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SteveNickolls

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Everything posted by SteveNickolls

  1. Hi JEM_svca, pleased you liked the video it does open up a whole perspective on imaging time, of course the darker the location the longer you can exposure for but there is a diminishing return even at a dark site. The advent of higher QE% CMOS sensors has quite shook up the orthodoxy but in a good way. I don't know of any publication that goes with the video but there are more videos- Now on the matter of calculating the optimum sub exposure length if you have SharpCap Pro the sensor analysis ability will do all this for your sensor and imaging location. There is also this online tool-http://tools.sharpcap.co.uk/ which at present is the way I calculate my optimum sub exposure levels. This tool is synonymous with what is discussed in the original video. It is a subject I've looked quite into and Craig Stark made comment on this and other related matters on cloudy nights forum http://www.stark-labs.com/craig/articles/articles.html and I copied them- Signal to Noise Craig Stark CN Forum.docx I hope you find them useful. In practice I've found the real world results from following the various methods lead to the same end, which is reassuring and gives confidence on the subject. His present Internet site has this page- https://www.stark-labs.com/downloads/index.html from which there's this video (I've not watched it)- I hope at least some of this is helpful to you, I'll certainly look forward to watching the last video. Enjoy watching and reading! Cheers, Steve
  2. Hi JEM_svca, yes thanks it was great to get outside once more and try out the guiding. It was a leap of faith moment in how the Eagle app would perform controlling guiding but I have to be led by the results. Now it does lack most of the nuances of PHD2 but there's enough under the bonnet to actually guide by. Unfortunately there's no means of recording the guiding graph as a record to review the session as with PHD2. I do sometimes wonder if as a species imagers are inclined to being too fastidious and capable of drifting into OCD. Even when I have used PHD2 I got an error after calibration but that didn't subsequently affect performance as far as I could tell. I understand that while PHD2 calibrates the RA and DEC axes provided the outward movement in each direction is ok during calibration it doesn't matter if the return leg is poor, it will still guide. Using quite short FL optics (500 mm) and relatively lightweight set up helps in not putting pressure on the mount mechanics that would be the case with longer FL optics or a heavy payload. It's good to know that you can get 12 minutes of guiding with guiding in RA alone, that's the benefit a dark location bestows. As I image in a light polluted area my usual set up is tailored around fast optics (f/2) and fairly short FL's (50-135mm) and employ a 12nm Ha filter which while cutting out most extraneous light pollution does increase the exposure times required. However this can be trimmed to around 5 minutes as explained in the video below without discernibly affecting overall quality- There is a tool here that can be used to determine the skyfog of your imaging location to then calculate the optimum sensor exposure level-https://tools.sharpcap.co.uk/ I'm exploring guiding with slower optics such as my StarTravel refractor 500 mm FL and f/4.9 which will be of value when wanting to capture smaller targets such as galaxies with my unmodified Canon 600D. Hope you get some clear, dark skies to image under. Cheers, Steve
  3. Here's the content of the notes accompanying the update, it lists all the various firmware changes back to May 2017, I see there's a pdf manual too, wonder if it is updated in any meaningful way? The manual which I've dated 3.3.2020, bit of a beast at over 65MB- EAGLE-CORE-user-manual_3_3_2020.pdf I'll have a look today at what changes are in there and post up. The pdf manual with the v2.7 release looks the same as that with v2.6. And the firmware revisions- Last version 2.7 02/03/2020 1) Added support of SESTO SENSO 2 and ESATTO focusers Version 2.6 12/07/2019 1) Added support of Celestron equatorial mounts with NexStar+ handpad 2) Added support to Canon EOS 450D and Nikon D90 cameras Version 2.5 26/03/2019 1) Added support of computerized mounts 2) Added support to Canon EOS R and Nikon Z6/Z7 mirrorless cameras Version 2.4 01/02/2019 1) Added Auto Dithering feature 2) Added support to Canon EOS 1100D 3) Improved sequences control Last version 2.2 06/09/2018 1) Added support to guide cameras ASI120MM-S, ASI120MC-S, ASI178MM, ASI290MM, ASI290MC 2) Added support to Canon EOS 500D, 650D, 800D, 80D and 5D Mark IV Version 2.1 15/05/2018 1) Added support to Canon EOS 5D Mark II Update version 2.0 17/04/2018 1) Added support to SESTO SENSO robotic focusing motor 2) Added support to Nikon D5300 camera Update version 1.0.20 01/12/2017: 1) Added support to Canon EOS 450D, 1300D, 750D, 70D and Nikon D800E cameras Update version 1.0.15 24/07/2017: 1) Added support to Canon EOS 60D and 60Da 2) Added support to Canon EOS 5D Mark III 3) Added + and - button to decrease/increase Y scale of guide graph 4) ÒguidingÓ button is now disabled during Calibration Update version 1.0.10 31/05/2017: 1) Fixed an even that could pause autoguide 2) Fixed guide star selection with a tap on the screen 3) Increased system speed Update version 1.0.9 24/05/2017: 1) Fixed the exposition times for the QHY5L-II camera 2) Now the image resolution of the QHY5L-II camera is correctly set 3) Added option black/white for the guide camera 4) "matrix width" and "matrix height" values are now correctly visualized 5) Added the parameter "Guiding rate" in "Advanced settings" 6) Added support to Nikon D750 camera
