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Meade Pictor XT-Series CCD Autoguider/Imagers
 Section 7: Camera Menu
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.
This menu is where virtually all of the camera functions are performed from.

Focus mode

allows the user to take continuous exposures using the current exposure setup. A full normal image will betaken, and the user will be asked to select a subframe to focus on. This is done by selecting the Subframe tool from the toolbar or Image menu and drawing a rectangle around the object to focus on. The entire image maybe selected by double-clicking the left mouse button.

After confirming the subframe, the focus window will appear. The focus mode allows the user to program in a delay between shots to give the observer time to manually adjust the focus. To start the focus mode, press Start. While focusing, the observer may increase or decrease the exposure time in increments of 10%.

While focusing, new images will appear as rapidly as possible until the user clicks Done. The current and previous exposure are shown side by side so the user can immediately see if the focus is getting better or worse. The camera status and the current exposure time are displayed in the lower left and right status bars, respectively. The minimum refresh time for the focus mode is 20 seconds for the 208/216XT and approximately 5 seconds for the 416/1616XT.

Finally, if you have a Meade LX200 with a Meade electric focuser attached, you may have the computer move the focuser for you to perform a fully automatic focus. This mode can be accessed from the LX200 menu. You must check Electric Focuser option in the LX200 section of the User Preferences (under the File Menu) to enable the automatic focusing.

You may need to approximately focus the telescope before entering into Focus Mode. See Section 12 for information on how to create and use a parfocal eyepiece.

Take Image

This function will take an exposure using the current Exposure Setup. If there is no current setup, the exposure will be taken using the default settings.

Edit Setup

This brings up the window to edit an exposure set. The user can select the exposure time within the range limits by using the + and - keys for minutes or seconds or by entering a time directly into the field.

  • Setup Name The name that will appear in the list box on the toolbar. There are 16 possible exposure setups, 10 of which are predefined. You can change all parameters of any predefined setup, except that the Setup Name of Default will never change, although any of its settings may be changed.

  • Exposure Time: The Pictor cameras can take exposures as short as 4ms or as long as 120min, though a practical limit on exposures time will usually be less than 20 minutes for most objects and conditions. The +- scrollers for min, sec and millisec will increment the exposure time without having to type it in directly ( these scrollers are smart in that if you scroll past 999 ms, the seconds display is incremented, likewise for seconds and minutes). The exposure time can also be entered by typing it in directly.

  • AutoExposure: This allows a 416/1616XT to determine the correct exposure regardless of the time entered.

  • Continuous Frames The Pictor XT will take up to 50 images continuously using the current settings.

  • Antiblooming The Pictor XT is an antiblooming camera, which means it can automatically compensate for the effects of blooming. This probably should not be used when imaging dim areas. The level of antiblooming is adjustable from 0 (off) to 255 (max).

  • Binning The Pictor XT will reduce the size of the image by1/2 in all directions (2 x 2 binning). This helps reduce the effects of blooming (the tendency of bright objects to blur, or bloom over the image).

  • Prescale Image If this option is checked, the Pictor XT will perform a quick histogram analysis of the newly downloaded image and attempt to scale it to produce the best raw image possible. If the display is not acceptable, you can use the arrow keys to adjust it, or select the Image Scaling Tool from the toolbar or the Image Menu.

  • Shift and Combine This option must be selected with at least two continuous frames. The system will take the first image and prompt you to select and object to center on. Draw a box around the brightest, most isolated star on the image. The camera will then take the rest of the images and add them together to produce a single image. This allows you to take the equivalent of a 30 minute CCD exposure by taking a Shift and Combine set of two 15 minute exposures.

  • Automatic Flat Field This option will automatically take a flat field using the same settings before taking the image. After downloading the flat field and image from the camera, the flat field compensation will be automatically performed before the image is displayed. Many astronomers do not use this as they would rather do all image processing manually while looking at the raw image, but the option is here... try it both ways and see what works best for you.

