AUTOSTAR SUITE USER FEEDBACK
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Last updated: 23 May 2007

This page is for user comments and information specific to the Meade AutoStar Suite. If you have any comments, suggestions, questions or answers to questions posed here, e-mail them to me and I'll post them. Please use an appropriate Subject Line on your message. Thanks. (The Lunar Planetary Imager, LPI, and Deep Sky Imager, DSI, are covered in the Helpful Information - Astrophotography area.)


Subject:	RE: FTS formats
Sent:	Sunday, May 20, 2007 18:10:58
From:	Gary Gorsline (garyg@x-link.info)
The AstroStack developer, Rob, sent me some new files including the FITS
file loading module.  He said my files worked for him.  Now with his new
file modules, mine works too.  I guess the statement about it working
meant after he fixed it. ;)

Well, we will see - so far I have it loading some frames.  And as to the
IRIS that Niall referred to, I downloaded it.  It appears to have a lot
of stuff, all glued together.  It seems to have a bunch of different
ways to handle darks, flats, etc., which is one of my next areas to look
at, which the others don't seem to handle well.

Wrote a program to alter the Meade LRGB FITSint files to adjust by the
alignment amount listed in a Registax Project.  So, I load up the L
files into Registax.  Do multipoint alignment but only select one point
(the object of interest). and save the project in Registax.  My simple
program reads that files and makes sure that the object "stays" in one
place by changing the number of pixels each frame is offset by as
calculated by Registax.  It adjusts all 4 colors for a single image.  I
then ran Meade's drizzle on each set (LRBG) using the object of interest
as the center and another star for rotation.  The four drizzles were
then loaded into adobe photoshop with FITS Liberator and color merged -
not bad.  Much better than before, and color.  First try and lots more
to refine.

I'm putting this description of the process together very shortly.  I
have only done one of the seven images I captured two weeks ago (and
still hadn't processed in color) using this new procedure, so let me do
the other six, and I'll write it all up for you.

Thanks again.

Gary

Subject:	FTS formats
Sent:	Wednesday, May 16, 2007 09:46:16
From:	Niall J. Saunders (niall@njs101.com)
I can't remember the details now, but I am almost certain that I wrote
that description based on my experiences with Registax v3.

I certainly recommend everyone to upgrade to Registax v4 - it is much
more powerful, AND less 'quirky'. However, that said, I have hardly used
it since it came out (I suppose I am waiting for decent Mars and Saturn
images to come along).

My current choice now is to use IRIS for deep sky (non-planetary) images
and Registax for everything else.

IRIS handles FITS far better than any other program I have come across,
and it handles image rotation, shift and scale factors with ease. But it
takes quite a bit of learning. But, if you are willing to spend time
with all the documentation on their website, you really do get a feel
for the 'correct' way to approach gathering and post processing your
data.

Once I get a decent set of planetary data to work with, I might re-post
something for Registax 4.

Finally, I can't pass any comment on AstroStack - I have never used this
software.

Hope this helps.

Cheers,
Niall Saunders
Clinterty Observatories
Aberdeen, SCOTLAND
From:	Gary Gorsline (garyg@x-link.info)
Thanks for including me in on this.  I'm working with the AstroStack
developer to get it compatible with Meade files.  I will also look at
the IRIS software Niall has mentioned.

Another approach - I'm also looking at a way to use Registax to align
the main object of interest and then use the Meade drizzle with it's
rotational tracking.  This would require I write a simple program to
take the alignment info that Registax outputs in a project and slip each
"frame" that corresponding number of pixels.  Envisage does a nice job
with drizzle and rotation, but can't track my old ETX 60AT handbox
tracker corkscrew path.  And I assume that if you use the software from
a laptop, that all you are doing is evading the handbox, not using a
better tracking software that is in the PC - correct?  I'm trying to
avoid programming - I do it all the time anyway ;)

Thanks

Gary Gorsline

Subject:	re: tracking
Sent:	Tuesday, May 15, 2007 22:03:13
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
I've submitted your problem (909 APM blocks operation
of 1206 focuser) to Meade as a bug.

I'll also look to see if it's possible to patch it.

What's happening is that the Autostar sees the 909,
and directs focus commands to it.

It's a precedence issue.

If you're in the Focus menu, and unplug the 909,
the 1206 still doesn't work.  But if you -exit-
the focus menu, and come back into it, then the
1206 -will- work.  If you now plug in the 909,
the 1206 continues to work (i didn't check to
see if the 909's reticle and guider socket become
active at that point).  If you exit and re-enter
the focus menu, the 909 takes over again, and
the 1206 falls silent.

Lemme poke at it, and maybe Meade will actually
address the issue, too (pigs have flown... vertically).

have fun
--dick

Subject:	tracking
Sent:	Sunday, May 13, 2007 13:13:29
From:	Robert Black (rjblack_2@sympatico.ca)
I am using a LX90 8in w/#497 autostar hand control.
Meade autostar suite. 909 APM & 1206 focuser.
 