  4. Thanks for the heads up on this kunene, I'll take a look later and see what the firmware update includes. Cheers, Steve
  5. Hi Bishtek, I'm pleased the links were of value. When you have to image under light pollution you have this imposed ceiling of skyfog as the limiting factor in all the work. However not all is lost as developments in filters, camera's with higher quantum efficiencies and fast optics can bring reasonable results within your grasp on modest equipment. As you are off to university you might find opportunity to image especially if the local conditions are better than at home. There may well be an astronomy club at the university or a local town or a nearby dark site. It's amazing to realise the advances made in the past 3-4 years in the hobby so who knows what position you will be in after your studies to buy equipment not conceived of yet? Best of luck with your studies. Cheers, Steve
  6. It’s been quite a while since I purchased my Eagle Core and accessories back in the end of July last year but last night conditions and finally having got rid of a persistent cold was finally able to try out the device to control guiding on my Celestron CG-5 mount. After polar alignment using my iPolar device, star alignment, pointing towards the target to be imaged (M45) and connecting to the Eagle Core’s wi-fi hot spot the Eagle App identified my ASI120MM-S guide camera automatically and I then entered the diameter and focal length of the guide scope (an ZWO Mini guide scope) in the Advanced section of the App. I adjusted the gain to around 22 and had the App automatically detect a guide star which it did and then proceeded to perform the calibration steps. This was achieved without any issue and I then started the guiding process and watched the progress of the guiding instructions on the graph in the App for a few minutes. Then I repeated the process of selecting a guide star, calibration and actual guiding several times and felt confident that the process was robust and working. I then proceeded to take a series of 41 images each of 180 seconds duration at ISO 400 with my 500 mm focal length SkyWatcher Startravel achromat refractor while guiding for a little over the following two hours. The final image was stacked with x50 flat and bias frames and x10 dark frames in Deep Sky Stacker and processed using StarTools. In between tranches of 10 exposures I rechecked the guiding graph and was very pleased at the small amount of guiding changes taking place. Unfortunately the App does not seem to retain a record of the session for reference. I did earlier today enquire with PLL over the units on the guiding graph and was informed they are in arc seconds. Despite my mount having an issue with DEC backlash I was very happy with the Eagle Core guiding performance and look forward to many more imaging sessions. Cheers, Steve
  7. Hi, here's the video- And the online ShsrpCap tool- http://tools.sharpcap.co.uk/ Finally Samir Kharusi's article- http://www.samirkharusi.net/sub-exposures.html Look forward to seeing your future images. Cheers, Steve
  8. Hi, thanks for posting. Yes it is frustrating imaging where light pollution dominates whatever you do to such an extent. As rotatux says a filter will help somewhat. You are also constrained by tbe alt-az mount field rotation and the build of your mount as to what duration of exposures you can achieve. The question of optimal exposure time is discussed in a video by Robin Glover (SharpCap) which I will send you a link when I'm on my main pc. You can work out the optimum exposure time if you know a few things, the SQM-L of your imaging location, the read noise of your camera, the f-ratio you want to image at and using Sharpcaps online tool (I will send you the link). It might offer you a means of optimising what you can image with using what you have and what might help you in the future. As regards ISO a higher ISO just brightens the image you see (on live view), it does not collect anymore incoming light or make the sensor more sensitive. It is important to get the image away from the left hand side of the histogram on your cameras live view but overdoing ISO will merely move tbe histogram more to tbe right giving you less room to later stretch tbe stacked images. I tend to use an ISO of 400. I would advise testing different ISOs to see if you actually see much difference in the exposure time allowed and resulting image. Perhaps the best you can do is to take plenty of short 30 second images to improve the SNR of the stack as best you can within all tbe limitations you have. In the end light pollution is placing a very restrictive glass ceiling on your imaging. I have a link to an article about short exposure imaging that may prove interesting to you which again I will send to you. Cheers, Steve
