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I asked N.I.N.A out for a date last night. I got stood up.

Astrophotography Beginner Imaging Software
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#1 Blackhawk163

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Posted 24 July 2021 - 06:14 PM

I'll get the setups out of the way first

 

Both Scopes are running and asi294mc pro

 

Skywatcher 80ed pro (.85 reducer) on the eq6r pro, asi120mm mini with the zwo oag and version 1 ZWO EAF. All connected via a usb 3 hub to a lenovo mini i5 2.0 ghz 8 gb ram 446gb ssd

 

Setup 2

 

Edgehd925 (.7x reducer) Ioptron cem70 (usb 2.0 ver with iPolar) asi 178mm for guiding celestron OAG newer EAF (5v usb) connected to an hp mini i3 3.2ghz 16gb ram 256gb ssd

 

All comps are up to date and have latest release of ASi drivers for ascom and eqmod. Sharp cap pro, phd2 and astap, platesolve etc. Also both have APT that I normally use for imaging. All machines are RDP from either my laptop/iphone or desktop

 

Then there's N.I.N.A

 

I have no problems with any of the software that I have been using prior to it. Sure sharp cap won't play nice with the ipolar cam at times, as it will take a while at times for it to initialize the camera, and when using the eq6r and cem70 I forgot to disable slew limits causing all the auto flips to fail.

 

But N.I.N.A? When I had it running all the hardware would disconnect on both machines randomly while running sharp cap, yes I would disconnect the HW on NINA so that Sharpcap could do its thing for PA, but nope, just disconnect and crashes. I restarted both PC's, unplugged the HW piece by piece (I thought perhaps there was a power issue)but nope, nothing helped.

 

So I shut it down and booted up APT and didn't look back.

 

What am I doing wrong? it's partly cloudy tonight, so I'll fresh install NINA and won't add HW until after I use Sharpcap to check alignment. 

 

APT is stable, but tired in the interface a bit. I want to try NINA, but not at the loss of an hour and a half of trouble shooting. Makes me want to go back to the asiar pro.



#2 KungFood

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Posted 24 July 2021 - 06:20 PM

Not sure if it helps, but I always run NINA first, and let it have the com port control through eqmod. Haven't had any issues with NINA batting first. If I change up the order of startup, things go awry. I also make sure all software is set to run as administrator. I know some folks think this is wrong, but I've been building my own pc's for 20 years and have never bothered with user accounts. Just stay strong and resist the little red box.


Edited by KungFood, 24 July 2021 - 06:23 PM.


#3 Jim Waters

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Posted 24 July 2021 - 06:47 PM

What NINA build or release are you running?  What Win OS release?



#4 Blackhawk163

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Posted 24 July 2021 - 06:47 PM

Not sure if it helps, but I always run NINA first, and let it have the com port control through eqmod. Haven't had any issues with NINA batting first. If I change up the order of startup, things go awry. I also make sure all software is set to run as administrator. I know some folks think this is wrong, but I've been building my own pc's for 20 years and have never bothered with user accounts. Just stay strong and resist the little red box.


That's the thing I did that. Nina went first then I hit the power button to connect all HW, which it did, started Sharpcap, and then bleh. I force quit SC, and shutdown Nina, restarted it, and it wouldn't recover. Instead of shutting the pc down, I started APT out of curiosity, and there wasn't a problem to be had.

#5 KungFood

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Posted 24 July 2021 - 06:59 PM

What I would try is troubleshoot by elimination then. Run everything as normal, in the same sequence as causes the disconnects, but only connect one thing at a time. If it only happens on say, the mount connected, then you know at least where the problem lies, if not what the problem is.



#6 rgsalinger

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Posted 24 July 2021 - 07:01 PM

What I wonder is whether the device drivers that Sharpcap and NINA use are the problem. Both of these typically use the native drivers and not the ASCOM drivers. My guess is that you might be trying to connect to the same driver from two different programs based on your statement that you had both of them running at the same time.

 

Using ZWO cameras, I've seen the same kind of mess in a slightly different context. When running the SKYX, every now and then I get both the guide camera and the main camera connected to the same physical device. 

 

I would run NINA stand alone or, if you have to run sharpcap to polar align, reboot (yes reboot) the computer and then run NINA. I'll eat my hat if that fails. (I have a large collection of edible hats.)

 

I didn't understand the reference to the "power button", though. 

 

Rgrds-Ross


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#7 tosjduenfs

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Posted 24 July 2021 - 07:05 PM

Please join the NINA discord server. You can get direct access to the developers and many other very experienced users there.  They will help narrow down the problem and even sift through your error logs if necessary.


