Connecting and Setting Options:


Cameras are selected and connected on the Sequence Window in the equipment group box.


Options can be set when the camera is in a disconnected state by clicking the  icon.  These options will vary by manufacturer.  For ASCOM cameras this will bring up the ASCOM properties dialog for the selected camera.


To connect the camera click on the connection icon .  Once connected the icon will change , click this icon to disconnect.


Hardware Specific Information

o QSI Cameras

o SBIG Cameras

o FLI Cameras

o ZWO Cameras

o Canon EOS Cameras

o Nikon Cameras



Camera Control Panel:


Description: Sequence Generator Pro can use many cameras natively and any ASCOM supported camera.  The camera is controlled through the Camera tab on the Control Panel.  Depending on the hardware attributes of the camera different options will be available when connected.  However there are two distinct types of cameras that can be connected which are CCDs and DSLRs.  



CCD Camera


Description: CCD (Charge-coupled Device) cameras are becoming increasingly popular for astro-photography.  In general they are more sensitive than DLSRs and offer benefits such as deep cooling and the ability to take mono images (sharper images because there is no bayer matrix).




Controls (These values can also be preset by using a profile or by opening a sequence.):

  • Camera Cooler: If equipped, allows the cooler to be turned on and regulation temperature set. If no cooler is present these options will be grayed out.  If a cooler is present, but does not provide temperature regulation then only the "on and off" controls will be enabled.  These controls allow your cooler to be manually turned on:

o Cooler On/Off: Turns the cooler on or off.  

o Set Temperature to: Sets the regulation temperature of the cooler. These values are not used in conjunction with "Warm Up / Cool Down".

o change over: Allows you to specify a time period over which the temperature will be slowly dropped to the set temperature mentioned above.

o Set: initiates the changes mentioned above.

o Abort: stops the "Set" mentioned above.  This button is also used to abort cooler warm up and cool down.


  • Warm Up / Cool Down: These options control how and when the cooler is automatically turned on and off:
    • Cool down to X in Y: Similar to the controls above this will cool down the to the specified temperature in the specified amount of time.  These values are used in conjunction with the "Cool down when camera connects" option.
    • Warm up to X in Y: This warms up the camera to the ambient temperature in the specified amount of time.  (Note: The camera is not able to warm above ambient so this value should be fairly representative of the ambient temperature).
    • Cool down when camera connects: Checking this option will run the above "Cool down to X in Y" method to automatically start cooling down your camera when it is connected.  This alleviates the need to remember to turn on your cooler when you first connect your camera. 
    • Cool down when sequence starts:  Checking this will keep the camera at ambient temperature until the sequence starts.  This means that the camera will automatically cool and then start the sequence when the TEC is within 3 degrees of the target temperature.  If your sequence has a delayed start, the camera will not cool until the expected start time has passed.
    • Warm up when sequence completes: When checked your camera will warm back up to the specified temperature (or ambient) within close to the specified amount of time.  Unfortunately most camera drivers only allow the Temperature to be set and not the power, so without knowing the ambient temperature there is no way that warm up can be completely accurate.  Upon successful warm up the camera's TEC will be turned off.


  • Gain: These controls allow you to change the Gain values of your camera for multiple binning levels.  If your camera does not support these options these will be grayed out:
    • Gain: This sets the gain for the camera given the binning level.


By clicking the "arrow button", you can reveal an area designed to store the gain for your camera in terms of e-/ADU.  These values are optional and can be used in conjunction with the "readout noise" value below to calculate ideal exposure time.