  9. Thanks noah4x4 for this advice and information. As part of this hobby I keep an astronomy log and this includes plans and ideas for the future. While I need to actually enjoy using tbe Eagle Core and get to understand its uses more there are plans for the future. One will be to make the leap to an astro camera and the means to operate it with as few wires as possible; your advice will be most useful then. I do hope soon, weather permitting to post on using the Eagle Core for guiding both my CG-5 and Star Adventurer mounts. Cheers, Steve
  10. Thanks so much noah4x4 for going step by step through the process of the build, I will also take a look at the wireless set up posted on the EEVA forum. Certainly the price of a higher specification Eagle is beyond my resources and I would look to assembling a DIY solution at that time so I'm really pleased for all your advice and direction. Can I enquire which NUC you finally settled on for the build, it would be useful to know the ballpark level of cpu and RAM required for smooth operation? Co-incidentally I have been looking at NUC's recently as potential replacement for my main pc and am astonished how little mains power they use and how capable the units are. I've built numerous pc's in the past but took my eye off developments several years ago only to be recently wowed and particularly by M2 SSD's and NVMe. I have been looking at SharpCap Pro for some time now for when I do move a step forward an purchase a proper astro-camera and it seems that over time the solutions are merging in terms of what they can do and what devices are controlled. I have noted Sharpcap is not yet advanced to accommodate DSLR's as it can other types of cameras which personally is a pity in so many ways but it also denies getting more used to the software ahead of when the transition to a dedicated astro-camera occurs. I hear what you say about best compatibility between software and astro-camera's and I think any future build is best done within a quick time frame after researching compatibility and user reviews. Tech always moves forward but you need a system that integrates well and will perform for several years into the future. Cheers, Steve
  11. I'm afraid not, I bought one of these with the Eagle Core- https://www.365astronomy.com/primaluce-lab-eagle-compatible-power-cable-for-canon-eos-550d-600d-650d-700d.html I see the price has increased since I got mine last year. 365 Astronomy have a very wide range of these DSLR power cables, Flo have some also. I'm not sure if it's something one could piece together as the part includes a voltage regulator to convert the 12V output to 8V input for the DSLR. That's a very tidy, non intrusive and balanced control system you have there noah4x4 you will be very pleased to have designed and built it. Have you thought about making available a guide to choosing parts and assembly (my apologies if this is something you have already done on SGL)? Cheers, Steve
  12. I understand what you are saying kunene about the price of the PLL accessories. With my Eagle Core I purchased from the cheapest suppliers their proprietary cables to power my CG-5 mount, the cable to power my Canon DSLR's, the 5A 12V mains unit and a 140 mm dovetail and small clamp. The unit came with a cigarette lighter connection to a power tank but I haven't used that to date. There's no denying the design of the items and quality and I had to wonder if it was being made in the EU rather than China that had made prices so high and seemingly anti-competitive, just a thought. One of the strengths of the PLL PLUS system of accessories is their wide range of matching parts. You can buy the cable connectors though kunene if you are ok at assembling to your own cables, I can't comment if their price is high or not, here's a few UK links- https://www.365astronomy.com/primaluce-lab-eagle-type-connector-for-power-in-and-5a-or-8a-power-out-ports.html https://www.365astronomy.com/primaluce-lab-eagle-type-connector-for-3a-power-out-ports.html https://www.365astronomy.com/primaluce-lab-eagle-type-connector-for-power-in-and-5a-or-8a-power-out-ports.html Money presently being tight I have held off buying a pair of their 105 mm tube rings and instead been able to employ an extra SkyWatcher tube ring and some perseverance to connect the Eagle Core securely above my telescope (where there's a will there's a way). I'm experimenting on how to position the guide camera, I may likely just connect the guide scope foot to the 1/4" screw on the top of the Eagle Core. The black tape and plastic are my poor man's way of giving some dew protection to the exposed upper holes in the Eagle core casing while allowing air circulation. In practice I have found the Eagle Core powers my mount and DSLR without any problems. I use a Lynx Astro 4 port dew controller and two Astrozap dew bands that I already owned but separately power this from the mains power reel as it is placed under the mount. If I hadn't been so mean I could have purchased the 10A 12.8V PLL power supply but it would have meant paying out for PLL dew bands and which frankly would have exceeded my budget. These accessories are all transferable of course should you decide to upgrade to a higher model of Eagle in their range. Cheers, Steve