  • Automatic Dark Frame This option will automatically take a dark frame using the current options before taking the image. It will download both frames and subtract the dark frame before displaying the image. Remember that the bias frame is included with the dark frame so there is no need for a separate option to take a bias frame.

  • Compression This option is not available on the 208XT. For other cameras, it will compress the image frame on the camera before sending it to the PC. This can result in significantly faster download times especially at lower baud rates such as 19.2K, however there is some loss of precision when using compression, though it is not enough to affect the display of the image.

  • 12 Bit Mode This option is also not available on the 208XT.This allows a 16 bit camera to operate in 12 bit mode, which gives 4096grey scale. This results in slightly faster downloads than full 16 bit images, but as with compression, there is some loss of precision.

  • Gain This will amplify the image signal from the camera. Generally this number should be set to one, though a higher gain may be useful when imaging very faint objects or using very short exposure times.


  • Pixel Binning: This only applies to the 416/1616 XT series when connected serially. The purpose of digital binning is to allow faster downloads when using serial connections. This has no effect when connected to a 208/216XT or a 416/1616XT using the SCSI interface. The analog binning option, however, will work on all Pictor XT cameras.

If Save is pressed, the Exposure Setup will be saved to disk and will be available on the combo box of the toolbar. If Shoot Now is pressed, the camera will take an exposure using the new settings after saving them.

Calibrate

This allows the user to perform a motion calibration of the camera.

Autoguide–

Select Autoguide Object

The Pictor will take an image and display it, then ask you to double click on the object to guide on. After confirmation, the camera will start guiding on the selected object for the 208/216XT.A window will appear showing the X and Y corrections applied to the telescope and the current guiding cycle. The camera will continue guiding until told to stop.

Autoguide–

Autoguide On Brightest

The camera will take an exposure and store it in its internal memory, determine the brightest point, and begin guiding on it for the 208/216XT. A window will appear showing the X and Y corrections applied to the telescope, as well as the current guiding cycle. The camera will continue guiding until told to stop.

Set Temperature

This feature allows you to set the cooling level of the Pictor XT manually. The software will automatically set the temperature to the setpoint you entered in User Preferences, or you can use this option to type in a setpoint to override the default preference. The Set Temperature window also allows you to select Max Cooling, which will run the camera's cooling level at 100%

Take Dark Frame

Displays a window to take a dark frame. Suggested name and path will appear in the file name field. After clicking OK, the user is reminded to cover the telescope and press OK to actually take the dark frame image. Note that the exposure time should be the same as the time of the images you will be taking, unless you plan to use scaling when subtracting the dark frame.

Take Flat Field

Displays a window to take a flat field image. Suggested name and path will appear in the file name field. After clicking OK, the user is reminded to prepare the telescope and press OK to actually take the flat field image.

Take Bias Frame

Displays a window to take a bias frame. Suggested name and path will appear in the file name field. After clicking OK, the camera will take the bias frame image. Note that the exposure time is zero.

Take Color Image

Displays a window to take a color image. Only supported on 216 and above, with the Meade 616 (416/ 1616XT) or 616A (216XT) Color Filter System attached.

Take Filtered Image

Displays a window to take a filtered image. Only supported on 216 and above, with the Meade 616 or 616A Color Filter System attached. Note that a quick way to take a dark frame is to put a black painted filter in one of the slots on the wheel and then take a filtered image using that filter. The result is a dark frame without having to cover the telescope.

Filter Wheel Setup

Displays a window to change filter wheel options. You must run this once when the wheel is attached for the first time, and again if any filters are moved from their original slots in the wheel or you want to change any of the options. Only supported on 216 and above, with the Meade 616 or 616A Color Filter System attached.

The Include in RGB check boxes allow you to tell the Take Color Image function which three filters to use when taking a tricolor image. The exposure multiplier allows you to multiply the base exposure setup time by the entered factor for each filter position.

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