Let me first say that I have never owned a planetary imaging camera before. All I had before yesterday was a Sony Point and shoot camera. I loved that camera to bits, and it has been amazing over the past year. My Nikon D5100 was never able to get into focus on my 8″.
This weekend I decided to build an infrared planetary imaging camera. Thus the Sharp Shooter Mk1 was born. The reason I went the infrared route was:
a) I could easily just filter out the infrared with an IR cut filter
b) I could do real science with it using a diffraction grating
c) I wanted to test the capabilities of infrared imaging on planets for an upcoming super secret project I’m working on.
I chose a Microsoft Lifecam Cinema for the operation. The Lifecam has good low light capabilities, is widely supported with 3rd party software, and is easily modded.
The mod took about 30 mins. I took apart the casing, removed the ir filter and placed all the circuitry and the sensor inside a new housing. I used a 1.25″ eyepiece extension tube for 3 reasons:
1) It has a threaded nose, meaning I could put filters on the front
2) It’s nose is long, meaning I could put the sensor deep in the scope, allowing for a steadier image.
3) The back part is wide enough for me to put a cooling system in.
Here is the camera as it is right now:
The IR filter on the front: http://imgur.com/ibEiyJZ
The whole camera in it’s finished state: http://imgur.com/IonAzF6
The sensor http://imgur.com/TIpRN6M
Next weekend I intend on building a cooling system to fit in the back of the camera. Maybe a small fan, or a dry ice solution. We will see. I want the camera cold because of the effects heat has on infrared imaging. For now though, I’ll work mostly on visible stuff.
Here Is the first light from the camera: Jupiter and Io http://imgur.com/I4FAA8k