  13. Thanks kunene for your posts it can't do any harm us contacting PLL and suggesting improvements to make the device more useful and desirable given the growing competition out there. It's hard not being a programmer judging what is possible given the limited resources (cpu and memories) of the Eagle Core. I certainly like the idea of being able to add external memory, now could that be used to empower additional capabilities for the Eagle OS? Allowing support for CMOS cameras would go against the ethos of the Eagle Core being for DSLR's and as you rightly mention they have a cadre of more capable mini pc's able to do just that and provide for the functionality required by astro-camera users. Will look out for the v2.7 update, there's not a day that goes by without me checking for a firmware update on thei site. I'd like to think some small ideas put to them will be added to the feature set. Yes, if the latest ASiair Pro had come out some months earlier I might well have gone that route but the Eagle Core has its own distinct advantages, its weakness is perhaps its small percentage penetration of the market compared to ZWO which has a large presence due to its extensive camera range. Having said that Chinese firms are suffering loos of manufacturing capability and sales due to the coronavirus and the controls in place, that won't resolve for some time. One important element PLL could do would be to rewrite the manual for the device, it is not without spelling mistooks and needs a thorough review with one up to date manual being available to download. That doesn't take any system memory or cpu capacity on the part of the device just experience, time and patience to write it up. Here's looking forward to v2.7. Cheers, steve
  14. Hi noah4x4, with the higher priced Eagle versions it does seem there are big savings should you be willing and able to self build. I guess it becomes more difficult if you can't or daren't try and build an alternative. As I mention above the Eagle range has a lot going for it beyond the mini pc concept but how much one values this is down to each imager to weigh up in their mind. We tend to be folks who like to tinker so there's an appeal of building stuff cheaper and learning much in the process. I dont think any product is so simple to be the equivalent of plug and play. Cheers, Steve
  15. Hi JEM_svca, yes the Eagle Core is a decent option for people wanting a small, lightweight pc to control imaging with a DSLR but requires tweeking. You've experienced it also works controlling a EQ mount by wi-fi but the jury is out concerning guiding right now. It has a number of pluses considering the current competitors, I'd mention the unique design and ability to become an integral part of the equipment, its compatibility with a very wide range of Plus accessories, the ability to power other components and cabling which allows equipment to be kept assembled between uses, saving set up and tear down time. Oh, and lest I forget its Eagle OS (Eagle App) permitting wi-fi connection by Windows, iOS, Android plus pc control by crossover Ethernet cable. So it has much going for it. Perhaps soon we could all contact PLL to suggest those tweeks which could be implemented in v2.7? Cheers, Steve
  16. Yes, I hope that PLL are taking note of these tweaks to make the Eagle app more capable. Unfortunately I'm not a programmer but surely small changes that bring better usability can be added to the firmware along the lines we are suggesting and would like to see in the future. There doesn't seem to be many paces online that the device is being discussed and reviewed. I hope therefore to soon be able to post on my experiences using the Eagle Core to control guiding of both my mounts. Cheers, Steve
  17. Hi JEM_svca, my mistake, I was referring to a desired ability in the Eagle App to take a dark frame for use when guiding to pre entry guiding on a stuck pixel. Appreciate you would also like to perform long exposure noise reduction with your DSLR when controlled by the Eagle App. It all does make me wonder if adding such a feature in the software is simply too much to pack into the memory. Cheers, Steve
  18. And before you decide have a read up on the iOptron iPolar as an alternative to the PoleMaster. Cheers, Steve
