Sequence Generator Pro Image Capture Suite v2.1 is Released!
Sequence Generator is a powerful image capture suite that supports equipment profiling for easy sequence generation, powerful event sequencing, auto focus, automatic precision target centering, click-to-center, automatic meridian flipping (using PHD) and hundreds of other features.
To find out more visit our site at www.mainsequencesoftware.com
It's been a long six months and we have made way more changes than we ever intended... but we're done! Version 2.1 is complete and, while we won't tell you there isn't a single issue, we will say that we have spent many, many hours running a battery of tests that will help ensure a safe and accurate completion of your sequences. In addition to that, we would not have been able to do this without your help. Thanks to the many people who were both patient and diligent in their efforts to report what were sometimes very frustrating issues to us and then make sure they got fixed.
On to 2.2 (after a little break)!
You can download version 2.1 here:
* Scroll to the bottom for 2.1.22 specific changes...
We have changed the way that we acquire and save data from the camera (we are now using a 14-bit to 16-bit linear scaling). While your eyeballs will likely not notice anything different, you will want to recapture any calibration data if you have saved it off.
If you are a QSI owner, we have changed the way we build against the QSI driver set and you will need to do the following: Completely uninstall the QSI drivers, completely uninstall SGP (don't try to upgrade... you may get a QSICamera.dll un-registration error, ignore it), ensure the SGP directory (in Program Files) is gone (you won't lose settings or profiles). Re-install QSI drivers, install SGP 2.1.
Sequence Generator Lite - It's Free!
While it will not have near as many features as the "Pro" version, it is still quite capable in its own right. With it, you will be able to
- Create (but not save) multi-target sequences using a camera and filter wheel
- Set your camera's temperature (manually)
- Pause and resume sequences
- Dither with any supported auto guider
- Perform a manual frame and focus (using a mask or your choice of focusing aide)
- Use and save the layout of the interface and its modules (except the PHD module)
Anything you are used to using that is not a part of this list is likely restricted to the "Pro" feature set. It should be noted that there is not a separate version (download) to get Sequence Generator Lite... when your trial expires, your installation will automatically convert to the free "Lite" version.
For a more complete comparison, you can check out this page:
The simplest multi-target sequence will function as follows:
- Work is selected based on the order of the targets from top to bottom (unchecked targets are considered inactive and will not be selected for work).
- A target consists of N events. Each event in the target will be executed in order (depending on event ordering options).
- When a target's events are completed, that target is marked as such and the sequencer will move to the next active target in the list.
This basic set of rules gets a bit more complex when you decide to alter the sequence in real-time. Here are some rules that are good to understand:
- Moving targets: In general, targets operate using the "sticky target" principle. This means that once a target starts, it will generally finish before moving on to another target. This includes targets that are moved above the currently running target. Suppose you have two targets (target 1 and target 2) and target 1 is running. If you then decide to alter the order of the targets and place target 2 above target 1, target 1 will continue to run until it is finished, then it will run target 2. If you wish to run target 2 immediately, you can either reset the sequence or uncheck target 1 (abort the sequence if you want to do this immediately). Unchecking target 1 will cause the sequence to look for other work and target 2 will be selected (it is now ahead of target 1).
- Completed targets: When a target completes all of its events, it will be marked as completed. Being marked as completed is temporary and applies only to the current run. Completed targets may be modified, but will not be considered for any more work during this run. This means that if you add two new frames to a completed target, the sequence will be "complete" even though it has not attempted to capture the new frames. Completed targets have a check mark icon to the left of the target name.
Multi-Target Support: Sequence Generator Pro now supports multiple targets. Each target now has settings that can be accessed by right clicking and choosing "Settings" (or by clicking the gear icon to the left). Here you can name your target (this is the name that will be used for file pattern substitution). In addition, you are able to specify a location for the target and ask that the sequence automatically center on that location when it starts. If the new/next target crosses the meridian, automatic meridian flipping will occur. Lastly, you can specify that targets start and stop at specific times. If a target starts prior to the designated start time, it will wait to begin execution and if a target passes its end time, the sequence will move onto the next target (or end). Multi-target functionality will be the basis for future support of mosaics.
