Astro IIDC 3.01 review

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Astro IIDC is a FireWire camera controlling application.

License: Demo
OS: Mac OS X
File size: 2908K
Developer: Aupperle Services & Contracting
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Price: $49.00
Updated: 01 Dec 2006
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Astro IIDC is a FireWire camera controlling application. It works with a variety of inexpensive color or monochrome FireWire cameras, has a simple intuitive interface, can record movies, grab frames, grab averaged frames, grab sums of frames, does real time Flat Frame or Dark Frame subtraction and provides real CCD exposure times of up to 1 second with cameras that "normally" only provide exposures of 1/30th of a second.

The application utilizes our industrial strength Altivec enabled IIDC/DCAM Framework to control the camera and extracts the raw bayer or monochrome images from the CCD with no YUV color aliasing.

Here are some key features of "Astro IIDC":
Simple and easy to use interface in a single camera control window as shown in the screen snap shot to the right. All camera control adjustments are done with a full size live preview image so there is none of this modal QuickTime tiny 160x120 pixel image approximations nonsense, pure WYSIWYG.
Works with most inexpensive monochrome or color FireWire web type cameras (see list at page bottom for details).
Works with most high end 640x480 to 1600x1200 size, 8 and 16 bit per pixel, monochrome or bayer color FireWire 400 and Firewire 800 cameras (see list at page bottom for details).
Utilizes ASC's industrial strength, preemptively multi threaded, Altivec enhanced IIDC/DCAM framework code, with no dependency on QuickTime or other FireWire drivers for camera control. "Astro IIDC" directly accesses the FireWire camera and extracts the raw bayer or monochrome CCD data. No YUV color aliasing as we decode the bayer color data using our own custom 3x3 and 5x5 kernels.
For inexpensive FireWire cameras provides extended CCD exposure times from as fast as 1/3th of a second down to 1.029 seconds, without any hardware modifications. That is 31 times more light gathering capability than anyone else's software and adds a new dimension for lower light imaging.
For high end FireWire cameras provides CCD exposure times from 1/10 of a second to 60 minutes (depending on the camera) and records movies as fast as 240 frames per second.
Single click to Grab a frame, Grab a user defined burst of frames and average them (for noise reduction) or Grab a burst of frames and sum them (for enhancing low light imaging). Supports frame grabs in TIFF (Mono8, Mono16, RGB24 or RGB48), PNG, BMP, PhotoShop, PICT and FITS (Mono8 or Mono16 bit) file formats.
Supports Altivec enhanced Flat Frame division and Dark Frame subtraction to provide for real time removal of optical imperfections (i.e. dust, hairs, vignetting etc.) and to reduce CCD noise.
Provides live Sharpness estimator as a focussing aid and can also be used to exclude air turbulence blurred images from being grabbed as frames or recorded in a movie.
Logs all your camera settings for every frame grabbed or movie recorded to a text file, so that you can easily recall exactly what settings were used when each image image was captured. Also allows you to enter user notes notes for each frame or movie recorded.
Supports user definable Average and Spot Color Balance, allowing you to balance against any color you want, not just white.
Records QuickTime Movies at frame rates up to 240 frames per second down to as slow as 1 frame per minute, user selectable. All movies are recorded with a Greenwich Mean Time relative Time Code track, so that the time for each recorded frame can be determined within 1 frame duration.
Provides real time automated alignment and stacking of video, both for live image capture and post with recorded 8 or 16 bit per pixel movies. All Altivec enhanced stacking, sharpening, aligning and processing is done at a full 32 bits per color channel (Mono32 or RGB96) so that no image data is lost or compromised
Supports display and capture in color, monochrome, binned 2x2 color, binned 2x2 monochrome and individual red, green or blue color channels modes.
Provides azimuth or altitude control for Meade LX series or compatibles telescope mounts via an optional Key Span USB to Serial adapter and has preliminary support for Auto Guiding on stars, planets, lunar craters and solar sunspots.

Requires a minimum of a G5, 500 mhz G4 or 800 mhz G3 based (for full 30 fps frame rate recording with all options enabled) PowerPC based, FireWire capable desk top, eMac, iMac, iBook or Power Book with a minimum of 128 megabytes of Ram. Recording at 30 frames per second will require up to 9.8 megabytes per second of disk space, so your disk space requirements will be dependent on how much video you plan on recording.
Requires OS X 10.2.x or higher (up to and including OSX 10.4.5).
QuickTime 6.0.2 to 7.0.4
Compatible IIDC FireWire cameras (see web site for list).

What's New:
Adds support for Monochrome and Bayer Color Format 7 cameras.
Adds Region of Interest support for Format 7 cameras.
Adds Bayer color support for "The Imaging Source" DFK 21AF04, DFK 21BF04, DFK 31AF03, DFK 31BF03, DFK 41AF02 and DFK 41BF02 series of cameras.
Adds support for "Point Grey Research" Dragon Fly 2, Flea 2, FireFly MV and improves support for Scorpion cameras.
Adds 4x4 live binning for improved low light imaging.
Adds live hot and cold pixel replacement.
Adds spatial sharpening (similar to wavelet) to the "Image Processing Module".
Adds a color saturation tool to the "Image Processing Module".
Session Log now indicates the cameras bit depth , ROI, width, height and selected Format when capturing images or movies.
Improves live guiding support for more accurate declination control.
Adds support for non thread safe codecs when stacking and aligning movies.
New Reticule display.
Addressed issues with FireWire 800 / 1394B support, providing faster capture throughput.
Fixes an issue where the resulting stacked and aligned Tiff file was always RGB48 if the source was monochrome. If the movie source is monochrome, then the resulting tiff is now a monochrome 16 bit tiff.
Fixes a re-compression bug with the Bayer Codec.

Astro IIDC 3.01 keywords