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My First Results with the ASIair Plus Live Stacking

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#1 brentknight

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Posted 25 November 2021 - 05:29 PM

As far as I can tell there is no way to "Save as Seen" with the AAP, so these were screen captures from my Windows session.

 

NGC7814
NGC 7814 and surrounding galaxies (zoomed).  AT72EDII + ASI533MCP + IR/UV.  Gain was set midway in the range @ 200 and the exposures were 120 seconds x 28.  Lights and Darks only.
 
NGC7814 1 Labeled
There are dozens of little galaxies in this field - some down to 17.9m and confirmed with Aladin.
 
NGC6946 And NGC 6939
The beautiful pair of NGC 6946 and NGC 6939 (full frame).  Same details as above except I took 30 shots.
 
NGC6946 And NGC 6939   Labels

Edited by brentknight, 25 November 2021 - 08:25 PM.

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#2 hornjs

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Posted 25 November 2021 - 05:35 PM

Very well done for your first outing with the AAP.  Do you see the arrow in a box on the lower right of your first image?  That is the button to save an image of your current stack.  


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#3 brentknight

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Posted 25 November 2021 - 05:36 PM

Very well done for your first outing with the AAP.  Do you see the arrow in a box on the lower right of your first image?  That is the button to save an image of your current stack.  

I used that arrow and it dumps down a JPG and a couple FITS files.  None of them looked anything like I was seeing on the screen...

 

Am I missing something???


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#4 hornjs

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Posted 25 November 2021 - 05:51 PM

Interesting Brent, not sure why that would be.  When I hit the "download" button on my iPad while running the AAP, it saves a JPEG right to my photos folder.  Looks exactly the same as what I have on screen...minus all the controls obviously.  I haven't done this in bluestacks yet, looks like thats what your are using.


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#5 brentknight

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Posted 25 November 2021 - 06:01 PM

Well ... the app is running in Bluestacks, but the files were written to the eMMC on the AAP.  Here is what I got for M27 (I don't think it's even in color).

 

Stack10_Light_M27_60.0s_Bin1_gain200_thn.jpg

 

The FITS files look better, but even they are monochrome and would require post processing to bring out any details.

 

I also couldn't change many of the settings.  I couldn't change dithering from every frame to every 4th frame for instance.

 

I love learning new things, but sometimes it's a challenge...


Edited by brentknight, 25 November 2021 - 06:03 PM.

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#6 steveincolo

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 12:52 AM

Well ... the app is running in Bluestacks, but the files were written to the eMMC on the AAP.  Here is what I got for M27 (I don't think it's even in color).

 

attachicon.gifStack10_Light_M27_60.0s_Bin1_gain200_thn.jpg

 

The FITS files look better, but even they are monochrome and would require post processing to bring out any details.

 

I also couldn't change many of the settings.  I couldn't change dithering from every frame to every 4th frame for instance.

 

I love learning new things, but sometimes it's a challenge...

When you save a live stack on the AAP, a FITS is saved on the AAP (external flash drive if attached) AND a half-size jpeg is saved to Photos on iOS or to a Bluestacks folder.  


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#7 brentknight

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 09:48 AM

The FIT file is on the AA+ but I had to stretch and color calibrate it before it looked anything like it did on screen (it's just the stacked and aligned raw image).  From this, it seems that the Live stacking as implemented on the AA+ is really just for Live Viewing.  To "Save as Seen" - like SharpCap allows - I need to do the screen capture.

 

I had to do quite a bit with GIMP though as it wasn't just a histogram stretch.  The AA+ may simplify the controls during the capture, but it's doing a lot of the calibration for you in the background.  With SharpCap, you have to adjust the color sliders to get a good image, but with the AA+ it's not so much (at least with the couple captures I took this first night).

 

I still have this issue with it though.  I could change the number in the "Interval" box, but when I run the capture it always dithers after every frame.  And when I go back to the settings, it's changed back to "1".  Is there something I'm doing wrong here?

