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SIPS version 2.3 supports the new G3-16000 camera
 Scientific Image Processing System (SIPS) version 2.3 brings only a few changes, compared to previous version 2.2. The main reason for it release is the support for newly introduced G3-16000 camera. Unifying of the Gx USB camera drivers into single driver (similarly to the already unified Gx Camera Ethernet Adapter driver) significantly enhanced the support for Gx cameras in the third party programs, but SIPS user barely note any change—SIPS offers all connected cameras and users do not need to care which driver controls which camera. SIPS v2.3 is supplied with all Gx series of CCD cameras and can be also downloaded from this web site for free.

New hardware support

Newly introduced CCD camera G3-16000 with 24 × 36 mm detector and 4888 × 3256 pixels resolution perfectly utilizes the field of view offered by majority of optical systems used by amateur astronomers, limited by diameter of 2 inches (focusers, refractor field-flatteners, Newton koma-correctors, ...). What's more, the G3-16000 uses brand new digital electronics, allowing faster image download in Preview mode, more accurate CCD temperature regulation etc. New digital electronics require new USB system driver for the Windows operating system and also new client program driver.

Remark:

Introduction of this camera model with the new electronics was the main reason to overhaul driver structure for third party software, more in the separate article here.

Because Gx camera drivers are integral part of the SIPS software package, new SIPS version was released to support these cameras.

Driver configuration

SIPS shows available (connected) cameras in the CCD Camera tool window and allows the user to choose imager and guider cameras regardless of the driver handling any particular camera. Still, changes in the driver structure affected camera configuration in two cases:

  • The 'sips.ini' configuration file, holding information about all device drivers, with which SIPS has to work, contains references to different DLLs.

  • If the particular camera driver uses configuration file (e.g. to define filters installed in the filter wheel), such configuration file is named according to the driver DLL.

SIPS uses the 'sips.ini' configuration file, located in the same directory like the executable file 'sips.exe' itself, to define device drivers to be loaded and used to control cameras, mounts etc. If the particular driver has to be used in SIPS, it must be defined in the 'sips.ini' file. The [Camera] section of this configuration file was changed in the version 2.3:

[Camera]
gXusb = gXusb.dll
Gx Camera on Ethernet = gxeth.dll
ASCOM Camera = ascom_camera.dll

...

Changes affected all Gx camera drivers:

  • The G0 and G1 camera driver g1ccd and the g3ccd driver for G2, G3 and G4 cameras were unified to the single driver for all USB connected cameras gxusb.

    Remark:

    This update also eliminates inconsistency in driver names, which occurred during the history of driver development. The g1ccd driver, originally developed for G1 cameras, controlled also G0 cameras. Similarly the g3ccd driver, introduced with G3 series, was later used also for G2 revision 3 as well as for G4 cameras, which use the same digital electronics like the G3 series.

  • The gxetha driver for the Gx Camera Ethernet Adapter, introduced in the previous SIPS release, was only renamed to gxeth, from the “aesthetics” reason (to correspond to the gxusb driver) and to be easier used in the third-party program drivers.

  • The driver for G2 revision 2 cameras (this revision can be identified according to two fans on the camera back, newer G2 cameras have only single fan), named g2ccd2 is still distributed with SIPS, but not used (not defined in the 'sips.ini'). If it is necessary to control these cameras, it is necessary to include the following line into the [Camera] section:

    [Camera]
    G2 CCD Rev2 = g2ccd2

Hint:

If the Gx Camera Ethernet Adapter driver is configured (its IP address is defined) and the device itself is not connected to the network or switched off, removing of the gxetha driver saves approx. a second during program startup, for which the driver waits for the device response. Only upon timeout expiration the initialization sequence continues. The 'sips.ini' file can be modified e.g. like this:

[Camera]
gXusb = gXusb.dll

[_Camera]
Gx Camera on Ethernet = gxeth.dll
ASCOM Camera = ascom_camera.dll

...

The [_Camera] section is not recognized by SIPS, so all drivers defined in this section are skipped (they are not loaded and initialized).

Changes in driver naming affect also names of the particular driver configuration files. General configuration files (e.g. 'g3ccd.ini') or camera-specific configuration files (e.g.. 'g3ccd.2345.ini') should be renamed to 'gxusb.ini' and 'gxusb.2345.ini' respectively. Let us note that the gxusb driver is designed to recognize also 'g3ccd' configuration file if the native 'gxusb' file is not found, so driver configuration should be preserved also after switching to SIPS v2.3. Still, it is recommended to rename the configuration files to keep the relations between drivers and their configuration files obvious.

Warning:

Because the SIPS v2.3 uses different driver files than the previous versions, it is recommended to uninstall the old version (if the installable package is used) or to delete all DLL and EXE files from the directory where SIPS is located (if the portable version is used)prior to installing (or unpacking) of the new version.

New features

Telescope control was enhanced in the SIPS v2.3. If the telescope driver supports setting of the tracking and parking of the mount, the GUI controls of the Telescope Control tool windows allow calling of these functions.

SIPS Telescope Control tool window

SIPS Telescope Control tool window

New information line was added to the Dome Control tool window. This line shows the synchronization state of the dome slot and the telescope. Number of conditions must be met so the synchronization works properly. Not meeting of any of these conditions results into some of the following errors:

  • No dome driver defined

  • Dome driver not connected

  • Dome “home” position undefined

  • Dome cannot move in azimuth

  • No telescope driver defined

  • Telescope driver not connected

  • Telescope Alt-Az undefined

  • Telescope location undefined (needed to transform R.A. and Dec. to Azimuth and Altitude)

  • Dome does not return azimuth

  • Dome just slewing

If some condition is not met then it is not possible to calculate proper azimuth of the dome slot. Due to large number of conditions, it is usually not obvious what went wrong. The displayed information can help to fix the problem

Remark:

The state “Dome just slewing” is not a real error. If the dome slew takes longer time than is the period of the dome slot and telescope synchronization, the current step is skipped. When the dome slew finishes, the following dome slew eliminates the difference.

SIPS Dome Control tool window

SIPS Dome Control tool window

The Astrometry tool was extended with the possibility to manually pair stars on the image and in the catalog. This can be useful when automatic matching does not work, for instance because some bright stars are missing from the catalog or there is some bright diffuse object in the field of view (e.g. some galaxy), causing “blind spot” in the catalog etc.

Manual plate match window of the SIPS Astrometry tool

Manual plate match window of the SIPS Astrometry tool

The manual match window allows definition of plate parameters (image center coordinates and either telescope focal length and camera pixels size or directly pixel angular size). Then it is possible to show catalog stars from the field of view corresponding to defined plate parameters and to click pairs of stars, each containing one image star and one corresponding catalog star.

SIPS the uses least square method to calculate transformation between image and catalog. The more star are marked, the better the transformation precision is achieved.

Bug fixes

The following bugs were fixed:

  • If the telescope on the German Equatorial Mount (GEM) was on the western side of the pier, dome slot azimuth calculation was affected by error. New version calculates the slot azimuth on both western and eastern side of the pier correctly.

  • ASCOM focuser driver inverted movement direction (to lens, from lens). The movement direction is in concordance with other focuser drivers now..

SIPS v2.3 is a freeware and can be downloaded from the download section of this WWW site.

 
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