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SharpCap - free Astro Webcam Capture Software

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803 replies to this topic

#1
rwg

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SharpCap is a fairly new Webcam capture application that I've written over the last 6 months or so. It's designed from the start to be easy and convenient to use for Astronomical use. Sharpcap is free software both in the 'free beer' sense (i.e. it costs you nothing) and the 'free speech' sense (i.e. you get to modify it if you want).

To cut to the important bit, if you want to try it out, the SharpCap web page is here :
http://sites.google....gastro/sharpcap
You will always be able to find the latest info and download the latest version from that page.

Why would you want to use SharpCap?
Key features include :

  • Camera controls always open alongside the capture window - no need to open dialogs
  • Can save and restore capture profiles, which store all the camera settings - once you have your camera set up perfectly to capture the moon, save the settings and restore them later
  • Can adjust camera settings during capture if necessary
  • Automatic file name generation for each new capture - no more overwritten captures
  • Useful preview transforms - these preprocess each frame of the image when previewing:
    • Highlight over exposed areas
    • Image boost (increase gain to find faint things)
    • Focus score (measures image sharpness to help focusing)
  • Adjustable reticule overlay
The idea for SharpCap came after spending too many cold evenings fighting with other capture software and ending up overwriting my previous capture file or capturing with the wrong settings.

A number of forum members have been using it already, and there is an existing discussion thread about it here :
http://stargazerslou...e-software.html
Unfortunately you have to dig through quite a lot of stuff on that thread to find the useful info (like where to download the latest version), so I'm hoping to let that thread die and start over here. Additionally, now the application is more mature, I'd hope that more people would discover it here in the imaging forum.

Suggestions for new features and changes are always welcome. Things that are currently on the to-do list and might appear in a future version include :


  • Night mode colour scheme
  • Focuser control (via ASCOM)
  • Capture via ASCOM compatible cameras (maybe)
Robin
  • dave mak likes this

Author of SharpCap - the free Astro image capture application.
Scopes : Celestron Nexstar 8SE, Skywatcher Skymax 127 Mak, Celestron ST102

Mounts : NEQ6 (EQMod), Celestron SE
Cameras : ASI120MC, ASI130MM, QHY5LII, Basler Ace, Lifecam Cinema, SPC900 LXMod

Observatory : Homebuilt roll-off-roof


#2
TopHouse

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I've found a really good page with info on using the reticule system to drift align your mount, here :-

Classic Astrophotography - Photographing the Cosmos with ordinary film


Also there's an Andy's Shot Glass on using the method here :-

Andy's Shot Glass - Drift Alignment for Amateur astrophotography,ccd, Neutonians and Refractors, amateur astronomy
Dion

Skywatcher Explorer 200P
Auto Focuser, Telrad
EQ5 Mount (motorised)
Baader Hyperion 8mm & 17mm
SW Panaview 32mm
Toucam flashed to SPC900
Various other plossls

#3
TheThing

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I've had SharpCap on my laptop for a while but not used it yet. I've being using Craterlet mostly.

As it was clear last night, I thought I'd have a go at trying it out on Jupiter.

Wow! It's so user friendly. I love the way the camera controls are always visible and you can save your settings for later. Have yet to stack the results, but I think I might be slightly pleased with both my first Jupiter and my first SharpCap.

One small request - can the frames per second range be increased/decreased at all please? The version I have has 7.5 and 20 fps. I'd laike to see down to 5 fps and up to 30fps with a few more options in between.
The Thing

Soligor reflector, 152mm (6"), 750mm, f5; SPC900;

'Onwards to Mars, onwards to Mars.'

#4
rwg

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Glad that you like it!

The FPS rates shown are what the camera reports it can provide. In general setting the rate above the highest rate shown just wont work, the camera will just reject the request. Usually you can get higher rates by selecting lower resolutions or changing your colour space setting. Selecting lower rates that are not explicitly reported by the camera works for some cameras and not for others. I'll have to make sure that I can detect when it doesn't work before adding additional rates to the list.

cheers,

Robin

Author of SharpCap - the free Astro image capture application.
Scopes : Celestron Nexstar 8SE, Skywatcher Skymax 127 Mak, Celestron ST102

Mounts : NEQ6 (EQMod), Celestron SE
Cameras : ASI120MC, ASI130MM, QHY5LII, Basler Ace, Lifecam Cinema, SPC900 LXMod

Observatory : Homebuilt roll-off-roof


#5
TheThing

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Ok, good stuff Robin, thank you kindly.

