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SkyTools 4 Imaging and SGP
#21
Hi Greg,

As far as integrating ST4 with SGP, it's going to require cooperation from Ken and Jared, the SGP developers, to go beyond target lists.  As far as I can tell, there is no documented interface for importing an SGP sequence or exporting the status of a sequence after a night's run.  

Exporting target lists to SGP is better than typing them in by hand, but it is a very weak integration compared to ST4's with ACP.  

Let's assume we can get cooperation from Ken and Jared.  Here's what I think would be a super slick integration that would satisfy almost all SGP users.  I'd be very interested to hear from other SGP users if there are holes in this approach.

ST4 Creates Sequences in SGP
SGP executes sequences.  A sequence is similar to an ACP plan.  It specifies an imaging system (in SGP, an "equipment profile"), one or more targets, and one or more events per target.  Each event is a capture of one or more images or calibration frames with a given filter and exposure length.   You can optionally specify gain and offset.   

I create a single sequence that runs all night.  This maps nicely to an ST4 schedule.  Other people might create multiple sequences and run them one by one, manually, throughout the night.  

In either case, access to the SGP sequence object is the key to the SGP kingdom.  Without that, we are stuck at level 1 integration - exporting a simple target list to SGP and then creating sequences by hand in SGP. 

My Ideal ST4<->SGP Workflow
1.  Using ST4's scheduler, I would create a full night's imaging schedule.  
2.  ST4 would send the schedule to SGP, and when I opened SGP, there would be a sequence I could execute that represented the ST4 schedule.
3.  After SGP executes the sequence, I would go to ST4 and read the status of the sequence and update my imaging project in ST4. 

I believe ST4 has all the information needed by SGP to create the targets and events part of a sequence.  We would require the filter names to match in ST4 and SGP, just as we do today for ACP.   In SGP, the filter names are part of the equipment profile.  ST4 could either specify an equipment profile when it calls SGP to create a sequence, or more likely, the user would create a sequence using the appropriate equipment profile, and then let ST4 update that sequence with targets and events.  

After SGP executes a sequence, it has status information about each event.  If SGP exposed the sequence object, ST4 could read that status and update the imaging project, just like it does with ACP Scheduler.

Feasibility
SGP has an API but it doesn't expose the sequence object.  It exposes objects that let a developer use SGP to do things like slew the telescope and take an image.  
So... the concept of exposing capabilities of SGP via an object-oriented API is not foreign to the SGP developers.  It seems to me that exposing a sequence object would be less work than exposing functions like taking an image - fewer actions and less status info to handle.  

Real-Time Control of SGP
Just for completeness, since ST4 has a real time imaging section, and SGP exposes objects intended to allow you to do just that, you could potentially integrate here.  
But I'm not sure this adds much value so to me, it's pretty low priority.  But I may be missing an opportunity so I'm throwing it out there.

Summary
I think if you could create a sequence and read its status, you could integrate ST4 and SGP in a very slick and useful way.  Actually, I'm not sure how they could be "more integrated."   If this approach is appealing to you and other ST4/SGP users, we could lobby the SGP devs for it.

Cheers,
Rowland
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#22
Thanks Rowland!
Clear skies,
Greg

SkyTools Developer
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#23
(2018-11-24, 05:39 PM)Rowland Wrote: Hi Greg,

As far as integrating ST4 with SGP, it's going to require cooperation from Ken and Jared, the SGP developers, to go beyond target lists.  As far as I can tell, there is no documented interface for importing an SGP sequence or exporting the status of a sequence after a night's run.  

Exporting target lists to SGP is better than typing them in by hand, but it is a very weak integration compared to ST4's with ACP.  

Let's assume we can get cooperation from Ken and Jared.  Here's what I think would be a super slick integration that would satisfy almost all SGP users.  I'd be very interested to hear from other SGP users if there are holes in this approach.

ST4 Creates Sequences in SGP
SGP executes sequences.  A sequence is similar to an ACP plan.  It specifies an imaging system (in SGP, an "equipment profile"), one or more targets, and one or more events per target.  Each event is a capture of one or more images or calibration frames with a given filter and exposure length.   You can optionally specify gain and offset.   

I create a single sequence that runs all night.  This maps nicely to an ST4 schedule.  Other people might create multiple sequences and run them one by one, manually, throughout the night.  

In either case, access to the SGP sequence object is the key to the SGP kingdom.  Without that, we are stuck at level 1 integration - exporting a simple target list to SGP and then creating sequences by hand in SGP. 

My Ideal ST4<->SGP Workflow
1.  Using ST4's scheduler, I would create a full night's imaging schedule.  
2.  ST4 would send the schedule to SGP, and when I opened SGP, there would be a sequence I could execute that represented the ST4 schedule.
3.  After SGP executes the sequence, I would go to ST4 and read the status of the sequence and update my imaging project in ST4. 

I believe ST4 has all the information needed by SGP to create the targets and events part of a sequence.  We would require the filter names to match in ST4 and SGP, just as we do today for ACP.   In SGP, the filter names are part of the equipment profile.  ST4 could either specify an equipment profile when it calls SGP to create a sequence, or more likely, the user would create a sequence using the appropriate equipment profile, and then let ST4 update that sequence with targets and events.  

After SGP executes a sequence, it has status information about each event.  If SGP exposed the sequence object, ST4 could read that status and update the imaging project, just like it does with ACP Scheduler.