  • Settings and Specs:  
    • Angle:  This field is used to tell SGPro the current angle of the camera.  If a successful plate solve returns the camera angle this field will be updated with the actual angle of the camera.
    • Scale:  This field is used to store the scale of the camera / telescope (arcsec / px @ 1x1 binning).  If a successful plate solve returns the camera angle this field will be updated with the actual scale.
    • Pixels:  Store the number of physical pixels for your camera here (i.e. pixels at 1x1 binning).
    • Readout Noise:  This optional value, if present, will be used to calculate the ideal exposure time (http://www.hiddenloft.com/notes/SubExposures.pdf).
    • Camera Gain:  These values are optional are are also used to calculate the ideal exposure time (above).  These value must come from the camera manufacturer and will likely vary by binning level.
    • Download Times:  These values will help SGpro present more realistic "Time Remaining" estimates.  Please note that, even with these fields filled out properly, SGPro is not able to estimate times for auto focus, meridian flips, plate solving, centering routines, etc.
    • Use high speed download:  This option will allow your camera to use a high speed download for most temporary frames (frame and focus, auto focus and plate solve).  Sequence and plate solve images are not affected by this setting (in order to reduce noise).  Note that if you check this and your camera or driver does not support it, it will be ignored.


Note: The current version of ASCOM 6SP2 does not implement Offset.  Gain is available but VERY few cameras support setting Gain via ASCOM so for the time being all ASCOM cameras do not have access to these controls.  For ASCOM cameras the gain and offset        should be set via the cameras driver which can be accessed via the Main Window by using the settings button.  



Canon EOS


Description: DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Reflex) cameras are an excellent avenue into astro-photography.  Many people already own a DSLR so the cost of entry can be minimized in many cases.


Options: Sequence Generator Pro has the ability to save DLSR images in several different formats.  No one format is preferred as they all contain RAW data. These options are available in the camera setup dialog which can be accessed via the Camera Settings button mentioned above.  When the settings are opened and "Canon EOS" is selected for the camera the following dialog will be shown:



  • Save Formats:
    • Single Image (CFA FITS): Stores the CFA (Canon Filter Array) data in a 2 dimension FITS file.  The data remains Bayered.
    • RAW Image (CR2/CRW): Stores the native Canon Raw format
    • RAW + FITS: Stores both of the formats above
  • Mirror Settle Time: Designates the amount of time (seconds) that will elapse between pulling the mirror up and opening the shutter.  This option must also be enabled in the camera.  Generally used to reduce vibration during shooting.  To disable set to 0, to enable set to any non-zero value.
  • AF Binning: DSLR cameras can sometimes have difficulty determining star centroid on AF frames (due to the bayer matrix).  If you are having difficulty obtaining a \"V\" curve with AF, try experimenting with different software binning levels.        


Note:  RAW Images will not contain meta data found in the FITS format.



Below is an image of the Control Panel with a DSLR connected.  

Note: All of the controls are disabled.  


  • Canon Cameras - There are many features in Sequence Generator Pro that are unique to Canon Cameras and require special consideration when using Sequence Generator Pro.  Such as:
    • LiveView - Cameras that support LiveView will have the option to turn on LiveView in the Frame And Focus Module
    • Bulb vs Manual Mode - If your camera has a dedicated "Bulb" mode on the Mode Dial then you should use this mode for any exposure over 1 second.  Also exposures under 1 second are not reliable when using Bulb mode so if you require reliably timed short exposures then you should switch the camera to Manual.  For cameras that DO NOT have a Bulb option on the Mode Dial these options do not apply.  
    • If your camera supports "Auto Rotate", you should turn this off while you are using the camera for astro-imaging (the mount will hold the camera in all sorts of odd positions and possibly create images that are difficult to stack without manual manipulation):


Nikon Cameras


When connecting a Nikon camera, it is normally as simple as connecting the camera via USB and, if needed, with a Nikon shoestring adapter.  When only one camera is connected you may simply click the "Connect" button on the sequence form.  If multiple Nikon cameras are connected, use the options dialog (below) to tell SGPro to which camera you would like to connect.


Some Nikon cameras require a shoestring DSUSB adapter to exposures longer than 30 seconds.  Other, newer, Nikon cameras can take long exposures without an adapter (via direct USB connection).


Long exposure ready (bulb mode) cameras: D810, D810A, D800, D750, D800E, D7100, D7200, D5200, D600, D610, D5, D500, D5300, D5500, D4, D4S, Df


If your Nikon camera is not in the list above, you will require a DSUSB adapter.



