Last updated: 30 June 2004
This page documents the Meade Lunar Planetary Imager comments, tips, and photos. Contributions welcome. I have posted a review of using the Autostar Suite and LPI on the Macintosh. In order to showcase the LPI you may occasionally see images taken with other telescopes on this page.
Subject: Meade LPI - Lunar Mosaic Sent: Monday, June 28, 2004 08:14:44 From: Graham, John L (Graham@udri.udayton.edu) I love your ETX Web site. In addition to being just plain neat, it's been very helpful. I used it to research both my Meade DS-2130 and my Meade LPI before buying them. I hope to get a Meade SCT as soon as it fits in my budget, but that may be a while. In the mean time the LPI is causing me to lose a lot of sleep. The attached composite image of the Moon was taken on the evening of June 26th using the Meade LPI mounted at the prime focus of my Meade DS-2130 (5.1" f/8). To capture both the bright crater rays and preserve the terminator I first set the exposure so the rays were just short of saturation (0.088sec), then adjusted the gain to recover the terminator (gain of 70). This gave a gray background sky that you may be able to remove using the histogram, but for this test I chose to leave it alone and correct it in post-processing. I was initially averaging 25 frames for each image, but the seeing was not very good and it wasn't clear that the image quality was improving very much by averaging more frames. Therefore, for this picture I ended up averaging only 10 frames per image. Eight source images were assembled into the complete mosaic using PhotoMax Pro (the freebie software that came with my Polaroid PDC 700 camera) then histogram and gamma adjusted to render the sky black. The attached image was also reduced 50% in size to make it a better size for viewing on a Web page.Mike here: Photoshop (and its lower end brother), as well many other apps on Macs and PCs, allow rotating images.
I'd be interested in hearing about others experiences in assembling mosaics. Is there a software package or utility that will make the task of rotating each image to obtain a good alignment easier? This is an issue for telescopes with altazimuth mounts like the DS-2130. Thanks, -John
Subject: Meade LPI: Initial Deepsky Results Sent: Friday, June 25, 2004 09:46:42 From: Graham, John L (Graham@udri.udayton.edu) I picked up my Meade LPI just under two weeks ago at our local astronomy convention (the Apollo Rendezvous). Like a lot of users my primary interest in the camera is for solar, lunar, and planetary imaging, and in this role it works wonderfully. I was also curious to see if I could use it in other applications such as double stars, asteroids, rudimentary deep sky, and wide field work. After tinkering with it for a bit (we've had four observable evenings since I bought the camera) the results are encouraging. For wide field work I made a simple adapter to mount the LPI on a 28mm f/2.8 SLR lens I mounted this on an old equatorial pipe mount fitted with a curved-bolt clock drive. The images below were from 100 8-sec exposures; dark subtracted and using the LPI's deepsky setting. The image of Sagitta is a composite of two images, while Lyra is a single image and shows the LPI's field of view when fitted with this lens. The limiting magnitude in each is 8.5-9.0. In the Sagitta image note The Little Coat Hanger in the upper right.
I've done some deepsky work with my Meade DS-2130 (5.1" f/8), but so far the best results were achieved using an Orion StarBlast (4.5" f/4) on the DS-2130's mount. Two example images are attached including the region near Alberio and the globular cluster M-3. Each image used 30 4-sec exposures; dark subtracted and using the LPI's deepsky setting. In the original BMPs the detection limit seems to be right at 12th magnitude. I've also been able to image M-5 and M-11, though the focus on both of these was far enough off I didn't think they were worth showing.
I have a lot of work to do yet to optimize the process, but the lessons-learned so far include that longer exposures and averaging more images don't necessarily mean better results. Long exposures results in bright dark frames and a severe loss of contrast in the image though adjusting the offset may compensate for this. For the wide field images I found 8sec exposures worked best, while the deepsky images did much better with 4sec exposures. I've also noticed a loss of image quality if you try to average too many images. This may result from image rotation using the DS-2130 altazimuth mount. I plan more tests with the equatorial mount to explore this. The real key to pulling faint star images out of the field was subtracting dark frames, setting the offset fairly high (about 70), the lower limit of the histogram to 0 and the upper limit as needed to show the faint stars and just barely showing the thermal noise. For the wide field images an upper limit of 30 was used, and for the deep sky a value of only 16 was used. From these early results I suspect the LPI will do a fine job with stellar objects such as open clusters, double and variable stars, and asteroids. Condensed objects like globular clusters show promise and diffuse objects will offer the greatest challenge. The key to success lies in dark frame subtraction, exploring short exposures, setting the upper limit of the histogram to a low level, and not averaging too many frames. There's a lot to optimize, but with persistence I think we'll find a range of settings that work well. John L. Graham
Subject: nice photos Sent: Tuesday, June 22, 2004 11:34:28 From: Ian Rhodes (firstname.lastname@example.org) Just a quick one Impressed with the photos. Just bought the LPI suite to compliment my LX200 10" Well done Ian Rhodes
Subject: jupiter and moons photos Sent: Monday, June 21, 2004 14:51:51 From: Lachezar V. (email@example.com) Finally I got some time to photograph Jupiter and some of it moons. Maybe you don't remember me, and my continuous questions to you, before and after I bought my EXT90, but I promised, I'll send you some pics, when I like them. I was trying to shot Jupiter, since I got my scope, but either it was too late in the night, or the sky was cloudy, or something else. I've shot, also Saturn and Venus, and Moon, but as I said, I was aiming on Jupiter. So, now I'm sending you these, to show that EXT90 and Meade LPI are good tools, even in the hand of less than an amateur (me - for now :) LPI exposure was about 0,250s, and every image is combined of average 6-7 shots. Best regards, Lachezar Vladikov ---------------------------- owner of: Meade ETX 90AT Meade Electric Focuser Meade Full set of premium-grade Super Plossl eyepieces 6.4mm <-> 40mm Meade LPI Meade Erectic Prism Meade Barlow 2x Lens Meade Dew Shield Meade Cables/software kit for PC connection w/ ETX90AT Bresser Saturn Special 30x70 Astro Binocular Bresser Precision Compass
