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Solar Eclipse Maestro

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#1 rainycityastro

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 08:20 PM

I started playing with SEM while my serial cable -> shutter release adapter from Hap Griffin is still in transit.

 

I really like the UI of this program -- a bit more intuitive than Eclipse Orchestrator. 

 

However I am running into all kinds of basic difficulties.

 

1. I am unable to configure basic things like simulated time: second contact. This setting is greyed out.

2. No mirror lock up setting. The manual makes a lot of noise about using a fast card for performance but I dont see much point shooting at 3+ FPS when MLU is not supported. I definitely want MLU for the long subs. It also doesn't seem to be able to utilize a serial-> USB cable in addition to the USB cable.

3. I dont see any way of configuring photography of specific phenomena in the wizard such as Baileys beads. Many of these settings are greyed out.

 

Is there a paid version of this software that allows unfettered use of this software? How does this compare functionality wise with EO? 

First impressions: I am somewhat underwhelmed.

 

Regards,

--Ram



#2 Jerry Lodriguss

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 09:24 PM

I started playing with SEM while my serial cable -> shutter release adapter from Hap Griffin is still in transit.

 

I really like the UI of this program -- a bit more intuitive than Eclipse Orchestrator. 

 

However I am running into all kinds of basic difficulties.

 

1. I am unable to configure basic things like simulated time: second contact. This setting is greyed out.

2. No mirror lock up setting. The manual makes a lot of noise about using a fast card for performance but I dont see much point shooting at 3+ FPS when MLU is not supported. I definitely want MLU for the long subs. It also doesn't seem to be able to utilize a serial-> USB cable in addition to the USB cable.

3. I dont see any way of configuring photography of specific phenomena in the wizard such as Baileys beads. Many of these settings are greyed out.

 

Is there a paid version of this software that allows unfettered use of this software? How does this compare functionality wise with EO? 

First impressions: I am somewhat underwhelmed.

 

I'm using SEM and I have nothing but good things to say about it. Xavier actually supports it, unlike EO.

 

You can't use a serial cable with SEM. You don't need it. It will run like a bat out of hell with just a USB cable and the right commands.

 

1. Second contact time is fixed for the location you input, that's why you can't change it. you need to change Simulated time.

 

2. MLU is set in the command line in the script. It's the setting just after ISO. You need to edit the script by hand.   See my blog entry here:

 

http://www.astropix....ness-is-coming/

 

3. You don't need a serial cable with SEM.  if you want to rock and roll on frames per second, just use the TAKBST like this:

 

CHGCSSL,C2,-,00:05.0,600D, , ,100, , , , ,Set to max frame rate

TAKEBST,C2,-,00:03.0,600D,1/1000,6.3,200,8,RAW,None,N,Burst of 8 pictures

 

The setting after ISO defines how many frames are in the burst.

 

3. I don't have my mac in front of me right now, but I don't remember any of the settings being grayed out in the wizard. You don't have something set up correctly. Is your camera connected and recognized and a nickname defined for it in setup?

 

There is no pro version, there is only one version. It is donation ware and if you use it for the eclipse you should show your thanks by making a donation. If you are a professional photographer, then you need to pay for it.

 

I really like SEM.  I think it is much more powerful than EO. I actually dug out my wife's old Macbook pro and installed an SSD drive in it and a new OS just so I could use SEM. I'm normally a dedicated window's user, but SEM is so good I had to use it.

 

Jerry


Edited by Jerry Lodriguss, 25 July 2017 - 09:30 PM.

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#3 rainycityastro

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 11:20 PM

I was hasty and misjudged the software! Thanks Jerry for the pointers!

I had set the wrong lat, lng by mistake and there was no totality in the location I had put in. Hence , several of the options including C2 were greyed out.

 

Otherwise it seems to be working great so far!



#4 rainycityastro

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Posted 26 July 2017 - 03:25 AM

Is there any issue with using Live view instead of MLU? I was able to script this so that live view turns on 10 secs before C2 and shuts off 10 secs after C3.  Do you foresee issues with excessive heat etc? The good thing is that the mirror stays up throughout and there is no potential for shake throughout totality.

 

Thanks,

--Ram


Edited by rainycityastro, 26 July 2017 - 03:25 AM.


