have suggested a subtleness of color that is soft and in may ways very attractive. I, too, have felt that they are a bit too soft. However, I believe it is a matter of personal taste. Not everyone processes with the sharpness and color intensity of Gendler or Crowman or many of the other top line CCD imagers. Of course we would not like to see such extreme and intense sharpness and color in all of the images I think.

I find Mr. Vaughan's coloration rather pleasing. I believe that given a choice he would tend toward the more soft and subtitle coloration. Look at all of his earlier work and you find the same coloration tendencies. That said, I have found that my digital cameras all tend toward the same soft coloration tendencies. If you want the striking results being shown on SBIG, you need filters, H-alpha and sometimes other narrow band data.

If you want startling and interesting color renditions and interesting processing try this site: <> Personally I find Mr. Crisp's images very interesting and exciting as well.

Also try this site by Chuck. It is one of hundreds using the 20Da: <>

> Chuck has been posting some of these on APML. I notice looking at them
> at the link provided that the colors are pale, or under-saturated. Now,
> Chuck is known as a top notch image processor, so I wonder if the weak
> colors are a product of the camera detector, or his personal processing
> taste. Anyone have any thoughts on this?

While a considerable amount of adjustment is available using PhotoShop or other programs, there are definite limits. You will find that not only color saturation, but other details change together. One setting affects another since the color layers overlap in much of the fine detail. When you push some of the buttons in PhotoShop really hard, your images take on an over processed look. You cannot insert detail where the data does not exist in the first place.

Then there is the main issue of having the details in the image in the first place. A simple example is the H-alpha data. Nebulosity is full of H-alpha data. This data defines the sharpness of the gaseous clouds. It is this data which so many astrophotpgraphers are now using to give "punch" to their images. This data is not available in the strength required using many digital cameras. You can see this easily by looking at some of the H-alpha only images shown on the SBIG site.

I have not seen digital camera images which show this sort of fine detail. There is another issue with adding a narrow band image to the mix. That is, the narrow band image cuts through sky pollution very nicely. It enable the photographer to add a bit of sharpness to otherwise soft images. Narrow band images are difficult with a color chip since the exposures get very long.


Subject: SAC WebCam For Starting CCD Imaging --part 1 of 3     Top

From: Tom Skinner <> Date: Oct 2002

Doug Kranz wrote:
> Any advice re lower end CCD cameras with an LX200 10"?

For a cheap webcam, take should take a look at the SAC camera: <>

The SAC camera are modified webcams, but professionally done and, in my humble opinion, a pretty good place for a beginner to start. You won't spend a lot of money, and if you decide to step up later, the SAC would make a good autoguider.

There are tons of free software packages out there for camera control, image acquisition and image processing. See the links below.


Subject: SAC WebCam For Starting CCD Imaging --part 2      Top

From: Randy Marsden <>

This camera is a commercialized version of a Philips webcam with modifications for long exposure and removal of on-chip amplifier glow. A lot of information about using this type of camera for astrophotography can be found in the QCUIAG Yahoo group. The modifications were developed by a member of that group. The Yahoo group address is . Some of the members have recently been taking some nice deep space shots. Without any modifications, the Philips and some other CCD-based webcams can be used to take very good lunar and planetary astrophotos. The same group also has a wealth of information about that application.

Another recent development has been the use of webcams and some of the image processing software to obtain the data to quantify and plot PEC, RA, and dec drift to help improve polar alignment. It has been cloudy here or I would have done this already. When I do, I will post a message here with a link to the data which I will post on a web site. The readily available webcams cost under $100 and the software is free - links to the various programs are on the QCUIAG website. So in about 15 minutes, you could obtain an accurate graph of alignment and PEC error and perhaps even details deeper into the gear train. The basic procedure is described in a message

and a sample graph is at:


Subject: SAC WebCam For Starting CCD Imaging --part 3 of 3     Top

From: Ted Wilbur

I've had a SAC 7 for about 8 months. It is capable of taking some nice shots but the chip and pixel sizes are very small. The SAC 7 has a postage stamp field of view of 3.7x4.9 arcmin on the LX200 10" a_t F10. The image scale is just 0.46 arcsec per pixel, it can't be binned, and isn't particularly sensitive IMO. It works ok on small objects like planetary nebula.

I use the SAC 7 occasionally on my LX200, but have had the best results using it on my old ETX70 which has a very large field of view. Some of the images I've taken with it are posted on Weasner's Mighty ETX site. (Goto homepage for link)

The SAC 7 isn't a bad starter camera, particularly now with the planets coming back around. Just be aware that the FOV is super small, even if you use a focal reducer.

Editor's Note: also checkout PolarisUSA Video's Day/Night CCTV Cam: <>


Subject: Webcam Guider? --part 1 of 4   Top

From: Doug George <> Date: Sep 2003

Bostjan wrote:
> The recent discussion on Webcams was really interesting. I was wondering
> if anybody has ever tried to use one of them as an autoguider? Is there
> any software available that is able to do that?

Some of our MaxIm DL/CCD customers use webcams for autoguiding. Some webcams are more sensitive than others, though.

We also just released a "new and improved" video/webcam plug-in driver, available from our driver downloads page.