 

Can't save dither interval setting.jpg

 

 



#8 steveincolo

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 12:07 PM

The JPEG is "save as seen."  That's what I've been using for posting ASIAIR live stacks here.  In Bluestacks, look for it in "Media Manager," which is an icon on the bottom (at least in my Mac version of Bluestacks).  

 

Unfortunately, the JPEG is half-sized (i.e. 3006x3006 becomes 1503x1503).  I don't know why the ASIAIR has that limitation.  

 

ZWO seems to think of live stacking as sort of an afterthought, or something AP folks do while waiting around for their imaging sequence to end.   There are a lot of simple enhancements ZWO could make, including making the stacking algorithm more robust. 


Edited by steveincolo, 26 November 2021 - 12:19 PM.


#9 alphatripleplus

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 01:10 PM

 

ZWO seems to think of live stacking as sort of an afterthought, or something AP folks do while waiting around for their imaging sequence to end.   There are a lot of simple enhancements ZWO could make, including making the stacking algorithm more robust. 

I would definitely agree with you here. It may also be intended as providing a really easy way to just get people who are new to their cameras started on the road towards AP, perhaps with a view that they'll progress to full blown AP and other software later on.


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#10 brentknight

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 03:36 PM

The JPEG is "save as seen."  That's what I've been using for posting ASIAIR live stacks here.  In Bluestacks, look for it in "Media Manager," which is an icon on the bottom (at least in my Mac version of Bluestacks).  

 

Unfortunately, the JPEG is half-sized (i.e. 3006x3006 becomes 1503x1503).  I don't know why the ASIAIR has that limitation.  

 

ZWO seems to think of live stacking as sort of an afterthought, or something AP folks do while waiting around for their imaging sequence to end.   There are a lot of simple enhancements ZWO could make, including making the stacking algorithm more robust. 

I did find the BlueStacks folder - thanks.  In Windows it's called media folder and it's a subfolder under Pictures.  Nothing in there.  The image I posted in #5 is what they are apparently calling "Save as Seen", and it's pretty crappy and it's in monochrome.

 

I would tend to agree with you about it being an afterthought.  While trying to figure this thing out before actually using it, I found a YouTube from a well known AP'er.  He seemed totally baffled by the whole idea and was actually using the live stacking to produce his filtered monochrome images (live stacking each filter stack and then processing them together later).  I don't think that's the intent of EAA at all.

 

So far I'm still interested in the AA+ and I've got a lot more to learn and try out.  What I like best about it is that it makes power and cable management easier and that I can control the whole rig from inside the house.  I suppose we can only hope that ZWO will work a little more on this part of the system...


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#11 brentknight

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 03:41 PM

I would definitely agree with you here. It may also be intended as providing a really easy way to just get people who are new to their cameras started on the road towards AP, perhaps with a view that they'll progress to full blown AP and other software later on.

It's really an image capture and control integration device.  Oh, and by the way you can watch what your camera is capturing if you want to..


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#12 steveincolo

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 04:32 PM

I did find the BlueStacks folder - thanks.  In Windows it's called media folder and it's a subfolder under Pictures.  Nothing in there.  The image I posted in #5 is what they are apparently calling "Save as Seen", and it's pretty crappy and it's in monochrome.

 

I would tend to agree with you about it being an afterthought.  While trying to figure this thing out before actually using it, I found a YouTube from a well known AP'er.  He seemed totally baffled by the whole idea and was actually using the live stacking to produce his filtered monochrome images (live stacking each filter stack and then processing them together later).  I don't think that's the intent of EAA at all.

 

So far I'm still interested in the AA+ and I've got a lot more to learn and try out.  What I like best about it is that it makes power and cable management easier and that I can control the whole rig from inside the house.  I suppose we can only hope that ZWO will work a little more on this part of the system...

Strange, it works fine on Mac BlueStacks, with the exception of saving a half-size image for no apparent reason. 
 

