APCC, Sequence Generator Pro, and Automated Imaging Software


BigE Astro
 

What are AP 1600 mount users using for sequencing software.  I am experimenting with SGP, but it seems to have a problem with utilizing one of the most attractive features of AP mounts, the delayed meridian flip.  Any suggestions on how to get over this, or better yet, what are most people using for semi automated imaging.  I don't need a whole bunch of functionality.  I just need to go from target to target in one night's session.  I already own pinpoint and Maxim DL, but am not married to either.


Thanks in advance for recommendations.


acf900gto@...
 

I have been using SGPro with my 1100GTO for a year or so.  The Meridian Flip Options dialog box allows the flip to be delayed by any number of minutes you specify.  Support for integrated plate solving, auto centering (to pixel level), auto slewing provide robust mount control.

Charlie


topboxman
 

I am using SGP with A-P1100GTO without issues. I have used it successfully 8 consecutive times without any intervention and it was fully automated. My setup is always portable.

Can you describe what you mean by "delayed Meridian flip"? Are you referring to "Meridian Delay" feature in A-P mounts? Do you want to start the automation with the scope under the mount using Meridian Delay?

Peter


---In ap-gto@..., <bigeastro@...> wrote :

What are AP 1600 mount users using for sequencing software.  I am experimenting with SGP, but it seems to have a problem with utilizing one of the most attractive features of AP mounts, the delayed meridian flip.  Any suggestions on how to get over this, or better yet, what are most people using for semi automated imaging.  I don't need a whole bunch of functionality.  I just need to go from target to target in one night's session.  I already own pinpoint and Maxim DL, but am not married to either.


Thanks in advance for recommendations.


D Sidote <dsidote@...>
 

I use SGP with my Mach 1. I don't mind flipping because SGP handles the whole process in about 5 minutes.

On Fri, Feb 5, 2016 at 11:07 AM, bigeastro@... [ap-gto] <ap-gto@...> wrote:
 

What are AP 1600 mount users using for sequencing software.  I am experimenting with SGP, but it seems to have a problem with utilizing one of the most attractive features of AP mounts, the delayed meridian flip.  Any suggestions on how to get over this, or better yet, what are most people using for semi automated imaging.  I don't need a whole bunch of functionality.  I just need to go from target to target in one night's session.  I already own pinpoint and Maxim DL, but am not married to either.


Thanks in advance for recommendations.



Joel Short
 

I am a new AP Mach1 user, but I've been using SGP since before it was "Pro".  SGP handles meridian flips and the whole thing takes about 2min. Bearing in mind that I'm new to AP and don't fully understand the meridian delay feature, I just don't see what the big deal is about meridian delay.  Just flip the mount and be done with it.  Of course, I could be missing something very important so I'm open to learning.
joel


topboxman
 

Hi Joel,

Meridian Delay can be useful. For example if you want to image a DSO that's less than an hour East of Meridian, you can easily start imaging with the scope under the mount without pier collision using Meridian Delay and never use Meridian Flip and can save a sub or two.

Peter


---In ap-gto@..., <buckeyestargazer@...> wrote :

I am a new AP Mach1 user, but I've been using SGP since before it was "Pro".  SGP handles meridian flips and the whole thing takes about 2min. Bearing in mind that I'm new to AP and don't fully understand the meridian delay feature, I just don't see what the big deal is about meridian delay.  Just flip the mount and be done with it.  Of course, I could be missing something very important so I'm open to learning.
joel


BigE Astro
 

I am in the same boat and relatively new.  I like SGP.  I don't think you can beat it for the price. I don't have to control the observatory because I usually just go out roll off the roof and turn everything on.  I control things from the comfort of my home office and connect to the observatory via Cat6 Ethernet.


Anyways, my understanding is that you can't allow APCC to control the meridian flip so you don't get the advantage of imaging past the meridian.  I guess it is not a big deal because you could just get it over with as you indicate.


