GSTAR-EX Colour CCD camera for Astronomy

GSTAR-EX CLR website - Colour Video CCD camera for Astronomy
GENERAL
- GSTAR-EX Page
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- GSTAR-EX3

www.myAstroShop.com.au

SUPPORT

- User Guide
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- GSTAR CLR FAQ

- Reducers

M27 with GSTAR-EX CLR camera 300 frames stacked

M27 with 10-inch scope and 300 stacked images

GALAXIES

NGC 253 with GSTAR-EX colour video camera

NGC253 with 10-inch scope and focal reducer using 128X frame accumulation and stack of 500 images

 

DEEP SKY VIDEO ASTRONOMY BOOK

Deep Sky Video Astronomy

Get the book!

Written by Steve Massey and Steve Quirk,
Deep Sky Video Astronomy
reveals all the tips and tricks for getting the most out of your deep sky capable video camera.

 

GSTAR CAPTURE
GSTAR-EX Capture Software

Our GSTAR4 video capture utility software included on CD with your GSTAR-EX camera.

 

 

GSTAR-EX CLR

THIS PRODUCT IS NOW DISCONTINUED

The Original GSTAR-EX COLOUR CCD video camera

Video CCD Colour Imaging & Live Views

256X frame accumulation - 1/2" colour CCD
Low Noise - Compact size
Built in IR blocking filter for true colours
 

No Fuss set-up and Easy to Use
View faint galaxies and nebula on your T.V or PC
View the planets and Moon with amazing detail
See more detail than views at the eyepiece
Perfect public viewing tool for Observatories, Schools, Universities, family and friends
B&W or COLOUR modes
Fast image rates to beat distorting effects of the atmosphere.
Internal frame accumulation mode for capturing faint objects
BNC Composite output connection
Record to VCR, DVD or computer disk drive

THE ULTIMATE FINDERSCOPE WITH A 25mm C-LENS

 

WELCOME TO GSTAR-EX DEEP SKY & PLANETARY IMAGING
SIMPLE AS 1.. 2.. 3..

Looking for a simple, no-fuss way to capture dramatic portraits of the night sky with a telescope? Something that doesn't require absolutely perfect telescope tracking or polar alignment and long exposure times? The GSTAR-EX CLR camera is the complete CCD based video imaging tool you've been seeking. Utilising a highly sensitive colour Sony CCD and leading edge, on-board image accumulation technology, this camera reveals stunning views of galaxies, nebula, star clusters, comets, the planets and their moons, our own Moon and the Sun (filtered) in extraordinary detail.

You'll see more structure in nebulae and the starry expanses of galaxies and their dust lanes than can be seen at the eyepiece in near real-time. Simply place the camera in to the focuser of your telescope like an eyepiece and connect it to your home T.V. monitor, VCR, DVD recorder or PC.

Set the camera to integration mode and watch those faint deep sky wonders unfold before your eye's! You don't even need to travel to dark country skies to achieve excellent celestial portraits.

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APPLICATIONS
Lunar Imaging - Planetary Imaging - Deep Sky Imaging - Supernova Patrol - Comet Hunting - All Sky Camera - Meteor & Asteroid Imaging - Occultation timing - as a finderscope or for guiding.

PUBLIC EDUCATION

The GSTAR-EX is the perfect tool for educational nights in public observatories, schools, clubs and universities particularly when people are having difficulty viewing objects through the eyepiece.

CAMERA TO COMPUTER OPTIONS

Capturing the video output from the GSTAR-EX to a desktop PC or Laptop can be achieved by using a video capture device such as a PCI slot card in the case of a desktop machine or a video to USB / firewire converter box or cable or dedicated PCMCIA capture card for a Laptop without a video in port. Some are dedicated video capture devices or have built-in T.V. tuners with additional inputs for external video cameras. The most common capture file format is AVI with most T.V and capture card devices. See FAQ page for more.

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GSTAR-EX CLR  GENERAL QUESTIONS
The GSTAR-EX CLR is a highly affordable deep sky and planetary imaging camera that can be operated in either colour or black and white modes.

Q. Is the GSTAR-EX CLR as sensitive as the classic monochrome model?

A. No - This colour camera comes with a built in IR blocking filter which, like all other CCD cameras will cut the image sensor sensitivity at infrared wavelengths that normally produce brighter images like those of the GSTAR-EX (unfiltered). Furthermore, having a colour filter matrix across the image sensor further reduces low light sensitivity and spatial resolution. However, if you were using the classic GSTAR-EX mono camera with IR blocking with RGB filtering, the light loss is similar overall.

