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Hand-tracking with FireCapture's Cutout, ROI, and higher fps

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#1 brimill68

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Posted 28 September 2022 - 07:58 PM

I've been reading all I can about using FireCapture effectively and have some observations and one big question: How to force Fire Capture to use 10-bit ADC, 8-bit image depth, or otherwise achieve a higher fps rate with my ZWO ASI224MC.

 

To begin with, I'm using a hand-tracked EQ mount which dramatically limits / impacts what works and what doesn't for me.

 

FC's ROI tool does not seem to be useful for hand-tracking. Unless I'm using it wrong, I gather ROI is best used in conjunction with a tracking mount since it significantly narrows the preview-screen FOV. You can narrow the ROI to only what you need, get a higher frame rate and lower file size... but when hand-tracking, the planet moves out of the smaller field of view way faster. Also, for some reasons my computer almost freezes, and I get a "capture failed" notice on screen when using ROI. Kind of moot since I don't think it's particularly useful when hand-tracking.

 

FC's cut-out tool is awesome! It tracks the planet as its moving across my view, keeps file sizes nice and manageable by only recording what I want, but still displays the full field of the photo chip making hand-tracking easier. I can adjust my mount to bring the planet back to the other side for another run, and the cutout moves with it. Yay! I wish ROI worked like that. 

 

Auto-centering is really nice for focusing, etc... and the red dots are useful guides for adjusting. When hand-tracking, I'm using the cut-out tool (smaller file size) in conjunction with auto-centering (easier focusing, etc.). But I am not using ROI for the reasons noted above.

 

My remaining challenge is getting a higher frame-rate out of my camera.

While cutout reduces file size, my frame rate still maxes out at 64 fps. When I run ROI (and it's not freezing / crashing), I can get frame-rates of 200+. I think that is a combination of ROI 1) using an 8-bit depth and the 2) much smaller image area the camera needs to track.

 

According to the ZWO spec sheet (see screenshot), the ASI224MC camera will get frame rates in the 150 fps, even while imaging the full chip pixel area, as long as I'm in 10-bit ADC... or course, I really only need 8-bit from everything I've read. However, I cannot seem to figure out how to make FireCapture use 10bit ADC or 8-bit depth. Just seeing higher fps to round-out my set-up. Any suggestions are welcome... Thanks! 

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#2 Tulloch

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Posted 28 September 2022 - 08:27 PM

Here's where to set 10 bit capture in Firecapture, tick the "High Speed" box in the Control Options box.

 

High speed mode FC 2.7.jpg

 

Also, set the USBTraffic setting to something higher than 70 (as I used to have it), use 90-100 instead.

 

To save in 8 bit mode, just don't tick 16 bit in the main window.

 

Andrew


Edited by Tulloch, 28 September 2022 - 08:28 PM.

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#3 dcaponeii

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Posted 28 September 2022 - 08:50 PM

I also use a hand-guided Meade 2120.  I have analog slow-motion drive correctors on both axes.  I use BOTH auto align and auto centering in FC.  The auto align flashes a box on the screen which represents your ROI and it's location on the chip.  It cycles itself about once a minute or so unless it's having to adjust itself then in cycles at that time as well  But you can select the button and the box will flash on command.  This allows me to guide the scope while keeping the ROI very close to the center of the chip.  I have not used the cutbox in ages as the auto align and auto centering features allow me to use an ROI only slightly larger than the planet itself and auto centering holds the planet in the center of the ROI for me while I use the scope controls to keep the ROI centered on the chip.  The four small yellow pips that appear around the planet drift in both axes as an indication of which input you need to make to bring the ROI back to the center of the chip.  It takes a few minutes to get used to and then you'll not drive your manual scope any other way again I'd imaging.



#4 RedLionNJ

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Posted 29 September 2022 - 08:56 AM

If you're only getting 64fps, then just enabling 8-bit (hi speed) mode isn't going to make it up to 150fps.  There must be something else going on.  You don't need to be using the scope to experiment a bit.

 

Consider - is FC reporting (title bar) you're connected via USB3? Is your USB cable good-quality and not too long?  Is your USB traffic (as Andrew said) set sufficiently-high?

 

The reason ROI & cutout behave differently is that ROI is applied at the camera, while FC applies cutout while saving the data to the file. Ideally you want to minimize the amount of data sent over the USB connection - that's why (for those who have the ability) a tight vertical ROI is so important.


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#5 brimill68

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Posted 29 September 2022 - 09:08 AM

If you're only getting 64fps, then just enabling 8-bit (hi speed) mode isn't going to make it up to 150fps.  There must be something else going on.  You don't need to be using the scope to experiment a bit.

 

Consider - is FC reporting (title bar) you're connected via USB3? Is your USB cable good-quality and not too long?  Is your USB traffic (as Andrew said) set sufficiently-high?

 

The reason ROI & cutout behave differently is that ROI is applied at the camera, while FC applies cutout while saving the data to the file. Ideally you want to minimize the amount of data sent over the USB connection - that's why (for those who have the ability) a tight vertical ROI is so important.

Any chance this USB to USB-C dongle is part of my 64 fps limit issue? I'm using a nice 2 year old MacBook Pro with lots of ram, SSD, fast processor, etc., but it only has USB-C ports and the cable that came with my ZWO camera is USB-B (I think) to USB. I found a place I can buy a USB-B to USB-C cable, just wasn't sure if that was a problem since I have gotten 200+ fps when in ROI mode (before it froze) using this cable and dongle. For $20, I suppose it's worth it just in case it's contributing to the issues. Thoughts? And thanks!

