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Best Red Filter (Physical or App) for iPad?

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#1 Tom Polakis

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 01:10 PM

Apologies if this subject has been covered here already. I searched the CN archives to no avail.

SkySafari in its night vision mode is far too bright at a dark site, even with the screen brightness minimized. Is an app available that dims the screen such that dark adaptation can be somewhat preserved, but the chart remains visible? Failing that, does anybody sell a physical red filter that conveniently fits on the iPad? Again, sorry if this answer already exists. Just point me to that discussion if it does. Thanks.

Tom

#2 Lane

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 02:26 PM

I use this self adhering film from Astrogizmos. It works well and it clings to the iPad screen without actually sticking to it, so it can be easily removed and put back on as often as you want. They seem to have a size for the iPad now, back when I bought mine I just got a big sheet of the stuff and cut it myself. You might find that the monochrome mode may look better than night vision mode when you use this film.

#3 Lane

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 02:29 PM

By the way, you need to make sure you go into your iPad Settings (not sky safari settings) and turn off the auto brightness then lower the brightness. Even if you use the red self adhering film you will still want to do this.

#4 GaryJCarter

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 08:35 PM

And select Monochrome Chart in the Appearance settings....

#5 wbb

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 10:45 PM

Try the red cling material from www.siriusastroproducts.com you won't be disappointed.

#6 Steven Aggas

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 02:27 PM

Hi Tom, I use the Red Eyes "Film" on the laptop. I was observing with Bill Beers, the owner of Sirius Astro Products, in September at the Great Lakes Star Gaze, and we were discussing his planned addition of red cling film for iPads.

Steven

#7 Tom Polakis

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 03:49 PM

Thanks, all. I ordered the cling film that AstroGizmos custom sizes for iPad. I am very curious if it will be possible to bring the light down to a manageable level that is both readable and does not affect dark adaptation. I am more finicky than most folks in this regard.

I played with the settings in SkySafari to have it best represent a zoomable sky chart that I enjoyed for many years with Megastar on a laptop. It looks like setting the magnitude limit at 6 when fully zoomed out gets it about right. Maxing out the star symbol intensity makes the atlas much more useable, even though the rare bright star like Sirius or Canopus occupies several degrees in small-scale views.

Any other tips for how to make SkySafari into a useable field atlas would be welcome.

Tom

#8 btschumy

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 08:55 PM

Tom,

I will be interested in seeing how you like the AstroGizmos film. I don't find it as dark or pure red as Rubylith. My method is to use some clear static cling vinyl as a "glue" between the (unpeeled) Rubylitih and the glass screen. I find this works really well.

#9 wbb

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 11:53 PM

Bill,
The Red Eyes Cling from Sirius Astro Products is just the right shade where you can still see the color of your apps, on your iPad screen.

#10 Lane

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 01:24 AM

None of these films will be dark enough if you don't turn off the auto brightness in the iPad settings and then reduce the brightness to a low level. Not only will that make the film work better but it extends battery life beyond ten hours.

#11 Sorny

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 05:16 AM

With a retina display iPad (3rd gen), I've found that the night vision mode with auto-brightness off and brightness all of the way down in the app and in the general settings works fine...

#12 Tom Polakis

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 05:51 PM

Bill,

I just received the AstroGizmos self-adhering film today. It's more of a pink than the dark red that I was looking for, but I think it's OK. In a darkened room, I adjusted the brightness of the screen all the way down on the iPad, used night vision mode, and then adjusted the SkySafari screen brightness to about 50%.

It was important to then adjust the intensity of the such features as the constellation lines, stars, and Milky Way to make the chart readable when it's that dim. What I don't like is the brightness of that toolbar at the bottom, which I wish could be dimmed to be the same as the chart.

Ultimately, the hope is for this to be the replacement to Megastar, which requires a laptop and a deep cycle battery. It is not there yet, but it's close!

Tom

#13 wbb

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 09:19 AM

Tom,

I've tried both and the Sirius Astro cling is a darker shade. I had to dim down the screen a bit but not much.

Bill

#14 Alvin Huey

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Posted 05 November 2012 - 06:42 PM

The AstroGizmos does NOT work well for an iPad2, might for the iPad3 as the latter dims down to a lower level than the former. I used THREE pieces of the Astrogizmos and my screen is still blazing...yes white stars on black...still blazing.

I'm very interested in the Sirius stuff. How much darker is it? I'm hesitate to purchase it as it might end up in the trash.

#15 Lane

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Posted 05 November 2012 - 07:13 PM

Sounds like something wrong there, because I have both the iPad 2 and the iPad 3, I use one piece of Astrogizmos film and I can dim either one down so low that I can't hardly see the screen. I usually increase the brightness some just to be able to read it.

The Sirius film is the same film just sold by a different place. It is not going to be darker.

#16 btschumy

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Posted 05 November 2012 - 07:24 PM

Alvin,

Are you sure you disabled the auto-brightness feature in the iOS settings? This doesn't sound right at all.

#17 Alvin Huey

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 11:10 AM

Sounds like something wrong there, because I have both the iPad 2 and the iPad 3, I use one piece of Astrogizmos film and I can dim either one down so low that I can't hardly see the screen. I usually increase the brightness some just to be able to read it.

The Sirius film is the same film just sold by a different place. It is not going to be darker.


I also have both the iPad 2 and 3. Since the iPad 3 has a retina display while the 2 doesn't. The 2 doesn't go as low as the 3 due to lack of the dual backlighting feature. The lowest setting of the 2 is high enough where it is too bright (with three pieces) under mag 6.5 or darker skies.

Alvin,

Are you sure you disabled the auto-brightness feature in the iOS settings? This doesn't sound right at all.


