Last updated: 28 February 2005
This page documents the Meade Deep Sky Imager comments, tips, and photos. Contributions welcome. In order to showcase the DSI you may occasionally see images taken with other telescopes on this page.
Subject: DSI Sent: Monday, February 28, 2005 08:20:32 From: Alric Lopez (firstname.lastname@example.org) Thanks for the excellent astrophoto page. A quick question. Have you had the chance to try Meade's DSI with a Mac running virtual PC? Thanks, AlricMike here: Sorry, I don't have a DSI.
Subject: meade deep sky imager Sent: Wednesday, February 16, 2005 19:42:31 From: PTBKayak@aol.com Thanks for this site. I tried over and over to get the driver to work on windows 98 in desperation I found your site and saw a letter from Stephen Bird about drivers for dsi on windows 98 after spending hours trying to get the camera to image using the installation disk. The camera worked as soon as the new driver was put into the system. For some time I thought I bought a expensive paper weight from meade. Thanks again for your site and to Stephen.------Paul Terrill --ps hope to get some pictures soon.
Subject: Re: DSI Sent: Wednesday, February 16, 2005 14:14:39 From: R.L. Creedon (email@example.com) Thanks very much for your joint input - pretty gruesome - I have printed it & will fumble on. Had a good night with the lpi last night, have mastered at least 2 of the 40 controls & may eventually get acceptable pics. Lew CreedonAnd:
Had sick computer/internet interface,hence late response. All cables good, am now on to powered USB. Will let you know how I get on. What a maze the Autostar image processing is !
Subject: Meade DSI Astrophotos Sent: Tuesday, February 15, 2005 10:26:42 From: Jonathan Willocks (firstname.lastname@example.org) Here are some more Meade DSI astrophotos taken through a Meade LX90 with f/3.3 focal reducer. Regards Jonathan Willocks
Subject: Re DSI and Use of tracking box on deep sky objects etal Sent: Monday, February 14, 2005 18:16:18 From: John Pullen (email@example.com) The first night I used my DSI on M43, using a 5 inch (f 600) refractor and an equatorial mount, I got a brilliant result and was very impressed with the LPI. Since then I have been using it on my GPS 200 8 inch (Alt Az), and have not been able to get the same good result, My efforts on Saturn using LPI have resulted in poor quality images compared to an unmodified Philips web-cam and stacking with Registax, the Meade images lack the clarity and colour achieved using the web-cam. Same goes for the Moon with the LPI images being grossly over exposed and lacking detail. LPI images taken of M43 using 15 second exposures result in stars that are very oval and bloated suggesting that the mount is tracking poorly, using 5 second exposures I get round stars but there is a lack of detail in the nebula image. To the heart of my question, the Meade instructions for the DSI indicate to use tracking box when imaging planets (item 6, p 14) and does not mention using a tracking box when imaging deep sky objects. I have been using a tracking box when imaging seep sky objects assuming that the lack instruction in the deep sky instructions was an oversight. Should I use a tracking box in deep sky imaging? John Pullen
Subject: dsi Sent: Monday, February 14, 2005 15:15:51 From: R.L. Creedon (firstname.lastname@example.org) Can you put this on your page? After getting Meade download I tried dsi in daylight. Result, laptop denies existance of dsi. Called Meade, they said re-install Autostar, did so, got the message that dsi & lpi drivers were installed. Will now press on. Lew Creedon.Mike here: Check the cable; it might be bad. Also, are you connecting directly to the laptop or through a USB hub?
