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Author Topic: DLSR Astro software for android phones and tablets  (Read 12680 times)

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Offline dciobota

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DLSR Astro software for android phones and tablets
« on: 21:50:42, 28 September, 2012 »
NOTE:  will put the app link right here so folks won't have to fish for it.  I will also update the link with the latest version.  Thanks all!

Latest APP version LINK: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByZXuV0vUfw7Nno2MUZIY1FNQ0k/edit?usp=sharing


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 Hi folks,

 After last year's dud with the android telescope control app, I took a bit of a break developing more android software.  But, my interest got rekindled recently when I discovered that the android sdk supports usb host mode development.  Anyways, there are other dslr control apps on the play store, some free and some cost $$$, but none gave me what I need, and that is a true intervalometer so I can use my tablet basically as a remote bulb control.

 So... I'm putting together an app for EOS cameras only, and unfortunately no support for the venerable 350D, 400D or any of the older models.  But the newer models with liveview should all be supported (I hope).  Also, minimum android version supported is 3.1 (gotta check what I set my minimum version to), since I believe that's the first version with USB host support.  And, it will cost exactly nothing.  :)

 So, what do I have so far in functionality?  Well, you get basic camera settings (iso, exposure, white balance, etc).  You get a shutter button.  ;) You also get a popup intervalometer where you can specify wait time before first shot, wait time between shots, number of shots and exposure time for each shot.  And you also get liveview with selectable zoom, image preview and ability to automatically download the image to a folder on the android device.  :-)  There are bugs of course, and still a lot to do.

I would also welcome any suggestions as to enhancements.

 Let me know what you think of this.
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Offline Ian Straton

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Re: DLSR Astro software for android phones and tablets
« Reply #1 on: 20:37:38, 30 September, 2012 »
a batch intervalometer would be good, ie you can specify 10 shots at iso200 and 2min followed by 10 at iso 400 for 4mins etc

hope thats clear?

Offline dciobota

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Re: DLSR Astro software for android phones and tablets
« Reply #2 on: 17:12:05, 02 October, 2012 »
 Yup, I agree, that is a very useful thing to do.  It's on my to do list.  :-)  It will probably be a scripting page where you can enter those items and save/load the file to use later as well.

 One of the items I added this weekend (I had to rewrite major protions from scratch!), I also added pinch zoom to both the preview and the liveview image.  This makes the liveview image even more useful for focusing, as you can not only zoom in (just like the camera can) but further expand the image so if you use a fairly dim star with a bahtinov mask you can better see the spikes moving around.  This was something my old tired eyes need badly.  ;-)

 I'll put the app on my google drive at some point this weekend.  I know for sure it works with 1000D and 500D, my two cameras.  Less sure about others, especially the 1D/5D series.  Just remember, it's still pretty buggy.  When in doubt, recycle the app and camera.  ;-)

 I'll post some screen shots too.
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Offline Ian Straton

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Re: DLSR Astro software for android phones and tablets
« Reply #3 on: 07:34:55, 03 October, 2012 »
sounds great, I have a 550d, will be more than happy to test for you although i'll need to check my android version I think..

Offline Ian Straton

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Re: DLSR Astro software for android phones and tablets
« Reply #4 on: 07:36:17, 03 October, 2012 »
Oh, can you make it entirely installed to the sd card? my phone only has 19MB of internal storage available.. any less and my email stops working :(

Offline dciobota

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Re: DLSR Astro software for android phones and tablets
« Reply #5 on: 18:52:55, 08 October, 2012 »
Hi Ian, I'm not sure how to make it installable on the sdcard only, unless your phone has the option to "move apps to sdcard" or something like.  It's somewhere in the android settings.  I'll try that at home tonight on my two tablets and see if I can move it.  I hope it's not some permission setting, but I can fix that if needed.

 I also worry about the version of android you have on your phone.  I think there are only a handful right now with 4.0 (ICS) or greater (the android 3.x versions were strictly for tablets).  It will also be installable via the sdcard btw, as I haven't planned to put it out on the market until it's at least fairly useable.