Automatic Meridian Flips: This functionality can be run manually or automatically as part of a sequence that requires crossing the meridian. Currently this functionality only works with PHD pre-release 1.13.6 and requires that SGPro uses the "Advanced PHD" guider. When invoked, SGPro will stop guiding, automatically re-center on your target, flip your calibration data, automatically select a guide star, resume guiding and then restart the sequence. Warning: Do not choose PHDv2 using a version of PHD that is not 1.13.6 or better...
Changes to events: We have never been at ease with the notion of Pause and Park events as event types. The sequencing table, as you can tell by the fields in any given row, are designed for events that produce images and not necessarily things like parking. As such, we have developed an extensible "Event Options" system that will allow for image related events (like pause and park) to execute in-sequence. This creates a simpler sequence and allows us to have a more flexible system going into the future. These event actions are reflected with indicator icons so that you can see, at a glance, if your image based events have pause or park actions associated with them. The dots on top of the icons from left to right are indicative of "Pre-event" and "Post-event".
New flats data system: We have reworked the entire flats helper system. In 2.0, this system could only support saving flats data for monochrome CCDs with dedicated filter wheels (i.e. there were fixed spots for storing flats exposure data for each filter with binning values from 1x1 to 4x4). This didn't work well for storing flats data for OSC CCDs and Canon cameras. The flats system now has a "variable storage system" that can store exposure length for any combination of binning or ISO values.
Flats Calibration Wizard: We have added a Flats Calibration Wizard. This wizard will be capable of quickly determining (with very little interaction), the appropriate exposure values for your filter set (or no filter for Canons and OSC) and their associated cameras modes (binning and ISO). Just set your target ADU, select your modes and click start. We have even included min and max exposure duration in case your camera has a mechanical shutter. Most cameras can find an appropriate exposure length in three attempts. Note that Canon cameras have a non-linear response so these cameras may see a little bit more thrash when trying to center in on a value... After completing the wizard, you can save that data to a profile or to the current sequence for use with the Flats Wizard or just simply by selecting a "Flat" event type.
Flats Wizard (previously "Create Flats Sequence"): The flats wizard will now allow you to create a new flats sequence or add flats events (with pauses) to the current sequence (these options all require a "lights" sequence as input). You can automatically add a flat event for each light event in a target (optionally at the end of a target, after each light event or as its own target).
Image Grading Tool: This tool will help you figure out which of your sub-frames might be "bad" (out of focus, bad tracking, clouds). It will allow you to add any number of frames (from the same target) and it will automatically attempt to group them by "like" filter. Each image will be assigned a value for "whole image HFR", star count and a proprietary "score" rating between 1 and 100 (higher is better).
New "Manual Filter Wheel": This is an option for folks using Mono CCDs with manual filter wheels (or filter drawers). This filter wheel functions exactly like any other filter wheel, except instead of moving automatically it blocks the sequence and requests that the user switch the filter wheel and click OK to resume.
Focuser backlash compensation: Using this feature will ensure that focus is approached from the same direction (as the focus run). This is useful if your focuser gearing and motors have a good amount "play". If you were running auto focus in the past without issue, you don't need to use this.
Alnitak Flatman control (intensity and shutter): In addition, sequneces can now use flatman boxes to automatically open and close the shutter and set brightness in-sequence for flat events.
Ability to blind solve images: Sequence Generator Pro can now blind solve images via Astrometry.NET. You can blind solve a target reference image or the scope's current position.
Dark frame subtraction for auto focus frames: You can now specify dark frames in order to remove noise from your auto focus images.
Automatic Image Retry when PHD guiding fails: The sequence will now automatically retry the current frame when PHD guiding deviates from "0" for a certain (user-defined) period of time (from wind or some other external disturbance). The retry frame will trigger focus events like a new frame would. This functionality will not be available for Astroart or Metaguide users.
Event Alert Logging: Events now record sequence alerts so you can better determine root cause of failure at a later time. For, instance, if you have a dither failure or if your frame automatically restarts due to guiding error, these items will be logged here (frame number, time and reason). These notifications can be accessed by clicking on the event's exclamation icon.
Specify a "settling time" for the auto guider: This is found in the auto guider tab and essentially means that you can ask the sequence to wait until your guider has consistently been under some value for a certain amount of time. For instance, you might want to say that, before the sequence resumes, guiding (PHD) should be under 0.5 for 5 seconds (or whatever you choose). This helps with two scenarios... First some mounts with a lot of RA/DEC slop will move toward 0 after a dither and then fly right by it on the other side as play is removed from the gearing and motor. Second, in the case where you are using auto guider pause and resume events, the guider can sometimes resume and return and older "stale" value. This value will likely be under your settling threshold and cause a false sequence start. The value you choose here should take your guider exposure length into account (multiply that number by 5 as a starting point). If you don't want to use this simply keep the value at 0. This functionality will not be available for Astroart or Metaguide users.
Specify a maximum number of attempts and max error threshold for "Center on Reference Image" operations: These settings are found in the Plate Solve tab (bottom right). When set, the centering routine will automatically retry until the error is under the amount you specified or the maximum number of attempts is encountered. Most mounts will require more than one iteration to center on a reference image.
User profile manager: SGPro now contains functionality that will let you add observer name, site name, site elevation, site latitude and site longitude to the FITS header. You can create as many profiles as you want and select a profile to use per-sequence. You are not required to make a profile. If this is of no interest to you, then it can be ignored completely.
Filter Override for Auto Focus: You can now use a single pre-designated filter for auto focus. This is particularly handy with narrowband focusing. If you know the focus offset between your luminance and narrowband filters (or they are parfocal), you can significantly reduce your auto focus frame by running AF with luminance and then having the sequence automatically switch back to the required sequence filter.
Filter Override for Auto Centering: Much like the auto focus override filter above, you can specify a filter for centering operations. Using a luminance filter here can reduce the amount of time that auto center takes to complete.
- Pause events at the beginning of a sequence are now triggered.
- Selecting type "Flat" will automatically populate exposure and repeat data if it has been populated
- Added functionality that allows for manually restarting the current event frame (Tools->Restart Current Event)
- Added option to each event to reset only single events (found in new event options dialog)
- Added new file naming pattern of %dy (day - 12 hours as DD)
- Added %ct to the file naming pattern (camera temperature)
- Changed full date patterns to YYYYMMDD (moved year in front)
- Added Light Pollution Filter "LPF" to suffix auto-populator
- Added the ability to duplicate targets
- Can now add a new event that is a copy of another (in the same target)
- An event can now copy from another event or copy to other events (using the gear icon next to the event number). You can use this to define one event and propagate some or all of these properties to other events.
- End of sequence actions (like park) are run if the sequence was not aborted by the user (for automatic aborts)
- Left and right arrow keys adjust an image's white point. Alt+left or right arrow keys now adjust an image's black point.
- Holding alt and using the mouse wheel now adjusts an image's black point (doesn't work with "floating" images until you click the image... will try to fox this)
- Up and down arrows now control image zoom
- More tolerant of opening FITS files with corrupt headers
- Setting and slewing to focus targets now makes sure you meant to do those things
- Status icons for auto focus, focus reminders, auto center, auto meridian flip, dithering, guider stop and frame restart are now in the bottom right of the main window. If they are not grayed out, your sequence is using them.
- Images smaller than the view port are now centered (vs pinned to upper left)
- Auto center error text is no longer red
- Added time to flip indicator. Located in the status bar in the main window (next to the globe), the telescope tab and the telescope module.
