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SharpCap - free Astro Webcam Capture Software

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Thanks Robin. Sorry, I'm not a computer tecchie, so I don't understand much about the technology!

The thing is, it doesn't crash because I'm unplugging the webcam. It just crashes seemingly at random. No doubt there is some sort of conflict with other stuff on my pc, but I wouldn't know where to start in diagnosing the problem. All I know is that it works OK on other capture programs, like Craterlet and WxAstroCapture.

Fair enough - I have a couple of ideas that I can try in the next version that might help, but I can't be sure since I'm not currently seeing the same problem myself. There is some talk over on the SPC880 thread about getting the camera to be recognised under Vista/Win7 without flashing it to an SPC900 using the .inf file from the Morgan web site. I wonder if that would be more stable since it would then (I think) use Microsoft webcam drivers rather than the Philips ones. I believe that it's possible to flash back to the original SPC880 condition using wcrmac. I'll have to have a try myself when I've finished testing my LX modded cam.

cheers,

Robin

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.... There is some talk over on the SPC880 thread about getting the camera to be recognised under Vista/Win7
My webcam is a genuine SPC900, not a flashed SPC880. Does that make a difference?

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You still could, in theory, flash to the SPC880 settings, but I don't suppose you'd want to go mucking about with it.

Robin

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Anyone here using Sharpcap have an LX modified SPC900 that they control using the parallel port? I'm working on an LX capable version of SharpCap and have it mostly done for control using the serial port, but I don't have any computers left with parallel ports...

I'm trying to work out if there is any call for parallel port control, and if there is I'm looking for someone to test it for me.

cheers,

Robin

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Robin, I will be doing the LX mod some time soon and I could lend you a laptop with a parallel port when I see you.

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Hi Themos,

unfortunately the LX mod I've done is for serial control, so even having a laptop with a parallel port won't help much. I can write the code to control the mod via the parallel port fairly easily and be _fairly_ confident it will work - just need someone who has one to test out the code for me before I release it to the world.

cheers,

Robin

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I get confused. I have one with a nine pin/hole plug. Is that parallel or serial?

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SharpCap 1.1.30 released!

  • Support for LX mode on modified webcams (SPC900, etc).
    • Serial control only right now, configure from the options menu. Most likely config is select the right COM port and choose RTS for the exposure control line.
    • Press the 'LX Mode' button on the toolbar to enable/disable LX mode
    • LX frames saved as a sequence of PNG images
    • If you want parallel port control, ask me! Ditto AVI output

    [*]Various bug fixes. Should work on cameras which fail to report an available mode list to DirectShow

If you're using LX mode, don't forget to turn the framerate down to 5 or 10, otherwise the compression ruins the image quality. I'm thinking of setting this automatically in LX mode in future. Also note that Sharpcap scans the first 5 frames after an LX exposure finishes and picks the brightest one to save. This avoids the 'dropped' frames which happen with some other capture software, but it means that if you pick a 0.5s exposure, you won't get 2 frames per second...

The bug fixes might help those who were having SharpCap crash on them, but probably won't do much for those unlucky few who were getting a blue screen of death. :)

cheers,

Robin

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d'oh. Uploaded a zip file and set the link to point to an msi.

Fixed now, cheers Kev.

Robin

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Has anybody got SharpCap to run under Linux? I am using wxAstroCapture but those exposure and focussing guides in sharpCap sound really handy. I assume, since it relies on .NET, it would have to run under wine with mono but I've got Registax running under wine.

--- Penguin.

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I have a quick SharpCap query. I'm using the program with an SPC900 webcam. does anybody have an opinion on whether it's best to adjust the appearance of what I'm capturing using the Exposure control or the gain control? Or even the gamma control? All three adjust the brightness of the display, but I wonder if one is better than the others, perhaps for getting less noise?

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I don't think it will work under Mono, since it uses DirectShow as the underlying technology for video capture and rendering. This isn't supported by Mono. Running it under Wine is more likely, since Wine looks to have at least some support for DirectShow (DirectShow - The Official Wine Wiki) and it looks like you can install .Net 2.0 on Wine. However it's entirely possible (even likely) that Wine doesn't support the video capture part of directshow, which would mean that the app might run but you'd have no cameras to select :)

Robin

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I have a quick SharpCap query. I'm using the program with an SPC900 webcam. does anybody have an opinion on whether it's best to adjust the appearance of what I'm capturing using the Exposure control or the gain control? Or even the gamma control? All three adjust the brightness of the display, but I wonder if one is better than the others, perhaps for getting less noise?

I'd say that the gain wants to be somewhere in the middle of the range, too high gives you noise, too low can give other artifacts on the image.

Same for gamma - turn this up or down too far and you will get odd looking pictures.