I think the AAP is great otherwise, for the reasons you’ve got and just that it’s a simple one-stop imaging solution.  I’d encourage you to use SharpCap with it, which should be pretty easy.  Just use method two or three in the following to connect your Windows file system to the ASIAIR file system. 
 

https://astronomy-im...ir-updated.html

 

Then you can point SharpCap to the ASIAIR folder where it stores its FITS.  One quirk is that the ASIAIR creates a new folder based on what DSO it thinks you’re imaging.  So use the ASIAIR goto (if possible, the database isn’t comprehensive) to let it know what you’re imaging. 


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#13 steveincolo

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 04:34 PM

I did find the BlueStacks folder - thanks.  In Windows it's called media folder and it's a subfolder under Pictures.  Nothing in there.  The image I posted in #5 is what they are apparently calling "Save as Seen", and it's pretty crappy and it's in monochrome.

 

I would tend to agree with you about it being an afterthought.  While trying to figure this thing out before actually using it, I found a YouTube from a well known AP'er.  He seemed totally baffled by the whole idea and was actually using the live stacking to produce his filtered monochrome images (live stacking each filter stack and then processing them together later).  I don't think that's the intent of EAA at all.

 

So far I'm still interested in the AA+ and I've got a lot more to learn and try out.  What I like best about it is that it makes power and cable management easier and that I can control the whole rig from inside the house.  I suppose we can only hope that ZWO will work a little more on this part of the system...

The JPEG you’re talking about might be the the thumbnail image that it uses so you can identify the corresponding FITS. 


Edited by steveincolo, 26 November 2021 - 04:34 PM.

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#14 dave85374

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 04:52 PM

That small jpg you mentioned is the same thing the AAP gave you on the USB along with the fits file which I understood was what the camera saw.  The AAP also gave me a jpg on my IPAD of what you saw on the IPAD screen that was usable that was usually somewhere between 150kb & 200kb.

 

I thought someone out here said you could get the same thing with the AA+ by using a USB stick instead of using the the internal (eMMC) memory.


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#15 brentknight

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 06:09 PM

The JPEG you’re talking about might be the the thumbnail image that it uses so you can identify the corresponding FITS. 

You are right - that's the thumbnail.



#16 brentknight

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 06:12 PM

Strange, it works fine on Mac BlueStacks, with the exception of saving a half-size image for no apparent reason. 
 

I think the AAP is great otherwise, for the reasons you’ve got and just that it’s a simple one-stop imaging solution.  I’d encourage you to use SharpCap with it, which should be pretty easy.  Just use method two or three in the following to connect your Windows file system to the ASIAIR file system. 
 

https://astronomy-im...ir-updated.html

 

Then you can point SharpCap to the ASIAIR folder where it stores its FITS.  One quirk is that the ASIAIR creates a new folder based on what DSO it thinks you’re imaging.  So use the ASIAIR goto (if possible, the database isn’t comprehensive) to let it know what you’re imaging. 

It looks like a good evening tonight so I'll be out and try again.  I use multiple devices to control the AA+ so maybe it just did something strange with the BlueStacks media file.

 

I have gotten the file system to work on my Windows boxes so I'll try the SharpCap live stacking as well.


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#17 brentknight

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Posted 27 November 2021 - 11:55 AM

I got a couple more images last evening with the AA+.

 

M1.G200.120s30.UVIR ASIAIR
M1: AT72EDII + ASI533MCP + ZWO UV/IR (30 x 120s @ 200 gain with darks, flats and dark-flats with the AA+)
 
M1.G200.120s30.LeNhance ASIAIR
M1: AT72EDII + ASI533MCP + Optolong L-eNhance (30 x 120s @ 200 gain with darks, flats and dark-flats with the AA+)
 
Capture

M33: AT72EDII + ASI533MCP + ZWO UV/IR (30 x 120s @ 200 gain with darks, flats and dark-flats with the AA+)

 

I got a few things figured out last night.  I think what was tripping me up with the dither and guiding settings relates to the multiple devices I'm connecting to the AA+ at the same time.  If I made these settings in one of my devices, it wouldn't allow changing them in another.  I got dither set to interval = 4 and updated the default guiding settings from 2000 down into the mid 100's.  Guiding was spot on with RMS on both axis hovering between .75" to .45".  There was also an update to the firmware that wanted to get applied halfway through the session, so that might have something to do with it.