I'm just processing my Jupiter AVis from last night and I have to say I am very impressed! They won't be up to the standards of some on here, but they are pretty darn good for me!

Have used the Autosuite software that came with a Meade LPi before, it is refreshing to actually see and capture detail thru the webcam, rather than just getting a bright white blob.

I'm hooked!
The Thing

Soligor reflector, 152mm (6"), 750mm, f5; SPC900;

'Onwards to Mars, onwards to Mars.'

#6
Dave Smith

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Many thanks Robin. That looks very useful and user friendly. I was pleased to find that it does recognise my DMK21.

Dave

Website: http://astrosnaps.co.uk

Megrez 90, Megrez 72 on NEQ6, Atik 460EX mono with Astrodon filters, DMK21, SkyShed POD. Celestron 9.25 for visual.
Software: SGPro with PHD for capture, Nebulosity3 for calibration, MaximDL for stacking and mainly PS CS2 for processing (also Startools and PixInsight (learner))


#7
TheThing

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Hi Robin,

I have one of Dion's Philips SPC900 webcams now. I've loaded al the drivers for it but I get the following error when trying to use it with Sharpcap: -

See the end of this message for details on invoking
just-in-time (JIT) debugging instead of this dialog box.
************** Exception Text **************
System.NullReferenceException: Object reference not set to an instance of an object.
at SharpCap.CameraPropertyControl..ctor(IAMCameraControl camera, CameraControlProperty property)
at SharpCap.PropertyControls.CaptureControl.BuildCameraControls(IBaseFilter iBaseFilter)
at SharpCap.PropertyControls.CaptureControl..ctor(IPreviewControl previewControl, IBaseFilter iBaseFilter, IAMStreamConfig videoConfig)
at SharpCap.ControlForm.InitControls(IPreviewControl previewControl, IBaseFilter iBaseFilter, IAMStreamConfig videoConfig)
at SharpCap.SharpCap.OnStartPreview()
at SharpCap.Capture.StartPreview()
at SharpCap.Capture.ChooseDevices(IMoniker pmVideo, IMoniker pmAudio)
at SharpCap.Capture.ChooseDevices(String szVideo, String szAudio)
at SharpCap.Capture.Initialize()
at SharpCap.SharpCap.SharpCap_Shown(Object sender, EventArgs e)
at System.Windows.Forms.Form.OnShown(EventArgs e)
at System.Windows.Forms.Form.CallShownEvent()
at System.Windows.Forms.Control.InvokeMarshaledCallbackDo(ThreadMethodEntry tme)
at System.Windows.Forms.Control.InvokeMarshaledCallbackHelper(Object obj)
at System.Threading.ExecutionContext.runTryCode(Object userData)
at System.Runtime.CompilerServices.RuntimeHelpers.ExecuteCodeWithGuaranteedCleanup(TryCode code, CleanupCode backoutCode, Object userData)
at System.Threading.ExecutionContext.RunInternal(ExecutionContext executionContext, ContextCallback callback, Object state)
at System.Threading.ExecutionContext.Run(ExecutionContext executionContext, ContextCallback callback, Object state)
at System.Windows.Forms.Control.InvokeMarshaledCallback(ThreadMethodEntry tme)
at System.Windows.Forms.Control.InvokeMarshaledCallbacks()

