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ASI1600 + SharpCap - Lots of Hangs?

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#26 saguaro

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Posted 20 November 2016 - 01:52 PM

SharpCap developer Robin Glover has just posted a reply to my inquiry about this issue on the Astronomy Shed SharpCap support forum here: http://www.astronomy...=193347#p193316

 

He confirms that the highlighted choice in my screenshot above is in fact the best choice for allowing SharpCap to talk directly to the camera.

 

However, he also confirms that my Camera Selection menu is not displaying the ASCOM driver choice for this camera (I would see a section "ASCOM Cameras"). But he also says that I wouldn't want to choose it as it provides less control of the camera.

 

I've also posted at the ZWO Support Forum, so hopefully ZWO will respond with some help in troubleshooting this issue. I'm also going to post my ASCOM logs at the ASCOM Yahoo forum for help.

 

In the meantime, I have been successfully using the camera with SharpCap, but SGP is not able to find it (probably due to the ASCOM driver issue I'm having).



#27 Jon Rista

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Posted 20 November 2016 - 01:58 PM

Saguaro, I can all but guarantee you that using that option WILL cause hangs, dropped frames and dud frames. Remember, SharpCap is designed as a planetary imaging tool, so it's normal mode of operation is to use video capture. However that is not the best use for DSO imaging where you often need to use different exposure lengths for different things (i.e. long exposues for lights, short exposures for focusing, etc.). I've confirmed on multiple occasions now that using the ASI1600 in video mode, while regularly switching exposure lengths, DOES cause the hanging and dud frames. 

 

I've been using this camera for six months now. If you want reliable performance without even a single hang, use ASCOM. Since I switched to using it on Sam's recommendation, outside of a couple cable misshaps that affected the connection, I have not had any issues. I don't even have issues using subs shorter than 6s anymore. That seemed to be an issue limited to using the default SharpCap camera support. 

 

You do indeed have fewer options for controlling the camera if you use ASCOM, however so far in my experience it has been significantly more stable. 



#28 saguaro

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Posted 20 November 2016 - 02:35 PM

Jon,

 

Thanks to you, I realize now that I have an ASCOM driver issue that I need to troubleshoot. At least I can continue to use the camera "as is" until I can figure out why I'm not able to get the ASCOM driver to display in SharpCap (and SGP). I want to have the ASCOM choice available to me too, since your experience indicates it is the more stable choice for SharpCap. Thanks.



#29 Jon Rista

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Posted 20 November 2016 - 02:47 PM

Jon,

 

Thanks to you, I realize now that I have an ASCOM driver issue that I need to troubleshoot. At least I can continue to use the camera "as is" until I can figure out why I'm not able to get the ASCOM driver to display in SharpCap (and SGP). I want to have the ASCOM choice available to me too, since your experience indicates it is the more stable choice for SharpCap. Thanks.

Oh, I didn't catch that the ASCOM driver wasn't showing in SGP either. Well that's a bummer. Have you by chance upgraded to the latest version of ASCOM itself? Even though you may have updated driver versions, you may also need to upgrade the core ASCOM install itself.



#30 saguaro

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Posted 20 November 2016 - 03:08 PM

OK, problem solved!! Thank you Jon, for allowing me to understand I had an issue in the first place!

 

I remembered that I had gotten an error "an error occurred during profile migration" during the ASCOM Platform installation. I went to the ASCOM Yahoo Talk forum, and low and behold, someone had just been troubleshooting this issue. It turns out that I had to make some permissions changes to the ASCOM section in the Registry Editor. Once I made the changes, the ASCOM driver for the camera magically appeared in SharpCap, and now SGP finds it as well.

 

Here is the thread at the ASCOM Yahoo Support forum: https://groups.yahoo.../messages/36689

 

Hopefully the ASCOM developers will fix this issue in the ASCOM installation.


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#31 AstroCatinfo

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Posted 20 November 2016 - 03:11 PM

Which cheap/free software can be used to control the ASI1600 and filter wheel?



#32 Jon Rista

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Posted 20 November 2016 - 03:14 PM

Which cheap/free software can be used to control the ASI1600 and filter wheel?

SharpCap or FireCapture can. SharpCap can also control a focuser. 


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#33 Jon Rista

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Posted 20 November 2016 - 03:15 PM

OK, problem solved!! Thank you Jon, for allowing me to understand I had an issue in the first place!

 

I remembered that I had gotten an error "an error occurred during profile migration" during the ASCOM Platform installation. I went to the ASCOM Yahoo Talk forum, and low and behold, someone had just been troubleshooting this issue. It turns out that I had to make some permissions changes to the ASCOM section in the Registry Editor. Once I made the changes, the ASCOM driver for the camera magically appeared in SharpCap, and now SGP finds it as well.

