Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Sun on MallinCam (Blue Mountains)

Holy crap. It worked!

After observing and sketching the Sun with the RASC Toronto Centre equipment at the E.C. Carr Astronomical Observatory, I decided to hook up the MallinCam. Powered up the LCD flatscreen and unhooked the red film...

Forgot that we had installed a short brown 2-wire extension cord into into the Paramount ME wiring loom to reduce the strain on the MallinCam power supply. I considered leaving out the new photo extension tube given that the SolarMax blocking filter is about the same length. Well, the blocking filter is slightly shorter. Was curious what would happen.

So I had the following configuration: SolarMax energy filter, Tele Vue 101 refractor, SolarMax blocking filter, 2-1¼" adapter, and MallinCam Hyper Color. I connected the data line and then the power. Couldn't see anything on the monitor (at first).

Turned to the camera and accessed the menu. That popped on the monitor: a good sign. And that's when I noticed a red glow in the bottom right of the LCD. Huh? What's that?! Duh. This is a colour camera. Mentally, I had been expecting a black and white image. This red glow was the Sun in Hydrogen-alpha. Just out of focus and just off centre.

I began to move the focuser out and the image improved. With the hand controller I had to shift the 'scope slightly. Continued adjusting the focus until I hit the stop! Damn. The focuser was fully extended, no more room. So I released the thumbscrew and slid the MallinCam out a little. At about 5mm out, the image came into focus. I moved the camera out another 5mm and clamped it down. Extended 10mm out will give a bit of room either side of perfect focus.

Look at that image. Brill! I was blown away. It was fantastic. It works! It all works. The extension tube, the monitor, the camera, the camera with the SolarMax and the Sun!

Same curious colouring as I've seen in the point-and-shoot camera: purply-pink in the middle vs. orange-red to the eye.

(This showed the aspect ratio of the monitor is goofy. The Sun is egg-shaped.)

I started reviewing settings. External switches: integration is off; PEC is off. The menu: Sense Up is off, ALC/ELC is ALC, BLC is off, AGC is off. I found the shutter speed was already set to 2000. Higher or lower degraded the image. So 2000 is the magic number. Could see surface detail and proms. Played with the level setting but did not see any difference. I changed the white balance from ATW to AWC (whatever that means), improving the proms.

Then I zoomed in! Whoa! Look at that.

Amazing. I was giggling away. I was very happy.

We'll be able to put on good shows at the CAO for the public showing the Sun in Hα. Podcasts?!

I'll need to make some more updates to my MallinCam notes too.


Why the hell did ViewSonic put the bumpy wavvy frame about the monitor? Very distracting. And why on three vs. all four sides? They need a good industrial designer.

1 comment:

Chas said...

Thats way cool