ASCOM Driver for Starlight Xpress (SX) cameras

Support/Discussion

There is a Yahoo group dedicated to the sxASCOM driver. If you would like participate in the testing process, receive notifications of releases, or support, please join:

Click to join sx-ascom

Click to join sx-ascom

Tested Capture Software

The hope behind the ASCOM initiative is that it allows independent pieces of software to be plugged together.  This is an excellent goal, and one that I fully support.  Unfortunately, in the world of software development, the safest (and generally the most accurate) mindset is: "If it hasn't been tested, it doesn't work".  

I have tested this driver extensively imagin with SXVF-M25C and SXVR-H694 using Images Plus, Sequence Generator ProNebulosity and guiding with Lodestar and PHD Guiding. I tried it successfully with the demo versions of Astroart and Maxim DL, but since I don't own either of them I have not done extensive testing. Please let me know the results if you try it with any other packages.

Driver Downloads

Production Version

 Version 5.5.1 - Production ASCOM ICamera1 Driver

Works with ASCOM 5.5 and ASCOM 6.x

Version   5.5.1.13082:

Release Date:    2013/03/23

Expiration Date: NA

Status: This is a production driver.

Cameras Supported

CameraStatus Conform
LodestarPassReport
LodestarCawaiting test 
Costarawaiting test 
Superstarawaiting test 
SXV Guiderawaiting test 
Exview Guiderawaiting test 
H814awaiting test 
H814CPassReport
H694awaiting test 
H694Cawaiting test 
H674awaiting test 
H674Cawaiting test 
H35awaiting test 
H36awaiting test 
M26CPass    Report
M25Cawaiting test 
H18awaiting test 
H16awaiting test 
H9awaiting test 
H9CPassReport

Other Features

FeatureStatus
Multiple USB Cameras accessed by separate programsTested
MainCamera + SXV Auto Guider accessed by separate programsawaiting test
SXVR temperature controlTested
Parallel Port CamerasNo support planned
USB Upgrade for Parallel Port CamerasNo support planned
Serial PortNo support planned

    
This version adds:
    - an option to wait to begin an exposure until the CCD temperature
        is at the desired set point
    - an option to control when the driver switches from using internal
        timing to external timing
    - adds suuport for M26C
    - promotes M26C and H35 to "Tested"
    - expands binning support to 8x now that ASCOM Conform allows the "hole" at 7
    - fixes problems with the FullWellDepth and MaxADU properties
    - adds more frequent flushing for long exposures
    - adds support for H814/H814C

Previous Production Versions

Release Candidate Version

None currently available

Acknowledgements/Thanks to:

  • My wife Deborah McKee, who has put up with with me during this whole adventure.  I do lots of my coding late at night on my laptop while in bed, and she has put up with the tangle of wires in her bedroom that goes with having an SX Camera  (or two) connected to your laptop while in bed.
  • Mike Unsold (the creator of Images Plus) who has been extremely helpful.  His involvement began when I emailed him a question about an issue I was having while trying to get an early version of the driver to work with IP. Instead of just deleting the message (a sensible response to any email that begins "I'm having some problems getting your software to work with a camera driver I'm writing" :-),  he borrowed an SX camera from a friend to help track down the issue. He has been very supportive of this effort, going so far as to tweak IP to make it more SX friendly.
  • Terry Platt of Starlight Xpress who has helped fill in the gaps where the documentation wasn't clear on exactly what was going on, and who generously sent me Lodestar camera so that I could get interlaced support working.
  • The folks at SysNucleus who supplied me with a copy of their excellent USB analyzer for use on this project. 
  • Everyone who provided input, feedback and testing via the Yahoo Group.

Disclaimer

I wrote this driver because I was moving from DSLR to CCD imaging and discovered that none of the software I had learned how to use worked with my new camera.  I am a software developer by day, and since it was just a "simple matter of programming" (SMoP) to get my new camera working with my old software I decided to write a driver.  A long run of bad weather gave me plenty of free evenings to write the code

This driver was not written by, authorized by, sanctioned by, or any thing else by Starlight Xpress (SX). It was independently developed from the developer documentation and sample code available from the SX website. Terry Platt of Starlight Xpress is aware of the effort, and has provided me with some missing bits of developer documentation.  He also provided me with a Lodestar camera to faciliate its testing. Please do not make them regret providing developer documentation by asking questions or complaining about problems with this driver to SX.

In the interest of full disclosure, I want to make something perfectly clear -- I'm a hobbyist, and I'd rather be imaging than writing software. The driver is currently working well enough that I can use it for my imaging needs, and any other work I do on it will be taking time away from some other part of my life.  I hope to get the driver working for a broad range of cameras, but supporting cameras that I don't own and can't test on is a non-trivial undertaking. If doing so turns out to take a huge amount of time, I might abandon the effort or request donations. If that would offend you, please don't use this software.

The best way for you to get your camera supported is to volunteer to help with the testing.