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#8 jonnybravo0311

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Posted 24 July 2021 - 07:05 PM

What I wonder is whether the device drivers that Sharpcap and NINA use are the problem. Both of these typically use the native drivers and not the ASCOM drivers. My guess is that you might be trying to connect to the same driver from two different programs based on your statement that you had both of them running at the same time.
 
Using ZWO cameras, I've seen the same kind of mess in a slightly different context. When running the SKYX, every now and then I get both the guide camera and the main camera connected to the same physical device. 
 
I would run NINA stand alone or, if you have to run sharpcap to polar align, reboot (yes reboot) the computer and then run NINA. I'll eat my hat if that fails. (I have a large collection of edible hats.)
 
I didn't understand the reference to the "power button", though. 
 
Rgrds-Ross


NINA has a big old power button on the bottom left that allows you to click one button to connect all of your equipment... camera, focuser, filter wheel, mount, etc.


Edited by jonnybravo0311, 24 July 2021 - 07:07 PM.


#9 Blackhawk163

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Posted 24 July 2021 - 10:29 PM

What NINA build or release are you running? What Win OS release?


1.10hf3

Of course since I received news that my hyperstar is shipping Monday, rain clouds have decided to invade the skies over me. So that troubleshooting I wanted to do tonight is thwarted.

I'll definitely try the single software routine when I get a chance in the morning. Perhaps you're right Ross, in that there is multiple calls to the drivers causing a crash of sorts, as each app tries to wrest control of the camera and mount.

#10 dswtan

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Posted 25 July 2021 - 11:41 AM

I'm sympathetic to the OP here since I have found need to be careful when running SharpCap and NINA together, which is anyway not a typical scenario for me (for DSO). I love NINA and find it reliable myself.

 

While the thread's attention is on NINA so far -- which SharpCap are you using, 3.X or the new 4.X? My issues were with 3, and are reminiscent of the app-quits and general shenanigans reported.

 

I don't have a solution except to make sure the two are NOT trying to capture images at the same time -- careful handoffs between the two apps is required.

 

The driver (native was my case; I never tried ASCOM on one, native on the other, or both ASCOM) doesn't seem to like two apps calling it at the same time, as Bad Things Happen[tm].


Edited by dswtan, 25 July 2021 - 11:42 AM.


#11 Blackhawk163

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Posted 25 July 2021 - 03:29 PM

I'm sympathetic to the OP here since I have found need to be careful when running SharpCap and NINA together, which is anyway not a typical scenario for me (for DSO). I love NINA and find it reliable myself.

 

While the thread's attention is on NINA so far -- which SharpCap are you using, 3.X or the new 4.X? My issues were with 3, and are reminiscent of the app-quits and general shenanigans reported.

 

I don't have a solution except to make sure the two are NOT trying to capture images at the same time -- careful handoffs between the two apps is required.

 

The driver (native was my case; I never tried ASCOM on one, native on the other, or both ASCOM) doesn't seem to like two apps calling it at the same time, as Bad Things Happen[tm].

4x 64bit



#12 dcm_guitar

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Posted 25 July 2021 - 05:07 PM

Please join the NINA discord server. You can get direct access to the developers and many other very experienced users there.  They will help narrow down the problem and even sift through your error logs if necessary.

I use NINA but find the Discord server essentially useless and do not recommend.

 

I've used Sharpcap to PA, then NINA for everything else.  However, I've never used them simultaneously.  Am I reading your post correctly that you were using NINA and Sharpcap at the same time?



#13 Blackhawk163

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Posted 25 July 2021 - 06:55 PM

I belive so yes, but, the only ipolar camera being configured for Sharpcap on the cem70 setup. The asi294mc pro on the eq6r serves double duty for pa and imaging, but I only fired up Nina after sharp and after I closed the program. I'll try again tonight.



#14 Forward Scatter

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Posted 25 July 2021 - 07:54 PM

Before closing SC, close the camera first. Then connect the camera in NINA. And vice versa. Failure to do so will crash things.
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#15 acrh2

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Posted 25 July 2021 - 08:39 PM

... ipolar camera being configured for Sharpcap ...

Why are you using Sharpcap with iPolar?

I found that iPolar software is vastly superior to Sharpcap or Polemaster software in terms of ease of use.

You hit Connect, then align a cross hair with a circle, and you are done.

 

Then only problem I've had with the iPolar software was that sometimes you need to hit the Connect button a few times to connect to the camera.



