Jump to content


Photo

Software, Advice and Words of Wisdom

  • Please log in to reply
19 replies to this topic

#1 jimichelle

jimichelle

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 72
  • Joined: 01 Jul 2013
  • Loc: Southern NH

Posted 21 April 2014 - 05:47 PM

For the past few days I tapped into the collective knowledge of this forum while making some choices regarding an imaging set-up. Now that my scope is on the way I figured I would ask for some words of wisdom, advice or even a few "don't make the same mistake I made" stories.

I also figured I would use this time to research various pieces of software I may want to purchase/download in preparation of my scope arriving so any advice on your favorite software would be great too.

So stories, advice and software recommendations...go!

#2 WarmWeatherGuy

WarmWeatherGuy

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1890
  • Joined: 27 Aug 2011
  • Loc: Orlando, FL 28° N, 81° W

Posted 21 April 2014 - 06:35 PM

Check out PixInsight (aka PI).

#3 psandelle

psandelle

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 653
  • Joined: 18 Jun 2008
  • Loc: Los Angeles

Posted 21 April 2014 - 06:46 PM

How much do you want to spend on software? It can go from expensive to free (and both can be great), so a budget might help. And do you need it for goto with the mount, guiding, camera control, post-processing, or do you have some of that already?

Lot of good software, but your budget will determine how many options you have.

Oh, and don't drink vodka while doing imaging. :) I refuse to tell that story (but, fortunately, all was well in the end).

Paul

#4 terry59

terry59

    Aurora

  • *****
  • Posts: 4612
  • Joined: 18 Jul 2011
  • Loc: Colorado, USA

Posted 21 April 2014 - 06:55 PM

Sequence Generator Pro. Many with a Canon use BYEOS too

#5 jimichelle

jimichelle

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 72
  • Joined: 01 Jul 2013
  • Loc: Southern NH

Posted 21 April 2014 - 07:29 PM

I have a CG-5 mount and a Canon T3i. I am just moving on from using the Canon on the mount to using an imaging scope and a guiding scope, so not looking to spend a lot of money on software. BYEOS is something I just recently started looking at.

I have some free stacking software, but beyond that not much. I guess I was interested in hearing what others started out with and found they liked or disliked. If there is an expensive piece of software you ended up finding was worth the cost then I'd like to hear about that too.

No vodka while imaging. Check. Of course we lean towards rum, so it would be mojitos anyway :)

#6 psandelle

psandelle

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 653
  • Joined: 18 Jun 2008
  • Loc: Los Angeles

Posted 21 April 2014 - 07:54 PM

I went a little differently in the learning curve than lots of people I see. Quite a few use a combination of PhD for guiding and Nebulosity, or something else a little cheaper for camera control and capture. Then they find a good or good and cheap planetarium program (and Sky Safari I consider a cheap AND great one) and away they go.

I started off-the-bat with MaxIM DL. I also tested PhD alongside it, but I, for whatever reason, preferred MaxIM for guiding. And it has camera control and image capture (really good ones). And a primitive but totally workable planetarium part of the program (though I also got TheSkyX and Sky Safari, to compare), plus I use MaxIM to stack my images. After that I use Photoshop (which I had for business reasons) and some add-ins, Annie's Astro Actions (great and reasonably priced) and Astronomy Tools (also great and reasonably priced). I will eventually get to PI, but haven't needed it yet. So, for me, the higher priced MaxIM solved most of my software needs, so it was worth the price (and you can control all sorts of other things with it, too, focusers - though FocusMax is free, and I prefer it, observatories, all sorts of stuff). Also, MaxIM is sort of an industry standard, so most everything else works or relies on it. The only shortcoming (despite a steep learning curve, but most things you can practice indoors), is it doesn't work directly on a Mac (though many have said they've used it with virtualizing programs like Parallels); for some people, that's a problem.

Anyway, for me, MaxIM does almost everything I need till I get to post-processing, and it's all in one package, so I don't have to work out conflicts so much.

Mojitos! Get thee behind me demon rum!

Paul

#7 Madratter

Madratter

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 6055
  • Joined: 14 Jan 2013

Posted 21 April 2014 - 08:04 PM

I really like AstroTortilla (Free) for doing polar alignment. It is also a plate solver.

PHD2 is good for guiding (Free). Metaguide is good for guiding (Free).

For processing, if I had to buy just one package it would be PixInsight. But StarTools is very capable, costs considerably less, the author is beyond great about support, and is still useful even if you have PixInsight or Photoshop.

