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Semi-Live Stacker/Viewer for DeepSkyStacker

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#1 Howie L

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Posted 25 May 2014 - 03:22 PM

I looked around for a decent generic live stacker for astrophotography, and was not able to find any. It is a simple enough thing, if you consider how complex these imaging programs can get, it is just waiting for files to appear in a folder, and processing them, and displaying them.. in a loop
( well not that simple, this is my 2nd version of this application )

So...

I made a freeware add-on 'Observing toolbar' for DeepSkyStacker that enables the full version of DSS to operate like DSSLIVE

The camera drops files into a 'monitoring' directory, they are automatically processed and continuously stacked and updated into a viewer window.
- you can use darks/flats, etc.
- color adjustments for levels, log curves, etc are re-applied automatically to the refreshed image in the viewer.
- it performs, complete align and restacking of the images instead of a running average.

If you would like to use it you can download it from my website http://tobsv.weebly.com/download.html

This is a beta version, I have developed it under windows XP, with DSLR raw images. I have done some testing with Fits, Tiff, Jpg images, under windows Vista and Window7 (64 bit). I expect there will be issues with other configurations and cameras. If you try it out and have any issues, especially with installing and initializing it send me a PM or and email using the contact page on my website.


You will need have DeepSkyStacker installed and running, and be able to use it to process your images. The results you obtain from the toolbar and viewer should be similar to those obtained from DSS and a minute or two in photoshop.

If it is running too slowly, you need to downsize your images, either on your camera, or from the toolbar settings dropdown. In my testing it was able to keep up with 30sec light frames, stacking downsized images of 1500x1100 pixels.

#2 Relativist

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Posted 25 May 2014 - 03:53 PM

Very interesting, would it help speed up the process to use a "ram disk" for the intermediate storage directory?

http://www.superspee...top/ramdisk.php

Also, could you show us some examples comparing between DSSLIVE, your software and a post processed image?

My goal is to be able to see things like planets at HD resolution, while using software to clean up the images on the fly, so this sounds like a solution that may work.

#3 nytecam

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Posted 26 May 2014 - 08:39 AM

Well done Howie - sounds very interesting. As Curtis says - can you post here some stacked images via your s/ware add-on. TIA

#4 Howie L

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Posted 26 May 2014 - 11:30 PM

Hi Curtis,

I am not sure how much benefit planetary images would have from using DeepSkyStacker, it is designed for dimmer larger objects not affected much by atmospheric seeing conditions. Though it is always fun to try out different things and see what happens.

For Planetary something like RegiStax, would be much better, it is designed to take brief moments of steady visibility, and put them to together to actually make a sharper image than the images it is created from. It might be a good idea to checkout the Solar System Imaging forum and see if they have any ideas on getting quick views of planetary images.

As far as the usefulness of Ram drives, I don't believe these will be of any benefit for modern pc operating systems, any image files you may need to access, are already cached in the ram automatically by the operating system. (and the ram drives from 20 years ago, were always free )


The image below is of the Eagle Nebula, this is a bright visual object and is relatively easy to photograph. It was shot using a C9.25 at F7, with a modded canon 350d, on an unguided cg5 mount, it consists of 7 of 10 60sec images, ( 3 images were automatically rejected due to star elongation ), darks and flats used in the processing. It was automatically processed using my software with DeepSkyStacker, The image is of the finial view after 12 minutes, the view first appeared about 20 seconds after the first frame was downloaded, and was quite grainy, and progressively improved until the last image. ( The image is a screen shot from the Viewer, and was only edited to resize it to display here)

Posted Image

The second image is from the standard DSSLIVE, it doesn’t use darks, flats, or have color correction. In order to see the nebula, the image has to be highly expanded, and without these corrections it is a mess.
( You may Not have any of these problems with your planetary HD images , which are bright, don’t need to be expanded, your camera may have good color balance and your planet will probably be very near the center of the image, dsslive may work very nicely for you, but at best this kind of stacker will only reduce some noise and wont add much detail to a planetary image )

Posted Image

#5 Chris A

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 12:18 AM

Excellent Howie and I will give this a try with my MC Universe CCD camera. Thank you for putting this together and sharing it with us.

