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Meade LPI Camera Modification
That Darn Translucent Camera Shell!
Fixing the light leakage of the Meade LPI Camera!
How many here have ever had the experience of getting everything setup and running with your Meade LPI camera then had to use your red flash light to find or check for something and have the light leak right through the translucent back cover of the LPI washing out everything going on? Well I know at least I have had it happen! It's a bit irritating when imaging something at night in the dark, but not all that detrimental if you are already set and running your sub-frames. If you're using the auto-contrast it costs you a few sub-frames while it readjusts, hopefully close to where everything was looking good PROVIDING you have set your image capture process to "Save All Uncombined Images". If you where just letting Envisage do everything on it's own without saving all of your uncombined sub-frames you just lost your compiling image to the unprotected camera back light flare. This is just one of the many reasons to use the "Save All Uncombined Images" process for gathering your images, there are several other really good reasons for doing it that way too, but that's another article I have yet to write!
The light leakage of the translucent back on the Meade LPI camera can be a bit of a problem if doing Solar imaging too sometimes. A note and word of caution on doing any imaging or observations of the Sun, NEVER ATTEMPT TO OBSERVE OR IMAGE THE SUN WITHOUT A PROPERLY APPROVED AND RATED SOLAR FILTER PROPERLY IN PLACE IN FRONT OF THE THE TELESCOPE'S PRIMARY OBJECTIVE. It goes without saying looking directly into the Sun without proper eye protection can cause serious, permanent eye damage including, but not limited to blindness. Doing so using a telescope without the proper approved protection in place can be devastating due to the magnified effects. Placing the CMOS chip of the Meade LPI in the direct unfiltered Sun, through the telescope will fry the chip, not to mention the unfiltered direct sunlight could destroy any coating or damage any mirrors in the optical path. Whew! That was a mouthful, but quite true & necessary! OK, What to do about this light leakage??
Well there are a few different approaches some have taken to deal with it, I'm not here to judge which works best, just present yet another way of doing it. I am a firm believer in the KISS methodology of fixing problems and/or working with things, so with that in mind we'll be using a very simple method to address this light leakage issue. No complicated reworking of the camera or internal parts, just some simple flat black spray paint and a small piece of masking tape!
First step is to remove the translucent back from the Meade LPI Camera. This is fairly straight forward and easy to do! Plug the camera in to power it up, take a pencil or like erasable marker device and place a small X over where the red power on LED on the camera circuit board is. Unplug the camera so it has no power to it and back out the 2 small Philips head screws located on the face side of the camera in each corner. Once the screws are out (Put them some place safe so you won't lose them!) just gently lift up away from the camera face plate in a backwards motion towards the USB plug on the end of the camera. Once you have the back off of the camera you'll need to cut a small square or circle of masking tape to place inside of the translucent back where the red power on LED shines through it. Where you made the pencil X is where you'll want to place the masking tape. Find your X by holding the Meade LPI Camera back cover up to a light, you'll see it through the translucent cover!
The Faceplate; Circuit Board; USB Plug; & LED
This step is optional, if you are interested in cutting back on the possible light intrusions for the LED its self. Take a permanent black marker with a small enough tip to work with and color all around the sides of the LED with it leaving the top unmarked. this will cut down on the some of but not all of the light broadcast from the sides of the LED into the camera.
Next step is to move to an area far far away from the Meade LPI Camera faceplate-circuit board, and any other equipment you wouldn't want to get overspray on. Using a good fast drying flat black spray paint spray a very light first and second coat of paint on the inside of the Meade LPI Camera back allowing the paint to dry enough for re-coating between coats. After the first two light coats have had a chance to properly cure for yet another coat apply a third and final regular coat of paint to finish blacking out the Meade LPI Camera back. Set the camera back aside for at least 12 hours to allow the paint to fully cure before removing the masking tape and replacing the cover on the circuit board camera face. A trick to get the masking tape to come off without taking any of the paint it is not suppose to is to lightly trace around the piece of tape with a small utility knife first. Whatever you do just be sure to remove the masking tape prior to assembly. That's it you're done!
CS & HF!
The Mad One
39 47' 06" North / 85 46' 10" West