Monday, 17 July 2017

AstroDMx Capture for Linux and nebulae with a ZWOASI 120MC

An f/5.5, 80mm ED refractor was mounted on a Celestron AVX mount. A ZWOASI 120MC camera was placed at the prime focus and Nicola Mackin's AstroDMx Capture for Linux was used to capture 50 x 25s exposures of M17 as Tiff files, with matching dark-frames. The images were calibrated and stacked in Deep Sky Stacker running in Wine in a Linux Mint Laptop. The final image was processed in The Gimp 2.9, Neat image and deLaboratory.





30 x 30s exposures were captured of M57 with matching dark-frames. The images were calibrated and stacked in Deep Sky Stacker running in Wine. The final image was processed in The Gimp 2.9 and Neat image.





Hopefully, the software will be released this week or maybe next week. Watch this space.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

The Raspberry Pi 3B computer and Astro-Imaging

Usually I am dealing with cameras here, but this time I am looking at the Rapberry Pi 3B computer which it turns out, packs enough punch to be a serious budget astronomical imaging computer. The OS we used on the Pi was the latest Rasbian with Pixel. Nicola Mackin compiled AstroDMx Capture for Linux for the ARM architecture so that we could test the Pi before AstroDMx Capture for Linux is released. The software is now in feature-freeze and is being tested and debugged.
The Pi was attached to the back of a monitor to make the rig portable and the cables tidied up with cable ties and an adhesive hook. The Pi had a CPU heatsink and a 1 Amp power supply was used.


At this stage a reminder of the relevant specifications of the Raspberry Pi 3b computer is in order:
CPU: 4× ARM Cortex-A53, 1.2GHz
GPU: Broadcom VideoCore IV
RAM: 1GB LPDDR2 (900 MHz)
A powered hub was used to connect a DMK 21AU04.AS camera to one of the 4 USB ports of the Pi and a Bluetooth Keyboard and mouse were connected to another port.
AstroDMx Capture for Linux, compiled for the Pi was loaded and launched. The DMK was placed at the prime focus of an f/5.5, 80mm, ED refractor on an iOptron Cube Pro, AZ, GOTO mount. 100 x 8s exposure TIFF files were captured of M17 and of M13. Matching darkframes were also captured. The images were de-rotated, dark-frame corrected and stacked with lxnstack. The resulting images were post processed in the Gimp 2.9.
The capture kit in action


Screenshot of AstroDMx Capture for Linux running on the Pi and capturing images of M13

M13

M17, the Swan or Omega nebula

Further experiments are planned with a 3 Amp power supply and a case with a built in fan plus heat sinks for the CPU and the GPU.
It is clear that the Raspberry Pi can be used as a serious astro-imaging computer. We shall perform experiments to maximise its performance although at the moment, the Pi has no problem sustaining a 30 fps frame-rate.

2000 frame SER files were captured of the Moon, they were stacked in Autostakkert! 2.6 in Wine, stitched in Microsoft ICE in Wine 2.5, wavelet processed in Registax 5.1 in Wine and post processed in the Gimp 2.9.

Screenshot of AstroDMx Capture for Linux running on the Pi capturing a Lunar SER file

The Lunar, 2 pane mosaic

Monday, 3 April 2017

16 bit RAW with the ZWOASI120 MC camera under Linux

The ZWOASI120 MC has been implemented in AstroDMx Capture for Linux to deliver 16 bit RAW images. The 12 bit ADC RAW output is placed into the lower or higher bits of a 16 bit container (user selected). The output can be saved as 16 bit RGB Tiff files or a 16 bit SER file (RGB or Bayer).
The camera was placed at the prime focus of an f/5.5, 80mm, ED refractor, mounted on an iOptron Cube Pro, AZ, GOTO mount. 16 bit data were collected by AstroDMx Capture for Linux, of two overlapping regions of the Moon. The data were stacked in Autostakkert! 2.6 running in Wine, the resulting images were wavelet processed in Registax 5.1 also running in Wine. The two images were stitched together with Hugin Panorama Creator and the final image processed in the Gimp 2.9.

