For a closer look at the finished product, launch the photo gallery here.
Make Your Camera Space-Ready
Easy | | | | |
Professional-grade astronomy cameras take great shots of the cosmos, but their prices can be, well, astronomical. Instead, attach that long-forgotten low-megapixel digital cam to your telescope-it contains the same basic type of sensor found in the high-end models: a charge-coupled device, or CCD. Of course, regular cameras aren´t built for astrophotography; the batteries and circuitry build up heat, which creates stray pixels on the sensor that look like stars in photographs. But if you´re willing to open your camera and make a few modifications, any digital with at least two megapixels can capture memorable Martian moments without the fake twinkles or the sky-high cost.
H2WHOA! Before opening any camera, remove its battery. Avoid touching the flash circuit, which stores a charge for an unpredictable length of time. Wear rubber gloves and rubber-soled shoes, and use insulated tools.
1. OPEN the camera by removing the screws holding the case together. Look for hidden screws under stickers and trim.
2. FIND and release all the cables and plugs, and then gently pull the case halves apart.
3. DISCONNECT and remove the lens assembly, but leave the ribbon cable attached to the motors.
4. ATTACH the heat sink and Peltier junction-a device that electronically draws heat away from whatever it´s next to-directly to the back of the camera´s circuit board with wire ties or, if it doesn´t fit, externally below the circuit board.
5. RELOCATE the batteries to the outside of the camera to further reduce heat. Just run longer wires to the old leads.
6. REMOVE the infrared filter, a piece of glass in front of the CCD. Your shots will take on a slight pinkish tint but should be brighter.
7. REASSEMBLE the camera and slip its lens barrel over your telescope´s eyepiece holder or focusing tube.
Click to the next page for a complete list of parts and more detailed iinstructions.
2-4MP Digital Camera with a CCD Sensor (FREE)
RadioShack 1 3/8-inch Insulated Alligator Clips (270-1545; $3.49)
RadioShack AA Battery Holder (270-409; $1.89)
30mm Square Thermoelectric Heat Pump Peltier Junction ( target="_blank">allelectronics.com, PJT-5; $9.75)
Heat Sink ( target="_blank">allelectronics.com, HS-130; $.75)
RadioShack SPST Switch (275-0406; $2.49)
4 AA Rechargeable NiMH 2100mAh Batteries 9V Battery
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.