My question is should I be able to control the focuser and the tracker
from my laptop in the 'image' of autostar suite.

I think I have it hooked up properly because I get an image from the
telescope on the laptop.

Really appreciate a place to go for beginners to ask questions and not
have to feel stupid even if I probably am, thankyou, bob
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
>> I am using a LX90 8in w/#497 autostar hand control.
>> Meade autostar suite. 909 APM & 1206 focuser.
>>
>> My question is should I be able to control the focuser and the  
>> tracker from my laptop in the 'image' of autostar suite.

Yes.  
Autostar Suite's Image acquisition program can control a focuser
if it is plugged into the 909 APM's Focus socket.

>> I think I have it hooked up properly because I get an image from  
>> the telescope on the laptop.

The connection from the camera to the laptop has nothing to do
with the focuser.  For focus control, you need the serial connection
(a Meade 505 serial cable, which comes with the LPI/DSI kit)
from the laptop to the Autostar's rs232 socket on the bottom of
the Autostar itself.  Your laptop requires a 9-pin COM port,
or a USB-to-serial adapter to provide one.

If you are able to control the "GoTo" of the telescope from 
Autostar Suite's StarMap, then you should be able to control 
the focuser.

I recommend joining the Yahoo group "autostarsuite" and
the appropriate group for your camera:  Meade_DSI or Meade_LPI

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/autostarsuite/
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Meade_LPI
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Meade_DSI

have fun
--dick

And:

The instructions with the 1206 focuser say to connect thru the auxiliary
of the LX90  The 909 says to connect to the other aux port on the LX90.

If this is not right, how else could I do it? as it is not operating the
focuser when connected this way.

Also for the focuser to operate thru the hand controller I first have to
disconnect the 909 APM.

I really feel for you guys trying to dec ipher what we new guys mean
sometimes. I guess a picture really is worth a thousand words.
sincerely, bob
From:	Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
What kind of connector does the 1206 focuser have?

If it's a "stereo plug" (like small radio earphones),
then it plugs into the 909's similar socket, and
the 909 plugs into the AUX port.

However, if it's a 4-wire "telephone" plug (i.e. fits
into the AUX socket), then -it- goes into the AUX socket,
and you don't use the 909 at all (unless you wish the Reticle
or Guider functions).   
To the Autostar, the existence of the 909 overrides the AUX-socketed
focuser, and the Autostar only speaks to the 909 for focusing matters.
Thus a simultaneous AUX-socketed focuser will be ignored (as you're
seeing).

If you -do- want the 909's reticle and/or guider functions,
then you need to use a different focuser, one suitable for
plugging into the 909's focuser socket.
Meade's "zero image shift microfocuser" is one such beast.
JMI's motor focusers are other examples.
If you use the Meade zero-shift, you will still need to
manually turn the (existing) coarse focus knob to get 
"within range" of the more limited zero-shift's capabilities.
(i don't know the various Meade focuser model numbers)

have fun
--dick

Subject:	FTS formats
Sent:	Sunday, May 13, 2007 08:18:38
From:	Gary Gorsline (garyg@x-link.info)
Thanks for all your help so far and the tons of information on your site
and associated links.

I finally got the latest CD  from Meade and loaded the software - seeing
has been bad - for last week it's smokey from the 250 wildfires in the
state - anyway -

I'm putting together my review of several products for you to post if
and as you wish.  I didn't realize how disjoint the products are.  For
example, Meade Drizzle does a good job handling rotation, but is not
good at tracking.  Registax is a excellent tracker, but doesn't handle
rotation in a sensible method.  I'm taking lots of notes and will get
you the details when done.  I want to come up with a cook book method of
processing images.  PS - the FITS Liberator with Photoshop - just
downloaded last night - works very nice and good tutorials.

SO, my question:

I can't seem to get AstroStacker V3 to read in FITS formatted files.  I
was sure I saw something on your site about it, but can't seem to search
to it.  I remember something about flipping the bytes ?  Can you point
me in the right direction.   This is the last product I've got on my
list to review.

Gary Gorsline 
Land O' Lakes, Florida  
Mike here: Is this what you are looking for:
Niall's email "Unable to change format of AutoStar files" on:
http://www.weasner.com/etx/archive/feedbackNov06/autostar_suite.html

And:

Yes, I've reread that article 3 times in the last week.  And I can get
Registax to read the Meade FTSint files as Niall describes, however,
Naill only mentions that AstroStack can read FTS files, but he doesn't
give any details, like he does for Registax - however, I do suggest to
anyone to read the Registax V4 help before trying Naill's procedure -
Naill left a few important items out - especially the naming of LRGB
files.  However, AstroStack 3.2 (could be lack of correct procedure - UI
is somewhat confusing) doesn't read any of the FTS formats that Envisage
writes.  It reads other format files fine and I've been able to play a
bit with it.  I have gotten a quick response from the developer and he
wants some sample files, so let's see where we go.

Gary

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Copyright ©2007 Michael L. Weasner / etx@me.com
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URL = http://www.weasner.com/etx/archive/may07/autostar_suite.html