New Features in
CCDAutoPilot 5.0 Basic
Enhanced User Interface
Through continuous improvement and feedback from CCDAutoPilot’s many users, the user interface has been further enhanced to make your session planning fun and straightforward. After setting up your focusing and guiding preferences, as well as some other customizations, there are four simple steps to starting your automated session: Setup, Session, Options and Run. While there are many configuration settings and options behind the scenes, these basic steps will get you from starting to running an automated session as soon as possible. The Automation Assistant , based on many years of user inputs, will alert you to possible incorrect settings that you can correct before you commit your session. And, even if you still overlook something, you can correct settings and choices while a session is running due to CCDAutoPilot's new Concurrent Session Editing.
Focus on Targets and Data
With CCDAutoPilot 5, the entire data acquisition phase is available on a single tabbed window, called Session. Targets can easily be entered manually, from a text file, a prior FIT file, a CCDNavigator session plan or a Starry Night observing plan. You can set exposure series manually or by templates that were saved as such from a prior session. There are two default templates included. Additional templates are created by simply memorizing the existing settings and giving them a name of your choosing. Templates can be developed and customized for all session phases to simplify data acquisition planning. Exposure goals can be defined and reviewed the next day to determine how many additional frames remain to be acquired. This is perfect for those multi-night acquisition plans. You can customize folder locations and file name templates as you wish to meet your workflow.
Concurrent Session Editing
A session can be modified while it is running! This allows you to get started as soon as possible and fine-tune the session while underway. You can even change the number of exposures for a given series while that series is in process!
Data Quality Assessment
When this option is enabled, each data frame is analyzed for average Full Width Half Maximum (FWHM) star sizes by TheSkyX or PinPoint, or for FWHM, Aspect Ratio and Background by CCDInspector v2.5 or later. You set your upper limits for these parameters and CCDAutoPilot will escrow those exposures failing to meet the criteria into a separate folder of your choosing. No more blinking through frames to find the good ones!
More Integration Options
CCDAutoPilot now supports full integration with TheSkyX for planetarium functions, telescope control and plate solving. It also provides integration with Maxim’s native focus routine, in addition to FocusMax and CCDSoft's. Support for Alnitak AstroSystems FlipFlat and FlatMan is more tightly integrated. TheSkyX/TheSky6 can be used for planetarium functions while ASCOM is used for telescope control. In short, CCDAutoPilot is flexible enough to control nearly all astro-imaging related equipment the way you want to control it.
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 TheSkyX/TheSky6. 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 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 optimal guiding parameters independently of a simple calibration routine. 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 TheSkyX as well as TheSky6
CCDAutoPilot seamlessly integrates with
TheSky allowing you to work interactively 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. Integration with TheSkyX includes the ability to use its greatly improved plate solving capability for pointing correction and data assessment.
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. If you are using a rotator, CCDAutoPilot will fine-tune the rotator position to meet the target's Position Angle.
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.
Seamless Rotator Control
CCDAutPilot supports automatic control
of the Optec Pyxis, RCOS PIR, Astrodon TAKometer and any rotator meeting the ASCOM standard. Rotate
your FOV indicator in TheSky, right click on your target and select
Slew To Target. You rotator will now rotate to the precise Position Angle in
the sky. No more fumbling with rotator positions vs actual position
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
TheSky 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.
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!
Search your session log file for specific information. Great for finding repeating events like focus position, download time, etc.
And Many More Improvements and Additions
See the online help for more details
New Features in
CCDAutoPilot 5.0 Professional
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 5.0 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.
Filter Focus Offset Measurement Wizard
In addition to automated measurements for determining optimal sub-exposure times, CCDAutoPilot V5 automates G2v ratio measurements for color balance, a wizard is added for determining your filter offset measurements. In a short time, you can fully quantify the focus effects of your filters.
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 and Starry Night allow you to import targets from almost any
application or database. You can export your target list as welll in CSV format.
Support for TheSkyX Camera Add On
In addition to MaxIm DL and CCDSoft, the Professional Edition now supports TheSkyX Camera Add On for image acquisition. CCDAutoPilot will use the camera, filter wheel, focuser, guider and dome as controlled by TheSkyX Professional for a simplified, all-in-one software interface. (This feature requires TheSkyX Professional, build 6820 or later.)