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Eclipse Orchestrator

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#1 Billflyer

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Posted 06 June 2017 - 09:57 AM

Hello all. This will be my first, and perhaps last TSE (I'm an old guy!). Taking the advice of the experts, I have decided to automate my picture-taking so I can fully enjoy the live experience. I purchased the Eclipse Orchestrator software and have begun testing it with my Nikon D7200 camera, and I have some questions. An e-mail to the E.O. people did not get a response. Do any of you have experience with Eclipse Orchestrator? I'd love to chat.



#2 SteveInNZ

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Posted 06 June 2017 - 03:28 PM

I've used it for several eclipses. I haven't used it with Nikon cameras so can't help with Nikon specific problems. There is another thread where it's working for one person and not for another for the same model Nikon.

 

I haven't had any response to emails since last year either. Neither has anybody else except for one person I saw on Facebook and that response was that they weren't planning any updates.

 

So - Test your camera before you pay for the Pro version. If your camera doesn't work, it appears unlikely that there will be an update to fix that.

I know that Canon 80D doesn't work but 70D and SL1 (and older) do.

 

Steve.



#3 johnpd

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Posted 06 June 2017 - 11:52 PM

Billflyer,

 

  I don't have a D7200 but I have a Nikon D90 and I got E.O. to work with it. What issues are you having?

 

JohnD



#4 Billflyer

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Posted 07 June 2017 - 08:20 AM

Thanks Steve & John. The software seems to work fine with my Nikon D7200. What I do not understand is the proper use of the "Shutter Press Time" setting, the "Recycle Time" setting, and the "Minimum Spacing Between Exposures" setting (which appears in both the Script Wizard and in Setup). I have run simulations and adjusted my exposure timing so as to avoid any "overlaps," but I'd like to make sure everything is optimized.

 

Aside from that, my main concern is with exposure settings. Apparently, E.O. has built-in defaults, which adjust for whatever ISO you give it. My research has turned up suggested settings from Jerry Lodriguss, Xavier Jubier and Fred Espenak. Some of these are WAY different from each other, and from E.O.  I will be running a live test in a few weeks, so I can get correct a exposure setting for the partial phases, but I have to trust someone for C2-C3 phases.  Do you trust E.O.'s defaults, or do you have any other recommendations?

 

I'm renting a 600 mm lens, and making a trip from Massachusetts to Wyoming with a friend from college. We plan to visit Yellowstone Park early in the week; then set up somewhere around Boysen Reservoir, or perhaps Shoshoni.



#5 johnpd

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Posted 08 June 2017 - 06:08 AM

I will be in eastern Idaho. I believe some of those settings are by default depending on the camera if it recognizes the camera. The only thing I monkeyed with was "Minimum Spacing Between Exposures".

 

1. Do you have a serial port shutter cable, such as the Shoestring DSUSB, or are you using just the camera's USB cable connection? The "Shutter Press Time" setting is only available if you are using a shutter release cable.

 

2. Since my D90 is a relatively older camera, I had an older and slower SD card in it. This caused me grief as I would get missed exposures or duplicate exposures. Once a got a newer faster SD card, I had no problems. Since your camera is much newer, you should be ok.

 

3. The "Minimum Spacing Between Exposures" is a key setting. If you are using just a USB cable, it recommends a 2 or 3 second setting. You would have to see which one is best. I think you can have fractional amounts in there also. Again this setting can affect whether you get all the exposures and they have the proper exposure times. If you are using a serial release cable (I am using the Shoestring DSUSB), you can set it to around 1 second. I tried under 1 second and again it dropped exposures so that was too fast for my camera. Again, your newer camera may be better so you can try various settings to see which is best.

 

4. I have initially tried just setting up for the phenomena around totality: the Diamond Ring, Baily's Beads, the Chromosphere, Prominences, and all the Corona activity. I am not sure how long it will take me to get there (I need to drive about an hour from my hotel) and set up so am I not sure how much partial activity I can get. That totality phenomena script generates 56 images.

