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AstroTortilla - how does it work?

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#1 James Cunningham

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 04:18 PM

I downloaded Astrotortilla but for the life of me cannot understand how it works or how I am supposed to use it. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.
Jim

#2 richard7

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 04:47 PM

This should help a little.
Users guide. PDF.

#3 fmhill

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 06:26 PM

Richard,
Thank you for posting that link however it is already several revisions out of date.

As of 10 April, 2013, Astrotortilla Version 0.5.1 with new Index files series 4200 is out and the Installer has been modified for downloading the indexes without having to select a second server from a list as described...

There will probably be another update to Astrotortilla in several weeks as the BackYardEOS developer is presently working with the Astrotortilla development team to establish the control linking for Astrotortilla to work with BYEOS for camera control/imaging for automatic correction repositioning of the mount/OTA aim.

#4 fmhill

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 09:15 PM

For those wanting to try Astrotortilla who have a Windows 64 bit operating system, do NOT use the "Download" button on the Astrotortilla home page.

For the benefit of folks doing a first time install of Astrotortilla, if you have Windows 64 bit operating system, for the x64 version of AT, you will find it here:

http://sourceforge.n...roTortilla-0.5/

If you use the download push button, you get the 32 bit version, you should use the above link which will give you a choice of either the x86 (32 bit) or x64 (64 bit) versions...

#5 Vostok

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 03:21 AM

James,

Once you get everything installed, this is how it works:

1) launch AT and connect to a camera software and your mount driver

2) use something (like Stellarium) to slew to your target

3) in AT, check all three boxes on the lower right and click "Capture and Solve"

4) magic happens

5) your target is now centered in your frame.

I'll start working on updating the user manual to discuss the newer 4200-series index files soon.

Lauri / AstroTortilla team

#6 James Cunningham

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 07:34 AM

Does it make any difference that in the ASCOM setup, that the latitude and longitude are wrong? Can you use AT with alt/az as well as GEMs? How do you know for sure that it is connected? Thanks
Jim

#7 James Cunningham

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 08:16 AM

One other question, my camera is not listed. Its a Mallincam. Does the software support that camera? Thanks.
Jim

#8 fmhill

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 09:18 AM

One other question, my camera is not listed. Its a Mallincam. Does the software support that camera? Thanks.
Jim


AT works solely on an image made at the present point of aim of the telescope, AT has no knowledge of how the telescope is setup or what the AZ/El or LAT/LON are, it simply calculates where the OTA is presently aimed and what the correction values are to make the mount aim the telescope at the target...

As to what cameras are supported, its not cameras per say, but what camera control software is supported and at present, only tWO that I know of. Nebulosity, APT, (and soon BYEOS). Any camera that can be controlled by these imaging programs can be automatically controlled by AT to collect the images needed for automatic aim correction, however many different brand/type cameras can be used by either screen capture mode, or using the "file open" function of AT which works quite nicely... The only requirement is that the image file be in a compatible format with AT, the most common are FIT, TIF, and JPG.

#9 fmhill

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 09:25 AM

Does it make any difference that in the ASCOM setup, that the latitude and longitude are wrong? Can you use AT with alt/az as well as GEMs? How do you know for sure that it is connected? Thanks
Jim


What the Latitude and Longitude are set to is not important.

As to the AZ/EL type mount, I believe as long as the mount is ASCOM controllable such as any Celestron NexStar mounts with GoTo capability, yes, AT should work with this mount.

#10 mclewis1

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 09:41 AM

One other question, my camera is not listed. Its a Mallincam. Does the software support that camera? Thanks.Jim

Jim,

3rd party software generally doesn't directly support a video Mallincam because the camera's output doesn't directly connect to a PC. You have a USB frame grabber in between. So in most software a video Mallincam is setup as a webcam.

The control side is different, there are a number of apps that can control a video Mallincam through it's unique serial control interface ... but the video still goes through the USB frame grabber.