Subject: RE: Sharing My DSI Experiences Sent: Saturday, February 12, 2005 02:41:01 From: email@example.com Despite what the Meade instructions say, Windows variants (98, 2000, XP) do not always, and in my personal and painful experience do not have suitable default drivers that will run either the LPI or DSI. Further the LPI and DSI drivers on the CD cannot be found automatically by Windows by just clicking the CD option when installing the software. This is because Meade have not put them as discreet files on the CD to be found in that way. In fact even if you look in the most obvious place, the folder called DRIVERS, they are not even there! What happens when you install the Autostar Suite is the drivers are unzipped from the main compressed files and written to a new folder on your PC, the default is: C:\Program Files\Meade\AutostarSuite\DSI\Driver\2K - XP (for Windows 2000 or XP) Or C:\Program Files\Meade\AutostarSuite\DSI\Driver\98 - ME (for Windows 98 or ME) You have to tell the Meade installation program to look exactly at that specific location, or it cannot load the correct driver. You will find with later versions of Windows 2000 (SP4) and XP (SP1 and 2) that Microsoft does not like the fact that the Meade drivers are not digitally signed or certificated, but ignore this, this is Gates business craft! You must use the Meade drivers or the DSI will not work and you get the "reload drivers" issue every time you try to connect the DSI. Once you load the correct drivers successfully, some of your problems will go away. Even modest PC's will then work with USB1. I have tried and had success with 500MHz and upwards processors running USB1 and 2 and Windows 98SE, 2000 and XP. It is all a case of getting the correct drivers loaded to start with. The next problem is USB power levels, laptops particularly tend to have a default low power setting and especially when you are on battery rather than AC mains, typical if you are out in the field. What you need to do is ensure that you check that your USB power setting for the port you are using is up to the 500mA limit. Power hubs and cards when you plug the power in sometimes automatically do this, and sadly if you don't plug the power in some automatically reduce the power! Finding USB power level settings is not always easy, but check your system devices in Control Panel / System / Devices. It is possible with laptops to have a number of power schemes whereby the power consumption for various options is adjusted. You can access these power schemes through Control Panel. I have a scheme that I have set up called "Telescope". It gives full power regardless of battery status, disks don't power down, screen stays bright (night vision setting of course) and the USB ports don't die. Where possible I use AC mains power (in the back garden / yard), if out in the field, I have a $30 invertor running from a battery pack (does mean 3 battery packs, 1 for PC, 1 for dew heaters, and 1 for the scope). I think that Meade needs to look carefully at its manuals and instructions and get a copyrighter in to make them read as plain English and incorporate customer feedback actively and modify their instructions when a gap is discovered. Hope this helps. Regards Stephen Bird
Subject: Sharing My DSI Experiences Sent: Thursday, February 10, 2005 18:04:55 From: Al Asber (firstname.lastname@example.org) Found your site via Google search on the Meade DSI; Excellent Site! I received my DSI for Christmas and thought it would be nice to share my experiences with other DSI users. My telescope is a Meade LX200, 10 inch F10 scope and the Meade software is running on an old Pentium II laptop (400 Mhz with 128 MB ram and a USB 1.1 port). I downloaded and installed the latest Meade update. After reading the manuals, I spent a Saturday afternoon getting use to working with the DSI, the scope, and the laptop. Thing went okay. It was difficult to focus the image and make adjustments with due to the slow refresh rate (4-5 seconds per frame). Between life's demands and snow storms (not unusual for Boston) I had to wait 2 weeks to try using my setup at night. My first image attempts were of Saturn. It took about an 1.5 hours before I was able to get a couple of okay shots. The slow update rate made thing difficult and time consuming. We got new laptops at work and I was able to pickup one of the old Pentium III (900 Mhz, 500 MB ram, and USB 1.1 port). The update rate was just a little faster (3-4 seconds per frame). So I purchased a Belkin USB2-PCMCIA card that comes with an external power supply (the sales clerk assured me it was not required for the card to work). After spending two days trying to get the Meade drivers to work with this card and the DSI imaging software started core dumping due to I/O errors from the DSI. The first Meade rep first wanted to try a new USB cord, which they would send me at no cost. A week later I received the package from Meade, but it only contained the nine pin serial adapter, no USB cord. The second Meade rep was very understanding with my frustration and issued a RGA (Return Good Authorization) number so I could send the unit back. Two weeks later, I received another unit from Meade, not sure if its a new one or if they repaired the one I sent back. The unit worked fine in the onboard USB 1.1 (still slow), but luck getting the drivers to work with USB2-PCMCIA port. Other devices (mouse, web cam, external hard drive) all worked fine with this card. A six hour backup with the USB 1.1 only took 45 minutes with the Belkin USB 2 card. So I formatted the hard drive and load XP professional (previous running Windows 2000). Finally the USB 2 card recognized the DSI and loaded the drivers, but the DSI software reported no imager. So I decided to try using the separate power supply (5 VDC, 3.0 amps). I plugged it into the card and then plugged in the DSI and everything now worked. The update rate was about 1 frame per second, but after about 30 seconds the software would freeze up for about 5 seconds and then start updating again. Determine to do better, I loaded the DSI software on my new work laptop (Pentium M-755 processor, 2 Ghz, 1.5 GB rams, with a native USB 2). What a difference, continuous update rate of about 3 frames per second and no software freeze up. But this laptop was for work and was not for my personal use. If figured the bottle neck was the USB2 card. I found an Adaptec USB 2 card that had no indication of requiring an external power supply. When I opened it at home, I found that it had a similar external power plug and the manual indicated some devices may require an external power supply. The bad news is, it would not drive the DSI until I used the external power supply (that came with the Belkin card). The DSI imaging software now updates a little faster then 2 frames per second and no more freezing up. Hopefully this weekend I will have clear skies and try the new setup for real inside. My guess is the PCMCIA card slot does allow sufficient amperage draw to drive the DSI, even though the Adaptec software that monitor the USB port indicates no power overload. Its obvious that a newer, high end laptop with lots of ram and a built in USB 2 port is the ideal setup. To be happy I feel you really need a USB 2 with the higher through put rate. This provides you with faster refresh rates that makes using the DSI a lot easer (focusing, centering, adjust the image and tracking) and less frustrating. Another problem appears that Windows XP does not maintain the DSI drivers for the DSI unit. Every time its plug into the USB port (either 1 or 2), I have to go through the hardware set up to reload the drivers. The strange thing is XP recognizes and loads the ones it copied into the "windows/system32" directory and run fine. Lastly...... I wanted a longer cable, instead of ordering the longer one from Meade, I used a volt meter and checked the pin out of the DSI USB cable. Its appears to be a standard USB cable, so I able to rundown to the local computer store and picked up a 15'. It works fine. This gives you a lot more working room instead of being right on top of the scope. Hopefully all of this will be helpful to others. One request, if anyone finds a USB2-PCMCIA card that does not need an external power supply to drive the DSI, please let me/us know. Thanks, Al email@example.com
Subject: Meade DSI: Widefield Mosaics Sent: Wednesday, February 9, 2005 14:28:24 From: Graham, John L (Graham@udri.udayton.edu) I had a blast last weekend using my DSI fitted with a 28mm SLR lens and guided by a Tasco equatorial mount and an EQ-1 motor drive. On Friday evening (Feb. 4) I experimented with assembling a widefield mosaic of the region around M36, 37, and 38 in southern Auriga. The attached example is a 2x3 image mosaic with each source frame being a 10x60sec image combined real-time using the DSI software, saved as FITS, then recombined into a BMP using the AutoStar IP software.