Subject: Meade LPI Sent: Sunday, June 20, 2004 01:07:37 From: Luis Villa (ETX_125EC_from_arizona@msn.com) I have tried every possible combination of setting using the LPI for Deep Sky objects, specifically M-13 and M-57, I have NOT been able to capture anything. My alignment was as good as I could get it, every object I slewed to was in the view of my 32mm eyepiece. I tried the LPI with and without Autostar suite running, or even connected. Every possible combination of setting I could try for the LPI did not work... I never saw anything on my laptop, nor did I capture anything. I then tried slewing to Jupiter or Vega to see if LPI had crashed, I kept shutting down right before I slewed. Jupiter or Vega were in the field of view of the LPI without too much adjustment. I have come to one crucial conclusion for myself. The LPI is not capable of capturing any deep sky objects. I will continue trying! I am a very stubborn type of person, IF I can just get one or two of the brightest Messier objects, I would be satisfied, maybe late fall or early winter I can capture M-42 or M-31. If Meade had not thrown in the Deep Sky setting, LPI would work as advertised. I have posted numerous pictures of Saturn, Jupiter, Venus and Mars. For me they are spectacular, of course there are better pictures of all the planets, but these are the ones I took. I have no idea why Meade includes the little blurb about how much longer the exposures are than web cams. This does imply that LPI is capable of deep sky objects, when I don't think it is capable of imaging any deep space objects. Maybe somebody else has had better luck and is willing to share his or her settings used. Like I said I will continue trying, but now I don't think I will have much luck. LuisMike here: I guess that is why Meade didn't call it the LPDSOI...
I am satisfied with the quality I have been able to achieve on the planets, this was exactly what I wanted in order to image the solar system, although I might have trouble with Neptune and Uranus and I doubt if I will ever be able to capture Pluto. But I wonder how many people purchased the LPI and expected to routinely be able to image deep sky objects based on the advertising. I quote "Achieve great results the first time out on the Moon, planets, brighter deep-sky objects and terrestrial targets." Then there is this "Automatic and manual exposure control from .001 to 15 seconds (up to 450X longer than web cams)." This does imply that LPI will be a better buy than a web cam on deep-sky objects. Perhaps I will have some limited success later on. I will keep trying off and on. I have spent many hours trying at the expense of observing, IF LPI did not routinely crash with no indication of a crash we would all be much better off, it just stops working. I do routinely achieve great results on the Moon, and on planets but deep sky? That is an entirely different story! I am very seriously thinking of buying a Phillips web cam in order to image Deep Sky objects, I will have to do what I was trying to avoid in the first place, double purchase. I think I should have gone with the web cam in the first place, oh well, live and learn. I will continue to monitor your LPI postings, maybe others have had success. Luis
Subject: New LPI Set-up Sent: Tuesday, June 15, 2004 07:00:25 From: KlaraColli@aol.com (KlaraColli@aol.com) I have been using my LPI with some success, but with the narrow field of view and lack of light sensitivity I find it difficult finding small or dim objects. To make finding objects easier I am thinking if installing a diagonal on the back of my ETX-125 and connecting the LPI to the diagonal. My thinking is that I can locate and center an object using a relatively high power parafocal eyepiece (for narrow field of view) and then just flip the mirror. I am hoping this will yield a reasonably centered and focused object. Do you think this will work or am I wrongly assuming that an object will be centered in the eyepiece will be centered in LPI through the flip mirror and diagonal?Mike here: I do something similar by using the Shutan Wide Field Adapter (see the Accessory Reviews - Showcase Products page) for visual and some photographic work. But don't count on the field of view being precisely the same; also it might be difficult to make an eyepiece parfocal, considering the difference in the light path with the diagonal. Let me know how it works out.
Subject: Meade LPI Sent: Sunday, June 13, 2004 11:02:53 From: Luis Villa (ETX_125EC_from_arizona@msn.com) I was able to use the scope with the LPI last night, seeing was fairly good, but would not support use of a Barlow---- As you can see, Jupiter is really spectacular---- the first picture was taken last weekend and the last one, just last night. I have had very good success with the Planets, but with deep space objects, that is a very different story.
I tried M-13 last night, dead center in the middle of a 25mm eyepiece, used Polar alignment tracking was very good. I then inserted the LPI to try to image it. No luck, I thought I would have to make minute adjustments so that it would center in the LPI. No matter what I tried, I was not able to image ANY deep space object last night. I tried for about two hours using various combinations of settings still with no luck. One thing I did notice is that even if I turned the LPI off to slew, because of crashes when it is on. I then slewed back to Jupiter and I could not find it with the LPI, until I turned the computer off, then back on, complete cold boot, then Jupiter was fairly easy to center on the screen. I am starting to wonder if the actual setting of "Deep Sky" may be the problem, or if any of the other settings is the culprit. Then again, Meade does market the LPI as a Lunar, Planetary imager. So as far as working as advertised, it is great! Now if only Meade had not teased us by throwing in the Deep Sky setting! I would be very interested to know if anybody has been able to use the LPI on Deep Sky objects, and if they have, what settings do they use? Luis
Subject: 2 new LPI images for you Sent: Saturday, June 12, 2004 13:06:37 From: Craig M. Bobchin (ETX_Astro_Boy@sbcglobal.net) I finally had chance to take the LX200 out with the LPI and do some imaging. One is of Jupiter and 3 of its 4 moons. Callisto is absent, because it was too faint to see. I may try pushing the post processing to see if I can bring it out. The other image is of one of my favorite double stars Albierio. Enjoy Craig
Subject: First shot with LPI Sent: Friday, June 11, 2004 12:14:32 From: Nick Preece (firstname.lastname@example.org) Just thought I'd send you my very first photo taken with the LPI. Can be quite fiddly to use but with a bit of patience the results are great. A fantastic bit of kit!! I am going to try some messier objects as soon as I get time so I will keep you updated. Best wishes Nick Preece. (Hereford, UK).
