Saturday, 14 October 2017

Update on DFK .AS camera problems with USB 3

It has been known for some time that DFK astronomy cameras have a problem with USB 3. Specifically in YUYV format the camera streams video but the controls for exposure, gain etc do not work, where they work fine in USB 2. This is a problem with Windows and Linux. On Nicola's website http://www.linux-astro-imaging.uk/  where AstroDMx Capture for Linux can be downloaded, she gives a hack that routes the data from the USB ports through the EHCI controller, instead of the xHCI controller. On newer laptops that often have USB 3 and USB 2 ports, the USB 2 ports are often also routed through the xHCI controller, which means that the DFK also doesn't work correctly with the USB 3 or the USB 2 ports on these machines.


Nicola's hack will also work on these laptops, causing both USB 3 (which knows that the DFK is a USB 2 device) and the USB 2 ports to work correctly with the DFK. However, on the latest laptops, which only have xHCI controllers, the hack doesn't work.
However, none of this matters, because even without the hack, the Bayer mode works correctly and either Bayer or RGB SER or AVI files can be saved. The simplest solution is to select the Bayer mode when connecting the DFK camera to AstroDMx Capture for Linux.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

90%, Waxing, gibbous Moon in 16 bits, with AstroDMx Capture for Linux

90%, waxing, gibbous Moon tonight. Captured as 2 overlapping 16bit SER movie files, using AstroDMx Capture for Linux, an f/5.5 ED refractor mounted on an iOptron Cube Pro, AZ GOTO mount and a QHY 5L-II-M camera. The SER files were stacked in Autostakkert! 2.6, stitched in Microsoft ICE and wavelet processed in Registax 5.1, all running in Wine. The final image was processed in the Gimp 2.9 and Pinta. It should be noted that the QHY camera has a 12 bit ADC not a 16 bit ADC. This means that images are captured with 4,096 levels of brightness (not 65,534 levels as with a 16 bit ADC) The 12 bit data are however, placed in a 16 bit container at capture time. Nevertheless, 4,096 levels are an improvement on 256 levels of 8 bits. 12-16 bits will be more valuable for deep sky images with wide dynamic range objects.


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Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Implementation of the QHY 5L-II-M and QHY 5L-II-C cameras in AstroDMx Capture for Linux.

Nicola is now working on the implementation of the QHY 5L-II-M and QHY 5L-II-C cameras in AstroDMx Capture for Linux. The QHY 5L-II-C camera has been kindly loaned by Derek Francis (Swansea Astronomical Society).
Test rig with both cameras fitted with lenses


8 bit capture is implemented and 16 bit (12 bit in 16 bit containers) implementation is almost complete.

The monochrome QHY 5L-II-M camera was used in 8 bit mode to capture TIFF files of 20s exposures of M27, using an 5/5.5, 80mm, ED refractor, mounted on an AVX GOTO EQ mount. 30 images were stacked in Deep Sky Stacker running in Wine on a Linux Mint computer. The resulting image was post processed in the Gimp 2.9.


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Screenshot of AstroDMx Capture for Linux


Screenshot of The data stacked in Deep Sky Stacker running in Wine

The 29%, waxing, crescent Moon was imaged with the same equipment capturing two overlapping, 1000 frame SER files.

The best 400 frames of the SER files were stacked using Autostakkert! 2.6 running in Wine, stitched using Microsoft ICE running in Wine and wavelet processed in Registax 5.1 also running in Wine. The final image was post processed in the Gimp 2.9.

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A Skymax 127 Maksutov, mounted on the AVX mount was used to image Saturn using the QHY 5L-II-C camera and AstroDMx Capture for Linux.
Saturn was very low in the sky and almost setting over the mountain, producing poor seeing. A 2000 frame SER file was captured and the best 40% of the frames were stacked in Autostakkert with RGB alignment, running in Wine. The resulting image was wavelet processed in Registax 5.1 also running in Wine, and post processed in the Gimp 2.9 on a Linux Mint laptop.


Screenshot of AstroDMx Capture for Linux

When 16 bit capture has been implemented, another release will be imminent.
However, Nicola has also been working on the implementation of Atik cameras and has already extracted images from the Atik 314L camera. She has not yet decided whether to release the next version of AstroDMx Capture for Linux when the QHY camera implementation is complete, or whether to wait a little longer until the Atik cameras are implemented.
Watch this space!

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

AstroDMx Capture for Linux released

Nicola Mackin has now released AstroDMx Capture for Linux.
She has been working on the coding for more than a year and has a very stable release that works with a range of Cameras.

The software can be downloaded at www.linux-astro-imaging.uk

Splash screen of AstroDMx Capture for Linux

List of cameras implemented for AstroDMx Capture for Linux
USB Astronomy Cameras
DMK 21AU04.AS (8 bit ADC)
DFK 21AU04.AS (8 bit ADC)
DBK 21AU04.AS (8 bit ADC)
ZWO ASI120MC (USB2.0, 12 bit ADC)
ZWO ASI120MC-S (USB3.0, 12 bit ADC)
ZWO ASI120MM-S (USB3.0, 12 bit ADC)
Bresser MicrOcular Full HD Digital Camera (8 bit ADC)
USB cameras
ELP 1.3Mp CMOS board-level HD USB camera (8 bit ADC)
Lucky Zoom 5Mp microscope USB CMOS camera (8 bit ADC)
Vimicro USB2.0 UVC PC camera (e.g. Maplin USB2.0 Microscope) (8 bit ADC)
USB Capture cards
KWORLD DVD MAKER 2 (8 bit ADC)
UVC capture card (Motion-JPEG only) (8 bit ADC)
EasyCAP (Motion-JPEG only) (8 bit ADC)
USB webcams
Sweex WC066 HD webcam (8 bit ADC)
Sweex WC070 ViewPlus (8 bit ADC)
Philips SPC900NC including SPC800 and Philips 740 flashed to SPC900NC (8 bit ADC)
Philips 740 ToUCam Pro (mono feed only) map YUYV to greyscale for true mono. (8 bit ADC)
Philips 690 Vesta Pro Webcam (8 bit ADC)
Logitech HD C525 (8 bit ADC)
Microsoft LIFECAM 2 (8 bit ADC)
Creative Webcam Live (8 bit ADC) Bayer output only.
All Video 4 Linux cameras.
Ongoing and planned future camera implementation
QHY 5-II series of astronomy cameras (ongoing)
Atik cameras (Planned)

List of Linux Operating systems and desktop environments tested to date with 
AstroDMx Capture for Linux
Linux Mint 18.2 Cinnamon
Linux Mint 18.2 Mate
Linux Mint 18.2 xfce
Debian 9 Cinnamon
Debian 9 LXDE
Debian 9 xfce
Debian 9 GNOME
Kubuntu 16.04 LTS
Kubuntu 17.04
Xubuntu 17.04
Lubuntu 17.04
Ubuntu Gnome 3 or classic
Fedora 24, 25, 26 with Gnome 3
Fedora 26 with Cinnamon
Peppermint OS
Ubuntu 16.04 with Unity (with the additional download package)
Ubuntu 17.04 with Unity (with the additional download package)
Antergos Linux
PC Linux Mate
Mageia Linux
Elementary OS. Runs from the command line only at the moment

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.





AstroDMx Capture for Linux can be downloaded at Software download.

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.