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I'm using eqmod, apt, sharp cap, phd2 at the moment. I keep being told how good sq pro is but not had a good run down on why it's better and how it integrates or replaces software I'm using now. Can anyone here give me an idea of the benefits and how steep the learning curve is.

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I think the better question to ask would be 'what are you missing in your current setup' or 'what is the end goal for your setup'? This way you can look at the different options (SGP is not the only contender) and see what would fit best.

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Sequence Generator is essentially a tool for automating the manual operations you have to perform with the tools you are using at present.

As such it takes away the "hands on" aspect of image collection. Some might like that, others prefer to feel they have participated in that part of the hobby. I have used SG Pro in the past, but I feel it lacks a workflow, the property of a design that guides a user logically from one step to the next.
I also concluded that it is great for when everything works as it should, but that it lacks the ability to deal with exceptional or unforeseen circumstances. Things that (in my case, at least) seem to be not uncommon ūü§®. It also requires you to know, before you start, just how long you want your exposures to be. Something that a user can experiment with by taking test images and adjusting parameters with more "interactive" tools.

So if you have a rig that you know is reliable and will do exactly what you ask it to, then SG Pro is useful. It is also great if you want to get some sleep and have the confidence to let your telescope and mount get on with it, unsupervised. But it lacks flexibility.

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Personally I like SG Pro. I previously used Maxim DL (v6.##) but found it's support very poor. I've used AstroArt (and preferred that to Maxim) but find SG Pro a better package. It has many tools built in - frame and focus, plate solving etc.

You can configure equipment profiles, save sequences to repeat another night (even add/subtract from sequences while they're running). There are a number of other programs around that will allow you to manage your imaging to varying degrees. SG Pro does what I want it to. It lacks built in auto-guiding relying in PHD2 but PHD2 works so not a big problem.

I think you need to list what you feel your looking for from a piece of software and see which ticks most boxes. Some are capture orientated, other processing  and some a combination of both.

Good luck

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At the moment eqmod, apt, point craft, phd2, stellarium, lightroom, dss, registax, sharp cap and occasionally fire capture are all working fine for me. I am toying with the of trying stellarmate os as it might be helpful as I'm nearly finished building my permanent pier and it will be powered and cabled to the workshop so as soon as I get a motorised focuser everything can be done from the comfort of a laptop and recliner on cold nights. Sg Pro gets talked about a lot but maybe I'm not quite there yet with my setup. 

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I've recently, (over the last couple of years) switched my setup to using SGPro, and finally, after numerous delays (weather) got to do an imaging session with it.

I can't talk about how APT, Maxim, pixinsigt, nebulosity etc compare directly, and think that's a subject which is more about debate and personal preference than anything else.

Here's my experience with SGPro on it's own.

 

Firstly, I setup my scope, with the imaging camera removed (there's not space to get my LX-90 to swing the camera between the forks when pointing to the pole) and I use the Polar Alignment feature in SharpCap to get my setup polar aligned,  Much like using an alignmaster I'm told. All I know is that when I tried it for the first time, it was the easiest and most accurate polar align that I'd ever managed with my mount.

Once polar aligned, I used the guide scope alone to help me perform a normal two star alignment of my mount.  Once done, I attach the main camera (ASI1600MM-Pro)

For my SGPro setup, I'm using ANSVR as a secondary plate solver, and PHD2 for guiding.

At this point, I will go inside, and have a long cable to my electric focusser in hand.  I'm planning to replace this with an SGPro compatible one in the future.

 

I open up the Frame and focus wizard, start the history which will report a HFR figure, then I'll start to bring the scope into focus, making the HFR as small as I can get it.

 

At this point, I turn the controls over to SGPro and run my sequence.  SG Pro will capture the sequence as I've pre programmed it.  It'll slew and platesolve the scope into the right place.   It'll activate PHD2 and let that settle.  Then it'll start taking images.

 

So what about the sequence?

 

In my case, I use the wizards to setup the targets using the mosaic wizard - if the target is small enough, I'll just be taking the one frame.  This will give a starting point.

Then I can program the sequence for each target (each frame of the final image).    I use a Mono camera, so this is where things really come into it's own.

Firstly, the camera will cool to -20C.    I don't have to wait for that, SGPro will do the waiting for me.

Secondly, it'll select the right filter on my USB Filter Wheel.    So I can program it to take a series of images suitable for LRGB imaging, if I had more filters, it could do narrow band as well.

 

I can simply leave the scope running and know that how the sequence is getting on.   I don't need to manually take each colour, remember where I've got it in a sequence or anything like that.    It's done for me.

Once I have the focusser, the game will change again and SGPro could sort out the focus and adjust for tempurature changes, if I want it too.

It will also be able to refocus for each filter.

 

Finally there's also wizards to help take good flat frames so there's no reason not to do it.  Using the wizard you can get SGPro to figure out the best exposure times for each flat taking filters into account.

 

Personally, switching to this setup changed my outlook on image aquisition completely for deek sky work.

 

For Planetary, well that's a difference story and a different problem.

 

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I'll take a read of that, it's looking like it's a bit too automated for me at the moment. I think it would be awesome later when I've drilled down the manual procedures and happy with the process. Similar to how I'm glad I learnt proper paper chart work, although I'm more likely to use a GPS plotter these days I know if all else fails I can pick up a chart if needed. 

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I've used SGPro for around 3 years after migrating from MaximDL v5xx and could not justify paying the increase to v6. SGPro fit the bill as I'm observatory based, and, with any software that goes a long way to automating your imaging sequences, there is a learning curve. You can find lots of information youtube and astro foums, including Main Sequence (SGPro) about setting up your particular equipment. Once set correctly it runs a dream.

Steve

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17 hours ago, Anthonyexmouth said:

I'll take a read of that, it's looking like it's a bit too automated for me at the moment. I think it would be awesome later when I've drilled down the manual procedures and happy with the process. Similar to how I'm glad I learnt proper paper chart work, although I'm more likely to use a GPS plotter these days I know if all else fails I can pick up a chart if needed. 

It doesn't have to be fully automated.  The beauty of it is you can have as much involvement as you like, it just has the ability to fully automate if you so wish.  If I am using it in Spain I still tend to decide my target before hand, locate it using CdC, platesolve manually, set my camera cooling manually, open and calibrate Phd manually, set up my sequence and then run it.  The automated meridian flip is a boon as it doesn't mean you have to go to bed to say it did it while I slept, but it does mean you don't have to stress over it and fixate yourself on the mount and software during the countdown (although you can if you like this type of thing so can just switch the automated flip off).

Some people love it, some hate it.  I love it but also agree that there are many other options out there which perform exceptionally well, but not that many that roll so many things in to the single package.

Edited by RayD

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