Screenshot of AstroDMx Capture acquiring 16 bit lunar data

39%, waxing, crescent Moon in 16 bits

Saturday, 25 March 2017

The Orion Nebula with a ZWOASI 120MC and Linux

An f/5.5, 80mm, ED refractor was mounted on a Star Discovery AZ, GOTO mount. A ZWOASI 120MC camera was attached to the scope and AstroDMx Capture for Linux, running on a Linux Mint Laptop was used to capture 100 x 5s exposures as TIFFs with matching dark-frames. The best 90 images were dark-frame corrected, de-rotated and stacked in Autostakkert! 2.6 running in Wine. The resulting image was processed in the Gimp 2.9 and Neat Image for Linux.


The equipment gathering the data

The ZWO camera is now implemented in AstroMDx Capture for Linux and 16 bit capture is next on the list.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Testing a Sweex WC070 ViewPlus webcam as a Lunar imager with AstroDMx Capture for Linux

A Sweex WC070 was modified by removing the focusing ring and the lens, replacing the focusing ring, attaching a C/CS mount adapter to the front of the camera with epoxy resin and screwing in a telescope adapter to  the C/CS adapter.
The camera was placed at the focus of an f/5.5, 80mm, ED refractor, mounted on an iOptron Cube Pro AZ, GOTO mount. AstroDMx Capture for Linux was used with a Linux Mint laptop to capture a SER file of the Moon. The SER file was stacked with Flatfield correction in Autostakkert! 2 running in Wine. The resulting image was wavelet processed in Registax 5.1 in Wine and the final image was post processed in the Gimp 2.9.
Screenshot of AstroDMx Capture for Linux capturing the SER file



The image was produced from only 300 frames as the data had to be captured between clouds. Nevertheless, the data showed no sign of compression, which was also indicated by the low frame rate offered by the camera at full resolution of 1600 x 1200. This low frame rate is a small price to pay for low or no compression. This camera will be tested again when there is a truly clear sky. As an introductory camera for solar system imaging, the WC070, a current Sweex camera available on Amazon for under £20 (I paid £15.13p for a new device, with free delivery) seems to be a suitable device.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

M42/3, an LN300 video camera, USB capture card and AstroDMx Capture for Linux

An LN300 composite video camera was placed at the prime focus of an f/5.5, 80mm, ED refractor mounted on an iOptron Cube Pro, AZ, GOTO mount. A KWORLD DVD MAKER 2 USB capture card was used to capture the colour, composite video stream using Nicola Mackin's AstroDMx Capture for Linux, on a Linux Mint laptop. The LN300 video camera was used in long exposure mode and 3 x 60-frame SER files were captured of the Orion Nebula, at each of the following exposures: 0.64s, 1.28s and 2.56s. AstroDMx Capture was used in time-lapse mode to capture unique frames at each exposure. The images were extracted from the SER files as TIFFs using SER player. The 180 resulting images were de-rotated and stacked in lxnstack. The resulting image was processed in the Gimp 2.9.

Screenshot of AstroDMx Capture acquiring SER data on a Linux Mint laptop

The final image of the Orion Nebula

The SER movie file format is superior to the older AVI format. It is, like an AVI, or a VOB file, a container for sequential images. There are no size limitations to the SER format and it can contain 16 bit images. The SER Player software can extract images from the SER file if, as here, individual images are required for processing.

Saturday, 31 December 2016

M42, SER files and Linux

A DMK was placed at the Newtonian focus of an f/5, 6" Newtonian, on a Star Discovery AZ, GOTO mount. A 200 frame, 1s exposure SER file was captured using Nicola Mackin's AstroDMx Capture for Linux on a Linux Mint laptop. The SER file was stacked in Autostakkert! 2 running in Wine, and the resulting 16bit TIFF file was post-processed in the Gimp 2.9.