#11 Aimo

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Posted 13 April 2013 - 04:08 PM

One other question, my camera is not listed. Its a Mallincam. Does the software support that camera? Thanks.Jim

3rd party software generally doesn't directly support a video Mallincam because the camera's output doesn't directly connect to a PC. You have a USB frame grabber in between. So in most software a video Mallincam is setup as a webcam.
The control side is different, there are a number of apps that can control a video Mallincam through it's unique serial control interface ... but the video still goes through the USB frame grabber.


The vast differences on how to access each camera is one of the reasons why AstroTortilla doesn't really talk directly to cameras. The other reason being, if the camera is in use by your imaging software, AT can't access it, and if it's in use by AT, your imaging sw can't access the camera. To that end AT has been written to support full automation with a few known applications (MaxImDL, Nebulosity and APT currently supported). For other applications there is a file-open-dialog that asks for a new image file when one is needed, and a screenshot grabber that tries to solve a defined rectangle of an application window (continuously updating image stream, e.g. PHD guiding or QGVideo).

AstroTortilla is open-source, so if your imaging application of choice isn't supported, you can help make it supported.

-Antti

#12 Charlie B

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Posted 14 April 2013 - 06:40 PM

As of 10 April, 2013, Astrotortilla Version 0.5.1 with new Index files series 4200 is out and the Installer has been modified for downloading the indexes without having to select a second server from a list as described...



Now you tell me. Last night I gave up trying to use AstroTortilla because it would not solve anything. Today, I used one of my images at let it solve and it took almost 20 minutes, which is useless for telescope work. I downloaded and installed this latest version and it solved the same image in 136 seconds. Now that is useful. I previously used Elbrus, which worked OK but I wanted something that was more automatic. I will have to give this new version a field trial, but it looks good so far.

I would like a better explanation of all parameters, especially the scale parameters and their units. I first thought that it was arcsec/pixel, but the unit "degwidth" did not make sense for that.

Regards,

Charlie B

#13 fmhill

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Posted 14 April 2013 - 07:55 PM

Charlie,

One of the tricks to keep Astrotortilla from bogging down and taking forever, or when it will not solve an image, is to use the "Log Viewer" (Tools) and watch for "simplexy - number of objects found"... When the number of objects found is low, usually below 23, then AT has not found enough objects (stars) to solve an image.

On the other hand, if the simplexy - objects found number is too high, typically over 60, then AT will take too long to solve an image to be practical. If the simplexy number gets to be above 300 or higher, an image can take hours to solve...

Point is, Sigma is the single most important setting in AT to keep AT solving efficiently...

One of the tricks to keep AT solving images efficiently when using AT for goto's is to use a standardized set of exposure values, setting camera ISO to 3200. and use a exposure time value of 5 seconds (maybe 10 seconds with 11" SCT? ) should produce an image of reasonably bright stars. Note that for plate solving, high ISO noise in an image is acceptable, what you are looking for is a good contrast range and even that is not very critical...

The point is, once you have settings that produce images with reasonably bright lower magnitude stars, by always using those exposure values when using AT for solving for goto's and positioning, the sigma value in AT can be set to a value that produces an object count in the range of 23 to 60 on average, and you don't have to keep messing with it...

Edited to add: With my ES127 ED/APO I use exposures 2 to 5 seconds at ISO 6400 with a Canon 60Da, and set Sigma to either 60 or 100 typically. Depending on which computer I am using, I get resolves in 5 to 9 seconds typically. That's with a i7 3.4Ghz CPU and probably 1.5X times longer with my Laptop with i3 2.6 Ghz CPU...

Hope this helps...

#14 fmhill

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 01:05 AM

As of 10 April, 2013, Astrotortilla Version 0.5.1 with new Index files series 4200 is out and the Installer has been modified for downloading the indexes without having to select a second server from a list as described...



