The Window Sill Observatory

Dave’s Solar System Recorder (DSSR)

Dave’s Solar System Recorder (DSSR) guides your telescope and controls your video camera to let you automatically capture video clips of the Sun, Moon and planets. These videos can be processed to produce mosaic images or time-lapse animations. The MultiExposure feature also lets you create HDR images and animations.

Current features include

  • CapTrak – capture and guide from the same video camera – no need for a guide scope.
  • WinTrak – guide on a third party video window.
  • PointTrak – guide on point objects like stars, asteroids, planets, planetismals, Jupiter’s moons.
  • FeatureTrak – guide on features like craters, prominences, active regions, sunspots, comets.
  • 3 separate autoguide methods – pulse, motor and goto – as well as manual guiding.
  • Support for parallel processing for faster guide target recognition.
  • Monitor target drift without applying corrections.
  • Calibration of scope/camera combination.
  • Graph window to show guide error and mount tracking error history.
  • Screen desktop recorder.
  • Mosaicker – automatically record the video tiles to produce large mosaic images.
  • SmartTrak – maintain guiding while guide target is obscured by clouds, trees, etc.
  • WDM cameras – captures using standard Windows camera drivers (webcams, Imaging Source, etc).
  • Can guide on ANY camera.
  • GEMTrak – guide using GEM mounts.
  • AzTrak – guide using Alt-Az mounts (currently Celestron and Skywatcher only).
  • Sub-pixel guiding.
  • MultiExposure – automatically capture multiple simultaneous videos with different camera settings.
  • MultiCap – automatically capture sequences of videos from different parts of the Sun, Moon or sky.
  • AutoExposure – keep video brightness levels constant to compensate for atmospheric phenomena (clouds, mist, absorption)
  • US Naval Observatory C3.0 Astrometry routines (high accuracy mode).

Features in development

  • Support for Meade alt-az mounts.
  • Live frame stacking and video processing.

27 Comments »

  1. What mount do you currently use with DSS? It will be interesting to see this project developing

    regards
    Kev Lewis
    http://www.photosbykev.com

    Comment by Kev Lewis — August 3, 2011 @ 1:45 pm

    • Sorry Kev – the blog software had this marked as spam. I use an HEQ5 Pro as my main mount and a Nexstar 4SE as my mobile. The 4SE can be configured as EQ or AltAz. I should be able to get a test copy of DSSR to you next week. Dave

      Comment by Dave — August 6, 2011 @ 12:20 pm

  2. This looks very interesting Dave. I tried the Solar Recorder a few weeks ago using my Coronado Solarmax 40 (basically a PST with better optics and a real focusser) and got some quite good results. I really liked the coloured images it produced and it solved, to some extent anyway, the tracking problems I have when using my small, portable Skywatcher alt-az mount. At high power, the image tends to drift between taking a video exposed for the proms and one exposed for the surface and doing a series of captures over an hour or so for a time-lapse sequence drives me mad; doing both at the same time was an inspirational idea! However, as your notes suggest, it was quite difficult to get good, high resolution images via stacking and after a time I went back to my old method.
    I have decided to try out my HEQ5Pro mount for solar work when I am at home and, as I see that you are using the same mount, I would love to try out the new version of your software once it reaches a stage where you release it for testing.
    Keep up the good work,

    Mike

    Comment by dnaboy — August 14, 2011 @ 5:34 pm

    • Many thanks for the interest Mike. DSSR is being tested as we speak and I am getting some great feedback already. Let me know if you run 32bit or 64bit Windows and I will get the next test version to you by the end of the week.

      ps The image drift has now been solved with DSSR’s autoguider module.
      Dave

      Comment by Dave — August 14, 2011 @ 6:25 pm

  3. Very interesting!
    I am a solar imaging guy and I have interest in your software.
    Where and how can I download this software DSSR and DVS?
    Thanks for the info.

    Regards Solar.

    Comment by Kees Molders — October 8, 2011 @ 7:58 am

    • Hi and thanks for your interest. I was hoping to launch a stripped down public test versions in September. However, I decided to wait until I had all modules fully operational which has delayed the launch. It shouldn’t be too long to wait.

      Dave

      Comment by Dave — October 8, 2011 @ 9:39 am

  4. Dave,

    I use several scopes/lenses (Televue 102, C8 / C11, Lunt 60, Rubinar 300 / 500 / 1000, etc.) on an EQ6Pro / EQ3 with DCT130 / Sony SkyLight / DSLR / Mallincam Xtreme cameras for solar, lunar & planetary imaging.

    Would DSSR function w/ any of the above combos? Where can I obtain some additional details on how it works, how to configure it?

    How much does it cost, etc.?

    If it makes a difference, I’m in Canada.

    bwa

    P.S.: I saw DSSR mentioned on the Coronado_PST Yahoo group

    Comment by Brian Allan — October 29, 2011 @ 7:25 pm

    • Hi,

      Thanks for your interest in our software. I think DSSR should work with your mounts and some of your cameras. I have uploaded the draft DSSR manual to the Support and Downloads page. Appendix A explains equipment setup.

      DSSR will soon be available as a free test/demo version until some time in 2012. This will give us time to get the Alt-Az module finished. After that, it will be cheap as chips:)

      Dave

      ps I once did Canada coast to coast on a bus superpass. Great place for ice cold beer.