However, not having to flip at all is even better.


I am also new and don't fully understand the meridian flip and meridian delay functionality.  My clue that there was an issue with SGP's ability to take advantage of what APCC provides came from the SGP forum and I did not want to get too invested, more in the form of time learning it than the money for the software if there was something better.


topboxman
 

There was a discussion at SGP forum about APCC and SGP:

http://forum.mainsequencesoftware.com/t/apcc-and-meridian-flips/2545

Peter


---In ap-gto@..., <bigeastro@...> wrote :

I am in the same boat and relatively new.  I like SGP.  I don't think you can beat it for the price. I don't have to control the observatory because I usually just go out roll off the roof and turn everything on.  I control things from the comfort of my home office and connect to the observatory via Cat6 Ethernet.


Anyways, my understanding is that you can't allow APCC to control the meridian flip so you don't get the advantage of imaging past the meridian.  I guess it is not a big deal because you could just get it over with as you indicate.


However, not having to flip at all is even better.


I am also new and don't fully understand the meridian flip and meridian delay functionality.  My clue that there was an issue with SGP's ability to take advantage of what APCC provides came from the SGP forum and I did not want to get too invested, more in the form of time learning it than the money for the software if there was something better.


BigE Astro
 

Yes,


This was the source of my question.  Not sure I understand it well being a NewB and all.  I guess I can surmise that I can tell SGP when to flip so it could go beyond the meridian. 


topboxman
 

I am not familiar with APCC but you could simply leave Meridian Delay alone (set it to "0") and depending on where the DSO is in the sky, you can image all night from East to West without Meridian Flipping.

If the DSO is where there is a good chance for the scope to collide with the pier after crossing the Meridian, it's extremely easy for SGP to do automatic Meridian Flip, center the DSO using plate solve, acquire new guide star and continue imaging. The whole process is fully automatic and can take less than 5 minutes.

You can also set number of minutes after the Meridian before SGP initiate a new GoTo command which the mount will automatically flip.

There are quite a few options you can do with SGP.

Peter


---In ap-gto@..., <bigeastro@...> wrote :

Yes,


This was the source of my question.  Not sure I understand it well being a NewB and all.  I guess I can surmise that I can tell SGP when to flip so it could go beyond the meridian. 


Larry Phillips
 

I will throw in a plug for CCDCommander.

Larry


BigE Astro
 

Thanks Larry,


I was looking it over and the software looks good.  Have you used SGP?  Can you compare it with CCD Commander.  I was wondering about the pluses and minuses of each.  I think I am going to go ahead and download.  Can you use PH2 for guiding?


topboxman
 

Are you asking about PHD2 working with CCD Commander or SGP? I have never use CCD Commander but PHD2 works extremely well with SGP. Make sure you grab the latest PHD2.

http://openphdguiding.org/development-snapshots/


Get v2.6.1dev1.


Peter


---In ap-gto@..., <bigeastro@...> wrote :

Thanks Larry,


I was looking it over and the software looks good.  Have you used SGP?  Can you compare it with CCD Commander.  I was wondering about the pluses and minuses of each.  I think I am going to go ahead and download.  Can you use PH2 for guiding?


BigE Astro
 

Thanks Peter,


I am going to download the latest.  I have been using PHD2 with SGP.  It picks a faint star.  I am going to download the newest and install.  I was asking about CCD commander because I think It has been around a long time and I was wondering what else was out there for automated targeting and imaging.  Don't want to get too far along in the learning curve to find out something was better.


Andy Galasso
 

>>> bigeastro wrote: I have been using PHD2 with SGP.  It picks a faint star.