Q. Can I see colours live on the monitor?

A. Yes however some consideration to the overall surface brightness of deep sky objects like galaxies and nebula must be taken into consideration. Aperture and focal length will rule how much colour is possible to see live and record. In our tests from a semi dark sky location using a 10-inch telescope we could see the magenta / red hues of the Trifid Nebula at only 20 degrees above the horizon without difficulty along with its blue reflection nebula. M57 (Ring Nebula) and M27 (Dumbbell Nebula) also produced live colours in near real-time on the computer CRT monitor.

Q. How many frames do I need to capture to get the best results?

A. This is up to your own personal preference however we have found that using only the 128X frame accumulation mode, at least 600 captured video images will produce a smooth result. But given the additional noise of a single colour CCD, the more frames stacked, the better.

Q. Does this camera produce good planetary images?

A. Yes - in our tests so far (see Jupiter image above) colours are reproduced quite well and resolved detail matches many low cost USB type cameras being used today.

Q. Is the 256X sense up better than 128X ?

A. The images seen in real time are deeper however if your telescope is poorly aligned or strong breezes are causing havoc, it is always best to decrease the frame accumulation setting. From our testing, very nice images in colour are produced from the 128X mode (see sample image below).

Q. Can I use the colour camera as the colour instead of filters with my GSTAR-EX monochrome?

A. Yes. The GSTAR-EX CLR can be used to take colour images of a nebula or galaxy then applied to a luminance exposure taken with the classic GSTAR-EX mono to create a colour image. In fact the cost compared to filter wheels and filters is just about equal but taking only one third the time in imaging and post processing to achieve a nice result. See image below

Q. Does the GSTAR colour camera have more hot pixels?

A. No - In fact it has less obvious hot pixels than the super sensitive monochrome version, however it is also not a thermally cooled camera and thus is susceptible to background noise. With 14 bit internal super digital noise reduction circuitry, you can almost avoid taking dark frames altogether. However test are ongoing. Even the classic dark rings often appearing around bright stars are greatly minimised however the internal colour rendering algorithms do produce a green and blue smear to the nearby right and left of very bright stars which are easily brushed out in post processing.

 

GSTAR-EX CLR TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS
Image Sensor: SONY EX view HAD colour 1/2-inch (Hi res Low Dark Current)
Sensor Pixels 8.6um(H) x (8.3um(V)
Resolution: Hi-res 540TVL (better than SVHS)
Capture Size: 768 x 576 pixels (maximum effective video capture size
Standard: CCIR (PAL) Colour
Sensitivity: 0.001 LUX
Shutter Speeds: 1/50 to 1/10,000 second (7 steps) - Automatic and Manual control
Integration Mode: Deep Sky Mode - X2 to X256 (max integration) (8 steps)
Signal Gain AGC ON or OFF
Signal Processing A/D converter 10 bit AGC/AD (14 bit internal)
Video Outputs 1x Composite (BNC)  1Vp-p into 75 Ohms
Gamma Adjust For deeper contrast of the planets and Moon (1.0 and 0.45)
Digital Zoom 2 x internal image rescaling (useful where optical magnification is limited)
Picture Enhance MID and HIGH settings
Operating Temp -20 to +50C
Dimensions (L) 66mm (W) 50mm (H) 64mm
Interface 5 control buttons for OSD control on back panel.
Power 12VDC regulated 160mA (centre positive)
Quick user help
 
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PROCESSED IMAGE RESULTS
Like most imaging, post processing is needed to bring out the best in the stacked images.

NGC253 taken with GSTAR-EX CLR
This image of NGC253 was taken with a 10-inch f/5 Newtonian and 0.5X focal reducer. The camera was set at only x128.
Dark frame subtraction and 500 captured frames were stacked.

Saturn with GSTAR-EX Colour camera

Above: Saturn with 12-inch Newtonian in Aril 2012
The moon Tethys can be seen at bottom.
Credit: Trevor Taylor (VIC)
 

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Image from LIVE MONITOR view of M20 Triffid Nebula

Snap Shot view of M20 with GSTAR-EX CLR camera
The image above shows with a 10-inch Newtonian and focal reducer, the image as seen live on a CRT computer monitor. Note the accurate magenta and red of the nebula and the subtle blue in the reflection nebula above. Image has been rescaled down from 768 x 576 pixels.

 

With a small telescope 100mm Refractor @ f/4 - 500 stacked images

The above image taken with only a 100mm refractor and0.5X reducer
is a stacked composite of 500 video frames and heavily stretched.