 As to the 550D... you will make a fine guinea pigtester.  ;-) I have some issues aparently with my 500D, and hopefully it;s just my camera and not something that affects all the newer ones.  For some reason, in bulb mode only, firing the shutter (bulb on) results in a roughly 4 second delay before the camera actually responds back, so I cannot send a command to turn the bulb off for approx 4 seconds... limits the minimum exposure in bulb mode to 4 sec, which is not usually an issue, as you can use the "normal" mode, that is setting the exposure time to something other than bulb and firing normally.  But still, it's an issue I don't see on my 1000D.

 I have the code in decent shape, still buggy but hopefully useable.  I put a pretty ugly icon on the app, I'm no artist lol.  I'll post more details later on tonight and I'll post a link to where it resides in my google docs.

 Hope you like it.

Daniel

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Offline Somelier

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Re: DLSR Astro software for android phones and tablets
« Reply #6 on: 19:57:34, 08 October, 2012 »
How about the same for the iPad?
Richard
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Offline astro_andy

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Re: DLSR Astro software for android phones and tablets
« Reply #7 on: 20:13:23, 08 October, 2012 »
Hi Daniel,

sounds like a really useful app!

I have a 40D that I could test using an ICS phone and a jelly bean tablet if that helps.

Andy

Offline Ian Straton

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Re: DLSR Astro software for android phones and tablets
« Reply #8 on: 21:24:02, 08 October, 2012 »
I have android 4.03 although this is not what was factory installed to the phone ;) I haven't encountered any problems running any apps though so hopefully it will work nicely.  I do have the ability to move apps to the sd card within android however I have found that even when instructed to install to the sd card some apps (i'm looking at you facebook!) still take up an annoying amount of space on the internal memory.

I'm a bit curious about the mechanics of what you are doing,  I assume (because you say this won't work on the 350 or 450 cameras) that it relies on using the live view option to do move the mirror out of the way?  If so you might find that thermal noise becomes a pretty series concern in the final images..

Offline Nomis Elfactem

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Re: DLSR Astro software for android phones and tablets
« Reply #9 on: 00:03:38, 09 October, 2012 »
Daniel - just seen this (been on holiday)... this is a cracking idea as the ability to use my phone (or my Tablet) to control my camera and capture the images is excellent !

I have a 600d camera plus Samsung SII phone and a Azus tablet and would also be more than happy to be a guinea pig !!

Could it have the capability of doing 3 or even better 5 point auto bracketing ?

S.
Simon

Scopes: Astro-Tech AT-111EDT Triplet, TS65ED Quad, Orion ST80, Modded PST-90 Solar Scope, PST Cak (on loan)
Cameras: SXVF H694, Atik 16ic, Canon EOS 600d, DMK41, DMK21, QHY 5L-II (mono & colour)
Accessories: SX USB Filter Wheel, SX OAG, Baader LRGB Ha SI OII Filters, SharpSky Focuser
Mount: EQ6 (EQMOD), SW Star Adventurer, plus a lot (and I mean a lot) of other bits and pieces

Offline dciobota

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Re: DLSR Astro software for android phones and tablets
« Reply #10 on: 03:15:52, 09 October, 2012 »
 Hi all,

 Awesome!  Sounds like a lot of diverse cameras and android devices to test.  This should help a lot in identifying all weaknesses in the app (and there are many already lol).

 To answer your questions:
Richard, unfortunately I don't have any apple products aside from wife's first gen ipod, and I don't dare touch it.  So that's probably not going to happen in my case, but I did hear some folks have been working on iOs versions of pretty much the same thing, except using wifi I think.  Sorry about that.

Andy, that's great, since I don't have jellybean, that would be one os version worth looking into.  Also, I believe the 40D and 1000D share the same hardware, so I think you should be fine.