Although it may seem contrary to intuition, the brightest star is not always the best choice for the guiding on.  If a star is saturated, the centroid cannot be calculated with certainty.  PHD2's automatic histogram stretch can also make excellent guide stars appear dim on the screen when there are saturated stars present elsewhere in the frame. PHD2 does a histogram stretch based on the brightest and dimmest pixels in the frame, so a bright saturated star can make other stars appear dim. The actual guiding processing is done using the raw un-stretched image data. If you slide the gamma stretch slider to the left, your faint star will appear brighter (no effect on guiding). The important thing is to find a star that has a high SNR value but is not saturated, and we believe PHD2 does a pretty good job automatically selecting good guide stars.

That being said, we can't rule out a possibility that PHD2 is not handling your guide cam/scope combination optimally. We'd be glad to look into it in detail if you post your information (PHD2 debug log and sample camera frame File => Save Image) over in the PHD2 forum.

Andy


Mark Striebeck
 

I played a little bit with ccdcommander and am using now sgpro. The main difference (in my opinion are):

1. Sgpro works really well out of the box. Everything you need is either part of sgpro (slew, focusing, image acquisition...) or very well integrated (guiding with phd2, plate solving).
But that means if you want to do something different, you can't. E.g. I would love to use the focusing routine of theskyx, but that's not possible.
Ccdcommander is much more flexible, but will also require more time to setup (not out of the box).

2. Sgpro allows a lot of control while running (e.g. if you notice that it's not well focused, you can easily pause the sequence, run the focusing routine again and the continue). Lots of feedback while running.
Ccdcommander doesn't have such a good ui and feature set for runtime monitoring and control.

For these reasons, i think that sgpro is great when you start with automated imaging. Easy to get going and then you can start imaging and manually correct if things don't work.

Now, after 2+ years, I might switch to something else as I would love to use more specific systems.

My $0.02

     Mark

On Feb 6, 2016 11:01 AM, "Andy Galasso andy.galasso@... [ap-gto]" <ap-gto@...> wrote:
 

>>> bigeastro wrote: I have been using PHD2 with SGP.  It picks a faint star.

Although it may seem contrary to intuition, the brightest star is not always the best choice for the guiding on.  If a star is saturated, the centroid cannot be calculated with certainty.  PHD2's automatic histogram stretch can also make excellent guide stars appear dim on the screen when there are saturated stars present elsewhere in the frame. PHD2 does a histogram stretch based on the brightest and dimmest pixels in the frame, so a bright saturated star can make other stars appear dim. The actual guiding processing is done using the raw un-stretched image data. If you slide the gamma stretch slider to the left, your faint star will appear brighter (no effect on guiding). The important thing is to find a star that has a high SNR value but is not saturated, and we believe PHD2 does a pretty good job automatically selecting good guide stars.

That being said, we can't rule out a possibility that PHD2 is not handling your guide cam/scope combination optimally. We'd be glad to look into it in detail if you post your information (PHD2 debug log and sample camera frame File => Save Image) over in the PHD2 forum.

Andy


BigE Astro
 

I am going to invest the time in SGP.


Thanks for all the information.


Fritz K
 

Mark,

Thanks for the comparison. I won a free copy of SGP at the ES Party in Oct and have to decide if I want to use.

fritz k


R Botero
 

SGP seems to be the real deal for a very affordable price but if you want to use the full capabilities of APCC you may have to wait for further ASCOM developments. See my thread in the SGP forum here: http://forum.mainsequencesoftware.com/t/apcc-and-meridian-flips/2545

Roberto


blave
 

I'm late to this discussion, but I used SGP extensively in 2013 to do narrowband and LRGB imaging, and was very pleased with it. I had my (then) iOptron iEQ45 mount, Atik mono camera, Starlight filter wheel, and Optek focusing/refocusing completely automated, using plate solves for precise pointing. I did one 2x2 and one 3x2 mosaic using the optional mosaic support module to great effect. Here is IC1396 in a 2x2: ic1396_Ha_mosaic

 

I haven't had a chance to use SGP with my Mach1 yet, but I highly recommend it. At least when I was using it, the development team was very responsive to bug reports and enhancement requests.

Dave B.
Los Gatos, CA