Poll: SGPro, Webcams and your super-expensive gear


#1

Before we go through the effort of adding features, we like to vet popularity (at least on some scale). We’ve seen some other capture suites with this stuff and are curious if it resonates with our users.

Would you like to see a feature in SGPro where you can monitor your gear with a DirectShow compliant webcam (almost every webcam ever made) or an IP camera (like a security camera with IR)? We envision a floating window with a larger display, but also a “floating module” implementation where you can dock it along with other things. The docked image would be small, but if you know what you are looking at, the pixels should make sense to you… and if they don’t you can open a larger version simply by clicking on the module.

In addition to this, if you use the notification email system, we would add (to the bottom of the text notifications), a still frame of the observatory (in-line image) every 2 minutes.

Is this even worth our time? Would you use it?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Maybe, depends on the cost of the camera

#2

BTW, Responses are completely anonymous (if that matters to you).


#3

Sounds like a nice idea! Just a couple of thoughts:

Neither webcams or IP cameras are sensitive enough to use in the dark as is. Some webcams and IP cameras are equipped with infrared LED lights to allow them to see in darkness. The LEDs might (or might not) interfere with imaging.

I don’t think there are any standard ways of communicating with IP cameras. They usually serve some sort of a web page over HTTP, and the contents of the page are completely dependent on the manufacturer.


#4

This is true… I have seen some clever mods for cams, just little red LEDs or whatever… still not very effective, but good enough to see what’s going on…

Also, unfortunately true.


#5

I bought a foscam ip IR camera when setting up my obsy and it provides me with a moveable image from any pc on my network, cost e about £50 and was just plug and play, I dont really see any reason why you need to worry about this sort of fucntionality as its already well covered via home security equipment imo.


#6

Well, I am neither for or against this functionality, but, as to why… It is a matter of consolidation of functionality and ease of use. You could have 20 applications open to achieve automation, but its nicer to have only one. It also helps with window management and issues where one bit of functionality is covered by another. Lastly, no other software will append still images of your gear to your status notifications.

Kind of an argument about email where you would say, “why would I want someone to push email to me, when I can just go check it whenever I want?”. Neither approach is wrong.


#7

I have a ip camera in my observatory and it would be useful to have it auto connect to SGP instead of going to a webpage to view it.

As for functionality, my foscam works amazing with its ir lights. And, if you need more ir light to see, they make ir lanterns you can use to increase your depth.


#8

It seems to me that monitoring functionality would be best kept separate from the observatory computer system in case something bad happens - like a computer crash.


#9

I guess I would note I voted “No” because I already have this so wouldn’t need SGPro to do it. So many cameras now are automatically “webcams” ie use HTTP to get the latest picture, that I wonder if this would be useful for not in SGPro.

Pan, Tilt, Nightvision, auto_WiFI Connected, send through SMTP, TCP/IP, HHTP, UNPN, and even alarms to your mobile phone.

http://amzn.com/B003LNZ1L6


#10

This has got me thinking that perhaps a system like this would be fun if not an absolute must for me. So…now I’m thinking of buying yet another camera! One feature I would like in particular in a camera, and perhaps that SGP could control, is the ability to switch on and off the IR light so as not to interfere in any way with imaging. Yes, the filters are already IR blocking, but I try to eliminate all sources of extraneous light. Are there any cameras that switch IR light off and on?


#11

The foscam can. The wancam (cheaper) does not.


#12

Mentioned only because others might be interested:
I added a $200 USD Samsung SNV6013 dome camera which “sees” enough to know where the scope is in relation to the pier. Doesn’t need IR lights, and can detect stars to around 4 Magnitude… You can remotely access this using most browsers, and I believe most phones.

I use it with a program called Ispy…


#13

My IP cam is an older Panny but does fairly well in any kind of moonlight. I would like to see this feature and might get a lower lux camera if the feature was available.


#14

my foscams can be switched ir on not and support audio also, im playing on installing one on my scope to see what it sees so to speak.


#15

Just my experience, but Foscam customer support is beyond awful. The cameras may be OK but woe to anyone who has an issue with them. I found out that the hard way and now use a combination of Panasonics and D-Links.


#16

For the moment I am fiddling around with this.
I installed a webcam on the OTA half length IO to check the sky an also dome slit position.
The other one checks the interior of the dome.

For me this would be an awesome update!

Best

Lex


#17

I consider anything made in Taiwan or China to be ‘buyer beware’. Amazon has a decent return policy if it’s DOA and if it breaks in the observatory I chalk it up to being in an environment it wasn’t meant to be in.


#18

You got that right! Ideally a low lux camera w/o IR illumination is what one needs. They have one at SRO that is super even during new moon, I don’t know what brand it is but it is probably spendy!


#19

I’ve always wanted one of those. I’m just loathe to spend my astronomy budget on a nice to have!! :blush:


#20

I use a Wanscam. Cheap but does the trick and has survived for 3 years (+30 to-30 C) without problems in the observatory. Interface is ok. Not sure I would use that capability in SGP. I would prefer to see efforts put into features on the development list like coordinated dithering of multi-imaging setups on the same mount. My $0.02.
…Keith


www.mainsequencesoftware.com