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Scheduler and Capture - how do you combine the settings in a clever way?

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  • Thank you received: 3
I've been pre-programming capture sessions via the scheduler for the last few nights, and everything is currently running stable in the new 64-bit version. At the end of astronomical twilight the scheduler starts the jobs, at the end of the night it parks. Great stuff.

Even though I seem to know what to do,I feel that I use some workarounds as I do not understand the logic in some places, what to enter in Capture and what to enter in the Scheduler. Maybe someone can help me figure out where my logical error is.

I create sequences in the capture module and save them. As an example 90 images at 120 s with the correct camera gain and offset settings. I save this as a Sequence Queue (ESQ) file. In the scheduler, I specify the object name, then I load in the Sequence file and add that sequence to the scheduler. Press play and the night can come :)

In my understanding the ESQ file is simply a sequence for the camera but independent from the object. In the scheduler I assign this sequence to an object and add it to the list of the scheduler. But this separation seems not to be the idea of the programmers.

Two examples of what I do not understand and why I currently manipulate the esq files in the text editor. Both parameters belong for me rather in the scheduler than to the inputs from the capture module, because I re-use the same sequence file for different objects in the scheduler:
  1. When I apply the same sequence to the same object in another night to add more images, the scheduler reports the job is already done. Reason is apparently that the file path for the images stored in the esq file is used. Although I set to include timestamps in the filenames so there would be no naming conflict, the sequence is considered to be already done. If I change the folder name in the esq file, everything runs as expected, just to a separate folder. But I have to keep editing the esq files and can not use a library of e.g. numbers of exposures which I could simply apply whenever needed.
  2. There are some relevant options in the esq file, including the "Temperature force" option, which cools the astro camera first and only then starts the acquisition. I use this to avoid having to manually turn on the cooling beforehand, but wouldn't know how to include this default via the user interface when creating the esq file (or do I really have to switch on the cooler when saving the file just to have it in the file? I do that in the daytime). Currently I manipulate the esq file with the text editor and that works ok. As cooling settings should be valid for the whole night, I miss the counterpart to "Warm CCD" in the shutdown procedure in the scheduler for startup.

How do you guys do this if you want to shoot the same object on different nights? How do you specify that the camera should be cooled before startup? Are you manipulating the esq files as well? Am I missing a dialogue and the same could be achieved much easier?

Thanks for sharing your way of handling the settings in Schedulder and Capture modules.

Standard setup: EQ6R, Williams Megrez 72- ASI 533MC -ZWO EAF, 50 mm viewfinder - ASI 120MM
8 months 1 week ago #81753

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I can't help with the cooler (I set the cooler in the INDI panel when I start up Ekos for the night).

The scheduler is being rewritten, I understand, but I don't know if there will be any change to its interaction with capture files.

I suspect the scheduler was written by and for people who knew exactly how many capture frames they needed for any target+filter combination, and I think they expect a unique capture sequence file for each entry in the scheduler. I use it more your way - with a generic capture sequence file and I often add more images to a target as the opportunities arise.

The scheduler looks in the target's capture folder and counts how many image files it finds there. If your capture sequence says to take 90 images and there are 90 files, it (quite logically) assumes you are done and should move on to the next target. There are two ways around this (3, counting your editing the folder name).

1) Remove the files from the folder. I save images to a usb flash drive, and I'm in the habit of bringing that inside each morning anyway, so I move the files to my processing computer. In any one folder I keep 2 images. One is the 'reference' image for aligning and the other is the last image from the previous session (because the scheduler starts numbering at the highest number found). If I re-schedule a target and the capture sequence specifies 90 images, it will capture 88 new images. I just learned to live with that.

2) Use the 'Repeat' section, avoiding 'until sequence completion'. I have been using 'until this time'. So I start with target 1, setting it to repeat until 12:45am. Then target 2, repeat until 3:00am, etc. This is how I set it up most nights now. I believe the new scheduler will have a more logical treatment of the altitude restrictions, so you should be able to use 'repeat until terminated' and have the scheduler move to the next job in the queue when target 1 drops below your set altitude limit. Do not try that with the current scheduler - target 1 will hit the altitude limit and the scheduler shuts down the observatory for the night!

The following user(s) said Thank You: Alexander Weis
8 months 1 week ago #81760

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Hi Ron,

Tanks for this. In particular option 1 sounds clever as I don't care about the exakt final number of frames but rather look for a smart way to manage files. I need to set up my equipment for every session in my backyard and only when there are two nights in a row I could leave it set up and add frames. As I travel frequently I kicked off some weeks ago a second night session from abroad. It was nice that the cooler kicked off at the time the session started as I was not able to dial in live. So using the scheduler to run a pre-prepared session is for me an attractive use case to be productive even when I cannot attend the start.


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Standard setup: EQ6R, Williams Megrez 72- ASI 533MC -ZWO EAF, 50 mm viewfinder - ASI 120MM
8 months 1 week ago #81763

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There is one configuration remember job progress in Options->Ekos->Scheduler. That should make Ekos ignore any existing files. But it is really better just increase number of repeats. You can just double click row in scheduler (+ button change to check) and just increase number of repeat and then click "check" button.

My use is that I add same target and it show like captures 18/9. Because I run sequence two times previous night. So I just double click and increase repeat to 4 so it run another two times.

And same double click to edit logic and confirm with check button is used in capture tab too. If you are not in edit mode any changes are used only for next job you add to sequence.

I forgot but everything in capture tab is saved per job. So if you add 10xRed, 10xGreen, 10xBlue make sure that you check force temperature on that first one. When you are creating sequence file you don't need to run cooling.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Alexander Weis
Last edit: 8 months 1 week ago by nou.
8 months 1 week ago #81764

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