Saturday evening I experimented using the same DSI setup to photograph artificial satellites. The attached example is a 1x2 mosaic assembled using the same 10x60sec method used for the Auriga image. In this case I took the southern image first to capture the recon satellite Lacrosse 3 as it flew past the Hyades star cluster, then the northern image to fill out the field. The satellite's track was too faint to see in the combined images so I copied it from the single frame that captured it and copied on top of the combined image.
Click for full size image
Subject: Re: DSI mounting issue? Sent: Wednesday, February 9, 2005 09:58:06 From: Stephen Bird (firstname.lastname@example.org) In fact that is what the small print in the instructions says (hidden in the DSI manual on the CD and when it says "see the picture to the right", there isn't one!!!). USB connector should point to the right when fitted to an ETX. It won't fit any other way unless you use a barlow lens in the eyepiece socket as the DSI dimensions mean it will foul the viewfinder if oriented any other way. Certainly with an ETX105, you can't even get the DSI to seat properly even when placed with the USB to the right. I can't help thinking that Meade doesn't check these things when they design them. Regards Stephen Bird
Subject: DSI mounting issue? Sent: Saturday, February 5, 2005 10:52:09 From: Stephen Seman (email@example.com) Regarding the way the DSI is mounted to the etx125 with the finder bracket being in the way of the USB, why couldn't we mount it with the USB on the right, and then just train ourselves to use the slew arrows in reverse? I mean you could always rotate the image into proper orientation in post-processing. Do you think this is a viable solution? Thanks, Jim SemanMike here: Seems reasonable.
Subject: Meade DSI with lens Sent: Thursday, February 3, 2005 15:14:11 From: Sheridan Williams (firstname.lastname@example.org) John Graham's pics are pretty good, I'm impressed. He says: For wide field work I've got reasonable results using the DSI fitted with a 50mm f/1.8 lens scavenged from an Olympus OM-1 35mm camera. Where does he get an adapter from to fit the lens? Best wishes Sheridan WilliamsMike here: See his article "Mounting the DSI to a SLR Lens" on the Helpful Information: Astrophotography page.
Subject: RE: help me with the MEADE dsi Sent: Thursday, February 3, 2005 01:35:04 From: Andrew Murray (MurrayA@irwinmitchell.co.uk) 1) I have not tried to use any webcam software with the DSI but I guess that being a sony had ccd there is no reason that other software will not work, however, due to the sensitivity of the ccd and the fact that you would have very little control over exposure times and contrast, gain etc I'd say you'd be extreamly lucky to get any pictures out of the DSI using webcam software. 2) I use the 1 frame per second and above, I have now done some imaging and find that 5 seconds works well and any electronic noise seems to be reduced (which is odd as it should be the other way round!). Based on the fact that the ccd is sensative I wouldn't have thought that sub 1.000 second imaging would produce any images at all. I hope this helps, as you'll see from my earlier posts I'm no expert with the DSI :-) Regards Andrew -----Original Message----- From: rober I have copied your emails from thje web, because you are working with the new Meade DSI camera. I bought one of these cameras, and I have 2 problems: 1) the only soft that sees the camera is the proprietary one, I cannot see the camera from other free softs for webcams. Is that normal ? 2) Although I have a USB 2.0 card, could only get 1 frame / second (aprox) using the "live" switch. I expected to have much more speed. What frame speed did you achieve ? Thanks in advance Roberto Buenos Aires, Argentina
Subject: Using a Meade f/3.3 focal reducer Sent: Wednesday, February 2, 2005 20:27:50 From: email@example.com (firstname.lastname@example.org) I guess I should call you the professor because you seem to have a answer for everything!! I was wondering if you could help me on the issue of focal reducers. I'm using the meade DSI and I have been reading a lot about these focal reducers mostly the F/6 on MEade ETX. My question is is it possible to use a Meade f/3.3 focal reducer/field flattener on a EXT model and is it worth it? Michael SavoyMike here: The Meade one isn't designed to work on the ETX; you'd need a SCT adapter (see Accessory Reviews: Miscellaneous page) but then I don't know if it would reach a good focus. Plus, at some orientations you would you have problems with physical interference with the fork arms and/or base. I believe Scopetronix has a different model that might work; a wide field adapter (see the Accessory Reviews: Showcase Products page) could also work but again you would have the interference.