#16 Blackhawk163

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Posted 25 July 2021 - 11:53 PM

Why are you using Sharpcap with iPolar?
I found that iPolar software is vastly superior to Sharpcap or Polemaster software in terms of ease of use.
You hit Connect, then align a cross hair with a circle, and you are done.

Then only problem I've had with the iPolar software was that sometimes you need to hit the Connect button a few times to connect to the camera.


I use SC because ipolar comes out inaccurate, I only know this because whenever I would do the guiding assistance on phd2 my polar alignment error is way off vs SC which is usually in arc sec vs several minutes off on I polar.

I had success with the eq6r setup. I fell in love with Nina everything clicked. I started SC first and then neatly shut it down. Started Nina up and picked my target and the rest was history. I.e. Clouds rolled in abs said that is enough.

My ioptron setup? Nothing but headaches. I'm suspecting the mount (builtin usb hub) more than anything else now. I'll explain later today. it's late.

Thanks everyone for the tips.

#17 acrh2

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Posted 26 July 2021 - 12:24 AM

I use SC because ipolar comes out inaccurate, I only know this because whenever I would do the guiding assistance on phd2 my polar alignment error is way off vs SC which is usually in arc sec vs several minutes off on I polar.

I had success with the eq6r setup. I fell in love with Nina everything clicked. I started SC first and then neatly shut it down. Started Nina up and picked my target and the rest was history. I.e. Clouds rolled in abs said that is enough.

My ioptron setup? Nothing but headaches. I'm suspecting the mount (builtin usb hub) more than anything else now. I'll explain later today. it's late.

Thanks everyone for the tips.

I'll give you a tip:

 

1) iPolar camera pixel scale is about 30 arcsec/px. This is from their official data. So you cannot be "arc sec vs several minutes" off - the error is gonna be on the order of about arcmin either way.

2) This is the tip - calibrate iPolar software several times over and take an average. 

You only need to do this once and you will have the same or better precision than Sharpcap while saving time from simplicity of the iPolar software.

3) Because iPolar software doesn't give numerical representation of the alignment, you really need to make sure that the cross hair is exactly on top of the circle. Not kinda there - dead on.

 

I have done 10 calibrations in a single session and took an average of the coordinates -

in the last 4 sessions, my guiding has been nearly impeccable for the mount capability. 95% of the corrections come from RA. Dec tracking is rock solid. 



#18 Wilsil

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Posted 26 July 2021 - 12:40 AM

As others have mentioned, don't run both applications at the same time.

I open Sharpcap and run the polar alignment tool. Disconnect the camera, park the mount, close Sharpcap.

Then open NINA, connect everything what is to be connected and start.

 

With the new NINA, you don't even need Sharpcap anymore.

They have the plug-in for 3 points polar alignment.



#19 Blackhawk163

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Posted 26 July 2021 - 08:41 AM

I'll give you a tip:

1) iPolar camera pixel scale is about 30 arcsec/px. This is from their official data. So you cannot be "arc sec vs several minutes" off - the error is gonna be on the order of about arcmin either way.
2) This is the tip - calibrate iPolar software several times over and take an average.
You only need to do this once and you will have the same or better precision than Sharpcap while saving time from simplicity of the iPolar software.
3) Because iPolar software doesn't give numerical representation of the alignment, you really need to make sure that the cross hair is exactly on top of the circle. Not kinda there - dead on.

I have done 10 calibrations in a single session and took an average of the coordinates -
in the last 4 sessions, my guiding has been nearly impeccable for the mount capability. 95% of the corrections come from RA. Dec tracking is rock solid.


Thanks. Whenever I use ipolar I'm solid on the green, spot on. I love how easy it is, but unless I'm reading it wrong, whenever I run guiding assistant on phd2, I have wild swings in my PA error rate of +2 up to at a couple of times +5 or more, vs when I was able to work SC and get the same error to about .8 up to 1.5 consistently.

I guess I've been conditioned to trust SC. Which leads me to another issue, why is the ipolar camera so inconsistent in its connection? I could click that connect button until I wear a hole into the screen trying to get it to connect and get nothing. Other times I click it and it connects on the first try. It's annoying and worse, time consuming.

Moving on, I think I've fixed my issue with the eq6r setup. When I get home from work I'll do a test run on that particular setup. My work flow last night was Sc-> close it->Nina, and it worked great, before the clouds rolled in.

On the cem70 setup same process, but the ipolar cam would fail, whether or not it was ipolar software or SC, then I got a small period where I could PA on SC, did that quickly closed it all down and started Nina. Where the asi camera would crash on an exception. Whether or not using the native or ascom drivers. Phd2 also showed the asi178 disconnecting when that happened. I'm starting to think that this is a cem70 HW fault and less a fault of NINA. Tonight I think I'll connect the imaging HW directly to the computer and bypass the usb hub on the cem70. For a mount that cost 3k after taxes I would've expected more than what I've gotten. Before going to bed last night I reinstalled all the asi drivers and ipolar. Maybe I'll check for voltage drops as well. See if that's an issue as well.