Now you tell me. Last night I gave up trying to use AstroTortilla because it would not solve anything. Today, I used one of my images at let it solve and it took almost 20 minutes, which is useless for telescope work. I downloaded and installed this latest version and it solved the same image in 136 seconds. Now that is useful. I previously used Elbrus, which worked OK but I wanted something that was more automatic. I will have to give this new version a field trial, but it looks good so far.

I would like a better explanation of all parameters, especially the scale parameters and their units. I first thought that it was arcsec/pixel, but the unit "degwidth" did not make sense for that.

Regards,

Charlie B


Charlie,

About Astrotortilla parameters and settings, this is the best information I know of, and I'm not sure how up to date it is.

http://sourceforge.n.../Configuration/

A problem with a rapidly advancing high technology application is keeping all the documentation up to date...

#15 Charlie B

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 07:19 AM

Thanks! The link should help a lot. I did vary parameters, especially sigma, but did not get good results. I was imaging with an Orion Starshoot III through a SV115T20.

Regards,

Charlie B

#16 psu_13

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Posted 28 April 2013 - 09:13 AM

I just got this working, except for one thing.

When I use the telescope simulator and a fake camera, the three checkboxes above "Capture and solve" are blank and never enabled. Is this just because I'm using simulated devices? The plate solving and other functions seem to work well. Thanks!

#17 Charlie B

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Posted 28 April 2013 - 06:59 PM

I've given up on AstroTortilla for now and have downloaded a trial for Sequence Generator Pro, which uses Elbrus and astrometry.net. I have been sucessful with Elbrus before. Last Saturday, I tried AstroTortilla but could not get it to open Nebulosity. It kept waiting on the camera, but the camera was working fine. I'm sure that it was my mistake, but I will wait for a more mature version.

Regards,

Charlie B

#18 fmhill

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Posted 28 April 2013 - 07:41 PM

I've given up on AstroTortilla for now and have downloaded a trial for Sequence Generator Pro, which uses Elbrus and astrometry.net. I have been sucessful with Elbrus before. Last Saturday, I tried AstroTortilla but could not get it to open Nebulosity. It kept waiting on the camera, but the camera was working fine. I'm sure that it was my mistake, but I will wait for a more mature version.

Regards,

Charlie B


Charlie,

Sorry to hear you are having difficulties with Astrotortilla and Nebulosity...

While I have Nebulosity and like it for some things, using it for camera control and image capture is not what I use it for as I am presently using a Canon 60Da and BYEOS and now that the BYEOS Beta4 version and Astrotortilla are working smoothly together, plus having problems with my SBIG camera, I'm very impressed with BYEOS and Astrotortilla working together so far...

Regretfully, I have no answer to the Nebulosity with Astrotortilla issue...

#19 powerstroke01

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 12:56 PM

I cant get any platesolving to work reliably. :(

#20 fmhill

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 01:57 PM

I cant get any platesolving to work reliably. :(


If you will supply details, hopefully someone can help you...

No details, no help...

#21 LoveChina61

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 08:37 AM

I could use some help. I am using the older 200-series files as I was having very little success achieving plate solves with the newer 4000-series database files. Now the solving is pretty much hit or miss but at least I am able to solve some of them.

Here is a screenshot of my Astrotortilla settings. Every single solve has fallen within 25-31 arcmin range so I now just have the program search within those parameters. I take a 30 second or 60 second exposure with automatic dark subtraction, take a screenshot of the exposure, and then upload the screenshot with Capture and Solve.

Any further settings advice that you can give to me would be greatly appreciated!


Posted Image

#22 fmhill

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 09:26 AM

LoveChina61,
First thing to do is set "scale minimum" to 0 (zero) The setting you have, (25.???) is choking it which is most likely the reason it only solves a few images, not most if not all images...

2nd suggestion - Upgrade your software and index files to Version 5 and the indexes to the 4200 series. Get a new install from the Astrotortilla web page and run it omitting the CYGWIN (you already have this), and select Indexes from 4219 down to 10% of the FOV of the telescope/camera you are using...