  19. My understanding on the Eagle Core spec (taken from the technical data tab on https://www.teleskop-express.de/shop/product_info.php/language/en/info/p9959_PrimaLuceLab-EAGLE-CORE---Control-Unit-for-astrophotography-with-a-DSLR-camera.html ) is that the ARM cpu is very efficient and runs a proprietory Eagle App, I think Linux based. I understand ARM cpu's are used very widely to run bespoke systems using little power. This is however enough grunt to perform the necessary image acquisition and guiding, perhaps just enough. That is why I am unsure if any developments in terms of dark frame subtraction to help with guiding would be possible given the hardware limitations. The other products in the Eagle stable use Win 10 Enterprise edition that is stripped down of the usual bloatware and the user has the freedom to add whatever astronomy programmes they want to use. The differences in the larger models is the specification of the cpu and memory involved (that is both RAM and storage memory). Off the PLL website- Note there is no specification given here for the Eagle Core. I am really interested in your comment JEM_svca - as at one time I tinkered with the idea of getting such a camera for guiding. I certainly didn't read any information in the PLL literature to that effect. The ASI178 has a 6Mpx sensor of course. I'd also mention that the last image you see on your tablet or pc is of the JPEG taken not the RAW image, this will have a smaller file size which presumably the device can handle fairly speedily. It actually explains a lot about the Eagle Core device, not detrimental given its use but understanding its limitations. Regards, Steve
  20. Hi noah4x4, that is all very interesting and most useful to know-thanks. I had wondered if the Eagle Core's Wi-Fi range had been compromised at night with more people being at home and all using their 2.4GHz channels for whatever purposes they had. It would be worth me checking during the day and in the evening to see what numbers of networks are in the vicinity and what variabilty happens. I haven't really looked into things in any depth but I think I recall the unit having 11 possible channels to use and seeing it preset to channel 6 which I understand is one of the three non-overlapping channels on the band. I'm rather stuck with just using 2.4 GHz with the Eagle Core but I do like how you have neatly resolved your communication issues using the 5 GHz 'Wholehome' discs. I don't have any outside building in which the mount is located but I would be tempted to use a wired solution. I have used a crossover Ethernet cable to control imaging with the Eagle Core from a laptop indoors but ideally prefer to avoid cables wherever I can. It is a very poignant point that your friend makes regarding foil backed plasterboard affecting the signal passage. Good luck by the way with your project making your set up smaller to more meet your needs. The Eagle Core does have the strong selling points of being quite petite at around 155 mm x 80 mm x 30 mm, weighing around 512g and its box metal construction with pre-drilled holes allow the unit to become a rigid part of the imaging rig. I do like how the unit can be used to power peripherals (I power the mount and DSLR), keeping cabling short and ready for use. The ability to interface its proprietory (I think Linux-based 'Eagle App') using either Windows, iOS, Android OS etc. machines also opens it up to a wider number of potential users. I mentioned in some earlier post that the device is quite modestly powered cpu-wise using an ARM A7 1 GHz quad core with 1 GB RAM and 8 GB SSD on board bearing in mind its intended use. Cheers, Steve
  21. Hi noah4x4, thanks very much indeed for this 'heads up' concerning the 'SkyPortal' and its descendants. I'm sure it will be also very helpful for others also considering the device and alternatives. Your experience building and running an alternative mini-pc to the Eagle range is most welcome and I hear what you say concerning competing wi-fi signals on the 2.4GHz range. I have found the range offered by the Eagle Core varies, it can be over 30 feet allowing connection from indoors but other times this becomes patchy. I now try to keep my tablet within about half that distance to avoid drop out which has worked flawlessly. The Eagle core has the ability for users to change the channel used for the connection but i have not attempted to alter any settings. An advantage of the Eagle Core is it can be operated using a wireless connection from Windows, iOS and Android devices etc. and I also have operated mine using an Ethernet crossover cable which worked fine and avoids signal drop outs. I did however get the device to mainly reduce the number of cables (and the time spent laying them out and gathering them back in at the end of a session. I'm really pleased there are now so many ways to make astronomy more enjoyable and the solutions meet every level of ability and personal requirements. I understand the larger models in the Eagle range use dual band connectivity like you own built system. Hi JEM_svca, My, what a lovely image you took there, the benefits of a dark, high site certainly spring out. I'm pleased you have been able to use the Eagle Core and show its usefulness in such circumstances. Do any of your companions on such trips also use an Eagle Core for some or all of their imaging? Given