Improvements to Polar Alignment

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Improvements to Polar Alignment

Post by admin »

I feel a bit nervous about these changes, since Polar Alignment is so popular - I don't want to upset existing users, but while looking at the user experience as part of improving the star detection I decided that it really needed some tweaks to tidy things up.

[Note: these changes are not released yet - I expect them to be available in an update available on the 26th April]

The introduction stage of Polar Alignment (where it lists the things you need) remains largely unchanged - just tweaks to the text. I won't show that here...

Step1 - First Image is changed somewhat
step1.JPG
step1.JPG (71.74 KiB) Viewed 512 times
Changes that you will notice here include :

Location and auto-advance options were on the far right, they are now in the second column. This is part of an overall drive to improve the 'flow' of the user interface, so that things you should do first are on the left and things you do later are further right. I view the location as something to setup right at the start, so it moves left.

Similarly, the star detection (which was to the right of the 'First Frame' info panel) is now to the left - the first frame data depends on the star detection being OK, so the star detection should come first.

If you look at the star detection you will see that the settings have changed - I've brought the new star detection algorithm that I added to multi-star FWHM into Polar Align. I general, the sensitivity adjustment is the one that you are most likely to need to adjust. The plate solve status for the most recent frame is immediately below the star detection settings - changing star detection has an immediate effect on plate solving, so it's good to put them together.

The 'First Frame' info is now to the far right, since it's the result of this stage - that pattern continues through the rest of the UI

Step 2 - Second image continues with similar adjustments
step2.JPG
step2.JPG (61.37 KiB) Viewed 512 times
The changes here are to make the main star detection controls available (so you can make adjustments after rotating if stars are fainter once you have rotated). Again the ordering of the columns has been changed so that the controls are to the left of the second frame information, which is then followed by the polar alignment error measurement.

This step used to show the 'First Frame' data alongside the 'Second Frame' data - there was no way to nicely keep that info and add the star detection controls, so I decided to remove the First Frame data.

Finally, the adjustment stage
step3.JPG
step3.JPG (57.34 KiB) Viewed 512 times
Again I have made the star detection sensitivity available in case it is needed. Also the left-to-right flow is maintained with the result being on the far right.


Hopefully these changes improve the consistency of the experience - for instance you now always work left to right and find the results on the far right. You will also always find the plate solving status beneath the star detection controls.

I'm also considering some other tweaks to try to make the whole thing easier to use - for instance :

* Setting a 1s exposure and approx 30x gain when Polar Alignment is selected (or on a button press?)
* Suggesting correctionts to make to gain/exposure/sensitivity if too many or too few stars are detected
* Suggesting checking field-of-view and whether close enough to the pole if stars are detected but cannot be plate solved

If anyone has any feedback on these changes (or any other common 'gotchas' that they encounter in polar alignment that could be improved) then I'd be interested to hear.

cheers,

Robin
Ddaniel84
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Re: Improvements to Polar Alignment

Post by Ddaniel84 »

Excellent Robin
I'm impatient to test that. It's a very good idea to have improve star detection. It was mysterious, and I failed a lot of stacking due to not enought stars detected.
I cross the fingers!
Dominique wiating for April, 26!
From France (84)
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andyweeks
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Re: Improvements to Polar Alignment

Post by andyweeks »

I'll be testing this next clear night... whenever that is! Ugh, :roll:

Thanks Robin!
JimsShed
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Re: Improvements to Polar Alignment

Post by JimsShed »

Hi Robin. Regarding polar alignment, are you aware that here in the southern hemisphere at least, that when the screen says to move left, that we have to actually pivot to the right? And vice-versa when prompted to move right I have to pivot to the left.
In my use case I'm sitting behind my AZEQ6 looking towards the south, laptop on the ground under the mount.
Any chance of a check box in the wizard (or a General setting) to reverse the wording in the prompt?
Jim
Rab722
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Re: Improvements to Polar Alignment

Post by Rab722 »

Like the large text on the display. Thank you.

Rick
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Re: Improvements to Polar Alignment

Post by admin »

Hi Jim,

no, I wasn't aware of that (the difficulty with southern hemisphere issues is that they are hard to test from here at 51N :D ). I can correct that since the code knows which hemisphere it is in.

Glad the large text helps :)

cheers,

Robin
philinbris
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Re: Improvements to Polar Alignment

Post by philinbris »

Hi Robin,
Just want to say this Polar Alignment is fantastic. The left to right work flow was very intuitive.
I used it for the very first time tonight and what a difference it has made to my DSO images. Virtually no drift compared to before when 100 10 sec images shifted across by about 400 pixels.
I achieved it using my main 8" Newt with the ASI 533 - no finder.
Cheers
Phil
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Re: Improvements to Polar Alignment

Post by admin »

Hi Phil,

glad that it worked so well and thanks for sharing your positive experiences. I went through a lot of different polar alignment techniques/programs that were either

*) Hard to use (anything that meant you have to align altitude and azimuth separately)
*) Slow to use (any variant of drift align)
*) gave inconsistent results (anything that involved GOTO movements)
(or all of the above)

before I started writing Polar Alignment in SharpCap, so I knew what *NOT* to do :D

cheers,

Robin
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