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Anybody still using an SX-MX916 CCD

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Anybody still using an SX-MX916 CCD

Posted by Paul A Brierley at 06:40 on 2014 Jan 06

I've been given a very good quality Starlight Xpress MX916 which is in very good condition. In fact. It hasn't been used.I've been looking for advice on other forums with using this camera, with the demo version of Astro Art, but I have drawn a blank. I wanted to try AA before buying it.Can anybody from the BAA please give me any helpful advice, they think I need with settings and anything else.

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Re:Anybody still using an SX-MX916 CCD

Posted by Nick Atkinson at 17:24 on 2014 Jan 07

Hi Paul,I suggest that you first contact StarlightXpress telecom 0118 402 6898 as they should be able to advise you on their software downloads for this camera and is free of charge.If you do not have a GOTO mount AIPWin.V2 is a good option and coming with a free book is VAT exempt. and will provide all the image manipulation features plus calibration. Should you wish to submit variable star photometry to the BAA it is fully integrated with this package.You do not say which mount you have, if this a GOTO then Astro Art and Maxim DL can be considered. AstroArt is the cheaper option but I cannot advise on this.You can download MaximDL plus Maxpoint for a free 30 day trial and all features can be tried. At $599 for the download option it is expensive but is fully featured for telescope and camera control and uses a StatlightXpress universal drivers for both your camera and auto guider. First check with SXP to see if the universal driver will support your camera. Maxim has been featured for over the last year in Astronomy Now. I use this package and have not been disappointed. The £ to $ exchange rate is favourable now.Maxpoint will integrate with Cartes du Ceil free planetarium software but you will need to down load an ASCOM driver. Later on you could always add on another planetarium.Clear skies,Nick

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Re:Anybody still using an SX-MX916 CCD

Posted by Paul A Brierley at 06:48 on 2014 Jan 08

Thanks Nick.I have AA5, but sadly it doesn't come with a cloud filter. And I have everything else. Including a Losmandy G11-Gemini L4.I just want to use this camera and see how good it is. What intrigue's me. Are the lack of high quality images taken with this model. They have all been very poor with the odd exception.I should have a Trius later in the year but in the mean time, whilst saving the pennies. I'll play with this. And try to get the best images I can.Thank goodness USB saved the day.

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Re:Anybody still using an SX-MX916 CCD

Posted by Robin Leadbeater at 17:27 on 2014 Jan 09

Hi Paul,There is someone here who managed it http://stargazerslounge.com/topic/153106-anyone-out-there-still-using-a-... I think the main problem is allowing access to the parallel port which can be done with XP but possibly not with later Windows. Re the quality, it seems many people for some reason run 2x binned which gives rather poor low resolution images which would be undersampled with a typical setup eghttp://www.astrosurf.com/re/mx916.htmlThe manual appears to state is the native resolution of the camera.http://www.astro.soton.ac.uk/~mjc/obs/mx916.pdfbut actually the ICX083 CCD used is 752x582 x11.6umwhich should give a reasonable image if a rather small field by today's standards. I doubt you would get images which would be considered of any quality though these days unless you can access this native CCD resolution. CheersRobin

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Re:Anybody still using an SX-MX916 CCD

Posted by Robin Leadbeater at 17:40 on 2014 Jan 09

Correction. there are a couple of images at full resolution on the astrosurf site above which gives an idea of the sort of image quality produced (they look pretty clean to me, though not exactly challenging targets)http://www.astrosurf.com/re/m057_taka_1x1.jpghttp://www.astrosurf.com/re... it must be possible. Robin

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Re:Anybody still using an SX-MX916 CCD

Posted by Paul A Brierley at 17:49 on 2014 Jan 09

Thank you Robin.I hope to use the camera tonight, if the clouds stay away long enough.I will be very interested seeing what I can do with the camera, both imaging and processing. During the summer I hope to have enough spare cash, to treat myself to a USB CCD from SX or Atik.

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Re:Anybody still using an SX-MX916 CCD

Posted by Robin Leadbeater at 18:07 on 2014 Jan 09

Paul,If you run into trouble getting the camera to communicate via the parallel port I can recommend direct-iohttp://www.direct-io.com/It got me out of problems more than once back in the parallel port modded web and video cam days and a time limited trial version is freeGood Luck!Robin

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Re:Anybody still using an SX-MX916 CCD

Posted by Mike Harlow at 19:10 on 2014 Jan 09

Hi Paul,I'm no software expert I simply use the MX916 for acquiring images using the Starlight Xpress interface and process using IRIS. Very basic stuff. All I can say is that the MX916 is a very good camera in terms of sensitivity with it's 11um pixels and low noise.So if you want to do some science it's an excellent camera. If you want to take 'pretty pictures'...maybe not so good because of it's relatively small size. I recommend science!!!You may be interested in the image below which shows the spectral response of the camera. I got into spectroscopy last year and compared different telescope and detector combinations. The MX916 goes from about 360nm to beyond 950nm which again is a very useful spectral range.I can certainly recommend it...Mike.

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Re:Anybody still using an SX-MX916 CCD

Posted by Paul A Brierley at 18:46 on 2014 Jan 11

I've used the camera and everything is working out off the box. I am very pleased.

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Re:Anybody still using an SX-MX916 CCD

Posted by Martin Mobberley at 20:01 on 2014 Jan 11

Paul,I used an MX916 CCD during the 1990s and up to 2002, mainly with a 49cm Newtonian and a 16cm f/3.6 reflector. It was reliable and images could be taken without any dark frames, which was just as well as there was nointernal shutter, so dark frames would have been a hassle. Since then I've mainly used an SBIG ST9XE. I switched to the SBIG camera for a number of reasons. The raw images were much noisier, but once a dark frame was subtracted they were noticeably deeper, and the SBIG has a built in shutter.But I think the main reason I switched was that at the time I far preferred the CCDSoft software which integrated with The Sky planetarium package. Initially there was no third party software for the MX916 and the supplied software was very clunky indeed. Of course the MX916 of the1990s had parallel port download too which was very slow. Nevertheless, I had very reliable service from the MX916 over many years and it was very reasonably priced, without the painful 'one dollar equals one pound' rip-off price that we have to put up with so frequently in the UK!!Martin

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Re:Anybody still using an SX-MX916 CCD

Posted by Grant Privett at 21:19 on 2014 Jan 11

In the days Martin refers to, AstroArt was only just becoming available and the Starlight software didnt seem to autoscale. AstroArt improved things a lot. USB was also a great step forward. The TC255 based camera I used in 1994 was 340x240 pixels and took 7 seconds to download via parallel port. You wouldnt have it as a guider now. It was a different world.