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Live Stack: Align Frames checkbox unchecks itself

Posted: Sun Jun 16, 2019 10:05 am
by lowenthalm
I have had problems with this in all versions of SharpCap for the last year or so. I will be merrily stacking away in live stack, and then suddenly I notice that the stacked image is starting to smear (I have an alt-az mount). When this happens, I always find that the Align Frames checkbox has inexplicably become unchecked in the midst of a live stack of an image.

I have searched in vain in the manual and in the software to find a keyboard shortcut for turning align frames off that might be lurking in the software waiting for me to accidentally type the shortcut. How can the align frame check box become unchecked mid-live stack without me clicking on the check-box? It happens just often enough to be really annoying (maybe every third or fourth session?). I think I may have also had this happen, rarely (once or twice), with the brightness filter checkbox. Never with the FWHM filter though, at least that I recall.

Version: all versions of Sharpcap I have used
Camera: ZWO ASI294MC Pro Cooled camera
Windows 7.0 running under Parallels 14 under Mac OS X 10.13.6 High Sierra
No log data, sorry. It doesn't crash, it just happens.

Hoping for: finding out what the keyboard shortcut is, or how to disable keyboard control of these checkboxes.

Re: Live Stack: Align Frames checkbox unchecks itself

Posted: Sun Jun 16, 2019 9:26 pm
by admin

I've had a couple of reports of the same problem and I did work out that it's possible for this checkbox to become un-ticked if you have live stacking active at any point while the camera is in a raw mode but you have turned off the debayering option in the Control Panel. If these circumstances occur then the checkbox becomes un-ticked and will not become reselected automatically when the debayering option is turned back on again. At least that was how it works up until build 3.2.6038, which should now re-enable that checkbox automatically if it is turned off due to this cause and then the debayering is turned back onthat alignment is possible again.

I can't find any other way that alignment would be turned off automatically, but as you say it could just be down to a rogue click or keypress.

Have a go with the very latest version and see if that helps resolve the situation.

Cheers, Robin

Re: Live Stack: Align Frames checkbox unchecks itself

Posted: Tue Jun 18, 2019 12:23 am
by lowenthalm
This happened to me with the latest SC version I had just downloaded. I posted this after having the problem again, losing a nine-minute deep live-stack to smeared stars.

I never turn off debayering, I don't think... However, I do switch back and forth between stack view and individual frame view in Live stack. I just don't see how I am accidentally clicking on the checkbox. I don't ever have anything else randomly change settings on me in either the camera controls, the live-stack panel, or any other panel in the program.

The key-press is a possibility, but I can't find any documentation for keyboard shortcuts for this checkbox. If there is a keyboard shortcut, what is it and can it be disabled? Who wants to switch aligning frames off anyway? I am not sure why this check-box needs to be so readily accessible at the top level in the live-stack panel, and therefore clickable, considering that I expect its a very rare thing to turn off. FWHM and brightness filtering are also right there at the top level in the live-stack panel and I never accidentally change them. Once I turn these last two on, I never turn them off, so maybe these really don't belong at the top level either. This two checkboxes are duplicated and readily accessible from their respective filter control panels, which is where you would be if you decided for some reason that they needed to be turned off.

Is there anything unusual about the Align Frames checkbox? For example, is it control number 1 in the panel? This might cause it to be the control most likely hit by some sort of keyboard navigation in either Windows 7 or Parallels.

Re: Live Stack: Align Frames checkbox unchecks itself

Posted: Tue Jun 18, 2019 3:09 am
by BlackWikkett
Several users of SC have a use for not aligning frames. One example would be for very fast exposures that would not generate enough stars to align but will generate an image, once stretched. Several folks on NSN have used this technique to test settings, guiding, tracking etc...

Re: Live Stack: Align Frames checkbox unchecks itself

Posted: Tue Jun 18, 2019 9:34 pm
by admin

There is no specific keyboard shortcut to turn that checkbox on or off, but if it was the last thing that you clicked on then in windows terms it will have the focus and receive keyboard keypresses. In particular the default behaviour for a checkbox that is focused is for a press of the space key to toggle the checkbox on or off. The same behaviour with the occurs if you have just selected the 'alignment' tab as the line checkbox is the first item in that tab.