M104 Sombrero Galaxy with 12-inch Newtonian.
The live on screen view is very similar to this

 

GSTAR-EX USER GROUP
A camera users support group has been established with Yahoo as a general resource for camera owners to ask questions and share ideas and tips etc. It is not a discussion forum as such but rather a place to log any questions regarding set-up and use of the GSTAR-EX or imaging and image processing tips. While many owners find the camera quite simple to operate with our online application user manual covering most questions, if you'd like to share your results, questions or tips with other camera owners this might be a useful resource for you.

Join the GSTAR-EX Users Group courtesy of AstroHolic.com

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DOWNLOADS

GSTAR-CAPTURE Video Capture Freeware
 

Included with your camera purchase is our GSTAR Capture software freely available from this website. It is a flexible video capture program with a diverse range of features for real-time capture and time delay movie capture. It utilises your installed video or USB capture device drivers allowing multiple standard capture rates and custom capture rates slower than the standard 1 frame per second. Thus, it is perfect for use with the GSTAR-EX2 camera sense up modes X128 or X256 (GSTAR Monochrome) or X256 (GSTAR Colour camera). It can even be used with USB desktop webcams.

GSTAR 4 includes a favourite object database, location and equipment database editor. It creates a log database that records not only Universal Time but all the RA, declination, filter used, telescope, focal length etc information important for reviewing later when doing your image processing. The program features single or multiple filter automated scripted capture and manual modes plus dual positional and guiding crosshair reticles. The program also includes image enhancement functions, AVI frame selection for post processing, interlaced and non-interlaced viewing and recording, unlimited time lapse animation capture, instant snapshot, live histogram, occultation time stamping, dual night view modes, on screen zoom for checking focus plus GSTAR-COM and COM2 for GSTAR-EX2 camera control with expanded help file among numerous other very useful tools. For anyone using image streaming cameras, GSTAR 4 is a complete capture tool for astronomy.

Update: The program now includes an CSD (capture, stack & display) enhancement function which samples and combines two unique consecutive images to significantly reduce background noise. This makes live views and images recorded to the AVI smoother and more pleasing to the eye.

GSTAR Capture V4 is compatible for use with Windows XP, Vista, WIN7 32 and 64 bit, WIN 8.1 and WIN 10 beta operating systems as far as we know to date. However please remember that this is a labour of love freeware program written by Chris Wakeman and Steve Massey and GSTAR-EX cameras (or any other type for that matter) are not dependent on using it. In other words, GSTAR4 freeware only looks for any successfully installed video capture hardware and drivers you have installed on your computer.  We'd like to thank all those who gave us feedback and new suggestions to help make GSTAR 4 an even more useful tool for Video Astronomers.

Download GSTAR 4 capture (Full install program)

LATEST UPDATE V4.2.48

Download Video Capture Device Analyser

GSTAR Capture V4 is compatible for use with Windows operating systems however not all video grabber devices are. Our simple test application will help to determine any possible incompatibilities with your video capture device. Please read the text file carefully in order for this program to work. Thanks Chris Wakeman for developing this useful tool.

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**Please Note: If you do not understand the basics of your telescope or telescope optics and / or attaching devices to a TV or computer then this product may not be suitable for you.**


Digitech USB Video Capture Device  Driver for WIN 8.1 platform users

If you have bought a Digitech XC4991 video grabber device and need the driver for Windows 8.1 operating system then here is the link.
Run the EXE installation file then reboot your PC. Also appears to work with WIN 10

Download


We would like to sincerely acknowledge the excellent contributions of operating system testing and compliance of our GSTAR4 capture software and third party capture devices by Trevor Taylor of Dynatec Australia

 

 

Copyright 2009 Binary Systems Pty Limited
www.AstroShop.com.au
All Rights Reserved.
 

CAMERA FEATURES
- Simple to use
- Camera to PC
- Specifications

- Customer Images
- Applications
 

GSTAR-EX CLR M27 only 5 stacked frames

M27 Dumbbell Nebula
5 stacked frames using 256X accumulation

LUNAR LANDSCAPES
Eratosthenes
JUPITER - Sept 2009


 

Saturn - June 2011


Saturn 350 stacked frames processed

 

VIDEO ASTRONOMY

Get the book and find out what Video Astronomy is all about

Video Astronomy
(revised edition)

M42 - Orion Nebula

The above image is a stack of only 100 captured frames using a 5-inch refractor and camera frame accumulation set to only X32.