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Voyager Astrophotography Software Review

diegocolonnello
29 May, 2019 09:50
Voyager Review

I am an astrophotographer that started looking up with a camera on a Telescope around September 2016, my start on AP was like every
other person, Didn’t know how an equatorial mount works, and had no idea about
the celestial pole…
My first experience with an observatory was with a Nexdome,Plastic wonder, easy to assemble, rotation and shutter opening automated, this
set up started to raise my imaging level and step by step you want things to
work over night and gather photons while sleeping…
Then, things started to happen, one night it was PERFECT,the next, nightmare, mount not parking, shutter not closing, meridian flip failed,
or simply the focusing routine went bananas and everything fell apart…
I hate the case of constant “Downloading” that made me loose a complete night….
I started to go deep into settings, scripts, adding devices as Cloudwhatcher, Dragonfly, new power supplies, energy backup, etc////
But always a weak point, Software….
Then I moved houses, sold the DOME (personal economy reasons)…
Next day I started to look at a disassembled shed with passion,thinking, how hard can it be to build a roll off roof…
I did it, cheap, easy to figure it out, Nice roll off roof on my backyard, all the toys…
Imaging computer
Mount
Telescope
Camera
Dragonfly
Cloudwatcher
Roof Motor
Flat panel
EVERYTHING…
BUT
Same software, I could not tame, same issues causing problems…. AGAIN…

So I started to look for OPTIONS!!! (low on money)

First looked at other packages, Maxim, CCD Commander, Thesky x, ETC, all of them industry standards but EXPENSIVE, and on top of that I needed
a Director, a MANAGER to take care of the orchestra………
Enter ACP, CCD autopilot, Maxpilote…….. all of them neededsomeone from the above list and also more money on licenses and more complexity
to the game…
Then….. the day came….. looking for options, google is my friend and somehow ended reading some posts on a forum and some guy asked
something about VOYAGER software…
Wait, what?
After more google mastering, I found this simple Webpage,downloaded a demo and off I went….
I met the paradise of astrophotography…
Somehow, an Italian astrophotographer wrote a piece of software that I immediately understood, the software was in English nut the
manual in ITALIAN…. No problem, is so intuitive that I found my way around….
First time EVER that I used something for astrophotography and it all worked…
For example…
Setting up equipment was a breeze, after reading the options I found all the right settings in one go, Telescope, Camera, Filter wheel, Flat
panel, Cloud watcher EVERYTHING fell on its  place…
Then, something called ON THE FLY…
I found a way to tell the software what Target I wanted,  then I created a simple sequence and after aPlate solve and Sync, it was imaging!!!
This is nice!!!
So I moved on to check out Guiding, I was amazed to find ROBOGUIDE, in short, is like having a person decide all the best settings and
working wonders with PHD2…… Amazing…
Next, Focusing………… back then it was based on a star, the software has a feature called ROBOFire……… oh boy, hit a button and the software
finds the right settings after running a routine where it sets the perfect curve…..
after that, every focusing routine was fast and precise….
(these days Voyager also has a mode called Local Field that uses the entire frame where the target is)
I was IMPRESSED….. all of this on the same night!!!! It all worked like a charm
Night 2…..
Moving to the advanced stuff………
I started to use look at Viking, a piece of software from the same developer that controls Ethernet relay boards….. I asked Leo if he
could control the Dragonfly….. wait for it, in a week he sent an update and
Dragonfly was implemented……. Even the inputs…….. WHAT!!!!!????
I started to organize my ideas and make sense of the complete puzzle…
The tool, the DIRECTOR!!!! Dragscript!!!!!!
Dragscript is a super clever way of scripting, drag and dropcommands in order to create a sequence of actions and decisions……
Took me 3 hours to test functions and sections of scriptsdivided in blocks…. How to wait for astronomical darkness, how to fire up the
relays on the dragonfly and how to call out a sequence…
ITS ALL WORKING…. But wait
I needed the most important part…..
Suspend and restart the session with the safety status from the cloudwatcher….
After realizing how the SUSPEND EVENTS AND EMERGENCY EVENTS work on Dragscript, I built my first complete Script…..
That night I was supper happy it was not perfectly clear,patchy cloud sections coming my way, what better opportunity to test the whole
thing….
Picture this…
All clear, about 10 pm, the script starts and confirms that astro darkness began…
Then it continues on to connect to Dragonfly and rest of equipment
Goes on and Switched on Mount, Camera cooler, Observatory,focuser and telescope FAN
Opens the ROOF and waits for the REED SWITCH to report back the OPEN status… Brilliant!!!
Then it orders the mount to slew to a defined Alt AZ position and perform a Blind plate solve…
It does, and following that it starts the sequence….. this sequence instructs the mount to slew and precisely point to a target….
Injects a Focusing routine and after a minute the complete setup is imaging…….. I could only be impressed…
This is the best part!!!
The Cloud watcher detects clouds and inmediately the roof closes, the mount stops tracking and the camera stays Cold, all in stand by……
waiting….
15 minutes after…….. clear again…. Cloudwatcher reports Safe and the resume events kick in…..
Open the roof.
Blind solves
Goes to target.
Focusing routine and resume imaging…..

Clouds passed by 3 more times…. And 3 more times the story repeated……….
What a beauty…
After all the sequence finished, the script ordered the mount to Park…. Close the roof, Warm up the camera and wait for 10 minutes…..
Disconnect from equipment and then switch off the gear….
I could not be happier…
I had a ROBOTIC OBSERVATORY.
ghealey
29 May, 2019 10:24
Great summary Diego, with feedback like this it makes it less nerve racking to leave the comfort of SGP and move onto something that offers better performance and reliability. I reckon I may give it a try.
johnschnupp
29 May, 2019 19:02
Thanks for your review.  I'm just beginning automating my setup.  I enjoyed your writing style.  One important thing I did not see in the review…a web link or address.  Googling "Voyager Astrophotography Software" got a lot of hits but mainly for other programs with Voyager in their names.  Plowed my way thru the google list and eventually found my way to the correct page,  https://www.voyagerastro.com/  (not sure if it will be an active link once this posts in AstroBin).
Tele
06 Jun, 2019 19:09
Thanks for the link John
tolgagumus
06 Jun, 2019 22:50
Great review Diego. I have had a license for Voyager for 3-4 years. I am going to have to give it another try.
diegocolonnello
06 Jun, 2019 23:48
I am sure this software will make a lot of people happy…

If interested. Here is a video about my Script in Voyager …

https://youtu.be/LXcO6Hy51I0
 
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