Here are some representative images from the first night:
Jupiter Processed in PaintShop Pro
With a 2x barlow lens and after processing with PaintShop Pro:
The above images were taken on 1 Oct 00 at about 2340 Hours local.
Io transit of Jupiter - 29 Dec 00
ImCap193.exe - Self-installing executable, 612K bytes. Version 1.93 - Update as of 17 Nov 2006.
See notes below for Version 1.93 features.
ImCap192.exe - Self-installing executable, 357K bytes. Version 1.92 - Update as of 15 Nov 2006.
See notes below for Version 1.92 features.
ImCap191.exe - Self-installing executable, 487K bytes. Version 1.91 - Update as of 30 April 2002.
See notes below for Version 1.91 features.
Previous version: ImCap180.exe - Self-installing executable, 377K bytes. Version 1.80 - Update as of 1 April 2001.
See notes below for Version 1.80 features. Leaving it here just in case...
After you click on the above, and after you have placed ImCap.exe into a directory of your choice, you should run ImCap.exe. It will self-install the ImCap system into the C:\ImCap directory. There will then be a file, C:\ImCap\imcap.exe, in that directory which is the file you should select and run. A help file is included. The only other file that is created (created when imcap.exe is first run) is C:\windows\imcap.ini which contains the settings that you make so that it "remembers" them.
(Yes, I probably should have used the registry instead of a .ini file, I
should have used InstallShield instead of a self-installing executable, etc.
My time has been very limited lately. This was the quickest way to get it
out there and if you are reading this, you are probably a relatively technically
sophisticated astrophotographer who will be able to create a "shortcut" and put
it on your desktop, etc...)
I ran into a Microsoft problem when trying to compile version 1.92. As
I upgraded compilers, and transitioned my software to the new version of the
compiler, Microsoft forgot to maintain compatibility with respect to static
linking. I finally, through much Internet searching discovered that the
following line needed to be in the .rc file: #include "afxdb.rc" //
Database resources. Adding that line allowed Microsoft's "String
Resources" to be available. Those are needed whenever you close a file and
the system wants to ask if you want to save the file. Without the string
resource, the Microsoft message was blank! Anyway, version 1.93 is
identical to 1.92 except that it is statically linked (my normal preference) so
that it will work regardless of how screwed up the dlls are on you machine.
Added Image Menu item "Set Image Display Size..." to allow displayed images
to be stretched anywhere from 0.1 to 5 times their original size.
Added "Capture" / "Autoshoot Setup..." check-box item "Create new window for each captured image." The default is to be checked and the default is the way the program has always worked heretofore. However it is UNCHECKED, then all of the images will be displayed in one window.
These two items were requested by a Chemistry Professor at the University of Illinois whose students are using ImCap and an ST-4 camera to image Low Energy Electron Diffraction paterns ala Davisson and Germer's experiment circa 1926. He asked for source code but I do not provide source code. However, I am totally for education so made these modifications to try to help out.
When I was an undergraduate at Colorado State University, the 6-hour Physics lab course I took allowed us to recreate several historical experiments. I am very proud of the fact that I achieved three place accuracy in reenacting the Foucault speed of light experiment (rotating mirror), the Cavendish Balance experiment to measure the gravitational constant, and Millikan's Oil-Drop experiment to measure the charge of an electron. The Oil-Drop experiment was difficult because I had to locate Millikan's original book. Most physics books omit the correction for the viscosity of air! This is crucial if you want to get accurate results. After locating his book and making the correction I then was able to achieve three-place accuracy.
I have always felt that doing these experiments was invaluable to my education. I have actually measured the Gravitational constant, the speed of light and the charge on an electron MYSELF so I have great confidence in the results printed in various textbooks.
For Version 1.80, changes were made to the content of the C:\windows\imcap.ini file. You should delete the C:\windows\imcap.ini file. ImCap will recreate it when it runs.Version 1.80 corrects a problem with the right edge of the image. Incorrect data was being stored there.
ImCap is now able to take advantage of the ST-4's image compression subsystem. If you select "Use compression" on the "Setup Camera" dialog window, the compression mode will be used. This cuts the download time in half for images that benefit from compression. (From 10 seconds to 5 seconds approximately.)
There is now an "Autoshoot setup" dialog window accessible via the "Capture" menu item. The setup will allow you to autosave images taken during the autoshoot session. The images may be saved as .BMP and/or .FITS files.
There is also an option to "autocenter" images. This is useful for planetary images and is what I used to shoot the Jupiter Io transit movie. The movie itself was generated by Paint Shop Pro's "Animation Shop 3" from images I captured with ImCap. The reason for supporting FITS was so that I could use the automated processing features of AIP4WIN that is part of "The Handbook of Astronomical Image Processing" by Berry and Burnell published by Willmann-Bell, ISBN 0-943396-67-0.
There is an image conversion feature that will allow you to convert selected images from BMP to FITS or vice-versa. This feature is under the "Image" menu.
With my ST-4 camera, horizontal line 165, the bottom line of the image is
coming out all zero. Appears to be a camera problem. I mention it
simply to alert you to the fact. Intensive effort failed to indicate a
problem with my software but I am always skeptical when there is a "loose end."
Improvements were made to the download so that it now usually recovers automatically from situations that, heretofore, were causing it to stop occasionally and display a message box.
A "Park" mode was added to the LX-200 telescope controls so that one can render the telescope motionless for as long as desired without losing alignment. It is sometimes convenient to leave the telescope set up for days at a time. Before the "Park" mode, the telescope would continue to track and the cords could become wound around the scope. One would have to "unwind" everything twice a day. "Park" mode eliminates this problem and allows you to maintain alignment.
An image processing function, "Center" was added to allow you to center an
image. Useful for taking many frames then making a movie from them.
Works well for planetary photography. Has not been tested with other types
Version 1.60 also contains the AutoShoot mode. AutoShoot starts producing images one after another until the escape key is hit. Each image is displayed individually. After the escape key is hit, a composite (average) of all images captured during the AutoShoot operation is produced and displayed. All images used to produce the average are registered automatically using a centroid operation.
One of 25 AutoShoot frames Automatic average of 25 AutoShoot frames
Same as above after identical "unsharp mask" operations in Paint Shop Pro.
Version 1.03 also allows you to load a dark frame from a file so that if you do the image processing operations within ImCap, you can cause a particular dark frame to be used for dark frame subtraction. This is useful if you have a favorite camera setting and want to use a previously saved dark frame that is appropriate for your current camera setting.
It was enjoyable to have the Meade 10" LX-200 telescope outside, me inside controlling the telescope via COM2 with MegaStar and controlling the camera with ImCap via COM3. Hardly had to go outside at all. I mean, it was January here when I did my initial testing and cold outside! The temperature was all the way down to 59 degrees that first night! :-)
I was able to direct the scope to Jupiter and Saturn and acquire images
without having to go outside at all.