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cjdawson

Sequence Generator Pro 3

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Hi all.

Decided to take the plunge and switch to Sequence Generator Pro 3.    Would I be right in thinking that for this to work properly, it's going to need an internet connection in order for the plate solving to work properly?

I'm a complete newbie to this piece of software, and am hoping that it's going to transform my image aquisition.

Here's my current setup.....

1. Meade LX-90 EMC (year 2001)

2. F6.3 and F3.3 focual reducers available.  (Haven't managed to achieve focus at F3.3... yet, not sure if I can)

3. ZWO ASI290-MM uncooled as my imaging camera.

4. ZWO USB Filter wheel (5 position) with LRGB filters installed.

5. Starlight express Superstar as guide camera.

6. Skywatcher ST-80 as guide scope.

 

SGP will be used to drive everything via the Ascom POTH hub.

PHD2 will be used with the Starlight express attached to my ST-80

 

I've not managed to achieve focus with the F3.3 focal reducer, but I've only tried that once.  The problem was that the width of the filter wheel was enough to prevent it from achieving focus.   I've got some experimentation to do here, but I think I might be able to get it to focus by using a shorter tube between the camera and the reducer.  IIRC I tried only with the standard meade one.   but I might have also tried with a shorter tube and a flip mirror.   (I'm removing the flip mirrors as they'll not really be needed when I get this fully operational, especially with plate solving in operation)

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Most folks tend to set up SGP to use PlateSolve V2 as the primary plate solving tool, which is locally installed on your PC.

As a backup, for if/when things go horribly wrong with your alignment and PlateSolve can't cope, SGP can use Astrometry.Net for a blind solve - this also can be installed locally on your PC (see http://adgsoftware.com/ansvr/ ) or be used via an internet link.

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I use SGP with the local astronomy.net plate solver as above with great results. No internet connection needed once you have installed it and downloaded the required index files.

I guide using an ST-80 with a GPCAM and SGP plate solves (using the main scope/camera) and adjusts until you are centred correctly then kicks of PHD2 for guiding. All just works seamlessly.

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Nice to have an internet connection for the Mosaic and framing wizard but you can do this ahead of time if you need to.

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I have SGP 2.6.0.25 and use the built in platesolve2, with astrometry.net as a back up.

It has rarely failed to platesolve as long as you set it up correctly with your image scale etc.

The 1 issue that does bug me, is sometimes it solves just over the pixel accuracy limit (50px I think in my case), but never seams to overcome it, i.e. it will keep solving time and time again to the same place.

This may be something to do with eqascom syncing position every time, but I though it was meant to only append on successful solve - I'll keep looking into it.

Bottom line is, once set up it should work really well for you.

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I use Astrometry.NET local with the 'Solve and Sync Blind' option in SGPro for alignment. 

I then use Platesolve2 for centering on targets.

It makes alignment and centering very easy :-)

Andy.

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Thanks for the hints guys.   I'll look into getting Platesolve2 up and running and also Astrometry.net.    Hopefully, I'll be able to get both going on my laptop, and if needed, I can always internet through my phone ;)

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You must remember to set your pixel scale (1x1 binned) correctly. It is critical for your PlateSolve to work effectively.

Steve

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hopefully I'll have some good weather friday evening so will be able to spend some time setting everything up properly :)

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Right. have both PlateSolve2 and Astrometry.net installed and downloaded.  Think I went a bit overboard and downloaded the entire Astrometry.net index files.  Most likely overkill.  Could always delete the most details sets if I don't need them to save disk space.

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32 minutes ago, cjdawson said:

Think I went a bit overboard and downloaded the entire Astrometry.net index files.  Most likely overkill.  Could always delete the most details sets if I don't need them to save disk space.

Not only will having all the indexes eat your disc space, but it potentially will also make solves slower as it might check less suitable indexes, so if you can identify the index range that you need then I'd go with just having those installed. I also downloaded all the indexes initially, but then took those not neede off to separate storage where I can get at them quickly should I want to add more for different scope/lens/camera combinations.

If unsure, good way to check which indexes you need is to enable the ansvr log tool whilst solving an image and it will report which index it actual used for the solve.