Subject: LPI entries Sent: Friday, June 4, 2004 20:36:21 From: ROBERT Derouin (email@example.com) attached are a few images I shot using a Meade LPI imager and an Orion 5"f/12 Maksutov-Cassegrain. My computer is located in the house, so I used 12ft and10ft USB extension cords in addition to a USB hub which also has a 3 ft cord. I was told the hub provides a little power to strengthen the signal of the LPI. I didn't seem to have any noise problems. I do not have a Barlow lens, but this will be my next pick-up, after all the bills for the cords, hub, and LPI are paid off! This was my very first experience using the LPI and it took only a few minutes until I felt comfortable using it. Hope you can use the images.I'll be more than happy to share my experiences. Bob Derouin, Johnston, RI
Here's another Moon image with the LPI. All images were taken from Rhode Island,the seeing was fair.
Subject: Moon Sent: Thursday, May 27, 2004 14:52:05 From: Jody Miller (firstname.lastname@example.org) ETX 90EC 2x Barlow Meade LPI 50 stacked pics 05-26-04 Texas Last night I took some pics of the moon with the Meade LPI. The sky was little bit cloudy but, I got some breaks. I still havent tried to take any pictures of messier objects yet but will try soon. J.Miller
Subject: LPI Query Sent: Tuesday, May 25, 2004 08:20:04 From: Stephen Cann (email@example.com) I jut bought a Meade LPI for my ETX125. The instructions are not totally clear for a novice (like me)!! Please could you explain the function of the 'Expose' function and how to use 'Acquire' in the Object selection box? I am also wondering what exposure settings would be best for recording the transit of Venus - assuming that it wont be cloudy in the UK on that day! Many thanks, Stephen Cann. BTW: Thanks for your excellent site. It has been much help to me since I bought my telescope.Mike here: Been awhile since I've fired up the LPI. Be certain to use a good, safe solar filter. Practice a lot on the Sun before the day of the transit.
Mike here again: Just fired up the Autostar Suite. Expose is the exposure setting value as described on page 16 of the LPI manual. It moves in increments of 0.5 f/stop. I couldn't find any specific info the Acquire Object type but I presume it tries to preset exposure info based on what the LPI "sees".
Subject: ETX 90 and LPI imager Sent: Monday, May 24, 2004 15:01:15 From: Richard Plowman (firstname.lastname@example.org) Thanks for posting the last pictures. I think I have had the best picture to date. I have managed to put together six consolidated images( 20 jpegs each)of the new moon taken in sequence with 80% quality with the ETX 90 and LPI imagerlast night. I then put them in position using Microsoft Powerpoint which is surprisingly good for this type of accurate alignment using the right click menu on the picture You can also create the blackback ground and modify the contrast to get hopefully a seemless picture. Use the Powerpoint save as JPEG option. Kind regards Richard Plowman Chichester UK
Subject: Re: Sunspot photography Sent: Sunday, May 23, 2004 11:30:45 From: Jim Beston (email@example.com) Thanks for you reply to my question on how to track the Sun during the forthcoming transit of Venus. Your answer to "Goto" Venus was so obvious I felt quite ashamed not to have realised the obvious! Incidently, Starry Night Pro, which I have, does allow tracking of the Sun. With regard to my other question about the apparent inability of the LPI Imaging software to track a dark object against a bright background, i.e. a Sunspot, the latest Autostar suite upgrade from the Meade site does do this. As I indicated in my last mail, all you have to do is check the "Dark Spot" checkbox. I managed to try this out this afternoon - a little difficult since everytime I got setup a cloud appeared over the horizon and promptly put itself between me and the Sun. However, I attach my first, poor, effort which I hope to improve upon in due course. The major poroblemI find is trying to see the image on my laptop in bright sunlight - which is why I spent a large portion of this afternoon with my head stuck inside a large cardboard box in which I had placed my laptop - much to the amusement of my wife who thought it was an improvement on my usual appearance! Incidently I saw my first Iridum flare the other night exactly as predicted in www.heavens-above.com - Ican reccomend this site, it is a real mine of information. Have you any experience of capturing such a flare on "film". I doubt it would be easy to photograph through my ETX. Kind Regards Jim
Mike here: The image can be improved by doing some "levels" adjustment in software. I did this on the posted image using GraphicConverter. As to an Iridium flare photograph, there are a couple on the Guest Astrophotography - The Sky archive.
Subject: LPI Images of Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and the moon Sent: Saturday, May 22, 2004 23:54:31 From: Luis Villa (ETX_125EC_from_arizona@msn.com) Thought I would share these pictures with the site. I took them with the LPI by Meade, seeing was not the best we have had, but have to take advantage of the time that I had. All were taken with the LPI at various settings, Venus was the one I was really after. From my location Venus sets over the house very quickly after dark. Once I had Venus, I thought I would try the other visible planets and the Moon. Jupiter and Saturn came out very nicely, Mars sure has dimmed from last August. FYI, LPI keeps 'crashing'. I have updated Autostar Suite from the Meade site and still it crashes.Not as bad as it used to, but nevertheless it keeps going South on me, when I slewed from planet to planet. Even if they were this close to each other. One work around I found was to close off LPI completely, then slew to what you want, then re-start the LPI. It may not be the most stable program, but it sure works as advertised. The pictures I have taken with the LPI are much better than I ever expected. I have submitted photos of Venus, Jupiter and Saturn before when I had AOL asmy ISP. Still no luck with Messier Objects, I tried M-51 with no luck. It could be that LPI had crashed, I was getting ready to call it quits for the night and thought I would try M-51 but it was nowhere to be found on the laptop. Have you had any luck with Messier objects? Luis
Mike here: Don't know why the LPI application is crashing. And no reports of Messier LPI photos yet.
