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rwg

SharpCap - free Astro Webcam Capture Software

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More problems I'm afraid Robin!

Have downloaded the latest version today, but when I connect my cam up to it, all the buttons for Gain, Gamma, Contrast, etc etc have disappeared.

Have I done something wrong?

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Hmmm,

have you by any chance picked the camera from the  'DirectShow Cameras' portion of the camera menu by mistake?

cheers,

Robin

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From the Camera tab at the top left, ASCOM CMOS QHY5IIL-C (which is my camera).

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post-5664-0-62713900-1437514686.jpg

You need to pick the top option shown with the tick in the above image to get full control of the camera. The two other options will likely give you an image but less controls available. The three options are there because there are 3 different ways SharpCap can control the camera for the QHY - directly, as a webcam and via Ascom.

As mentioned, if one option is missing, try unplugging and re-plugging the camera.

cheers,

Robin

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Ah, its easy when you know how.

Thanks Robin, that's fixed.  Sorry for being such a n00b!

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No worries,

one of these days I will get around to adding a warning message box if you select any option but the top one for a camera - trouble is that the names don't always match up, so it's not a trivial task.

cheers,

Robin

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c6accfa9e98529ba690d866269a2f9d7.jpg

I love Sharpcap! After a few teething problems and kind help from Robin, I'm out capturing my favourite target!

Thanks for the program and all the help. Very much appreciated.

Sent from my GT-I9505 using Tapatalk

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Well it didn't work tonight. As soon as I pointed the cam at Saturn - clouds rolled in. When do we get the cloudbusting button?

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@Thom,

glad to hear it's working - time to adjust your colour balance though ;)

@Stub Mandrel

Cloud busting isn't working yet. I've tried reverse polarizing the computers main power supply through the USB to the camera in the hope of forming a coherent laser beam to punch a hole through the clouds, but only succeeded in frying a couple of webcams so far...

cheers

Robin

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@Thom,

glad to hear it's working - time to adjust your colour balance though ;)

Oh yes, definitely! Just wanted to get data between the clouds though.  Final image in the lunar section.  Happy days!

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SharpCap 2.6 is now available for download

SharpCap 2.6 includes a complete re-write of the controls panel user interface. The old controls panel did it's job fairly well, but was becoming cumbersome as newer cameras add more and more controls that can be adjusted. Not only that, it had an embarrasing flicker under some circumstances when resized or clicked on. It was also fairly awkward to make any minor improvements to the controls without the risk of breaking them. Replacing the controls has been on the to-do list for a long time and now it's finally done.

Currently, most of the controls look very similar to their old versions, although they have been tweaked to give better use of available space (wider sliders, narrower labels and text boxes). The biggest change is that each group of controls can now be expaned or collapsed to allow you to see just the controls you need to work with. SharpCap remembers which groups you have opened and which you have kept close, so that the next time you run the program your favourite groups will open automatically.

If you have any problems with the new control UI, you can switch back to the old version by turning on the 'Use Old Camera Controls UI' in the settings dialog. This will be available for a few releases while any gremlins in the new UI are ironed out, after which the old UI will be taken out completely.

Other features in 2.6.1650 include

  • Better grouping of controls within the camera control panel
  • Updated ASI SDK to support ASI178, 185 and 224
  • Add support for SER version 3 output (RGB SER file writing)
  • Fix upside down image output in PNG captures
  • Fix various bugs from bug reports.

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

cheers,

Robin

Edited by rwg
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Me again. Downloaded 2.6 but I seem to have lost my little frame countdowner in the bottom right corner. Shame because that was really helpful, especially with the eta.

Sent from my GT-I9505 using Tapatalk

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No worries, it's just come back up! Fixed itself.

Sent from my GT-I9505 using Tapatalk

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Is this the right place to ask - is there a 'safe' website for trying to get drivers for older webcams? I have several I want to try out but most of the sites that come up with W8 drivers make me uneasy...

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Quick update - the £1 webcam (in golden-satin lined box!) my wife got me today works, the install drivers failed but told me it used a Vmicro301 neptune chip and (despite incredibly slow download speeds) Vmicro Vista driver works well under W8 - hi res at 15 fps, seems to be reasonably sensitive - might suit guiding.

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Glad to hear that you've got it working. For some of these cheap webcams, drivers can be an issue, although if the webcam implements the standard USB Video protocol then you may not need any drivers (the built in USB Video driver from Microsoft will work).

Anyway, one trick to find working drivers for a device is to search online for its hardware ID - this is an ID that uniquely identifies the manufacturer and device type to Windows so that Windows can work out if you have the right drivers - it looks something like - "VID_0547&PID_B122" - which stands for Vendor ID 0547, Product ID B122. You can find this in the device manager... Double click on the device, select the details tab and choose 'Hardware IDs' from the drop down.

cheers,

Robin

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Thanks, Robin. That is a really useful tip.

