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Sequence Generator Pro questions

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#1 palmer570

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 01:50 AM

After spending the last couple hours trying to figure out what programs I will be using for guiding, capture, ect... I think I'm settling on using Sequence Generator Pro to use for capturing mainly because it supports dithering and looks to be compatible with the equipment I already have/will be getting.


Some questions

1. Is there anyway for it to wirelessly control a DSLR, if so will it connect with Skyfi through a virtual port?

2. Will I need a separate planetarium software or can I use Stellarium if I want?

3. Any other capture software have dithering and other similar features?

4. I only have a SE mount, but will be upgrading to a VX shortly, will it still work for now?

Programs I'm leaning towards: Sequence Generator Pro, Elbrus, PHD > Deep Sky Stacker > Star Tools

I have Windows 7 64bit 6gb ram.

Other recommendations are welcome.

Thanks

#2 Raginar

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 09:01 AM

Hey Palmer,

Come over to the MainSequenceSoftware Yahoo Group. You'll find your questions quickly answered. Just from my experience:
1. Is there anyway for it to wirelessly control a DSLR, if so will it connect with Skyfi through a virtual port?

No, that's not how it works. Since you plug your Canon into it with a USB cable... there are wireless usb devices, they don't work very well.

2. Will I need a separate planetarium software or can I use Stellarium if I want?

It doesn't have a built in planetarium. Frankly, I find I don't need one at the mount doing AP. I pick my targets during the day, and only build sequences for them. Once I'm aligned, I start the sequence and it does everything else. You can use stellarium through it though if you need it. You can also pass your port for programs such as Sky Safari (without needing a SkyFI).

3. Any other capture software have dithering and other similar features?

MaximDL can dither. So can TheSkyX. I'm sure I'm missing others.
4. I only have a SE mount, but will be upgrading to a VX shortly, will it still work for now?

Your SE mount is alt/az so you'll be limited to shorter exposures (<60 to 30 sec). It'll work.

You've got a great software chain planned out. Another option is a local astrometry.net server to aid if Elbrus fails. There are directions in the Yahoo Group on how to set this up. SGP has a blind fail over to the astrometry.net website, but you can setup a localized server that helps speed it along. Elbrus isn't 'perfect'. It relies on a fairly tight aiming accuracy (within 5 degrees) and it requires an accurate angle for it to do its work. You can use it to determine the angle, it's just an additional step in the process (AFAIK, I don't use it).

Good luck, the developers are very helpful. Their manual is a good place to start and you get a 45 day trial.

#3 Alex McConahay

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 10:18 AM

As I understand it, Sequence Generator Pro, CCD Commander, CCD AutoPilot, and such all work by taking over other programs.

That means that they do nothing in themselves to control your camera, mount, and so forth. You need MaxIm or something to control the camera. You need The Sky or something to control the mount. You may need Pinpoint to plate solve and re-point the scope......The Command program (SGP, CCDC, Autopilot, etc) does not speak to the camera, mount, etc. but to the program that controls them.

So, in general, you have to get software that does what you want first. And then you automate that software through one of the command programs.

Alex

#4 David Ault

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 12:05 PM

palmer570,

I use SGPro and it is a stand-alone tool. It controls the camera, focuser, filterwheel and mount directly (well, through ASCOM drivers anyway). It does control Canon DSLRs and the developers are just now testing Nikon cameras. It's true that it does use some external programs like Elbrus/PinPoint/Astronomy.net for plate solving and PHD/MetaGuide/Astroart for guiding, but as you have free options for both processes I don't really factor that in. As Chris stated it is not a planetarium program (I use Stellarium), nor is it an image processing program (I use PixInsight) so you need to look elsewhere for those functions.

I think the programs you listed are excellent and cover everything you will need except for a planetarium program or some other tool for determining your targets.

Regards,
David

#5 palmer570

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 12:33 PM

Thanks for the info

I was hoping to have my laptop connect through skyfi for the mount controls, and some other wireless way to control the dslr. But forgot I will still need to be wired to the guide camera.


edit: Hehe got some answers as I was writing this. I already have Stellarium for planning my viewing. Thanks for setting my mind at ease. Was getting information overload from researching all these programs at once.


#6 palmer570

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 01:07 PM

Also will I need any special cables, like the ones from Shoestring?