 

I assumed that all the processing with the AA+ was done on the device itself and that the ASIair app was just a remote access piece connecting to it.  Apparently this is not the case as while it looks like the image capture and alignment is done on the device, the actual stacking/display is done on the app (and whatever device is running the app).  I basically couldn't run the app on the Surface Pro because I can't connect using 5G, and the transfer of the 17mb lights to the tablet was taking 4 minutes or more.  The software said it had stacked 10 images, but only about 3 or 4 of them had actually been loaded (I'm not sure the exact number as there isn't any way to tell).  I could look out the window and see the rig just outside on the driveway, but that transfer rate was unbearably low.  I was able to use the Android phone at 5G connecting to the AA+ hotspot though, and with it and from the same location in the house, I was getting 5mb/s downloads of the files.  This was more than adequate to keep up with the 120s subs I was taking.

 

On one of my images, I connected to the AA+ hotspot with the phone out in the driveway and then left the phone out there with the telescope.  I was able to connect to this session with the Surface and was apparently watching the download on the phone and didn't see the slow loading.  I'm not exactly sure what I did to make that work though as I couldn't reproduce it.

 

I tried out the annotate tool as well and while it does identify the major targets in the image, it can't find any of the lesser known ones, so it's not much of a help when trying to identify the really faint fuzzies...  I still need SkySafari or Aladin for that (discovering Astrometry.net is pretty darn cool too).

 

I could also see the camera monitor folder in SharpCap, but so far I haven't gotten that to work.  My fear though is that it will suffer from the same slow transfer speed (the Surface will only connect to the AA+ on my 2.4G network).  I suppose I could run an ethernet cable out to the AA+ to fix this issue, but that seems to defeat the convenience of a wireless.

 

Despite all these issues I'm having though, I still like using the AA+.  I'll eventually figure out all my issues with it, or throw it out the window...


Edited by brentknight, 27 November 2021 - 12:02 PM.

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#18 steveincolo

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Posted 27 November 2021 - 03:02 PM

2.4GHz WiFi is OK if you're doing the dishes and checking on the stack occasionally, but it is unbearable for "watch the DSO magically appear" viewing.  Unfortunately, using 5GHz means having to run a cable from the AAP to my iOptron AZMP, guessing it's the same for you with your GEM28, though maybe the AA+ has a 5GHz "station mode."

 

Here's my best guess at what the AAP itself is processing: it's imaging, aligning, and producing an uncorrected stacked image.  That's consistent with the stacked FITS you've been seeing saved on the AAP.   The AAP transmits the uncorrected stacked image to the iOS/Android app, which does the color correction (auto white balance) and stretching.  It would be unbearably slow to roundtrip back to the AAP for each adjustment to the histogram.  

 

As the JPEG that is saved on the app side is half-sized, this makes me think that the AAP may actually be transmitting a half-sized version of the uncorrected stacked image to the app.  That would make for speedier transmitting and app-side processing.  

 

One thing I like a lot about Jocular is its outstanding annotation tool.  It nails all those faint fuzzies.  The AAP may be limited to just the catalog in its goto.  

 

Did you by any chance try out the "Detect Star" feature?  I've been using it (rightly or wrongly) as a way to gauge seeing.  


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#19 brentknight

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Posted 27 November 2021 - 10:36 PM

Especially in colder weather, the direct connection to the AA+ from the hand controller seems more stable anyway.  It's one extra cable, but I can live with that.

 

I was not aware that STA only works at 2.4G.  That would explain a lot.  The Surface will connect to the AA+ AP at 5G just fine (I just verified it), so that may be a good solution - I just won't be able to roam very far from the telescope.

