Last updated: 30 April 2011
This page documents Sonfest SAC imager models comments, tips, and photos. Also, see the Accessory Reviews - Showcase Products report on the SAC imagers. Search the site for "SAC" for other items about the Sonfest SAC imagers. Contributions welcome.

Subject:	Sac IV cam - Meade ETX90 - under Windows Vista - terrestrial scene video
Sent:	Thursday, April 28, 2011 20:52:18
From:	Bob Eisenman (
I pulled my Meade ETX90 out of its hard case recently, attached the
'old' Sac IV cam to the rear port and then went about the steps of
installing the 'ViCAM6858' device driver for the SAC IV imager and the
VidCap software for it under Windows Vista using Windows 95
compatibility mode. After a couple of attempts the Sac IV cam was
identified and installed as a '3Com HomeConnect USB Camera'. The VidCap
software does not work as flawlessly as it did under a pure Windows 95 -
PC environment but with some trial and error using different softwares I
was able to capture 8 bit B/W video of a sparrow in a birdhouse about 50
feet beyond the open window where Meade / Sac IV combo rested on a

1_I set the 'Capture.avi' file to a desktop folder and then

2_allocated 500 megabytes of file space for it using the VidCap 'File
tab' menu choice.

3_To capture the video, which had about 30 % dropped frames in 8 bit B/W
(as high as 75% with 16 bit color), I selected 'Capture video' from the
Capture tab on the menu.

4_Using the default palette, 15 fps frame rate, video size 320x240 (full
frames uncompressed avi), setting the capture time limit to 60 seconds
without audio and capturing directly to disk, I created a large
'CAPTURE.AVI' of the video subject.

5_To process the CAPTURE.AVI file into a Windows Vista Movie (WMV), I
first used Nero 8 Vision Essentials to reprocess the CAPTURE.AVI file
into a Nero proprietary 'export' format

6_then imported the large Nero processed file into Windows Live Movie

7_I edited and then saved the file from 'Windows Live movie Maker' at a
custom resolution of 640x480, without audio, 2,000 kbps bit rate and 30

8_The resulting file size for for one minute of 8 bit B/W capture (640 x
480) was about 12 megabytes, in WMV format (Windows Media Audio/Video
file (.wmv)).

I took a bunch of cam captures, strung them together as a sequence and
uploaded the 5 minute video to a Google Docs account. The video from
this Meade ETX90 / Sac IV imager setup for the 'sparrows at 50 feet
distance' from the tripod is posted at the URL at the top of this note.
The circular entrance to the birdhouse is about one and one half inches,
so the width of the video field for the scope-cam setup is about 2
inches at a distance of 50 feet.

The PC I used is running Windows Vista with a triple core AMD processor,
4 Gigabytes of RAM and plenty of Gigabytes of extra hard drive space to
store the various intermediate CAPTURE.AVI and Nero files.

Your web site has grown very large since my last post to it.

Bob Eisenman

End of today's update
[23 Nov 09]
Mike here: I tried using my old Sonfest SAC -IVb imager on my MacBook Pro with Mac OS X 10.6.2 (Snow Leopard). I had used it back in 2000 and 2001 ( but not under Mac OS X. Keith's AstroImager ( would not see it in Mac OS X 10.6.2 and I could not find any driver for it. Oh well, back to using my Nikon D70 DSLR. No drivers or special software required. That's how it should be!

End of 23 November 2009 update
Subject:	SAC drivers
Sent:	Sunday, March 9, 2008 18:18:17
From:	James Macomber (
I have a SAC 7b, have you found any drivers for Windows OSes higher than
98SE?  Or other OSes where software was available for the WMD
James Macomber
Mike here: I haven't looked since I avoid Windows. Have you checked the Sonfest web site or the Helpful Information: Astrophotography: Sonfest SAC Imagers page on my ETX Site?


Yeah, saw those.  The SAC Imaging site seems to have gone off line and
has been that way for at least several weeks.