  • Image Data Formats:
    • Single Image (CFA FITS): Stores the CFA (Nikon Filter Array) data in a 2 dimension FITS file.  The data remains Bayered (mosaiced).
    • RAW Image (NEF): Stores the native Nikon Raw format
    • RAW + FITS:  Stores both of the formats above
  • AF Binning: DSLR cameras can sometimes have difficulty determining star centroid on AF frames (due to the bayer matrix).  If you are having difficulty obtaining a \"V\" curve with AF, try experimenting with different software binning levels.


Note:  RAW Images will not contain meta data found in the FITS format.


SBIG Cameras:

  • SBIG Cameras - SBIG's have their own Settings dialog for the connection type and can be changed between USB, Ethernet and LPT ports.  This dialog is accessed when selecting an SBIG camera and clicking the Connect Icon (See Connecting and Settings Options)



    • Guide Chip: Used to select the guide chip that will be used in conjunction with the SGP API Guider Camera.  
    • Disable Fan with TEC: Turns the fan of when the TEC is turned off.  Whenever the TEC is turned on the fan will always be turned on regardless of this setting.
    • Connection type: SBIG Cameras can connect via USB, Ethernet or LPTs 1 through 3.  If you connect via USB or Ethernet and multiple SBIG cameras are detected you will be presented with a dialog prompting you to choose the appropriate camera.
    • RBI Settings:  Force RBI on your SBIG camera (optionally on sequence frames only... other frames may be less critical that they are perfect)


FLI Cameras:




    • Readout Speed: Each FLI camera has unique readout speeds.  SGPro only considers two... normal and fast.  Your camera may have several more than this, but you will need to tell SGPro (one time) what speed you want to use for normal and fast readouts.  Normal will be used for all collected data and auto-focus and high-speed readout will be used fro frame and focus, plate solving and for other "throw-away" data.  Please note that switching from fast speed to normal speed takes about 20 seconds each time you do it...
    • High quality flush count:  This setting has no effect for modern FLI cameras.  For cameras manufactured prior to 2005, this setting is used to determine the pre-exposure buffer flush for sequence data (i.e. frames you would want to keep).  This value should be at a nominal level (please contact FLI for appropriate settings here)
    • Low quality flush count:  This setting has no effect for modern FLI cameras.  For cameras manufactured prior to 2005, this setting is used to determine the pre-exposure buffer flush for temporary data like plate solve frame focus frames.  This can be a low value (1 or 2 is fine, the lower the better).
    • RBI Mitigation:  Some FLI cameras require RBI mitigation in order to avoid ghosting artifacts in your sub-frames.  Unless you have a special reason, just use the "Flood & flush" method.  The exact settings for your camera will vary.  Please contact FLI to obtain settings best for your camera.
      • RBI Exposure length:  Define the exposure length for the initial "Flood" exposure.
      • Binning: The horizontal binning will match that of the image you are about to capture, the vertical binning will ve controlled by this setting
      • Cycles: Define the number of "flush" reads you need to get rid of the RBI artifacts.  Exposure length here will always be 0 seconds (bias frame)





ZWO Cameras:



    • Default Gain: The gain to be used when the Event Gain and Camera Gain (in the control panel) are both set to "Not Set"
    • Default Offset: The offset to be used with the Event Offset is set to "Not Set"
    • Enable Dew Heater with TEC: when checked the internal camera dew heater (if so equipped) will be turned on when the camera is cooling and turned off when the TEC is turned off.



QSI Cameras:

  • QSI Cameras - QSI camera have a special settings dialog that control behavior within SGPro.  The main QSI settings dialog can also be accessed from here.


       


    • Driver version:  This will show the installed driver version.  If no value is present in this field, the QSI drivers have not been installed in this machine.
    • Fan Speed:  QSI cameras support three different fan modes:
      • Full:  Keeps the fan at full speed even when the camera is at the desired temperature
      • Quiet:  Fan speed will vary based on need (i.e. can be at full speed when the camera is cooling)
      • Off:  The fan can also be turned off, but this is not recommended
    • Disable fan with TEC:  Checking this option will turn the fan off when the TEC is turned off.