Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Eclipse Timing

This is a screenshot from Eclipse Orchestrator software, showing the timing for the eclipse event near Madras, OR, where I will be camping during the event.

Final timing may be off by a second due to location, I expect that the final tweaks will be something I can do after arriving on site.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Eclipse Scripting

Auto Hot Key to the rescue

Because the automated scripting tools for the eclipse are only able to control Canon and Nikon cameras, I have to depend on tethering software for the Pentax camera to control it.

Alas, these software have their own limitations and are not scriptable.

Thus, I'm turning to Auto Hot Key to control the mouse and clicks.

Over the weekend, I was able to get my desktop computer to control the Pentax K1 via the Image Transmitter 2 software and AHK.  I found that a full 5 shot bracket exposure needs 6 seconds to complete.  What's also nice is that I can force the IT2 software to not download the picture, thus saving bandwidth.

Next step is to test the timing controls via this temporary script.

; Get target time in a format we can:
;  - compare (with "<")
; < comparison should be safe as long as both are in the *exact* same format.
; target_time is 2305 format

filter1timeS = %A_YYYY%%A_MM%%A_DD%%target_time ; 11:05 pm
filter1timeE = %A_YYYY%%A_MM%%A_DD%%target_time ; 11:05 pm
beads1timeS = %A_YYYY%%A_MM%%A_DD%%target_time ; 11:05 pm
beads1timeE = %A_YYYY%%A_MM%%A_DD%%target_time ; 11:05 pm
brackettimeS = %A_YYYY%%A_MM%%A_DD%%target_time ; 11:05 pm
brackettimeE = %A_YYYY%%A_MM%%A_DD%%target_time ; 11:05 pm
beads2timeS = %A_YYYY%%A_MM%%A_DD%%target_time ; 11:05 pm
beads2timeE = %A_YYYY%%A_MM%%A_DD%%target_time ; 11:05 pm
filter2timeS = %A_YYYY%%A_MM%%A_DD%%target_time ; 11:05 pm
filter2timeE = %A_YYYY%%A_MM%%A_DD%%target_time ; 11:05 pm

send filtersettings ; set single frame shooting with appropriate fstop and shutter speed
while (A_Now >= filter1timeS and A_Now <= filter1timeE) ; this is first to second contact
{ ; send a picture click once a minute

 ; remove filters audio warning
; beads1
send beadsettings ; set continuous shooting speed to Low with appropriate fstop and shutter speedset beads
while (A_Now >= beads1timeS and A_Now <= beads1timeE) ; this is when first beads goes
{ ; spam beads
click ; at the start
click ; at the end, click again to stop the continuous shooting mode

send bracketsettings
while {A_Now >= brackettimeS and A_Now <= brackettimeE) ; this is totality
{ ; spam brackets
click every 6 seconds

; beads2
set beads ; set continuous shooting speed to Low with appropriate fstop and shutter speed
while (A_Now >= beads2timeS and A_Now <= beads2timeE) ; this is when second beads goes
{ ; spam beads
click ; at the start
click ; at the end, click again to stop the continuous shooting mode

 ; apply filters audio warning

while (A_Now >= filter2timeS and A_Now <= filter2timeE) ; this is 3rd to 4th contact
{ ; send a picture click once a minute

I'll still need to figure out the best time to build in slack to adjust the filters and to run an audio announcement.  I already have the time markers for the contact points, so that's easy to put into the script.   I'll also need to test this on the laptop to ensure that the timing is still correct.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Calstar 2017 Registration is Open

Go to the Camping and Accommodations page to find the link to register.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

More pictures of people from GSSP 201

These are the better black and white pictures.

All shot with the Pentax 67 camera with the 105mm lens.

Monday, July 10, 2017

April MBOSP Gravel Crunching

Back in April, the group got together for pizza and stars.

It was my first time setting the gear up since Calstar.

There were comets, supernovae, and pictures!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

PixInsight Benchmark

So I found out that there is a benchmark for PI.

Here are the numbers from my desktop.

The Official PixInsight Benchmark version 1.0
Copyright (C) 2014-2015 Pleiades Astrophoto. All Rights Reserved.

Benchmark version ...... 1.00.08
Input checksum ......... 2cd72b67e12fff2812ef5b5da054ab2a70a25e23
Serial number .......... 

