Meade Instruments Corporation
Telescopes · Binoculars · Microscopes


 
Meade Pictor XT-Series CCD Autoguider/Imagers
 Section 2: PictorView XT Overview
IMPORTANT NOTICE! Never use a telescope or spotting scope to look at the Sun! Observing the Sun, even for the shortest fraction of a second, will cause irreversible damage to your eye as well as physical damage to the telescope or spotting scope itself.
Introduction to PictorView XT

PictorView XT is the software provided with the Pictor XT Autoguider / Imager to allow you to take excellent photos and download them to a PC. It also includes advanced image processing features such as merge images, sharpen/unsharp, image resize and rotation, and image cleanup functions such as dark frame subtract to give you the best possible image. Finally, you can save your image in a variety of standard file formats, including Windows TIFF, and the astronomy standard FITS. Also, you can convert your image from one format to another, and record information about your image using the Image Information feature.

A singular advantage of PictorView XT is its support of Night Vision and CCD Vision. Night Vision is supported by many manufacturers to keep user's eyes from losing their sensitivity to light, but Meade has added CCD Vision, which turns all screens blue (the color CCD chips are least sensitive to).This way the user has the choice of which screen mode to use.

PictorView XT can open more than one image at a time, but only one image will be the active image.

System Requirements

Required:

486 or higher processor
2 meg free space on hard drive (more for images)
4 meg RAM
Windows 95 or higher.

Recommended:
486 or Pentium processor
20 meg free hard drive space (for image files)
16 meg RAM
Windows 95

Note:

The amount of memory in your system will affect the number of images you can have open simultaneously. For example, if you have a system with only4 meg of RAM and very little hard drive space for a Swap file, you may only be able to open 3 or 4 large images, whereas if you have 8 or 16 meg or RAM and ample Swap space, you should be able to open 20 images or more if needed.

Installation

To install the software, put the disk labeled Disk 1 in your 3.5" drive and select File, then Run from Program Manager (or Start, then Run from Windows 95). At the prompt, type A:setup, where A: is the letter of your3.5" drive. Then follow the instructions on screen.

Quick Start (for users familiar with Windows and / or CCD imaging)

After installing the software, double click on the icon called PictorView XT in the Pictor program group. When the application starts, select the File Menu, then Set User Preferences. Set the comm port and baud rate for your system. You should not need to change any other settings, unless you have an LX200, in which case you would enter the comm port and information about its setup. If you have an older system running Windows for Workgroups3.11, you may not be able to use speeds higher than 19,200. If you are a Windows 3.1 user, you can connect at 56k baud by starting windows in standard mode (win /s).

Finally, you may enter default user information (which will be automatically added to the Image Information record of new images, as well as default directories and other system defaults here.

If you plan to use the AutoCenter or AutoMosaic features with an LX200,you will need to enter your telescope information in the Field of View Calculator, also under the File Menu. You must enter the telescope's diameter in millimeters(if this is not on the telescope, you can check your user's manual, or remember that 1" ~ 25mm). In addition, you must enter either the telescope's f ratio or its focal length. The calculator will then compute the f-ratio or the effective focal length, and display it along with the x and y field of view in degrees, minutes, and seconds. This information only needs to be changed if you switch to another telescope or add attachments that change the focal length.

Before you connect to the camera, make sure the camera is connected to the correct serial or SCSI port on the computer, and that the camera is powered on and the display reads FF for a 208/216XT. If you plan to use the autoguiding features, make sure the autoguider cable is connected to the camera. If you plan to use the Pictor 208/216XT with an LX200, make sure there is a serial cable running from the PC to the RS-232 jack on the LX200. If you have a 416/1616XT, be sure there is a cable running from the LX200 port on the control box to the LX200. See the assembly instructions for more information.

Next, select Connect from the Connection Menu, or press the X on the toolbar. After a couple of seconds, the Pictor's display should change from FF to PC, indicating that it is connected. The status bar should also read Online @ 19.2k where 19.2k is the baud rate. A temperature display will also appear in the panel next to the Online message. This indicates the Celsius temperature of the CCD chip. The cooling level is automatically set using a moving average of 50 samples to give the most stable cooling possible. You may override this by selecting Camera, then Temperature and entering a temperature setpoint manually.

You are now ready to begin imaging or autoguiding.

To Take an Image:

1. Select an Exposure Setup from the list box on the toolbar.

2. To edit exposure and calibration settings, click the Edit Setup icon beside the list box.

3. Click the Camera icon.

4. A countdown timer will appear while the camera is exposing.

5. When the camera is done, a percentage bar will appear as the image is transferred.

6. The new image will appear.

7. Press the up and down arrow keys to increase and decrease the image background. Press the left and right arrow keys to increase and decrease the image's dynamic range.

You can enter log information by selecting Image, then Information, or clicking on the clipboard icon on the toolbar.

Some information is already pre-filled, such as name, location and equipment(if you entered this in the User Preferences), and exposure time, camera temperature, image size, and bits of precision.

You may process the image in various ways, including combining multiple images, sharpen/unsharp, contrast, and other transformations (see Image Processing).

If you wish to save this image, select Save As from the File Menu (or pressF2).

To Autoguide:

1. Select Autoguide from the Camera Menu, then select the autoguiding mode. PictorView XT supports two modes of autoguiding: Guiding on the brightest object in the field of vision, and guiding on a selected object. You can also click the LX200 icon on the toolbar to automatically begin guiding on the brightest object in the camera's field of view.

2. For guide on brightest: select guide on brightest. The camera will take an exposure, determine the brightest point, and begin guiding on it.

3. For user guide: The Pictor XT will take an image and display it, then prompt you to double click on the object to guide on. After confirmation, the camera will then start guiding on the selected object.

4. While autoguiding, a display will appear that shows each successive correction made by the Pictor XT. This will continue until you press the Stop Autoguiding button.

5. Note: The 416XT and 1616XT are not intended to be used as computer-controlled autoguiders.

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