Ian, that's actually great news for you, as since it's most likely rooted (cm9?) you won't have the Google "feature" of not being able to write to the external sd card.  I'll expand more on that in a minute.  Also, I'm pretty sure my app should be able to be moved almost entirely, since I don't currently have any data store (and that's the part that usually doesn't move).  I may add a data store in the future for saving settings, and scripting maybe.  We'll see, but it should be minimal space.

The mechanics of it.  Nope, I don't rely on liveview at all, although the app does have it. The app uses the same protocol calls as the official Canon Windows software.  It's been reverse engineered by several folks.  My coed is based on work done by David Brownell and Stefano Fornari.  They've done a wonderful job, I've just basically tweaked the code a bit and added the UI.  So just consider this the android version of the Canon remote software.  ;-)

Simon, your devices should be good test mules also, and I believe both should work.  The only question is whether Asus managed to implement the same workaround as Samsung did to allow saving to the external sd card.  I'll explain more below.  Also, the 600D should also be a good test on how this works with the newest cameras.  As far as bracketing, no, but it's a very intriguing idea worth pursuing.  I'll add it to my to do list.

Ok, now to the app.  Some notes on it:

Yes, there are bugs, some I know of and will fix and some I know of and can't fix (yet).  First what works:

Camera settings: iso, exposure (including bulb), f stop and white balance.  Will add more.

Save image:  there's a check box to select copying the latest capture file(s) (raw and jpeg if you selected both in the camera menu) to your directory of choice, by default the "internal" sdcard.  You can choose a different directory by pressing the dir button then navigating through the somewhat crudelist of files and directories.  Use the back button to move up in the directory tree, click on a directory to open it and long press on a directory to select it for saving to.

Liveview: turn liveview on/off, switch from the 1x view to the camera 5x view.  In both modes, you can pinch zoom the view to your heart's content.  You can also shoot while liveview is on, although not recommended as Ian explained.

Preview window: You can switch between the liveview window and an image preview window. If you shoot raw+jpeg or just jpeg, the app will download the latest image shot right after the shutter is released and will display it in the view. If you just shoot raw images nothing will be displayed, as I don't know (yet) how to decode them or extract the embedded jpeg.  You can pinch zoom the image just like the liveview image. Note that the preview and liveview images are initially displayed at original size... pinch it in to size it to where you can see the image.  Subsequent images will retain the previous scale.

Focus: If using a lens, and lens is not in manual focus mode, you can remotely control the lens focus in teeny tiny steps.  I only added that for lens users to achiueve good focus mostly during liveview.  Remeber, when the shutter is pressed (even from the app) and the lens is not in manual mode, it will try to autofocus.  So the "manual" focus feature is not really that useful yet.  If I can find a way to remotely disable autofocusing without clicking the lens to manual mode, it might be more useful.

shutter button:  Works just like on the camera.  While the exposure is not bulb it will automatically release after the set time.  In bulb mode, press once to open shutter (button will turn red) then again to release.

Interval button: Pressing it will bring up an intervalometer, where you can set up the initial wait time in seconds (before firing the first shot), the wait time between shots, the exposure in seconds and number of shots.  Note that the wait time starts after the camera is done saving and displaying the preview image, which can take a few seconds.

The app can be run in two ways.  One, just turn the camera on while connected to the android device, and a popup may come up asking you which app you want to use for the device.  If the app is already running, the popup will come up again.  Haven't figured out how to disable that yet. Or you can turn on the app while the camera is already on.


BUGS!

Sometimes the app and the camera forget about each other, especially if you press the home button while the app is running with the camera connected then run the app again.  In those cases, just turn the camera off, choose exit from the app menu, then turn the camera on again.  Hopefully everything will be back to normal.

If the lens is set to autofocus and when you press the shutter the lens fails to ficus, the camera and the app don't like it.  The shutter button starts to misbehave.  In that case exit the app and restart the camera.

Due to some unknown reason, my 500D has a 4sec delay when pressing the shutter in bulb mode before the camera responds again.  Not sure why although I've seen posts complaining about it.  It's possible all the newer cameras (500D and newer) have that "feature".  Hopefully none of you need to expose for less than 4sec in bulb mode.  ;-)  If you press the shutter too soon btw, it will start to misbehave.  Exit and restart camera.