#5 Jerry Lodriguss

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Posted 26 July 2017 - 12:18 PM

Is there any issue with using Live view instead of MLU? I was able to script this so that live view turns on 10 secs before C2 and shuts off 10 secs after C3.  Do you foresee issues with excessive heat etc? The good thing is that the mirror stays up throughout and there is no potential for shake throughout totality.

The only issue is if the camera is already heated from the normal daytime heat of the summer and then heats up a little more from Live View and turns itself off during totality.

 

If you only use it for two minutes, it *probably* won't be a problem.

 

But I'm not going to use Live View for this very reason, because I'm not taking any chances.

 

Jerry


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#6 rainycityastro

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Posted 26 July 2017 - 07:16 PM

Now that I got both Burst mode and MLU working properly, I am going to leave it as is. No live view for me as well!



#7 cdavid

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Posted 27 July 2017 - 06:49 AM

Good info guys. Question regarding mirror lockup. I thought I read somewhere it was risky to use with the canons...the camera might skip exposures.

I've set my 7D up with the generic script and figured it needs a 3 sec space between exposures or it starts missing frames. I would love to use the MLU if it's safe. What is everyone doing?

 

Also, I'm not much of a scripting savvy person.....is the script generated by the configuration wizard good enough?

 

Thanks


Edited by cdavid, 27 July 2017 - 08:58 AM.


#8 Agent M27

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Posted 27 July 2017 - 12:20 PM

This is a great program, thanks for the suggestion Jerry and many thanks to Xavier for the excellent coding work.  I had some issues with options being greyed out, but it turned out that I  chose "E" longitude instead of "W" which made it so no eclipse would occur in my location.  After I fixed this, I had another issue which was that I did not select the proper eclipse under "Setup-> Choose Solar Eclipse". Once I did this, then I was able use the "Observer->Simulated Time" option to see the progression of the eclipse. 

 

 

Good info guys. Question regarding mirror lockup. I thought I read somewhere it was risky to use with the canons...the camera might skip exposures.

I've set my 7D up with the generic script and figured it needs a 3 sec space between exposures or it starts missing frames. I would love to use the MLU if it's safe. What is everyone doing?

 

Also, I'm not much of a scripting savvy person.....is the script generated by the configuration wizard good enough?

 

Thanks

Going to work on some scripting later today to see how the camera controls work. I will try the basic configuration wizard to get a feel for what happens, but the syntax looks pretty intuitive and easily extensible. At the very least I may just use a remote with my camera and the pop-up timers/messages from the program. If you want to go this route, select the "Display->Display Major Timers", this even gives you a message of when to remove/replace your solar filters. Overall I am impressed, there are so many features that I didn't realize I wanted! Now that I have the software figured out, I hope the weather holds up in Columbia MO.

Joe


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#9 Jerry Lodriguss

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Posted 27 July 2017 - 01:49 PM

Good info guys. Question regarding mirror lockup. I thought I read somewhere it was risky to use with the canons...the camera might skip exposures.

I've set my 7D up with the generic script and figured it needs a 3 sec space between exposures or it starts missing frames. I would love to use the MLU if it's safe. What is everyone doing?

 

Also, I'm not much of a scripting savvy person.....is the script generated by the configuration wizard good enough?

No matter how you set it up, if you use too short of a time between frames, you can skip exposures. With MLU you need extra time.

 

You really need to look at the script generated by the config wizard to see if it meets your needs to tell if it is "good enough".

 

Jerry



#10 rainycityastro

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Posted 27 July 2017 - 05:58 PM

A tool that is very helpful is "Exposure Sequence Analysis" under the camera menu. You can look over the sequence of exposures and see if there are any "hotspots".  I am using it to debug my sequences.



#11 cdavid

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Posted 27 July 2017 - 07:09 PM

Thanks for the suggestions everyone.

#12 Jgoldader

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Posted 30 July 2017 - 04:16 PM

 

 

2. MLU is set in the command line in the script. It's the setting just after ISO. You need to edit the script by hand.   See my blog entry here:

 

http://www.astropix....ness-is-coming/

 

3. You don't need a serial cable with SEM.  if you want to rock and roll on frames per second, just use the TAKBST like this:

 

CHGCSSL,C2,-,00:05.0,600D, , ,100, , , , ,Set to max frame rate

TAKEBST,C2,-,00:03.0,600D,1/1000,6.3,200,8,RAW,None,N,Burst of 8 pictures

 

The setting after ISO defines how many frames are in the burst.