 

5. What will you have your camera connected to, a telephoto lens, a telescope? How long of a focal length will you be using?

 

6. Have you ever tried using your camera to take images of the Sun? Focusing your camera can be difficult especially since the Sun may be about 50 or more degrees up and the camera view screen is fixed. A right-angle finder adapter can help. You also can take images after initial set up, display them on your computer, and zoom in to check focus. If your computer has Windows 10, its default Photo viewer will automatically open Nikon's raw format (.NEF) files. The only issue would be that you would have to go back and forth between your camera and the computer to make focusing adjustments. Also you need to have some sort of shelter (such as a cardboard box) for your computer so you can see your computer screen. Do not underestimate the difficulty of trying to see things in bright sunlight. Test everything to make sure it works.

 

NOTE: if Live View on this Nikon is similar to the older ones, it will be useless for focusing. Nikon's Live View decides on its own exposure which is much too long and results in a much overexposed image.

 

JohnD



#6 Billflyer

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Posted 08 June 2017 - 08:06 AM

John-- Thanks for the great reply!

 

1. Yes I'm using the Shoestring DSUSB. I've set a 25 ms Shutter Press Time

 

2. The D90 is a fine camera. I had one for several years. I traded up for the D7200 partly for the eclipse, and I bought some new San Disks to go with it.

 

3. Will experiment with this. Currently at 1 sec.

 

4. I hope to shoot the entire event. My script currently has 112 exposures.

 

5. Don't own a telescope. I'm renting a 600mm Nikon f4/e lens. We'll be making test runs with it in a couple of weeks.

 

6. From what I've read, the best technique is to focus on the moon ahead of time and tape your focus ring in place. Thanks for the tip about a right-angle finder, AND using a shelter for the laptop! That's something I never thought of.

 

One other thing concerns me with Eclipse Orchestrator. In the Visualizer, most of the little dots that show exposures are out of their respective colored boxes - they're too high. Since everything seems to work OK, I'm thinking this may be due to the D7200. Any thoughts?

 

Finally, are you familiar with using a GPS with E.O.? Does the laptop automatically synch to a GPS when you plug it into a USB port? Then I would tell E.O. to "Synch Camera Clocks to PC"?  If so, can you then unplug the GPS without screwing anything up? I only have 3 USB ports, and need them all; 2 for the camera and 1 for the mouse (I hate using a touch pad!)



#7 johnpd

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Posted 08 June 2017 - 08:05 PM

The D7200 seems to be a great camera. It should do a great job.

 

#5. Wow that is quite a lens and is a great focal length. I hope you have a heavy duty tripod on which to mount it. I will be using an 80mm f/6 refractor telescope (F/L 480mm) with my mount set up in Alt-Az mode. I have a remote focuser for the scope so I can sit by the laptop and focus while viewing images. I have a "Computer Cave" to set the laptop in.

 

#6. That will probably be ok, but focus can change especially during the heat of the day. I have heard mention that the drop in temperature around totality could affect focus. I don't know how much of an issue that will be. You might want to do a test with a lunar focus one night and then check focus on the Sun during the next day.

 

 I would not be concerned about the Visualizer. It just seems to give you a step by step of the exposures that you have set up. I am not sure what the "Q" value is. I did not take a good look at that. I will have to look at mine again to try to see what it is telling me.

 

 I don't have a GPS to connect to my laptop. Assuming I have no weather issues and I can set up at the location at which I have registered, I should be able to enter my location fairly precisely ahead of time. I will be located on the campus of Brigham Young University in Rexburg ID.

 

  I only have two USB ports on my laptop. I use a small USB hub because as you, I use a mouse (actually a trackball) because I hate the trackpad as well.