Fingers crossed.

#20 jonnybravo0311

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Posted 26 July 2021 - 09:13 AM

Thanks. Whenever I use ipolar I'm solid on the green, spot on. I love how easy it is, but unless I'm reading it wrong, whenever I run guiding assistant on phd2, I have wild swings in my PA error rate of +2 up to at a couple of times +5 or more, vs when I was able to work SC and get the same error to about .8 up to 1.5 consistently.

I guess I've been conditioned to trust SC. Which leads me to another issue, why is the ipolar camera so inconsistent in its connection? I could click that connect button until I wear a hole into the screen trying to get it to connect and get nothing. Other times I click it and it connects on the first try. It's annoying and worse, time consuming.

Moving on, I think I've fixed my issue with the eq6r setup. When I get home from work I'll do a test run on that particular setup. My work flow last night was Sc-> close it->Nina, and it worked great, before the clouds rolled in.

On the cem70 setup same process, but the ipolar cam would fail, whether or not it was ipolar software or SC, then I got a small period where I could PA on SC, did that quickly closed it all down and started Nina. Where the asi camera would crash on an exception. Whether or not using the native or ascom drivers. Phd2 also showed the asi178 disconnecting when that happened. I'm starting to think that this is a cem70 HW fault and less a fault of NINA. Tonight I think I'll connect the imaging HW directly to the computer and bypass the usb hub on the cem70. For a mount that cost 3k after taxes I would've expected more than what I've gotten. Before going to bed last night I reinstalled all the asi drivers and ipolar. Maybe I'll check for voltage drops as well. See if that's an issue as well.

Fingers crossed.

I found on my CEM40 that the iPolar camera was very susceptible to disconnects, non-connects, etc with a cheap USB cable. I had a bunch of USB printer cables in a drawer (saved from days of printers past), and eventually ended up buying a few on Amazon to try. Ultimately, I found one that worked, but the whole thing just left a sour taste in my mouth. Now I use SharpCap pretty much exclusively; however, I've recently been playing with NINA's new 3-point polar alignment plugin (available with the 1.11 nightlies). With the plugin, you can provide a set of coordinates (alt/az) for your mount to point to. Mount slews there, then takes an image, slews some amount, takes an image, slews some amount and takes a final image (hence the name of the plugin). It uses those 3 images to determine how far off you are and gives a very SharpCap-esque UI for dialing in the alignment. I'm not as fast with the NINA plugin as I am with SharpCap, but that's likely because I've been using SharpCap for quite a bit longer.

 

The real benefit of NINA's plugin is that I don't have to have a view of the celestial pole like I do with SharpCap and iPolar. It's also much faster than doing a drift alignment using PHD.


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#21 unimatrix0

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Posted 26 July 2021 - 09:13 AM

Sharpcap can be very aggressive of trying to re-connect to whatever camera is connected, but also NINA holds on to a connected camera, even if the driver crashed, but the USB is still physically connected. In some cases, even when the camera is physically disconnected (see below) . 

Also Sharpcap creates a very large network traffic through the USB cable and depending on the camera's "USB traffic" settings, it will knock other cameras off the rail so to speak trying to use all lanes on a 3 lane highway, metaphorically speaking. 

I use both Sharpcap and NINA  , but never together.  Also when disconnecting from Sharpcap, go through the disconnect the camera in the menu and shut Sharpcap off, because sometimes it continues to hold on to the driver, even when the camera isn't software-connected. 

Similar with NINA.  More than just a few occasions, I couldn't figure out why I couldn't connect my camera, that previously was crashing until I completely shut off NINA. 
Like how Windows make that sound when a USB is connected, it wasn't happening while plugging/unplugging the usb cable , and I feared the worst, that my camera is dead. 
Until I shut off NINA and suddenly all the connect/disconnect sound came back. 
NINA was actually holding my camera hostage, it held onto the driver until I terminated the program.   This is probably more like a feature for both Sharpcap and NINA, they are trying to reconnect to a camera which may have crashed due to unable to transmit the image or poor driver etc.. and in many ways it does happen and instead of ending the session, the software manage to restart the camera and continue to take pictures. 

