Meade LPI-G Color fast download one-shot color CMOS solar system imager


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The Meade LPI-G Color solar system camera and guider is the latest easy-to-use version of the Meade LPI that started the affordable solar system imaging revolution 12 years ago. 
Our Product #: LPI-GC
Meade Product #: 645001

Product Description

The Meade LPI-G Color is a dedicated fast download solar system imager (CCD camera) and autoguider that you can use with virtually any telescope. Its images can display live on your laptop or PC screen via the supplied 6' USB 2.0 cable so that several people can view the image at once. You can also save them to your computer or laptop for later processing to bring out more detail. 

The Meade LPI-G is the newest version of the original Meade LPI that started the revolution in affordable easy lunar/planetary imaging a dozen years ago. The new Meade LPI-G is easy enough for any beginner to use, yet has a top-quality CMOS imaging sensor for exceptional lunar/planetary/solar imaging results.

The sensor in the lightweight Meade LPI-G Color is the ON Semiconductor AR130 CMOS. This state-of-the-art single-shot color 1.2 megapixel video chip captures full-color high-resolution planetary, lunar, and solar images in a single exposure, with a high-magnification image size approximately that of a 6mm eyepiece. For more information on how single-shot color cameras work, click on the "Single-Shot Color" icon above. 

For the sharpest possible images, the LPI-G can record a full 28 frames per second at full 1.2 megapixel resolution. Using the supplied Meade Sky Capture software, the images are stored on your computer as hundreds of individual frames. The software aligns and digitally stacks the image to reduce the electronic "noise" inherent in all video chips. Stacking brings out the unseen fine detail (signal) hidden within your real-time images. Since the signal to noise ratio of a stacked image is proportional to the square root of the number of frames, stacking as few as 16 frames reduces the noise in the image by 4 times. Stacking 1600 frames will improve the image by 40 times! 

However, stacking the individual frames to reduce the electronic noise is only part of the power of the Sky Capture software. Before the images are stacked, the software analyzes each individual frame for quality. It then filters out those frames blurred by unsteady skies or poor atmospheric seeing. This leaves only the sharpest, clearest frames to be stacked and automatically aligned into a single high quality image. The result is a bright, clear solar system image with impressive detail. 

The Meade LPI-G Color' camera's small pixel size provides sub arc-second planetary detail with most telescopes. For example, with a 6" f/10 Schmidt-Cassegrain scope the image scale is almost exactly the 0.5 arc second per pixel resolution recommended by most seasoned planetary photographers. 

When imaging prominences on the Sun through a Hydrogen-alpha solar scope, the monochome LPI-G camera would be a better choice than this one-shot color version. Only a third of the multi-color Bayer filter mask segments that turn a mono camera into a color sensor are sensitive to the Sun's H-alpha light. This will reduce the resolution and detail of the delicate prominences. Most solar imagers shooting disc features use a white light filter over a telescope's aperture and image in monochrome, adding a yellow color to the image during processing.

Also, some H-alpha solar scopes have a "sweet spot" of maximum resolution in their image that isn't very large. If the sweet spot is smaller than your imaging chip, your image resolution will be uneven, particularly when combined with the lower resolution of a single-shot color chip. 

As an autoguider, the LPI-G is compatible with a number of guiding and imaging programs such as Maxim DL, PHD, and FireCapture. An ST-4 guider port and 2 meter ST-4 cable are standard equipment.

For helpful information on this camera's field of view and its sky coverage in arc seconds per pixel with your particular telescope, click on the "CCD Calculator" in the "Formulas" tab above.

Getting started with the LPI-G Color is as easy as pointing your telescope at the Moon, Sun, or a planet and recording a video. Solar system imaging with the LPI-G is a great way to enjoy astroimaging if you live in a light-polluted area. If you can see the Sun, Moon, or planet in the sky, you can image it with the LPI-G Color.

Features of the Camera . . .

Imaging sensor: High sensitivity/high dynamic range/low noise 1/3rd inch ON Semiconductor AR130 color CMOS. Fast download electronic rolling shutter lets the imaging sensor continue to gather photons during the acquisition process, thus increasing sensitivity. 

One-pass full-color imaging: Color images do not require multiple exposures through color filters.

Resolution: 1.2 megapixels (1280 pixels wide x 960 pixels high, 1,228,800 total pixels). Each pixel measures 3.75 microns square. 12-bit A/D conversion rate for a wide dynamic range.
USB download: The LPI-G Color uses a fast USB 2.0 high speed connection to your computer via a supplied USB cable. This allows fast data transfer of the camera's uncompressed frames. You see your images almost as soon as you take them, making focusing quick and easy. There is virtually no delay between the moment the image is taken and when it appears on your computer screen.

Connection to the telescope: The LPI-G Color has a machined aluminum 1.25" nose piece that allows you to use it with any telescope having a 1.25" focuser. The nose piece is threaded for standard 1.25" eyepiece filters. The nose piece is removable, exposing female C-mount threads (25.4 mm x 32 TPI).

Power requirements: No batteries or power supplies required. The camera is powered by your computer via the USB cable. Just plug the LPI-G Color's USB cable into your laptop or PC and you are ready to image. No other power supplies are needed. 

Minimum computer requirements: Intel Core 2 processor, 2.8 GHz; 2GB RAM or higher; Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10 (32 and 64 bit); Mac OSX; Linux. 

Included components: Meade LPI-G Color camera with 1.25" eyepiece adapter and C-mount; USB 2.0 cable; ST-4 guider cable; a CD-ROM with software drivers, ASCOM drivers, and Meade Sky Capture software to capture streaming video of what your telescope sees, plus image processing software to align, filter, and stack individual frame into one high quality image or movie.

Tech Details

Pixel Array 1280 x 960
Pixel Size 3.75 x 3.75 microns
Weight 5 oz.
Warranty 1 year


Review by:
Meade LPI-GC
I bought the camera to do some planetary imaging. I have been doing deep sky work and my DSLR equipment will work but the frame rate and overhead is not suited for planetary. The camera driver worked right out of the box, the system is stable and the images are smooth with easy stacking with the supplied SkyCapture. I will admit I still am having problems understanding all of its features. There is a detailed manual but navigating through it may be my short coming . I still do DS most of the time with my DSLRs so more usage should help. An added bonus is its ST-4 port. Like many of my friends I have more than my share of guide camera driver problems. The LPI-GC connects every time and works well. The sensitivity is less than a mono camera and working away from the Milky Way is tough. To be fair I don’t know if it supports 2X2 binning. (Posted on 10/18/2019)
Review by:
I have this nice little camera coupled to my QSI's OAG as my primary guide camera. I use the USB port and PHD2 for guiding (rather than ST-4). I always get a nice high SNR in PHD2 and finding guide stars has never been a problem even with the pick off prism from an OAG. There's little need for the color camera aspect of this when used for auto-guiding, but the versatility gives me options for doing planetary imaging through my Meade ETX-125 as well. This is a stout little camera, and having used it in all types of weather from -20F to 35F, it performs beautifully night after night. (Posted on 9/9/2019)
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