 

JohnD



#8 johnpd

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Posted 09 June 2017 - 02:13 AM

  By the way, the script generates a file (actual_times.txt) which lists each exposure and how close to on time it was taken. Mine are within .4 of a second at worst so that's not too bad. I might try some +/- adjustments to see if I can get it a little better.

  You can find the file in "C:\Users\{your user name}\AppData\Local\Moonglow Tech\Eclipse Orchestrator\Data" or view it using "File" > "View Log" menu. NOTE: you have to close E.O. first as it does not write the last few lines of the file until you do.

 

JohnD



#9 Billflyer

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Posted 09 June 2017 - 11:19 AM

Losing focus is definitely a concern; that's one thing I'll be testing ahead of time. I've read a suggestion of draping a white cloth over the lens, but the Owner's Manual for the one I'm renting says specifically not to cover it while in use. I may try to devise some sort of "lens cave" to shade it.

 

I was thinking of using a GPS for an accurate time setting, but I've since decided that's not necessary. My laptop will automatically set itself to "Internet time" (time.windows.com) via wi-fi at my hotel, and it won't gain or lose enough over 3-4 hours to make any difference. I have a GPS app in my phone to get accurate Long/Lat numbers for E.O. virtually wherever I am.

 

Thanks for the reminder about "actual_times.txt"  I will definitely check that.

 

Interesting that you will be in Rexburg. That's our backup location, if the forecast sky conditions are better there than the Shoshoni area.

 

Thanks again, and best of luck!



#10 johnpd

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Posted 15 June 2017 - 06:33 PM

A new version (v3.7) of Eclipse Orchestrator has been released. The following updates have been included:

 

- Add Canon 1D X Mark II, 5D Mark IV, 80D, Rebel T6, 1300D, Kiss X80 support.
- Add Baily's Beads simulation.
- Add support for Garmin USB-connected GPS units such as the GPS 18x USB.
- Update delta T.
- Add option to scale main display font size with window width.
- Windows 10 compatibility fixes.

 

JohnD

 

By the way, there is also now documentation in .PDF format that does a great job of explaining how to use E.O.. I had not seen that before.


Edited by johnpd, 15 June 2017 - 07:00 PM.

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#11 Billflyer

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Posted 16 June 2017 - 08:06 AM

Thanks John. I'll check it out.



#12 jozasa

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Posted 17 June 2017 - 04:01 AM

A new version (v3.7) of Eclipse Orchestrator has been released. The following updates have been included:

 

- Add Canon 1D X Mark II, 5D Mark IV, 80D, Rebel T6, 1300D, Kiss X80 support.
- Add Baily's Beads simulation.
- Add support for Garmin USB-connected GPS units such as the GPS 18x USB.
- Update delta T.
- Add option to scale main display font size with window width.
- Windows 10 compatibility fixes.

 

JohnD

 

By the way, there is also now documentation in .PDF format that does a great job of explaining how to use E.O.. I had not seen that before.

I noticed that (for the place I will be observing the eclipse) the timing has changed slightly compared to previous version of EO

Previous version of EO gave me C2 at 17:34:26,6 (UTC)

New version of EO gives me C2 at 17:34:25,7 (UTC)

Both with "refraction correction" and "limb profile correction LRO/Kaguya" enabled

 

Furthermore:

Xavier Jubier gives me C2 at 17:34:27,9 (UTC)

And the NASA map gives me C2 at 17:34:28,5 (UTC)

 

Why these differences? Who is giving the most accurate timing?



#13 Billflyer

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Posted 17 June 2017 - 08:46 AM

The greater than 2 seconds difference between E.O. and the others is troubling, if you need that level of accuracy.

If you don't get an answer from someone here, I suggest you contact E.O. and/or Jubier and/or NASA with this question.



#14 Billflyer

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Posted 17 June 2017 - 08:51 AM

This is from Wikipedia. Note the words "...PREDICT... WITH A HIGH DEGREE..."

I don't think there is an ABSOLUTE time for C2 or C3.

