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ASTAP under BackyardNikon - Troubleshooting resources?


mcovington
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What are some good tactics for figuring out why ASTAP plate solving sometimes works and sometimes doesn't?   All I see on the screen is "Plate solve failed" and all I see in the BackyardNikon log looks like what I quote at the end of this message, with no further error message.

- Does ASTAP write a further log somewhere else, in which it can tell me what's going on?

- Does ASTAP need to be already open on my computer in order for BackyardNikon to use it?

- When BackyardNikon calls ASTAP, is ASTAP affected by settings in the copy of it that is or was open by itself?

- I know ASTAP can solve blind, but is it supposed to know the focal length or field of view of my telescope?  If so, how does BackyardNikon pass this along to it?

My situation:  When I use my 200-mm f/4 telephoto lens, in order to get successful plate solves I had to change the plate solve exposure from ISO 1600 5 seconds to ISO 1600 30 seconds.  Then it worked like a charm.   Using my telescope at 1400 mm f.l. f/7, I cannot get successful plate solves even with ISO 3200 30 seconds.  But the plate solve exposures show plenty of stars, and similar exposures (NEF files) are plate solved successfully in ASTAP running by itself.

My real question here is, how I can get ASTAP to tell me more about why it's failing?   Are there ASTAP error messages on another log somewhere, or a way to enable them?

BTW, this is with the April version of ASTAP.  I downloaded last night's new version of ASTAP but have not tried it yet.  I have star catalog 17.  Should I switch to 18?


Extract from log:

2022-05-29 22:08:01,069 [5] INFO  - PlateSolve (attempt #1)
2022-05-29 22:08:01,170 [3] INFO  - Loading image with GdRawImageProvider: C:\Users\Michael\Documents\BackyardNikon\TEMP\Download\PLATESOLVE_ra(12.63281)_dec(13.04141)_20220529-22h08m01s020ms.NEF
2022-05-29 22:08:01,174 [3] INFO  - DCRaw.exe -c -e -T "C:\Users\Michael\Documents\BackyardNikon\TEMP\Download\PLATESOLVE_ra(12.63281)_dec(13.04141)_20220529-22h08m01s020ms.NEF"
2022-05-29 22:08:01,306 [3] INFO  - Image resized to : Width 3896 Height 2596 Factor 1.54083204930663
2022-05-29 22:08:09,281 [ReadWeatherCenter(Normal)] DEBUG - No weather provider configured.
2022-05-29 22:08:19,316 [6] ERROR - ERROR in method MoveNext
2022-05-29 22:08:19,317 [6] ERROR - PlateSolve FAILED: ASTAP failed to solve PLATESOLVE_ra(12.63281)_dec(13.04141)_20220529-22h08m01s020ms.NEF
2022-05-29 22:08:19,317 [6] ERROR -    at BinaryRivers.Orchestrator.MaestroInstance.PlateSolver.<Solve>d__0.MoveNext()
--- End of stack trace from previous location where exception was thrown ---
   at System.Runtime.CompilerServices.TaskAwaiter.ThrowForNonSuccess(Task task)
   at System.Runtime.CompilerServices.TaskAwaiter.HandleNonSuccessAndDebuggerNotification(Task task)
   at System.Runtime.CompilerServices.TaskAwaiter`1.GetResult()
   at BinaryRivers.Orchestrator.MaestroInstance.Telescope.<Center>d__3.MoveNext()
 

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I'm out of town for the rest of the week visiting a friend who lost his wife to cancer in March. I will have limited internet access. I'll try to dig into your log files on my return.

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Thanks, and I'm sad to hear about your friend -- take good care of him.  But I don't think that log has much to tell you.  Just in case it does, here's the full file.   I was more asking a general question about troubleshooting strategies.   So far I have moved to the H18 instead of H17 star catalogue, and that may make a difference; also, based on advice I've seen in other forums, I'm going to try considerably longer plate-solving exposures.   The field in question (around M90) is rather star-poor.

logfile-[20220529-21h57m51s811]-[9568]-2022-05-29.txt logfile-[20220529-22h21m04s948]-[18536]-2022-05-29.txt

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Yes -- and I've found their documentation about how to use ASTAP with NINA and some other software packages.  A lot of it looks similar, and relevant, and I'm going to dig into it.  My questions here are specifically about its interface to BYN.

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If you have a question or issue it is likely that someone else may have already had a similar question or issue. The archives in this forum are a wealth of information. Here is one thread from last year that may be helpful ->

 

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Saw it.  I don't think it addresses the specific things I'm wondering about:  (1) When running under BackyardNikon, does ASTAP make any assumptions about field of view or does it assume "auto"?  (2) If the former, does it get the telescope focal length and sensor size from somewhere, or does it use settings that were put into ASTAP by running it independently, or what?

 

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It has been a while since I imaged and when I did I used AstroTortilla for plate solving. AT could either blind solve, or if you gave it hints, like FOV size and where in the sky the image came from it would solve much more quickly. That information either came from being connected to the telescope or was entered into the main AT screen. You also could give it a threshold between background and foreground that would allow it to more easily reject noise in the image. I also solved images with about 8 second exposures so it took 1-2 minutes to center the scope where I asked it to.

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I have now had a successful plate solve through the telescope, and it apparently involved using the H18 star catalogue, using a really long plate solve exposure (30 seconds at ISO 3200), and (possibly) entering the field of view in ASTAP itself.  I am still wondering whether settings entered into ASTAP when running by itself will affect ASTAP as called by BackyardNikon, or if BackyardNikon always tells ASTAP the field of view is unknown.  I will experiment.

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SUCCESS.  What is crucial is that, before using BackyardNikon or at any time while using it, I must open the ASTAP app, go to its "Stack" menu (strange name), and tell it the field of view of the camera, or else "auto."  Then I can close it.  It will remember this setting when BackyardNikon calls it.

Crucially, it will not remember "auto."  If it starts with "auto" field of view, it will remember the field of view that it found.

I don't know of anything within BackyardNikon that records the field of view or focal length and can tell that to ASTAP.  (I may have overlooked something.)  Since I use a variety of optics on the same mount, this is as good a way to set it as any.  And I can understand why we don't want it on "auto" all the time -- an "auto" plate solve takes much longer than one with a known field of view.

Other details:  I needed the H18 star catalogue, not H17.  And the plate solve exposures must be generous; I was using 30 seconds at ISO 1600 on a Nikon D5500(A) and f/7 system, in a star-poor area (photographing galaxies).  Fortunately, the displayed plate-solve image is bright enough that I can easily use it to check the framing of the whole picture.

If I've overlooked an easier way to do it, I'd like to know.  Thanks for bearing with me.

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Here are my tentative notes on how to get ASTAP working with BackyardNikon (and presumably BackyardEOS).  If no one here tells me I've made a mistake, I plan to put them in my blog and also contribute them to ASTAP's documentation, which covers how to use ASTAP with various other imaging software but not Backyard.

 

ASTAP BYN BYEOS BEST PRACTICES.docx

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