Feasibility
SGP has an API but it doesn't expose the sequence object.  It exposes objects that let a developer use SGP to do things like slew the telescope and take an image.  
So... the concept of exposing capabilities of SGP via an object-oriented API is not foreign to the SGP developers.  It seems to me that exposing a sequence object would be less work than exposing functions like taking an image - fewer actions and less status info to handle.  

Real-Time Control of SGP
Just for completeness, since ST4 has a real time imaging section, and SGP exposes objects intended to allow you to do just that, you could potentially integrate here.  
But I'm not sure this adds much value so to me, it's pretty low priority.  But I may be missing an opportunity so I'm throwing it out there.

Summary
I think if you could create a sequence and read its status, you could integrate ST4 and SGP in a very slick and useful way.  Actually, I'm not sure how they could be "more integrated."   If this approach is appealing to you and other ST4/SGP users, we could lobby the SGP devs for it.

Cheers,
Rowland

Hello, "My Ideal ST4<->SGP Workflow"  <<--  this is exactly what i'm looking for before i take the plunge to fork over $200 for this... Sad   The planning is what attracted me to check it out in the first place... but i don't see myself and maybe other newbies to the hobby buying this just for the calculations and planning alone.. 
Thanks. 
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#24
Greg,

I just found out about ST-4, and it looks like it will fill a need I've had for some time.  I've always been rather haphazard about my imaging activities -- more taking 'snapshots' than seriously planning out sessions and organizing the results.  Its time for that to end now for me, and ST-4 comes on at the perfect time to help me with that.  Just as ST-2 (I think it was, may v1 even?) helped me out when I got really serious about observing many years ago.

Unfortunately I can't justify the cost of ACP Expert until my scopes have a permanent home where they can be automated completely and used without a lot of setup.  So for the short term SGP will fulfill the role of scope driver.  ST-4 is clearly going to be my planning buddy for many years to come (I'm only through a few of your videos but I've already seen enough to be quite excited) so any integration you achieve that will help me use my gear and my time more efficiently will be a real boon to my imaging activities.

If I understand your vision correctly, ST-4 is about "requests" and "fulfillment" -- e.g. the I'll lay out my requests for photons from my selection of targets and ST-4 will help by calculating the optimum way to fulfill those requests by optimizing my plans and generating the schedules to feed SGP (or ACP if I get a sudden windfall)  to execute.  I get the impression that ST-4 will help me plan out my "requests" even months or years in advance and insure that when I instruct SGP (or ACP one day) to execute the schedule that my results will be optimum for my equipment and location.

I like Rowland's suggestions about workflow, and I'm hoping to combine ST-4 and SGP to start doing unattended imaging on weeknights when I have to work the next day and can't stay with the scope all night.  Even without integration, I'm sure I can write scripts to move data around as needed to make the two work together.

Hopefully you and ST-4 imaging will help this 'snapshotter' become a real 'photographer'!

Also looking forward to seeing what all you have in mind for ST-4 visual observing one day too...

Best Regards,

Mitch
17.5" Newtonian w/ Parallax Instruments HD200C Mount
TeleVue NP-101 w/ Vixen GP-DX Mount

Celestron C6 w/ AVX Mount
 
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#25
Update: I spoke to Jared from Main Sequence at NEAIC about what it would take to integrate ST4 Imaging with SGPro, and he did seem to think that it could be done. He also indicated that they would be willing to do the work required on their end. As I understood it there are a couple of different ways to proceed.

Right now I already have several projects that I need to finish first. I hope to get started in earnest by the end of the summer. I am looking forward to digging into this to find out what can be done!
Clear skies,
Greg

SkyTools Developer
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#26
hopefully including ST 4 V :-)

Owen
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#27
Greg -- that is great news!  I've been using SGP these last few weeks and have successfully been able to image on worknights while sleeping :-) so this will greatly increase the number of clear sky opportunities I can take advantage of.
17.5" Newtonian w/ Parallax Instruments HD200C Mount
TeleVue NP-101 w/ Vixen GP-DX Mount

Celestron C6 w/ AVX Mount
 
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#28
This is my first post here.

I just started to get back into this hobby after a 25+ year gap. I have a C8 from 1986 and I bought my first goto mount a few months ago and am in the process of getting it all setup for imaging. I have just installed the trial version of Sequence Generator Pro and am in the process of finding the right planning tool to feed targets to SGP. SGP can import targets from a few planners, but not SkyTools. I was looking at using Deep-Sky Planner 7 to do the planning and then import the target list into SGP. That sounds like it will work for me. But, then I saw SkyTools and though it would allow the same workflow as Deep-Sky Planner to SGP, but with better planning tools. But, it doesn't.

So, since you asked for ideas on integrating with SGP. This is what I would like:

1) At a minimum, export a target list that can be imported into SGP. Even if you just emulate the simple format of Deep-Sky Planner. Which is "Target name"<tab>decimal RA<tab>decimal DEC<tab>"J2000"<CR><LF>
2) Even better, export a complete imaging event sequence for each target for import into SGP. Probably would require SGP to add SkyTools to their import list.

I was surprised that no one has asked this yet, so maybe this is a dumb request. But, based on my limited knowledge and experience, it would seem like SkyTools should be able to feed the complete imaging plan to SGP for execution.


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