 

Here is the thread at the ASCOM Yahoo Support forum: https://groups.yahoo.../messages/36689

 

Hopefully the ASCOM developers will fix this issue in the ASCOM installation.

Awesome! Glad you got it figured out.


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#34 saguaro

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Posted 20 November 2016 - 03:29 PM

 

OK, problem solved!! Thank you Jon, for allowing me to understand I had an issue in the first place!

 

I remembered that I had gotten an error "an error occurred during profile migration" during the ASCOM Platform installation. I went to the ASCOM Yahoo Talk forum, and low and behold, someone had just been troubleshooting this issue. It turns out that I had to make some permissions changes to the ASCOM section in the Registry Editor. Once I made the changes, the ASCOM driver for the camera magically appeared in SharpCap, and now SGP finds it as well.

 

Here is the thread at the ASCOM Yahoo Support forum: https://groups.yahoo.../messages/36689

 

Hopefully the ASCOM developers will fix this issue in the ASCOM installation.

Awesome! Glad you got it figured out.

 

Thanks Jon. I have ASCOM Platform 6.2.0.2774. How do I know if this is the latest version? When I go to the ASCOM Standards site (http://www.ascom-sta...org/index.htm) I don't see an obvious way to tell what is the latest version. Thanks.



#35 Jon Rista

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Posted 20 November 2016 - 03:39 PM

I would just download the latest one they have linked and install it.



#36 saguaro

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Posted 20 November 2016 - 03:48 PM

I would just download the latest one they have linked and install it.

Thanks, but I'm not going to do that, since I'm just afraid I'll have the same installation issue again on my Win10 laptop. I'll stick with what is working for me now, until I know that the installation issue I experienced has been fixed by the ASCOM folks.



#37 Jon Rista

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Posted 20 November 2016 - 05:06 PM

 

I would just download the latest one they have linked and install it.

Thanks, but I'm not going to do that, since I'm just afraid I'll have the same installation issue again on my Win10 laptop. I'll stick with what is working for me now, until I know that the installation issue I experienced has been fixed by the ASCOM folks.

 

Well, since you have the ASCOM drivers appearing now, it's probably best not to change anything anyway. ;)



#38 saguaro

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Posted 20 November 2016 - 05:18 PM

 

 

I would just download the latest one they have linked and install it.

Thanks, but I'm not going to do that, since I'm just afraid I'll have the same installation issue again on my Win10 laptop. I'll stick with what is working for me now, until I know that the installation issue I experienced has been fixed by the ASCOM folks.

 

Well, since you have the ASCOM drivers appearing now, it's probably best not to change anything anyway. ;)

 

Agree. And I did confirm that I have the latest version installed (ASCOM Platform 6.2.0.2774). Now I'm trying to figure out how to file a bug report with the ASCOM folks for this issue....



#39 CCDer

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Posted 23 November 2016 - 02:39 AM

It may be somehow related that I've had ASI1600 lockup problems using it with TheSkyX X2 driver. It seems that unless I follow an exact procedure each night on startup, the ASI1600 hangs all USB devices leaving nothing to do but reboot.

 

This is now my startup procedure that always allows a full night without issues.

 

1. Boot computer and power on all USB devices, in particular my MX+ since it has its own power switch.

 

2. Start SharpCap, connect to DirectShow ASI1600, Capture 1 frame, exit SharpCap.

 

3. Start TheSkyX

 

4. Connect to ASI1600 first in TheSkyX.

 

5. Take 1 ASI1600 image. This almost always works fine but once in a while the 1600 still hangs the system with no successful image downloaded and requires a reboot. But if it does work, I have no other issues the rest of the night.

 

6. Only after a successful image download, connect to the MX+. If I connect to the MX+ before the 1600, most of the time the 1600 will hang the system on the first image. If I didn't power on the MX+ before I connected to the 1600, a hang will happen. Also, if I don't run SharpCap first, most of the time the 1600 will hang sometime during the night, but not right away.

 

I had to find someway to keep the 1600 from forcing a reboot because sometimes this would cause TheSkyX to loose many of its settings which took some time to restore, very annoying!

 

I'm using USB2 and I use to think the USB bandwidth setting had better results on a lower setting. But now using this procedure, I leave it set to the maximum without issue. 

 

 

Regards

Mark



#40 CCDer

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Posted 23 November 2016 - 02:55 AM

And one more thing I always do is never over tax the CPUs while taking an image. I'm using a quad core AMD and all works well with the above procedure unless I run some CPU intensive task while imaging and then I get a lockup during an image download. I've taken to using other computers on my LAN over a remote login for doing things like running Pixinsight tools using shared directories. I also use CCD inspector each night and I run it on its own computer as well and also monitor its output via a remote login.

