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The skyX Pro

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#51 ilovecomets

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 11:59 AM

I've been watching this thread since it came out. Since I own a SBIG camera and run CCDSoft, I was really hoping to get TSX. Looks like I might want to wait.

Side question: TS5 Demo came with my camera, am I entitled to upgrade to TSX or do I have to buy the full version?

#52 Jaxdialation

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 01:24 PM

Check Bisque's web site.

v5 is very old, I doubt there is an upgrade to X, but maybe I'm wrong.

#53 WirelessDude

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 03:43 PM

There is very active development in getting CCDAutoPilot and CCDNavigator working with TheSkyX (maybe in a month or two?) Also, rotator capability is around the corner which would be nice to graphically sync. And, as mentioned above, the ASCOM integration. Hopefully, the snag that Mr. Denny has come across recently will be overcome...

Clear skies!

#54 Paula E

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 06:20 PM

In all fairness to software bisque, the majority of the bugs I've reported have been graphics related. (Most of them have been little things - I notice them because I'm trained to look for them.)

The support for many popular mounts in TSX is great.

The support for cameras is limited, although if your camera is supported by CCDSoft, TSX will talk to CCDSoft so you're OK there too.

Their driver support for focusers seems quite limited.

Their driver support for domes is mostly non-existant.

One of the better options for both focusers and domes are, ironically enough, wrappers for the ASCOM focus and dome driver.

One of the dilemmas they face is that they have had relatively little success getting hardware vendors to write drivers to their specs.

BTW, although my observatory is down (again) at the moment, I am pretty sure the current update is going to let TSXPro drive my dome properly. (And hey, the dome control is at least on a tab, not hidden behind an undocumented keystroke "shift-D" like in TS6...)

#55 Jaxdialation

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 06:32 PM

I'm sure you are right, and Mr Denny and Mr Smith will figure it out if anyone can.

ACP Doesn't need TheSkyX for anything, it is really just planning (ACP Planner) where an interface is useful. But Bob will make sure the ASCOM scope control will work I'm sure.



There is very active development in getting CCDAutoPilot and CCDNavigator working with TheSkyX (maybe in a month or two?) Also, rotator capability is around the corner which would be nice to graphically sync. And, as mentioned above, the ASCOM integration. Hopefully, the snag that Mr. Denny has come across recently will be overcome...

Clear skies!



#56 jeffg

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Posted 28 June 2010 - 10:53 PM

I can't say how well TSX works yet. I've spent two weeks trying to get it to run on my desktop. It crashes within 2-3 seconds of clicking on the icon. I was told to update my video drivers--did that, replaced the video card--twice. Still no joy. My son (who is an computer techie) seems to think the problem is in Windows XP someplace, although no other graphic intensive programs have any trouble running. He suggests wiping the disk and reloading windows. I'm not quite at that point yet. :(

#57 Gargoyle

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 08:55 AM

I tried to load TSX on my laptop (running XP) to no avail. Upgraded every driver, performed every recommendation, still not joy.

I finally upgraded it to Windows 7 and TSX runs perfectly. If your hardware can support it, you may want to consider upgrading to Win 7.

Jerry

#58 Paula E

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 05:40 PM

I can't say how well TSX works yet. I've spent two weeks trying to get it to run on my desktop. It crashes within 2-3 seconds of clicking on the icon.


Hi Jeff, I asked this over on the bisque forums as well, but what CPU is in your desktop? (You can find out with CPU-Z from www.cpuid.com)

The sequence of crashing instructions showed TSX dying on an SSE2 instruction. Now SSE2 has been around a *long* time, however, if your CPU is older than SSE2, then it isn't going to run TheSkyX. (To some degree, this would surprise me, but the dump fingered an SSE2 instruction and said "illegal opcode". )

#59 Jeff in Austin

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 07:55 PM

My XP laptop runs fine, except I can't get it to download comet and satellite info. It's a new-ish laptop I bought a few weeks before Win 7 was released.

#60 Paula E

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 10:32 PM

Jeff, have you tried allowing TSX through windows firewall? (Or there may be some other internet security package at play here.) It sounds like a firewall is preventing you from internet access from TSX though.