My next project is some Messier objects.... my only problem will be using polar mode rather than Alt-Az and going with long exposures! Will keep you posted on how this goes. I think it is going to be very frustrating but worth the trouble. Any recommendations as to which Messier object to try first? Any tips? As long as I shut LPI down, then Slew, I have no problems.... but if I slew with LPI running, then I have problems... Almost forgot, I bought an extension to insert eyepieces so that I can have a 26mm AND the LPI then use the flip mirror to switch between the two. Focus is almost perfect between the two, without the extension I could not reach focus. LuisMike here: I would suggest trying brighter ones first. M42 (gone but would have been a good test); M13, M57, M31 would be good ones to try. Which extension did you get?
From Orion, 3.5" long. I don't need the parfocal ring with the LPI.
Subject: LPI NOT! Sent: Friday, May 21, 2004 17:45:51 From: W. Sumner Davis (firstname.lastname@example.org) After spending 2 days attempting to get the LPI from meade to work I have given up. The folks at meade tech support knew about as much about these issues as my cat. After being shuffled about from one extention to another for 28 min. (I have heard about how bad their tech support is) I found that they knew less than I did about the situation, and I knew little. I am running a PC pentium 200 with 296 megs of Ram and 2000 pro. I loaded all the latest drivers, etc. but no go. the PC says the imager is their, but the imaging program from meadxe says it is not connected. I will give it yet another try tomorrow (so much for imaging tonight) and if I do not have any luck...back it goes. I pretty much knew meade products were low end, but after hearing about folks luck with the imager I thought I would give it a try. I should learn not to second quess myself. Bill _______________________ Dr. W. Sumner Davis Affiliate: New York Academy of Sciences Fellow: Royal Astronomical Society Member: American Geophysical UnionMike here: Two possibilities: you need more CPU horsepower, or you need more RAM, or both. I've run the LPI in VirtualPC w/Win2K on my 1GHz G4 Mac but that is more horsepower under emulation than you've got.
Subject: ETX90 and LPI imager v Registax Sent: Friday, May 21, 2004 04:39:11 From: Richard Plowman (email@example.com) I thought readers ofyour great site might like a comparison of images taken of Jupiter using the ETX 90 with 2X barlowand LPI imager and then comparing the consolidation image with the LPI software 20 JPEGimages at 80% qualityor using Registax 2.1 with 75 images single JPEG images to process the image.
I have also included a saturn and "spot the mars" picture. Telescope and imaging working well but does need patience. Any further tips for deep space objects as I have been not very successful to date.
Kind regards Richard Plowman Chichester UK
Subject: Jupiter Sent: Thursday, May 20, 2004 15:53:47 From: Jody Miller (firstname.lastname@example.org) ETX 90EC 2x Barlow Lens Meade LPI 200 Stacked Pics 5-19-04 This is a pic of Jupiter I took last night with my ETX 90. I think it came out pretty good. You can see the GRS in the left middle corner of Jupiter. I will be sending more pics in the future. J.Miller B.C. Texas
Subject: RE: Problem "LPI not found" Sent: Thursday, May 20, 2004 00:27:54 From: K.Attree@surrey.ac.uk many thanks for you reply. Subsequent to my-mail to you, I did find the Meade site, and used their hyperlink to get to the Microsoft updates. I downloaded the suggested files, but this did not cure the problem. I have not carried out any Autostar updates; I've always been concerned that this may cause conflicts, and so, do more harm than good. Perhaps I should have more faith!! What I did do was to download the AstroVideo software, and this seems to run the LPI without a problem. Shall I continue to try to rectify the Meade software problem, or do you think that the AstroVideo program will suffice? Once again thanks for taking the time to reply, you must get bombarded with questions like these, regards, Kev.Mike here: You should get the Autostar 3.1Ee update; you can always regress using the archives on my ETX Site.
Subject: Sunspot photography Sent: Wednesday, May 19, 2004 07:39:43 From: "Jim Beston" (email@example.com) I've recently purchased the Meade Solar filter and have been looking (with great delight)at some sunpots. I'd like to photograph these with the Meade LPI and Autostar suite software in preparation for the transit in June. There are two problems: 1) Tracking the Sun - I know it is possible to create a fictional "asteroid" behind the Sun so that the 'scope will track that and so track the Sun, but I am sure that I've read of an easier way to do this that you used yourself, but I can't find it in your web pages. 2) The LPI imaging software will not "lock-on" to a dark sunspot on the Sun's bright image consequently it will not align and combine the captured images. I'd hoped the new version of the Autostar suite software (3.16) would allow this but it doesn't Can you help with these problems? On thinking about it, It should be possible to capture every image and align and combine them with (e.g.) Registax? Thanks & Regards JimMike here: For the Venus transit, just GOTO and track Venus. And yes, you could do the individual images and stack elsewhere.