One thought I have had whilst using Sharpcap [apologies if this has been dealt with previously (I haven't checked the entire thread)].

Because the focussing module is so accurate, and updates so rapidly, I sometimes find it difficult to decide when I have achieved best focus. In my case this is exacerbated by the fact that I have to adjust focus manually and need to wait for the scope to stop vibrating when I stop touching it. My thought was that, if there were an option to display an average reading (maybe to 1dp) that updates every couple of seconds, it would be fairly easy to find the highest value and so know you were really close and you could then switch to the more accurate readout for fine-tuning if required.

Obviously this would all depend on how complicated it would be to program and whether anyone else thought it would be useful, but that is my thought/feedback, for what it is worth.

Thanks.

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Glad to hear that you've got it working. For some of these cheap webcams, drivers can be an issue, although if the webcam implements the standard USB Video protocol then you may not need any drivers (the built in USB Video driver from Microsoft will work).

Robin

Thanks Robin,

I haven't found a single camera which comes up with a 'direct show' option yet, perhaps it's just luck or does it need to be 'activated'?

I agree with Demonperformer - I don't use the focusing aids for exactly the same reason. I get a 'best' reading that's clearly spurious and that I can never get anywhere near and it jumps around so fast after the decimal point I can't judge it. Perhaps something like a long VU meter across the bottom of the screen would be better? You could have a 'real time' bar, a rolling average (over several seconds) bar and a maximum marker.

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Hi folks,

I think that the focus score already averages all the frames over 1s (but will have to check). I wonder if the right thing to do here is to make that time adjustable, so it could average over 2, 4 etc seconds.

The way I use it is to work through the focus range slowly, looking for the lowest score I can get, then work backwards again until I hit that score or very close to it. (Or for the contrast detection focus you are looking for the highest score, but you get the idea)

cheers,

Robin

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The update to allow you to control how long the focus score is averaged over is now in Sharpcap 2.6.1658 which can be downloaded from the usual place.

Worth an upgrade from 2.6.1650 as it fixes a couple of bugs too.

cheers,

Robin

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Wow! Service with a smile :-)

I did do an experiment, and yes the updates were at 1s intervals - but they do seem to happen much faster when you are trying to focus in the dark!

Thanks Robin

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SharpCap is a fairly new Webcam capture application that I've written over the last 6 months or so. It's designed from the start to be easy and convenient to use for Astronomical use. Sharpcap is free software both in the 'free beer' sense (i.e. it costs you nothing) and the 'free speech' sense (i.e. you get to modify it if you want).

To cut to the important bit, if you want to try it out, the SharpCap web page is here :

http://sites.google.com/site/rwgastro/sharpcap

You will always be able to find the latest info and download the latest version from that page.

Why would you want to use SharpCap? Key features include :

  • Camera controls always open alongside the capture window - no need to open dialogs
  • Can save and restore capture profiles, which store all the camera settings - once you have your camera set up perfectly to capture the moon, save the settings and restore them later
  • Can adjust camera settings during capture if necessary
  • Automatic file name generation for each new capture - no more overwritten captures
  • Useful preview transforms - these preprocess each frame of the image when previewing:
    • Highlight over exposed areas
    • Image boost (increase gain to find faint things)
    • Focus score (measures image sharpness to help focusing)
  • Adjustable reticule overlay
The idea for SharpCap came after spending too many cold evenings fighting with other capture software and ending up overwriting my previous capture file or capturing with the wrong settings.

A number of forum members have been using it already, and there is an existing discussion thread about it here :

http://stargazerslounge.com/diy-astronomer/98474-new-webcam-capture-software.html

Unfortunately you have to dig through quite a lot of stuff on that thread to find the useful info (like where to download the latest version), so I'm hoping to let that thread die and start over here. Additionally, now the application is more mature, I'd hope that more people would discover it here in the imaging forum.

Suggestions for new features and changes are always welcome. Things that are currently on the to-do list and might appear in a future version include :

  • Night mode colour scheme
  • Focuser control (via ASCOM)
  • Capture via ASCOM compatible cameras (maybe)
Robin
Thanks robun ... will try to download it for the weekend. .. lrt u know how it goes

Sent from my SM-A500F using Tapatalk

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I've finally found a webcam that offers LX mode, but despite getting a picture, at bottom left I get **LX Configuration is Incorrect** and changing the exposure either has no effect or causes a crash :-(

Is there a way I can 'correct' the LX configuration?

<edit> ah! This means I have a webcam I can mod for long exposure - where's the soddering iron?

Edited by Stub Mandrel

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