#8 CounterWeight

CounterWeight

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Posts: 8101
  • Joined: 05 Oct 2008
  • Loc: Palo alto, CA.

Posted 21 April 2014 - 08:29 PM

Another MaximDL user here. I've no regrets and only praise for the MaximDL platform (robust and does the complex simply) - but it's the high end $$ wise. I've also high praise for DSS, BYEOS, PHD, Stellarium, and TheSky... for post processing I love Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 and am learning to like Adobe PS CS5. A caveat is that I do not plate solve or build complex pointing models (at least yet). Also I am still not using the scope I added autofocus to so no real help there.

#9 mmalik

mmalik

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 5322
  • Joined: 13 Jan 2012
  • Loc: USA

Posted 22 April 2014 - 04:59 AM

Bulk of software you might need is distributed in the link below. Starting with "free" evals of PixInsight and ImagesPlus would be good; no need to purchase as you get the feel for the software. Regards

#10 Midnight Dan

Midnight Dan

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 11171
  • Joined: 23 Jan 2008
  • Loc: Hilton, NY, Yellow Zone (Bortle 4.5)

Posted 22 April 2014 - 06:30 AM

Since you have a T3i, definitely get BackyardEOS. Excellent software, reasonably priced.

-Dan

#11 rflinn68

rflinn68

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 2661
  • Joined: 09 Mar 2012
  • Loc: Arkansas

Posted 22 April 2014 - 08:02 AM

I have a CG-5 mount and a Canon T3i. I am just moving on from using the Canon on the mount to using an imaging scope and a guiding scope, so not looking to spend a lot of money on software. BYEOS is something I just recently started looking at.


You cant go wrong with BackyardEOS for sure. I started with it and a modified T3. It is a very intuitive program that you'll find very easy to use. It also makes capture of twilight flats super easy by selecting A/V Flats. Really a nice program that would fit your wishes for a nice cheap program.

Since buying my CCD camera I have purchased Sequence Generator Pro (SGP). Its a very powerful program that I now consider cheap at $99, plus $39 for the Framing & Mosaic Wizard. Elbrus, Astrometry, and/or Pinpoint make an excellent pairing with this for plate solving.

For a nice, easy, and cheap program to start out though I would say go with BackyardEOS and maybe Astro Tortilla.

For post processing, I was lucky enough to already have a copy of Photoshop (PS) CS3 and find it works very well. If I were starting from scratch, however, I would probably look into purchasing either PixInsight or ImagesPlus. For a cheap entry into PS, I think you can now make low monthly payments, although this is more like a lease and would be more expensive in the long run. StarTools is cheap but I rarely, if ever, use it much anymore. I need a more powerful computer to use it.

#12 dc_robert

dc_robert

    Mariner 2

  • *****
  • Posts: 234
  • Joined: 17 Apr 2013
  • Loc: Washington, DC

Posted 22 April 2014 - 02:34 PM

Besides the aforementioned, I would say Alignmaster has been invaluable to me for precise polar alignment, which is critical for smooth guiding.

You should also look into Registax or Autostakkert for when you do planetary imaging.

#13 jimichelle

jimichelle

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 72
  • Joined: 01 Jul 2013
  • Loc: Southern NH

Posted 22 April 2014 - 07:11 PM

Thanks for all of the software advice. I have checked into what has been mentioned and will be picking up Backyard EOS in addition to a few of the freeware programs discussed.

One other thing occurred to me while reading about various pieces of software and also guiding using the CG-5; Do I have all cables/connectors required in order to start auto-guiding when my equipment arrives?

I assumed that the Orion All-In-One camera I will be using to guide would have all cables required as it mentions having a USB cable and a RJ-12 cable, but would hate to find out that there is something else I need to sync everything together.

The way I see it, my laptop will connect to both my Canon T3i and the guide camera and the guide camera will also connect to the CG-5 via the guide port on the mount. Am I missing anything?

#14 psandelle

psandelle

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 653
  • Joined: 18 Jun 2008
  • Loc: Los Angeles

Posted 22 April 2014 - 07:22 PM

Word of advice on cables: BRING EXTRAS! And check they're good before you go to observe. I bring triplicate and extra doodads, and you never know when a cable will up and die. And I've been able to help others at my site (one of whom would have had to driven 65 miles to find the nearest Best Buy). Cables going bad can be the bane of having a good night.

