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It's ALIVE!!! Live Stacking Comes to TheSkyX
Richard S. Wright Jr.'s Blog

We've snuck a new beta feature (beta means still has some rough edges - you have been warned...) into both the Pro and LTI versions of TheSkyX with last weeks posted Daily Build. Live Stacking!

What is live stacking, and why should you care? Well, if your doing science imaging, surveys, automated data collection, and long exposure astrophotography, you can just move along, nothing to see here.

If you have ever had anyone watch you image though... or tried imaging at an outreach event or public venue, then this is for you. If you've never tried this you should too.. a couple of reasons:

1. I do visual outreach all the time. Some people just cannot see an item in the eyepiece no matter what you do. A real bummer. Anyone, can see a computer screen, TV monitor, or iPad display. This is great for events where people might have disabilities as well, wheel chair bound people for example who can't get to an eyepiece. (I have yet to figure out a way to accommodate the blind, but if someone smarter than me comes up with something PLEASE let me know!).

2. You can see SO MUCH MORE with a camera than you can with your eye. Please, for the love of all that is holy and celestial stop showing the uninitiated public M31 in the parking lot of Starbucks... 1 in 50 people are impressed. To everyone else other than you and a few hard core passers by, it looks like snot on the eyepiece. Now... a few seconds with a camera... and MY OH MY how things change! Hey look, M51 looks like an actual galaxy! No... TWO galaxies! What about light pollution? Bin with a light pollution or Ha filter, it works wonders... Remember, the goals of live stacking and outreach are vastly different than the typical dark sky adventure.

I'm a reasonably accomplished imager, and I can tell you now ahead of time a live stacked image is not going to meet my standards for a "pretty picture" in my gallery. But they ARE impressive, especially to the uninitiated. A first image of a few seconds actually looks like a galaxy or the nebula you are shooting. Only a few seconds later, another image is automatically aligned and combined and it get's clearer. No one (in the public) wants to wait for a 5 minute exposure, but if the images changes every 20 or 30 seconds, you can quickly draw a crowd. I tried this publicly for the first time at the Grand Canyon Star Party and it was a huge hit. 

Live Stacking does not save the individual FITS files (I will likely change this for the next update), but you can save a .SER archive file. SER files are the FITS of video and so it's basically a stream of images. More SER tools will likely be coming down the road, and already LTI can do "lucky imaging" creating 16-bit SER files with any supported camera plug-in. I've been working with ZWO for starters to get the frame rate up to be quite competitive for this purpose. I"m already getting better frame rates on my Mac than I used to get with another program I had to use on Windows for this purpose.

So.. BETA.. I repeat ;-). Give it a go though and tell us what you think. There is more to come....

Richard

 


Posted 11-05-2018 10:10 AM by Richard Wright

Comments

Dean wrote re: It's ALIVE!!! Live Stacking Comes to TheSkyX
on 11-05-2018 10:06 AM

Cool idea!  Can't wait to try it.  I used to us an old STV for this and it was fun, but the screen was so small it was not very impressive like a full size laptop screen will be.  Thanks!

Run 3 wrote re: It's ALIVE!!! Live Stacking Comes to TheSkyX
on 11-05-2018 7:18 PM

How can I try the beta version ?

Richard Wright wrote re: It's ALIVE!!! Live Stacking Comes to TheSkyX
on 11-06-2018 7:19 AM

There is a live stack button right on the camera tab.

jsardina wrote re: It's ALIVE!!! Live Stacking Comes to TheSkyX
on 11-06-2018 11:07 AM

Hello Richard,

   I tried the Live stack feature last night but I was having issues with getting darks it would just take one dark and then close. I there a brief explanation on what the procedure is in using live stacking. Also it didn't save it in the folder that it created (guider test darks)

Totally understand this is a beta test version and much appreciate your hard work.

Joe  

Charles12 wrote re: It's ALIVE!!! Live Stacking Comes to TheSkyX
on 11-06-2018 12:34 PM

Hi Richard, first of all - Great work. Unfortunately, I also had some problems with the Beta version..

Paul Allikas wrote re: It's ALIVE!!! Live Stacking Comes to TheSkyX
on 11-06-2018 1:03 PM

Great work Richard.  Windows Users that do EAA (Electronically Assisted Astronomy) have had a few programs that did this, but I know of none for Linux.  This makes a grab and go, iPad and Linux on Raspberry Pi (or other SBC) solution viable for casual imaging, or outreach, without a bunch of cables to get in the way.  For outreach, seeing a colorful image is the bomb, compared to the 'Eyepiece snot smear' that w all know and love.

Richard Wright wrote re: It's ALIVE!!! Live Stacking Comes to TheSkyX
on 11-06-2018 2:44 PM

The dark wizard crashes... fixed. Don't know how it ever worked - LOL. Next daily build will see some improvements. Meanwhile, just make a dark manually.

Thanks everyone for the feedback.

jsardina wrote re: It's ALIVE!!! Live Stacking Comes to TheSkyX
on 11-09-2018 8:21 PM

Hello Richard,

    Thanks for the fix and it does make the darks and puts them in a designated folder but when you go to set dark tab it not in that open dark frame folder but when I open the folder from desktop it shows up.

I may be doing something wrong?

Joe

egonlenc wrote re: It's ALIVE!!! Live Stacking Comes to TheSkyX
on 11-13-2018 5:16 AM

Hello Richard

Firstly let me say Great!! to see Live Stacking included as a function in TSX. I also would use it a lot for outreach.

The only problem is I must be doing something wrong as I can't get it to work :(

I've tried it with TSX Pro 11996 on both OSX Mojave and Windows 10 with a ZWO ASI224MC.

The camera works when I take a normal images with both systems. I switch to Live Stacking, set it up for 1 sec exposures and start it. TSX takes images but on Mojave all I get is a white live image and on windows 10 I get a black live image?

I had a look in the save directory and the individual 'fits' images are there and they look good, so images are being taken but I don't get a live display.

What am I missing?

Egon

Steve Timmons wrote re: It's ALIVE!!! Live Stacking Comes to TheSkyX
on 11-13-2018 6:10 PM

Works great with my Starlight XPress SX-694.  S L I C K!!!

Mark Bailey wrote re: It's ALIVE!!! Live Stacking Comes to TheSkyX
on 11-18-2018 10:38 PM

What a terrific new feature. I have been having star parties with my observatory but using an outside separate telescope to look at objects. People have been a little disappointed to not see something in the observatory.

The only problem I am having with the beta version is saving the master dark and then finding it to set it. The master file does not seem to be saving.

showbox wrote re: It's ALIVE!!! Live Stacking Comes to TheSkyX
on 11-28-2018 9:03 PM

Great word Richard. Gotta give it a go! I also do visual outreach all the time and can't see an item in the eyepiece

johnkeo wrote re: It's ALIVE!!! Live Stacking Comes to TheSkyX
on 12-10-2018 2:46 AM

This is something good to know, thanks for the update.

lucyhogan wrote re: It's ALIVE!!! Live Stacking Comes to TheSkyX
on 12-13-2018 6:29 AM

hi thank admin

   

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