CAMERA MOUNT

March 2002 - Note: I recently obtained the Scopetronics eyepiece adapter.  Much simpler, easier and better.  I will still use the old mount some, as it will work with any of my eyepieces, but if I will be using the 25 or 32 mm Plossls then the Scopetronics system will be used.

Several people have asked about the mount I made for the camcorder. I don’t think this is the best way to mount the camera, but, it was made out of stuff laying around the house and had zero cost. If you have to buy materials, look at some of the direct eyepiece couplers available from Televue, Scopetronics, and others. The advantage to my setup is it will work with any eyepiece and camera, while the couplers require both a specific eyepiece and specific camera for them to work. The disadvantage to my setup is weight. It takes a solid mount to handle the 9.5 oz. for the mount, along with the 24.4 oz. for the camera. That’s over two pounds of extra weight. At least the coupler would knock about 9 oz. off the total.

       

Dimensions

Width of base – 3”

Length of base – 6 1/2"

Eyepiece hole equidistant from three sides

Center of eyepiece hole to center of vertical rod – 4 1/2"

Vertical rod – 9” (needs to be cut off at about 5”, but, ain’t done it yet)

Camera rod – 4 1/2"

Clamp rod – 2”, cross holes drilled to match length of knobs (3/4” from ends in my case)

Dimensions are sized for my camera. Determine yours accordingly. Body is1/2" ApplePly with a piece of 1/8” plexi. The hole in the ply is 2 1/4". I used a plexi backer to maximize the grip area on the eyepiece in the focuser. You could drill a 1 1/4" hole in the ply and skip the backer, but that leaves a very short area for the focuser to grip. Alternativly, a 1/4" piece of plexi could be used by itself and skip the ply. As I said, this was made from what I had laying around. The rods are 1/4" stock, threaded where needed. (1/4 x 20, which is also the thread size for the tripod socket of most cameras). Note the “strategic” bend on the threaded end of the camera rod. This allows minor angle adjustments to the camera by rotating the rod before tightening the wing nut against the camera body. (No, I didn’t plan that. I didn’t get the holes in the clamp bar at perfect 90 degrees from each other and had to bend the camera rod to align it.) The clamp assembly is 1/2" bar stock, drilled and tapped as needed. 

Using the mount is fairly straightforward. Attach the camera and an eyepiece and stick it in the focuser, with the camera lens tight to the eyepiece. I generally use a 25mm Plossl.  If you want more magnification use the zoom on the camera. If you can rotate the optical tube so the focuser is on top it greatly simplifies things. Set you camera focus to infinity, shutter on manual, turn off auto flash (real annoying to your dark adapted eyes), and zoom to wide. Tweak your scope alignment and camera alignment until you see your object in the viewfinder.  Focus the scope.  Adjust the camera zoom to the image size you want. If your camera has a digital zoom on top of an optical zoom stay out of the digital zoom range, otherwise your images will suffer great indignities (digital zooms cut pixel counts, therefore appearing to magnify when it actually only enlarged with a significant loss of resolution). If you only have digital zoom you will have to use different eyepieces to change magnifications.

Always take a combination of shutter speeds. What looked good in the viewfinder won’t work when you get it home and on the computer. Much easier to “bracket” your exposures and have something usable when you get home, than to have to go back out to take more. Play with the other “auto” features, like, white balance, background illumination, etc.

I usually take several JPEGs of an object, followed by a few seconds of video. The video is only 1/3 the resolution of the JPEGs, but, sometimes they come out better. Sometimes a single JPEG will be outstanding with no further manipulation required. Most of the time you will get much better images if you stack several JPEGs together or stack the frames from the video to make a single image. I use a combination of programs to achieve this:  Software

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