What's new in SharpCap this week... 5th September 2022

All the latest news about new features and improvements to SharpCap
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What's new in SharpCap this week... 5th September 2022

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Hi folks,

well, the long spell of dry weather that we have had is finally over and we are getting some much needed rain. Someone must have bought a whole load of astro kit somewhere :)

Old UI Removal

The biggest change this week is the final removal of 'Old UI' mode and all the options that went along with it. New UI (with its improved night mode) has been the default for several months now, and while we are still finding the odd bug with it here and there, the extra work involved in keeping the two versions alive was no longer justified.

Camera Support Deprecation

While we are on the subject of things going away, I am considering dropping support for iNova and Basler cameras at some point in the future.

iNova seems to have vanished completely - I have not heard from them or seen any new models for several years.

Basler significantly changed their APIs to the extent that the code to talk to Basler cameras in SharpCap would need to be largely re-written to allow SharpCap to work with the latest updates of their 'Pylon' SDK. Currently I cannot justify this amount of work given the low usage levels of Basler cameras in SharpCap.

Feedback on this proposal is welcome.

New Sequencer Steps

There has been some discussion here on the forums recently about automating meridian flips using the sequencer, so I decided that it could help to have some additional steps available that will help with this. The new steps include

'Meridian Flip the mount' (MOUNT FLIP) - this step will try to physically flip the mount to point to the western side of the sky. It will *not* perform any other actions that might be required like stopping and restarting guiding, but there are separate steps for those already.

This step needs to be run when the mount has either already tracked past the meridian or is just approaching it (within 15 minutes of reaching the meridian). If approaching the meridian, the step will wait until the mount has tracked past the meridian. Once past the meridian, if the mount supports directly setting the side of pier, that approach will be used, otherwise a two stage GOTO will be used to perform the flip. For EQMOD mounts, the step will try to recover automatically if the mount has stopped because the meridian limit is reached.

'Save the current mount co-ordinates' (SAVE MOUNT COORDINATES) - this step will store the current mount co-ordinates so that they can be used again later in the sequence for a GOTO movement. Running this step a second time will overwrite the previously saved co-ordinates. Saved co-ordinates are not maintained between different sequencer runs, so you must always have a save co-ordinates step in a sequence before a later use of the saved co-ordinates.

'Plate solve and save co-ordinates' (SAVE PLATE SOLVE COORDINATES) - as for the save mount co-ordinates step, but instead of reading the co-ordinates from the mount ASCOM driver, they are calculated by running a plate solve . Using this step will overwrite saved mount co-ordinates and vice-versa.

'Move the mount to a set of co-ordinates that were previously saved' (GOTO SAVED COORDINATES) - this will slew the mount to the co-ordinates that were previously saved using either of the above steps. For accurate pointing you may wish to place a 'plate solve and sync' step in your sequence after running this step.

There is also a new step to allow the camera/live stacking controls to be unlocked during part of a sequence:

'Unlock SharpCap Camera controls while running these steps' (UNLOCK CONTROLS) - add various sub steps inside this step and adjustments to the camera controls and live stacking controls will be available while those sub-steps run. Remember that some adjustments are safe (for instance adjusting display stretch) and others may break your sequence (adjusting exposure, gain, resolution or bit depth). SharpCap will let you change any control while this step is running - it is up to you to work out which ones are safe to change.

Various bug fixes and small tweaks

* Fix for unreadable FITS files that contained extra data after image
* Fix for freeze when resizing window on Win11
* Fix for solve/sync not getting correct current co-ordinates from plate solving while live stacking active (was plate solving the stack, not the current frame)
* Update to improve ASCOM 6.6 compatibility
* Add focuser temperature to capture settings file if available

that's all for now :)

cheers,

Robin
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