New Features : Solar Mosaic Planner, Push To Assistant, Select ROI and more

All the latest news about new features and improvements to SharpCap
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New Features : Solar Mosaic Planner, Push To Assistant, Select ROI and more

#1

Post by admin »

Hi folks,

it has been a busy week this week - lots of new things have made it into SharpCap :)

The first thing I should say is that we have just switched to using a new code signing certificate. This means that you may get warnings from Microsoft Edge browser and/or from Windows SmartScreen when you download and try to install the latest versions. You can bypass both warnings (there are instructions on the download page). They should go away in a few weeks as the new certificate builds up some positive reputation with Smart Screen. If anyone wants to click the 'Report this file as safe' button in Edge to help speed this up, please feel free...

Second thing... I have now included a 32 bit version on the beta download page. For this week, it appears first above the 64-bit version. Please consider the 64-bit version as the default option though and only use the 32-bit version if necessary (old PC, old cameras, ASCOM drivers that do not support 64-bit). I will swap round the order for the next version.

Now onto the new features...

Lunar Mosaic Planner Redesign

Firstly, there has been a big update to the way the Lunar Mosaic tool is laid out... I decided that there was too much to think about all in one place in the old version, so decided to separate the steps out somewhat to give a flow from choosing the type of alignment, through performing the alignment, setting up the mosaic parameters then finally running it. Hopefully this will be easier for people to get to grips with...

You will also notice that you can access some of the menu and camera controls now while the mosaic planner is active. I have locked out anything that lets you close the camera or change resolution, since that would spoil any mosaic plan that was being prepared.
d1.JPG
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Solar Mosaic Planner

The solar version of the mosaic planner wasn't meant to happen quite yet, but two things brought it forward... Firstly I realised that the guided alignment option for the Lunar planner meant that a Solar mosaic wasn't that difficult and secondly the moon has been elusive in the last week or so (bad weather, low altitudes, etc) whereas the sun has been a bit more visible, so having the solar version gave me something I could actually test.

At one point I was thinking that I wasn't going to be able to release the feature today - I had a bug with the mosaic panels all being offset from the correct position and it took me ages to work out the reason (double correction for the difference between J2000 and JNOW). Anyway, that's fixed now, and if you watch this video you can see it in action



The focus is nowhere near the best, but I was dodging some fairly significant clouds trying to get a clear spell long enough to test things out, so ignore the focus and enjoy watching the automated 9 panel mosaic.

In the video, the captures are incorrectly being made to JPG format - that's fixed in the uploaded version.

Solar System Sequence Planner

Not going to say too much about this - it has been half done (and hidden in the menus) for a while. I decided this week to make it accessible in the menus to let people try it out. At the moment the options are fairly limited and I'm very interested in feedback on what else could be added to make it more comprehensive.

I'd also like to link this to the mosaic planning tools in some way - still figuring out the best way to do that.

Select ROI Option

This was a nice suggestion here on the forums - a cleaner way to select a camera ROI.

For supported cameras, a 'Select ROI' button will appear next to the resolution dropdown, like this
d2.JPG
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Pressing that button will make the selection area tool (red rectangle) appear and the button will change to 'Apply ROI'. All you have to do is move the selection area to the place and size you want then press the 'Apply ROI' button to set the size and pan/tilt all in one go.

Right now, there is a bug for this with Altair cameras in 8 bit mode - they seem to be displaying images upside down in 8 bit mode which messes with this functionality. I will try to fix that issue this week.

Push To Assistant

The final feature this week - also from a forum suggestion...

This feature is designed to help those without GOTO mounts by using repeated plate solving to show how far you need to move to get to your desired target co-ordinates. There is a little bit more info in this post : viewtopic.php?p=35967#p35967

If you use a dobsonian or other push-to setup and also have SharpCap and plate solving set up, I'd be keen to get feedback on this feature.

cheers,

Robin
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Re: New Features : Solar Mosaic Planner, Push To Assistant, Select ROI and more

#2

Post by admin »

I knew I'd missed something...