PS2 with ansvr as blind solver failover works a treat everytime for me.. :-)

Good luck, Geof

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@geoflewis That's more or less what I was thinking of doing.  Got it all downloaded onto my laptop at the moment, still have 50GB of space left on the internal SSD.  So I'm happy enough with that for now.  Love the idea of using the logs to see what level I need for my kit, then transferring the rest to somewhere else, external HDD would be my best bet.

going to look at how to setup SGP with PS2 and ansvr as blind solver, that's exactly the setup that sounds perfect for me :)

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ok, that was easy.   Loving the UI for SGPro.  I'm looking forward to getting some scope time with it now.  Hopefully, it'll help me capture some good data.  Expecially after I build a cooler for my ZWO camera :)

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Posted (edited)

Spend time now, setting up your "Equipment Profile Manager".

This covers everything from file naming patterns to Camera, Telescope etc. Doing it now, will save you lots of time later, from entering the same data two to three times for each sequence you want to create, especially for camera pixel sizes, filter wheel filters etc.

Edited by Dr_Ju_ju
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I've already got most of the Equipement Profile Manager stuff set up.

Don't think I have the pixel sizes inputted just yet, I'm going to check that this evening and hopefully have an go at capturing something.   hmmm, must decided on target for that if I get round to it.

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1 minute ago, cjdawson said:

hmmm, must decided on target for that if I get round to it.

A great way to set up your targets is to use the option to enter coordinates from solved images on Astrobin, Flickr or DSO Browser. It's a great feature and I use Astrobin urls as most images there are already plate solved. Good luck and have fun....

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Decision is made.  I think M51 is the best choice for tonight.  It'll be near the Zenith, and it's a lovely target.  I've had attempts at imaging it in the past, however I've never been successful.

Some of the problems that I had were....

1. battery went flat so lost power to everything.

2. couldn't find it, and pulled a muscle in my back trying (so gave up searching)

3. couldn't find a guide star!    I was using a webcam as a guider, but was limited to about mag 5.   My guide scope simply couldn't see any stars.

 

This time my whole setup is different (apart from the scopes themselves)

1. will be on mains power

2. my guider is now a Starlight Express Superstar, so I'd be shocked if I can't see "any" stars.

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I tend to use CDC for finding targets, as I'm in Surrey, 50M from the M25 (luckily in deepish V, but the lights can be seen through the now mature trees), and houses all around with their gardens & trees etc.

I've superimposed a quick panorama image of my location into CDC, although not accurate, haven't got the hang of horizon shift, but it gives me an idea of what will be suitable to image & for how long before being obscured by local flora. e.g.:

 

image.thumb.png.cca6e4718348cbd059042c0f3a8ae187.png

I then cut & paste the target into SGPro, then kick it off :

image.thumb.png.c8a4d928f7cdebb8d48654dd2c0ca951.png

 

Everything was going great till the sun came & blitzed the guiding :BangHead:

 

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Hehe.  Pesky Sun.

 

I used Sky Safari to select decide my target.   Astrobin to setup the location and framing.  Now, I'm setting up my imaging sequence.  Got to the part about bias frames, and I'm wondering how exactly to set the expose time for this, with my DSLR, I used to simply set 1/8000.    For SGP would I leave the exposure time as 0?

Good job I decided to try and setup this, just realised that I'm going to need to figure out the correct exposure time for my flats as well.   That'll keep be busy this evening.

 

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At least Bias, Darks & Flats can all be done during the day, especially cycling through each filter.

For my 1600mm, bias, I just took 250 @ 0.001 sec, capped, and the Flats 55 @ 0.007 sec unity gain with a phosphorescent panel for each filter position.

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On 5/16/2018 at 23:19, Jonk said:

I have SGP 2.6.0.25 and use the built in platesolve2, with astrometry.net as a back up.

It has rarely failed to platesolve as long as you set it up correctly with your image scale etc.

The 1 issue that does bug me, is sometimes it solves just over the pixel accuracy limit (50px I think in my case), but never seams to overcome it, i.e. it will keep solving time and time again to the same place.

This may be something to do with eqascom syncing position every time, but I though it was meant to only append on successful solve - I'll keep looking into it.

Bottom line is, once set up it should work really well for you.

