Request ability to control SGP from outside app


#1

Here are some things I would like to be able to direct SGP to do from an outside script:

Connect all equipment
Blind Sync
Slew to a target
Start camera cool-down
Start sequence
Start camera warm-up
pause sequence (abort or wait for current frame)

I realize many of these things can be done automatically on sequence start (except perhaps Blind sync) but it would also be nice to be able to control SGP from an outside automation process.

Andy


#2

Are you thinking of the sort of thing ACP does with their web interface?


#3

I’d love to see a full API. Not easy to do, but it also will let others do some of the dev work like remote web apps or notifications.


#4

We have a lot of stuff in our existing API. Specific examples of what you need here would be more helpful. If this is not the intent of the original request please separate them.


#5

Hi Ken, I was trying to be specific in my post, enumerating the APIs I would like to see. If you would like more detail, I can elaborate. Is that what you were asking? Or were you referring to the follow-on posts by CCDMan and Bhwolf?

I have seen your API and I’m pretty sure none of the things I was requesting are already in there, but please let me know if I missed something.

Thanks!
Andy


#6

Andy I believe that was directed at bhwolf. Your request was pretty specific.

Thanks
Jared


#7

no problemo, thanks


#8

Specifically what I’d like to able to do:

  • Hook into the notification add-on. I mentioned this before with the custom endpoint idea (instead of email or GNS, sending an HTTP Post to a URL). GNS is a good option in its simplicity but had ideas for other uses if internet is available. (The feedback from Ken/Jared at the time was this type of functionality is better suited for the API rather than adding a custom HTTP Endpoint in the notification add on.)

  • Some of this may be in the API already, but a way to gather enough information about the current sequence and status to do a dashboard similar to the ACP screenshot above. (While there must be some logical limit, if I can see the data on screen in SGPro, have a way to get it via an API.)

Expounding on that second idea, often times I’m remoting into my SGP machine to simply check status. How’s guiding? What does the last sub look like? Etc. In a nutshell, telemetry data.


#9

That sounds like a great idea to me. It would be super to just be able to go to a browser based status page instead of needing an app (which really means two apps, Android and iOS). From my point of view you would not need any actual ability to command SGP other than maybe (and even that is not really mandatory) abort a sequence. I think for the vast majority of folks this would only need to be available on the same subnet, not from the internet.

Maybe the ability for someone to write this is in the API already, or maybe the SGP guys could do it (as an add-on?). Being able to check status when you wake up at night or are watching TV or eating dinner or whatever would be great. GNS is OK but an interface more tailored to the activity going on in SGP/PhD would be much better.


#10

This seems to me to be one of the things I’m concerned about in my suggestion about keeping SGP simple. Providing some sort of remote API, available from a browser, is the sort of complex thing that will be difficult to implement and provide a lot of scope for bugs to enter. It will inevitably have to be implemented for everyone, even if access is restricted to make it an add on.

I think it would prove to be one of those simple sounding things that would turn out to have huge overheads. I think that the vast majority of people won’t need it.

A lot of what’s needed is covered by using Remote desktop and or GNS.

I’m sorry to be negative about this but sometimes I think that less is more.

Chris


#11

Sorry, but I have to disagree (partly). Remote desktop apps on tablets (much less phones) are cumbersome and a PITA, IMHO.

I cannot speak for others but for me I just want to be able to see what is happening in SGP and be notified if something fails. GNS does the latter but really does not tell you all that much about what is going on in SGP since it is generic and not intended just for SGP or even for a sequencer.

From my point of view, trying to actually operate SGP from a mobile device would be almost as much of a PITA as a remote desktop. I even miss my four monitors when I need to run SGP, PhD, and TheSky on a single monitor, much less a tiny damn phone!

So my .02 is to give us the ability to see some of the details of how a sequence is going on a browser on a mobile device on the same subnet and leave any actual operation for the PC. If folks really HAVE to use a mobile device for operation, that is the time for a remote desktop (you won’t catch me doing that but others can feel free to try).


#12

Ken and I are very aware of feature creep and complicating our product. Our main focus of SGP is that it should be usable by beginners as well as expert imagers and it should grow and help a beginner become an expert. And I think for the most part we’re doing a pretty good job walking that line (if I do say so myself :-)).

These feature request are just that, requests. We certainly want to keep our customers happy and it’s always good to get feedback on what folks thing would be usable or how they would use features. This does not necessarily mean the the entirety of the request or even part of it will get implemented. It’s a way for us to look towards the future and see where we might take our product.

What we ask is that folks do not muddy the brainstorming process with “This is a bad idea” or “This is too complex.” Sure an idea might be horrible or excellent…but we need to hear what our customers want no matter what.