CPU Identification
CPU vendor ............. AuthenticAMD
CPU model .............. AMD FX(tm)-8350 Eight-Core Processor

System Information
Platform ............... Windows
Operating system ....... Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate
Core version ........... PixInsight Core (x64)
Logical processors ..... 8
Total memory size ...... 31.903 GiB

Execution Times
Total time ............. 03:12.77
CPU time ............... 01:19.72
Swap time .............. 01:53.01
Swap transfer rate ..... 146.667 MiB/s

Performance Indices
Total performance ...... 2440
CPU performance ........ 4748
Swap performance ....... 812

Additional Information
Swap disks ............. OCZ Agility 90 GB SSD
Motherboard ............ Asus M5A99FX Pro R2.0
Machine description .... AMD FX 8350 home built


Benchmark has been recorded on 2017/07/08 10:04:13 UTC

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

GSSP 2017 Early Report

The 2017 Golden State Star Party was held from June 21 through June 25 in Adin, CA at the Frosty Acres Ranch.  The T-shirt is themed for the great eclipse, sans cow jokes.
GSSP on Facebook

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

How to Collimate the ES Mak Newt

A quick video taken at the Golden State Star Party 2017 for the benefit of my niece, Rebecca.

Thanks go to the Explore Scientific rep who was on-site to describe the process for the maksutov newtonian scope.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Planning targets for GSSP 2017

I finally loaded CCDNavigator and see these targets for GSSP as ordered by transit times.  This is a rough estimate based on Menlo Park coordinates.

I will also shoot Acros, E200, and some panoramic slides.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Watch Comet Johnson Sprint Through Boötes

Watch Comet Johnson Sprint Through Boötes: As other comets fade, Comet Johnson (C/2015 V2) moves into the spotlight. Catch it in binoculars the next moonless night.

Something to look for at GSSP 2017!

MAK-ing a galaxy imager

Creation of a galaxy mini-imaging system.

I purchased this scope to correspond with the Mars opposition of 2004.  It served well as I got started viewing from the driveway and then began to chase after the moon, bright clusters, and other planets.

Later, I put this scope on the shelf in favor of the SV4 refractor.

I have used it for imaging a few times.  Given the focal length, it's still faster than the SV4 with a barlow.

My best picture of M1 came from this scope

M1 Crab Nebula

As well as the best picture of the Siamese Twins 

Siamese Twins Galaxies

And the best picture of the Ring Nebula

M57 13 lights at 10 minutes 400 ISO

And this picture of the Helix

Helix Nebula

And planets, of course.

Since I'm borrowing Carl's 583 camera, I'd been wanting to try this as a galaxy setup.  

A few configuration changes, a resurrected SSAG, cobbled together autofocus system, and some filters gives this current lightweight mini-frankenscope:

Nearly a year ago, I'd gotten an extra HSM motor from Starlight Systems so that I could make the autofocus system.  I've mounted the bracket with high-temperature hot melt glue.  If it works well, then I may swap it for epoxy.  In the meantime, the glue should hold.  Also, I'm not sure if there is enough reduction for the focus knob.  If it turns out to need a bigger pulley on the knob, I'll have to make one.  Bench testing, there's a range of 1k steps for a full turn of the knob.  When I update the firmware on the controller, there should be close to 5k steps for this same range.

I know the drill about a moving mirror and flop and all that jazz.  From what I've seen with this mak, the spring and grease do a good job of holding the mirror cell tightly.  The aluminum body and 3x folded light path is more of a factor with temperature drop.

I've not had the chance to see if the off-axis guider can see starlight.  Unlike the refractor, I can't look down the objective and see the camera.  If this turns out to be a problem, I can put the ST80 and SSAG on the top of the rings, how I used to run this setup with the DSLR.

Next steps:
Solder together some 7.5 ohm .5 watt resistors to make an anti-dew heater.
Wiring harness and cabling.
Flats to check for vignette.
Profile the setup in CCDAutopilot.

... take some images!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Productive at Home

Working on some M106 data.

Gathering Lum and LPS data to compare.

Air seems steady tonight.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Stargazing at MBOSP with Mr Farrar

Taken on November 2 2016 on a night that started out clear but ended up getting murky and dewy before midnight.

Just a visual night using Rebecca's Comet Catcher on the GM8 for some go-to fun.

Stargazing with Mr Farrar

Spring MBOSP

The first new moon after the vernal equinox was organized by Casey.

It was good to shake the dust off and get the practice of setting up gear, fiddling with small screws in the darkness, and staring at computer screens seeking not-so-squiggly lines.

Cool to see through Andrew's new Obsession.  I think it's safe to say that the scope name fits!

The comet 41p was crazy dim.  Glad to see it, though!

I rolled up two canisters of ancient TriX to muck about.  Will develop them later this week and cross my fingers to see how they turn out!

Main goal for me was to try to get some test frames on a target with the automated SV4 and G11 setup.  I also wanted to replace the ring gear on the GM8, adjust the gear mesh, focus the mini-guider with the replacement SSAG, confirm that guiding works, and try to see if I can find an infinity focus with the 400 mm 67 lens with a yellow filter inside it.  

I did get a few good frames on a familiar target.  Here's a 10 minute Red exposure.