Sunday, October 2, 2022

KStars v3.6.1 Released

KStars v3.6.1 is released on 2022.10.02 for MacOS, Linux, and Windows. It's a bi-monthly bugfix release with a couple of exciting features.

Due to major changes in this release, we are releasing it as Early Preview. We hope to release final stable release in a few weeks given the user feedback.

Optical Trains

Ekos introduces a new method to configure equipment by organizing them into Optical Trains. An optical train is a collection of devices arranged in orders from the telescope/lens up until the last imaging element. It includes everything in between including reducers, barlows, OAGs, rotators, filter wheels and so forth.

You will no longer select individual devices in Ekos modules, you simply select which train you want to use. Settings are now saved per-train basis so you can have different settings for each train. This is all done automatically and no need to save or load settings yourself.

For further explanation, check out this YouTube tutorial

Dark Guiding

Sophie Taylor is a new contributor to KStars and a highly talented scientific developer. She is a PhD student and has contributed a new internal guider feature: Dark guiding.

One of the primary benefits of the GPG guiding system is the ability to predict the behavior of the mount at any point in time; not just when guide camera images are received. Dark guiding introduces a rapid control loop that occurs several times per guide exposure, to correct for the predicted error. This way, not only can the benefits of long duration guide exposures be taken advantage of (e.g. capturing fainter guide stars), but some of the benefit of short-term exposures too; namely, quicker corrections to the mount.

For example, you can configure 5 seconds guiding exposures with 1 second dark guiding updates. Dark Guiding is an improvement to GPG, and part of the GPG menu in the Guider menu.

Internal Guider

Hy Murveit increased the number of usable MultiStar references. It was limited to 10 previously but now you can increase it as appropriate given the seeing conditions.

State Machines

Wolfgang Reissenberger continues work on dedicated state machines. This is the next step towards dedicated state machines for EKOS. This step contains:

  • Introduction of a dedicated meridian flip state machine encapsulating both the meridian flip state of the mount and the overall state. This state machine is shared between Capture and Mount, which avoids mutual state communication.
  • First functionality regarding the meridian flip is shifted from Capture and Mount to the state machine. Nevertheless, the complex operations are still part of the Capture code and will be addressed in one of the next refactoring steps.

More Fixes & Improvements

Hy Murveit           fix align solver disconnect crash, disable ssolver logging
Hy Murveit           Analyze target distance should be plotted as a property of the last capture.
Wolfgang Reissenberger Problem with guide calibration after meridian flip
Sophie Taylor        Proper support for loading compressed image statistics
Robert Lancaster     Attempting to patch Find Dialog Crash Bug on MacOS
Marius P             guidealgorithms use C++ initialization instead of memset
Hy Murveit           Reduce the resolution in drawing artificial horizon to 1 degree
Hy Murveit           Bugfix--scheduler was ignoring artificial horizon ceiling constraints
alfred herrhausen    Summary Screen layout improvements, Total RMS added
Wolfgang Reissenberger No separate JPLParser creation for check of epoch_mjd, since this causes crashes
Jasem Mutlaq         Add support for DSLR lenses. User can select either scope or lens in equipment
Hy Murveit           Fix bug where deprecated XML caused extra sequence jobs
Hy Murveit           PAA: use the index and healpix of the 3rd PAA calibration image at the start of the refresh phase.
Wolfgang Reissenberger State machines for meridian flip and Capture
Wolfgang Reissenberger Bugfix for restarting a paused capture sequence after a meridian flip
Hy Murveit           Call checkCamera before loading a sequenceQueue in case UI has not yet been updated.
Wolfgang Reissenberger Handling attempts sending an RPC call if no connection established
Hy Murveit           Do not draw star circles when printing HFRs
Jasem Mutlaq         Warn users if one or more devices fail to connect


Saturnin51 said...

Hello Jasem,

About the optical trains, I have a remark. It would be more usefull, in my opinion, to create all the devices and the optical trains, without having to launch Ekos. Then the differents trains are calling into the tabs of Ekos, with a setup by default.


Gustav said...

Hi! I really like the concept of optical trains. It makes the Ekos much more Object Oriented and opens up possibilites for future concurrent capture with multiple optical trains on one mount. This ties into the work with state machine for mount i guess, making possible concurrency with reserve, wait-for and release the mount resources. I think this can be implemented with only one capture tab, where sequences can be defined and stored. The eventual feature of concurrent capture could be built into the job scheduler.

Gustav said...

Cannot see where I enable Dark Guiding.

Lucid Nonsense said...

Please can you sort out your release numbering scheme. The new optical trains functionality will be great, but the initial release of 3.6.1 was pretty unstable. You've adopted that x.y.z release numbering and people expect x.y.1, x.y.2 etc. to be stable, bugfix-only releases.

This really should have been released as 3.7.0 so that users had more awareness that it was not suitable for production use. The only place it was highlighted that this was unsuitable for production was the kstars website which people will not necessarily have seen if kstars-bleeding gets updated along with other routine OS updates.

It would also help if the ppa had kstars-latest-stable as well as kstars-bleeding releases, so that people who want something production-ready but more up-to-date than the usual packages shipped with a distribution can install a series of packages they can rely on, and those who genuinely want to test the bleeding-edge can do so.

Gustav said...

I second that. I lost one clear night due to the old profiles crashed the guiding instantly. another night lost due to crash randomly in capture. Turned to a clean image with latest updates and everything works great.

kyh said...

After Meridian Flip, all operations stop.
(We do not do photo taking and guiding and plate solving in progress.)

kyh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kyh said...

Captures are gradually darkened or lightened.
The cause is unknown.