At the end of the day there are only 2 people that have the final decision about what goes into SGP, Ken and I. We also know how easy or complex features are going to be and we weigh those decisions as well. We take customer feedback very seriously but we’re also protective of our product.

Thanks,
Jared


#13

As CCDMan says, RDP/GNS fall short in a few key areas, but you’re right, they are better than nothing.

While any change can introduce bugs, my suggestion is regarding telemetry – read only data (some of this may already be in the API, I haven’t looked at it in awhile). If such an API existed, I can author my own dashboard/web based tool. If others found it useful or extended it further, great, but it’s outside of SGP unless Jared/Ken decided to write their own add on or fold it back in to the product. In either case, if anyone didn’t want the complexity, they wouldn’t use it – much like the notification or other add ons.

One of the reasons I push for a more developed API is that it allows these kinds of extensions without much risk of polluting the core app with bloat (aside from the API overhead). I’d prefer Jared/Ken to focus on core functionality, too.

Of course I’d love to have control functionality per Andy’s suggestions, too.


#14

A little off topic this - Agree with the phone but RDP supports multi monitor - I access my obs PC (a Intel NUC next to the pier) from inside using my 3 monitor setup.


Starting a Sequence when the clouds part?
#15

I guess when I said “Remote Desktop” what I meant was control of computers from mobile devices as opposed to from another PC. I should have been clearer with my meaning. In fact, I used to use Radmin to control my observatory PC from my home office PC and that worked fine. I now use USB extenders instead but a Remote Desktop Sotware can be fine, but only from PC to PC, not (IMHO) from mobile devices.

I also agree with Jared’s point. Suggestions as to what features “should” be part of SGP are just what these threads are for. No matter how bizarre or useless one user might think another user’s suggestions are, they are simply that, suggestions. I look on them more as food for thought or possible development avenues. It is entirely up to the SGP guys which ones ever see the light of day as they are really the only ones in a position to decide this.


#16

My ultimate would be a slaved version of SGP running on a different PC though a web interface would be the next best thing.

My aim is to be able to fully control my imaging and observatory remotely, ACP may be closest to to that but forces me down the maxim route. I know there are limits to what can be achieved using SGP but most can be mitigated to some extent by remote access solutions.

To be honest controlling it all from my iPad maybe a leap to far but the surface makes a pretty good alternative.


#17

I have been down that (MaxIm) route. In fact, I drove on that road since it was called MaxIm route 1.0. It is a toll road with too many potholes. You would think with tolls that high the potholes would get fixed more quickly, but they seem to take a long time to get filled in.

ACP is nice and has super support but you do pay for that. OTOH, it is pretty geeky and the interface is a bit vintage. I was there too for several years and SGP is overall much easier for my esthetic imaging usage.

I personally would be happy with the ability to just view what is going on in SGP from a mobile device, sort of like a “Super GNS”. Maybe add the ability to abort a sequence but not much more. If you are going to be running on a remote PC as opposed to a mobile device, I would think remote desktop software is a better choice as all too often you need to interact with other software besides SGP.

If, like myself, you are running a “semi-remote” observatory (mine is up the hill about 250 feet or so), I have had great luck with USB over Cat 5 extenders and network power switches. I have gone to those instead of remote desktop software. I plan to upgrade those this summer to USB over fiber due to their immunity to lightning pulses but they are functionally the same as the Cat 5 type.


#18

Could not agree more, I looked at a most of the offerings and actually brought the license for SGP before I even had a camera to use with the scope as it looked the best solution, the interface was easist to understand, well designed and modern.

Been with SGP since early 2013 and echoing what Jarad said above I have gone from complete novice a reasonable level completely using SGP and dragged more than a few with me.

I missed the bit about extenders, did use them for a while but had some problems so I actually built a dedicated obs PC based on the Intel NUC, small 4.5"sq PC, this sits next to the pier and I access by RDP over wireless currently. I am having an obs built that will have direct cat 5e connection so should improve transfer speeds but the wireless is fine for control.


#19

Interesting and relevant to MaxIm. I did sometimes have problems with MaxIm when operating over an extender. In one case the camera (the SBIG STF-8300) would weirdly not work with a 1x1 image but did work with a 2x2 binned image. Of course MaxIm blamed that on the extender, despite CCDops working just fine with the extender at all binnings. I actually had to sell the camera as a result.

I don’t want to be too hard on Cyanogen as I did use MaxIm for many years and mostly it was OK, it is just that SGP is better, IMHO. I do still have both a Boltwood sensor and the Maxdome control system for my roll-off and they have been just fine.

OTOH, I have never had any issues with the extender with SGP on the STT, the little SBIG planetcam guider camera, or two DSLRs.


How can I run a script from another program and tell SGP to shut down?
#20

We have plans for this in SGPro 3 (nothing forthcoming…)


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