Joel, using FireCapture creates a ".txt" file for each & every capture you take: I've joined 2 together here & marked them to make a couple of useful points for you & others... Some of this info needs to be enabled when opening FC for the first time incidentally.
From top to bottom the following: apologies if there are inconsistencies - putting this together is rather onerous! (I'll use it on our website later possibly, revised! )
"Camera" - FC acknowledges the camera you are using. (if you do decide upon an ASI224MC!)
"Filter" is the one you have employed. In this case an "L" filter, or iR/uV cut unit...I have a couple of these but the one used here might well be the one I originally used in my old DBK21AU back in ancient times..!
"Focal Length" - FC also appraises the f/l you employ via whatever your scope & the imaging train it employs comprises of...this is only accurate when the planet is sitting absolutely horizontal in the sensor with a nice, clear & sharply-focused image, such that FC can measure the diameter correctly - not terribly important when WinJUPOS etc can make an accurate measurement later.
"Mid" - The UT mid-point of each capture taken (as well as the (UT) "Date" above this) - important when annotating images forwarded to various organisations as well as just knowing this info yourself to determine C.M.& planetary feature positions etc - vital also when derotating several capture stacks in WinJUPOS!
"Duration" is the timespan you have set for each recording.
I've put double red bars for a couple of the info notes - you can see that 6,000-odd frames more were collected in the right-hand .txt file: this brings me to an important point not mentioned as yet...the capability of your capture laptop. A usb3 port & cable connection is needed for the faster fps chosen. (&/or the very large ROI's, these cameras have a usb3 port on them)
"Frames captured" Self-explanatory, however, the discrepancy in between the 2 .txt files is something relatively frequent in laptops & modern cameras ( for a few reasons I won't go into here) such that if you cannot achieve the fps you think you should have (more later in this post on that...) shutting down FC & your computer & restarting will often "kick" things into line..! This is what happened here although the usb traffic setting was also altered here.
"File type" selected here is 8bit avi - despite what anyone will try to tell people, an 8bit avi (256 shades) will deliver as much dynamic range (colour tonal variation) as possibly needed for planetary imaging.
ROI is whatever you select from the FC control options: you can use anything from the full sensor size (1304x976 pixels from memory) down to whatever is deemed sufficient. There are a selection of "default" sizes as well as the fact that you can actually "draw" your own around the planet using your laptop mouse to get the size you desire - making sure you then "centre" this ROI wrt the full dimensions of the sensor so that you are actually imaging as on-axis as you possibly can - which is of course where you would have collimated on! Note that the ROI's "Height" dictates the maximum frame-rate achievable!
"Shutter" in milliseconds is what some might term "exposure" which is exactly what FC calls it in the control panel!!!
It is not termed "exposure" in the .txt files perhaps because of the confusion that could create with the histogram, which many relate to as an assessment of exposure. The shutter speed dictates the frame-rate (fps) but it only does this if the "height" of any ROI selected will allow it...as noted above, every ROI height has an fps limit...the width of an ROI does not affect the fps & is useful for including planetary moons in a wider fov, although of course wider ROI's mean your file-sizes will increase!
A "Shutter" speed of 10 milliseconds (10ms=1/100second) will provide 100fps.....similarly, 5ms (1/200second) will provide 200fps...4ms (1/250second) will provide 250fps - but only if the "ROI" height will allow it...& of course regardless of whether the shutter speed & ROI allow certain fps, you still have to be able to find enough "gain" to provide a sufficient histogram for the fps!
In the controls under the "Status" heading there are "max" & "current" (or actual) frame-rate (fps) values displayed: the idea is to try & match both these values for any chosen ROI by altering the "exposure" slider setting so that there is parity or near parity between these 2 figures. (remembering that this "exposure" slider actually controls the shutter speed..!
"Gain" is what you set to achieve the histogram you wish to employ. This electronic amplification also affects the noise in the image frames...more gain, more noise, ameliorated by more frames in the stack-size you choose in AS!3: there are inter-dependencies between Shutter speed (exposure time) & Gain but for the purpose of this post the shutter controls fps & gain controls the histogram, or what we would normally call exposure - always under the ROI height proviso!
"Wblue=95" & further down "Wred=50" are the recommended default settings to achieve correct "White Balance" on these cameras...ie, the correct "colour balance." These are in the drop-down from the little "More" tab in the control display.
"Highspeed=on" is the setting usually employed for 8bit RAW data in avi mode. This ensures that you are capturing your data at the maximum possible fps for any given ROI's height. (ref. "File type" above)...you normally capture as a mono-appearing image during capture & in playing back in WMP. (Windows Media Player) The "Preview" control allows you to also view the onscreen image as a colour image before you hit the "Capture" button, whereupon it turns mono for the capture duration...you can capture in colour but it creates much larger files when doing this. Programs such as AS!3 will automatically (or manually) interpret the Bayer colour matrix when loading the avi into them for sorting & stacking & turn this mono image into the correct colour appearance.