 

 

Jerry, those lines are about something I'm trying to figure out.  The camera in your sample script lines is a Canon 600D/EOS Rebel T3i, no?

 

According to the SEM docs, the 600D can only hold 5 images in the buffer.  If you take a burst of 8 frames, wouldn't some get lost?  Would the first 3 be overwritten, or the last 3 not saved?  I'd like to do more than 1-2 shots for the diamond ring at third contact, maybe try to spread the 5 out over 3 seconds, but can't quite figure out how to make it work.

 

Thanks!

-Jeff



#13 Jerry Lodriguss

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Posted 30 July 2017 - 05:52 PM

 

 

 

2. MLU is set in the command line in the script. It's the setting just after ISO. You need to edit the script by hand.   See my blog entry here:

 

http://www.astropix....ness-is-coming/

 

3. You don't need a serial cable with SEM.  if you want to rock and roll on frames per second, just use the TAKBST like this:

 

CHGCSSL,C2,-,00:05.0,600D, , ,100, , , , ,Set to max frame rate

TAKEBST,C2,-,00:03.0,600D,1/1000,6.3,200,8,RAW,None,N,Burst of 8 pictures

 

The setting after ISO defines how many frames are in the burst.

 

 

Jerry, those lines are about something I'm trying to figure out.  The camera in your sample script lines is a Canon 600D/EOS Rebel T3i, no?

 

According to the SEM docs, the 600D can only hold 5 images in the buffer.  If you take a burst of 8 frames, wouldn't some get lost?  Would the first 3 be overwritten, or the last 3 not saved?  I'd like to do more than 1-2 shots for the diamond ring at third contact, maybe try to spread the 5 out over 3 seconds, but can't quite figure out how to make it work.

 

Hi Jeff,

 

Yes, it's a 600D.

 

You can shoot more frames in a burst than 8, but it will slow down. You don't lose any frames. At the end the burst rate obviously isn't 5pfs though.

 

If you want to spread the burst out, you need to use the FOR (INTERVALOMETER) loop.

 

But that is considerably slower than the burst mode... you might not get 5 frames in 3 seconds... 

 

You are going to have to compromise on what you do...  maybe do a burst of 2 frames, then a second or two later another burst of 2 frames.

 

Jerry



#14 corduroy

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Posted 02 August 2017 - 01:13 PM

Hi Jerry,  I am thinking about switching to SEM from EO to control my 3 cameras (70d, 550s, ThetaS). I have a few questions

 

1) Multi camera scripting

To add cameras 2 and 3 to my script, does it matter where I put in the lines?  or can I simply group them together? ie

 

#
# C1 - sequence starts at specified time
#

FOR,(INTERVALOMETER),1,2.001,5
TAKEPIC,C1,-,00:00:02.0,70D,1/2000,6,100,0.000,RAW,None,N,First contact
ENDFOR

 

FOR,(INTERVALOMETER),1,2.001,5
TAKEPIC,C1,-,00:00:02.0,550D,1/2000,7,100,0.000,RAW,None,N,First contact
ENDFOR

 

FOR,(INTERVALOMETER),1,2.001,5
TAKEPIC,C1,-,00:00:02.0,THETAS,1/2000,2,100,0.000,RAW,None,N,First contact
ENDFOR

 

2) Framing and Focus

How do you plan to check framing and focus before totality?  I see that there is a Live view function under Camera.  I almost thinking about stopping SEM 3 min prior to totality and starting BYEOS to precisely focus and frame the sun.  However, that will likely take some time and miss a few partial eclipse shots.  I will have my cameras on GEM mounts, polar aligned and tracking at the solar rate.   I have seen a little bit of drift, nothing major.  Maybe I should worry about framing and just on focus.



#15 SFGagnon

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Posted 02 August 2017 - 02:06 PM

1) Multi camera scripting

To add cameras 2 and 3 to my script, does it matter where I put in the lines?  or can I simply group them together?

 

As long as the syntax is correct, it doesn't matter where you put the lines. SEM isn't directly controlled by the script. Rather, the script is fed to a scheduler which puts all of the camera commands in the right order.