Yes.

#18 Tom Polakis

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 03:20 PM

Are you sure you disabled the auto-brightness feature in the iOS settings? This doesn't sound right at all.


Yes.




Alvin,

In addition to turning the iPad's brightness all the way down, you need to go into SkySafari's brightness settings, and also turn it at least halfway down. That should bring the chart down to a manageable level, although I still find the thin toolbar below the chart to shine a bit too brightly at this level. That toolbar is nearly acceptably dim in the night vision mode with the AstroGizmos filter in place.

I have yet to use it at the dark site, however. My tests have been done in a darkened bathroom (don't laugh), which is far darker than the darkest site on the planet.

Tom

#19 Spaced

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 03:21 PM

. . . and remember, a guy can turn the toolbar on & off.

#20 Alvin Huey

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 04:02 PM

Hi Tom,

I know that we can dim down the SkySafaris...But for other apps, such as my downloadable observing guides with a pdf reader, it won't work.

CS,
Alvin

#21 Tom Polakis

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 04:56 PM

Hi Tom,

I know that we can dim down the SkySafaris...But for other apps, such as my downloadable observing guides with a pdf reader, it won't work.

CS,
Alvin



Agreed. It's way too bright for other apps, even with brightness turned all the way down.

To that end, I just order the Red Eyes Cling from Sirius, so I will soon do a side-by-side comparison of Astro Gizmos with it. I'm not happy with the pinkish color of the Astro Gizmos film.

Tom

#22 btschumy

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 07:06 PM

In addition to turning the iPad's brightness all the way down, you need to go into SkySafari's brightness settings, and also turn it at least halfway down. That should bring the chart down to a manageable level, although I still find the thin toolbar below the chart to shine a bit too brightly at this level. That toolbar is nearly acceptably dim in the night vision mode with the AstroGizmos filter in place.


Tom,
At your instigation I looked at the code that tints the toolbar in night vision mode. I have found a way to make that glow disappear and the whole bar is darker. It will be in the next release.

FYI, implementing night vision on iOS is pretty hard. You can't just set the color of the various controls to whatever you want. You have to jump through hoops to trick some visual elements into drawing with a reddened tint.

#23 Alvin Huey

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Posted 07 November 2012 - 02:20 AM

Tom,

Let me know your results.

Thanks,
Alvin

#24 Tom Polakis

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 09:46 PM

It's way too bright for other apps, even with brightness turned all the way down.

To that end, I just order the Red Eyes Cling from Sirius, so I will soon do a side-by-side comparison of Astro Gizmos with it. I'm not happy with the pinkish color of the Astro Gizmos film.



I received the Red Eyes Cling product today. Here is my preliminary comparison between it and the Astro Gizmos film. Hereafter, the two products will be called "Red Eyes" and "Astro Gizmos." And yes, I feel silly typing either of those names.


Red Eyes is much more floppy apparently due to thickness, whereas Astro Gizmos is closer to behaving like card stock. It does matter, since I want to stuff the film in the tight space between the iPad and its case, and that's really difficult with Red Eyes.

Red Eyes is cut such that its vertical dimension just barely covers the illuminated portion of the iPad screen. Not a problem, though, since it stays put once in place, like Astro Gizmos.

And here is the most important difference between the two. Red Eyes not only dims the light, but it also diffuses it slightly. This was immediately apparent when the two films were held up toward a light source, and it's very apparent in place on the iPad. Red Eyes has the effect of blurring everything on the screen. It is already difficult to read the screen at a light level low enough to preserve dark adaptation, so the film has to be as clear as possible. This alone sways me toward Astro Gizmos.

I'll stick with the Astro Gizmos film, and just write the Red Eyes film off as a loss. Astro Gizmos film does a nice job in my backyard observatory, which by the way is located in a white zone. One can only get to a certain level of dark adaptation in my yard, similar to observing under a Full Moon.

I haven't had a chance to try the iPad at a dark, desert site yet, but I suspect that the screen is going to be bright, even on SkySafari. That's not to say that SkySafari doesn't manage screen brightness as well as it can. I just don't think it's possible with a glowing iPad display to stay dark adapted, whereas I have been able to manage laptop display brightness adequately without so much of that annoying glow.

I hope I'm proven wrong, but I don't have high hopes for SkySafari on an iPad replacing clunky Megastar on a clunky laptop due to the glowing display issue. Hopefully, I'll find out this weekend, which looks favorable with an early moonset.

Tom

#25 Lane

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 06:30 PM

"Red Eyes not only dims the light, but it also diffuses it slightly."

I am going to have to strongly disagree with that statement.

I have been using Astro Gizmos for a while but decided to try the Red Eyes to see how it compares. It is definitely darker and takes away more of the color than the Astro Gizmos does. It does not reduce sharpness at all from what I can see. I am having no trouble reading the NGC numbers at all. If fact I think it may be the opposite, this film is thinner than the Astro Gizmos and may actually make things a bit easier to read.

I turned the iPad brightness down all the way and then put he sky safari brightness at 100%. Using Astro Gizmos this was way to bright for me, I would normally have this set to 50%. But at 100% the Red Eyes is perfect. If I drop the brightness in sky safari to zero, the Astro Gizmos is pretty dark but I can still read it, do the same with the Red Eyes and I can barely see anything, it is way to dark.

Here is picture with the iPad brightness turned up to about 60% and the Sky Safari brightness at 100%. I am viewing the Sun in this image. Left side is Astro Gismos and right side is Red Eyes.

The words on the left side look blurry only because of the camera focus and the angle I was holding the camera it does not really look like that. Both sides are very sharp.

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