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Out with the Old, in with the New
Richard S. Wright Jr.'s Blog

A new day has dawned at Software Bisque. I can now image using just Software Bisque products. What you say? Are you mad? Nope, worse actually; I’m a Mac.

Yes that’s right, despite decades of leading the industry with our mounts and imaging software products, my dirty little secret is that I have been using someone else’s software to guide, and capture my images on the Mac scope side. Those days have been eroding away as our software has come along the last couple of years, and they are now gone for good since the Software Bisque Imaging Pipeline 2.0 is up and running. This pipeline is of course also available to Windows users. Poor things, at least they have that going for them ;-)

Not being of the CCDSoft lineage, or barely brushing TheSky6 does have its disadvantages. I am often clueless at booths and at Star Parties. No, I don’t know how to make XYZ work on top of ABC, which is replacing our JKL because supposedly it does not work with QPT… I just use all our stuff and it just all works for me. Yes, this is a commercial, notice the URL at the top of the page, right? Seriously though, I do have to apologize as my work responsibilities have not been to work on ANY of our legacy products... so I just don't know them. I also just don't want to use Windows... for anything. This has been both sheltering and wonderful for me personally.

So here it is. I love to image. It’s a pleasure. From what I hear in the dark at some star parties, I wonder why some people pursue this hobby.

I use TheSkyX. I use it for planning and for controlling my scope. There is no middle-ware written by a plumber turned weekend programmer sitting between TheSkyX and my mount or between TheSkyX and my cameras. My mounts are a Paramount ME and a Paramount MX. My boss designed them, he went to college to learn mechanical engineering and he knows what “finite element analysis” means. He’s a smart cookie, not a shade tree mechanic who threw this together and got lucky.

So, I’m sorry, but as the new kid on the block here's how _I_ see it: CCDSoft is dead. TheSky6 is dead. TPoint is all grown up now, and the modern Bisque pipeline has replaced the legacy of yester year and it rocks!

I plan my imaging sessions with TheSkyX. I use TPoint for pointing and to refine my polar alignment. When I slew to an object it’s always in the middle of my field, no magic mojo gymnastic tricks with the mount and image link. If you are using TPoint properly (and your hardware is not flopping around), this will work for you too. If you're using someone else’s pointing software, or imaging software, I can’t help you at our booth. Sorry, I don’t know how to make things hard on myself on purpose and still make it all work together. If you can't get our stuff to work, I absolutely want to hear about it! We want to fix it.... but I don't debug other peoples code, much less on Windows. That shouldn't offend anyone... Matt and Daniel debug other peoples code all the time... sometimes yes, it is actually our fault too! But _I_ don't work on that stuff. I live on the Mac... and I live only within the Bisque ecosystem. It's pretty nice here, the water is great.

If I want to guide, I can. The Camera Add on has first class guiding support, and with a Paramount I can guide with the surgical skill of a scalpel, rather than the chain saw that is the world of relay cables. I can calibrate one time, and as long as I don’t change cameras or scopes I don’t have to calibrate again. Not for another location in the sky, not even on subsequent evenings.

ProTrack has to be the single most under-hyped technology in all of astro-imaging. I can go 15 minutes or more, without guiding. ProTrack is immune to losing guide stars when a cloud passes through. ProTrack “don’t need no guide star”, which means I don’t have to hunt for one in a faint area of the sky, or muck about with different field of view indicators, or off axis blah blah blah, or fight differential flexure, fix wobbly guide scope mounts… The only time I guide is when I’m too lazy to run a pointing model during twilight, or I’m testing a new guide camera’s plug-in code, or I’m using a mount at an event and I haven’t had a chance to do the PEC training on it yet, or (heaven forbid) I'm using someone else's mount.

The Camera Add on is scriptable too. You can write your own JavaScript tools, load them directly, transmit them over a TCP/IP connection, etc. Take an image, switch filters, autofocus… yes, we can now do it all. What’s left? When I’m done for the night I bring all my data in to PixInsight and/or Photoshop and I make pretty pictures. I don’t think Software Bisque will ever get into the pretty picture business per-se, but _I_ am, and up until it get’s to the “pretty picture” part, our toolset gives me everything I need… for now. No we aren’t done yet either…. Just wait till you see what’s coming next!

Come see us at the Winter Star Party in a couple weeks. Three Paramount’s will be on the field (ME, MEII and MX), imaging every clear moment. Steve and I will both be there and there’s a talk scheduled in the Wheel House where we’ll discuss our new imaging pipeline; please come by our “booth” and see it in action all night. I'm sorry I can't help you with Windows/ASCOM problems, but by golly our stuff isn't always perfect either... and THAT I can help you with, and/or fix... or at least try.


P.S. I am a portable imager... and yes I know my workflow and needs to not match _all_ of our customers. But this is a personal blog after all... never-the-less, when it comes to imaging... the sleeping bear has awoken.

Posted 01-23-2013 2:24 PM by Richard Wright


John W wrote re: Out with the Old, in with the New
on 02-02-2013 9:27 AM

Thanks for this Richard!  I look forward to the day that I can jettison bootcamp!  Still a slave to Canon and other third party SDK releases though.....   sigh...

trimil wrote re: Out with the Old, in with the New
on 02-11-2013 6:39 PM

What? That's not an unreasonable request. It's just software...

Richard Wright wrote re: Out with the Old, in with the New
on 02-15-2013 8:38 AM

LOL, that xkcd comic is one of my favorites!

Matthew Ota wrote re: Out with the Old, in with the New
on 02-23-2013 12:37 PM

When I was a telescope operator in the TIE program at Mt Wilson (2002-2004) we used TheSky version 5 and CCDSoft versions 4 and 5, along with a connection. With sufficient training I found it all quite easy to use.

I decided to use TheSky with my own personal telescope and since I had invested so much time on the learning curve I have stuck with the software through the years.


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