OK… Here is the first beta release of the new Auto Focus subsystem. These are pretty big changes so I feel the need to set expectations for 2.5.1… If you are a normal consumer of our beta software you might have an expectation that they are pretty stable and might have few quirks at worst. This is usually true…
With this beta, you need to have the expectation that AF might not work at all for you (yes, even if you use a refractor). There is no special AF routine based on the type of scope you are using.
Be on the lookout for accuracy, star detection error, bad readings when the data clearly shows what should be “V”, etc…
Auto focus, in this state, should not be run unattended. It is not dangerous… we just need to get data. The easiest way to run this is by clicking “Run” manually on the AF docking module.
Here are some important notes about testing:
- Anyone is welcome to to download and muck about if you are just curious.
- If you are inclined to test and provide feedback (the only way AF will improve), you need to use and make AF Packs available for download (see the thread at the bottom of this post). If you cannot do this, we probably cannot use your feedback. Dropbox is a great free place to share this data.
- In addition to the AFPacks, screenshots of the graph produced by the AF run can be really helpful.
- I’d like to stress that, with this beta, positive feedback is just as important as negative. We need to know if changes are actually working. If you had trouble with AF in 2.5.0 and before and AF in 2.5.1 is like magic, then knowing that is just as valuable in terms of moving toward a formal release.
- If you have previously turned “smart focus” off because of limitations with donut stars, please turn it back on before testing.
- Nebulosity rejection and Sample size sliders are still present but have absolutely no effect on the new AF routine (we will remove them later depending on which direction we go…).
- The new AF routine has several knobs and levers we can use if necessary. Because I am not a fan of settings, the initial approach will be to provide absolutely none (other than the existing step size and focus point count). If during the course of testing, we find that there is no way to universalize our approach, a setting will be added to compensate.
- AF still does not allow for fast download frames. We will stabilize the new routine and then see if it is more tolerant of noise in “fast downloads”. We need to minimize the number of changes in each release so we can tell where change is originating.
- Refractor users: If your current step size and data points settings are working for you, there is no need to adjust them. We still recommend 9 points.
- Central obstruction / Long FL users: You will likely want to expand your step size (and use 9 data points). If you are using the current AF routine (in SGPro 2.5.0 and before), step size is likely very carefully adjusted in order to avoid donut stars. Since donut stars are now handled properly, you will probably want to expand the outside points of the run to have some “tight” donuts in the AF frame. Too much is still too much… AF is not magical (meaning vague, low intensity donut-like structures will do you no good). In general, though, you should have to be way less careful about step size.
Knobs and Levers
Right now these values are preset in the SGPro code, but, in general, are things we could allow users to adjust (if necessary):
- Initial histogram stretch… we need to stretch the data before we can work with it
- The number of wavelet applications (structure isolation)
- The image binarization threshold
- A few Circular Hough Transform params (mainly minimum allowable radius, aka minimum star size)
Please feel free to ask questions…
This thread shows how to grab AFPacks. Beta available in about an hour from now.