Last updated: 24 December 2003
This page documents the Meade Lunar Planetary Imager comments, tips, and photos. Contributions welcome.
Subject: Moon with the ETX90 and the LPI Sent: Tuesday, November 4, 2003 20:37:32 From: email@example.com (Richard Seymour) OK, here's a one-frame image of the Moon, taken with Meade's LPI and Autostar Suite software, taken through my ETX90ec, without any other optics (no Barlow). The only "processing" i did to it was one "default" pass of "Unsharp Masking" from Autostar Suite's Image Processing application. Exposure about 0.2 seconds. enjoy --dick
Subject: LPI Arrived Sent: Thursday, November 6, 2003 08:32:20 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (William R Kooney) I finally received my new Meade LPI, the Lunar Planetary Imager. From first glance its a expensive webcam. Those of us in the Northeast know the weather we have been having so I just thought I would drop a line telling you that I will be trying this the second I see a clearing and I will be sending you the results. William K.
Subject: LPI Specifications Sent: Sunday, November 9, 2003 16:59:58 From: email@example.com (Richard A. Cini) Excellent site! I bought an ETX90EC as my first scope in the spring and have referred to your site dozens of times as my ETX encyclopedia. Anyway, I was intreigued by Meade's new LPI/Autostar Suite package. I'm looking into various inexpensive electronic imaging methods using Web cams or low-lux surveillance cameras. The software looks awesome but I'm not sure about the camera. It's a VGA-resolution color CMOS camera. I guess for cost purposes (and not to compete with Meage's CCD product) they stuck with a CMOS imaging element which I've read is not nearly as sensitive. I tried to find detailed specs on the LPI on their site but came up empty. Any idea what the lux rating or effective magnatude is? Thanks and keep up the great work! Rich Cini Collector of classic computers Build Master for the Altair32 Emulation Project Web site: http://highgate.comm.sfu.ca/~rcini/classiccmp/ /************************************************************/Mike here: Haven't seen that info.
Subject: moon picture for guest Astrophotography Sent: Friday, November 14, 2003 18:53:12 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (OZtronomy) Please find attached a lunar picture taken last night with the Meade LPI. Telescope was an ETX 90/EC, no barlow was used. I have labelled some features that I've been able to identify. Taken from Sydney Australia with poor seeing conditions. Regards, Andrew Bundschuh
Subject: Autostar Suite and LPI Sent: Saturday, November 15, 2003 20:53:56 From: Lrv64@aol.com Weather cleared, and I was able to get a few fairly decent pictures of Mars(see attached). I have a growing concern with the software, it seems to crash quite often on both my dekstop and laptop. Appears that software is not quite ready for prime time, (I may be a "newbie" to astrophotography, but I have used computers since the Apple // was in vogue) as I finished imaging Mars, I decided to try to get some pics of Andromeda. Nothing showed up on screen, I wrote it off as M31 was just too dim for the LPI, so I decided to take some longer exposures of where Andromeda was supposed to be. It was dead center in my 25mm eyepiece, with the parfocal lens that allows you to focus with the eyepiece rather than the camera, which is quite difficult to do. After I took a number of images, I noticed that the program was not responding and I had to do a complete shut down, power off and reboot in order to program to respond again. There was never any indication that the program was not responding, it just looked like it was working, but it wasn't. The only way I found out is that I slewed back to Mars, dead center in the 25mm eyepiece, placed the LPI back, and noticed that nothing was on screen, software appears to work, but it is not doing anything. After I rebooted, and I started LPI again, there was Mars dead center on the screen of my laptop.... Appears to me that the software needs an upgrade to keep working, I just wish that Meade had e-mail support so I could report this. Last time I contacted Meade was Friday to find out status of my eyepiece offer order, toll free number just rang, and on the 10th or so ring, an automated response was to leave a message. I then called their toll number, and got to a "live" person in only 10 minutes. All "live" people I have ever talked to at Meade have been extremely helpfull and courteous but I just wish they would answer their toll free lines! Now that I have rambled on, I have one more item to report it appears that ALL drift, creep after beep, whatever you want to call it, has disappeard since I upgraded my Autostar to ver 3.Ee--- I say appears, because it might come back! AFTER I upgraded, I reset Autostar, completed the training in Alt-Az, recalibrated motors, everything in short from scratch.... seems to me the magic bullet. LPI is just that, Lunar Planetary Imager, don't expect miracles on Deep Sky objects. MAYBE somebody else has had success with Deep Sky objects and can share his/her experiences with us, so we can enjoy pictures from our setups. Thx for having this site up and running, without it we would be up the creek without a paddle! Everybody would be on their own, with no one to turn to for help. lrv64 from Nogales Arizona
Mike here: You can send reports to email@example.com. You may or may not get a response but they do read the emails.