Subject: LPI/Linux Sent: Wednesday, February 2, 2005 15:50:09 From: Dez Futak (email@example.com) I've just read the instructions at: http://www.weasner.com/etx/astrophotography/2005/lpi-linux.html ..do you know if this might work with the Meade DSI (Deep Sky Imager) as well? Best regards, Dez Futak. - -- http://www.no2id.net SAY NO TO THE PROPOSED ID CARDS. IT WON'T STOP THE TERRORISTS. http://www.projectgalileo.org.uk - Project Galileo page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Zedkatuf - More about me Chat: irc.uq.edu.au #galileo - IRC channelMike here: Don't know for certain but since the imager is different, I doubt that the driver for the LPI would work with the DSI.
Subject: DSI and Oolar Alginment Sent: Tuesday, February 1, 2005 08:18:01 From: Charles Washington (firstname.lastname@example.org)Mike here: The clearance through the fork arms will likely be insufficient to handle the DSI at the rear port. It should be OK in the normal eyepiece holder.
The above attachment shows a Polar Alignment in Fig 7 of the instruction manual. In this position it would be possible to attach my DSI to the either eyepiece holder or the visual back without fouling the base or the finder. I also have that tripod as well. However I read in Autostar information/polar home position with graphics that this was not viable. Could you please set me on the straight and narrow. Thanks yet again for your time and patience. Kind regards Charles Washington (UK)
Subject: RE: Meade Deep Sky Imager Sent: Tuesday, February 1, 2005 00:55:56 From: Andrew Murray (MurrayA@irwinmitchell.co.uk) Stephen I removed the finder last night and the DSI now works fine, apart from the fact that there is a lot of dirt on the chip and the IR filter, which I will spend some time cleaning properly this evening. The problem is that with the position and size of the DSI it is knocked out of alignment if the finder is in place, as you suggested. Followed your instructions re the drivers and I don't appear to have an issue with those either now. Thank you very much for your help. Kind regards AndrewAnd:
From: email@example.com Good news indeed. I would imagine that there are quite a number of people who could solve their operational problems by using the Meade drivers (XP default drivers are not always the same!), if they knew where Meade put them when AutostarSuite installs. The parfocal ring should help you get good alignment of the DSI without removal of the finder. The weight of the DSI means that the grub screw in the eyepiece tube needs to be tightened firmly, BUT NOT OVERTIGHTENED, or the whole thing could rotate. In fact by keeping the finder in place, with the parfocal ring carefully adjusted, the finder bracket provides additional support against the whole thing rotating in the eyepiece tube. It is important I find to ensure that your USB lead does not wrap itself around the scope, or again the DSI can rotate in the eyepiece tube. Regards Stephen BirdMike here: Glad you got things working thanks to Stephen. And good idea about the parfocal ring Stephen. Thanks.
