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SharpCap - free Astro Webcam Capture Software

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There are some good video tutorials, including on the use of Sharpcap with webcams (not the ASI cam, sadly, but the ideas are similar). Have a look here : http://www.astronomy....php?f=19&t=900

Robin

I'm familiar with Astronomy Shed, and I've watched both of Dion's SharpCap tutorials over and over again. His tutorial assumes that one already is familiar with the concepts of gamma, gain, etc. I'll have to do lookups on those specific terms. Thanks for your suggestion.

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I'm looking for a webcam and software that will work with my Win8 (arrrghhhh) 64 bit laptop. I have an old Meade LPI, but have not been able to get it working due to driver issues. I am interested in very simple bright object imaging for now (Moon, Sunspots, Jupiter) with my 8" SCT.

Thanks,

Barry

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Tricky one - I have long been a fan of the Lifecam Cinema HD as a webcam, but with Windows 8 the drivers seem to make it completely auto exposure auto brightness, even when you turn the controls to manual, which is rubbish. Anyone out there with any current suggestions?

Robin

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Use an old laptop for astro with XP installed and automatic updates turned off...

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Hi Robin,

I inadvertently failed to register after I installed SharpCap 2 Beta. Realizing this, after attempting to use SharpCap and getting a message telling me the version had expired, I uninstalled the expired version. I then downloaded again from your site and installed the newly downloaded version. I continue to get the following message when I open SharpCap: "This version of SharpCap has expired - please visit www.sharpcap.co.uk to download an updated version."

Is it possible for me to download and install 2 Beta again?

Regards,

Russ

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Hi Russ,

thanks for the message - actually it's nothing to do with registration, it's just that I build a time limit into all the beta builds of SharpCap to ensure people have to update to newer beta builds (which will have bug fixes in) and eventually to the final released build. If I don't do this then I tend to get people who just download a build and use it basically for ever, and that tends to lead to a lot of bug reports coming in for bugs I've already fixed...

Anyway, what happened here is that I've had a really hectic August and never got around to releasing either a new beta or the final 2.0 build, so the timebomb of the latest build on the download page expired :embarassed:

I have created and uploaded a new build just now - if you go to the download page you should see it (build 751)

cheers,

Robin

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I have already put this on the SharpCap forum on the shed but have had no reply so I am hoping someone will answer my question on this one.

The other night I tried connecting my QHY5 to SharpCap2 Latest Beta version. It came up in the menu but when I tried to get any images on the screen it was just blank. I tried QGvideo to check it was working and I had a lovely image of Arcturus on the screen. No matter what I did with SharpCap I couldn't get anything on the screen. I want to use SharpCap because of the reticule overlay. Anyone got any idea's?

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I have already put this on the SharpCap forum on the shed but have had no reply so I am hoping someone will answer my question on this one.

The other night I tried connecting my QHY5 to SharpCap2 Latest Beta version. It came up in the menu but when I tried to get any images on the screen it was just blank. I tried QGvideo to check it was working and I had a lovely image of Arcturus on the screen. No matter what I did with SharpCap I couldn't get anything on the screen. I want to use SharpCap because of the reticule overlay. Anyone got any idea's?

Ooops, missed your original thread - on the case now over at 'shed.

Robin

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Hello,

 

I have been using SharpCap and it is a first class bit of software. I have written some applications so I know what blood sweat and tears go into this. I joined this forum in hope of finding answers to some quesitions. I am in NTSC land, so I will stick to those numbers.

 

First (and most important to me) is if I connect a security cam that uses a Sony 960H chipset and outputs a 976 x 480 image, will SharpCap recognize the WD1 format and display it at full width? If not, will it show the image, but at some other size?

 

Any of you who visit the video forum at cloudynights.com might have seen the energetic exchanges about the LN-300 and Astro-Video Systems modification using the Sony ExviewHAD II sensors. Rock Mallin posted that his MCV-1 USB dongle is true HD and points to the fact that his software shows 525 lines detected. Well SharpCap detects 525 lines from an LN-300 and the Samsung SCB-2000. Both are NTSC versions so the 525 seems right (for the line count not the 480 high image area.

 

The question then, is what is the detected lines value in SharpCap, an actual count, a lookup value for NTSC or what?

 

Thank you.

 

David

 

MoragaSky on NSN

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Hi David,

The resolutions reported as available in Sharpcap are not calculated by Sharpcap itself - Sharpcap just asks the video capture device driver (the MCV-1 driver or whatever you are using) what resolutions it is prepared to supply and uses those figures. Pretty much every capture program for webcams on Windows (Amcap, Wxastrocapture, etc) will be working the same way, will ask the same question of the capture driver and give the same options.

I have designed SharpCap so that it (in general) will not add extra stages that process or alter the captured images on the way to the capture file, so for instance it will not apply compression to saved AVI files unless the data coming from the capture driver is already compressed, and it will not scale or tweak the images either.