Cheers,

Chris A
Astrogate

#6 Relativist

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 02:30 AM

Howie,

thanks for clearing that up for me, when I saw 'Stacker' in the name I thought planetary.

This software does look very promising, thanks for the effort!

#7 Howie L

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Posted 28 May 2014 - 12:05 AM

Hi All,

Woops a bit of a glitch... :o

The application was not implementing the DSS Star Detection Threshold correctly, which determines the number of stars detected by DSS for aligning and stacking

I placed a fix for this in the new version 1.04, now available for download on the website.

If the number of detected stars is too low, dimmer images will not get processed. If it is too high it will cause the performance of the stacking to slow down.

The optimal number for Stars Detected can vary, but between 50 and 150 seems to work well.
Normally you don’t need to pay attention to this number, unless you are having one of the problems listed above.

( See the DeepSkyStacker help manual about adjusting the Star Detection Threshold and determining the number of stars detected )



#8 geminijk

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Posted 02 June 2014 - 12:11 PM

Anyone else get Chrome blocking this file as it says its malicious?

John

#9 Howie L

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Posted 02 June 2014 - 02:11 PM

Hi John,

I am sorry for your problem, and Thanks, for the heads up.

I am not having any problems with windows Internet Explorer, or Mozilla Firefox, on windows XP, Vista, Windows 7
( besides the usual messages about being a 'Unknown Publisher' for windows, and Norton saying the program is new and has not been downloaded often )

I always verify it with up to date Norton 360 AntiVirus, Macefee Web Gateway at work, and Sophos End Point Virus Security at work.

I am assuming you are using Google Chrome, and their proprietary virus scanner, And that it is happening when you try to download it.

I will download Google Chrome and test it out tonight.

#10 Relativist

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Posted 02 June 2014 - 05:01 PM

Chrome added malware blocking a few years back, and as is often the case sometimes blocks more than it should (better safe than sorry). See:

https://support.goog...wer/99020?hl=en

By the way, I downloaded without a problem it in Chrome, but I'm on OSX, so I guess that's not relevant. I do see it's a .msi extension, which is often flagged by malware blockers regardless of origin.

#11 geminijk

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Posted 03 June 2014 - 12:19 AM

Thanks Howie and Curtis. I just like to be sure on these things, I'll try another browser.

John

#12 Dragon Man

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Posted 03 June 2014 - 04:13 AM

Very interesting Howie.

This may make my canon 350d usable again rather than sitting in the cupboard!

Do I need to download DeepSkyStacker or DeepSkyStackerLive?

#13 Howie L

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Posted 03 June 2014 - 10:34 PM

Hi Ken,

The Cannon 350d is the camera I did most of my testing with, so it should work fine, even if you need to wipe the dust off of it.

You will need to download DeepskyStacker,( DeepSkyStackerLive comes with it )
My Toolbar runs with DeepskyStacker, which is the more powerful program, and enables it to mimic DeepSkyStackerLive.

You can download DSS from http://deepskystacker.free.fr

For your Canon 350d you can just download "DeepSkyStacker 3.3.2" which is easy to install

It may take some time to learn DeepSkyStacker. For my canon 350, I was mostly using the default settings supplied by DSS. It would be good if you had some old images that you can practice processing using the toolbar and DSS, it will be hard trying to learn this in the field.


In order for the toolbar to process images in a timely manner you will need to adjust some DSS settings.

For a DSLR the following setting will make the stacked image 1/2 size which for a 350d should allow it to stack quickly

Raw/Fits DDP Settings -> RAW Files -> <select> Create super-pixels from the Raw Bayer matrix

You will also need to adjust the DSS Star Detection Threshold, to limit the number of stars used for aligning, so that the stacking does not take too long
Usually a star count below 150 is good enough.
(See the DSS help manual about adjusting the Star Detection Threshold and determining the number of stars detected )


The application is designed to be sparse, that is if the desktop screen is too crowded with applications, it will run with DSS Minimized, and clicking on the image when the viewer is up will make the toolbars disappear, leaving only the self updating image in on the screen.