It's a tribute to the community you got started, my thanks as always and thanks again Stephen. Andrew
Subject: Meade DSI: Asteroid 354 Eleonora Sent: Monday, January 31, 2005 05:45:28 From: Graham, John L (Graham@udri.udayton.edu) Last Friday evening I took advantage of the clear weather we had before the Moon rose to test out the DSI imaging asteroids. After my experience with the LPI I was pretty sure the DSI would do a great job and I wasn't disappointed. The attached image a composite of 140x15sec exposures of the asteroid 354 Eleonora taken between 00h55m and 01h47m on January 26th UT. The images were taken in 7 groups of 20x15sec each with a DSI mounted at the prime focus of an Orion StarBlast (4.5" f/4) guided by a Meade DS-2130 mount. The source images were stored as FITS, two-star aligned and merged into a single BMP using the Autostar IP software, then level-adjusted just a tad in Photoshop using Eleonora as the white point. At the time Eleonora was located about 2 degrees south of Bellatrix (gamma Orionis) shining at magnitude 10.48 approximately 170 million miles from Earth well out in the asteroid belt. For comparison I've marked the brightness of several stars in the field. Prior work with the LPI showed this simple imager could reach about magnitude 12 using 8sec exposures and this image shows the DSI can clearly reach much fainter using similarly short exposures making it relatively easy to image these little worlds even with a small telescope. -John
Subject: Deep Space Imager Sent: Monday, January 31, 2005 05:27:38 From: Charles Washington (firstname.lastname@example.org) Further to my previous missives here is the latest disaster report. I obtained my visual back (still awaiting for the retail one this one come from ebay for $9.95) and tried it immediately on terrestrial based objects. On with the visual back in with the DSI and I got some good colour pix of objects a mile plus away. So at this point no problems. For a beginner it was quite exciting to be able to look through the eyepiece then flip the mirror and the use the DSI and thinking this is going to be my pathway to heavenly pixs. On the first clearish night for ages (winter in the UK is getting warmer, damper and cloudier) I was out with my ETX 125 just before dark to give it time to stabilise the temperature and raring to go. I set the 'scope up making it level and facing due North to go for an Alt/Az two star alignment, it picked Procyon a nice bright star and so I pressed enter and away it went. After a few seconds "CLUNK" went my DSI against the base with the sound of straining motors and slipping clutches. Filled with horror I immediately switched off and turned on the light, sure enough the DSI had hit the base. I discovered that with the DSI mounted on a Visual Back the 'scope cannot travel upwards more than about 40 degrees (a little more if you use a 45 degree prism) without fouling itself. The situation is becoming more and more frustrating and is borne out by Tim Williams & Andrew in their quest for information. I would seem that you cannot orientate it correctly in the eyepiece holder because the finder gets in the way and you cannot use it with a visual back because it fouls the base. It would seem that nobody at Meade have tied to use a DSI on an ETX 125. Was it designed not to work with on the ETX series? Is there any solution to these very basic problems? My basic astronomy is improving (it's harder to learn later in life) and from that I get a lot of satisfaction. I wanted to pursue basic astrophotography as part of the same learning curve and after investing a tidy sum of money into Meade products and purpose built accessories for the job have wound up very frustrated. This really is a great site and I hope that Mike or some of the knowledgeable contributors to Mike might be able to devise a way to help. Charles Washington (UK) PS I am going to send a copy of this to Meade.Mike here: Thanks for the report. Of course, the DSI was not "designed" for only the ETX. Many accessories have the problems you describe, not just the DSI. So it is a good to be aware of these limitations.
Subject: Re: Meade Deep Sky Imager Sent: Monday, January 31, 2005 04:38:44 From:And:
(email@example.com) You are right about the DSI not fitting the ETX105 perfectly, it fouls on the finderscope bracket, so even rotating the finderscope to one side will not fix the problem. The only way it will fit all the way down in the eyepiece tube is to remove the finderscope. It is plainly just too big. My solution is to fit a parfocal ring on the DSI which holds it 1mm to 2mm further up in the eyepiece tube, whilst giving it a good solid "well seated" feel when the grub screw is tightened. The other solution is to use an adaptor on the photo port on the back of the scope. Scopetronix make a visual back and a field doubler that allows this, but this does limit the range of altitude that the scope can reach particularly in Alt/Az mode rather than polar mode. So if you go this route, try it all out in daylight first. HNSky planetarium and scope control software (www.HNSky.org) allows you to draw a limiting horizon on the screen, so that you can show such limiting altitude for various equipment setups as well as tree / house lines spoiling your view. Regards Stephen Bird
thanks for the response. I had another go last night. Same issues so will be buying a new USB2 PCI card to try and sort my ever growing list of frustrations. I've got a BC&F camera mount so have mounted a finder on that and it seems to work just fine. Couldn't get any pictures out of the DSI though, having said that my mainboard is quasi USB 1.1 - 2 and was made before USB2 became a compliant standard so the PCI board should sort it. Many thanks AndrewAnd:
