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skybadger

Imaging and mount control options

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Hi all 

This is a variation on the 'what software should I use' question. 

The fundamental aim is to to have a single piece of software as the primary thing running the show and use others for niche activities which are probably post-acquisition

I'm looking to change and update from my existing MaximDL  5 software running on Windows 2008 to something which:

  • Handles more than two cameras - hopefully up to 4, 5 or 6
    • Talks Nikon to the DSLRs
    • Talks StarlightXpress to the guider and ancient HX9
    • Talks zwo to my 120M
  • Talks EQAscom to my EQ8
  • is externally scriptable/composable/callable.
  • provides internal guide interfaces rather than requiring external guider programs to manage the mount guiding
  • Contains internal image acquisition, processing, focusing, filter control, heater control, flap control, 
  • Manages internal libraries of darks, flats, filters etc
  • Can create (manually and scripted) and run multiple concurrent schedules of acquisition, one per camera, including pause/resume and supporting script calls at all points of  operation.
  • supports observatory automation and integration
  • integrates with dome rotation  - sync and offset & shutter open/close
  •  

A nice to have would be also to provide a planetarium and observing planning tool, mosaic, stacking, etc;  E.g. creating the output mosaic, stacking a set of video images.

I've looked at Pix Insight, AstroArt, Nebulosity, APT, CCD Commander etc but they don't seem to do the multiple cameras acquisition sequencing AND image processing thing.

I recall SGP is also limited to a single sequence at a time.

Is there a combination that people would recommend that isn't (for example) PI + metaguide + Adobe + CdC ?  or CCDC + Focus Max + PSP + ...

Would I be best convincing DIffraction to add multiple camera support and re-subscribing ?

Happy to consider linux and Indi as long as the Eq8 is supported adequately. I believe the cameras would be. 

I think the options are:

  • KStars+Indi+ Stellarium
  • PI + guider + image processing - can''t handle more than two cameras or do its own guiding
  • Nebulosity
  • AstroArt
  • MaximdL - can''t handle more than two cameras, doesn't support external sequence generation
  • HNS - seems to be a capable planetarium
  • CdC - used as a modest planetarium
  • SGP - Uses external guider program and doesn't manage more than one control set at a time.
  • CCD Commander
  • APT
  • PRISM

Are there any more I have missed that I should look at ?

How did your process of elimination go ?

 

Cheers

Mike

 

 

 

Edited by skybadger
added another software item - PRISM

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Thanks Martiin, good catch - I have seen PRISM before but it would be good to get your opinion in actual use ? I'll add it to the list.

Cheers

 

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Hi Mike,

I did also find PRISM by surprise in another forum, and I am already evaluating the functions by the TRIAL VERSION " BUT WITH FULL FUNCTIONAL VERSION " and valid for 80 days !!

The more I play or work with PRISM the more I am amazed.. The best would be to download PRISM " trial version but will full function " and test it for 80 days and then decide..

 

Regards

 

Martin

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Looking at the comparative link above I think the comparison is out of date or not clear enough what is being compared in places. .. I think MAxim is under-represented in some key areas for example. But then I still have to have a good look at PRISM..

 

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Hi Mike,

Yes, MAXIM is under-represented in some key areas for example, that is correct, they did takle the MAXIM DSLR $399 version and not the PRO suite version $599 to compare..

Edited by artem

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9 hours ago, artem said:

Hi Mike,

Yes, MAXIM is under-represented in some key areas for example, that is correct, they did takle the MAXIM DSLR $399 version and not the PRO suite version $599 to compare..

I guess they were trying to compare products at similar price points.   In terms of the specific points queried, this is what I believe is correct for PRISM from my outings with it:-

  • Handles more than two cameras - hopefully up to 4, 5 or 6

    - Advanced version provides the option to control three cameras.  Generally advertised as two imagers and one guider.  There is also the ability to control a direct show video camera.  I am unclear whether you could run the directshow camera as a guider and image with three cameras.  I don't believe you can dither in this configuration and believe the automated observing can not yet currently manage more than an imager and guider (but manually you can use two imagers, one guider).  There are scripting tools though.  Apparently there is a version of PRISM running 8 cameras reading the forums but you need to contact them directly. 

    Talks Nikon to the DSLRs

    - Don't know

    Talks StarlightXpress to the guider and ancient HX9

    - I run a lodestar and it talks to this fine.  Not sure about an ancient HX9

    Talks zwo to my 120M

    - Don't know

    Talks EQAscom to my EQ8

    -Don't know, I run a Mach1

    is externally scriptable/composable/callable.

    -Don't Know (other than does have internal scripting options).

    provides internal guide interfaces rather than requiring external guider programs to manage the mount guiding

    - Yes, runs own internal guider program.  No need for phd etc
     
  • Contains internal image acquisition, processing, focusing, filter control, heater control, flap control, 

    - Yes apart from flap control, but apparently can be run through a script in PRISM
     
  • Manages internal libraries of darks, flats, filters etc

    - Yes, requires certain format styles for things like photometry or asteroid analysis to produce the lightcurves.
     
  • Can create (manually and scripted) and run multiple concurrent schedules of acquisition, one per camera, including pause/resume and supporting script calls at all points of  operation.

    -Scripting is available, Don't know how well multiple cameras can be integrated (does any software do this?)
     
  • supports observatory automation and integration

    - Yes from what I understand (not directly tested)
     
  • integrates with dome rotation  - sync and offset & shutter open/close

    - Yes from what I understand of its operations (not directly tested)
     
  • A nice to have would be also to provide a planetarium and observing planning tool, mosaic, stacking, etc;  E.g. creating the output mosaic, stacking a set of video images.

    - Yes, except the mosaic option.  Not seen that tool anywhere.

Some disadvantages of PRISM:-

Very 90's style, tabs everywhere.
Manual is relatively basic.  Some areas are better covered than others.  There is more information on the French home version of the PRISM.  Hyperion is really just the redistributor.
Planetarium is fairly ugly visually and takes some practice to learn to use.  The movement is opposite to almost all other planetariums (however overall on a remote computer and control this might not be a bad thing).

 

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