What OS are you running you camera off of?
Mike here: When I tested the LPI I was using Mac OS X and Virtual PC with Windows 2000. You can read my comments in the article "AutoStar Suite on a Macintosh" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. For LPI use under Mac OS X see the article "LPI with Mac OS X" on the Helpful Information: Astrophotography page.
Subject:	Help needed w/Astrovideo & SAC7b, Please & Thank You.
Sent:	Wednesday, March 5, 2008 23:15:49
From:	T.L. Fox (
After several reinstalls, I still get "An error has occurred during the
install of the device. A service installation section in this INF. is
invalid" when I try to add the "giveio" file as instructed. Please help
me if you can. Four days & I still can't use my new (to me) SAC7b. I've
tried it with the cam plugged in & un plugged to my PC (laptop) I even
tried the 3CCD tools & always this driver problem. If you can help. (or
not) much thanks to you & your site.
Mike here: While I probably can't help directly, it might help others to know what OS you are using. Mac OS, Mac OS X, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Linux, Unix, etc.


Sorry, I'm using Windows XP on a full tilt Dell latitude 840 laptop. The
camera hooks up three places. the phone cord goes into an adapter just
like a Meade DSI (someone told me it should go in the long
port(printer?), but this is what I got with it,  then USB into a USB and
12V cigar lighter into a power tank. Any help would be great.
Mike here: "Phone cord"? Do you mean a "serial cable"? If so, that would connect to a RS-232 serial port (and not a modem phone line jack). If your computer doesn't have a serial port then you would need a USB-serial adapter (hardware and software). I don't know if that is causing the problem you are experiencing.


This is a pic of one of three cables, the other two are, a USB, and a
12V cigar lighter type. This cable looks like a RS232 with the adapter
shown that plugs in to a 9 pin port on the back of my laptop. This might
help, when using K3CCDtools, my camera doesn't show my camera under
"devices" or any of the windows that devices leads to. Maybe a driver
problem? I've read where a Logitec driver works well, but don't want to
make things worse. Sorry for so much trouble.


Mike here: Yes, that looks like a RS-232 DB-9 connector. Does your laptop actually have a DB-9 RS-232 port? Not having that model SAC imager I'm not exactly certain why that cable is required (unless for use as an auto-guider for your telescope). I would have thought that the USB cable was sufficient for imaging. If the imager is not appearing then perhaps you need a powered and/or USB 2 port. Does your computer have USB 2? Have you tried a powered USB hub?


Yes,Yes and Yes. Should a driver show under devices. When I try to load
the "giveio" file as the instructions, I get

"An Error occurred during the install of the device
A service installation section in the INF. is invalad." 

Could this be the problem?
Mike here: Perhaps you need to check with Sonfest. Maybe the installer is bad? Not being a Windows user I don't have much experience with troubleshooting Windows. I used to back in the Windows 3.1 and Windows 95 days when I would integrate Macs and Windows on the same network. But Windows was simpler then.

And an update:

I did get the camera working as a Logitec webcam 4000, using their
program. I would like to use the KCCD3, but for now, this is a start.
THANKS for your time & trouble.

End of 9 March 2008 update
Subject:	Re: sac 7 help
Sent:	Wednesday, February 20, 2008 18:52:47
I found in another group of papers he sent along with the telescope, the
directions for installing the drivers. I just didn't dig deep enough.
Where do you live, if I may ask.
Mike here: Glad you solved it. For location info, see my Oracle Observatory web page.

End of 23 February 2008 update
Subject:	sac 7 help
Sent:	Tuesday, February 19, 2008 18:49:16
I just bought a Meade LX200, 10", with a sac 7 ccd. I did not get the
c/d but he gave me a floppy with the drivers on it . It seems that I am
missing "webupdate.exe" the book says this is the file for the camera.

Is there any possibility you can help me get it going.

Since I did not receive the c/d I did not get the folder "UP15_TRIAL"
not sure I need this.

I have downloaded AstroVideo, but can"t do anything.

Richard Tucker
Hemet, Calif.
Mike here: Have you checked with Sonfest Imaging? My Mac CD is packed up (along with my SAC imager). From your description that sounds like a trial application.


Thanks for the responce Mike. I found my problem and all is going
forward. I will check out Sonfest for sure.

Once again, THANKS

Richard Tucker
Mike here: And the "problem" was?

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