Erm.... with regard to item 2, the check-box labeled "Dark Spot" that I've just noticed in the imaging page wouldn't have anything to do with it, would it??. Ooops! Jim
Subject: LPI photos of Jupiter and Mare Crisium Sent: Tuesday, May 18, 2004 19:40:36 From: Donato Espana (firstname.lastname@example.org) Got my LPI about 2 months ago, but terrible weather has prevented me from doing much with it. The photo of Jupiter was taken by taping the LPI to a 12.5MM eyepiece. This worked pretty good. The Crisium was taken under pretty poor seening condition with the moon low in the sky, but the image still came out fantastic. I used a 2X barlow. Both images were taken through the Meade 6" archomatic f/8 refractor by Don Spain at Hillview Kentucky
Subject: first pic ever Sent: Tuesday, May 18, 2004 12:53:22 From: "G.J. Scheffer" (email@example.com) hereby my first astronomy picture ever, LDX55 8sn with the LPI imager with a 2x Barlow. 47 images stacked with Image Stacker and photoshop personally I' am a little bit disappointed with the sharpness of the picture (focussing is difficult with the LPI) and the fact that the planet is so small on the picture. is it an option to use a 5x Barlow to get a bigger (sharper) object??? regards Gert Jan Scheffer the Netherlands
Mike here: Yes, you can use a Barlow Lens. HOWEVER, remember that besides magnifying the image, any turbulence or telescope motion will also be magnified.
Subject: Problem "LPI not found" Sent: Monday, May 17, 2004 01:04:39 From: K.Attree@surrey.ac.uk firstly, thanks again for creating and maintaining this wonderful and valuable site. My problem is this; I have acquired a Meade LPI to use in conjunction with my ETX 125 and Autostar. I have installed the software as per the instructions, onto my laptop which runs Windows 2000. I have connected correctly the camera to the USB port, and started up the Meade imaging program. This is when things go wrong; the message I receive is "LPI not found". A check using the applications found under " Control Panel" suggests that the LPI is installed correctly. I have repeated the operation, but using my desktop PC, which runs Windows 98SE, and get the same result- but this time with the additional message; "File MSCOREE.DLL, not found". I have searched the Windows 98SE installation disc, but this file does not appear to be store on it. I have logged onto the Microsoft web site, but this file does not appear to be available from there. I had a look at you web site, but could not find an identical problem to this one. I've sort of run out of ideas, and would welcome any help you can offer. I also wonder if this is a common problem. Many thanks for taking the time to read this e-mail, regards, Kevin AttreeMike here: Did you check out the Meade troubleshooting page I mentioned in my article on the Autostar Suite? Also, have you updated to the latest Autostar Suite from Meade's site? (Both links to both are on the Autostar Info page on my ETX Site.)
Subject: Sent: Thursday, May 13, 2004 08:20:13 From: "Mr. Tom" (MrTomsMail@gmx.net) for some months Ive been watching your site, its great. Maybe you can put my picture on your LPI page. The moon is taken with a 1000mm f/10 Maksutov ("Russentonne") and the LPI, while the planets were caught with my Celestron 9 1/4 and the LPI under city lights and smog conditions. Mercury only gave me 2 chances on 29/03/04, so its not good at all. Mars was already too tiny that month. Cheers, Tom, Aachen & Dortmund, Germany
Mike here: PLEASE read the Email Etiquette item; your message was originally deleted UNREAD as SPAM due to the missing subject entry.
Subject: LPI and 80 ft USB 2.0 Extension Cable Sent: Monday, May 10, 2004 19:23:04 From: "wesley davis" (firstname.lastname@example.org) I operate my ETX-125 and LPI from my desk top computer inside the house. To connect to the LPI I purchased four 16 ft "USB active extension cables" and one 16 ft "USB 2.0 device cable" for a total of 80 feet from: http://www.sewelldirect.com/usb2extensioncable.asp I then went to Radio Shack and showed the salesperson the Meade supplied PC serial port connector with the cable. The salesperson sold me a 100 foot four, wire, telephone line and a "male to male adapter". This gives me control of the telescope. I did not have any trouble at all connecting and establishing communication from my Pentium 4. Dell Dimesnion 8300, with Windows XP and the Meade LPI and ETX-125. The attached two pictures were taken using the LPI defaults.
Regards, Wes from the Bossier Bayous
Subject: Mac & LPI Sent: Sunday, May 9, 2004 11:34:35 From: "G.J. Scheffer" (email@example.com) I have the impression you are a Mac-fan. I just started to use the Meade LPI device with an old Notebook. I wanted to use it with my Powerbook, preferably with Keith AstroImager. (I use Keith Image Stacker for the Mac also.) http://keithwiley.com/software.shtml Unfortunately the Mac did not recognize the LPI device :( with the Astro~Imager do you have any suggestions, I hoped that it was a video-device, something like a webcam, regards Gert Jan SchefferMike here: Yep, a long time Mac user. I also tried to use the LPI with Mac software. Unfortunately, the device is not recognized by any of the apps and drivers I've tried. But on a fast PowerBook, the Autostar Suite works fine under VirtualPC (at least with Windows2000).
thanks for your reaction 1. any suggestions for a specific webcam with the MAC? and do you have experience with the program from Keith AstrImager? 2. do you have experience with so called light air pollution filters? should I take narrow band or a broad band filter? here in the Netherlands we have to many people with too much light in a very small area :) regards Gert Jan Scheffer Malden/the NetherlandsMike here: I have no experience using webcams for astrophotography. I have used the Sonfest SAC imager, as I report on on the Accessory Reviews - Showcase Products page on my ETX Site. You might want to consider signing up for the AstroMac mailing list; you can join via the link near the bottom on my ETX Site Home Page. I have used his stacker application.