#61 Paula E

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Posted 08 July 2010 - 10:36 AM

Some more followup - I think for people with complex observatory setups TSX Pro isn't ready yet for the most part. There are numerous compatiblity problems with 3rd party automation software. This isn't entirely surprising, given that SB desires for TSXPro to be the only program you need to own. Unfortunately the features that would let you replace 3rd party software aren't there yet really. And to be honest, some of the bugs with automation even bite them - for example it's not currently possible to have a dome track the scope because an interface needed by the little automation script they provide for this is missing. (It's pretty weak, in my opinion, that you have to run an external script for such a basic function in the first place.)

ProTrack for paramount's is missing in the current build.

Meade mounts don't unpark correctly.

One of the bigger questions I have about TSX in the long run is that it really wants hardware drivers for everything. The problem is that SB hasn't been all that successful in the past in getting most astronomy hardware makers to write a special driver for TheSky, and I don't know how they will accomplish this in the future. I guess they could do it all themselves, but that will be a monstrous task. (And I'd think nearly impossible - how do you collect all those cameras, rotators, dome controllers, etc?)

#62 SanDiegoPaul

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Posted 08 July 2010 - 11:49 AM

you also have to pay the annual subscription charge


YEA what's that all about? What is the subscription for/what does it get you? It is not explained on the website.

I started this thread a while back & this is the first time I've gotten back to it. Glad to see I have some readin' to do!!

#63 SanDiegoPaul

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Posted 08 July 2010 - 11:52 AM

Well, I'll have more to report later - I have many, many things to test out, and I'm expecting at least some excitement with software compatibility. But I will say this - TheSkyX Pro is MUCH better performing software than TheSky6.

I'm currently running them both on my desktop, which is a core i7 with 12 GB of RAM and Win7 x64. TheSky6 Pro is slide-show like on this computer. TheSkyX is fluid, and in fact animates the motion of the sky - when you are zoomed in to an object, it will move out of the FOV, just like it would if you weren't tracking it. You can stop this, of course. For the most part it's maintaining at least 30 fps and often it's higher than that.

The openGL acceleration offered helps a good deal with performance. I'm using an older GPU on this system - an 8800 GTS.

I'll try it out on my observatory PC soon. (I'm running it there currently, but haven't gone out to actually see it in person. But TheSkyX runs fine over remote desktop and ultra VNC, although neither supports openGL, so it's not as peppy remotely as it is locally. (But then you wouldn't really expect that either.)


I'm anxious to try it now. My system is the same as yours listed above, save for 8GB of RAM not 12. I use the same graphics card and processor (i7 920, overclocked)

#64 Paula E

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Posted 08 July 2010 - 04:08 PM

YEA what's that all about? What is the subscription for/what does it get you? It is not explained on the website.


The subscription gets you bugfixes and updates. You get these for free for the first year after you buy TSX.

How exactly this model will work isn't clear yet - I suspect Bisque doesn't totally know either. For example, if they enhance the base app, you'd get that. If they enhance TPOINT, you'd also get that - IF you also purchased the TPOINT license. TSXPro has several addons (TPOINT, Camera, Dome, Database), and will likely get several more. (Rotator support, for instance.) So it's not totally clear how they will price all this. Currently the camera addon and dome addon are included with the "Pro" license, but TPOINT and Databases aren't. I assume (but don't know) eventually the camera addon will cost something, as it will someday replace CCDSoft. (Right now the camera addon is worth $0.)

However, this is all rather forward looking, because I can tell you *exactly* what you are going to get for at least the next few months:
* bugfixes - lots and lots of bugfixes
* finishing stuff they didn't complete before shipment, like the dome and camera addons

I don't really forsee that changing before people have to renew their subscriptions next year.

I am not trying to be negative here - I think that many people will be able to use TSXPro in its current state. However, there are enough issues with it that many people won't be able to use it either. (Particularly people with complex observatory setups who DON'T currently have TS6 Pro / CCDSoft / TPoint / etc. as a fallback - the chances you'll get your dome / camera / scope / automation software etc to all work aren't great right now.)

As SB sorts out these issues (and they are actively working on them), this will be a great program - it is vastly improved in many ways over TS6.

