Thursday, 1 August 2019

Controlling a tethered Canon 4000D DSLR with a Raspberry Pi4B and AstroDMx Capture for the Raspberry Pi

A Raspberry Pi4B was mounted in an open, acrylic case fitted with a fan. The fan was mounted upside down so that it blows air down onto the SOC, RAM and network chips which were all fitted with aluminium heat sinks. The heat sink for the SOC was a CPU heatsink and the heatsink for the 4GB RAM chip was a cut down CPU heat sink, cut to fit the RAM chip exactly. The reported temperatures of the CPU and GPU were only 29 degrees Celsius during the capturing session.

A 120 GB SSD was fitted inside a USB 3.0 caddy and was connected to a USB3.0 port of the Raspberry Pi4B. The SSD case was attached to the Raspberry Pi case with cable ties. Small rubberised plastic feet were stuck to the base of the Pi and the SSD caddy to protect any surface the device is placed on.

The Raspberry Pi


The System was set up to boot and run from the SSD and the SSD was used to store the image results as Tiff files.
The Raspberry Pi was connected via HDMI to a 10.1 inch HD monitor and was controlled by a Raspberry Pi Mouse and keyboard.

The imaging setup

A Canon EOS 4000D DSLR camera was placed at the Newtonian focus of a Skywatcher Explorer 130 PDS 130mm, f/5 Newtonian and tethered to the Raspberry Pi.
AstroDMx Capture for the Raspberry Pi was used to capture 25 x 90s exposures at ISO 3200 of the Omega (Swan) nebula with 5 matching dark-frames.
The data were transferred quickly by USB3.0 to a MacBook Air for processing.
Deep Sky Stacker running in Wine was used to stack the best 24 images. The resulting image was post processed in The Gimp 2.10, Neat Image and FastStone; the latter two running in Wine.

The Omega nebula

This was a quick demonstrator of the system under conditions of poor transparency and without a light-pollution filter. Nevertheless, it can be seen that the Raspberry Pi4B is very suitable for astronomical imaging.
Nicola has built the necessary tool chains and cross compiler so that the software can be run on the Pi. The software will be released about the same time as the next version of AstroDMx For Linux, with DSLR support as well as a version for macOS.

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Astronomy Linux with AstroDMx Capture

There is a distribution of Linux called 'Astronomy Linux'. It is based on Ubuntu and comes with a number of astronomical packages pre-installed. Our software, AstroDMx Capture for Linux is one of the pre-installed programs. Running AstroDMx Capture in Astronomy Linux still allows you to check for newer versions of AstroDMx Capture and download/install a newer version if required. At the time of writing, the latest version is pre-installed.
Being based on Ubuntu, Gnome 3 is the desktop environment provided with the Astronomy Linux.

Screenshot of Astronomy Linux showing some of the pre-installed software, including AstroDMx Capture for Linux.


Both the standard and debug versions of AstroDMx Capture can be seen on the first page.

Astronomy Linux is being actively maintained and may be the way to move to Linux from another OS and have many astronomy programs immediately available to use.

Monday, 8 July 2019

M27 with a tethered Canon 4000D and AstroDMx Capture for Linux

Nicola has been working on three versions of AstroDMx Capture: the Linux, macOS and Raspberry Pi (Pi versions 3B and 4B). This has involved building new tool-chains to enable the efficient compiling of the software. A test was performed on the night of July 5-6th.

A Canon 400D DSLR (with a 14 bit ADC) was directly mounted to an f/5, 150mm Newtonian and USB-tethered to a Fedora Linux laptop running the latest development version of Nicola's AstroDMx Capture for Linux. The software completely controls the functions of the DSLR. 30 x 60s exposures were captured of M27 along with 5 matching dark-frames.

The best 27 images were stacked in Deep Sky Stacker and the resulting image was post processed in The Gimp 2.10 and Affinity Photo and FastStone.

IR photograph of Nicola Gathering data on M27 with AstroDMx Capture for Linux and a Fedora laptop.


The Dumbbell Nebula, M27


The software is approaching a new release with more features, particularly DSLR support and hardware acceleration.

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

AstroDMx Capture for MacOS, bad seeing and large frame-counts

When the seeing is bad the atmosphere bubbles and the image distorts, coming in and out of focus. However, if you look carefully, there are brief moments of clarity. If a very large number of frames are captured and all but a small percentage of the best quality frames are discarded, it is possible that when the remaining frames are stacked, a worthwhile image will be obtained.
A QHY 5L-ll-M camera fitted with a x2.5 Barlow, was placed at the Cassegrain focus of a Skymax 127 Maksutov, which was mounted on a Celestron AVX EQ, GOTO mount.
AstroDMx Capture for MacOS was used to capture a 20,000 frame SER file of Crater Clavius (70.7% waxing Moon), with a region of interest of 800 x 600; and the following night, a 30,000 frame SER file of Clavius (80.7% waxing Moon) was captured.
The best 5% of frames of the 20,000 frame SER file were stacked in Autostakkert!3 running in Wine, wavelet processed in Registax 5.1 also running in Wine and post processed in the Gimp 2.10. The best 4% of the 30,000 frame SER file were similarly processed.

Screenshot of AstroDMx Capture for MacOS capturing the 20,000 frame SER file of Clavius




Crater Clavius, stack of the best 1000 of 20,000 frames



The following night. Stack of the best 1200 frames of 30,000 frames


Screenshot of AstroDMx Capture for MacOS capturing the 30,000 frame SER file of Clavius


       6 pane mosaic of the terminator of the 89% waxing Moon
Best 10% of 10,000 frame SER files



Monday, 13 May 2019

AstroDMx Capture for MacOS and a 3-pane High resolution lunar mosaic

A QHY 5L-ll-M camera was fitted in a x2.5 Barlow and placed at the Cassegrain focus of a Skymax 127 Maksutov. AstroDMx Capture for MacOS was used to capture three 10,000-frame SER files of overlaping regions of the 59.7% waxing Moon.

