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Guide for modifying the Microsoft LifeCam series of webcams for use with astronomy which should fit snugly into a standard 1.25" focuser.
Microsoft LifeCam Cinema

Microsoft LifeCam Cinema

While I was shopping around to get my first webcam for getting started with webcam astronomy, I saw the Microsoft LifeCam range of webcams and thought to myself "these look almost perfect for inserting into an eyepiece adaptor". Once delivered I found that it was slightly too small to fit in the focuser and during experiments, the auto-focus feature was problematic due to its inability to focus through the telescope optics.

With this in mind, I started to disassemble the LifeCam in the hopes of disabling the autofocus and making the package more streamlined to fit into an eyepiece adaptor.

held in with a small c-clip which can be popped off with a screwdriver.

Converting MS Lifecam for Astrophotography

Converting MS Lifecam for Astrophotography

The first steps for dismantling the LifeCam are to remove the backing plate which is loosely held in with a small clip. Once the backing plate is removed, the insides are revealed. The cable is held in with a small c-clip which can be popped off with a screwdriver.

Converting MS Lifecam for Astrophotography

Converting MS Lifecam for Astrophotography

With the cable loose you can gain access to some more clips inside and you should be able to "pop out" the button on the top with a small, thin screwdriver.

Converting MS Lifecam for Astrophotography

Converting MS Lifecam for Astrophotography

Through the holes under the button, you can insert a small screwdriver to undo the two small screws.

Converting MS Lifecam for Astrophotography

Converting MS Lifecam for Astrophotography

On the front of the webcam, you should remove the from fascia (the bit with HD written on it). This is loosely glued on and can simply be peeled off. This allows you to unscrew and remove the front cover, behind which are a few other screws to be removed.

Converting MS Lifecam for Astrophotography

Converting MS Lifecam for Astrophotography

You can now pull out the external microphone rubber and disconnect the wire. If you are using this webcam purely for astronomy, you can leave this unplugged as you will not need audio.

Converting MS Lifecam for Astrophotography

Converting MS Lifecam for Astrophotography

The outer casing can now be slid off to reveal the internal components. Once the outer sleeve has been removed the internal chassis can be split in two by removing the screws. The circuit board and camera lens are now accessible.

Converting MS Lifecam for Astrophotography

Converting MS Lifecam for Astrophotography

The autofocus lens can be removed, but it did involve unsoldering the connections on the circuit board. Unless you take great care and have skills in soldering, then this step may be one way. I also removed the bright blue LED which will surely hinder Astro imaging if left connected.

The autofocus lens also contains an infrared filter which will be removed with the lens.

Converting MS Lifecam for Astrophotography

Converting MS Lifecam for Astrophotography

With the autofocus lens, the microphone and external components removed, I reassembled the camera with the CCD moved a lot closer to the front. I then glued it in place before reassembling. I then inserted the modified camera into an old 1.25" eyepiece extension and taped it in place. The camera now fits perfectly into my telescope focuser or Barlow lenses.

Modified LifeCam Webcam

Modified LifeCam Webcam

I am now just waiting for a clear night so I can test out my new imaging equipment.

2 thoughts on “Converting Microsoft LifeCam for Astrophotography
  • 17th January 2019 at 9:54 am

    I have to add to the previous comment: in a Lifecam Cinema HD, or Lifecam Studio, I have removed the small lens with which they come, simply unscrewing: a problem is that in that lens they have the infrared light filter, so you have to add an anti-infrared filter (they are bought in astronomy equipment stores), although it also have a small sheet of glass that is also anti-infrared, which must be replaced but which is insufficient to eliminate infrared light, which stains the image with an unpleasant pink color. It also has a small blue led, which is difficult to remove and you can break the electronic circuits so it is better to put a drop of black paint on it. I also insert it inside a plastic tube so that it adapts to the necessary diameter to be placed in a telescope as if it were an eyepiece

    Reply
  • 13th April 2016 at 12:00 am

    but... where the pictures of night sky, from this cam?  ;) 

    Reply

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