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Author Topic: First CCD Camera - What Software?  (Read 1323 times)

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Offline midnight_lightning

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First CCD Camera - What Software?
« on: 21:36:01, 29 June, 2017 »
I have finally taken the plunge and emptied my bank account on a Starlight Express Mono CCD (SX814).

The camera comes with some software but if I have to learn new software I would like to go for something that is broader and which I can also use when I eventually want my next camera.

I have used BYN to date but as I start with CCD I want to work towards more software automation so starting with camera control and then over time bringing in filter changes, plate solving, auto focusing, guiding, maybe even meridian flips at some stage (steady on!).

Going through the various forums there seems to be quite a few to choose from but SGP seems to stand out for what I need, seems to do most things and is not too expensive or perhaps SharpCap.

Would either of these be a good choice, should I consider any others?

Cheers

Mid
HEQ5 Pro (Belt Mod), Sky Watcher Esprit Pro 80/400, SX Mini Filter Wheel with OAG - Lodestar X2, SX814, Software - SGPro, PHD2, Stellarium (Scope), EQMOD, DSS, Star Tools.

Offline Roger B

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Re: First CCD Camera - What Software?
« Reply #1 on: 00:07:37, 30 June, 2017 »
I have SGP,  a bit of a bugger to set up but once it's all set it's brilliant.... 

Watching it do a auto meridian flip and re centre the object is very pleasing.   

I only have one draw back I have with it is when you lose a guide star it just aborts the image and starts a recovery.    The recovery is a good thing but it doesn't give you the option to save the image before it aborts,   I have been imaging for say 15min exposure & 14.5 mins into the exposure I get a cloud and it aborts that image.  to me that's a waste of a perfectly good sub.   

Rog
Scopes - TS65q, W/O 110 Triplet
Mount - EQ6 PRO via  Eqmod,  Rowan belt modded
Cameras - SX694, QSI583WSG,Lodestar Guidecam, GP-Cam, QHY5II.
TS 9mm OAG
Quantum 7x1.25 EFW, Baader LRGB,Ha,OIII,SII Filters 
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SGPro, Pixinsight.

************AND NO TIME TO USE IT************

Offline Einari

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Re: First CCD Camera - What Software?
« Reply #2 on: 05:59:50, 30 June, 2017 »
SGP seem to be good for automating your imaging session.
So far I haven't done that so I have used Nebulosity and AstroArt (which have scripting feature to do many things automatically).
Both are reasonably priced too.
Tapio

Celestron C8, C9.25" & Hyperstar, iOptron CEM60-EC, TS 80 triplet,  Coronado PST, SXV-694,  ASI120MM/ASI174MC Cool

Offline PaulB

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Re: First CCD Camera - What Software?
« Reply #3 on: 08:34:50, 30 June, 2017 »
SGP is very good, but. It can sometimes be a pita to set up and run.
Nebulosity is also a very good tool, and APT. APT is very easy to use and doesn't cost the earth.
Paul.
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Offline Skipper Billy

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Re: First CCD Camera - What Software?
« Reply #4 on: 23:14:01, 30 June, 2017 »
APT for me - cheap, simple and works REALLY well.

http://www.ideiki.com/astro/Download.aspx
Scopes - 130 Heritage for visual, ES 210mm f3.8 Carbon Hex astrograph for imaging, SW EvoGuide and Lodestar for guiding
Mount - Skywatcher AZ-EQ6-GT
Camera - Atik 460EX mono and Atik EFW loaded with Baader Narrowband and Broadband filters
Website www.davidbanksastro.com

Offline midnight_lightning

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Re: First CCD Camera - What Software?
« Reply #5 on: 09:51:28, 01 July, 2017 »
Thanks folks, I will also take a look at APT.
I'm surprised no one has mentioned SharpCap, I haven't taken a close look at it yet but it also seems to have a lot going for it.
HEQ5 Pro (Belt Mod), Sky Watcher Esprit Pro 80/400, SX Mini Filter Wheel with OAG - Lodestar X2, SX814, Software - SGPro, PHD2, Stellarium (Scope), EQMOD, DSS, Star Tools.

Offline Einari

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Re: First CCD Camera - What Software?
« Reply #6 on: 10:11:31, 01 July, 2017 »
Sharp cap is more aimed at planetary imaging.
Tapio

Celestron C8, C9.25" & Hyperstar, iOptron CEM60-EC, TS 80 triplet,  Coronado PST, SXV-694,  ASI120MM/ASI174MC Cool

Offline midnight_lightning

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Re: First CCD Camera - What Software?
« Reply #7 on: 10:43:58, 02 July, 2017 »
Thanks Einari, that helps me narrow it down a bit.
HEQ5 Pro (Belt Mod), Sky Watcher Esprit Pro 80/400, SX Mini Filter Wheel with OAG - Lodestar X2, SX814, Software - SGPro, PHD2, Stellarium (Scope), EQMOD, DSS, Star Tools.

Offline Nimbus

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Re: First CCD Camera - What Software?
« Reply #8 on: 11:46:26, 02 July, 2017 »
Originally I started with Astroart4 and even tried Nebulosity both excellent programs in their own right; however, I bit the bullet so to speak and lashed out for MaximDL, which I have upgraded over time to the latest edition. Although it is on the pricey side "it just works" incorporating huge capabilities.

There is a bit of a steep learning curve when you start out but once mastered it really is quite intuitive.

If you can stretch the budget it is well worth it.