Screenshots of AstroDMx Capture for MacOS



Screenshot of AstroDMx Capture for MacOS maximised, and showing the reticle


3-pane mosaic of Montes Alpes, Vallis Alpes, Montes Caucasus, Aristoteles, Eudoxus, Cassini, Aristillus, Autolycus, Archimedes, Montes Apenninus.





Ptolomaeus, Alphonsus & Arzachel.


Sunday, 12 May 2019

High resolution Lunar image with AstroDMx Capture for MacOS

A QHY 5L-ll-M camera was placed at the Cassegrain focus of a Skymax 127 Maksutov. Nineteen overlapping panes of 1000-frame SER files at a resolution of 1280 x 960 were captured of the 48%, waxing, crescent Moon using a MacBook Air running AstroDMx Capture for MacOS.

Screenshot of AstroDMx Capture for MacOS


The best 90% of frames in each of the 19 SER files were stacked in Autostakkert!3 running in Wine.
The resulting images were stitched using Panorama Stitcher and the final mosaic was wavelet processed in Registax 5.1 running in Wine.


Closer view


AstroDMx Capture for MacOS now has most of the functionality of the Linux version. It will be thoroughly tested before release after all of the functionality is implemented.





Thursday, 2 May 2019

The Black Eye Galaxy with a tethered DSLR and AstroDMx Capture for MacOS

A Canon EOS 4000D DSLR camera was placed at the Newtonian focus of a Skywatcher Explorer 130 PDS 130mm, f/5 Newtonian.

A MacBook running High Sierra and Nicola's AstroDMx Capture for MacOS was used to capture 18 x 60s exposures and 5 matching dark-frames as 16 bit Tiff files of M64, the Black Eye Galaxy from the tethered DSLR..

The best 17 frames were stacked in Deep Sky Stacker, Sequator and Autostakkert. The resulting images were processed in the Gimp, and Neat Image and then re-combined in Picture Window Pro at different image scales.





Tethering of DSLR cameras whose manufacturers support it will be a valuable feature in AstroDMx Capture for Linux and MacOS

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

M3 with AstroDMx Capture for MacOS

A ZWO ASI178MC USB 3.0, 14 bit ADC camera was placed at the Newtonian focus of a Skywatcher Explorer 130 PDS 130mm, f/5 Newtonian, mounted on a Celestron AVX, EQ, GOTO mount.
A MacBook running High Sierra and AstroDMx Capture for MacOS was used to capture 30 x 45s exposures and 10 matching dark-frames as 16 bit Tiff files.
Deep Sky stacker running in Wine was used to stack the best 26 images. The resulting image was post processed in The Gimp 2.10 and Neat Image.

The imaging setup


Screenshot of AstroDMx Capture for MacOS streaming data


Full screen screenshot



M3


Nicola is adding the functionality to the MacOS version of AstroDMx Capture, and a release will be made when it is complete.

Monday, 22 April 2019

Astronomical imaging with a headless Raspberry Pi and a Tablet computer, using AstroDMx Capture for Linux.

AstroDMx Capture for Linux was running on a Raspberry Pi 3B

The Raspberry Pi was running a VNC server and was operating headless (without a keyboard, mouse or screen)

The Pi was operating as a wireless access point which allowed a Samsung Galaxy Note tablet to connect to the access point in exactly the same way that it would connect to a router. The tablet was running a VNC viewer and was able to access, display and control the Raspberry Pi desktop and enabled the launching, viewing and control of AstroDMx Capture for Linux, running on the Pi via the tablet.

The Raspberry Pi was powered by a SilverCrest 5000mAh Power Bank obtained for about GBP 6. In this case, the Pi was booted from a 240GB SSD obtained for about GBP 25. The SSD is not a necessity, but does provide large amounts of storage for the data being captured.

The imaging setup with a DMK 21AU04.AS camera at the Cassegrain focus of a Skymax 127 Maksutov. The tablet computer and the headless Raspberry Pi can be seen on the table.




The Tablet computer displaying and controlling the Raspberry Pi desktop


AstroDMx Capture for Linux is running and streaming data of Mare Crisium from the DMk camera. The Power Bank and the headless Pi can be seen on the right.

Screenshot from the Tablet computer


The Desktop of the Raspberry Pi is visible behind AstroDMx Capture for Linux, which is streaming data from the DMK camera

Image obtained from a capture SER file


This system provides a low power option for imaging in the field. More experiments will be done, but the system works.

Sunday, 21 April 2019

First Light for AstroDMx Capture for MacOS

This is still a work in progress, but Nicola is making good progress with this version of AstroDMx Capture running on the UNIX operating system MacOS.
A QHY 5L-II-M camera was placed at the Cassegrain focus of a Skymax 127 scope mounted on a Celestron AVX, EQ, GOTO mount.
5000-frame SER files were captured of various regions of the 96.8% waning Moon using AstroDMx Capture for MacOS and a MacBook running High Sierra.

The imaging setup



Screenshot of AstroDMx Capture for MacOS streaming data



The best 40% of frames in the SER files were stacked with Autostakkert! 3 and wavelet processed in Registax 5.1, both running in Wine. Two overlapping images were stitched in Panorama Stitcher and the final image post processed in the Gimp 2.10.

The Mare Crisium region


Mare Serenitatis region



The development of AstroDMx Capture for MacOS involves the refactoring of lots of code, and Nicola is taking advantage of this to develop the code simultaneously for MacOS and Linux, and where possible, improving the performance of the software.