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ASCOM driver for Sigma fp L

DSLR Imaging Software
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#1 robfergus

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Posted 09 June 2023 - 04:58 PM

[This is my first ever CN post, so please forgive any etiquette violations.]

 

I just wanted to announce that I have written an ASCOM compatible driver for the Sigma fp L, currently in beta testing. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first ASCOM driver for this camera series. It extends ASCOM.DSLR to support Sigma fp L (and fp potentially), drawing on the sigma_ptpy library. Thus far, I have been testing it successfully with NINA, taking hundreds of shots per night without issue. But any astrophotography software that is able to use ASCOM.DSLR should also work.

 

The camera would seem to be well suited for astrophotography, having a 61Mp sensor (Sony IMX455) while being small & light. It is also significantly cheaper than an equivalent ASI6200MC (although it lacks sensor cooling) – $2.5k vs $3.8k. As noted elsewhere on CN, the Sigma fp L has very impressive noise performance. For example, here is a single unprocessed 300s frame @ ISO 400 of M101 under Bortle 5.5 skies that I took with a Tak FC100-DZ: https://astrob.in/4w2mpi/0/.

 

Some more details:
 - The driver permits usual DSLR shutter speed ranges [30sec – 1/4000sec], as well as a 300sec shutter duration (this required some hacking since the Sigma SDK does not support Bulb exposures).
 - Full ISO range of the Sigma fp L supported.
 - A single USB-C cable suffices to provide power and data connection to the camera.
 - Ahead of the ASCOM driver installation, to enable USB control of the camera, the Zadig USB installer package must be used to replace the default USB driver that handles the camera with libusb-win32.
 - By default, the driver saves a .DNG raw file to disk, as well as passing a pure raw array to NINA (or whatever software you are using).
 - The Sigma fp L firmware appears to be implementing some form of long exposure noise reduction that I have not figured out a way to disable (although I have reached out to Sigma Japan about this). 

 

If folks are interested, please message me and I’d be happy to share the driver. Once I am more confident in the code, I’ll send a pull request to the ASCOM.DSLR authors.

 

Sincerely, Rob Fergus


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#2 CCD1024

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Posted 14 June 2023 - 02:37 AM

Thank you for this development, seems useful

I own 2 modified Sigma fp for astrophotography. Do you think it should also work for fp (as well as fp-L)

Cheers



#3 robfergus

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Posted 16 June 2023 - 08:28 PM

Yes, it should. See https://drive.google...Z5WHSSXvFZI7wdR for installer & instructions. Let me know how you get on.


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#4 a26413768

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Posted 24 June 2023 - 05:40 AM

Dear Rob,

I'm thrilled that you developed an ASCOM driver for the Sigma fp L. I own a Sigma fp myself, so I really appreciate your work. The ASCOM driver allows me to control the camera with various astrophotography software, which is fantastic.

I want to express my sincere thanks to you. I have a question:

Do you have any plans to upload the source code of this ASCOM driver to GitHub or anywhere else? If so, please let me know. I'm keen to study and learn from it.

Thank you again for your contribution to the astrophotography community. Let me know if there's any way I can help with your project.

Clear skies!

SC



#5 erictheastrojunkie

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Posted 26 June 2023 - 10:05 PM

I'd love to see this sent to ZWO to see if they could implement the ascom driver into the ASIAir for camera control. Is there any way to modify the code to allow for exposures of a set length beyond 30 seconds rather than just a default 300s exposure? 300s is too long for anything I'd use, but something like increments of 60s (so like 60s, 120s, 180s, etc) would be great. Really great work, definitely opens the possibilities with these cameras. You mention that the camera is powered by USB-C, does that mean you keep the standard battery in the camera and it powers/charges it through the computer connection?



#6 robfergus

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Posted 02 July 2023 - 03:54 PM

@a26413768: Yes, I'm in the process of submitting a pull request to the ASCOM.DSLR admins. Once accepted, the source code will be available as part of that repo. 

 

@erictheastrojunkie: (1). Unfortunately, the ASIAir is Linux-based, whereas ASCOM.DSLR is Windows-based, so it is not trivial to integrate with ASIAir. That said, the main communication with the camera uses the sigma_ptpy repo, which is implemented in Python, so that should be relatively easy to incorporate into the ASIAir camera driver, if anyone from ZWO cares to do this. (2) Unfortunately, the Sigma SDK does not support anything over 30secs. I had to do some hacking to get the 300sec option, but unless Sigma modified their SDK then the intermediate times you suggest will not be available. I did email Sigma Japan, but their software teams are busy and this is very low priority. (3) Yes, exactly. The USB-C cable provides both power to charge the battery, as well as data to/from PC. All very compact & convenient. 


Edited by robfergus, 02 July 2023 - 03:56 PM.