Paul

#15 proteus5

proteus5

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1342
  • Joined: 24 Jun 2010
  • Loc: Southern New Jersey

Posted 23 April 2014 - 07:14 AM

Cartes du Ciel is a very nice and powerful free planetarium program. With an ascom driver for your mount, you can use it for mount control. I use it with EQMOD mount control software for my Orion Atlas mount. Just click on an object you want to observe on the laptop, and the scope slews to it. I haven't used the hand controller for my mount in over 1 1/2 years.

#16 Jon Rista

Jon Rista

    Vanguard

  • -----
  • Posts: 2153
  • Joined: 10 Jan 2014
  • Loc: Colorado

Posted 23 April 2014 - 10:21 AM

For imaging with my Canon 7D and Canon 600mm f/4 lens, I use BackyardEOS for sequencing, AstroTortilla for plate solving, and WorldWide Telescope for the planetarium. PHD2 for guiding. I use DeepSkyStacker for stacking, PixInsight and Photoshop for post processing.

If I was using a CCD, I would most likely be using Sequence Generator Pro (w/ Framing and Mosaic wizard) and probably Elbrus for plate solving. The rest would be the same. SGP is a pretty incredible and powerful piece of software, however it does not support focusing with Canon DSLRs when using Canon lenses. BackyardEOS is the superior product in that respect, as it has in-software focusing controls that can drive the EF lens AF directly, and with very fine control. Focusing is a breeze with BYEOS. If I was uing my DSLR with a robotic focuser, it seems like both SGP and BYEOS have similar support (although SGP seems to be able to somewhat automate focus tuning throughout your imaging sessions.)

I also have to stress that WorldWide Telescope (from Microsoft Research) is a very nice planetarium. It has a full color full sky image produced from an actual full sky survey (same as you get with this online tool: http://www.blackwate...lbox.html?m=1). You don't have to guess at what the region of the sky your looking at, or what it looks like when imaged. The search feature is extremely fast, you can find pretty much anything within seconds. It supports telescope control via ASCOM, can sync the scope for sky modeling (if you aren't using plate solving), etc. It's also extremely fast. It's a beautiful tool for finding things in the night sky to image, even looking ahead of time (you can look about as far into the future as you want) to figure out what things will be in the sky, and where, at what time.

#17 jimichelle

jimichelle

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 72
  • Joined: 01 Jul 2013
  • Loc: Southern NH

Posted 23 April 2014 - 05:42 PM

Software downloaded and installed. New scope and guider arrived today along with various accessories. What a surprise...it's cloudy and windy today. Hopefully I'll get a decent night or two between now and next week!

#18 Alex McConahay

Alex McConahay

    Vanguard

  • -----
  • Posts: 2314
  • Joined: 11 Aug 2008
  • Loc: Moreno Valley, CA

Posted 23 April 2014 - 05:45 PM

Plug everything into each other, even in the living room, and make sure everything is talking to everything as it should. All the cables are there. All the adapters, whatever are in their place.

Alex

#19 psandelle

psandelle

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 653
  • Joined: 18 Jun 2008
  • Loc: Los Angeles

Posted 23 April 2014 - 06:05 PM

Good luck, and remember: rum, not vodka!

Paul

#20 jimichelle

jimichelle

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 72
  • Joined: 01 Jul 2013
  • Loc: Southern NH

Posted 25 April 2014 - 02:25 PM

So I have been messing around with my set-up (in my house as Alex suggested) making sure I can get everything set-up and going correctly. Doesn't look like I will have a good night for imaging anytime soon, but at least I should have things going by the time I do.

Two questions though:

(1) I ordered rings and a dovetail which are still in transit. The ED80T comes with a dovetail that fits my CG-5, but I ordered the rings since I thought the scope would be more stable considering the weight of the guidescope, starshoot and T3i. However now that I have it put together using the provided dovetail I'm not sure I need the rings. Any advice on whether the rings are the way to go or not needed?

(2) I have the Orion StarShoot All-In-One set up through a Orion 50mm Guidescope. When I run the camera through AstroCap it seems to be operating (screen brightens or darkens depending on where I point the guidescope), however when I run PHD I don't get the same effect. I have installed the ASCOM driver and selected the Orion AllInOne in the select camera section of PHD, but it doesn't seem to be operating correctly. I'm indoors so things are out of focus and want to see that the camera is working in PHD as I did in AstroCap with seeing the camera view brighten and darken when pointing at/away from a light source...Shouldn't I be able to do this with PHD if everything is functioning correctly?

In addition once I click the "loop" button the program will not allow me to close it without going through the task manager and forcing the program to shut down.

I tried uninstalling and reinstalling, but still have the same issues.

Anyone else run into either of those issues with PHD?






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics