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#1 yock1960

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 10:20 AM

So, I received my ASI120MC on Friday and was able to go out and use it that evening. I started with my old Sempron 3000+ laptop, XP & SharpCap. That didn't do too well, so I rushed into the house and brought out a somewhat newer laptop (Core2Duo 2.1ghz, Vista 32bit) again using Sharpcap. Capturing @ 640x480 I was getting in the high 20's fps, but dropping quite a few frames (hundreds) in 2 minutes of capture.

Yesterday I did some 'Google-ing' and saw things like making sure that antivirus is disabled (it wasn't), defragmenting the HD (setup to run weekly) & such. Anyway, I've gone out and played around a bit, making sure AV is off and actually started playing around (with FireCapture beta 2.2 first). Now I can't get even 15fps when capturing! Preview is around 30fps, but drops down when capturing. This is in bothe FC and Sharpcap.

In general in both programs, fps reported seems dodgy. Changing the exposure setting can wake it up so to speak, as can setting the ROI. Although I'm not clear if ROI is what I would call a sub-frame or if it is a different mode (like on the SPC900NC), but maybe there is no real difference whether you call it ROI or whatever. I finally found the 'high speed' setting in the driver dialog....doesn't seem to have much effect.

I have a day or two....or more...to get this figured out.

I guess I will start with uninstalling/re-installing the camera driver. Any other ideas?

Steve

#2 Rankinstudio

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 10:27 AM

The cam is supported in FireCapture, and that is the recommended capture software. It works very well. Did you try FireCap?

#3 yock1960

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 11:47 AM

Yes, I tried FC...slow!

So, I uninstalled the driver and SharpCap. FC does not install, so not much to do there. Got up to date in Windows, eliminated many programs in msconfig, rebooted, re-installed the driver and now I'm back to where I was....using FC.

At 640x480 I get in the neighborhood of 34FPS with a theoretical max of 200FPS. At 320x480 I get up to about 65/200FPS.

Just now went and turned 'high speed' on and everything approximately doubles. So, what if anything am I losing doing this? Noisier?

Another question: Some ROI's are faster than I would have thought they should be. For instance, 640x480=34, 800x400=40. I guess the vertical is more of a driver than total bytes per frame then?

Steve

#4 bunyon

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 11:56 AM

If you're getting 67-70fps at 640x480, I think that is all you get. IOW, sounds like it works.

I have no idea about that setting (high speed).

#5 RedLionNJ

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 06:23 PM

I had similar issues when I first received my ASI120MC. In fact, I was getting RIDICULOUSLY low frame rates at full resolution - under one FPS!

I see the "high speed" flag in the driver and didn't see a whole lot of change. I tried a different version of FireCapture and saw a slight improvement, but only if I turned the high speed flag back OFF.

Eventually I set my ROI down to 640x480 and got about the same results you saw.

In desperation, I also got a more powerful laptop and took it out to temporarily replace my aging P4 WinXP box. The results were like night and day. I forget the exact frame rates, but the 640x480 ROI was giving comfortably over 60.

My ultimate solution was to buy a faster computer for my observatory and make sure the ASI120MC is directly cabled to the computer (no hub) and nothing else is impinging on its USB bandwidth. I can get up to 100fps with a 500 x 360 ROI in this manner (and the high speed flag enabled).

Good luck,

Grant

#6 yock1960

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 07:25 PM

and make sure the ASI120MC is directly cabled to the computer (no hub) and nothing else is impinging on its USB bandwidth. I can get up to 100fps with a 500 x 360 ROI in this manner (and the high speed flag enabled).


Yeah, that's something I need to check on! Today's testing was only with the camera, nothing else. Something to do tomorrow...

Steve

#7 RedLionNJ

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 08:39 PM

I was just out a few minutes ago, "enjoying" the best seeing of the year so far, maybe a 1.5 out of 5. Terrible year so far...