Thanks for the address, I will send them my concerns... Luis
Subject: Meade LPI with LDX-55 Sent: Friday, November 21, 2003 18:34:46 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Steve Gauss) I have used the LPI a couple of times with reasonable success on my 10" SN. The software is pretty good and has not crashed (much) under Windows XP. Focusing is tricky with the unstable mount of the 10", but a Hartmann screen helps. I was able to get a nice shot of Albireo and Eps Lyrae and a "first try" at M31 (2 sec exposure, 5 images stacked). I could see M31 very faintly on the screen at the time. The seeing has not been good and it was somewhat windy. Stephen Gauss
Subject: Autostar Suite + LPI - updated info Sent: Friday, November 21, 2003 23:49:09 From: Lrv64@aol.com I just got in from doing some sky gazing. Used the LPI on Saturn. I have attached one of the better pictures, Seeing was very good tonight I was able to use my 3X Barlow with a 15MM eyepiece on my ETX-125--I even tried "stacking" both my 2X and 3X barlows and 15, quite blurry which is understandable. LPI software still has a nasty habit of "crashing" once I slew to something else, I spent most of the time out on Saturn and once I had the pictures I wanted, I slewed to Orion and pressed the Auto Adjust button as the Meade Tech suggested. I have done that before with no luck, it still crashed, had to do a hard boot to bring it back up... I slewed back to Saturn and it was dead center in the middle of the laptops screen, after I take pictures it seems to have trouble readjusting to new parameters. As long as it works with the object I originally call for, I can live with this until Meade can upgrade their software. After I updated Autostar to ver. 3Ee I have not had any creep after beep or whatever you call it. Autostar seems more accurate and more responsive, definitely worked. Thanks for the site. email@example.com
LPI works as advertised and gives very good results without having to "stack" pictures on your own, which I have never been able to do anyways! The picture I sent was taken at 11:00 PM. LPI software did the work automatically, I allowed the software to gather 50 images to merge into one. I had the settings as follows: Image quality was at 85% and evaluation count at 10, Filter Used was Align & Combine, initially I had set Auto Adj. for exposure but had to reduce time a tad. I had program set to track and to combine pictures and file type was set to TIF---Magic Eye focus along with the parfocalizing ring really helps. Software and telescope track very well, my alignment was a little off last night. NO barlow was used for this photo, I will be trying to master the hardware/software as is, and then later venture into using barlows with the LPI. Definitely worth the price, I am satisfied with the results. Best results I have ever had on Saturn. Now if only Meade would update their software so I can slew to other objects, set new parameters and then take pictures, without having the software crash.And:
I was able to further enhance Saturn with Paint Shop Pro. The other picture I sent was straight from the Imager, and this one has been enhanced. This is the best I could do, it came out much better than I ever hoped for. Sorry for the multiple messages on the same topic, but I was really impressed with the LPI.
Subject: LPI Faint Objects Sent: Sunday, November 23, 2003 15:01:53 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Steve Gauss) On a night of good seeing and very good transparency (for Washington, DC area) and finally no wind I experimented with the LPI on a number of objects. I'm pleasantly surprised with the tracking of the LDX-55 10" SN over short intervals. Here's a shot of Saturn showing at least 5 satellites and probably 6 (not positive about Hyperion, but it's in the right place). Iapetus was out of the picture. Also, an exposure on the Orion Nebula, 10 frames combined with Registax2. I did not apply darks - probably should have. Everything worked well. The Autostar suite is nice, although it would be good to have a separate "Live" button. Also, under observatories they have a US Naval Observatory station in New Zealand that closed 7 years ago and no entry for the Washington or Flagstaff installations. Stephen Gauss
Subject: Concerning the CMOS chip in the LPI Sent: Monday, November 24, 2003 00:00:54 From: email@example.com (Thierry Raes) Below is a message that i posted in the LX200GPS group. It explains that the Cmos chip has evolved quite a lot during the years, and should be more sensitive than the CCD. I dont know if it's all true but i thought this might be helpfull to your LPI Page. Best Regards Thierry Raes ps: thanks for a great webpage! ----- Original Message ----- Whats going on with this LPI thing? It seems that everybody is keen on getting one asap. Here in Belgium it will become available in half a month or so. As i have read on numerous site's the LPI has a CMOS chip. Why in the world would Meade put a CMOS chip in that device in stead of a CCD? The price of the LPI here in Belgium is more expensive than the Philips ToUcam. The only thing that could seduce me is the software, i allready have The Sky but controlling the scope over a network or internet is tempting. Could there be a chance that Meade would offer an 'advanced' LPI or something? I really wonder if it is worth buying. Any advice would be appreciated. Thx Thierry lx200gps 10 Belgium. hi, dave from texas here. i know what you mean. i just got my 10" LX200GPS and new Meade LPI. i too was surprised to find that meade made the choice to use a CMOS chip. after discussing this with several people, the explanation seems to be as follows: CMOS chips have come a long way since their orignial design. This chip that meade is using is supposed to be much more sensitive than the conventional web cam CCD chip. i also have the phillips ToUcam and a Logitech Quickcam Pro 4000. Actually, i have had more luck with the Quickcam than with the Phillips. I have been ill lately, and haven't had a chance to use the LPI yet, but have been viewing the results of others who are now using the camera. The pictures that i have seen have been every bit as good as the web cam photos, and as such, i have been impressed. i think that you are correct in that the best features come with the software. the write ups say that you have much more control over the camera with the autostar suite than with other conventional software, and it has been stated that the Meade camera has some electronics that make it unique in the way that it interacts with the software. this is all information that i have gathered by talking to others. we get the camera here for $149.00 in the US. that is about what i paid for the phillips and the adapter. i hope to be trying the LPI for myself later next week. i'll be posting my experiences pretty soon. there are 3 other fellows here that have the same setup as i, and they will be testing as well. hope this helps. dave
Subject: Fwd: LPI Faint Objects Sent: Monday, November 24, 2003 23:01:19 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Steve Gauss) After finding an ephemeris for the satellites and checking the catalogs, the image marked Hyperion is actually an 11th mag star. Hyperion is much too faint. Here is a new picture with all the star magnitudes labeled. Pretty impressive for a short exposure with no guiding - just tracking.