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#6 brimill68

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Posted 29 September 2022 - 09:24 AM

Here's where to set 10 bit capture in Firecapture, tick the "High Speed" box in the Control Options box.

 

attachicon.gifHigh speed mode FC 2.7.jpg

 

Also, set the USBTraffic setting to something higher than 70 (as I used to have it), use 90-100 instead.

 

To save in 8 bit mode, just don't tick 16 bit in the main window.

 

Andrew

Thanks Andrew! I had read about that "High Speed" setting but could not find it anywhere. I had been looking in general setting and camera settings in the lower menu... the wrong place, as opposed to that camera control settings.

 

Just found it and check it off... ran a quick test and got up to 120 fps by dialing my exposure down to 9 ms. Still not the 200+ I get using ROI (which does not work well with my hand-tracking), but still way better than 64 fps.

 

Thanks again! Brian


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#7 brimill68

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Posted 29 September 2022 - 09:30 AM

I also use a hand-guided Meade 2120.  I have analog slow-motion drive correctors on both axes.  I use BOTH auto align and auto centering in FC.  The auto align flashes a box on the screen which represents your ROI and it's location on the chip.  It cycles itself about once a minute or so unless it's having to adjust itself then in cycles at that time as well  But you can select the button and the box will flash on command.  This allows me to guide the scope while keeping the ROI very close to the center of the chip.  I have not used the cutbox in ages as the auto align and auto centering features allow me to use an ROI only slightly larger than the planet itself and auto centering holds the planet in the center of the ROI for me while I use the scope controls to keep the ROI centered on the chip.  The four small yellow pips that appear around the planet drift in both axes as an indication of which input you need to make to bring the ROI back to the center of the chip.  It takes a few minutes to get used to and then you'll not drive your manual scope any other way again I'd imaging.

How exactly are you hand tracking? Are you slowly and continuously turning the knobs (slow motion drive correctors?) to keep the planet in the ROI? That's the only way I can think of to keep the planet relatively centered in the ROI.

 

I had ben only adjusting my mount when the planet hist one edge. That is, I start with the planet on the left, let it drift without touching the mount (to avoid shakes and blurs on my relatively wobbly EQ mount), then when it gets to the right side, do one big sweep of the knobs to bring it back to the left and let it run again. Rinse and repeat every 20 seconds or so until the 3 min video is done. AS3 pushes those blurry adjustments to the no-go side of my graph.

 

I have noticed since I started using auto-center that I may be able to steadily turn the EQ mount knobs without causing much blur. Additionally, if I'm taking pics at <10 ms exposure, that should significantly reduce any motion blur. That said, I could use ROI... maybe... and a tight ROI box by steadily turning the knobs at a very low exposure. Is that what you're doing? Thanks again... B


Edited by brimill68, 29 September 2022 - 09:35 AM.


#8 dcaponeii

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Posted 29 September 2022 - 10:51 AM

How exactly are you hand tracking? Are you slowly and continuously turning the knobs (slow motion drive correctors?) to keep the planet in the ROI? That's the only way I can think of to keep the planet relatively centered in the ROI.

 

I had ben only adjusting my mount when the planet hist one edge. That is, I start with the planet on the left, let it drift without touching the mount (to avoid shakes and blurs on my relatively wobbly EQ mount), then when it gets to the right side, do one big sweep of the knobs to bring it back to the left and let it run again. Rinse and repeat every 20 seconds or so until the 3 min video is done. AS3 pushes those blurry adjustments to the no-go side of my graph.

 

I have noticed since I started using auto-center that I may be able to steadily turn the EQ mount knobs without causing much blur. Additionally, if I'm taking pics at <10 ms exposure, that should significantly reduce any motion blur. That said, I could use ROI... maybe... and a tight ROI box by steadily turning the knobs at a very low exposure. Is that what you're doing? Thanks again... B

Technically the answer is yes, except the knobs on the scope are being turned by electric motors using push buttons on a hand controller (one for each axis).  Still analog and no tracking I just don't have to physically grab the scope.  If your knobs have flexible linkage to the adjustment on the mount you should be ok with a stable mount.  Hang some weight on the tripod if needed to stabilize it further.  Even in 10 - 15 mph the auto centering combined with auto align will keep the planet centered most of the time.  AS!3 advanced settings will scub the frames for which the planet got cut off by the vibration.


Edited by dcaponeii, 29 September 2022 - 10:52 AM.

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#9 Tulloch

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Posted 29 September 2022 - 04:13 PM

Just found it and check it off... ran a quick test and got up to 120 fps by dialing my exposure down to 9 ms. Still not the 200+ I get using ROI (which does not work well with my hand-tracking), but still way better than 64 fps.

With the exposure set to 9ms, the fastest frame rate possible is 1000/9 = 111 fps, you cant capture faster than the shutter speed allows. If you set the exposure to 5 ms then you can capture at 200 fps, 4ms will get you 250 fps etc etc.


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#10 brimill68

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Posted 29 September 2022 - 04:38 PM

With the exposure set to 9ms, the fastest frame rate possible is 1000/9 = 111 fps, you cant capture faster than the shutter speed allows. If you set the exposure to 5 ms then you can capture at 200 fps, 4ms will get you 250 fps etc etc.

Noted... I'll go back and double check. Even in ROI mode, that math would apply. I must have had the exposure dialed that far down when I was doing those ROI tests and just forgot. And it must have been closer to 110 fps I got when I was running at 9 ms.




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