 

As far as focus, I'll be using live view on the camera (not through SEM). Since I can't adjust the focus from the laptop anyway, being able to see it on the laptop isn't especially useful to me personally.

 

Just wondering, but how are you running SEM and BYEOS on the same box, assuming that it is the same box. Which OS is getting the virtual machine?



#16 corduroy

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Posted 02 August 2017 - 02:18 PM

Thanks Steve, I am running OSX/SEM via Vmware on a Lenovo miix 720, i7, win10  (competitor of the surface pro 4).  I haven't tried running SEM and bYEOS at the same, not sure if it will work.  I like framing and focus on BYEOS because it's on a bigger screen, I can move to particular area (sun spot) and zoom in.  Sure I can do that on my 70d, but it's a much smaller screen.   Also,  with my 550d on the C8/0.7x reducer I noticed that the LCD doesn't show the entire frame, the sun is clipped a bit which makes for framing more difficult.

 

I had planned on running EO on an Intel Compute stick with USB serial cable but then I started exploring SEM & ThetaS support.  The Atom x5 cannot support virtual machines and I think SEM is a better program.  Finally I thinking managing 1 computer, 1 script on 1 program controlling 3 cameras will be less chance for error.



#17 Jerry Lodriguss

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Posted 02 August 2017 - 02:26 PM

Hi Jerry,  I am thinking about switching to SEM from EO to control my 3 cameras (70d, 550s, ThetaS). I have a few questions

 

1) Multi camera scripting

To add cameras 2 and 3 to my script, does it matter where I put in the lines?  or can I simply group them together? ie

 

#
# C1 - sequence starts at specified time
#

FOR,(INTERVALOMETER),1,2.001,5
TAKEPIC,C1,-,00:00:02.0,70D,1/2000,6,100,0.000,RAW,None,N,First contact
ENDFOR

 

FOR,(INTERVALOMETER),1,2.001,5
TAKEPIC,C1,-,00:00:02.0,550D,1/2000,7,100,0.000,RAW,None,N,First contact
ENDFOR

 

FOR,(INTERVALOMETER),1,2.001,5
TAKEPIC,C1,-,00:00:02.0,THETAS,1/2000,2,100,0.000,RAW,None,N,First contact
ENDFOR

 

2) Framing and Focus

How do you plan to check framing and focus before totality?  I see that there is a Live view function under Camera.  I almost thinking about stopping SEM 3 min prior to totality and starting BYEOS to precisely focus and frame the sun.  However, that will likely take some time and miss a few partial eclipse shots.  I will have my cameras on GEM mounts, polar aligned and tracking at the solar rate.   I have seen a little bit of drift, nothing major.  Maybe I should worry about framing and just on focus.

It doesn't matter where you put them in the script, SEM only looks a the event and offset and time.

 

I'm going to focus with Live View magnified on the camera with a view camera focusing cloth over my head.

 

You can use Live View on the camera while it is hooked up to SEM.

 

Jerry



#18 BobbaLooie

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Posted 03 August 2017 - 07:40 PM

 

I'm going to focus with Live View magnified on the camera with a view camera focusing cloth over my head.

 

You can use Live View on the camera while it is hooked up to SEM.

 

Jerry

 

I have not been able to get Live View on the camera to work when it is connected to the computer, either when SEM is running (and yes, I do have the preference "Allow Live View when running a script" checked) or not.   The camera says "PC" on the top LCD, and none of the buttons are functional in this mode.   This is a Nikon D500/MacBook Pro combo.
 

Just FYI.  I suspect maybe Canon cameras behave differently?   The Live View window within SEM works, so that seems to be my only option for focus checking.

 

Bob



#19 Jerry Lodriguss

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Posted 03 August 2017 - 10:59 PM

 

 

I'm going to focus with Live View magnified on the camera with a view camera focusing cloth over my head.

 

You can use Live View on the camera while it is hooked up to SEM.

 

Jerry

 

I have not been able to get Live View on the camera to work when it is connected to the computer, either when SEM is running (and yes, I do have the preference "Allow Live View when running a script" checked) or not.   The camera says "PC" on the top LCD, and none of the buttons are functional in this mode.   This is a Nikon D500/MacBook Pro combo.
 

Just FYI.  I suspect maybe Canon cameras behave differently?   The Live View window within SEM works, so that seems to be my only option for focus checking.