Subject: WebCam Guider? --part 2

From: Jerry Horne <>

Try: <>
This lists several webcam guider projects and related software.


Subject: WebCam Guider? --part 3

From: John Mahony <>

Astrosnap <> webcam freeware will handle just about everything that can be done with a webcam, including autofocus if you have an LX200 with the 1206 focuser.


Subject: WebCam Guider? --part 4 of 4   Top

From: Gene Chimahusky <>

Bar none the best guider SW for webcams is a dos based program that only works with the old Connectix Quickcam B&W for pc's. If interested check out:


The B&W Quickcam is not very plentiful but do come up on eBay. It is the only cam that only requires snipping one wire to enable long exposures (without cooling of course).

The guider.exe SW is so feature rich, and freeware, that it can provide complete control over the lx200. The other SW works, but none hold a candle to guider.


Subject: WebCam Purchase Advise   Top

From: Gene Chimahusky <> Date: Sep 2003

To date the most sensitive stock cam is the Philips ToUCam based on the icx098bq CCD. Older Philips Vesta's used the icx098ak, some newer ones use the bq. Logitechs and others are also based upon the bq but the ToUCam still win for sensitivity because of the support circuitry and amplifiers. The biggest issue with webcams is the max exposure length of an unmodified camera, which comes in around 1/25sec or 1/5sec with a few tricks. There are more sensitive surveillance cams but the hookup there is analog video. People mod the cam to use the icx098bl (B&W version of same chip) which shows greater sensitivity.

Check here:
  <> for a webcam list and sensors used.

Do use plan to guide the main scope via piggyback or off-axis or used the main scope as the guider for more wide field shots? Obviously the aperture of the guide scope will have a large effect on the dimmest star you can guide with, especially with an un-modded webcam.

I have a modded ToUCam, a stock Vesta and a Quickcam B&W. Again, the QuickCam with a wire snip mod for long exposure up to a second or two without cooling sure makes guide star selection easier and guider.exe beats the rest of them for SW.


Subject: WebCam Discussion Group --part 1 of 2   Top

From: Doc G, Date: Sep 2003

There is a very large webcam group. It is a Yahoo group and will tell you more than you wanted to know about web cams. Ask the question there. It is called QCUIAG. Find it at:


Subject: WebCam Discussion Group --part 2 of 2

From: John Mahony <> Date: Sep 2003

The QCUIAG home page is <>
The QCUIAG yahoo group is at <>

For autoguiding, you can use Star Track (purely autoguiding software), Astrosnap (autoguiding and advanced image capture program), Iris (just about everything), and several others. Most of the software is freeware. One of the nice things about webcams is that their development for astro-imaging has been developed almost entirely by amateurs, so there's tons of great freeware for them. See also K3CCDtools and Registax.


Subject: IR Filter On WebCams --part 1 of 2   Top

From: Russell Croman <> Date: Aug 2003

--- Robert wrote:
> I have a webcam and have been reading a lot about IR filters.
> Can someone tell me what it does and is it a must have filter.

Robert, there are a couple of reasons to use them. One is atmospheric dispersion. At the high magnifications used for planetary work, the dispersion of the different wavelengths by refraction in the atmosphere causes a significant blurring of the image, and also colored edges on the planet. This gets worse as the altitude of the object decreases.

Adding an IR blocker removes a big section of wavelengths, reducing this effect. Many folks like to use a UV/IR blocker to handle both ends of the spectrum this way.

The other reason is color balance. The IR signal shows up in the red channel, and sometimes also leaks into the blue and/or green channels, depending on the color filters used in the webcam. This can really mess up color balance, giving an unnatural look that is hard to compensate for in processing. See my website for more: <>


Subject: IR Filter On Web Cams --part 2 of 2   Top

From: Peter Campbell <>

Web cam CCDs are very sensitive in the IR, but the R, G, and B filters built into the CCDs do not filter out IR. All CCD cameras come with a built in IR filter to fix this. Problem is that the IR filter in the ToUCam is in the lens, not on the CCD chip, so when you remove the web cam lens you remove the IR filter. The QuickCam has the IR filter on the CCD holder, and it does not get removed when you remove the lens.

Now, what is the problem with detecting IR? An IR source will look white to a web cam with no IR filter because the IR passes through all the colored filters equally well. The software thinks that all the light detected through the blue filter is blue even though some of it may be IR. Allowing IR to get through will cause images to looked washed out due to the extra "white" signal. The color balance can be really bad too, if the camera has been balanced with an IR filter. Also, most lenses are not well corrected in IR and you will get really bad chromatic aberration if you don't filter it out. Atmospheric dispersion is also an issue at low altitudes. However, if accurate color is not an issue and you are not imaging too close to the horizon and there are only reflecting surfaces involved, you don't need an IR filter.


Subject: WebCam Acquisition Technique with AstroSnap-Pro   Top

From: Sylvain Weiller <> Date: Mar 2004

I have developed this acquisition technique usable with webcams, video camera and digital cameras to use less space on disk (50x or more), accelerate registration, enable slower processors speeds and less RAM ... Archiving them!

See: <> and click on AstroSnap-Pro link and follow.


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