what noah4x4 says in his post at least at a remote dark location any interfering signals should be few. A few years ago we went on summer holiday in Coverack, Cornwall-a very dark location on the English coast and one evening for a period in between sea mists was able to take some exposures of the North American Nebula/Pelican Nebula region. Just looking at the individual frames I was stunned by the great improvement in detail over what can be captured back home under typically 19.21 SQM-L average skies. I was able another night to take images of the Heart and Soul Nebulae region and when back home attempted to compare the results, you can image the difference. I'd like to utilise the Eagle Core as the basis of a lighter weight travel set up to take advantage of darker sky locations. Cheers, Steve
  22. Ahh, you are very lucky living in California, I once heard that it never rains there and having access to local dark sites to image are very welcome indeed. I can see how your equipment is geared towards minimising set up despite having to travel; the Eagle Core ideally would provide that hub between guider, mount and camera. Unless you are fortunate enough to live at a dark location it's only a dedicated few people in the UK who travel to dark sites. Despite being a much smaller country than the USA we tend not to travel so far, or at least feel a trip taking an hour or more is actually too far. The few times I would travel a long distance would be to go on holiday where I'd hope to take the Eagle Core along with my Star Adventurer. Thanks very much for sharing your image of Andromeda, I do like the dust and star forming regions-was that image taken at a dark site by any chance? The weather here can be terrible for months on end and I do most imaging set up in the rear garden at home under a Bortal 6 sky. I have consequently taken the road less travelled and mostly couple very fast lenses with a modified Canon 700D DSLR and Ha filter to take images of nebulae. Two hours of total exposure will usually produce a reasonable image since one cannot always expect to get another clear night for some time. With patience however I have been able to construct mosaics, this is from late 2018 using a Samyang 135 mm lens- Being able to make visible what is otherwise completely invisible in our night sky is really rewarding and particularly how a mosaic can bring a very large object such as the Great Northern Coal Sack into plain sight. The dark cracks of dust running between the North American Nebula to around Sadr merely hint at what more remains hidden from our Earthly perspective. And more recently using a canon 50 mm lens at f/2 of the Orion region, I was pleased the camera captured the fainter arm of nebulosity reaching out to Betelgeuse from Barnard's Loop- Well I'm hoping to get guiding with the Eagle App resolved one way or the other before the galaxy season begins and when I will need guiding to use my telescope. Clear skies. Cheers, Steve
  23. That is a very good looking set up you have, I like the customised metal work holding the Eagle Core and the platform below that. I now see how tidy the cabling is in the sheathing. May I enquire how you have found the performance of the Celestron Lithium Powertank in operation? Do you use your Eagle Core to then power your mount and DSLR? I use a mains extension reel with a portable rcd to provide power to the Eagle Core which then in turn provides power to the mount and DSLR. A separate lead from the reel to the Dew heater. I didn't think the capacity of my older type power tanks would provide enough power to all the equipment over a prolonged imaging session. Hmm, it is good to know that you have been able to mix using your keypad and SkySafari to control the mount. There are so many things that I need to trial surrounding the Eagle Core yet at the moment the combination of our fickle UK weather with storm following storm and a persistent cold have put paid to doing anything outside. Cheers, Steve
  24. I have yet to try out the guiding process under the night sky with the Eagle Core but from tests of using the guide scope and guide scope and from my previous experience using PHD2 I think choosing decent star for guiding will be quite possible to do, the proof of course will be in the doing. Yes, PHD2 has all the helpful tools to make the job as simple and painless as possible and to stop you making mistakes, it has had a lot of user feedback to get it that way and is a much more mature product than the Eagle App. My disposition is one of hope that the Eagle App will allow guiding to be accomplished so I have a handy device to control guiding and imaging by wi-fi. Cheers, Steve
  25. Hi JEM_svca, that's exactly my concern after finding my new ASI120MM-S has many hot pixels. I have identified a gain setting to use that while showing actual stars does not show most of the stuck pixels. I will be contacting PLL to suggest them adding the use of a dark frame or bad pixel map if the Eagle App has the memory and storage to address this. Cheers, Steve
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