My PC is running Windows 2000, 1GHz processor, 1Gb RAM and only USB1.1. The DSI works fine for the limited use I have so far put it to. I would say that the limitations found by some people are more to do with RAM limitation or not installing the drivers properly, than USB 1 vs USB 2. Certainly I had problems with the drivers that took me several hours to realise that despite what the instructions say, that when you plug the camera in for first use, you do not get a message saying "camera detected" in the lower right hand side of the screen! Then even when the PC detects the camera and it comes up with "New Hardware Detected", no amount of clicking next will install the driver necessary, be it Win 98SE, Win ME, Win 2000 or Win XP. This is because when you tell it to look on the CD ROM, you are telling it to look in the wrong place!! Meade in their infinite wisdom, decided not to put the drivers direct on to the CD in the CD's "Drivers" folder, there is something else nothing to do with drivers there!!! The drivers get unzippped onto your hard drive in the folders created by Meade. These are something like: c:/program files/meade/autostarsuite/dsi/driver/2k - xp or if you are 98 or ME, then the last sub folder is 98 - me instead. So when you get the "New Hardware Detected" message when you first connect the camera, then you should tell the PC to look for the drivers as above. If you let XP pick a default driver, then that is when you might get problems. Oh yes you should also install the Meade Autostarsuite Update from their website before you install the camera as well, as that update also fixes several problems to do with XP. You might like to try the above before spending money on a USB 2 card unecessarily. Regards Stephen BirdAnd:
Thanks for that, will give it a whirl and try and image the watertower across town this evening. Regads Andrew
Subject: ETX-125 - DSI Star Streaking Sent: Monday, January 24, 2005 10:07:51 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (email@example.com) Sorry to trouble you but I was wondering if you could take a moment to look at the images at the links below and offer your comments. The streaking stars are killing my (amateur) imaging attempts. http://www.wileys.us/ETX125/m42-200-1sec-exposures.bmp - 835 kb http://www.wileys.us/ETX125/m42-200-1sec-exposures.jpg - 89 kb http://www.wileys.us/ETX125/m42-HELP.jpg - 22 kb I am using my beloved, trusty ETX-125 with Meades DSI. Also in the image train are an ATIK 0.5 focal reducer and a Baader UV/IR cut filter. All optics were cleaned very well (many times) with Dr. Clay's magic cleaning solution. This phenomenon has been occuring for awhile now. The streaking occurs with and without the ATIK FR and/or Baader cut filter. The surface of the CCD appears clean as well. The scope was decently polar aligned using Dr. Clays Kochab clock. The target star was continously on the chip for 10 minutes without user intervention. I am running the latest s/w (33Ef) and Dick Seymour's patch. The ETX has been thoroughly disassembled, cleaned / degreased and tuned up per the numerous mods on your WONDERFUL site. I have reset, calibrated and trained the drives NUMEROUS times as well. Training performed on Polaris using the LPI imager. I have also recently replaced the worm/main gears on the DEC drive as well as on the AZ drive. I bought an ETX-125 base from Dr. Clay awhile back. I used those gears to replace mine which had minor flaws. Worm gear backlash adjusted and practically removed and the gear mesh was also refined through careful adjustments. Additionally, these images were taken fully remote controlled from indoors thus ruling out user vibrations. Zero wind and a Meade dew shield in place to block stray street lights. I am in the 'country' and have decent skies (5.6-5.9 limiting magnitude). Truthfully, I am almost ready to give up on the ETX-125. Besides the streaking, I cannot, despite my most careful alignment and tuneup efforts, get more than 2 second exposures without smudging the stars on the CCD. Can you assist with this matter? Is this a collimation issue? The stars are fairly sharp so I am unsure of the actual steaking mechanism. Thanks in advance! Robert Wiley McKinney, TXMike here: The "streaking" would not appear to be due to any mechanical tracking error with the telescope. It would seem to more due to light scattering, like from some optical component that is not perfectly aligned.
Subject: Meade DSI Astophotos Sent: Saturday, January 22, 2005 13:54:11 From: Jonathan Willocks (firstname.lastname@example.org) I've had about 6 weeks practice with the DSI and despite a lot of disappointments in the early days it is now reaping the rewards. With practice and patience you can get decent images out of this camera despite what many have said. Attached are a few recent images using the following equipment: Meade LX90 UHTC Meade Series 4000 f/3.3 focal reducer Meade DSI Post-processing in Autostar IP, Maxim DL & Adobe Photoshop CS Best Regards Jonathan W UKAnd more:
Here are some more DSI shots done last night. I've included a much more true colour version of M82 and a picture of Caldwell 7, a 16.8 arcminute spiral galaxy in Ursa Major (mag 8.4). Hope you like them. See ya Jonathan W UK
Subject: Meade Deep Sky Imager Sent: Monday, January 17, 2005 05:26:57 From: Andrew Murray (MurrayA@irwinmitchell.co.uk) I have just received the Meade DSI and it's driving me banana's. I'm running Win XP Pro SP2, the drivers install, then I update using the Meade patch and evrything seems to work for a while. The I unplug the DSI and have to reinstall the drivers each time I plug it back in. Sometimes it works, sometimes I just get error messages. I haven't had time to do any imaging but it all seems a bit of a farce at the moment. Meades instructions for an ETX-105 state that the imagers USB connection should point to the left had side of the optical tube assemby, but the finder is in the way and has to be removed first.thus I'm then without a finder. Getting annoyed with a meade product again..I really should wait a year before taking the plunge with any new product! Yours AndrewMike here: I don't yet have a DSI so can't comment directly. As to having to reinstall drivers, I thought WinXP didn't need USB drivers. But then I don't use Windows when I can avoid it. As to the cable, I'm sure you don't have to remove the finderscope; but I don't know which orientation is correct for the ETX.
