New Features in CCDAutoPilot 4.0 Basic

Enhanced User Interface

Based on the experiences of CCDAutoPilot's hundreds of users, the interface has been enhanced to minimize errors, maximize information and make it easier to set up your sessions. Its intuitive workflow steps you through the process of creating complex imaging sessions with point and click ease. New utility windows are provided with useful information, calculators, reminders and options appropriate to the section of your planning and session setup. The help system has been enhanced with a completely new section of imaging techniques and topics.

Automatic Color Combine Ratio (G2V) Measurement

One push of a button measures your color combine ratio with a G2V star that is automatically selected when used with TheSky6 or later. Without TheSky,you can manually point your telescope to a suitable star for equally automatic measurements. No taking of images, stacking, importing into another program, etc. The color combine ratio obtained is extinction-corrected as if you had taken the data at the zenith. No further extinction correction is needed.

Automatic Camera Measurement

One push of a button measures your camera read noise and, if set up properly, your camera's conversion gain. Another button and your sky glow is measured. With this data, you can determine optimal sub-exposure times, camera cooling and even the number of dark frames needed.

One-Click Setup Procedure

CCDAutoPilot 4.0 further simplifies your system setup with one-click ease. You can define and measure your color combine ratio, optimize dithering and measure your camera performance with one click as well. Once you system is setup, you will never need to recalibrate your autoguider or rotator for any target you want to image unless you change the configuration of your imaging system.

Boltwood Cloud Sensor Support

Full support for either a local or networked Boltwood cloud sensor (or equivalent) is included via an independent thread. User selectable options for a cloudy condition include either aborting the run or waiting for a specific period of time for the clouds to clear. In the latter case, the run continues when the Boltwood reports clear conditions.

Predictive Auto-Guiding Technology

Once initialized, CCDAutoPilot will calculate guiding parameters independently of a simple calibration routine for optimal guiding. No more worrrying about mount hysteresis or guide vector assymetry. No matter where you point your telescope CCDAutoPilot will determine the best guiding parameters for your imaging system. Predictive guiding supports camera relays, DirectGuide, MicroGuide and, for AO users, automatic mount bumping calibration. And, it works with your optional manual or automated rotator at any position angle.

Automatic Guide Exposure

Set your minimum and maximum guide exposure and your desired guide star level and CCDAutoPilot does the rest, adjusting the guide exposure to get your desired signal level.

Integration with TheSky6

CCDAutoPilot 4.0 seamlessly integrates with TheSky6 allowing you to work interactively with TheSky to select, frame and manage imaging targets. See when your targets rise, set and transit the meridian as well as user definable altitudes for starting and ending exposures. Twilight conditions are reported for optimal session planning.

Integrated Auto Guider Calculator

The CCDWare guide calculator is now incorporated into CCDAutoPilot. Additionally, the guide calculator minimum and maximum move as well as aggressiveness may be directly loaded into CCDSoft via a single click. The calculator will automatically determine whether camera relays, DirectGuide or MicroGuide is being used and will calculate and load the optimal settings accordingly.

Advanced Pointing Technology

When you slew to an object, CCDAutoPilot, confirms that you are at the exact coordinates you indicated in your target list. If there is any error in your pointing, CCDAutoPilot will correct your telescopes pointing. If desired, a pointing error tolerance can be specified for more demanding pointing precision.

Automatic Guide Star Recovery

A passing cloud, cosmic ray hit or gust of wind can potentially ruin a nights imaging run. With AGSR technology, CCDAutoPilot will detect a missing guidestar, recenter your target, and continue the imaging session. New technologies are employed in Version 4.0 that greatly improves the chances of reacquiring your guidestar.

Seamless Rotator Control

CCDAutPilot supports manual and automatic control of the Optec Pyxis, RCOS PIR, Astrodon TAKometer and soon the ASCOM standard. Rotate your FOV indicator in TheSky6, right click on your target and select slew. You rotator will now rotate to the precise Position Angle in the sky. No more fumbling with rotator positions vs actual position angles.

SkyStar Focusing

SkyStar allows you to focus on stars outside your field of view and return to your target with arc-second accuracy. SkyStar has been improved so that it works with both CCDSoft and TheSky6 as well as with Pinpoint. In addition, SkyStar will ensure your focus star is always in the center of you FOV for precise on-axis focusing. SkyStar is unique in that it is the only off-target focusing routine that allows you to plate solve with a filter other than the filter you use for focusing.