Subject: From montreal Sent: Monday, May 10, 2004 08:13:23 From: "Marcel Bisson" (firstname.lastname@example.org) My first astrophoto with etx90 and lpi meade camera. Beautiful site. Marcel
Subject: RE: Meade LPI and object tracking Sent: Thursday, May 6, 2004 07:22:41 From: Mike@tanisbinaries.com Everything now calibrated, trained and aligned, in AltAz rather than Polar, and I'm getting about 75% of objects bang on in the FOV of my LPI camera. More often than not I can stick the camera in the Barlow after 2 or 3 test slews with a normal EP and Autostar finds whatever I ask for quickly, accurately and reliably. The tracking is about a million times better, and having adjusted the backlash it really is the 'scope of my dreams. Thanks very much for your help, and for posting the link to my other pictures. With thanks again for everything, including of course the fantastic site. Wishing you clear skies and steady air, Mike Coombs.
Subject: Focal Reducer for Meade LPI Sent: Monday, May 3, 2004 10:59:01 From: "David L. Gasch" (David.Gasch@goldsmithgroup.com) Haven't seen on your site yet about anyone using a focal reducer to widen the field of view using the Meade LPI. I've been researching some mfg's sites and not sure which would work. Shutan has their model 5956370 deluxe field adapter, used with the 5956316 visual back. Would this combination work with the ETX 125? I've also left this question on the yahoo/meadelpi forum also. Keep up the great job your doing on your website, without it, I think a lot of us would be lost and lose our interest in this fantastic hobby of ours. Clear skies, David GaschMike here: I have the Shutan Wide Field Adapter but haven't had a chance to test with the LPI. Should work though.
Subject: Moon Photo - LPI Sent: Sunday, May 2, 2004 15:26:30 From: "eric" (email@example.com) Here is the result of my first evening with the Meade LPI. Overall I'm quite impressed by the camera though I have suffered the same problem as others - having to close the program down and start it again when changing targets. Hopefully I should get some nice pics with a bit of practice.Amd:
My first attempt at Jupiter with my new LPI. Not perfect, but not too bad. Overall, I am quite impressed by the LPI. Will hopefully send you some more over the coming months. Just a question concerning the image size - how do you go about increasing the size of the target ( without doing it through Photoshop, etc. and increasing pixelation ). Probably a dumb question, but would appreciate any advice. ThanksMike here: Try using a Barlow Lens.
Subject: Meade LPI and object tracking Sent: Tuesday, April 27, 2004 02:44:39 From: Mike@tanisbinaries.com About 3 months ago, I installed my own financial Black Hole and got an ETX-105, an LPI, Barlow and a couple of other eye pieces. What a fantastic bit of kit! I must admit it wouldn't be quite so good without the help and advice on your site - Meade should be paying you! My problem is this: Similar to Jim Beston, my ETX drifts pretty badly. I've tried smearing the lube around by rotating in both axis with the locks on, but this made no change. I would open her up and check the clutch plates, but I wanted to see if there was a sneaky bit of software I could use to correct video taken via the LPI (using Windows Media Encoder you can set all the camera parameters like exposure, brightness, hue etc and either save captured video to a file or stream it live over a network)? I've had a trawl with Yahoo! And Google, but found nothing that really works. What I need is some way to stack the video frames, export them one at a time and then I can re-render them as an AVI and watch the motion of Jupiter's storm systems and moons in fast motion time lapse. I got about 2.5 hours of footage the other night, of the GRS transiting the planetary disk a short distance and I hope to get the next available transit of a Jovian moon, but before I start cropping 7,500 frames manually I wondered if there was any software which will re-centre the planet and re-render it as a decent AVI or saved frames. If you have any ideas, I'd be most happy to hear! If not, I may consider writing my own program to do it, although I'm a little rusty ;-) Thanks again for the fantastic site, and I thought I'd show you the two best pictures I've grabbed thus far with the LPI: One lunar (taken with LPI through Orion Shorty Plus Barlow) and one Jovian (again with the Barlow). More can be seen at www.tanisbinaries.com/niceplaces. Best of luck, and clear skies! Mike Coombs, Maidstone UK
I did indeed calibrate & train in Polar mode, and I've had a nightmare of a day trying to repair a stripped wire that got flayed in the RA axis pivot screw. I wouldn't mind, but I hadn't touched it when I de-greased the clutches! Anyway, the problem's fixed now, and the motors recalibrated and trained (had to pretty much strip the mount entirely), and now it's just a matter of waiting for clear skies. I must say I'm pretty disappointed with Meade's design choice of running the control and power lines to the Dec axis drive unit - all of the 4 wires showed considerable wear, 1 was cut and 2 showing bare. Hopefully it won't have done any damage...
Subject: Re: ETX Tracking jerky Sent: Monday, April 26, 2004 05:40:48 From: Jim.Beston@questintl.com I've done as you suggested. It seems to be a little better but the distinct, audible "click" as the OTA jerks is worrying me. Regards JimMike here: Is there a pattern to the clicks? Like something catching in certain positions.
I tend to be looking at the same things in a fairly limited segment of the sky at the moment - say from Venus to Jupiter. I'll see if it happens in other areas and get back to you in due course.
