These details are provided for information only. Your results may vary, including but not limited to the destruction of your entire rig (scope, computer, camera, eyepieces) or harm to your person, especially your eyes! Do not attempt this if you are not willing to accept the entirety of the risks involved. Obviously, modifying your camera will void your warranty, so you will want to make sure it works BEFORE removing the lens...

Bill of Materials

Removing the Lens

I first installed the webcam driver on my Windows ME laptop and plugged in the unmodified webcam. This demonstrated that the camera works. I've been having trouble, probably unrelated to the camera, with the driver working until reboot and then requiring a "repair" which is accessible from Start->Programs->Control Panel->Add/Remove Software->Logitech ImageStudio. The camera will then work until the next reboot or shutdown. I believe it is particular to the installed software on my own computer and that others will be unlikely to witness this firsthand. A re-install of Windows, which I have not yet attempted, will probably fix several issues I'm having. If you experience the same system, you may find, as I have, that "repair" is necessary before each session.

Once I had established that the camera indeed worked, I set about removing the lens. This was easily accomplished using only a philips screwdriver from a typical so-called "precision" screwdriver set. A single screw holds the camera body together. You can remove the camera ball from the triangular mount as shown in the manual. Removal of the screw allows one to pry the ball apart gently. The lens assembly is removed by simply unscrewing it from the camera shaft.

Making the Mount from a Film Canister

Some notes about the film canister: My wife and her mother were able to obtain a variety of empty canisters at the photo department at our local grocery store. They asked "how many thousand do you want" and gave them a bag of 40 or so canisters and lids free of charge. I first used a hacksaw to remove the end of the canister (opposite the lid). This worked but left many small shavings, about the size of coffee grounds. Static electricity made this very difficult to clean up and I was concerned that the jagged edges might produce more of these shavings. Obviously, these don't belong near the optics. I don't recommend the hacksaw method for precisely this reason.

Scissors appear to work just as well and leave the edges smooth: no shavings! This is a much better solution. Finally, with the variety of lids one might obtain, it is tempting to try a smaller lid on the cut end of the canister. I found that the best fitting canisters, however, have a lip at the end meant for the lid. This lip will act as a stop to keep the canister from sliding completely into the focuser. This is EXACTLY what I wanted. Thus, I used the original lid.

I first tried reassembling the ball and using superglue to affix a 1.25 inch film canister. I found that the glue didn't work well, probably because the surface area was too small. So, I disassembled the ball again and removed the entire camera assembly (board, button and all). I then used the film canister lid as a mount by cutting a centered cross into it, producing 4 flaps. The result looks very much like a small version of a fast food soda lid with a hole for the straw formed by similar flaps. This was suggested by my mother-in-law, who actually fashioned the first successful lid mount. I was skeptical at first, but then pleasantly surprised at the stability of the mount. The camera shaft slides, not so easily, into the lid. The lid may be more easily attached to the film canister BEFORE inserting the camera. The whole mess is then placed in a 1.25" focuser and held in with the standard thumbscrew.


Thus, with only scissors and a philips screwdriver I was able to modify the camera to fit the telescope. A picture series may be added here later to obviate the previous 1000 words... :) I should eventually mount the PCB in a project box to protect it from the elements. The QCUIAG pages warn that you need to be able to vent the camera or your image quality will suffer. The camera has a very bright green LED which is very annoying, especially when using the camera at night! I have found that changing the laptop color scheme to all reds and black helps save my night vision. Electrical tape over the LED should also help but I haven't tried it yet. The Linux driver has an option to turn off the LED, that works very well. This is most useful as the LED interferes with guiding via finder scope. Finally, I have found that the easiest guiding is performed by watching the computer screen. Focusing is difficult because the screen is so bright.