"Brightness" we usually set at "16" to eke out a little more light unless we are imaging in a bright sky whereupon it should be lowered to "0" to counter approaching or actual daylight.
"USBTraffic" - apologies for not double-barring the left hand specs but you can see that on the left it was "80" & on the right "40".....this causes a lot of folks a bit of a tizz but in an ideal world the lower settings ought to provide the best data flow down the usb3 conduit for capture acquisition: besides the restart I mentioned above, you might need to play with the "USBTraffic" setting as we have here to optimise your fps.
"Gamma" is similar to that used in the old DBK's etc, "linearity" or "1" being the default recording mode: this represents a value of "50" on the slider display & like with the old IS cameras you can alter it when focusing to assist you there with better contrast. For some reason Torsten reversed the contrasting function of this slider in later versions of FC so that to increase contrast the slider is advanced anywhere up to the maximum of "100" instead of the old method of lowering that figure's value...I have never asked him why he did that but have become used to it over time now!
A bit more on adjusting gamma & focusing, along with previewing the image in colour or mono. (black & white) Some people prefer to preview the onscreen image for focusing in colour, although others might find switching off colour in the controls & looking at the image in mono with altered gamma is more satisfactory - we like to alternate at times with these appearances for focusing although on a good night one should be able to focus quite effectively after a capture finishes & without resort to gamma adjustments. (& where the onscreen preview reverts to a colour image).
"Histogram" can be read to mean exposure in the general sense, as I hope I haven't made too muddy above & this is how you determine how you wish to record any planetary capture as far as the histogram % you desire - fortunately these cameras are designed for very low light levels & the idea is to record with considerably lower histograms than one might normally think appropriate: we rarely capture at more than about 50-55% with the colour camera & for Mars with the mono we use a 40%-40%-45% regimen for the b-g-r captures...for Neptune & Uranus this drops down to about 35%!
FC displays a graph to show the histogram with a numerical readout also constantly throughout any single capture - you soon know if your corrector plate is fogging up with an SCT of clouds are drifting through..!.
"Limit = 165 seconds" is pretty self-explanatory...ie, how long you set the capture duration for.
It is important to note that there are NO default settings for FireCapture as such, which can fool some first-timers: FC will retain whatever settings you employ once you take your first capture. (even trial ones done indoors as I suggest as a worthwhile "first-use" operation further down in this post!
Also, a lot of the controls need to be enabled first-up as well, such as displaying the visual histogram etc...
The same applies to using mono cameras btw, FC will "remember" whatever settings you set but then it will be separate settings for each filter used, if that is how they are set -but of course if you alter them then it "remembers" the last set of settings you have enabled.
When you first open FireCapture there are other parameters to attend to in the "General" settings menu such as the type of processor your laptop has...perhaps enforcing aggressive RAM & the preview rate which we always set to "Max" or 60Hz.
Autoguide can also be enabled with these cameras (they have an a/guide port for connecting to your scope's mount) & the dynamic cut-out feature which creates an ROI around the planetary object to "track" it around the ROI, keeping it centred in the fov which many find useful.
Things have changed quite a bit since the DBK's 30fps & 640x480 window if I recall correctly..!
Another very appealing aspect of this camera is that it is very efficient in near-infra-red...not only can very good images be captured using the appropriate filters but it has proven itself very capable of picking up storm spots on Neptune: a few years back when, if I might be so cheeky as to call those who wouldn't deign to utilise a colour camera "The Mono Smug Set" Pat & I were the only ones to capture all the storms at the time on Neptune, including <"one storm spot (which) had not been picked up in any images except those taken with large professional telescopes"> to quote a professional...
Or to quote from Christophe Pellier about this camera back in 2016 (& who provides excellent advice about the camera, amongst other valuable info) <"I'm beginning a series of articles dedicated to this little imaging bomb that is the ASI224MC camera from ZWO.">
A "little imaging bomb" - a fitting description imo!
EDIT: you can of course plug the camera into your machine & aim it at any appropriate light source to experiment with & get a good handle on all the settings & controls well before you attempt to get out there under the night sky for "First Light"..!
This exercise will help you understand how to "turn on" some of the various features I mention here via the settings options. Usually you will need to drape a Kleenex tissue or thin cloth cover over the camera to limit how much light enters it to do these indoor trials, which include actually capturing short avi's - remembering that when it comes time for the real "First Light" you will need to set them again for each planet - & btw FC will "remember" each planet's last set of settings, everytime you select a particular planet...using the last-used settings until you desire to alter these!
Edited by Kokatha man, 11 July 2019 - 08:09 AM.