Atik Horizon 1 Will Not Align Stars

Discussions of Electronically Assisted Astronomy using the Live Stacking feature.
Post Reply
scottabennett
Posts: 1
Joined: Sun May 17, 2020 4:20 pm

Atik Horizon 1 Will Not Align Stars

Post by scottabennett » Sun May 17, 2020 4:45 pm

I have an Atik Horizon 1 (software recognizes), Bought Sharpcap two days ago (5/15/20) so its the latest version; on a Win 10 machine - Pictiures come through great with adjustment to the histogram; When I start Live Stack the first picture show just fine ; the align check box is checked and it then rejects every frame thereafter; I tried this several time over a couple hours starting with align checked and unchecked (then checking it after the first pic comes through); I tried several of the star settings to no avail. If I turn off (uncheck) the align setting it stacks every frame. My camera does seem to produce more noise in SharpCap than in the Infinity software. Seems like the gain needs to be pretty high to get an image to show up. Also it shows an offset setting and I don't know how to use that since none of the Atik software has an offset adjustment. Any suggestions on how to get the Horizon off the ground with SharpCap? Seem like a straight forward interface unlike other softwares out there which I like. Hope this works out! Thanks Scott.

User avatar
admin
Site Admin
Posts: 4037
Joined: Sat Feb 11, 2017 3:52 pm
Location: Vale of the White Horse, UK
Contact:

Re: Atik Horizon 1 Will Not Align Stars

Post by admin » Sun May 17, 2020 7:36 pm

Hi,

I suspect that your adjustments to the histogram are making faint stars brighter on screen, but that doesn't help the live stacking spot enough stars to be able to align. Try putting the histogram stretch back to default and then turning up the exposure or gain until you can see stars clearly in the individual frames. Then go to the live stack alignment tab and if necessary tweak the settings there to make sure plenty of stars (20 - 50 ideally) are being detected.

https://docs.sharpcap.co.uk/3.2/#Alignment%20Tab

If you have already adjusted the settings on the alignment tab then you may want to use the reset button to put everything back to default before trying again. Remember to check the box that says 'highlight detected stars' so that you see little boxes around each star that is being picked up.

Cheers, Robin

Noah4x4
Posts: 18
Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2019 10:02 pm

Re: Atik Horizon 1 Will Not Align Stars

Post by Noah4x4 » Thu May 21, 2020 4:11 pm

I have an (original) Atik Horizon and recently purchased a ZWO ASI294mc. I now use both with Sharpcap. What I particularly like about Sharpcap is the way it handles image scaling and zoom. However, as a regular (four year) user of Atik Infinity I found the transition quite difficult.

Here are a few tips with the Atik Horizon...

1. Prior to using Sharpcap, whilst in Atik Infinity, set your Atik Horizon to gain = 'custom" = 0. Then, when it starts in Sharpcap, the software has a recognisable numeric gain base.

I am not sure if this is the reason, but Sharpcap doesn't seem to translate from the Atik's "Low, Medium, High" presets too well, hence why I suggest you start in 'custom' and '0'. This is probably an Atik ASCOM driver issue. It took some months during 2019 to resolve this as the Horizon is Atik's first (and only) CMOS. As an aside, in Sequence Generator Pro you can there use the Atik presets, but the control annoyingly hides behind the user interface. As this differs in each software suite, I reckon this is simply a product of different solutions, but if you use step 1 to prior establish your Horizon in a custom mode, then in my experience, Sharpcap now works well with the original Atik Horizon.

Sharpcap is far more sensitive to the relationships betwen gain, exposures and histogram. That takes a lot of getting used to. I repeatedly was over exposing in Sharpcap. So try using Sharpcap Smart Histogram to guide you as follows....

2. Aim your scope during daylight at a clear bit of blue sky. I found this a tad too bright, so then cover the OTA with a white T-shirt and perform Sensor Analysis on your Atik Horizon.

You will then enjoy the Smart Histogram and Brain feature in Sharpcap. I found this tool really helpful, especially as the Atik Horizon and ZWO ASI294mc are like chalk and cheese as regards such settings in Sharpcap. The low frame rate of the Horizon being an issue (probably explains why the Horizon II was launched). The original Horizon should perform similarly to the ZWO ASI600 that has the same sensor. Infinity is in many respects too forgiving to make it easy, but once through the learning curve, Sharpcap will (IMHO) give you the better results.

User avatar
admin
Site Admin
Posts: 4037
Joined: Sat Feb 11, 2017 3:52 pm
Location: Vale of the White Horse, UK
Contact:

Re: Atik Horizon 1 Will Not Align Stars

Post by admin » Thu May 21, 2020 7:14 pm

Hi,

I no longer have a horizon/horizon2 camera to test with, but I'm fairly sure that I set up SharpCap to always put it into custom gain mode rather than using the presets – after all you should be able to achieve the effective values for the presets by picking the right gain in custom gain mode.