 

Whatever the AAP is processing, it does not work well across a 2.4G wireless connection.  I think you've got it pretty well figured out though, but I think that JPG is like you said - it's a thumbnail.  I also think the AAP is doing the alignment and stacking on the red box and sending the latest version to the app where you can do the histogram stretch on it.  The AAP does not "save" those histogram changes to the stack though - it's just for viewing - like modifying levels in GIMP.  Remember that I could not find any image stored on the AA+ that looked anything like what I was seeing in the app (only the individual RAW FIP files if I told the app to save each one) - I could only save as seen by doing a screen capture.  I did notice if I used the screen capture in BlueStacks that it would save to the media folder, but if I told the AA+ to save, it just saved the latest RAW stacked image to the Live folder.  So, the slowdown over 2.4G is when the AAP sends the latest 17mb RAW stacked image to the app to play with.  I would then assume that a larger sensor camera would have a larger RAW image and the issue would be even worse...

 

I will definitely have to try out Jocular - it sounds really cool.  Can I just take a finished image and open it in Jocular to get the annotations?

 

That's another thing I'm trying to work out with the AA+.  I'd really like to be able to use SkySafari for Go2's, but it seems that the AA+ has no way to know where the mount is pointing unless it uses it's own catalog of objects.

 

I did try the "Detect Star", but didn't realize how you are supposed to use it.  It did use the AA+ auto focus though and it seemed to work really, really well.  PA is really nice and easy too.  There are so many things to like about the AA+.



#20 steveincolo

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Posted 28 November 2021 - 01:27 AM

I will definitely have to try out Jocular - it sounds really cool.  Can I just take a finished image and open it in Jocular to get the annotations?

 

That's another thing I'm trying to work out with the AA+.  I'd really like to be able to use SkySafari for Go2's, but it seems that the AA+ has no way to know where the mount is pointing unless it uses it's own catalog of objects.

 

I did try the "Detect Star", but didn't realize how you are supposed to use it.  It did use the AA+ auto focus though and it seemed to work really, really well.  PA is really nice and easy too.  There are so many things to like about the AA+.

 I haven’t tried it yet, but supposedly you can use Jocular just for annotation.  I have to test it. 
 

I always use the AAP for goto when possible, so plate-solving and auto-centering will kick in. 



#21 steveincolo

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Posted 28 November 2021 - 05:19 PM

 

 

The beautiful pair of NGC 6946 and NGC 6939 (full frame).  Same details as above except I took 30 shots.

 

This is a beautiful pair!  And it reminds me of a nice feature: in Preview mode, you can press and hold a point in your image, which brings up a target icon.  Press it and the AAP will do a plate-solved go to for the selected location.  This would let you easily center on a spot between the two DSOs.  



#22 dave85374

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Posted 28 November 2021 - 06:28 PM

If the new AA+ doesn't give you a decent size jpg on your tablet like the ASIAir Pro does I wouldn't buy one.  From what I am hearing out here you only get "thumbnail" and the fits file saved to the internal storage whereas the Pro gives you both of those saved on the supplied USB and a jpg file sent to my IPAD.  Looks like the only thing better is the wifi distance.



#23 brentknight

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Posted 28 November 2021 - 07:52 PM

This is a beautiful pair! And it reminds me of a nice feature: in Preview mode, you can press and hold a point in your image, which brings up a target icon. Press it and the AAP will do a plate-solved go to for the selected location. This would let you easily center on a spot between the two DSOs.


That would be extremely helpful. Thanks for that tip!

#24 brentknight

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Posted 28 November 2021 - 07:57 PM

If the new AA+ doesn't give you a decent size jpg on your tablet like the ASIAir Pro does I wouldn't buy one. From what I am hearing out here you only get "thumbnail" and the fits file saved to the internal storage whereas the Pro gives you both of those saved on the supplied USB and a jpg file sent to my IPAD. Looks like the only thing better is the wifi distance.


Apparently only if you can connect at 5Ghz though. I just bought an 8.7" Galaxy Tab that should run the AA+ app better. That would solve most of my issues with it...


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