New Feature : Solar/Lunar framing assistant

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New Feature : Solar/Lunar framing assistant

Post by admin »

Hi folks,

SharpCap 4.0.8464 has just been uploaded and it contains a new feature (currently marked as experimental pending feedback and testing) to allow you to more easily frame your solar/lunar images.

I'm sure you are familiar with the fact that when you move the mount to try to adjust the framing of your image there is usually no correspondence between the movement direction of the mount and how the image moves on screen. You want the terminator a little further towards the right hand side of the frame, you press right on the mount control pad and the image moves up and to the left... Then you press left and get a movement down and to the right, now you have to guess if it's up or down that you need to line things up the way you want :(

The framing assistant simplifies this - as long as SharpCap is talking to your GOTO mount, all you have to do is run through a short calibration procedure (which lets SharpCap learn which way and how fast the image moves as the mount moves along its two axes), then you drag the image around on the screen using the mouse... Want the terminator on the right? Drag the mouse starting on the terminator across to the right hand side where you want the terminator to end up. Once you release the mouse button, SharpCap will calculate how far the mount needs to move and send a GOTO command which should adjust the image exactly as you requested. Want that sunspot in the center of the frame? Just drag it there...

Calibration is simple - you just pick a recognizable feature on the image somewhere near the middle of the frame and click on it. SharpCap will start moving the mount and you need to keep clicking on the same feature every 2-3s as it moves across the screen. After a while, SharpCap will switch to moving the other mount axis (just keep clicking on the same feature). When the calibration is complete, the movement will stop and you are ready to go. The whole calibration shouldn't take much more than 60 seconds.

Depending on the focal length of your setup, you may want to adjust the initial calibration speed from the 16x that SharpCap will try to pick by default. For longer focal lengths, 16x may be too fast. Don't worry if the feature doesn't move for a few seconds at the beginning of calibration - that will probably just be backlash in the mount movement being taken up. If the calibration seems to be taking a long time because the movement rate is slow, SharpCap will automatically increase the movement rate after about 30s.

As usual, feedback on how well this works and on where it might be improved is welcome. I will try to post some screenshots or a video of this in action later.

cheers,

Robin
ChrisR Oz
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Re: New Feature : Solar/Lunar framing assistant

Post by ChrisR Oz »

Cool! Nice one.

“Features tracking” has most of the machinery for this. How about permitting the “click and drag” adjustment to feature tracking to move the view too (stop, initialise and start guiding after move)?

This way (e.g. for the moon), feature tracking can track the changes (no need to click on a feature to calibrate). Although your new tool will work anywhere, such as in a star field.

Cheers, Chris.
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Re: New Feature : Solar/Lunar framing assistant

Post by admin »

Hi Chris,

yes, there's certainly an overlap between this and the feature tracking. I deliberately didn't start this by adding it on to feature tracking, as I feel that feature tracking can be difficult to use and didn't need to be any more complicated. As I wrote the framing assistant code I found some better ways to do some of the things feature tracking does, so in the future I may bring some of those improvements across or even try to bring the two together.

I must admit I was not imagining using this for deep sky framing - my assumption was that plate solving was the best option for that - it's already covered under the 'Pixel Position / Click to recenter' tool. I guess you could make the framing assistant work for starfields, but you would probably be limited to 1-2s exposures while calibrating as the calibration will stop (and stop the mount from moving) if there is more than a 5 second wait between one click and the next. You would also have to deal with the fact that the stars will show as streaks while the calibration is ongoing - making them fainter and making it harder to click on the 'right' place each time.

cheers,

Robin
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Menno555
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Re: New Feature : Solar/Lunar framing assistant

Post by Menno555 »

That's really cool Robin!
Makes making mosaics way easier this way :D
Really would love to test, but the predictions here for the next weeks are all in the deep red :( ... correction: I see green for this weekend? Could it be that .... ? ;)

Menno
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Re: New Feature : Solar/Lunar framing assistant

Post by admin »

Hi Menno,

yep, mosaics had crossed my mind too - once you have done the calibration, SharpCap knows how far to move in each direction to move by the whole image width/height (or 90% or 80% to allow for overlap). Some sort of way to let you specify how many screens left/right, how many up/down and where you are starting with auto movement and capturing could happen eventually...

Good luck with the clear skies!

cheers,

Robin
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Re: New Feature : Solar/Lunar framing assistant

Post by Buckrogers »

This is really cool and will definitely try this out. Thank you so much!
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