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Thread: Using AstroArt with CCDInspector

  1. #1
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    Using AstroArt with CCDInspector

    Hi, Fabio - I've been working with Paul Kanevsky, the author of CCDInspector, to try to get CCDInspector to help me with collimation. I have searched through all the forums and didn't find any instances of users posting a question about CCDInspector usage with AstroArt. I have AstroArt 4.0 and am using a Meade 10" f/10 Classic for imaging. I believe I have the latest software and updates for my Starlight Xpress MX716 camera, which I've downloaded from the AstroArt website. The problem seems to be that CCDInspector isn't grabbing the defocused star from the focus routine - it just says that it's waiting for the image, and nothing happens. I'm not that surprised by this, as the only way I know how to get image files automatically from AstroArt into my computer is by going to the "Sequence" tab in the software and downloading multiple images by selecting the number of images in the "Image" tab.

    Are you aware of any other users that are using AstroArt with CCDInspector? Have any tried using the collimation routine? My primary objective is to get my collimation as perfect as possible. I know if could spend $500 on a good SCT collimator, but I'm trying to use CCDInspector, as it states that it can help with collimation just by using a CCD camera.

    Thanks so much for any help you can provide.

    Mark Freedman

  2. #2
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    Hi Mark, I use CCDI with AA . It has worked well for me. If you can. Clearly explain what is not working
    I'll try to help you out!

  3. #3
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    Hi, Ivar - thanks very much for the response. Here is the shortened thread from the CCD Ware forum that describes the problem. In a nutshell, the bottom line is that I can't get CCDInspector to automatically load images from my camera, to enable me to do a "Real Time" Collimation.

    Thanks for your help,

    Mark
    __________________

    Hi, Paul - I can't seem to get the Defocused Real Time Single Star Collimation Viewer to work. The program says "Waiting for Image" but the image never shows up. I have been through all the topic postings to research this and can't find a solution.

    I'm using AstroArt 4.0 to generate the focusing image and I have de-focused the star (Markam) so it's nice and bright and fills up a good percentage of the center of the frame. I am using a 0.5 second focusing exposure. I have tried increasing the exposure time to 1 second, as well as changing the defocused star size.

    I have included a couple of pics to illustrate this. As you can tell from the pics, my collimation is way off.

    What am I doing wrong?

    Thanks,

    Mark

    PAULKANEVSKYAUTHOR
    10/6/187:01 AM
    Hi Mark,

    How did you set up the real time monitoring? I assume you are using Generic Camera driver, correct? A few things to keep in mind with this setting:

    1. The Generic Camera driver folder you configure in CCDInspector must be the same as the one that AA writes captured images
    2. The folder must be on the PC hard disk, it can't be on a shared or on a remote/network drive
    3. Make sure that the images AA writes are in standard FITS format, if there is compression or other non-standard file formats being used, there's a chance CCDInspector will not be able to read them.

    To test the file format, simply drag and drop one of your captured FITS images into the main image list in CCDInspector from Windows Explorer and measure it. If CCDInspector can measure it and display results, then it's in the correct format.

    Regards,

    -Paul

    MARKFMEMBER
    10/6/189:12 AM
    Hi, Paul -

    Thanks for the quick response.
    1. When I save a file in AstroArt, that file gets saved into the correct directory (D:\Astronomy Pictures\CCD Inspector Real-Time Images\). I've attached a screenshot showing the destination folder and some already saved CCD Inspector fits images that came from AstroArt). I'm pretty sure I'm OK there, as I'm able to save image files from AstroArt and "measure" them in CCD Inspector just fine.
    2. My AstroArt and CCD Ware programs (including PemPro 2, which I have) reside on the "C:" drive. I keep my programs on the "C:" drive and the image files on the "D:" drive so my "C:" drive doesn't get too cluttered with image files. I would think this to be OK. This is a home computer and is not on a network.
    3. AstroArt is writing .fit files. Within Windows Explorer, the file type shows up as "FITS Image File". Again, those files are being saved in the "D:" drive. I wouldn't think having the program file on the "C:" drive and the image files being written to the "D:" drive should be a problem, especially since I'm able to do the CCD Inspector "Measure" function on all my saved files.

    Thanks for your help,

    Mark

    PAULKANEVSKYAUTHOR
    10/6/1810:42 AM
    Hi Mark,

    So far so good. Looks like the settings are correct.

    Here's something else to try: when you are at the camera, set up the CCDI generic camera driver exactly as you do for collimation. Then, select Real Time->Image Viewer in CCDInspector. Capture a few images using AA saving them into the same folder. Does CCDInspector display the newly captured images?

    If yes, please upload a couple of small actual FITS images that contain a defocused star, and I'll check on why they are not working.

    MARKFMEMBER
    14 HOURS AGO
    Hi, Paul - here are my saved collimation files from tonight. CCDInspector does display the captured images.

    I just want to ensure I have the procedures correct - I am using AstroArt's FOCUS process to grab the image of the defocused star. I have the understanding that it should immediately be available to be viewed in CCDInspector as the .5 second focusing process completes, hence the "real time"analysis of CCDInspector.

    I have the understanding that I shouldn't have to save the file in AstroArt for it to appear as "real time" in CCDInspector. Is my understanding correct?

    Alternatively, I don't have a problem saving an image file in CCDInspector, then analyzing the collimation, however, only 2 of the 10 files I sent you measure the collimation. The other 8 are missing the collimation information. This is confusing.

