I haven't been posting much, but I thought this was worth while to share, as its a big deal for me.
I finally got around to diving into CCD Autopilot with my FSQ-106 rig. Its been a long time coming, I've had the software for more than a year, but never felt comfortable with everything enough to start using it, and well... I have some trust issues.
But I really need to maximize my imaging time, and still get sleep. So, after spending about 3 hours outside, setting things up, reading manuals and forum posts, adjusting settings, learning how to get guiding to work in CCDAP (VERY different than TSX) and dealing with many, many CCDAP crashes... Grrrrr...
I eventually got to a point where everything seemed to be working pretty well and so I went to bed around 11:30PM, expecting to find a smoking pile of ruins in the morning.
At 4:45AM I gingerly walked outside to check on things and CCDAP was just finishing up the last exposure! It then dutifully reset the rotator, parked the scope, closed the Flip Flat... and then didn't shoot flats. Yeah, I didn't set that up right, I guess.
I shot flats "manually" (TSX Take Series), looked at a couple of subs--wow, packed everything up and went back to bed.
Turns out that in spite of mediocre seeing and a 50% Moon, this is some of the best, and most consistent data I've ever acquired!
I shot 8 groups of 300-second Lum exposures (34 total subs) with an @Focus2 run at the start of each. Not only did that go great, but CCDAP flipped the meridian, rotated the camera 180-degrees and guided beautifully all night.
The data had a FWHM range of 1.3-1.7 with an average of 1.409 pixels!
The eccentricity was between 2.9-5.0 with an average of 3.76!
Noise was in the 150 range
CCDAP also did a great job with the 4-pixel dithering, and its ability to guide well around all of the focus runs, meridian flip and dithering was pretty amazing, In fact, this was my biggest concern. Once I hit the right settings, which I still don't fully understand, it just worked.
This is a HUGE moment for me... the ability to acquire really good data while I get some sleep! On a weeknight no less!
Of course, I realize that this is just one night... I need this to work this well consistently, and at multiple sites. But what a great start!
Here's the Lum process... quite a bit of new stuff going on here... dithering, drizzle, subframe selector (which was the flattest plot I've ever seen!), local normalization, ABE pass, TGVDenoise and a bit of contrast and detail enhancement in Photoshop.