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spotting scope with video cam

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/23/2008 at 11:49
spiritgide View Drop Down
Optics GrassHopper
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New here- and looking for a way to do something different. I want to put a video camera eyepiece on a spotting scope, and send live video to a laptop PC for group viewing and occasionally recording of wildlife action. This kind of eyepiece camera is made for telescopes and microscopes, but they have removable eyepieces where spotting scopes do not. They are also engineered for the expected light and focal variables of those instruments, and are more designed to create digital images (photography) rather than feed live video.  Thus they aren't suitable nor adaptable for my use.  So far, I've not been able to find any camera that can be used with a spotting scope.  Seems like it could be a huge market, but apparently nobody is filling the need.

I'm considering making my own-  adapting a "board camera" that has a USB output to fit directly over the spotting scope lens. That would require a relatively low-light camera, but with the ability to focus to the image in the scope.  I have machine capabilities and the means to form housings or plastics parts, so I could readily make a sleeve and housing to fit over the scope lens, but I'd rather find something with the right engineering in the first place.  Does anyone here know of an existing device of this nature or a way to put this together?

TIA




Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/23/2008 at 17:36
lucznik View Drop Down
Optics Master
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Nikon had a complete video-scoping (for lack of a better term) unit for their Fieldscope line of spotting scopes.  I don't remember what it was called exactly but, I know it was discontinued a couple of years ago or so.  I don't believe they sold very well.
 
Depending on the size of your video camera, you might try using one of the various "universal" digiscoping clamps and seeing if you can correctly position your camera lens behind the spotting scope eyepiece.  You might need to cover the eyepiece and camera lens with something like a small cloth to help eliminate stray light but, it would at least be worth a try.  Certainly this would be easier than trying to engineer and machine some kind of adapter.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/23/2008 at 18:09
spiritgide View Drop Down
Optics GrassHopper
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Thanks for the tip! 

As far as making a part, it's a breeze for me other than the actual electronics. It's a habit that's hard for me to break.  I run a shop that makes prototypes for industry and inventors, so we do it all the time. I have lots of equipment- CNC lasers, PLC controlled injection molding, vacuum forming, THOF hydraulic forming, several casting methods, mills, lathes, etc...  It's one big toy shop.

Considering starting with a webcam and adopting that to the scope. I've found some that are high res and use CCD chips for quality, and they are already set up to be directly controlled and displayed on a PC. The trick will be getting the optics right, and I don't make lenses.

If I figure out a way to do this and it works decently, I'll post pictures and a how-to instruction for others who may be interested.

Thanks-
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/02/2008 at 16:25
Duce View Drop Down
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I think they called that digiscoping,  you might try some of the science education stores and see what kind of equipment is available. I have absolutely no experience with this so I may be completely wrong but I used to roam around those stores looking for things of interest.
You may want to look through what is available at Edmund Scientific on line store.
 
Duce Smile
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/02/2008 at 16:44
spiritgide View Drop Down
Optics GrassHopper
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I've learned a lot at this point:

(1) Webcams can be adapted for this purpose. There are a number of adapter products specifically made to do that, running about $25.  Mounting to a spotting scope is different than a telescope or microscope, but is indeed practical.

(2) You must remove the lens from the webcam. The camera body (essentially a board cam) is positioned to use the scope optics to focus on the CCD or CMOS chip surface.  This does not modify the scope in any way- just slide the camera adapter off and the scope is ready.

(3) You must add an IR filter in the adapter if the scope will be used in daylight; that is a component of the removed lens.  Lack of the filter causes glare and improper exposures.

(4) These camers plug directly into a laptop with a USB and the laptop is the power source. The picture and options are the same as if you used the webcam on your computer- variable image resolution, zoom and so on.  Picture quality varies with the quality of the cam and proper mounting.

I've bought three used webcams on ebay to experiement with- cheap.  I'm working on tuning the mount methods for best results. So far, so good!
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/11/2008 at 03:57
koshkin View Drop Down
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A couple of comments:

A webcam will not deliver the image quality you want.  You should be looking at a higher quality imager.  Also, keep in mind, that for taking a digital picture you want to set the scope to as large of an exit pupil as possible.  Otherwise, getting good resolution with good dynamic range is difficult.

ILya
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/12/2008 at 17:02
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