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My Experience using SkyWatch for the Alphea All Sky Camera from Alcor Systems

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#1 TeslaTrek

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Posted 26 February 2020 - 11:21 AM

The Alphea 6CL AllSky Camera is a well-made ruggedized outdoor color camera with equally ruggedized connectors. There is no bubble level to aid vertical alignment. The Alphea camera is very expensive given the accompanying SkyWatch software is not reliable and the user interface not well thought out. The software has the feel of an explorative research project into what can be done with an AllSkyCam. The overall slow performance is unimpressive. I discovered many bugs and quirks. It includes many features, which are not well documented. This along with almost non-existent user support makes for an expensive and frustrating AllSky Camera experience. Given the present state of the software, the user might want to consider AllSkyEye.In summary, given all the issues I found with SkyWatch, I would still look forward to a significant software update because SkyWatch does show much promise.

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#2 maxmir

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Posted 26 February 2020 - 04:18 PM

Despite the software, how does the image quality compare?



#3 TeslaTrek

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Posted 27 February 2020 - 08:21 PM

It seems very good.  At the very edge on the horizon you can see some distortion as expected.  But overall the lens/camera combo is great.  I will try to quantify in between my other projects.



#4 Cathal

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Posted 05 April 2020 - 02:01 PM

This review is interesting, as I'm currently building an all-sky camera. 

 

I think the developer has absolutely nothing to worry about regarding people using such a poorly-written alpha-level software package with their own cameras. I'd be unhappy with that type of support from freeware software, let alone the support from a multi-thousand dollar piece of hardware. If that was sold here in the EU, it would be handed straight back to the vendor for refund as not working as advertised.

 

Seeing the support delays and exceptionally poor language usage for a paying customer, this package looks like it's a hard pass for almost everyone. It's a pity really, as the actual hardware appears to be reasonable, and maybe worth 300 to 500 dollars. It would get decent sales for that at least, and do without the terrible software.

 

Thanks for the honest review - I hope that it saves someone a lot of heartache.



#5 TeslaTrek

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Posted 11 April 2020 - 07:27 PM

I viewed my experience review something akin to "the missing manual".  There is lots of promise based on the functionality. 

 

I think the trend in astronomy is identifying transient events.  For instance, look at all the video for planetary imaging.  Images are capturing comets hitting Jupiter etc.  Capturing short transient event is perhaps the frontier of astronomy.  I'd be very interested in an All Sky Camera that could capture short duration events.  This requires very short gaps between images, similar to video.  



#6 djw7777

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Posted 22 May 2020 - 08:32 AM

Same experience, but with the more expensive OMEA 6C. The software has potential, but the debugging is not complete, leaving a discouraging nightmare. Radio buttons go off and on randomly, and software crashes . . . very frustrating. I am trying Allskeye now, so far so good! Fortunately, it is available =)  



#7 Alain Maury

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Posted 22 May 2020 - 03:06 PM

I rarely comment on cloudy night but read reviews when they are of interest to me.

Very strange comments, since I own an ALPHEA camera since many years (and another one from the same brand earlier, but which was in black and white) see http://www.spaceobs....s/Local-Weather and it's been working like a charm, doing what I want which is that the clients who have telescopes in my observatory can decide whether or not to open their telescopes. When I started the observatory I purchased a cloud detector, and since they can't detect the presence of cold cirrus clouds were not really helpful.

My experience has been very good with both the hardware (very professional) and the software never crashes (I have many issues with the Cumulus software reading the weather station), and I didn't have any problems installing it. The images are quite sharp, and I made a small animation with the last 2 hours of images showing the trend with the rare clouds we sometimes have here, and it's very cool seeing the milky way passing over head at night, and not so cool seeing trains of **** starlinks passing by.

It's kind of funny to see "experts" who do not own such camera, and have not used the software giving their point of view on it in the comment section.

Quite often I see weather pages from other observatories, with pitiful grayish all sky images, and am quite happy with this camera. Then of course you can encounter problems, but from what I see they are very likely located between the chair and the keyboard of the user. Really I didn't encounter any problems setting up the hardware nor the software and setting it up so that jpg images are sent to my web server. Since then I never had to touch it, it's been on since many years, and the only problem which occurs is to empty the hard disk when it's full of archive images which I store on another larger hard disk in order to see the long term evolution of the sky (and light pollution) at my place. But then when the hard disk is full it's normal that it stops taking pictures since it can not write them on the disk and it's because I forgot to check the remaining disk space and doing a transfer before it's full.



#8 djw7777

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Posted 22 May 2020 - 06:51 PM

I call BS on Alain. Nice try Alcor. I think consensus says alot. Alcor is wasting peoples time (hour on upon hour of trying to get your software to work), I spent 30 minutes figuring out Allskeye and it does everything it says it does. 

 

Don't waste your time with this software. In fact I'm not sure I would waste time with Alcor's hardware either. If something goes wrong, will we get any help?



#9 Alain Maury

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Posted 22 May 2020 - 08:27 PM

Just go on the web site link I gave to see my all sky images, and see if at any moment they disappear or if the software fails, it does not, otherwise I would not be happy as well.

I didn't study at any universities but apparently know how to handle a PC better than you since my system worked since the day I received it, and you find problems upon problems. But of course, you can't be the one to blame, since you studied at MIT smile.gif. When one is so perfect, the blame has to be found elsewhere. Just go on my web site, right now you will see a nice milky way, as every other (non full moon) night, since years without failing (except as told before when I am not careful and let the hard disk get full).

PS : When spending one time designing weapons, meaning killing mostly innocent people, one doesn't brag about it in public. When educated.

PS2 : In case the installation of the software goes over your head, just ask the owner of Alcor to spend some time on your system in order to make it work for you. I didn't have to, but in your case, I am pretty sure he could help you.



#10 djw7777

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Posted 22 May 2020 - 08:53 PM

.



#11 Alain Maury

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Posted 22 May 2020 - 09:52 PM

That's the part of your answer I can't take. I don't lie, just go on my web site and see that there are nice images of the milky way. The software works, and I don't remember going through a lot of problems to install it and set it up. Spent some time having the mask with the stars above the stars, that's it. That's the way it was. The earlier version with a DMK black and white camera had been more complex to install, but with the zwo model, it went like a breeze. So don't say "the software doesn't work", say "I am not able to make the software work". And if 100% of the users were in the same situation, the problem would come from the software. I believe there are many other users in the world, mostly professional observatories, and they don't seem to have all the problems you face.

Alain

PS: Just for the fun, I googled patriot missile and the word that came just after it was failure... Don't brag about it :) Your country ought to use its ressources for local infrastructures, basic education, lowering pollution, do something about climatic change, etc... And adjust its military spending according to the level of threat that you have to be invaded by your neighbors (Mexico and Canada). It would help other countries also decrease their military spending. Higher education would allow you (as a country) to elect presidents who have an IQ superior to their shoe size. It all goes in the right direction. We can't continue like in the 50's with today's technology. But that's really another debate.

PS2: You wished you had my life... :) How can you comment on the fact that I would need to get a life without knowing me. Just because I am better at installing simple software as you doesn't mean the problem is with me.




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