Screenshot of AstroDMx Capture for Linux, showing M42/43

M43/42 trapezium region

16 bit capture to TIFF and SER files will be implemented before release of the software. This will be of greater values when cameras delivering 12 bits and 16 bits are implemented. Capture cards that offer 16 bit RGB, unfortunately only give 16 bits across all three colour channels 5-6-5 bits per R-G-B, whereas 8 bit RGB gives 24 bits across all three colour channels, 8-8-8 bits per R-G-B.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

SER file capture with AstroDMx Capture for Linux and the Moon

AstroDMx Capture for Linux now has the ability to capture SER movie files as well as AVI files and TIFF images. The advantage of SER over AVI is that it is possible to save 16 bit images in the SER container. In this experiment, 8 bit images of the 79% waning, gibbous Moon were captured in a SER file through an f/5, 80mm ED refractor with a LUCKY ZOOM HD CMOS camera at the prime focus of the telescope. The software was set to map the YUYV video stream to monochrome by using only the luminance information in the video stream, thus using the colour camera as a monochrome camera.
The SER file was stacked in Autostakkert!2 in Wine, wavelet processed in Registax 6, and processed in The Gimp 2.9.
79% waning gibbous Moon

Full size image (2626 x 1952)


Friday, 28 October 2016

M17 with a DMK under Linux

An 80mm, f/5.5 ED refractor was mounted on an iOptron Cube Pro, AZ GOTO mount. A DMK 21AU04 camera was placed at the focus using a right angle diagonal. M17, the Omega or Swan nebula was imaged using Nicola Mackin's AstroDMx Capture for Linux unde Fedora Linux. 10 x 10s exposures and 10 x 10s dark-frames were captured. Also, 18 x 15s exposures and 10 x 15s dark-frames were captured. All of the images and dark-frames were captured as TIFF files.The two sets of images were dark-frame corrected and stacked in Registax 5.1 running under Wine, the Windows compatibility layer in Linux. The two final 16 bit images, which covered slightly different fields of view, were combined in Hugin and the final image post processed in the Gimp 2.9.

Screenshot of AstroDMx Capture for Linux capturing images of M17

The two images that have been combined in Hugin


Work is currently being undertaken on the AVI library and some finalisation of the reworked GUI before the program is released

Friday, 12 August 2016

The Bresser MicrOcular Full HD Digital camera is now supported in AstroDMx Capture under Linux.

Telescope House kindly loaned us a Bresser MicrOcular Full HD CMOS Digital camera to for us to test and implement support in The Linux capture software, AstroDMx Capture that Nicola Mackin and I are developing, primarily for the use of Imaging Source DMK, DFK, DBK series of cameras, hitherto unavailable under Linux. The software works with the primary intended cameras and we are now testing it with and implementing other cameras.

Bresser MicrOcular Full HD Digital camera


The Bresser MicrOcular camera only delivers a compressed Motion-JPEG video stream and it only offers three resolutions: 1920 x 1080; 1280 x 1024 and 1280 x 720. It is
likely that a compressed format has been chosen to deliver a reasonable frame rate at these high resolution formats. However, of the possible compressed formats, Motion-JPEG is a reasonable choice because it is an intra-frame compression system rather than inter-frame compression. This means that each frame is compressed individually, with no reference to other frames in the stream, so there is, for example, no frame prediction involved in the compression.
We have implemented Motion-JPEG in AstroDMx Capture in order to support this camera, which
works now, with AstroDMx Capture, under Linux.

Screenshot of the capture software displaying video from the Bresser MicrOcular Full HD Digital camera

Two AVIs were captured, stacked in Autostakkert2 running under the Windows® compatibility
layer, Wine, and the 16 bit Tiff file post processed in The Gimp 2.9 which can handle 16 bit files.



The seeing was not very good as the Moon was very low in the sky on this lunation. Nevertheless, the camera delivered good results with very little evidence of compression artefacts.

Nicola has done all of the coding for this project and is currently re-working the GUI and working on the open DML AVIX standard. It will only be a short time before the software is released.