There is an old adage... "one size does not really fit all".
TheSkyX professional currently is the result of hundreds of man-years of development and experience. It is without a doubt the most state of the art imaging system money can buy. That said, it can also be a bit... daunting, for newcomers to the practice of astrophotography. How many people when they want to learn to fly, sit down in a cockpit of a 747 and start plowing through a stack of books and manuals before their first flight?
The basic premise of this project has been brewing for a very long time here. Starting with how best to image from a tablet, using TheSkyX as the server, maybe go back to the web interface, etc. etc.
Then two years ago, we all sat down in Golden to talk about this idea and try to hammer it out. The Pi and Linux builds were coming to fruition, and we had a platform for running and using TheSky on a remote machine more robustly than ever before. Remote desktop was not the answer, and there were multiple pressures to make TheSkyX more approachable for beginners, and more usable from a mobile device. Can we make a version of TheSkyX for imaging that will work for 90% of our customer base, capitalize on the great technology we have under the covers, but have it packaged as a sort of... 'astro butler'... and have it figure out a lot of things for the user? Something to jump start the Paramount Experience for new comers, but also has some new technologies that we have been wanting to develop across the board? Oh, and it has to be usable from EVERYWHERE... Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android...
I made a rough GUI only mock-up, and we all sat around a big table ripping it to shreds... this is how development starts. I went home with a bunch of notes, and slowly, and surely, what we are releasing today took shape and filled out.
Not only did we want a simplified and streamlined imaging experience we also had a few other ambitious goals:
- It needs to work WELL on small screens.
- It needs to work WELL on a tablet with a touch interface.
- It needs to be targeted 100% to astrophotography.
- Use it as an platform to develop new FITS viewing technologies.
- Use it as a platform to develop an easier to use successor to @focus2.
- Use it as a platform to try out some new GUI layouts (take series in particular).
- Build in some of our experience for best practices, for getting focused, using TPoint, unguided imaging, etc.
TheSkyX LTI... "Light for Imaging" (a play on words)... as the Genie said... "Phenomenal Cosmic Powers!... Itty bitty living space!"
Today what we are announcing is a "Technical Preview" of this project. It is available in the current daily builds (10857 and later) of TheSkyX Professional, on Windows, macOS, Linux, and Raspberry Pi. Yes, everywhere. iOS and Android users can also setup a remote viewing experience via VNC and try the interface out on a tablet with the full version running on a Raspberry Pi, or other server setup scope side. Eventually, the goal is to have this already "embedded" in TheSkyHD, and perhaps even a native Android gateway that doesn't require installing any 3rd party viewing software. A future "SkyBox" product will just be a box that boots into this interface as well, and broadcasts the interface via WiFi.
Basically, the most advanced and powerful astrophotography application in the world, is now even easier to use... and it's available or accessible from every operating system or platform that anyone cares about. Do the math on that...
We have gotten a lot done, but still have a lot to do, and it's time to let some end users (other than the elite group of beta testers who have had it for months now) have some whacks at it.
LTI is an alternate GUI to TheSkyX, and the technical preview has some holes in it and will have some bugs or procedural errors I haven't had time to sort out, or adequately test. So, you can call this beta if you want, but I really like the term technical preview because there are also some exciting new technologies in LTI that will be coming soon to the normal TheSkyX Professional desktop as well.
To start TheSkyX in LTI mode... you just need to run TheSkyX from the command line, or change your desktop shortcut to add a /wb command line switch. This allows you to switch back and forth if necessary between the LTI interface, and the traditional full interface to TheSkyX Professional. The updated Linux and Raspberry Pi install scripts actually will create an LTI shortcut on your desktop.
Another experiment here is... there is no written documentation for LTI other than this blog. Instead there are a set of 6 video introductions that start with an overview of the whole project, and then specific videos on individual parts of LTI functionality. Remember, this is meant to streamline imaging for beginners.. but stay powerful enough for advanced users too (I do 99.999% of all my imaging with this interface now - go ahead, call me a beginner<g>).
Soon we'll have a new forum for TheSkyX LTI for questions, bug reports, and feedback, or you can email me directly via "richard at bisque dot com" (at least TRY to fool those spambots). Watch the videos below to get you started. I'm looking forward to hearing about everyone's experiences as we work to refine and polish this even more.
This is how I image now, and I hope you will enjoy it too!
TheSkyX LTI Videos
TheSkyX LTI - Part1: Introduction
TheSkyX LTI - Part 2: Getting Started
TheSkyX LTI - Part 3: Focus Pocus; @focus3
TheSkyX LTI - Part 4: Using TPoint
TheSkyX LTI - Part 5: Getting on Target and Taking Images
TheSkyX LTI - Part 6: All in a Night's Work (taking a series)
06-19-2017 9:21 AM