Subject: Meade LPI imager complaint Sent: Tuesday, November 25, 2003 10:14:50 From: email@example.com Maybe Meade can tell on their website not only:
*Recommended Minimum System For Installing Autostar Suite:PC running Windows 98SE with 64 MB and 100 MB free disk space. for their LPI imager, but also that you need a really FAST laptop. I ordered the imager and payed a lot of money for importing and handling etc, but my 233 Mhz laptop with USB is MUCH too slow, there's no live image and if there's is an image it takes 20 to 30 seconds for 1 frame! So I can't use the thing. Bad written program, because the imager works with K3CCD and Astrovideo, but can not do long exposures or autoguiding with these programs. It's a pity. Job Geheniau The Netherlands
Subject: LPI Report Sent: Thursday, November 27, 2003 05:48:26 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (William R Kooney) First off Happy Thanksgiving to all. I was finally able to sit down with no interruptions and send you the first shot from the Meade LPI. I am somewhat torn between this device. I am upset that it only offers you a high power view (6mm) I wish they should have made it so that you could use it with an eyepiece. Secondly I have been having awful problems on my computer side, I think the laptop is showing its age, then I had a temperature issue where the screen would not work, (it was in the 20's) bring the unit in and it starts to work. I am not giving up though, my next target is Saturn and Jupiter. I will let you know how that works out, it says "Bright Deep Sky" objects too, what are those? Have a great holiday and I will report back when the weather and computer corporate. William
Mike here: Bright DSOs would be things like M42, M31, M13, M57, etc.
Subject: LPI fixed Sent: Tuesday, December 2, 2003 18:56:13 From: email@example.com (William R Kooney) Alright, I got it, the laptop is very sensitive to the cold, tonight I hooked up a long USB cable and controlled everything from inside, here is the results, these are all untouched straight from the imaging program. William K
Subject: Meade LPI From: COOLCALIF1@aol.com Date: Mon, 15 Dec 2003 18:59:45 EST Hey All, I want to start by saying I have no astrophotography or computer experience and I'm just getting to know my LX90 Scope. Here are a couple moon shots straight from the imager. I have had some freeze ups with the software but not many. These were my first shots done with a Meade LX 90 8", a brand new IBM R40 laptop and the LPI. I'm still getting the hang of it, I'll send more as I get better. Thanks, Tim
Subject: LPI Pictures of Saturn and Venus From: Lrv64@aol.com Date: Sun, 21 Dec 2003 12:06:45 EST Here is another of my pictures of Saturn. This time I used a 2X Barlow with the LPI and had the LPI take and combine about 50 images, Quality level was set at 85% and the evaluation count was set at 5. Seeing was not the best, but acceptable.
Also attached you will find a so-so picture of Venus. My next project is taking images of Deep Sky Objects, I think my "crashes" of the LPI software have been solved by Meade when they sent a new USB cord. Best Holiday wishes to all! lrv
Subject: Saturn wut the LPI Date: Mon, 22 Dec 2003 15:11:48 -0500 From: Craig Schriever (firstname.lastname@example.org) I attached an image of saturn taken with the LPI @f/10 Seeing was bad so no barlow tonight. The image was laken with the LPI and my 10"LX200GPS. (The ETX90 is now ridin' piggyback). I combined about 50 images and processed alittle in PS. If you want to post it on your site that would be cool. If not ( because its not an ETX image) thats fine also. Thanks for the great site and all your hard work on it. Happy Holidays! Craig
Mike here: I'm going through the Autostar Suite manuals now in prep for installing in Virtual PC on my Mac OS X laptop. I'll report as soon as I complete my evaluation.
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