As you are using Arcminwidth instead of degreewidth for scale setting, I'm not sure what Scale Refinement of 0.1 is doing for you, normally Scale Refinement is defaulted to 0 (zer0) and left there.

#23 ldesign1

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 01:31 AM

My reply is in blue.

LoveChina61,
First thing to do is set "scale minimum" to 0 (zero) The setting you have, (25.???) is choking it which is most likely the reason it only solves a few images, not most if not all images...

If you know the image scale range of your telescope/camera combination, then it is better to set both a minimum and maximum scale. This will give AstroTortilla a specific range to search instead of a broad range. It will solve much faster with less searching. I've saved configurations for all of my different scope and camera combinations with reducers and barlows lens from 400mm to 5000mm focal length. With each configuration, I set a minimum and maximum in Arcminwidth and get a solve within 30 seconds at most.

2nd suggestion - Upgrade your software and index files to Version 5 and the indexes to the 4200 series. Get a new install from the Astrotortilla web page and run it omitting the CYGWIN (you already have this), and select Indexes from 4219 down to 10% of the FOV of the telescope/camera you are using...

I've found that I get better and quicker results with the 200 series indexes. I've done a side by side comparison with both the 200 and 4000 series and found that I get faster and more consistent results with the 200 series.

As you are using Arcminwidth instead of degreewidth for scale setting, I'm not sure what Scale Refinement of 0.1 is doing for you, normally Scale Refinement is defaulted to 0 (zer0) and left there.

The use of Arcminwidth instead of Degreewidth makes no difference in the calculation of scale setting. I prefere to leave the setting on "0" because I want AstroTortilla to use my image a full resolution without any additional scaling. Also, I prefer Arcminwidth over Degreewidth for calculating my image scale for long focal lentghs. At 2500mm focal length with my camera, I'd have to use decimal points instead of whole numbers. Remember, 1 degree is equal to 60 arcminutes.



#24 ldesign1

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 01:41 AM

My reply is in blue.

I could use some help. I am using the older 200-series files as I was having very little success achieving plate solves with the newer 4000-series database files. Now the solving is pretty much hit or miss but at least I am able to solve some of them.

I totally agree with the success of the 200 vs. 4000 series. Now if you are solving from just one setup, you need to know your image scale and add a little buffer for the minimum and maximum scale. All of your images should solve in roughly the same amount of time. If some do not solve, that you need to adjust the sigma because of the noise level. I noise isn't an issue, then maybe you don't have enough distinguishable stars for the solving to work. I would suggest not doing a scree capture.

Here is a screenshot of my Astrotortilla settings. Every single solve has fallen within 25-31 arcmin range so I now just have the program search within those parameters. I take a 30 second or 60 second exposure with automatic dark subtraction, take a screenshot of the exposure, and then upload the screenshot with Capture and Solve.

Question: Why are you loading screen captures to plate solve? AstroTortilla can solve your captured image directly. I'm not sure if the format matters but I know it handles FITS and JPG files for sure.



#25 LoveChina61

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 07:23 AM

I am taking a screenshot so that I don't have to load the entire Astrotortilla program and its star databases onto my ancient observatory computer. I can quickly FTP a 180k JPEG screenshot back to my host computer, but sending the 3.75mg original FITS file takes a while.

How much buffer should I give myself when setting the Scale Minimum and Scale Maximum ranges? For example, my imaging setup's FOV (per Astrotortilla) is 20.62(X)27.73 arcmins. What do you recommend I put as the Min and Max?

Lastly, how do I turn off the Config setting which automatically determines the range search of the next plate solve I will do? It seems to store the range of the previous successful plate solve, and then automatically begins with this range for the next plate solve I try to do. I would like to turn this feature off so that I can just set a permanent range for it to search within (e.g. the FOV of my current imaging setup +/- some buffer).

Thanks so much for all of your help! Mike






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