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@Focus3 at the 99% Mark
Richard S. Wright Jr.'s Blog

With today's daily build, @Focus3 comes to TheSkyX Professional for everyone. There's a lot of new technology here, and Software Bisque has invested quite a bit of time and money into perfecting a revolution in focusing for astronomical imaging.

At this point @Focus3 is still not quite done.... sort of like a cake in the oven that smells and looks delicious, but that stick thing still comes back showing wet in the very center... almost, almost there. Sometimes technology firms refer to this as "beta". I'm old school software engineering though, and I will insist it's still "alpha" because there is one last capstone that needs to be ready (beta used to mean feature complete, but might have bugs...). Nevertheless, the @Focus3 core is getting quite mature, and we do need some more people banging on it and trying it.

There is really only one thing that @Focus3 needs to know to work (and see my previous blogs for how to use it); and that is how much to move the focuser in order to see an appreciable difference in image sharpness. On some systems this may be 100 focuser steps, on others it may be 1,000 or more. There is currently two ways to figure out what this setting is. The first is to guess.... yep. Get close to focus manually and just see how much you need to move the focuser to see the star bloat just a bit. Put this value in the focuser characterization dialog that is part of the @Focus3 control center. If the focuser moves and can't find focus, check the focuser logs and if the measured sharpness values are too close together, increase the separation size a little more.

A better way than guessing is to put in the focal ratio of your scope, and the step size of your focusers movements in microns into the characterization dialog. For example, an FLI Atlas has a step size of 0.085 microns.

This seems sensitive to pixel size however, and if you have large 9 micron or larger pixels you will get better values by doubling the computed number.

Once past this hurdle, @Focus3 is really easy to use. It will figure out which direction to move, it adjusts the exposure time if necessary, starting with your initial value (if it's saturated or under exposed). It will also when used from within Take Series, automatically select a subframe and make use of it.

The goal of @Focus3 is to take all the "engineering" out of coming to focus. 

Not "quite" feature complete... but many clever users can determine the optimum step size and take off now. The full "automagic" characterization is in the works, and should be available before too long.

Thanks for your patience, for trying it out, and let me know of any issues you come up against.


Posted 11-09-2017 7:07 AM by Richard Wright
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