Google put a "feature" in android 3.1 and later, which prevents third party apps to write to external storage.  Yup, it's true!  Some manufacturers (Samsung for one) made a workaround by changing permissions.  Rooted devices either have permission or can modify an xml file to do so. Everyone else (including my wife's thrive) is out of luck.. The only place you can store images are the internal directories, like /mnt/sdcard for example, which is the "internal" sdcard.

Liveview on the larger devices (like 10") can show up kinda small initially and act weird when you drag on the image.  Just pich zoom and it readjusts itself properly.  I need to fix that.

The app doesn't read camera settings, it just sets them.  That's on my to do list.  So the defaults that come up when the app starts don't mean anything.  So make sure you set them yourself in the app.  This is top priority for me as it's pretty annoying lol.

Lastly, I only tested this with the cameras in manual mode.  I don't see why it shouldn't work in other modes, excepting bulb of course.  Don't know how it will behave if you set to bulb while in Av mode for example.

I'm sure there are other bugs I forgot about.  Let me know what you find out.  ;-)

Screen shot:
https://docs.google.com/open?id=0ByZXuV0vUfw7cV9WVmF6c0lmRms

And app:
[removed the link from here and adding it to my first post, which I will keep updated with the latest version]

Comments welcome, good or bad.  No stoning though.  ;-)  And the usual disclaimer applies, use at your own risk.  l-)

Daniel
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Offline Ian Straton

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Re: DLSR Astro software for android phones and tablets
« Reply #11 on: 09:53:47, 09 October, 2012 »
Sounds great!
Yes my phone is rooted, I rooted it... it used to have windows mobile 6.5 on it but that OS was so bad I decided to install android instead..

one potential issue I can see is that the battery life on my camera will outstrip the phone by a long way so the option to power off the phone's screen while keeping the app running would be very useful if it can be done?

incidentally regarding the use of bulb in modes other than manual.. the only other mode in which bulb can possibly be used is shutter priority (I would assume in this mode the camera would opt for the widest aperture available, or possibly the smallest!). In AV the camera sets the shutter speed to match whatever aperture you set so bulb is not an option in this mode.  Same is true of all the auto modes.

Offline dwango121

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Re: DLSR Astro software for android phones and tablets
« Reply #12 on: 17:52:12, 09 October, 2012 »
Hi, I will be getting a ASUS tablet very soon and have a modded 1100D and would love to test.

Thanks,
Alan

Offline dciobota

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Re: DLSR Astro software for android phones and tablets
« Reply #13 on: 19:15:03, 09 October, 2012 »
Ian, I think in the phone settings there's a time to dim option or something like that.  On both my tablets after the app runs a while the screen dims but the app keeps running.  I think if I allowed it to completely turn off the window it may pause the app, which would cause the camera to disconnect.  I'll look more into this.  Btw, when in the field I put the screen on its dimmest, and the tablet ran a full 8 hours and still had some battery left.  Of course, your battery life would vary, but the biggest battery hog so far in the app is the liveview.

Alan, great news, would love to hear some feedback once you try it out.
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Offline Nomis Elfactem

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Re: DLSR Astro software for android phones and tablets
« Reply #14 on: 21:16:51, 09 October, 2012 »
Just to let you know Daniel that I've successfully installed it on my phone. I just need a cable to attached the camera to the phone now...

Right... time to do a google  :search:
Simon

Scopes: Astro-Tech AT-111EDT Triplet, TS65ED Quad, Orion ST80, Modded PST-90 Solar Scope, PST Cak (on loan)
Cameras: SXVF H694, Atik 16ic, Canon EOS 600d, DMK41, DMK21, QHY 5L-II (mono & colour)
Accessories: SX USB Filter Wheel, SX OAG, Baader LRGB Ha SI OII Filters, SharpSky Focuser
Mount: EQ6 (EQMOD), SW Star Adventurer, plus a lot (and I mean a lot) of other bits and pieces

 

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