#65 Jaxdialation

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Posted 09 July 2010 - 08:39 AM

It may be "improved" but speaking for myself, the improvements don't provide any visible benefit for my automated imaging needs. ACP doesn't even require TheSky_.

Yes its faster and more "Sweet", but when CCDAP or ACP are doing all the heavy lifting it doesn't mean much.

As SB sorts out these issues (and they are actively working on them), this will be a great program - it is vastly improved in many ways over TS6.



#66 Paula E

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Posted 09 July 2010 - 10:18 AM

It may be "improved" but speaking for myself, the improvements don't provide any visible benefit for my automated imaging needs. ACP doesn't even require TheSky_.

Yes its faster and more "Sweet", but when CCDAP or ACP are doing all the heavy lifting it doesn't mean much.


You have a point John.

Yeah, that is a big problem. SB's vision for this program is that it is the one program to run it all. Unfortunately, right now, it is FAR from meeting that goal. Almost everything about the program is improved compared to TS6, however, it still lacks the features of many other dedicated programs, and it doesn't remotely come close to having the hardware support needed to run most remote observing setups.

The time they've spent rewriting this program has given their competition years to produce software that just frankly does more than TheSky. I also think they have badly underestimated how heavily ASCOM driver support has propped up their hardware support.

It is really unfortunate that they didn't embrace ASCOM, although I can understand why they haven't - the ASCOM guys are so windows-centric that I don't think they will NEVER produce a standard for other OS's. It is all about .net over there...

#67 jsmiller58

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Posted 09 July 2010 - 09:40 PM

Scott - I will stick with my TS6-Pro, TPoint, ST3, DDW set up for now until something better comes along... I actually had high hopes. I guess I am most disappointed that Bisque did not use the very long delay in going from Serious Astronomer to Professional versions to actually field test the heck out of this thing with many amateur astronomers - hello, have they ever heard of trial and beta versions of software? Look at the lengthy beta program that Astroplanner 2 went through... They would have found more of the DOA issues, and figured out that possibly their closed model was potentially a dead end path. This has gotta be bad for business - lots of people like me have been waiting and we are now turned off and may actually be reluctant to take the plunge when/if they ever get ready. :bawling: Oh well, it will at least save me some money... until I find a better software combination than I have... Maybe I should dust off my copy of Starry Night 6 Pro... Too bad I can't get TPoint to work with it...

And don't get me started on the insanity - or hubris - of adopting a maintenance model for their software... again just angers customers, and particularly when they do this with a software package that clearly has a long way to go... Yes, if we were all running professional observatories financed by university endowments we would understand and expect to be subject to such a model, but a consumer piece of software... really?

Something is in the mountain spring water over there in Colorado...

Breathe... breathe... think of your happy place... :mad:

#68 Paula E

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Posted 10 July 2010 - 03:10 AM

And don't get me started on the insanity - or hubris - of adopting a maintenance model for their software... again just angers customers, and particularly when they do this with a software package that clearly has a long way to go... Yes, if we were all running professional observatories financed by university endowments we would understand and expect to be subject to such a model, but a consumer piece of software... really?


Pinpoint and ACP both use a license model. I think the reality is that more software will go this way. I really don't see it as being that big of an issue, myself. I think the business realities probably force 'em into such a model.

I still have high hopes for the program. Hey, I need to use TheSky to control my ParamountME, so I am looking forward to being able to use TSX - the interface is MUCH nicer, if nothing else.

I still think device support is the issue that's going to be really hard for them to solve. Maybe they have some plans I don't know about though. Still, it's hard to convince people to write a driver that only supports one program. AutoCAD did it for a while, so maybe Software Bisque will too. And again, it's not like the available driver base for Astronomy hardware is awesome.

#69 SanDiegoPaul

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Posted 10 July 2010 - 09:41 AM

Long as I can control my Lx200-R and/or my CGEM mounts, I'd be happy. I too, use Nvidia on all my computer builds and I'm critical of software problems, being in the PC repair business. I use XP Pro SP2 on all three of the PC's I use for astronomy.

Is The SkyX Pro stable? No crashes? I can understand it getting updated for bug fixes, but I would not tolerate program errors causing it to crash.

Not after spending hundreds of $$ on an 'upgrade' from 6 and them wanting an annual fee.