Anyway, I can also confirm one of the other symptoms, too. When tying to adjust the gain and gamma using the FireCapture sliders, sometimes the ASI driver can cause "everything" to lock up, sometimes eventually requiring a reboot to resolve. Sometimes FireCapture becomes responsive again, sometimes it doesn't. Once I even got a Blue Screen of Death, which unbashedly pointed to a USB device as being the root cause of my woes (Windows7, Home Edition).

The only way I found to reliably avoid hangs and crashes when adjusting the gain or gamma is to use the driver dialog from ASI, which you can call up by clicking the little cog icon in FireCapture.

At best, I would hope the ASI driver is a "work in progres".

Grant

#8 wenjha

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 08:50 PM

@Steve
if preview if fast but capture slow that is usually because of low writing speed of hard-disk.it usually happen is the color version because whose data is 3 times bigger than the mono one.
you can try to set the color space to mono8 in Sharpcap.you must can get a faster speed.
@Grant
I will do some test and contact Torsten to make it adjust more easyly

#9 RedLionNJ

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 09:59 PM

Sam - thanks!

And - are you saying there is a mode where I can make the ASI120MC work as a mono cam? Can this be achieved through FireCapture?

Grant

#10 wenjha

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 10:53 PM

Yes Grant
there is a mono mode but cannot achieved though FC

#11 MvZ

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 10:14 AM

Something else to keep an eye on:

The camera seems to prefer USB2 connections over USB3. So if your computer has both USB3 and USB2, than go for the USB2.

Also on some laptops it might be that certain USB2 port are controlled with a different controller than others. So even if you have only USB2 ports, do try out different ports!

#12 yock1960

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 09:32 PM

and make sure the ASI120MC is directly cabled to the computer (no hub) and nothing else is impinging on its USB bandwidth. I can get up to 100fps with a 500 x 360 ROI in this manner (and the high speed flag enabled).


Yeah, that's something I need to check on! Today's testing was only with the camera, nothing else. Something to do tomorrow...

Steve


So, I really don't know how it was that I was able to get the results that I did on my first light. Beginner's luck!

With FireCapture, the USB hub looks like a problem, but maybe not. I still think there is an issue sometimes in the FPS in preview mode. When I started testing, FPS was way low in preview mode, so I turned off the laptop and connected the mount via the hub into one USB2 port and the camera into another. Still had low FPS in preview mode until I futzed around a bit and then it woke up. I think I pressed capture and the FPS went up.

I ended up turning high speed off and this seemed to stabilize the FPS also, it was jumping around quite a bit with it on. After playing around a bit, I could see that the hard drive was having trouble keeping up. I've settled on 512x400, using 128k disk buffer and the RAM buffer too. At about 35FPS it takes until about 70 seconds until the disk buffer starts to drop and the frames saved start to fall behind frames captured. I can finish 2 minutes without exhausting the disk buffer.

I didn't see this with just the camera by itself. It doesn't seem that the mount and a joystick (EQMOD) and the filter wheel, should drag things down this much.

Would a 7200RPM drive help? The one I have is only 5400RPM. I'd have to upgrade to Win7/64 to upgrade my memory. It doesn't seem worth it to go from my current 3 to 4 with the 32bit OS.

Steve

#13 TorstenEdelmann

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 12:57 AM

Steve,

You really should consider going for a faster hard disk. I'm sure your 5400RPM drive isn't sufficient here. Capturing in color can create a huge amount of data. At 100fps with a 500x360 you will need a bandwidth of more than 50MB/s. Although writing the data to disc is mostly done on native side in FC there is still some overhead introduced by using Java. So I also recommend at least a dual core machine for using FC.

Torsten

#14 yock1960

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 08:13 AM

Ok. Are there any disadvantages to adding a 2nd hard drive in the DVD bay? I hardly ever use it and it seems very easy to pop out! I would just have to buy an HD tray and 7200 drive of course.

Steve






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