Having re-reviewed the code again, the only ways that align checkbox can become disabled are

* Clicking on it
* pressing the space key while it or the alignment tab have focus as described above
* if a raw frame that has not been debayered is stacked (this requires the debayering preview option to be switched off as previously mentioned)
* remembering that it was disabled previously (for instance the last time you ran SharpCap)

Hope this helps, Robin

Re: Live Stack: Align Frames checkbox unchecks itself

Posted: Wed Jun 19, 2019 6:32 pm
by lowenthalm
That helps enormously! Found the sequence of user operations that make it happen. When moving from one application to another, I may click on the window to bring the application to front. Naturally, I click in an empty spot of the application window where there are no controls of any sort to receive the click accidentally after the application window comes to front. In the Live Stack panel's "Controls" panel, there is an large empty region to the right of the "Align Frames", "FWHM Filter" and "Brightness Filter", so I sometimes click there. As it turns out, this area is not really empty, but is actually filled with the hot clickable rectangles for these controls to the left of the "empty" region. That's how I've been running into this problem.

The irony here is that if I notice one of these controls is suddenly clicked off, and click it back on again, the control still has focus and can be toggled again with an accidental space bar strike. An accidental keyboard strike is not as uncommon as one might expect given I frequently am operating in near darkness and may be under some time pressure to complete an observation! This is probably why I recalling more than once having two of these phantom click events happen over a short period of time during a session. Going forward, I'll be much more careful about where I click and what has focus!

[Sorry for the long post...]

Playing with the keyboard in the live stack panel, I see the following, much of it standard Windows behavior:
1) It looks like controls at the top level of the Live Stack panel can't be navigated with the tab key to move focus around, which I suspect required some code to prevent. This is probably a good thing since these controls can do catastrophic things to a work in progress!
2) Left-right cursors operate the Live Stack tab panel.
3) Within each tab panel, controls can be navigated as usual with the tab key and shift-tab key.
4) Up-down cursor is reserved for operating combo boxes and pull down menus.
5) All the radio buttons and check-box rectangles in the live stack panel are quite wide, presumably for supporting internationalization. So many of them have lots of click-hot blank space next to the text.

I am sure this isn't a top-of-the-list issue to focus on, but here are a couple of suggestions:

Considering item 1, after clicking a control in the top level, could it be defocused so a stray space-bar hit doesn't change the control back again? Since keyboard navigation doesn't work at the top level of the Live Stack panel anyway (by design?), no harm is done by this change.

Considering item 5, would it be possible, after the control name string resources are loaded and the controls laid out, to snap the hot rectangles of the controls to fit the visible text? Then seemingly blank spaces on the screen wouldn't accept stray clicks and toggle a control.

Robin, thanks for you feedback on this issue. I've been mystified as to how I was doing it. I was always in a panic to recover whenever it happened, so never went into "diagnose what just happened to me" mode.

ALSO: Thanks for this amazing software. Its an unrivaled and irreplaceable resource for the amateur astronomy community!

Re: Live Stack: Align Frames checkbox unchecks itself

Posted: Wed Jun 19, 2019 9:03 pm
by admin

Glad to hear that you worked out what is going on and that there is no ghost in the machine causing an unexplainable problem.

Actually, the way that the controls work both in terms of width and being able to move between them using the tab or arrow keys is simply down to what the default behaviour is when building the UI. So, for instance by default check boxes use the full width available to them and you can navigate between controls using the arrow keys and the tab key.

As far as I can see keyboard navigation does work for the controls on the left-hand side as long as you have selected one of them first by clicking it. I'm reluctant to remove this sort of functionality as there are almost certainly people out there who find using the mouse difficult or awkward and use the keyboard navigation to control live stacking. I can easily make the checkboxes narrower so that there is less risk of clicking on seemingly blank space and activating the checkbox accidentally. I will also look into adding a warning when alignment is turned off.

Cheers, Robin