HTH Jim
EQ8 Pro
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ATIK 16200 Mono, Atik OAG, Atik EFW3 2" LRGB S2 8.0nm /Ha 3.5nm/O3 8.5nm, Baader Filters, Lodestar Guider, Focusmax4, Robofocus
Maxim DL6.13, CdC & Photoshop CS3E,

Offline tomhow

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Re: First CCD Camera - What Software?
« Reply #9 on: 14:42:42, 02 July, 2017 »
I too use Maxim, and love it for the same "it just works" reason.

It also has extensive automation scripting, allowing the use of a lot of 3rd party tooling such as the legendary ACP from DC3 and the FocusMax tool. If you are a programmer yourself, then there's nothing to stop you writing an entire automation suite bespoke to your own needs.

The imaging core is very good, and it has, imho, very good calibration tools. It links hardware up nicely: Mount, weather station, dome, cameras, focuser, autoguider, dither etc. It has reasonable sequencing capabilities, but it does not (OOTB) do any kind of automation in today's sense of the word.

With brisk competition in the amateur market from the likes of SGPro, I think Maxim has reached the point where it is no longer good value for money. I'm somewhat torn. I'd buy it again myself for the above reasons, but I wouldn't recommend it as a good use of funds for the average amateur starting out in CCD imaging.

So I'm afraid I'd go as far as to say it is horrendously overpriced for what it does. What I call "American software pricing".

One thing to remember, all these packages have a long learning curve and require the user to commit to an investment of time. Astro software is best approached with that in mind to start with and accept there are going to be a few frustrating evenings.
Tak Sky 90, Atik 490, Homemade Mount, OAG, Lodestar

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Offline Nomis Elfactem

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Re: First CCD Camera - What Software?
« Reply #10 on: 20:15:45, 02 July, 2017 »
I'm another one with APT... cheap, simple, the developer Ivo is a member on here etc etc.... it all runs using ASCOM drivers and I haven't ever had a problem with it.  It connects to PHD so can run all the guiding.  It also has Plate Solving built in which is a god send plus it will connect to your filter wheel and electronic focuser (if you have got one... and you will very soon if you don't already (look at the SharpSky banner link below) !!!).  I then run GoTo using Stellerium / Stellerium Scope - job jobbed ;-)

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 midnight_lightning

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Re: First CCD Camera - What Software?
« Reply #11 on: 14:08:49, 10 July, 2017 »
I have installed the SGP trial and am using the simulators at the moment to practice configuration - seems good so far and easier to understand than I expected - cant wait to use it for real!!

Looking ahead I want to try Plate Solving which I think could save me a lot of time given I have to set up from scratch each night, and also Auto-focussing.

Could anyone recommend an auto-focuser to use with a Skywatcher Esprit ED80 Pro - I have seen the Lakeside one but not come across much else?

Also, any recommendations for which Plate Solve software to use with an ED80/SX814 combination, from memory the FOV is around 107 x 80 arc minutes. The choice seems to be Elbrus, Pinpoint, PlateSolve 2 and Astrometry.net?

Thanks

Mid
HEQ5 Pro (Belt Mod), Sky Watcher Esprit Pro 80/400, SX Mini Filter Wheel with OAG - Lodestar X2, SX814, Software - SGPro, PHD2, Stellarium (Scope), EQMOD, DSS, Star Tools.

Offline chris.bailey

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Re: First CCD Camera - What Software?
« Reply #12 on: 08:55:36, 11 July, 2017 »
Mid

the Lakeside is very good but there are plenty of others -

http://www.sharpsky.net

https://www.altairastro.com/Pegasus-USB-Dual-Motor-Focus-Steppers-DC-Servo.html

are both similarly priced but if you are feeling flush then the Optec/Feathertouch units are sublime.

In terms of Plate Solving then I favour PlateSolve 2 as it just works without too much faffing about. A local install of Astronomy.net is also possible but you do need to mess around with downloading the appropriate data files for your field of view.

Once you get plate solving and autofocus working you will wonder how you ever managed without them.

Chris
LX200|ZS70|FSQ85|FLT110|Altair DF250RC|EQ6 Pro(Rowan Belt Mod)|ParamountMX
ATIK383L+/EFW2/OAG|Lodestar|Baader 36mm LRGBHaSIIOIII
Starlight Express SXVRH16/ONAG/FW|Lodestar X2|Baader 2" Filters
Starlight Express SXVRH814/ONAG/FW|LodestarX2|Baader 2" Filters
Lunt LS60PTBF1200|DMK41|Quark Chromo
Samyang 135mm f1.8

Offline Einari

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Re: First CCD Camera - What Software?
« Reply #13 on: 10:07:43, 11 July, 2017 »
I just tried All Sky Plate Solver
http://www.astrogb.com/astrogb/All_Sky_Plate_Solver.html
Quite easy to setup (even the local index files it needs).
Tapio

Celestron C8, C9.25" & Hyperstar, iOptron CEM60-EC, TS 80 triplet,  Coronado PST, SXV-694,  ASI120MM/ASI174MC Cool

Offline midnight_lightning

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Re: First CCD Camera - What Software?
« Reply #14 on: 13:49:05, 11 July, 2017 »
Thanks for the links and advice, I'll take a look tonight.

As for feeling flush, I've just bought a camera, filter wheel and filters  :'( but I'm hoping that an auto-focuser and plate solving will help me spend more time imaging and less time messing about :)
HEQ5 Pro (Belt Mod), Sky Watcher Esprit Pro 80/400, SX Mini Filter Wheel with OAG - Lodestar X2, SX814, Software - SGPro, PHD2, Stellarium (Scope), EQMOD, DSS, Star Tools.

 

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