-Paul in San Diego
Cloudy, wet San Diego

#70 Jaxdialation

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Posted 10 July 2010 - 10:30 AM

Stable? Yes, it doesn't crash, but that is when it is just a planetarium program. Right now it isn't good for much else.

When I want a solid AP computer for driving my equipment, I am like you Paul -- XP all the way.

The annual license in the case of SkyX is a rip-off IMO, but only because the software doesn't do what it is advertised to do, so I am funding their process of bringing the product up to match their own promises.

#71 Paula E

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Posted 10 July 2010 - 12:17 PM

Is The SkyX Pro stable? No crashes? I can understand it getting updated for bug fixes, but I would not tolerate program errors causing it to crash.


It's been stable for me - I tend to leave it running for days and days and days in my observatory. I think crashes that happen are fairly rare, and tend to involve particular hardware configurations.

#72 Paula E

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Posted 10 July 2010 - 12:23 PM

The annual license in the case of SkyX is a rip-off IMO, but only because the software doesn't do what it is advertised to do, so I am funding their process of bringing the product up to match their own promises.


The big problem is they have compatibility issues with much of the software that used TS6 in some capacity. They are working on fixing this stuff. They could've done a better job there, honestly. I think they underestimated this - badly.

You tend to need a lot of old software to interface hardware to TSX - Automadome and CCDSoft, for example. They are working on fixing that too - but I think that is going to be a lot bigger job.

I'm reasonably sure that after their next update, I"ll be able to hook up my dome and camera and do an automated TPOINT mapping run all from within TSXPro. (Actually that may work now.) I'll also be able to get the dome to track the scope as the scope tracks then.

#73 jsmiller58

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Posted 10 July 2010 - 12:58 PM

Scott,

I do a lot of engineering software purchasing (many, many millions of dollars worth per year) as part of my job and understand the value of the maintenance model for mission critical software - the customer wants and needs high quality and extremely timely support, and there is very strong pressure to get on-going significant improvements into the software beyond what was the original scope. For this, a healthy percentage of the original software cost as maintenance is reasonable. However, the consumer market is a very different beast... SB may be successful, or they may not be - it will only be in small part based on whether this is fundamentally a good idea, it will be much more based on how customers react and how other vendors respond. You say you think that this is the direction this will be going in, I am more skeptical, and think that the market may play a role in limiting this move.

I guess I would have a different reaction if TSX Pro was solid when it first came out. I am really not in a flexible or charitable mood - with my money - given what I see folks like you having to go through.

To each his own, though!

James

#74 Paula E

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Posted 10 July 2010 - 07:14 PM

Hey James, I hear where you are coming from, and I don't really need to apologize for the Bisque brothers. I was just pointing out that as things that annoy me go, compared to the drive shaft of my PD15 shutter motor snapping, the maintenance fee for TSX Pro is far down on my list of annoyances! :foreheadslap: ;) :tonofbricks: ;)

I think SB will eventually sort everything out - I have reported several bugs and they've fixed them pretty promptly. It's regrettable that there are issues to address, but I believe they'll get it all sorted out pretty soon.

I do think that people who buy the software pretty early and install it into an observatory are paying to be beta testers. I think SB had good intentions and a reasonable(ish) plan for backwards compatibility. (Relying on CCDSoft and Automadome support.) I don't think it's gone as smoothly as they'd hoped.

Is it disappointing that these issues cropped up? Sure. If you don't desire to be on the bleeding edge, I'd wait a while before I bought it. I still believe that after they have this stuff fixed up, it will be a well worthwhile upgrade.

#75 SanDiegoPaul

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Posted 12 July 2010 - 11:54 AM

"I do think that people who buy the software pretty early and install it into an observatory are paying to be beta testers"
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Yep that's why I'm going to wait. I look at it as a ticking clock - the 1 year 'free' updates you get with the purchase. If they are still providing major updates/bug fixes now, months after the release, then why should we buy now & let the timeclock start ticking.

I wouldn't be one to pay the annual fee. So I'll wait a while & let more bugs get fixed B4 the purchase. I am interested in the product, just NOT interested in being a Beta tester as mentioned above.

Not unless they PAY ME to do the testing - but MOST CERTAINLY not the other way around.


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