Subject: Saturn Image Sent: Sunday, April 25, 2004 22:39:17 From: "Craig M. Bobchin" (ETX_Astro_Boy@sbcglobal.net) Here is the image of Saturn I was telling you about at the OCA Astro Imager's meeting last week. I finally got a chance to process it and hope you like the results. It is a stack of 112 sepeate BMPs taken with the meade LPI through the trusty ETX-105. These were aligned, stacked and processed in Registax 2.0. Craig
Subject: question Sent: Thursday, April 22, 2004 07:33:50 From: EWil1779@aol.com I saw somewhere on the posts and ,I cannot find it again, about someone using a usb booster with cat 5 cables. I wanted to email him and asked if it works. But for the life of me, I cannot find that post again. Could you help me find that person or did they say it worked? Thanks, Emmit WilsonMike here: See if one of the messages from kenneth yanni on this LPI page is what you want:
Subject: Wide field adapters. Sent: Wednesday, April 21, 2004 14:22:45 From: "Nick Preece" (firstname.lastname@example.org) Just thought I'd drop you a line and let you know that since last speaking to you I have purchased an ETX 105 with the eyepiece offer, an LPI imager, filters, a new laptop and various other bits and bobs!! All thanks to your wonderfully informative site!! Many thanks for that, keep up the good work!! Anyway, to the question you just knew I was going to ask!! ( Oh yes.... There is always a question!!). I have been reading your section on the Shutan wide field adapter, and was wondering if you or anyone else had tried it with the LPI imager? Due to the wonderful British weather I have been unable to try the LPI for more than a few minutes, but I have noticed that it has a very high magnification. I wanted at some point to attempt some deep space images with it. I would guess it is not the ideal kit to try this with but will try none the less!! Do you think the Shutan would help and if not have you any other ideas as to what might help? Also, as you know the transit of Venus is coming up soon and I am looking at buying a reasonably priced solar filter. However, with so many around I am a bit bemused as to which would be best for me? Any ideas? (anyone?) That's all for now Look forward to speaking to you again soon Best wishes Nick Preece (U.K.)Mike here: I haven't yet tried the Shutan WFA with the Meade LPI but it should work. As to solar filters, see the Accessory Reviews - Filters page.
Subject: ETX Tracking jerky Sent: Tuesday, April 20, 2004 05:37:37 From: Jim.Beston@questintl.com I've noticed recently that when my ETX105/Autostar is tracking and I am observing the image on my Laptop via the LPI Imaging software, the image will drift to the left of the viewing window and then jerk back to the middle. This repeats continuously and it is making capturing decent images somewhat difficult. I have calibrated and trained the drives to no effect. I am sure I have seen a solution to, or a reason for, this on your web site but I can't find it. Can you advise please? I did manage to capture one decent image of Jupiter the other night which I attach.Mike here: Simple solution (if it helps) is to redistribute the lubrication. Do this by unlocking both axes and moving the OTA by hand from hard stop to hard stop, back and forth, several times. Do in both axes.
Kind regards Jim P.S. forgot to mention when the image "jerks back" (every few seconds) I can hear a slight but perceptable "click" as though the drive was sticking. Considering that the LPI is (I think) equivalent to a 6mm eyepiece, the movement in the dirve must be minute!
Subject: ETX 90 and LPI imaging Sent: Sunday, April 18, 2004 08:34:46 From: "Richard Plowman" (email@example.com) First of all what a pleasure to find a site that is so relevant and although a beginner here in the UK, the tips are very useful. The viewing conditions in the UK are not great and there is increasing light pollution. However, my first experiences have been very good and the LPI adds a further dimension to observing. I have attached some images from my first attempts to show a litttle hope for the beginner. I noticed from the contributions on the LPI , the amount of crashing of the software and I found this was mainly caused by trying to stop the programme before all the consolidation pictures had been taken. The other annoying thing was the lap top returning to either screen savers or powering down as it thought the computer was inactivebut this can be changed easily using the computer settings. One other tip is touse a high quality photo printing system and paper for making the results look really good. Also can I commend the use of theOrion broad band filter particular for the sodium street lamps we have here. I was very pleasantly surprized by the increase in contrast. Kind regards Richard Plowman
Subject: Resolution of the LPI Sent: Monday, April 12, 2004 06:07:12 From: "Dave Wallace" (firstname.lastname@example.org) A few weeks ago, I said I'd try to determine the optical resolution of the LPI and if I was able to, I'd post it here. Well, after taking and measuring several images of Jupiter in my ETX-90, the size of the image of the planet averages 38 pixels. Since Jupiter is about 47 arc-seconds right now, that works out to 1.1 arc-seconds per pixel for my optics. That implies that the pixels are 6.75 microns apart. And the dimensions of the active area of the sensor are 4.25 by 3.25 mm, give-or-take. Anyway, here is the optical resolution of the LPI for several of the Meade telescopes (from memory; the Meade site is down right now): Telescope focal length resolution (arc-seconds per pixel) ETX-70 350 3.9 ETX-90 1250 1.2 ETX-105 1500 0.95 ETX-125 2000 0.68 LX-90 2000 0.68 (Note that the ETX-125 and the LX-90 give the same resolution; that's because the resolution depends on the focal length but not the aperture. The LX-90's image will be brighter and sharper, though because it's an 8" f/10 rather than a 5" f/16.) DISCLAIMER: These numbers are probably within 10%; good enough to estimate whether a particular object will make an interesting picture but certainly not sufficiently precise for astrometry. But if you know the size (in arc-seconds) of what you're trying to photograph, divide by the resolution for your telescope (and divide by any magnification added by a Barlow) and that will be the size of the image in pixels.
Subject: ETX70 & LPI Sent: Saturday, April 10, 2004 08:04:52 From: Etx70@aol.com Thought you may be able to use these pics on your site to give some ideas on what's possible with the ETX70 and the LPI. In a couple i've really pushed the little scope using a barlow and eyepiece projection, the DSO is the jewel box. There's a few more on my website (moon, DSO etc..) should anyone be interested. Regards & Clear skies Darren email@example.com ETX70 HOME PAGE (http://www.members.aol.com/etx70/head.htm) home of the etx70at and autostarsuite / LPI webrings
Subject: LPI Imager Sent: Friday, April 9, 2004 19:12:44 From: LeeSue@aol.com just wondering if you (or anyone else for that matter) has heard of an update for the LPI software. I have had it loaded on two laptops now (HP 1.13 GHz Celeron with 256 meg of ram XP, and a Compaq 2.6 Ghz celeron with 512 meg of ram and XP) and I still get crashes when I move to a second object to image or after a few runs on the same image. I have to shut down and reboot to get it up and operating after each incident (similar to other comments Ive read on your site). I will say though that the images I have obtained have been quite good for a ready to go camera with software (photos attaches if you wish to use them). Thanks for your help and, once again, great site. Regards Leon Cross
Subject: LPI Images for your gallery Date: 4/9/04, 07:41 From: Tim Sheets (firstname.lastname@example.org) I had a little success last night (4/8/04) in imaging Jupiter. Caught 3 moons (Io, Europa, and Ganymede), and the GRS. Image (two shots were processed differently, one to bring out the moons) taken with ETX90/EC, and Meade LPI. Stacked 97 .175 second images. Sharp unmask done in Photoshop. I'm not very good with the post stack image processing, but not bad for only my 3rd try at imaging.