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#7 tjay

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Posted 03 July 2023 - 12:31 AM

@a26413768: Yes, I'm in the process of submitting a pull request to the ASCOM.DSLR admins. Once accepted, the source code will be available as part of that repo. 

 

@erictheastrojunkie: (1). Unfortunately, the ASIAir is Linux-based, whereas ASCOM.DSLR is Windows-based, so it is not trivial to integrate with ASIAir. That said, the main communication with the camera uses the sigma_ptpy repo, which is implemented in Python, so that should be relatively easy to incorporate into the ASIAir camera driver, if anyone from ZWO cares to do this. (2) Unfortunately, the Sigma SDK does not support anything over 30secs. I had to do some hacking to get the 300sec option, but unless Sigma modified their SDK then the intermediate times you suggest will not be available. I did email Sigma Japan, but their software teams are busy and this is very low priority. (3) Yes, exactly. The USB-C cable provides both power to charge the battery, as well as data to/from PC. All very compact & convenient. 

Rob, it might make more sense to just fork the ASCOM.DSLR code, as the admins (Fearl0rd and myself) have moved on to dedicated astro cameras



#8 nhmorgan79

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Posted 10 July 2023 - 07:36 AM

Thanks so much. Really appreciate you doing this as until now, the only option was to mount the camera as a drive. Would love to see ASIair support this camera, but seems unlikely at this point. I've been shooting with a modified FP and stock FP-L (the FP doesn't charge through the USB while the camera is on so a dummy battery is required for FP users).



#9 robfergus

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Posted 11 July 2023 - 09:16 AM

@tjay: thanks for this info. I will go ahead and fork the ASCOM.DSLR code & put up on my github page for people who want the source. 

@nhmorgan79: ASIAir support is not easy from the current implementation -- please see my response to @erictheastrojunkie above.


Edited by robfergus, 11 July 2023 - 09:19 AM.

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#10 Blauvista

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Posted 28 July 2023 - 08:51 AM

[This is my first ever CN post, so please forgive any etiquette violations.]

 

I just wanted to announce that I have written an ASCOM compatible driver for the Sigma fp L, currently in beta testing. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first ASCOM driver for this camera series. It extends ASCOM.DSLR to support Sigma fp L (and fp potentially), drawing on the sigma_ptpy library. Thus far, I have been testing it successfully with NINA, taking hundreds of shots per night without issue. But any astrophotography software that is able to use ASCOM.DSLR should also work.

 

The camera would seem to be well suited for astrophotography, having a 61Mp sensor (Sony IMX455) while being small & light. It is also significantly cheaper than an equivalent ASI6200MC (although it lacks sensor cooling) – $2.5k vs $3.8k. As noted elsewhere on CN, the Sigma fp L has very impressive noise performance. For example, here is a single unprocessed 300s frame @ ISO 400 of M101 under Bortle 5.5 skies that I took with a Tak FC100-DZ: https://astrob.in/4w2mpi/0/.

 

Some more details:
 - The driver permits usual DSLR shutter speed ranges [30sec – 1/4000sec], as well as a 300sec shutter duration (this required some hacking since the Sigma SDK does not support Bulb exposures).
 - Full ISO range of the Sigma fp L supported.
 - A single USB-C cable suffices to provide power and data connection to the camera.
 - Ahead of the ASCOM driver installation, to enable USB control of the camera, the Zadig USB installer package must be used to replace the default USB driver that handles the camera with libusb-win32.
 - By default, the driver saves a .DNG raw file to disk, as well as passing a pure raw array to NINA (or whatever software you are using).
 - The Sigma fp L firmware appears to be implementing some form of long exposure noise reduction that I have not figured out a way to disable (although I have reached out to Sigma Japan about this). 

 

If folks are interested, please message me and I’d be happy to share the driver. Once I am more confident in the code, I’ll send a pull request to the ASCOM.DSLR authors.

 

Sincerely, Rob Fergus

@robfergus Wow, Rob, I've just been made aware of this post - absolutely superb, thank you! - My whole journey into Astro photography was based around the advent of the fp (and subsequently the fpL).  Is this still the correct link: "See https://drive.google...Z5WHSSXvFZI7wdR for installer & instructions." ?

 

Clear Skies, Mark


Edited by Blauvista, 28 July 2023 - 08:53 AM.


#11 Blauvista

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Posted 28 July 2023 - 08:58 AM

Dear Rob,

I'm thrilled that you developed an ASCOM driver for the Sigma fp L. I own a Sigma fp myself, so I really appreciate your work. The ASCOM driver allows me to control the camera with various astrophotography software, which is fantastic.

I want to express my sincere thanks to you. I have a question:

Do you have any plans to upload the source code of this ASCOM driver to GitHub or anywhere else? If so, please let me know. I'm keen to study and learn from it.

Thank you again for your contribution to the astrophotography community. Let me know if there's any way I can help with your project.