- Can now hide the status bar if you don't want it.
- Added OK buttons to RA and DEC angle / hour entry dialogs
- Images solved with Pinpoint now have stars with proper names (modern names) labeled
- Status text and progress bars moved from the sequencer window to the main window's status bar
- Implemented exposure countdown for Frame and Focus, Auto Focus and Plate Solve frames. Done in same manner as in sequence frames
- Added keyboard shortcut F5 (runs the sequence)
- Better support for Canon cameras (Digic III and better)
- Full support for the Meade DSI camera line.
- Better compatibility with Moravian cameras
- Canon cameras now save data using a 14-bit to 16-bit linear scaling
- Pre-exposure flush control for older FLI cameras (in the settings dialog)
- Added button to control panel that allows for flipping calibration data (in PHD only)
- Stabilized PHD communication
- Added a manual flat box (prompts you to position and remove your manually operated flat box when a sequence is running flat events).
- Camera temperature (for FITS header) is now captured prior to download to accommodate for cameras that turn the cooler off during download
- Added option for QSIs to disable hi-speed readout during frame and focus and plate solving (some 683 models experience trouble when hi-speed downloads are enabled)
- Last focus time and temp are no longer reset if the camera is disconnected
- SGPro will now prompt to import filter data from the filter wheel's driver (when they have not been defined by the sequence)
- Added a button to import filters from your filter wheel's list (in the filter setup dialog)
- Focus triggers are no longer mutually exclusive... choose as many as you would like
- The Auto Focus dialog now has a button for "Run Again". This is only available when running manually
- The Auto Focus dialog now has a button for cancel (after a run is complete). When clicked the focuser will revert back to its pre-auto focus position.
- Added feature that allows for selecting an "override" filter for use during auto focus (should not be used unless you have tested that your filters are parfocal)
- Increased range for AF step size
- Reduced the auto focus max star count to 300 (from 1000). This should be more than sufficient to calculate a mean HFR (and faster)
- Changed the way auto focus detects star collisions (gets better data)
- Auto focus method has been changed to auto focus metric to avoid confusion. Choices are now HFR (available to all SGP users) and FWHM (available only to Pinpoint users). HFR is still the preferred metric.
- Added feature to have auto focus settle the guider before each frame.
- Image scale, angle and position no longer reset if the new reference image does not explicitly contain data for these fields.
- Better error handling when "Auto Centering" or "Center Here" fails.
- Auto Center "Step 2" now gets updated with step 4 data on retry
- No longer required to select a plate solver to get Flickr or Astrobin solve data
- Removed the notion of "flipped" from all plate solving activities... this will not affect your solves
- Blind solver is now enabled even if no plate solver is selected
- Added ability to specify a filter for use during auto center and center here routines. This is useful if you are conducting narrowband imaging, but want to use a lum filter for plate solving (less exposure time)
- SGPro now properly cleans up temporary files (like plate solve images)
- Better support for non-English regional settings
New in version 2.1.23
- Added "Jump List" functionality for Windows 7 users (start menu and task bar icons have "Recents" list)
- Fixed a bug where FITS keywords for RA and CRVAL1 were written in decimal hours instead of the expected decimal degrees
- Fixed a bug where reference plate solver would not recognize FITS keyword RA when it was in HH:MM:SS.SS format
- Fixed a bug where Ctrl+I did not attempt to open an image file
- Fixed a bug that would sometimes fail to use camera temperature properly for file naming
- Fixed a bug where SGF files were no longer registered to SGPro (now you can double click an SGF to open it)
New in version 2.1.22
- Fixed a bug that would allow user to export a corrupt solve reference
- Fixed a bug that would allow users to center on targets with invalid location data
- Fixed a bug where guider would not wait to settle when run manually
Sequence Generator 2.1 - Image Capture Suite!
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