According to the manual it should be to the left of the optical tube. Having siad that the manual is rather basic and the whole product smaks a bit of being a "beta" model. I'm sure Meade will get it sorted and I'll be mailing them tonight to report the bugs. I'll keep checking the site over the next few weeks as I'm sure that there will be a wealth of information re the DSI posted over the next few weeks. Thanks for the quick reply, as usual.Mike here: This Helpful Information: Astrophotography: DSI page is already getting info.
Subject: Question from beginner Sent: Saturday, January 15, 2005 17:25:40 From: Tim Williams (email@example.com) I've looked over your website and thank you for your efforts to help people. Despite all the information, I have a few questions that weren't answered and which I've been unable to find satisfactory answers to. I'm totally new to astrophotography. I've used a small refractor for years until I purchased a Meade ETX-125 UHTC last year along with a variety of filters and eyepieces. I've enjoyed it a lot, despite living in the Salt Lake valley which has tons of pollution most of the time. I just bought the Meade Deep Space Imager (DSI) and have been trying to figure out how to use the thing. Here are the questions I can't seem to find answers to. Perhaps you can assist. 1. I've set up all the software, but I can't figure out the best way to use it or connect it to the telescope. I can control the scope just fine with the software and Autostar controller, but the DSI is another story. I see it fits into the eyepiece hole, but not into the direct pass through hole at the back of the telescope. Which place is best? If the connector at the back of the scope is best, how do I go about connecting it? Any thoughts on what you deem best if you were to set this up? 2. Even with the DSI in the eyepiece hole, I'm guessing I can't use my eyepieces with it. If this is the case, what type of magnification eyepieces do you buy to use with the DSI? Any recommendations? I'm sure I can figure out the rest but those two items have me stumped. I'm planning on using my notebook to connect to it and control the scope and DSI and then use remote control software like PCAnywhere to connect to the notebook via my wireless network from inside the house so I can do winter observing from the comfort of my home. ;-) I just need to get things figured out first with the DSI. I appreciate all your help. I'm sure there are a lot of newbies who are going to buy this device and wonder what I'm wondering...how the heck does this work? Thank you for your help. Tim Williams West Jordan, UtahMike here: I don't have a DSI yet but I suspect your questions are answered in the documentation. The DSI attaches (without an eyepiece) where you place an eyepiece on the top of the ETX. Its USB cable connects to your computer. As to remote use, keep in mind that the DSI is like a high magnification, narrow field of view eyepiece. You may find it frustrating trying to see objects remotely.
Subject: Deep space imager Sent: Wednesday, January 12, 2005 12:12:15 From: Charles Washington (firstname.lastname@example.org) With regard to my previous email I have since found out from Meade UK that I need an adapter to use it on the rear photo aperture (straight thro' as if using a 35mm camera). A friend of mine in the States is looking to find something to meet this requirement. I will inform you of the outcome as it seems to be an easy procedure and will allow me to use the flip mirror for checking on guidance/alignment. Regards Charles Washington (UK)Mike here: You can use a "Visual Back" then. See the Accessory Reviews: Showcase Products page.
Thanks for your help. Located and ordered part no STVB from Scopetronics @ $29.95. Will keep you posted as to the outcome and hopefully some good pix for the 'photo gallery. Without a dedicated site like this these apparently small problems would seem insurmountable. So thanks again and kind regards Charles Washington (UK)
Subject: Meade DSI doughnuts Sent: Thursday, January 6, 2005 14:13:44 From: WS M (email@example.com) I just received the Meade DSI. Yesterday, after I installed the software, I tested the setup in "Terrestrial" mode when I noticed there were 10 to 12 small "doughnut" shaped rings on the image (some the size of pencil erasers ... some smaller, some larger). These items maintained a fixed position on the display screen, so I can only assume they are camera related and that they are probably caused by some "dust" on the CCD. I checked but could not see any bits of dust. Would you have any suggestions as to what I can do to correct this issue (short of returning it to Meade)? Thank you for your time ... your web site is truly a major reference source. ScottMike here: I suspect it is not dust on the imager itself but either on the telescope optics or (if there is one) some optical cover on the DSI itself. Can you see these with an eyepiece instead of the DSI?
Mike, thanks for your time and for responding so quickly. I am using the DSI in conjunction with my EXT-125 and I cannot see these objects through my eyepiece. I removed the DSI from my scope and the objects stayed "fixed" on the screen. I also noticed in the Quick Start documentation (hard copy) which came with the DSI, there is a Caution note which states: "The Imager is shipped with the IR filter installed. Be careful when removing the nosepiece from the imager as the IR filter is loose and may fall out." ... do you know if this is a screw-on type of filter?, I do not see one on my unit. Thanks again for your time. ScottMike here: I don't have a DSI yet but the IR filter may have some dust on it. Since what you are describing is similar to dust on images using afocal or eyepiece projection.