    Thanks for your help,

    Mark

    MARKFMEMBER
    14 HOURS AGO
    Paul - I made an incorrect statement - none of the files have collimation data - I had stated that 2 had them - those were FWHM measurement.

    Sorry for the confusion.

    Thanks,

    Mark

    PAULKANEVSKYAUTHOR
    8 HOURS AGO
    "I have the understanding that I shouldn't have to save the file in AstroArt for it to appear as "real time" in CCDInspector. Is my understanding correct?"

    Hi Mark,

    That's incorrect. Generic camera driver in CCDInspector works by asking the capture software to save the captured image to a specific folder. CCDInspector will monitor this folder and automatically pick up any new images saved there and use them for real-time analysis.

    So, that's most likely the issue -- you'll need to enable AA focus routine to save captured images into this monitored folder. In CCDInspector you will be able to tell it to automatically delete these images from disk after measurement so they don't take up the space.

    Regards,

    -Paul

    MARKFMEMBER
    6 HOURS AGO
    Hi, Paul - Thank you for the email. I understand. There is no way to download a "focus" image in AstroArt while the AstroArt focus routine is running. I can only take an image of the defocused star and save it into the correct file directory, then attempt to measure it. The files I sent you are those pictures of the saved defocused star. As you can see, when a measurement of that star is selected, no collimation information comes up, and when I click on "Curvature", CCDInspector tells me I don't have enough stars, then I click on "OK" and it gives me a collimation number of 5121939763.2".

    I would think other users would have used CCDInspector with AstroArt. Maybe CCDInspector is not compatible with AstroArt from a standpoint of being able to grab the collimation information using CCDInspector's Real Time capability? At this point, I'm at a loss in understanding why the Real Time function doesn't seem to work with AstroArt - do MaximDL and CCDSoft have the capability of saving focused images WHILE they're being focused, rather than just saving the picture of the defocused star?

    Thanks for your help and patience,

    Mark

    PAULKANEVSKYAUTHOR
    4 HOURS AGO
    Hi Mark,

    Can't you set up a sub-framed sequence capture instead of a focus routine that would save every captured image to a folder? Just make the sequence be a few thousand captures, and then everything else will work automatically.

    Regards,

    -Paul

    MARKFMEMBER
    3 HOURS AGO
    Hi, Paul - I can use sub-frames, but I would be saving them as files, just like the ones I sent you. I can't capture anything and have it automatically get into CCDInspector without saving the files, like I've already done.

    I've attached a couple of screen shots of the AstroArt software so you can see what I'm talking about. The only opportunity within AstroArt to autosave files resides in the camera control sequence tab. If I didn't use that tab (which is not within the focusing tab or the focusing routine) I wouldn't be able to save images automatically. I would have to take a picture and save each picture one by one.

    Again, I would be OK if this Real Time process didn't work, but I can't get the software to measure the collimation of the defocused star using the saved file. That just doesn't seem right. It appears CCDInspector will only work with AstroArt for full images that contain a lot of stars.

    Where do we go from here?

    Thanks very much,

    Mark

    PAULKANEVSKYAUTHOR
    3 HOURS AGO
    Mark, I must be missing something in your description.

    Using CCDInspector Generic Camera driver you can have an image automatically loaded into CCDInspector after AstroArt saves each one to disk. If you start auto-capturing images in AA and have AA save them to the correct folder where CCDI is monitoring, it will pick them up automatically. You don't have to do anything manually in this case.

    Now, if you are saying you're already doing this and the images still don't show up in CCDInspector, then please do the test I requested earlier:

    Here's something else to try: when you are at the camera, set up the CCDI generic camera driver exactly as you do for collimation. Then, select Real Time->Image Viewer in CCDInspector. Capture a few images using AA saving them into the same folder. Does CCDInspector display the newly captured images?

    MARKFMEMBER
    1 HOUR AGO
    Hi, Paul - You said, "Here's something else to try: when you are at the camera, set up the CCDI generic camera driver exactly as you do for collimation. Then, select Real Time->Image Viewer in CCDInspector. Capture a few images using AA saving them into the same folder. Does CCDInspector display the newly captured images?"

    That's exactly what I did - CCDInspector doesn't display any information in Image Viewer - it just says "Waiting for Image". And nothing shows up in the Collimation viewer either. CCDInspector is just not picking up information from the camera. It IS picking up information from the saved defocused star images, but the "Measure" tool is not measuring the collimation - it just shows up as an adjustment of 0.0".

    PAULKANEVSKYAUTHOR
    1 HOUR AGO
    Mark, can you please also upload a few defocused star images that didn't measure properly in their original FITS format? I saw that you upload JPEG images, but that is not a proper format for analysis in CCDInspector since it's only 8 bits of data and creates damaging artifacts.

  4. #4
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    Hi Mark, here is how I set up to use CCDI!
    1. Take a full frame image with the collimation star centered
    2. Draw a square in the center of the image
    3. Under the "Settings" tab click "From Selection", this sets the selection as the sub frame
    Click image for larger version. 

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    4. Now open the sequence tab and select "Autosave" set the path to the folder CCDI is expecting to find the images
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by Iver; 10 Oct 2018 at 02:59.
    Iver

  5. #5
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    Hi, Iver - thanks so much for the response - I'll give it a shot when I can get a night without 100% cloud cover, like tonight. I'll let you know how it works out...

    Thanks,

    Mark

  6. #6
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    Hi, Iver - your procedure worked perfectly. Thanks so much. I'm going to send it to Paul Kanevsky, the author of CCDInspector, so he can pass it onto others that might have the same questions.

    Thanks,

    Mark

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