Exposure is your main control for the brightness of the image, with the others being there for tweaking once the exposure change has got close.

Robin

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I've gathered 3 webcams and made some tests/comparisons with SharpCap: link - 100 frames stack in Registax. I'm planning to remove the lenses and put 1,25" nosepieces and do Moon/Jupiter test also. Any tips what/how to compare and test them welcomed...

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There are some interesting things in those images you've put up...

The logitech obviously puts some sort of faint grid effect over the image that shows up badly in the deconvolutions.

The lifecam (to me) seems to produce the best images - both raw and deconvolved. It's good to see that the max zoom setting is just a crop rather than rescaling.

There seems to be a lot of edge noise in the deconvoluted MediaTech images - if you look closely you can see some edge effects in the original - maybe the camera is over-sharpening the image as it is captured?

Given the audience here, I'd suggest another indoor test with low illumination, putting each camera on its max exposure. Gets an idea of the low light performance without all the variability of seeing etc.

cheers,

Robin

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I've already disassembled all those webcams. Media-tech has smaller than 1/4" sensor. Logitech looks like standard 1/4". MS LifeCam was a nightmare to broke apart but it looks like it survived :) Should be able to do a scope test tomorrow. Moon + Jupiter if possible.

I've also noticed that those cmos-low-price-cams are made in wireless edition too (would be handy in some cases + if it would be a better webcam):

467474_Kamera_TRACER_Wireless_Gaze_Cam_03M_pixels_RF.jpg

mini.php?str=ZmlsZT0vdXBsb2FkL3Byb2R1a3R5L29wYWtvd2FuaWEvTVQ0MDI3X29wYWsuanBnJndpZHRoPTg4NCZoZWlnaHQ9MTA5NCZtb2RlPW1heF9zaXpl

Edited by riklaunim

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Some fresh results... Using SharpCap with LifeCam HD-5000 I've noticed that something is overriding the setting. I set exposure from auto to manual and either it reset on starting recording or when i drop the value slider.

And there should be a pause button to pause, fix planet position and resume recording.

Microsoft LifeCam HD-5000, USB 2.0

RGB24, 30 FPS, IR/UV cut

microsoft-rgb24-30fps-640.jpg

RGB24, 30 FPS, Pro Planet 742, max zoom for 640x480

microsoft-rgb24-30fps-640-ir-zoom.jpg

RGB24 and i420, 30 FPS, Pro Planet 742

microsoft-rgb24-30fps-640-ir.jpgmicrosoft-i420-30fps-640.jpg

RGB24, 10 FPS at 1280x800, Ir-UV Cut

microsoft-rgb24-10fps-1280-n115.jpg

RGB24, 10 FPS at 1280x800, Pro Planet 742

microsoft-rgb24-10fps-1280-ir.jpg

RGB24, 30 FPS, IR/UV cut

microsoft-jup-30fps-rgb24.jpg

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Logitech QuickCam Messanger USB 1.1

RGB24 i i420, 15FPS, Pro Planet 742, 47 and 131 frame stack

logitechmoon-rgb24-15fps-n47-ir.jpglogitechmoon-i420-15fps-n131-ir.jpg

RGB24, 15FPS, 2.8x UO Klee Barlow, UV/Ir Cut

logitech-18_02-rgb24-15fps-n489.jpglogitech-17_30_rgb24-15fps.jpg

Media-Tech MT4023 USB 1.1

YUY2, 5 and 4 FPS, Pro Planet 742

mediatech-yuy2-320-5fps-ir.jpgmediatech-yuy2-352-288-4fps-ir.jpg

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Same here, but on Win 7 x64 laptop with an SPC900; can't get the program to run at all (:)) I've set to run as Admin and I've tried running as Win XP SP3, but the result's the same. Is it possible the lappy's in-built webcam is conflicting with the SPC?

Twice I've installed sharpcap v 1.1.30.0 on a win7 64bit computer. It works fantastically well once or twice, (initiated from the desktop shortcut).

After this, all I get is a flash on the screen and nothing else. If I click the shortcut a second timein my system aborts.

Uninstalling sharpcap and reinstalling from the downloaded file in my downloads subdirectory does not cure the problem.

The solution (for me) was to 'revert' my computer to an earlier date and then install sharpcap.

BUT again my system aborts again after a couple of successful uses of sharpcap.

Apart from my incidents, Sharpcap seems to be an easy-to-use program that does the job.

Any and all suggestions welcome

regards

Tony

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Just a note:

When using a Phillips Cam connected via a Silex Gigabit network USB extender the program always crashes.

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Do you get an error message when it crashes? Or do you get a SharpCap.dmp crash dump file left on the desktop? Either would help me work out what is going wrong.

cheers,

Robin

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