I have a usb to serial and RS-232 cable.

#7 Raginar

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 01:22 PM

Alex, SGP is standalone. It doesn't rely on any software besides PHD to run. However, if you want plate solving, it needs to integrate with outside programs.

It's pretty neat if you haven't tried it out. :)

Palmer, you gotta tell us what equipment you have. If you have a Canon, you don't need special cables. If you're autoguiding with anything other than a specific autoguider you *might* need a GSUSB box if your mount can't do pulse guiding. You'll definitely need a cable to interface with your hand controller/mount. Usually those are some type of RS232 connection to USB.

Chris

#8 palmer570

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 02:58 PM

What I have/backordered:
8SE
Canon t3i
motofocus for SCT and FCUSB
usb to RS-232
Skyfi
StarSense(new controller make a difference?)
AT65EDQ

What I'm leaning toward to buy next:
VX mount
ST80 autoguide package
a motofocus for my WO DDG focuser if possible

#9 JoseBorrero

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 05:28 PM

I need step by step details about how phd is handled

#10 Alex McConahay

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 07:22 PM

I stand corrected....Sorry,

Alex

#11 palmer570

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 07:26 PM

I need step by step details about how phd is handled


I'm not sure what you mean.

#12 Momerath

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 08:01 PM

Backyard EOS soports dithering. Nice little program

#13 Raginar

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 10:16 PM

Alex,

I hope that didn't sound like an attack.. you were spot on with the other two programs requiring MaximDL. Go check it out sometime. It's really amazing what you get for 100 bucks. I've been pleased with it; and when it does break, the developers are really quick to get patches out (like the new SBIG driver that broke their software, update was out in 6 hours before the night!).

Palmer,

Looks like you have a sweet setup coming :). Definitely work on getting the guider package. One thing you can do if you're so inclined is make a wedge for your SE8. There was another person who built one; I believe it's in the DIY section if you'd like to see what he did. It wasn't complicated and it would allow you to set your 8SE up equatorally until you can get a GEM.

Jose, PM me on Google bro. I can walk you through it if you'd like. All it does is utilize the server features built into PHD to control it. It handles calibration, star selection, dithering, flips, and will even re-calibrate after you've changed declination by a user-defined amount. Pretty neat program. It has a 45-day trial. Go check it out and give it a whirl. The first night I tried it out because I was frustrated with 'other' programs... I had it running in an hour and it worked all night long to include a meridian flip.

Clear skies,
Chris
:jump:

#14 Alex McConahay

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 08:16 AM

I did not feel attacked at all, Chris. I was surprised to learn SGP was stand alone. I had been told that SGP had used the same approach that the others had. ANd my sources were pretty reliable. I will be trying it out later this summer when I get back from some travels. No big deal. Was not the first mistake I had made.

Alex

#15 averen

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 08:59 AM

I did not feel attacked at all, Chris. I was surprised to learn SGP was stand alone. I had been told that SGP had used the same approach that the others had. ANd my sources were pretty reliable. I will be trying it out later this summer when I get back from some travels. No big deal. Was not the first mistake I had made.



Alex,
Sequence Generator (not Pro) started out using Nebulosity or Astro Art for capture. About 2ish years ago we developed our own capture interface and named it Sequence Generator Pro. So your sources are reliable...just a little out of date :-)

We're completely stand alone now except for guiding and plate solving. We figured PHD is the defacto standard so why reinvent the wheel? Also Astrometry, Elbrus and PinPoint are all excellent solvers.

We currently have 2 versions of SGP. There is the 'Lite' version which supports cameras and filter control. This version is free. Just download the trial and when it expires you'll be left with the 'Lite' version. It does not support saving of sequences, but it does save images and is still a fully capable capture application. We also have the Pro version which is fully featured.

If you click our link in my sig below and go to the "Store" tab there is a break down of feature differences (make sure you click "Show More". Just for clarification both are still stand alone.

Thanks,
Jared

#16 hytham

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 09:39 AM

Give SGP a VALID go. You will most certainly be pleasantly surprised.

There are things I'd like to see further incorporated (import target RA/DEC settings from a planetarium software like Carte Du Ciel or Stellarium AND plate solve the focus target object), but for ease of use, great UI layout (customization to an extent), hardware control through ASCOM, merdian flips, auto guiding, hardware profiles, multi-target acquisitions, mosaic plans, plate solving ... etc.