There is a lot of misunderstanding around about webcam capture applications, claiming that application X gives sharper preview images or application Y saves better quality AVI files. This is all essentially rubbish. All of these applications (including SharpCap) just instruct the Microsoft DirectShow framework to start capturing from the camera, show the preview in this window and write the video to this AVI file. The Microsoft code works the same for all the different apps. Different camera drivers might make a difference, different applications wont (*)

Robin

(*) The one unforgivable sin for a capture application is to re-compress the video when saving to AVI - for instance if the capture comes from the camera in I420 format (compressed by reducing the frequency of the hue/saturation info), you don't want an application that then re-compresses in MJPG format to save to AVI. Not only would this eat CPU power for the recompression process, but you would have two sets of compression artifacts in the resulting AVI - one from the original compression and one from the re-compression.

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Robin, thank you for the swift response. I will post in the EZCap forum for information about the driver. They describe their device as supporting (up to) 720 x 480.

I can be slow sometimes, so bear with me. When I see "detected lines" on the Video Decoder tab is this also a value reported by the driver? I see that it is zero when no camera is attached.

What is the effect of checking the VCR check box?

Thank you, once again.

-David

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Hi David,

once again, I can't be of much help as the dialog that you are referring to is provided by the capture driver, not the Sharpcap application. Sharpcap just has a way to tell the driver to show it's configuration dialog.

cheers,

Robin

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New SharpCap 2.0.878 Available

http://www.sharpcap.co.uk/sharpcap/downloads

If you are already on the latest 1.99 beta or 2.0, this should appear as an auto update within the next 24 hours. There have been some issues with auto-update (mostly on Windows XP). I think that this new build should fix those, so if you have problems download and install from the web site in the old fashioned way :)

Big thank you to everyone who submits the error reports when they have a problem - the incoming reports have enough information in for me to typically fix 80% + of the reported issues, which lets me improve SharpCap for everyone. Keep those error reports coming!

cheers,

Robin

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Hi, All.

I'm a new member, but I have been using SharpCap for quite some time. I recently bought a ZWO ASI 120MC camera and I seem to remember reading that SharpCap can display the sensor temperature for this device. i'm running version 2.0.800.0. Could someone tell me how I access the sensor temperature display?

Any help much appreciated!

All the Best,

Brian

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Gosh--I feel foolish! I just found the temperature under "ROI Misc" in the filter options tab.

If you install the ASI SDK from http://www.zwoptical.com/Eng/Software/, SharpCap will be able to talk directly to the camera without using the DirectShow driver. When you do that you should get better control of the camera via the right hand panel, including a display that shows the sensor temperature.

cheers,

Robin

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Robin,

Thank you for the good advice--I will certainly do that. I hope it brings back the saturation option which seems to be missing for the ASI. I like to turn it off for H-alpha solar imaging. The 8-bit B&W option works, but it introduces strange behaviors when I do wavelet processing in Registax.

Best Regards,

Brian

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Robin,

Apologies for sending you this message via this forum, however your link to the Sky at Night forum (in your "hacking the Supatrak mount" section is a dead link.

I would like to ask you a quick technical question regarding the Supatrak mod, what's the best way to send it to you without filling up your Sharpcap forum ?

Many thanks in advance,

Pete 

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Hi Pete,

just drop me a PM on here if you want

Robin

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Hi, Robin.

Thank you for your suggestions! I installed the ASI SDK, but I don't see any new options in the right hand panel of SharpCap; is there a particular direstory I should install the SDK in?  I really need two options that were available for my LifeCam, but not for the ASI: saturation and contrast. I'm doing H-Alpha imaging and a B&W capture is most desirable (the red color image hides lots of detail). The 8-bit B&W option in SharpCap for this camera captures images that produce strange artifacts and behavior in Registax (because the software expects 16-bit images). I'd like to be able to capture color images with the saturation at zero. In the past, this approach has worked well, but I can't figure out how to do this in SharpCap for this camera. H-Alpha with my scope (a PST-double stack), produces images with uneven illumination (a brighter spot in the middle of the image). With the Lifecam, I could adjust contrast to get more even illumination. With the ASI, I have no such control, so the images have either a completely washed out central spot with a fringe of properly-exposed detail or (if I adjust the exposure for the bright spot) detail in the bright spot with a fringe so dark that no other detail is visible.

If you (or anyone else) has any suggestions on how to solve these problems, I'd very much appreciate your input.

Thanks and All the Best,

Brian

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Hi Brian,

can I just check that once you have installed the ASI SDK, you do see *two* entries in the camera menu for the ASI camera - one near the top in a section headed ASI Cameras, the other further down in the 'Direct Show Cameras' section. You need to pick the top one, in the ASI Cameras section, to use the direct ASI SDK method of accessing the camera.

cheers,

Robin

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In SharpCap the exposure slider works fine for me, but has an upper limit of 300 seconds.

Should one be able to manually enter exposure times in the box or not I wonder ?

Although the flashing cursor can be clicked into the exposure box when I click on it, numbers cannot be entered.

Can someone say if this is normal, please?

Thanks.

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Hi ViewMaster,

300s is the upper limit on the exposure slider for LX modified webcams and Basler cameras. It's not a hard limit because the cameras could go longer in both cases, but at the time I set it no-one seemed to be taking exposures longer than about 120s on the webcams due to noise issues, so going higher than 5 minutes seemed pointless. Setting a higher limit would also make the adjustment coarser at lower exposures.

You shouldn't be able to enter times manually - the boxes are disabled for input, they just show the value. You can put the cursor in them to allow you to cut or copy the value to the clipboard (read only Windows text box controls still allow that).

cheers,

Robin

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