I found the filter is in place and I think I'll just let it be. I've read some messages of how extremely delicate the filter itself is. A strange thing happened ... the "doughnut" shaped objects on the image I mentioned in my previous email seem to have vanished ... hmmm. Thank you for your time - Scott
Subject: Meade DSI: Horizontal Lines Sent: Thursday, January 6, 2005 13:58:30 From: Graham, John L (Graham@udri.udayton.edu) In some of my early test images I also I had some problems with dark horizontal lines across the image. In my case I tracked the problem to imaging relatively bright objects (or long exposure times) with the Color Balance set to Sharp and the histogram clipping the high and low ends (shadow enhancing On). Setting the Color Balance using Auto-Balance/Soft and making sure the shadow enhancing was Off got rid of them. -John
Subject: Deep Sky Imager Sent: Thursday, January 6, 2005 11:52:12 From: TIM (firstname.lastname@example.org) I am anxious to try my hand at astrophotography. The Meade Deep Sky Imager seems to be a economical start for CCD capability. The question that I pose is,Do you have to use the imager with a laptop or PC plugged into the ETX or can you take the photos with the imager and scope alone and then load them into the PC once done. I do not own a laptop and my PC is quite some distance away in the house. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks Tim.Mike here: The DSI (and LPI) connect to the computer via USB. The computer and the Autostar Suite software do the real-time image processing.
Subject: Meade DSI: Auto-Contrast Sent: Monday, January 3, 2005 10:12:06 From: Graham, John L (Graham@udri.udayton.edu) The 'snow', blank image (white screen) and washing out are all related to the way the DSI software sets the histogram when the auto-contrast is checked. When there's very little light entering the DSI it sets the high/low levels very near each other and you get snow, when it sets them the same the screen goes white. On bright objects like the Moon it will often set the high level a tad lower than it should causing the bright areas to wash out. You can avoid this by un-checking the auto-contrast and setting the high/low levels manually. When first starting to image with the DSI I suggest using exposures of 15seconds or less so you can use the camera in Live mode which will be similar to the LPI. Initially set up your shot (framing and focus) with auto-contrast on, but when you're ready to take a real image turn auto contrast off, set the high/low levels manually, set the color using soft auto balance, then reset the histogram if needed. For your first couple of images consider saving the pictures as BMPs as these are fairly easy to work with. However, as you gain experience learn how to use the FITS file format as these preserve all of the dynamic range of the DSI and give you the best data for image processing to bring out all of the fine detail in faint objects the DSI is capable of capturing and this output is not effected by the histogram settings. As an example I've attached a recent image of the Moon. This is a mosaic of two images taken with the DSI at the prime focus of a 4.5" f/4 Newtonian. The source images were 10 frames each averaged in real-time using the DSI software and stored as FITS.
Good seeing and transparency helps, but not necessary to get images like the ones Meade shows in their ads. The key is in the image processing step where you can remove the background sky glow and enhance the contrast of diffuse objects. It's exciting having the capability to experiment with advanced image processing techniques. -John
Subject: DSI mounting Sent: Sunday, January 2, 2005 05:53:28 From: Charles Washington (email@example.com) Hi I have for xmas acquired a Meade DSI to use on my ETX 125. On page 6 of the DSI manual (the basics) it says that I must mount it into the eyepiece holder with the USB lead facing the left-hand side. Is this a mistake? If I try to mount it this way it fouls the viewfinder which is on the left also. Instructions for the LX series say mount it to the right!. If it orientated into the wrong position it follows that using the controls in the computer software will react in different directions. Am I reading or interpreting the instructions wrongly or just plain thick. Regards Charles (UK)
Thanks very much .......... this really is a great site.
Subject: Re a significant problem with a new DSI and new laptop. Sent: Saturday, January 1, 2005 04:01:54 From: John Pullen (firstname.lastname@example.org) I went out and purchased a new laptop and the Meade DSI package two days ago to use on my LX200PGPS. Found that DSI and autostar worked on my PC but would not work on my brand new laptop. New laptop was to Meads printed on their box specification but Autostar would not recognise the camera attached to the USB 2.0 port. Late last night (11 PM on 31/12/04) I found that Meade had just published a software update on there website. Downloaded it and all my frustrations dissipated, the USB problem was cured. I think the software update was dated the 20 December and I purchased the camera on the 30 December. The Meade dealer in Australia assured me at the time of purchase that all the bugs had been fixed in the software. I would have thought Meade may have at least issued a warning with their camera at the time of purchase, I was 6 hours off returning both the DSI and my new laptop for a refund and an apology. Time will tell with the Camera. John Pullen.Mike here: I suspect the bug that affected you was discovered AFTER the CD-ROM in your box was burned. Just the nature of software development and packaging.
Not quite, I thought Meade could issue a notice to their dealers to warn customers of the bug and fix. First night was better than expected on M42, Question when I first turn the camera on and select image live I sometimes get a series of straight black parallel vertical lines which don't want to go away. Have to power on and off camera and Autostar. Any clues on how to avoid and cure the lines without turn/of gymnastics. John Pullen
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