If you have any issues send me PM, or post it here I will be happy to look into it.

#14 Howie L

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Posted 03 June 2014 - 11:11 PM

Hi John,

I downloaded Google Chrome and I’m getting the same message you were getting.

I contacted their helpdesk but they haven’t gotten back to me.

In the meantime I had the file tested by VirusTotal, a free online service that will analyze files and URLs,
They tested the file against 53 virus scanners, and it passed on all of them.

It turns out Google owns VirusTotal, but they operate independently of them.
Hopefully I can use this to convince Chrome that there is no problem.

Their link is https://www.virustotal.com, if you are ever unsure of a file or URL.

#15 Relativist

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 12:00 AM

I did a bit of google searching, and it looks like google is having chrome block the .msi extension unless it's digitally signed.

http://stackoverflow...king-from-ch...

#16 Dragon Man

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 07:10 AM

Thanks for the instructions Howie.
With our lousy weather I have lots of time to practice and learn. :crazy:
Back when I was doing Imaging I used ImagesPlus, so DSS should be a lot easier.
(hopefully) :p

#17 mclewis1

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 10:53 AM

I also have a "dusty" 350D. Thanks Ken for asking, and Howie for the great instructions.

I'm thinking of having some fun with the bigger sensor on some of the larger summertime (wintertime for Ken) objects using a refractor.

#18 geminijk

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 11:27 AM

Got it downloaded based on the settings for blocking phishing and malware without an issue now. Thanks all for confirming no issue with the msi.

John

#19 Howie L

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Posted 05 June 2014 - 04:59 PM

Hi Mark

I see in your signature, that your canon camera is a 350Da, is this modded for astronomy ?
My canon 350D, is modded, and I needed to change a few settings in DSS to allow it to handle the color balance correctly, In the User Guide I have some useful hints on how to do this.

Another thing that sometimes confuses new users is that Toolbar uses DSS filelists and settings that can and should be updated using the DSS screen.
But while using the toolbar You should Not at the same time use DSS processing tools such as 'Registering', or 'Stacking', because DSS handles the data, and filegroups slightly differently than the Toolbar.
It may produce unexpected results which are harmless, but will need to be corrected by using the toolbar REDO control.

Hope this helps..

#20 mclewis1

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Posted 05 June 2014 - 08:05 PM

I see in your signature, that your canon camera is a 350Da, is this modded for astronomy ?


Howie, yes it is, it's an Astro Hutech modded camera. I used the "Da" instead of writing out "modified for astronomy" or something like that (yes I'm basically lazy ... :lol:)

Thanks for the additional instructions, I figured that there would some additional things to think about with my camera.

#21 Relativist

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Posted 18 June 2014 - 05:34 PM

Does this software support the Sony A7 series?

#22 Howie L

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Posted 19 June 2014 - 01:41 PM

Hi Curtis,

The latest version of DeepSkyStacker 3.34 does Not support Sony A7 Raw files.
It uses DRAW for its raw file conversion and it supports several hundred cameras, including the Sony SLT-A77 which is the predecessor the to The A7

When I opened a daytime sample A7 Raw file in DeepSkyStacker, it does open, and looks ok, except upon close inspection the finer details appear 'softened'. So it is not really handling the new format completely correctly.

If I had access to some data I could try stacking it, just to see how it comes out.


Thanks,
Howie

#23 Stargazer3236

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Posted 03 September 2015 - 06:49 PM

I cannot find DSS live to download. Where do I get it?



#24 Howie L

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Posted 03 September 2015 - 07:19 PM

You can down Load Deepsky Stacker from  http://deepskystacker.free.fr

 

DSS live is included with it.



#25 Stargazer3236

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Posted 03 September 2015 - 07:27 PM

Nevermind, I found it.




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