Gonna try Saturn this weekend. Tim Sheets IT Manager Standon, Inc.
Subject: AutoStar LPI images Date: 4/6/04, 10:29 From: "Craig M. Bobchin" (email@example.com) Here are a few images I took last night with my LPI through my ETX-105. 1st chance I've had in the week since I got the LPI that I've had to do some imaging. Not bad for a 1st attempt. I really need to fool around with the settings. I only wish the images were larger. Anyway feel free to post which ever ones you like. I've heard you are going to be at the OCA astroimagers meeting on the 20th. If so I may have to go to that one. Later Craig
Mike here: Yep, I'll be there.
Subject: Meade LPI Date: 4/5/04, 13:53 From: "Michael A. Covington" (firstname.lastname@example.org) I just discovered your Meade LPI pages. Before doign so, I've started one of my own: www.covingtoninnovations.com/astro/MeadeLPI Has anyone found out the specifications of the sensor in the LPI yet? Many thanks, Michael CovingtonAnd more:
I've revised again my page of notes at www.covingtoninnovations.com/astro/MeadeLPI and it now contains an LPI vs. ToUCam "shoot-out" (same object, same telescope, same conditions). I don't think I'm going to keep the LPI permanently. It is too similar to the ToUCam and has no real advantages over it, since for best results I have to use the same third-party software (AstroVideo or maybe K3CCD) with either one. Also, most of the value in the package consists of the online star atlas and telescope control software for Autostar telescopes, which I don't need (my telescopes are not Autostar). Would anyone like to make me an offer on it? It originally cost $149 plus shipping, and it is now better than new, since I cleaned it internally. Negotiate as to whether you want the 10-foot USB cable that I added or the original 3-foot one. Clear skies, Michael
Subject: Picture of Saturn for gallery Date: 4/5/04, 10:03 From: Becky (email@example.com) Please could you also add this photo of Saturn to your gallery. It was taken on 29 March 04. I cant remember time. Equipment used was ETX 105, LPI imager and 2 x barlow, processed slightly in Paintshop pro. First time I captured Saturn using LPI and only stacked about 50 frames. Many thanks again Becky (Gosport, UK)
Subject: Meade LPI and USB problems Date: 4/2/04, 11:37 From: Anders Aneman (firstname.lastname@example.org) The other week I received my Autostar Suite and the Meade LPI camera. I installed it on a PC Pentium III computer running Windows 2000 professional. The Autostar Suite program would run OK but using the "LPI imaging" command just started the Meade LPI program that then returned the error "Meade LPI not found. Reconnect LPI and try again". The red light on the camera did light up OK and using the Windows control panel I could confirm that the camera was recognised and tested OK in Windows. Just to be sure, I tested installing the software on a friends computer (PC Pentium III, Windows 2000 professional) and, voila, everything would run just perfectly - I even got some nice pictures of Jupiter the first night we tried it out. I have since tried to install the software on a computer (again PC Pentium III and Windows 2000 professional) that I could borrow for some time just to run into the same problem again. Do you have any suggestions what to do? And last, thank you for an outstanding site! Your work here both inspired me to get my ETX105 UHTC and certainly has been an invaluable resource in getting started, not to mention your book! Thanks a lot! Best regards, Anders Aneman Gothenburg, SwedenMike here: Meade has a troubleshooting page (mentioned in my article "Autostar Suite on a Macintosh" on the Autostar Info page; I suspect you need that Microsoft fix.
Subject: Meade LPI, Barlows and Autostar Date: 4/1/04, 17:09 From: Luis Villa (ETX_125EC_from_arizona@msn.com) I have been reading on an almost daily basis the LPI section of your site. There have been questions about the use of Barlows and of the software. Well yes you can use a 2 X Barlow, BUT be aware that the field of view will be extremely small and you will have doubled your frustration centering the image, but it can be done, just be sure that you have eliminated ANY drift in autostar! There is nothing more frustrating than centering the image and then have it drift out of view! I took what I think is a good picture of Saturn using a 2 X Barlow and posted it on your site, on the 21st of December 2003, it is located at http://www.weasner.com/etx/astrophotography/lpi.html ---this is when my ISP was AOL--- since then I have changed to DSL with MSN. The LPI software definitely has its flaws, but there are work arounds. First of all if I slewed to one planet, took pictures, then wanted to slew to another object the software would crash and I had no indication that it had. Screen was just black as if it were still slewing, when I did the 3 fingered salute, Ctrl-Alt-Del. I saw the software was not responding and would refuse to work until I re-booted. The work around is shutting down LPI software, then when I have slewed to the object I wanted then I would start LPI again. I found this to be much faster than shutting down completely. I can live with this until Meade can update the software. I would suggest other users try this to avoid software crashes. Updating to the latest version of autostar has really helped and it seems to have eliminated ALL drift. Mike, have you tried the LPI on Deep Sky objects? Luis VillaMike here: Nope, haven't yet tried it on DSOs.
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