FLIR Spinnaker cameras

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SteveP
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FLIR Spinnaker cameras

#1

Post by SteveP »

What are your current thoughts on adding support for the Blackfly S and other FLIR cameras which require the Spinnaker SDK? These cameras are potentially interesting options for observing occultations.

Thanks for your help,
Steve
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Re: FLIR Spinnaker cameras

#2

Post by admin »

Hi Steve,

this is one of those difficult chicken-and-egg situations. The Flir cameras don't get used much for astronomy these days compared to the more focused brands (ZWO, Altair, SVBony, QHY, etc), so I have little incentive to add or upgrade the support for them. And then, because support for the cameras is limited they are less likely to get purchased for astronomy use...

Right now, I don't have any spinnaker based hardware, so I'm not even in a position to try to add support. The original Blackfly support happened because a UK retailer was hoping to sell the cameras for astronomy and helped out by providing a sample camera or two, improvements to Celestron/Imaging Source support a couple of years back came about through the same sort of mechanism. Unless some sort of similar arrangement pops up, I can't see the Spinnaker range being supported in the near future.

cheers,

Robin
SteveP
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Joined: Thu Feb 23, 2023 10:06 pm

Re: FLIR Spinnaker cameras

#3

Post by SteveP »

Understood.

The machine vision cameras from FLIR, Imaging Source, and Basler all include features which lead to better timing accuracy versus most cameras designed for the astronomy market. The QHY-174GPS is still the nicest option for occultation work. But at a much higher price point. It is hard to guess the potential demand for the machine vision cameras. The FLIR Blackfly S has one feature which is potentially very useful. But, again, hard to say if that will translate to demand/users. Perhaps we should work with FLIR to create an ASCCOM camera driver for the Blackfly S. Is this likely to create any pitfalls for recording with Sharpcap?

Thanks,
Steve
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Re: FLIR Spinnaker cameras

#4

Post by admin »

Hi Steve,

the issue with ASCOM drivers is that the ASCOM architecture is not really designed around high speed imaging, more aimed at long exposure deep sky - that means you would struggle to get high frame rates, particularly for high resolution cameras as the data transfer will be an issue. There is an ASCOM video capture definition, but I'm not sure it gets used much - I have not so far added support for it to SharpCap (and I've never had a request to do so).

If you are looking for high speeds then the DirectShow/Webcam API is better, but there are limitations there, in particular

* Limited to 8 bit data
* Exposure can only be changed in powers of 2
* Limited set of camera controls can be made available to SharpCap
* Harder to program than ASCOM

cheers,

Robin
SteveP
Posts: 5
Joined: Thu Feb 23, 2023 10:06 pm

Re: FLIR Spinnaker cameras

#5

Post by SteveP »

Robin,

Thanks for sharing your insight on the ASCOM camera driver interface. Given your comments, the best options would be either the ASCOM video driver or direct support (via the spinnaker SDK). Unfortunately, both of those options require some effort on your part AND a camera for testing. If you had some sort of standard driver interface, perhaps we could help by doing some of the upfront work. After we make more progress on testing the FLIR cameras, I will get back in touch to see if it might make sense to send you a camera. In the meantime, if you are interested, feel free to contact me off-list for more information on developments relating to occultation timing with these cameras.

Steve
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