This little button
Capture.JPG
Capture.JPG (29.24 KiB) Viewed 4303 times
It's a new mode for the seeing monitor tool. The two existing modes are

* Capture only frames whose quality is above the set threshold level, discarding other frames
* Start capturing when the recent frame quality rises above the set threshold level, but once started capture all frames

Both of these require a threshold level to be set, which can be awkward in changing conditions, since thin variable cloud (for instance) can affect the quality score without a big effect on sharpness.

The new 'Auto Threshold' option works a bit differently...

It will only save the best 10% of frames to the output file, discarding the other 90%.

The way it works this is to start filling SharpCap's memory buffer with frame data when you start capturing - it won't write any frames to disk at all to begin with.

Once the memory buffer is nearly full, SharpCap works out the quality level level threshold that will need to be used to keep just 10% of the frames in the buffer. Then it works through the buffer, writing the frames that are better than the threshold and discarding the rest. This empties the memory buffer fairly quickly, then the process repeats until the target number of frames have actually been captured and saved to file.

The idea is to have a version of the seeing monitor that can be used in automated imaging (sequencing), this is a first step towards that.

cheers,

Robin
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Re: New Features : Solar Mosaic Planner, Push To Assistant, Select ROI and more

#3

Post by Menno555 »

Really can't wait to try the Lunar Mosaic Tool, Robin!
But it will take some time, I've got a nice big wall obscuring the south and now with the summer coming ... :(

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Re: New Features : Solar Mosaic Planner, Push To Assistant, Select ROI and more

#4

Post by admin »

Hi Menno,

that could be a challenge... I haven't found a software workaround yet for viewing through bricks/concrete :(

For anyone who does try the planner, do let me know if it misses the planned locations by any significant margin (along with logs so I can track what went on). I had that happening today with the guided alignment due to the double correction for J2000 to JNOW. It's possible there may be a similar issue with the manual alignment, but I didn't see it the last time I had a chance to use it. It also all becomes more complex when there is an odd number of mirrors in the telescope (refractor with diagonal, SCT with diagonal, etc), since the image is then flipped as well as rotated. I was working today with refractor + diagonal, so I know that is OK in guided alignment, but worth keeping an eye out for the other options.

cheers,

Robin
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Re: New Features : Solar Mosaic Planner, Push To Assistant, Select ROI and more

#5

Post by admin »

Rats.... I forgot to enable the PushTo menu item in the uploaded build, sorry, will have to wait until next time around :(

cheers,

Robin
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Re: New Features : Solar Mosaic Planner, Push To Assistant, Select ROI and more

#6

Post by Tiago Ferreira »

The push-to feature will be available on the free version or will belong to the pro version?
Youtube channel: https://youtube.com/@DobsonianPower

12" f/5 Dobsonian GSO
8" f/6 Dobsonian GSO
6" f/5 Dobsonian Go-To Virtuoso Gti
Dwarf II Smart Telescope
Geoptik Eartha Eq Platform
ZWO ASI224MC + ZWO ASI294MC
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Re: New Features : Solar Mosaic Planner, Push To Assistant, Select ROI and more

#7

Post by admin »

Hi,

PushTo will be a Pro version feature, since I think it adds quite a lot of value for those without a GOTO mount.

cheers,

Robin
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Re: New Features : Solar Mosaic Planner, Push To Assistant, Select ROI and more

#8

Post by Altocumulus »

Chuckles to self - good to see you having difficulty remembering which axis to move.... :D
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Re: New Features : Solar Mosaic Planner, Push To Assistant, Select ROI and more

#9

Post by Altocumulus »

Hi Robin,

Is there a restriction on when one can use the Solar Mosaic Planner - I'm currently trying, but it's greyed out.

I am in mono16 - full sensor 1936x1216 - CaK - ZWO 174mm.

I was allowed to last time I tried :)

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Re: New Features : Solar Mosaic Planner, Push To Assistant, Select ROI and more

#10

Post by admin »

Hi Geoff,

the conditions for it to be enabled are

* Camera open and in live view mode (not still mode)
* Not live stacking
* GOTO mount set up and connected
* Camera has square pixels and is not set up for asymmetric binning

Hopefully one of those will be the reason you are not seeing it enabled.

cheers,

Robin
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