************** Loaded Assemblies **************
mscorlib
Assembly Version: 2.0.0.0
Win32 Version: 2.0.50727.3615 (GDR.050727-3600)
CodeBase: file:///c:/WINDOWS/Microsoft.NET/Framework/v2.0.50727/mscorlib.dll
----------------------------------------
SharpCap
Assembly Version: 1.0.0.0
Win32 Version: 1.0.0.0
CodeBase: file:///C:/Documents%20and%20Settings/Hugh/Desktop/SharpCap.exe
----------------------------------------
System
Assembly Version: 2.0.0.0
Win32 Version: 2.0.50727.3614 (GDR.050727-3600)
CodeBase: file:///C:/WINDOWS/assembly/GAC_MSIL/System/2.0.0.0__b77a5c561934e089/System.dll
----------------------------------------
System.Windows.Forms
Assembly Version: 2.0.0.0
Win32 Version: 2.0.50727.3053 (netfxsp.050727-3000)
CodeBase: file:///C:/WINDOWS/assembly/GAC_MSIL/System.Windows.Forms/2.0.0.0__b77a5c561934e089/System.Windows.Forms.dll
----------------------------------------
System.Drawing
Assembly Version: 2.0.0.0
Win32 Version: 2.0.50727.3053 (netfxsp.050727-3000)
CodeBase: file:///C:/WINDOWS/assembly/GAC_MSIL/System.Drawing/2.0.0.0__b03f5f7f11d50a3a/System.Drawing.dll
----------------------------------------
System.Configuration
Assembly Version: 2.0.0.0
Win32 Version: 2.0.50727.3053 (netfxsp.050727-3000)
CodeBase: file:///C:/WINDOWS/assembly/GAC_MSIL/System.Configuration/2.0.0.0__b03f5f7f11d50a3a/System.Configuration.dll
----------------------------------------
System.Xml
Assembly Version: 2.0.0.0
Win32 Version: 2.0.50727.3082 (QFE.050727-3000)
CodeBase: file:///C:/WINDOWS/assembly/GAC_MSIL/System.Xml/2.0.0.0__b77a5c561934e089/System.Xml.dll
----------------------------------------
dzmbjq6r
Assembly Version: 1.0.0.0
Win32 Version: 2.0.50727.3614 (GDR.050727-3600)
CodeBase: file:///C:/WINDOWS/assembly/GAC_MSIL/System/2.0.0.0__b77a5c561934e089/System.dll
----------------------------------------
************** JIT Debugging **************
To enable just-in-time (JIT) debugging, the .config file for this
application or computer (machine.config) must have the
jitDebugging value set in the system.windows.forms section.
The application must also be compiled with debugging
enabled.
For example:
<configuration>
<system.windows.forms jitDebugging="true" />
</configuration>
When JIT debugging is enabled, any unhandled exception
will be sent to the JIT debugger registered on the computer
rather than be handled by this dialog box.

It works fine in Craterlet, but I have developed a liking for Sharpcap. Can you help me out at all please?

Cheers,
The Thing

Soligor reflector, 152mm (6"), 750mm, f5; SPC900;

'Onwards to Mars, onwards to Mars.'

#8
rwg

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My SPC900 from Dion is sitting at home now having been delivered this morning :blob10: If I get a chance this evening I will see if I can work out what is going wrong. What version of Windows and the drivers are you using BTW?

cheers,

Robin

Author of SharpCap - the free Astro image capture application.
Scopes : Celestron Nexstar 8SE, Skywatcher Skymax 127 Mak, Celestron ST102

Mounts : NEQ6 (EQMod), Celestron SE
Cameras : ASI120MC, ASI130MM, QHY5LII, Basler Ace, Lifecam Cinema, SPC900 LXMod

Observatory : Homebuilt roll-off-roof


#9
TheThing

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I'm using Windows XP on my Astro laptop. I downloaded the drivers from the link in the thread on the For Sale board. They are the philips drivers AFAIK.
The Thing

Soligor reflector, 152mm (6"), 750mm, f5; SPC900;

'Onwards to Mars, onwards to Mars.'

#10
rwg

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Quick update - on my Win 7 x64 system, the drivers downloaded automatically and Sharpcap runs on the camera without crashing. However, I don't get any useful control over the settings as the camera claims not to support the CameraControl (exposure etc) functionality and doesn't support the ProcAmp (gain, brightness etc) controls properly. :blob10:

I'm setting up a Windows XP virtual machine to see if I can get it to crash like the report above.

