I acquired the Meade LPI from Sean's Astronomy Shop on December 21, 2003. I used it for the first time that night to image Saturn (see above image).
The clouds where moving in that night so after I took some quick Saturn images with the
Philips ToUcam I used the LPI without reading the manual. I set up the LPI to take a series of images and save all the images as BMP files. Later I processed these images with RegiStax software.
The Meade LPI (Lunar Planetary Imager) camera is a small 640x480 color camera that is used with a computer with an USB interface. The LPI can be used as an autoguider to control Meade telescopes through the AutoStar Suite software. The Meade LPI Camera is operated with the Meade LPI camera program that is a part of Meade's AutoStar Suite. Meade AutoStar Suite includes the LPI camera, LPI camera software, image processing software, planetarium software and cables to control Meade telescopes. I do not own any Meade telescopes therefore I use the LPI on non-Meade telescopes.
Longer exposures than the Philips ToUcam PC camera
Magic Eye Focus
Kernel filter on acquired images
Images are saved in various file formats and are not compress like AVI files
Small and lightweight
Auto file save with increment number so that it will not overwrite existing files
Meade’s technical support number is on their web site
Meade technical support was helpfull sending me a second CD
Negative first impressions about the LPI
The LPI seems less light sensitive than the Philips ToUcam PC camera. More testing is needed to be done on comparing these two cameras.
Image scale seems smaller than the Philips ToUcam PC camera. This may be the result of different focal planes and the Tele Vue 5X Powermate I was using.
No AVI mode to take lots of images fast. It looks like you can take and save an image about every 1.5 seconds.
Meade Autostar Image Processing for Windows version 3.0 August 25, 2003 does not support 24 or 32 bit PC color displays
Software installation problems from the CD. The software did not install from the CD correctly. My Compaq Presario 1200 laptop with DVD/CD drive had trouble reading the Meade software install CD. The CD would hang the laptop in starting the installation and would hang the laptop when trying to do a directory of the CD. A second CD was tried but had problems running the installation program. The installation would die with an error message on not being able to read a file from the CD. I eventually got the software installed by copying all the files from the second CD to the laptop hard drive and then installing the software without any problem from the hard drive.
Meade Instruments Autostar Suite Desktop Observing for Windows Version 3.01 PDF manual will not print out
The long Meade registration form to fill out on Meade’s web site and then getting a CGI error when submitting the filled out form.
No way to contact technical support by email
No way to receive a new PDF manual by email from Meade Technical Support
The short 3-foot USB cable (I replaced it with a 6-foot USB cable)
It takes a several seconds to start up LPI program
Can not use an USB mouse at the same time that the LPI is being used
I use Irfan Skilhjan IrfanView for quickly scanning through images
Meade LPI comes with Meade Autostar Image Processing. This software looks like something that was done ten years ago as it only supports up to 256 color palettes and only works with gray scale images or one color plane of a color image.