Focus Control

CCDAutoPilot provides many new focus options to ensure your exposures are as sharp as ever. If using parafocal filters, you can now select which filter you will use for focusing, select when to focus during multi-filter imaging sessions and program initial FocusMax exposures for each filter to save valuable imaging time. You can even specify a temperature change at which to schedule a focus.

Reusable System Profiles

Once you have CCDAutoPilot configured for your imaging system, you can save your system profile for each imaging configuration you use. This allows you to characterize many imaging configurations and save them for later use, thus eliminating the need for re-initialization of your system. Alternate system profiles can be loaded by simply clicking on them.

Enhanced Target Lists

Target lists now include your calibration frame settings so you can plan your entire evening's data acquisition and apply it to your system in one move. Perfect for remote observatories!

And Many More Improvements and Additions

See the online help for more details


New Features in CCDAutoPilot 4.0 Professional

Event Notification

CCDAutoPilot can optionally notify you by email or text message to your cell phone of the start of a session, the start of your target acquisition and completion of the session. It can even email the session log as an attachment.

Control File Interface

Using a simple text file, CCDAutoPilot 4.0 can be controlled by external applications to pause, resume or abort a run. Integrity of the controlling application is also provided. Additionally, notifications of control events can be sent via email or text message to your cell phone.

Enhance Cloud Sensor Monitoring

If desired by the user, CCDAutoPilot will abort a session upon high humidity, excessive wind and various forms of Cloud Sensor measurements. Again, email or text message notification is optionally possible.

Calculated Color Combine Ratio

Once your color combine ratio is measured, CCDAutoPilot will track each sub-exposure's altitude and provide an extinction-corrected color combine ratio for each target's set of exposures.

Multiple Targets

CCDAutoPilot supports multiple targets. Easily select targets using TheSky's built in databases of millions of objects. Interactively select your targets using TheSky's FOV indicator to frame and rotate your objects exactly where you want them. Seamlessly image targets at any rotation angle, on either side of the Meridian with either your fork or equatorial mount. Additional information is provided in the utility windows to assist in target planning.

Powerful Multi-Target Importers

Creating complex target runs for astrophotography and survey work is easily accomplished using CCDAutoPilot's powerful import features. Using CCDNavigator, many additional catalogs are available for target selection with easy importing into CCDAutoPilot. Support for Text, CSV, Starry Night, ACP Planner and ACP Survey plans allow you to import targets from almost any application or database.

Quick and Easy to Setup
Image Single or Multiple Targets
Keeps Perfect Focus All Night Long
Automatic Auto-Guiding and Tracking
Any Light Frames for Any Target
Collect Dark and Bias Frames
Automatic Sky Flats Dawn and Dusk
Customized Options for Every System
Automate all Imaging Functions

More comments...

I have owned CCDAutopilot2 and 3 and did not hesitate to upgrade to this feature-rich new version. In 3 short years, CCDAutoPilot has evolved into an exceptionally capable data acquisition and automation tool aimed at both the professional and amateur astrophotographer. It integrates with many software programs and hardware devices, and is supported exceedingly well by its author
- Martin Pugh, Australia

CCDAutoPilot4 is taking imaging to even higher levels of perfection than version 3 had already achieved. John has paid a lot of attention to feedback from his users and has introduced major new features that will facilitate observatory automation, instrument calibration, session planning and reliability of imaging sessions. I could not imagine operating my remote observatory without CCDAutoPilot4.
-Emmanuel Schallit, France

John listened to his users and made a great product even better in CCDAutoPilot4. There are more tools and parameters to help with target planning and data capture. You can even change some parameters while the system is running a session. The new capability of being able to access a network shared cloud sensor is a real bonus for unattended automation.
-Paul Mortfield, Canada

CCDAutopilot4 improves on the already impressive functionality of CCDAutopilot3 and delivers on the promise of unattended astroimaging. With features such as automatic guide star exposure and fully automated meridian flips, CCDAutopilot4 takes the guesswork out of nightly imaging. John's attention to detail and impeccable customer support make CCDAutopilot4 the perfect automation tool for astrophotography.
-Wes Stauffer, CA, USA