      Comment by Dave — October 30, 2011 @ 10:44 am

  5. Thanks for information.

    P.S.: It’s getting to that time of year in Cda where you don’t even need a fridge for ice cold beer :<)

    Comment by Brian Allan — October 31, 2011 @ 1:36 am

    • Hi,

      Just a note to let you know that I have uploaded a pre-release trial version of DSSR to members of my Yahoo support group. Details in the Support and Downloads section.

      Dave

      Comment by Dave — November 7, 2011 @ 2:28 pm

  6. Hi
    I came across your work when looking for a way of guiding an Alt Az mount.
    How is the AzTrak project going.
    I do 30-60 sec exposure with my SW Alt Az & then stack in DSS. It would be amazing to be able to lengthen them to the field rotation limits.

    Comment by Christopher Howey — January 3, 2012 @ 1:49 pm

    • Hi, The alt-az version should be available by February. Meantime, you can still use DSSR for capture only to get the hang of the software. I have made several multi-hour solar timelapses on an unguided Nexstar 4SE.
      Dave

      Comment by Dave — January 3, 2012 @ 2:03 pm

      • Thanks Dave, I will.
        Chris

        Comment by Christopher Howey — January 4, 2012 @ 10:21 am

  7. Dave,
    Can you say which Alt Az mounts will be compatible with your AzTrak software?
    Thanks
    Chris

    Comment by chris howey — March 3, 2012 @ 8:13 am

    • Hi Chris,
      AsTrak is currently being tested with Celestron mounts because that is the most common type amongst the test group. Celestron (and perhaps Meade) will be included at launch and the software is written such that it will be easy to add other types as software updates. Do you have a particular type in mind?
      Dave

      Comment by Dave — March 3, 2012 @ 9:41 am

      • Hi Dave,
        Presently I have a Skywatcher Alt Az goto which I can get 40 sec subs with and really don’t want to go the GEM route for longer exposures.
        I was thinking of the Ioptron Mini Tower which can be auto guided with a wedge in EQ mode but not in Alt Az mode without wedge. This mount would suit me as I am a refractor guy.
        The only mounts I have found in my searching that can be autoguided in Alt Az are the LX200 & the TTS 160.
        Are you meaning the Celestron fork mounts only or will it include others?
        When will you be trailing it as I’m itching to get my new mount & hopefully not a GEM!!
        Many thanks for your reply
        Chris

        Comment by Christopher Howey — March 3, 2012 @ 10:25 am

      • Chris,

        How do you autoguide an IOptron MiniTower (Pro)? I was told by IOptron guiding was not possible on this mount. If you’ve found a way, I would sure be interested.

        bwa

        Comment by Brian Allan — March 3, 2012 @ 10:56 pm

  8. Chris – is this your scope?

    http://www.f1telescopes.co.uk/shop.php?id=2367&level=

    If so, it might be possible to use it for AzTrak. Can you check your manual to see if you can connect it to a PC. If so, hook it up to ASCOM and let me know which ASCOM driver you use. A lot of SW mounts use the Celestron driver in which case you should be OK.

    You can download the DSSR manual for more help on connecting to a PC.
    Dave

    Comment by Dave — March 3, 2012 @ 10:58 am

  9. Hi Dave
    Yes that’s the mount.
    I have had to connected to the PC to try out PHD but of course it didn’t work.
    Looking in the manual for the mount it says it is compatible with “Celestron NexStar 5i/8i,NexStar GPS, or Synta Skywatcher Mount command protocol”
    Does that help? It would be amazing if your software would work.
    Thanks
    Chris

    Comment by Christopher Howey — March 3, 2012 @ 11:23 am

    • Hi Chris
      Can you join the Software Support Group (link at right). It’s a lot easier to offer support there than here. We will be able to set you up there.
      Dave

      Comment by Dave — March 3, 2012 @ 12:01 pm

  10. HI Dave
    I have joined—my user name there is “wide-field”

    Thanks
    Chris

    Comment by Christopher Howey — March 3, 2012 @ 12:12 pm

  11. I asked Nick from Altair Astro this a few weeks ago at Astrofest. He assured me that the MT & MT Pro can be guided in EQ mode with wedge.
    I believe you need the Ioptron ST4 adapter (£75) to do this.
    Chris

    Comment by chris howey — March 3, 2012 @ 11:29 pm

  12. Hi,
    Any further progress with the AzTrak feature. Rather eagerly expected in my neck of the woods!
    Cheers.

    Comment by Simon l — March 14, 2012 @ 7:33 pm

    • Hi Simon, I hope to launch DFM by the end of March. I will then concentrate on DSSR’s AzTrak as well as re-enabling the SmartTrak module. AzTrak will launch with support for Celestron and Skywatcher mounts and I will add other mounts by request.

      Comment by Dave — March 16, 2012 @ 10:55 am

  13. Hi Dave,

    If you need assistance in testing the Skywatcher AltAz component, please let me know.
    All the best

    Simon

    Comment by Simon l — March 16, 2012 @ 12:09 pm

  14. Hi,

    Is it possible to use codec for recording the captured video? I like to use lossless codecs to reduce the file size.

    Comment by Dmitry — July 5, 2012 @ 11:38 am


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