Robin

Author of SharpCap - the free Astro image capture application.
Scopes : Celestron Nexstar 8SE, Skywatcher Skymax 127 Mak, Celestron ST102

Mounts : NEQ6 (EQMod), Celestron SE
Cameras : ASI120MC, ASI130MM, QHY5LII, Basler Ace, Lifecam Cinema, SPC900 LXMod

Observatory : Homebuilt roll-off-roof


#11
Dave Smith

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I've just setup my SPC900NC webcam (not from Tophouse) and it seems to be fine except in the right window there is no facility to change exposure/gain. They can be controlled by opening a separate window (Options-Video capture filter). I'm using XP on a netbook.

Dave

Website: http://astrosnaps.co.uk

Megrez 90, Megrez 72 on NEQ6, Atik 460EX mono with Astrodon filters, DMK21, SkyShed POD. Celestron 9.25 for visual.
Software: SGPro with PHD for capture, Nebulosity3 for calibration, MaximDL for stacking and mainly PS CS2 for processing (also Startools and PixInsight (learner))


#12
Paxo

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Just gave it a try with a dmk camera and seems to work just fine. So a big thanks from me as I can't find my original IS disk after building a new obsy pc. A very friendly intuitive piece of software.

Steve..

#13
rwg

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Hi Robin,

I have one of Dion's Philips SPC900 webcams now. I've loaded al the drivers for it but I get the following error when trying to use it with Sharpcap: -

See the end of this message for details on invoking
just-in-time (JIT) debugging instead of this dialog box.
************** Exception Text **************
System.NullReferenceException: Object reference not set to an instance of an object.


I think you have an old (very old?) version of SharpCap that you are running from your desktop that can't cope with the fact that the SPC webcam doesn't make some of the camera controls available.

The latest version (1.0.11) doesn't crash, although you can't adjust the webcam settings in the normal way, you have to use the dialog brought up by Options->Video Capture Filter or the SPC tray tool.

Make sure you've installed 1.0.11 and have a fish around to delete any old SharpCap.exe files you have lying around to avoid confusion.

cheers,

Robin

Author of SharpCap - the free Astro image capture application.
Scopes : Celestron Nexstar 8SE, Skywatcher Skymax 127 Mak, Celestron ST102

Mounts : NEQ6 (EQMod), Celestron SE
Cameras : ASI120MC, ASI130MM, QHY5LII, Basler Ace, Lifecam Cinema, SPC900 LXMod

Observatory : Homebuilt roll-off-roof


#14
TheThing

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Hi Robin,

That seems to have worked, as you suggest. I think the version I had was 1.0.00 or some such!

Can get to the controls thru the menus as you suggest and the short cut icon is a big improvement too!
The Thing

Soligor reflector, 152mm (6"), 750mm, f5; SPC900;

'Onwards to Mars, onwards to Mars.'

#15
Andymod

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Hi Robin i downloaded and used your software last week with my neximage, I really like the fact that it saves each avi with a different filename automatically. I found out that the amcap software that came with neximage does not after shooting about eight 30 second avi's only to find 1 on my laptop once back inside, doh!. Again thanks for sharing

Celestron C9.25 SGT XLT
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QHY 5LII Colour


#16
rll1288

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Robin....worked brilliant for me......

So easy to use much appreciated.

Roy
SW 150 PDS
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#17
Uplooker

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Have to agree with what others have said, very useful and very easy to use bit of software. Well done and thanks.

#18
beamish

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I presume this works with Vista ??

Karlo



a scope or two , a mount, a camera some bits and apparently no time :(


#19
step_hen

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I presume this works with Vista ??


Works fine on vista for me. Great software!
Stephen
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NEQ6, HEQ5, Skytee2, Portamount

#20
rwg

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Yep, XP, Vista and Win 7, 32 and 64 bit (provided your camera has drivers...)

Robin

Author of SharpCap - the free Astro image capture application.
Scopes : Celestron Nexstar 8SE, Skywatcher Skymax 127 Mak, Celestron ST102

Mounts : NEQ6 (EQMod), Celestron SE
Cameras : ASI120MC, ASI130MM, QHY5LII, Basler Ace, Lifecam Cinema, SPC900 LXMod

Observatory : Homebuilt roll-off-roof





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