 

"The The lunar limb is the edge of the visible surface of the Moon as viewed from Earth.[1] Libration of the Moon, with its irregular surface, leads to small changes in its profile, and this complicates the task of precisely calculating eclipse times and durations.[2] However, data from the mapping of the lunar surface allows astronomers to predict the lunar profile for any given time with a high degree of certainty.[3] The irregularity of the lunar limb is the cause of Baily's beads‍—‌beads of sunlight that shine through in some places, and not in others, during a solar eclipse.



#15 Tech Hiker

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Posted 18 June 2017 - 08:39 PM

I did a dry run today.  The thing that is giving me the most trouble is focus.  It's so blazing bright outside with that sun up in the sky. lol.gif

It's hard to see anything with these old eyes.  That number that is displayed on the live view screen in Eclipse Orchestrator isn't helping me at all.  It doesn't change much.  It just stays around 2000 no matter what the focus is.  The exposure seemed okay so that isn't the problem.  How do you guys focus?


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#16 SteveRosenow

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Posted 18 June 2017 - 11:25 PM

I did a dry run today.  The thing that is giving me the most trouble is focus.  It's so blazing bright outside with that sun up in the sky. lol.gif

It's hard to see anything with these old eyes.  That number that is displayed on the live view screen in Eclipse Orchestrator isn't helping me at all.  It doesn't change much.  It just stays around 2000 no matter what the focus is.  The exposure seemed okay so that isn't the problem.  How do you guys focus?

You should have at least a solar filter. Focus on the sun through that through LiveView, then tape the focus in position.

Focus should be set to 'Manual Mode' of course.



#17 johnpd

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Posted 19 June 2017 - 06:55 AM

What kind of camera do you have? If it is a Nikon, Live View may not let you get a low enough exposure to get a decent view of the Sun as it will be very overexposed. That was what I found with my D90. For some suggestions on focusing, see item 6 in my post (#5) above. I mentioned using Windows 10 Photo app to view raw Nikon images (.NEF). I also believe the Photo app will open raw Canon images.

 

JohnD



#18 SteveRosenow

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Posted 19 June 2017 - 07:57 AM

What kind of camera do you have? If it is a Nikon, Live View may not let you get a low enough exposure to get a decent view of the Sun as it will be very overexposed. That was what I found with my D90. For some suggestions on focusing, see item 6 in my post (#5) above. I mentioned using Windows 10 Photo app to view raw Nikon images (.NEF). I also believe the Photo app will open raw Canon images.

 

JohnD

I have a Nikon D5500 and a Nikon D5100, and I use LiveView nearly *_EVERY TIME_* I focus on the sun using my telescopes.

In fact, it is the _ONLY_ way I focus. 

That's both using self-made mylar filters (from space blanket material) and using my Thousand Oaks filters.

If you have a Nikon DSLR in the D5X00 range, you can use LiveView to focus. Just be sure to check the Auto ISO function. That has to be 'ON' for it to work. 



#19 johnpd

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Posted 19 June 2017 - 08:00 AM

Apparently the newer Nikons have fixed the Live View issue that the older ones had.

 

JohnD



#20 Tech Hiker

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Posted 19 June 2017 - 07:56 PM

What kind of camera do you have? If it is a Nikon, Live View may not let you get a low enough exposure to get a decent view of the Sun as it will be very overexposed. That was what I found with my D90. For some suggestions on focusing, see item 6 in my post (#5) above. I mentioned using Windows 10 Photo app to view raw Nikon images (.NEF). I also believe the Photo app will open raw Canon images.

 

JohnD

I have a Canon T6s.  The exposure in live view looks good, no problem there.  I just can't see it well enough to focus because everything is so bright.  The Windows 10 photo app doesn't understand the T6s CR2 raw format, but I can use Canon's program to view the files.

 

Just looked at your note #6 above.  The right angle finder adapter is a good idea, but probably too small an image for good manual focus.  I'm going to have to build some sort of shade box around the laptop.