Not wanting to hijack the thread although a quick answer here is to delete your alignment model and set EQMod to Dialog based and let  SGP plate solve its way to the target.

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It does sound like I don't really need an alignment model when plate solving, so yes, I'll reset it and turn it off, see what happens. Could be a while yet though, not much darkness to run 30m subs at the moment!

Thanks for the tip, I'm sure it'll help others.

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Well.    I've just come in from a very interesting and experimental night.

Firstly, My Autoguiding wow's a definitely a thing of the past now.  No problems finding stars to guide on.  That works great.

My alignment sucked tonight, so I'm going to relearn this, pretty much from scratch.  (didn't help when it was too light and kinda murky out)

Didn't manage to get a sequence to run.

1. SGPro, complained that PHD wasn't settling.

2. The Platesolving, failed then went into blind solve mode, took ages, but it worked and did point the scope roughly towards M51.  Which was great considering that I didn't align the scope properly.

Actually, the very first platesolve that I did was really fast.

Didn't actually manage to get any data on M51, but I do think I was able to see it in PHD.

3. Couldn't work out how to attach Sky Safari to SGPro (I never showed up the IP Address like it said)

 

All in all, it was a good evening.  Lots of things went well - All the hardware worked together, and was trying to give data that could be used for stuff.

Software settings were all over the place.  Think I might need to do some major work on that.

 

Alignment,  need to spend some time getting used to alignment.   My ZWO ASI-290MM and filter wheel will fit into the fork, so I should be able align with camera rather than eyepiece (well until I add a cooler to my camera)

PHD - need to spend some time going through the settings to get make sure that it's right.   not sure that it is.

SGPro - load to learn with this, looks promising, just need to figure it out - the whole manual focusing thing.

 

 

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Well done on getting that far with SGP, it took me quite a few attempts and help from an experienced user to get consistent results. It was very much a case of adding features one by one to be sure that they were working, rather than going with everything at once.

6 hours ago, cjdawson said:

1. SGPro, complained that PHD wasn't settling.

2. The Platesolving, failed then went into blind solve mode, took ages, but it worked and did point the scope roughly towards M51.  Which was great considering that I didn't align the scope properly.

PHD settling settings was one of my tricky ones too, but I'm travelling this week, so can't offer you my settings as a guide, but they may not work for you anyway.

PS2 platesolving does require you to be very close to target and you need to provide an accurate target prompt, which it can read from the FITs header if you have your scope connected via ASCOM. Astrometry.net or Ansvr do not need accurate alignment to work, but will be slower than PS2. Interesting that you first solve worked quickly, was that via PS2, or the blind solver?

Good luck, you'll get there and not regret it :icon_biggrin:

Geof

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Yep. I think the first solve was PS2, it was almost instant.   But then the scope did think I was pointing at Jupiter and I had Jupiter in the FOV.  So it was kind of a quick thing to work out, if it can work off planet locations.

 

Just been doing some playing with SPG and have it working with Sky Safari Pro 6 now.  It was working all along, just I didn't know the IP and the software was supposed to say what the IP Address was - that was a lie, just turn the feature on, find the IP (good old IPConfig) and link up.   Easy :)

 

Also found a setting that turns on the HFR reading in the Frame and Focus window, that'll help with getting focus right without a SGPro supported focuser.   It's in the Image History window, should be useful to have that on the Frame and focus window to save hunting for it.

 

I'm going to assume that all the rest of the problems that I was having was simply down to really bad polar alignment.   now that I have stuff working better, I'm going to spend some time working on getting my guide scope and main scope in Sync.  Then I'll be able to use a combination of the finderscope, guide scope and main scope to find my targets just using cameras.    Going to get some practice with Alignmaster as I'm sure that will give me a huge help getting things aligned.

 

At this point, I'm thinking that this has been a game changer for my scope and my astrophotography.   After spending years (and I mean about 15 years) struggling with webcams, relay boxes and other things.   I think I'm now finally going to be able to get my scope running great.      I'm finally starting to feel that I've got over all the problems that plagued my in the early years.  Proof will be in getting some data.    8" LX-90 Deep Sky imaging with an ASI-290-MM should be workable.   Especially when I extend the handbox and electric focuser cables (not to mention building the cooler for the camera.

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