 

Bob

 

Hi Bob,

 

I'm using a Canon.

 

I just tested it with my Nikon D5300 and Live View on the back of the camera doesn't work, but it works through the program.

 

Jerry



#20 andysea

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Posted 05 August 2017 - 01:34 AM

Jerry I have been testing the Takebst command.

Have you been successful in taking Diamond ring through Prominences in bursts for each phase?

I am unable to keep the camera at the high burst rate. For exampIe before C2 can shoot  diamond ring at the high burst rate (3~4 frames) but then for the the following phases my camera uses the slow burst rate. I can't quite figure out why. I'm using the 5D4 which I know can do ~7fps and buffer 28~30 raw frames and I am using a 1066X CF card.



#21 Jerry Lodriguss

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Posted 05 August 2017 - 02:25 AM

Jerry I have been testing the Takebst command.

Have you been successful in taking Diamond ring through Prominences in bursts for each phase?

I am unable to keep the camera at the high burst rate. For exampIe before C2 can shoot  diamond ring at the high burst rate (3~4 frames) but then for the the following phases my camera uses the slow burst rate. I can't quite figure out why. I'm using the 5D4 which I know can do ~7fps and buffer 28~30 raw frames and I am using a 1066X CF card.

Hi Andy,

 

In what program?

 

What exact commands are on the script lines?

 

Jerry



#22 andysea

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Posted 05 August 2017 - 02:37 AM

Hi Jerry,  that is in SEM.

Here is the script, I am only using C2 for practice.

 

SETCSSL,C2,-,00:05.0,5d4, , ,100, , , , ,Set to high frame rate 

 

TAKEBST,C2,-,00:04.0,5d4,1/200,5.0,200,3,RAW,None,N,Burst of 3 pictures First Diamond Ring

 

TAKEBST,C2,-,00:01.5,5d4,1/8000,5.0,200,3,RAW,None,N,Burst of 3 pictures C2 Baily's Beads

 

TAKEBST,C2,-,00:01.0,5d4,1/5000,5.0,200,7,RAW,None,N,Burst of 7 pictures C2 Chromosphere

 

TAKEBST,C2,+,00:06.0,5d4,1/1600,5.0,200,7,RAW,None,N,Burst of 7 pictures C2 Prominences

 

I noticed that the camera takes one more exposure than what's in the script per each burst and only takes the first burst at 7fps. The remaining ones are at ~3fps. Even if use CHGSSL instead, the result is the same.

One thing I haven't tried is to use Y for the incremental value. There are definitely too many N's in the script as is. The timing for the Baily's beads might be cutting it close with 3 frames, perhaps I need to give it a bit more time.



#23 Jerry Lodriguss

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Posted 05 August 2017 - 03:45 AM

Hi Jerry,  that is in SEM.

Here is the script, I am only using C2 for practice.

 

SETCSSL,C2,-,00:05.0,5d4, , ,100, , , , ,Set to high frame rate 

 

TAKEBST,C2,-,00:04.0,5d4,1/200,5.0,200,3,RAW,None,N,Burst of 3 pictures First Diamond Ring

 

TAKEBST,C2,-,00:01.5,5d4,1/8000,5.0,200,3,RAW,None,N,Burst of 3 pictures C2 Baily's Beads

 

TAKEBST,C2,-,00:01.0,5d4,1/5000,5.0,200,7,RAW,None,N,Burst of 7 pictures C2 Chromosphere

 

TAKEBST,C2,+,00:06.0,5d4,1/1600,5.0,200,7,RAW,None,N,Burst of 7 pictures C2 Prominences

 

I noticed that the camera takes one more exposure than what's in the script per each burst and only takes the first burst at 7fps. The remaining ones are at ~3fps. Even if use CHGSSL instead, the result is the same.

One thing I haven't tried is to use Y for the incremental value. There are definitely too many N's in the script as is. The timing for the Baily's beads might be cutting it close with 3 frames, perhaps I need to give it a bit more time.

Hi Andy,

 

What version of SEM are you using?

 

I just ran your script with a 7D MII which can shoot 10fps.

 

It recorded

 

4 frames at 1/200

7 frames at 1/8000

13 frames at 1/5000

12 frames at 1/1600

 

I noticed exactly the same thing you did, the first burst was at the fastest speed, and the other bursts were at a slower speed.