The best way to avoid issues like this, I start with Sharpcap polar alignment and when it's completed, I either do my initial focusing in Sharpcap or I shut the camera off and then turn Sharpcap off. 
Then I start N.I.N.A and I don't use that big power button, I connect each individual device one by one, starting with the camera and turn on cooling and then go down the list. The camera will need a few minutes to cool anyway, so I'm not rushing. 


Edited by unimatrix0, 26 July 2021 - 09:20 AM.

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#22 unimatrix0

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Posted 26 July 2021 - 09:26 AM

 however, I've recently been playing with NINA's new 3-point polar alignment plugin (available with the 1.11 nightlies). With the plugin, you can provide a set of coordinates (alt/az) for your mount to point to. Mount slews there, then takes an image, slews some amount, takes an image, slews some amount and takes a final image (hence the name of the plugin). It uses those 3 images to determine how far off you are and gives a very SharpCap-esque UI for dialing in the alignment. I'm not as fast with the NINA plugin as I am with SharpCap, but that's likely because I've been using SharpCap for quite a bit longer.

 

The real benefit of NINA's plugin is that I don't have to have a view of the celestial pole like I do with SharpCap and iPolar. It's also much faster than doing a drift alignment using PHD.

This sounds like a very useful tool for people who got plenty of view to the Southern half of the sky, but lacks a view to Polaris?  I have a spot behind my house, that is perfect to do imaging  near the zenith+South, but due to a tree in a way , I cold only manage to set my rig there during the winter months, because I could manage to polar align through the branches , there was just enough stars shining through , but there is no chance if the leaves are on. 


Edited by unimatrix0, 26 July 2021 - 09:27 AM.

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#23 jonnybravo0311

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Posted 26 July 2021 - 09:40 AM

I have nearly an identical scenario, which is why this plugin is so appealing to me. Where I setup now (at the end of my driveway) has a clear view to the north, but abysmally poor views to the south. I have a spot in my yard where I get better views to the south, but have no views of the north (trees). Drift aligning is an option, but I don't have a good view to the horizon either east or west (lowest I could get is about 20 degrees). Now with this plugin, I can basically set my rig wherever I want, which opens up more of the skies for me to target.


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#24 klaussius

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Posted 26 July 2021 - 09:46 AM

I have nearly an identical scenario, which is why this plugin is so appealing to me. Where I setup now (at the end of my driveway) has a clear view to the north, but abysmally poor views to the south. I have a spot in my yard where I get better views to the south, but have no views of the north (trees). Drift aligning is an option, but I don't have a good view to the horizon either east or west (lowest I could get is about 20 degrees). Now with this plugin, I can basically set my rig wherever I want, which opens up more of the skies for me to target.

IIUC the recommendation with drift alignment is to not go below 20° so you should be fine.


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#25 dcm_guitar

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Posted 26 July 2021 - 10:34 AM

As others have said, make sure to close the camera in Sharpcap prior to connecting in NINA.  

 

My iPolar camera in my CEM70EC decided to stop working; 84 days after purchase.  Support from iOptron has been spotty and inconsistent.  I have gotten separate emails from the two different techs, but they are giving different recommendations.  It's all very confusing.  Don't want to derail this thread, so I'll just say I had to revert back to Sharpcap for my PA using my imaging camera rather than the iPolar camera and iPolar software.

 

I also noticed that my Sharpcap alignments have been a lot more accurate than my alignments using iPolar as measured by PHD2 during Guiding Assistant runs.  My iPolar alignments tend to be ~7' off while my Sharpcap alignments tend to be ~1' off.  If I can get iPolar to start working again (who knows?) I may try the multiple calibration approach and see if that improves things.  Once iPolar works, it IS easy to use.  BUT, the software is buggy, the iPolar camera connection is inconsistent and support (in my experience) from iOptron is slow and often not very helpful.

 

FWIW, I am currently switching from Sharpcap (for PA) to NINA without any issues, but I DO make sure to close the camera in Sharpcap prior to exiting the program.

 

As others have mentioned here, the new 1.11 daily build from NINA has a PA plugin.  I have not used the PA plugin but I HAVE switched to NINA 1.11 daily builds.  I HIGHLY recommend using the NINA daily build.  I tend to avoid daily builds like the plague (becuase they can be VERY buggy), byt the NINA daily builds have been very stable.  Also, you get the new NINA advanced sequencer which is REALLY good (once you figure out the interface).  There's the new PA plugin (which I want to try) and there's a new plugin that supports IFTT (IF This Then That) which will do things like text you after a successful meridian flip, or text you if there's an error, etc.

 

I hope this helps.  Make sure to close out the camera from the Sharpcap menu after PA and see if that helps with the Sharpcap / NINA conflicts.




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