Cheers, Robin

Noah4x4
Posts: 18
Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2019 10:02 pm

Re: Atik Horizon 1 Will Not Align Stars

Post by Noah4x4 » Fri May 22, 2020 7:45 am

All I can report Robin is that when I connect in (say) Sequence Generator Pro there remains an (Atik) 'Camera chooser' and that permits you to select Low, Medium, High and is otherwise inflexible regarding gain (like with a CCD). Franky, this 'Chooser' is really annoying as it pops up hidden behind the main view window. This SGP feature might be irrelevant to Sharpcap, but I mention as it seems to mimic how Infinity works. Surely, the Atik CMOS ASCOM driver only works in one format?

By contrast, I can now control bespoke gain in Sharpcap, but it seems to work better If I migrate from Infinity software with the camera last set in 'custom=0'. If not, the histogram can be too far left, albeit on reflection that could simply be because I then hadn't worked out how to change from linear to logarithmic mode! I need to explore this more deeply, but it's probably a good precaution to leave the camera set in 'custom' mode, notably as the OP in this thread is still reporting problems. It could also be that he might need to update to current Atik Core Software. See next;

Atik issued a ridiculous number of versions of its core software between April and October 2019 to fix issues with Sharpcap. Prior to recent times, there were all manner of problems with gain, debayering and histogram in Sharpcap until the October version. It now works fine, but as I said, prior setting the camera to custom gain = 0 does seem to work best. Next clear night I will try migrating from Infinity to Sharpcap with a preset selected and see what happens.

One other thought, the Horizon handles gain in perhaps an unusual way. You are not offered a range of 0 -500. You are instead offered a lesser custom range and this is then software amplified (an Atik video explains). I initially found it quite difficult to get my head around using ShapCaps larger numbers. I initially struggled with severe over exposure in Sharpcap. But compensated too much using gain. It wasn't until I understood and mastered Smart Histogram that I got this right. Infinity is simple, but obviously less sophisticated. I now love/prefer Sharpcap, but it's not easy for Infinity users to migrate.

Noah4x4
Posts: 18
Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2019 10:02 pm

Re: Atik Horizon 1 Will Not Align Stars

Post by Noah4x4 » Fri May 22, 2020 2:56 pm

Been playing with this today. A few corrections.....

Just realised that my success with Sensor Analysis and Smart Histogram was with ASI224mc and ASI294mc, which works superbly and is really good as regards guiding the user towards correct Gain/Exposure/Histogram settings. I tried everything today to get Sensor Analysis to work with the Atik Horizon and it repeatedly reported "illumination not bright enough" (despite in desperation aiming close to the sun!). However, I have used Smart Histogram enough times with the ZWO to recognise what any 'good' histogram should look like.

I have successfully used both ASI294mc and Atik Horizon a few times on HyperStar and the gain and exposure settings are completely different in SharpCap, and by a huge apparent margin. The Atik Horizon Gain range as reported in Sharpcap is merely 0 to 30. This is, as I explained before, because the Horizon uses an amplifier and this number then gets multiplied. For my ZWO ASI294mc it is 0 to 570. Hence, if if you try to follow the examples of others using ZWO cameras (as most new SharpCap users probably will) you will be massively over exposed with the Atik Horizon. You probably need to apply only 10% of quoted ZWO gain factors.

There is also no brightness control for the Atik Horizon in SharpCap, but there is for the ZWO cameras. However, you can set brightness in Atik Infinity software between a range of - 100 and + 100 (whatever than means). I discovered this morning that whatever is prior set in Infinity migrates to SharpCap. So, if brightness is set too low in Infinity the camera then starts in too low brightness in SharpCap and it cannot then be adjusted. With hindsight, that could possibly be why I have struggled with sensor analysis and I must try that again. It did take a few attempts to get it right with the ZWOs.

Similarly, if the gain preset is 'low' in Infinity, it starts at 0 in Sharpcap. But if you instead set it for 'high' in Infinity, you are then plonked nearer 30 in SharpCap. which is the Atik maximum. Hence, why I was starting in 'Custom' = 0. But if that was a ZWO camera that Atik '30' would be reported as nearer 600 with a ZWO. Again, it takes understanding of how the scale of gain measurements are applied in Infinity (and SharpCap) and there is an excellent Atik video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97vUB-5HfVE.

But subject to reducing Gain and Exposures to levels that look unexpectedly low (e.g. when compared to ZWO cameras), the Atik Horizon now works great with SharpCap. But you must have the latest Atik Core software and latest Atik ASCOM CMOS drivers, which are NOT automatically downloaded unless requested. Hope this helps others Atik Horizon owners with SharpCap.

User avatar
admin
Site Admin
Posts: 4037
Joined: Sat Feb 11, 2017 3:52 pm
Location: Vale of the White Horse, UK
Contact:

Re: Atik Horizon 1 Will Not Align Stars

Post by admin » Fri May 22, 2020 6:05 pm

Hi,

Just a note on the relative values of gain controls. The ZWO cameras have gain controls that can interpreted as being 0.1 dB of gain for every one unit increment in the value of the control. That means that a value of 200 mean a gain of 20 dB. The Atik cameras have gain values that are measured in whole dB, so again value of 20 means a gain of 20 dB.

Cheers, Robin

Post Reply