Clear skies!

SC

Hi, @a26413768 Which software have you used to drive your fp using this driver ...?

 

Thanks and Clear Skies!

Mark



#12 a26413768

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Posted 01 August 2023 - 09:08 PM

Hi, @a26413768 Which software have you used to drive your fp using this driver ...?

 

Thanks and Clear Skies!

Mark

Hi Mark,
I've been using NINA to control my Sigma fp and other equipment.
 

SC


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#13 Blauvista

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Posted 02 August 2023 - 03:25 AM

@a26413768 Thanks SC, having tried various combinations it does look like the Ascom driver really works well with Nina - Another new program to learn ... ;-) 

 

I did have some initial issues with the driver - it would appear that the firmware on the fpL has to be V2.0 or later (with V1.1 the data does not get written out of the camera correctly - at least in my case it wasn't). 

 

Would it be Ok to PM about some aspects of the use of Nina?

 

Best, Mark



#14 a26413768

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Posted 02 August 2023 - 11:10 AM

@a26413768 Thanks SC, having tried various combinations it does look like the Ascom driver really works well with Nina - Another new program to learn ... ;-) 

 

I did have some initial issues with the driver - it would appear that the firmware on the fpL has to be V2.0 or later (with V1.1 the data does not get written out of the camera correctly - at least in my case it wasn't). 

 

Would it be Ok to PM about some aspects of the use of Nina?

 

Best, Mark

Sure, you're welcome to PM me. However, please note that English is not my native language so my responses may be difficult to understand at times.



#15 robfergus

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Posted 02 August 2023 - 06:19 PM

Hi everyone, just to say that I just uploaded a new version of the installer in the Google drive folder. 

 

This fixes a nasty bug that arose with high ISO values and long exposures. It was a problem with the low-level USB drivers that caused timeouts for large file transfers, which are more common with high ISO/shutter. 

 

I do intend to put the source code up, but wanted to fix this issue first. Now that's done, I'll look into getting it up on my Github repo. 

 

p.s. As Mark points out, please make sure your fp L has the latest firmware (V3.0). 


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#16 tkottary

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Posted 27 August 2023 - 10:03 PM

I haven't had any luck making this work with my sigma Fp and Nina.  It takes about 5 mins for Nina to say camera connected and once that is done, it just says waiting for camera when I try to take an exposure.

 

I am on latest Nina Nightly and on Windows 11. 

 

Update: Ok After re-installing the Usb drivers ,everything is working fine.


Edited by tkottary, 27 August 2023 - 10:53 PM.


#17 Blauvista

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Posted 30 August 2023 - 02:43 PM

I haven't had any luck making this work with my sigma Fp and Nina.  It takes about 5 mins for Nina to say camera connected and once that is done, it just says waiting for camera when I try to take an exposure.

 

I am on latest Nina Nightly and on Windows 11. 

 

Update: Ok After re-installing the Usb drivers ,everything is working fine.

Have I understood correctly that you are using the driver with an fp and not an fpL? Wasn't sure this would work ... 



#18 nhmorgan79

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Posted 12 September 2023 - 08:21 AM

Have I understood correctly that you are using the driver with an fp and not an fpL? Wasn't sure this would work ... 

I used the driver with an FP and got it working last night. 



#19 nhmorgan79

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Posted 18 September 2023 - 03:21 PM

Been getting some use with this driver. Again, thanks so much. Is there a way to get the camera to save a copy of each image to the SD card as well. Also, I can't get NINA to give me a DNG, just a .FITS



#20 Coconuts

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Posted 24 September 2023 - 01:05 PM

Wow... I just spotted this; thanks, Rob!  Given that it is ASCOM, is there any reason that focus, aperture, and image acquisition wouldn't work with APT (Astro Photography Tool)?  And do you anticipate any future code mods to support 60 second exposures?

 

All the best,

 

Kevin



#21 Blauvista

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Posted 04 October 2023 - 07:06 AM

I used the driver with an FP and got it working last night. 

This didn't work for me, was there any specific settings in NINA or other changes that you had to make ? 



#22 Blauvista

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Posted 04 October 2023 - 07:11 AM

Been getting some use with this driver. Again, thanks so much. Is there a way to get the camera to save a copy of each image to the SD card as well. Also, I can't get NINA to give me a DNG, just a .FITS

The Driver saves a DNG direct to the hard drive independent of NINA for every exposure = also every single image from every autofocus run is saved in this was as well.  This means that the folder needs to cleared quite regularly.



#23 nhmorgan79

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Posted 05 October 2023 - 08:16 AM

This didn't work for me, was there any specific settings in NINA or other changes that you had to make ? 

I had to install the ZaDig USB application to get it to work. As far as saving a DNG, I have that setting in NINA, but with the FP, it is saving as a FITS not a DNG even if I select DNG. 




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