 

Mark 


Edited by CCDer, 23 November 2016 - 03:09 AM.


#41 rgsalinger

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Posted 23 November 2016 - 06:27 AM

Well, I use my two ASI1600 cameras with the SKYX and a Paramount all the time and I've never had a lockup or dropped frame. My usual computer is an Intel M3 Processor Stick computer with 4GB of memory. I use CCD Inspector all the time with it and often run MaximDL along with the SKYX and move back and forth between the two camera control systems. The closest thing I've ever had to a problem with the SKYX was using the ASI as an autoguider to do a PEC run. Sometimes the SKYX would not pick up the correct pixel counts from the ZWO driver and I'd have to restart the SKYX to get them correct.

 

I'm using a short USB 2 cable to the Versaplate for the camera. The stick computer is connected to a USB 3 hub and from the hub there is a short (maybe 12" cable) to the mount. I like short USB cables. Honestly, I'd bet that you had a USB problem, but if that was the case, then no workflow adjustments would cure it.  Still, if I had this occurring I'd remove everything from the system and attach only the camera to the mount via the Versaplate and use a short cable between the computer and the mount. If that all works without needing a special protocol then you've got a cabling problem. If you get the same results then, once again, I'll have to eat my hat. 



#42 CCDer

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Posted 23 November 2016 - 09:48 AM

 

Honestly, I'd bet that you had a USB problem, but if that was the case, then no workflow adjustments would cure it. 

I agree but the USB issue might not be cabling but could instead be the way USB is implemented for the small form factor Gigabyte Brix computer I have mounted on the pier. I bought on sale and I've since read that many user's had issue with it's USB3 implementation so I've kept USB3 disabled in the BIOS.

 

Still, if I had this occurring I'd remove everything from the system and attach only the camera to the mount via the Versaplate and use a short cable between the computer and the mount. If that all works without needing a special protocol then you've got a cabling problem. If you get the same results then, once again, I'll have to eat my hat. 

 

Having it mounted on the pier keeps the cable relatively short. I've read in the MX forum and also in the manual that attaching cameras to the Versaplate USB isn't good for the either the camera or the mount. They suggest using through the mount cables for cameras. So locating the computer at the top of the pier was the next best thing. If I hadn't gotten it working via this startup sequence, I'd probably have tried replacing the Gigabyte with a Intel NUC by now.

 

I like Tabasco on straw. Worcestershire works for most other head gear. :)



#43 Jon Rista

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Posted 23 November 2016 - 12:15 PM

And one more thing I always do is never over tax the CPUs while taking an image. I'm using a quad core AMD and all works well with the above procedure unless I run some CPU intensive task while imaging and then I get a lockup during an image download. I've taken to using other computers on my LAN over a remote login for doing things like running Pixinsight tools using shared directories. I also use CCD inspector each night and I run it on its own computer as well and also monitor its output via a remote login.

 

Mark 

This is not surprising. The ASI1600 does not have a memory buffer to store image data. It sends the data to the computer as it is read. If the computer is unable to process the data as it is received, and the tiny buffer integrated into the USB port is overflown, then the frame will be lost.

 

I am wondering if you guys may be misunderstanding the USB Traffic setting. That is the bandwidth ratio. You can set the bandwidth to anything from 40% to 100%. The LOWER the setting is, the less bandwidth the driver will try to grab for itself. The HIGHER the setting is, the more bandwidth the driver will try to grab for itself. For full-frame downloads, you usually don't want to grab 100% of the bandwidth, especially if you have other devices on the same cable/port. You may need to fiddle with the setting to find one that works reliably.

 

I am also curious how many USB devices you guys have on the same cable/port. This is a very high speed camera and it firehoses a lot of data without a buffer and without any ability (above the low bit level error correction inherent in USB itself) to error correct. If you pack a whole bunch of devices onto a single cable and port (i.e. through a USB hub at the device end), then try to tell the driver to grab 100% of the bandwidth, you are undoubtedly going to have problems. You won't be leaving any real bandwidth for other devices for one...however two, there WILL be other traffic on the same USB channel and that could wreak havoc on the ability of the computer to download ASI1600 frames without losing packets. This would be especially true if you put the ASI1600 on the same channel as a video feed from a guide camera. You might still have problems with a single-frame feed from a guide camera on the same channel if you end up configuring both cameras to grab too much bandwidth. 