 

Then I spaced the bursts out to every 5 seconds, and the behavior didn't change.

 

Then I ran this script:

 

CHGCSSL,C2,-,00:20.0,7D, , ,100, , , , ,Set to high frame rate
TAKEBST,C2,-,00:18.0,7D,1/200,5.0,200,3,RAW,None,N,Burst of 3 pictures First Diamond Ring
CHGCSSL,C2,-,00:15.0,7D, , ,100, , , , ,Set to high frame rate
TAKEBST,C2,-,00:13.0,7D,1/8000,5.0,200,3,RAW,None,Y,Burst of 3 pictures C2 Baily's Beads
CHGCSSL,C2,-,00:10.0,7D, , ,100, , , , ,Set to high frame rate
TAKEBST,C2,-,00:08.0,7D,1/5000,5.0,200,7,RAW,None,Y,Burst of 7 pictures C2 Chromosphere
CHGCSSL,C2,-,00:04.0,7D, , ,100, , , , ,Set to high frame rate
TAKEBST,C2,+,00:00.0,7D,1/1600,5.0,200,7,RAW,None,Y,Burst of 7 pictures C2 Prominences

 

And it fired at the fastest speed for each.

 

And this time it shot one extra frame for each burst. This is something I noticed with other Canon cameras.  So just program it for one less frame than you really want.

 

Note that I removed extraneous spaces at the ends of lines and removed extra spaces between lines.  I don't know if this actually made any difference, but the incremental values were not loaded correctly with the blank spaces you had originally.

 

Obviously, the timings here was just for test purposes. You will have to readjust them for when you intend to shoot those phenomenon... I was able to successfully run the script with 3 frame bursts with the highest framing rate with this script with the 7DMII... you may need different spacing between frames for your camera.

 

CHGCSSL,C2,-,00:07.5,7D, , ,100, , , , ,Set to high frame rate
TAKEBST,C2,-,00:07.0,7D,1/8000,6.5,200,2,RAW,None,N,Burst Baily's Beads
CHGCSSL,C2,-,00:05.5,7D, , ,100, , , , ,Set to high frame rate
TAKEBST,C2,-,00:05.0,7D,1/200,6.5,200,2,RAW,None,Y,Burst Diamond Ring
CHGCSSL,C2,-,00:03.5,7D, , ,100, , , , ,Set to high frame rate
TAKEBST,C2,-,00:03.0,7D,1/8000,6.5,200,2,RAW,None,Y,Burst Baily's Beads
CHGCSSL,C2,-,00:01.5,7D, , ,100, , , , ,Set to high frame rate
TAKEBST,C2,-,00:01.0,7D,1/200,6.5,200,2,RAW,None,Y,Burst Diamond Ring
CHGCSSL,C2,+,00:00.5,7D, , ,100, , , , ,Set to high frame rate
TAKEBST,C2,+,00:01.0,7D,1/6400,6.5,200,2,RAW,None,Y,Burst Chromosphere
CHGCSSL,C2,+,00:02.5,7D, , ,100, , , , ,Set to high frame rate
TAKEBST,C2,+,00:03.0,7D,1/2000,6.5,200,2,RAW,None,Y,Burst Prominences

 

NOTE: The single biggest cause of problems is not enough spacing between bursts, or lines in the script.

 

Also note that these are just test times to see how close I could get the spacing with my camera. Your camera will undoubtedly be different! Also, these are not necessarily the actual times I'm going to be using for these phenomenon. I'm still researching exactly what times I will use for BBs and DRs.

 

Jerry


Edited by Jerry Lodriguss, 05 August 2017 - 05:03 AM.


#24 andysea

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Posted 05 August 2017 - 12:51 PM

Thank you for looking into it Jerry.

 

I tried both your scripts and I get the same behavior, first burst is fast then the other ones are at the slower burst rate. 

I'll try to space the bursts further apart. Interesting that you used CHGSSL before every burst.

The 7DII seems to be the best choice for this type of imaging.



#25 Seldom

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Posted 05 August 2017 - 12:52 PM

Probably a Noob question, but can anybody tell me the purpose of an "emergency script" and what it should include?  Both SEM and SETnC refer to them, but don't document them.




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