I judged it far too quickly early on and the more time I have spent with it, the more I enjoy it - far more than MaximDL. I just wish my new CCD and FW were here so I can test it with that platform instead of just using my DSLR.

So far and based on my very limited exposure to Maxim, I don't understand the $500+ price tag. I can see the benefit of working through a single automation console to link it with other software (planetarium), focusmax and long history, but that does not justify $500+ considering it (automation software) was written by other orgs.

#17 lawrie

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 12:00 PM

How good is it at keeping focus?
As I understand it, you have to focus first, then the program maintains focus.
Does it find stars around your target, or do you have to go off target and re frame?

#18 JoseBorrero

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 02:34 PM

How PHD work on SGP?

Can open PHD automatically on SGP start?

Can Auto Calibrate Between targets?

#19 Raginar

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 03:04 PM

Jose,

You start PHD, and it will take care of it from there once you connect your mount/camera. It will calibrate between targets, but only if they differ in declination by a user-defined amount. It works great.

Lawrie,

My focus is around 3 FWHM with it. You do focus prior to starting and it takes it from there. You need to figure out your critical focus steps and then give yourself some slop around it. I've found it pretty good.

It can do either frame and focus on your target OR you can select a star somewhere else.

Hytham, I agree completely. Maxim is stuck in the stone ages at this point if two part-time software developers can create something like SGP in a period of a year. It does one thing that SGP can't do (yet, hopefully) which is support a self-guiding camera. It's really the only part I wish it had. Everything else is on par or better.

#20 hytham

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 03:53 PM

The other question that comes to mind is whether SGP has the ability to read the brightness of the image in terms of counts from a CCD image?

I want to be able to measure the linearity of my CCD to determine the best brightness to acquire my flat frames.

#21 kpendlebury

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 04:45 PM

How good is it at keeping focus?
As I understand it, you have to focus first, then the program maintains focus.
Does it find stars around your target, or do you have to go off target and re frame?


Lawrie,

It is true that SGP is not a replacement for FocusMax or the like. It is designed to keep you in focus as everything around tries to destroy your subs. Temperature, mirror shift, draw tube shift with gravity, etc. You don't need to stop and move to a focus target. SGPro uses an in-sequence automated process to sample your target area and provide you with "whole-image" HFR statistics. Once you have found the right step size for your setup, the SGP auto focus routine is very good at keeping you in critical focus.

#22 kpendlebury

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 04:49 PM

The other question that comes to mind is whether SGP has the ability to read the brightness of the image in terms of counts from a CCD image?

I want to be able to measure the linearity of my CCD to determine the best brightness to acquire my flat frames.


Sequence Generator Pro has a feature titled "Flats Calibration Wizard". Hook up you camera and filter wheel and run the wizard on the filter / binning combinations of interest. Click go and SGPro will find all of your ideal flats times and then save them in your profile. THEN... using the flats wizard you can automatically create full flats sequences using your light sequence as input. The created flats sequence will contain the desired number of flats with exposure values as determined by the wizard.

#23 lawrie

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 07:26 PM

Is there any documentation on "finding the right step size "
I am using my sct at this time so there isn't a way to measure how far the focuser moves.

#24 Raginar

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 09:37 PM

Go check out there help file. It explains it in there.

#25 CounterWeight

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Posted 21 May 2013 - 08:34 AM

Ken,

Great program and I've been looking at it if I go to motorized focus, as is I don't need much automation - not so much because of my gear but because of my imaging conditions i don't have the confidence that the sky will stay clear ;( The flats wizard sounds very interesting :) I'm confused though, are you saying it derives the flat data from the light images and creates them - IOW I don't need my illuminated panel anymore? I find my NB filters and RGBL filters have pretty different times and results, but they work very well and hold up to agressive stretching techniques. I know this is a source of confusion for many folks.

Hytham, MaximDL is very powerful not just in that it can Guide (some folks prefer it to PHD)/Control/Capture/Calibrate - but there is an immense amount of power in the calibration and initial processing it can do while the data still in FITS format. I use many of these tools and find them impressive. In this way MaximDL is far more than a capture and calibrate program and i don't see these as competing in capability there. But this thread not about maximDL - sorry and not wanting to go OT about it.






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