 

Another fundamentally critical aspect of ASI1600 reliability is to make CERTAIN that the port you plug it's cable into on your computer is NOT on a USB hub or root hub that shares keyboard and mouse connections. If either are on the same hub or root hub, using either of those two devices will throw hundreds to thousands of interrupts at the CPU and dump a ton of packets through the same USB hub. That will force the computer to pause reading the ASI1600 data and deal with the kb/mouse data. If you put the ASI1600 on a different port that is not used by any other high traffic/high interrupt devices...especially if it is completely alone on it's own root hub, then you will not have the same problem as separate CPU threads can be dedicated to handling the ASI1600 data regardless of what the kb/mouse or other chatty devices may do. 


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#44 Peter in Reno

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Posted 23 November 2016 - 12:44 PM

Newer QHY CMOS cameras have 128MB DDR memory buffer.

 

http://qhyccd.com/MediumCOLDMOS.html

 

Snippet: "All of the QHY medium size COLDMOS camera has built-in 128MB DDRII image buffer."

 

Peter



#45 CCDer

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Posted 23 November 2016 - 01:46 PM

I only have a mouse, keyboard, and MX+ connected to USB, other than the 1600. The mouse and keyboard are combined in a cable hub that connects to the same root hub as the MX+. This leaves the 1600 on its own root hub. I now leave the bandwidth setting to its default (80 I think) since it has absolutely no effect as long as I do as I said above. Since early August the drought in the southern U.S. has given me huge number of clear nights (until this week) to take frames using the procedure I described and everything works perfectly. I think the problem is with the combination of MX+, 1600, and Gigabyte Brix. I doubt the 1600's driver has been put to the test for all combinations of equipment. If that is the case, I submit that "startup sequence" might be something else to research if someone has a similar lockup problem.


Edited by CCDer, 23 November 2016 - 02:00 PM.


#46 Jon Rista

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Posted 23 November 2016 - 01:58 PM

If you have the ASI1600 on its own root hub, you might want to check your cable(s) and see if there is anything wrong with them. You shouldn't normally have to go through a special procedure to get it working. If it is working, it should just work, every time. 



#47 rgsalinger

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Posted 23 November 2016 - 02:54 PM

I have two systems where I use my ASI1600 cameras. One is set up in a permanent observatory and the other is set up usually in my back yard. No keyboards, mice or anything else are attached to the hub or to the computers that I use. 

 

On my Paramount MX+, the ASI's go to the built in hub (Versaplate) as does the guide camera. Whatever focuser is mounted to the scope attaches to a different hub located on the base of the mount. Also attached to that hub are the mount and an M3 Intel stick computer. That hub is a Startech 6 Port USB 3.0 hub. The other configuration is my Atlas AZ/EQ6 mount. In that case there is one hub attached to an ADM dovetail bar on top of the scope. All usb connections - focuser, two cameras, mount, Atom based stick computer and the Polemaster all go to the same hub.

 

USB traffic has been set at 80 for as long as I can remember on all 6 (3 scopes, two mounts) combinations that use these cameras.  I never use the built in hub for the OSC camera. 

 

I admit, though, that I am struggling to get really good results from these cameras. I'm hoping that my mistake has been with regards to having created my dark libraries at a different gain and offset. Right now my images aren't even worth looking at, but the skies are clearing tonight! 

 

I run Windows 10 Pro on both stick computers (but I have a third computer - Dell Laptop- that I have with me in case of emergencies. I have never lost a frame but I'm not doing video.

 

Rgrds-Ross



#48 Jon Rista

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Posted 23 November 2016 - 03:00 PM

I admit, though, that I am struggling to get really good results from these cameras. I'm hoping that my mistake has been with regards to having created my dark libraries at a different gain and offset. Right now my images aren't even worth looking at, but the skies are clearing tonight! 

Well, calibration frames at different gain/offset would definitely cause problems. ;) Correct that, I bet things start looking better pretty quickly.

 

With this camera, I recommend refreshing calibration frames every two months anyway. And it is a good idea to keep copies of the calibration frames used with any given set of images, in case you want to revisit them in the future...as new dark frames taken 6 months, 12 months, or farther down the road may not work as well. 



#49 CCDer

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Posted 23 November 2016 - 03:07 PM

If you have the ASI1600 on its own root hub, you might want to check your cable(s) and see if there is anything wrong with them. You shouldn't normally have to go through a special procedure to get it working. If it is working, it should just work, every time. 

An initialization sequence for wires? Hmmm, I need to patent that quick!



#50 wenjha

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Posted 25 November 2016 - 09:45 AM

actually, there is image buffer inside ASI Camera just the buffer is small and can store few lines but image is readout line by line and no image should be lost even the CPU is busy
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