 

I just noticed that I can light the "focus-achieved" lights in the camera when I manual focus with a Canon lens.  Unfortunately that doesn't seem to work with the refractor I plan to use for the eclipse.



#21 johnpd

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 01:48 AM

 By "everything being so bright" I assume are you referring to outside light due to the Sun and not the brightness of the image? If yes, as I mentioned, some sort of enclosure you can make or buy (google "Computer Cave") will help. Plus put some sort of cover (such as a large towel or tarp or something similar) over your head and the opening of the enclosure will help a lot making everything fairly dark when you view the computer screen inside the enclosure. Anything to cut down the external outside light is necessary, else you cannot see the computer screen well enough to achieve focus.

 

 Windows 10 Photo Viewer is supposed to handle the Canon CR2 format, but I see that some are having difficulty getting it to work. But if you have another program that can read them, that is fine.

 

 I can get focus pretty close with the right-angle adapter for my Nikon D90. It has a 2x power adjustment which helps a lot. Again it helps to cover your head and the adapter to block out as much outside light as possible. To get an idea of where focus is, start by testing focus on the Moon. If you can mark that spot or measure how far out the camera is with the Moon, that will at least give you a good starting point for focus. Then it is a matter of fine tuning if needed on the Sun. I will be using an 80mm f/6 refractor. Below is an image I took at ISO 200 and exposure of 1/2000 of a second, slightly cropped. I had previously marked where good focus is on my refractor using a lunar test and I played a little here with the right-angle viewer. It is also useful if your have remote focuser capability on your refractor. You can peek inside your enclosure, adjust the focus, and see the results immediately. But that capability is usually only available with high-end focusers. Without that, I think the right-angle viewer is your best bet. Adjust with that, take an image, and go to the enclosure to see what you have. It would really help if we get a nice big sunspot on that day. In my image you can barely see two small sunspots. It sure would make things a lot easier if a big one showed up.

 

JohnD

 

Attached File  DSC_0246.jpg   35.95KB   2 downloads



#22 Billflyer

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Posted 21 June 2017 - 10:00 AM

I'm testing with Eclipse Orchestrator v3.7 and a Nikon D7200, which is listed as a supported camera. 

The E.O. User Manual gives instructions on using Mirror Lockup, and says nothing about any limitations.

But when I try this setting, E.O. gives the error message: "Nikon (and possibly other cameras) are not configured/connected."  I intend to email Moonglow Technologies about this, but they have not been responsive in the past. Has anyone had this issue and found a way around it?



#23 Tim in GA

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Posted 21 June 2017 - 10:44 AM

I'm testing with Eclipse Orchestrator v3.7 and a Nikon D7200, which is listed as a supported camera. 

The E.O. User Manual gives instructions on using Mirror Lockup, and says nothing about any limitations.

But when I try this setting, E.O. gives the error message: "Nikon (and possibly other cameras) are not configured/connected."  I intend to email Moonglow Technologies about this, but they have not been responsive in the past. Has anyone had this issue and found a way around it?

Sounds like it can't see the camera or the camera is not set to enable MLU. Are you able to take a photo using the Push Shutter command? On my Canon, I have to enable MLU in the menu (currently I don't use it). 



#24 Billflyer

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Posted 21 June 2017 - 11:18 AM

I did not think to try a picture using the "Push Shutter" command. 

 

My camera has a "Release Mode" dial for the shutter. This selects "Single Frame," "Continuous Low Speed," "Continuous High Speed," "Quiet," "Self Timer," OR "Mirror Up."  E.O. works fine in "Single Frame" mode, but doesn't like "Mirror Up" mode.



#25 selectedpixels

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Posted 21 June 2017 - 11:48 AM

Bill,

 

Are you checking the box for MLU in the setup in EO?  I don't have my laptop with me but if I remember correctly you just set your camera to "Manual", "Single Frame" and then use EO to turn MLU on.




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