Live Talk Woodland Hills Cameras and Telescope

On August 8, 2020 I gave a live presentation on the Woodlands Hills Cameras and Telescope youtube channel, about AutoStakkert. I thought it was going to be a small presentation, but it ended up being almost 2 hours long… I tried to cover pretty much all the features in the software, using a development version of AutoStakkert!4 that will hopefully be ready for release later this year.

The video is available on their youtube channel, and is also embeded below. I hope this video can help some people out on how to try and extract the best images out of your recordings!

Beta version

A quick reminder for those interested in playing around with the latest AutoStakkert!2 lucky imaging software: there is a beta version of AutoStakkert!2 available at the AutoStakkert!2 beta website

The versions displayed on that site have not been tested a lot, but it generally works quite well and has interesting functionality such as:

  • improved flat frame support
  • native support for mjpeg, ser, fits, and many avi videos and image files
  • extended support for additional video formats using windows codecs
  • additional mov support using FFMpeg
  • more speed (overall about 2X faster)
  • alt-az derotation
  • sigma clipping satcking
  • and many more…

And of course, all of these nicely hidden from view (but easily available) so if you just want an easy to use, fast and high quality lucky imaging stacking program, it is still there.

If you find any problems with a beta, please let me know so I can fix them. I’m currently using myself without any problems, but small updates are frequently performed that might brake or – preferably – improve the software further.

To keep the UK society safe

No idea what GCHQ would want to do with my software, or if this email was actually real to begin with, but since it is unclassified – and never got a response to my reply – I’ll just post this message here simply because I can.

O, and keep an eye on this blog, because I haven’t been sitting still lately! A new beta version shall be released soon, including support for better spectral stacking, direct reading of all avi files if you have the appropriate avi codec installed, etc etc.

Subject: Autostakkert 2.

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We are interested in trying out your software and wondered if there is an End User License that we can look at before proceeding.


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Still working..

Instead of just presenting a new and unfinished AutoStakkert!2 version – remember that I said it would be released AROUND the end of August – I thought it might be nice to start keeping a small log here to keep you up-to-date with what I’m actually working on.

I still have a long list of new features and bugfixes to implement. I know that some of these are more important than others, but somehow I always start implementing those ideas that I enjoy working on the most. At the moment I seem to be very interested in getting the best performance out of AS!2, without a decrease in image quality of course. I know AS!2 is already quite fast, but perhaps it is possible to make it significantly faster? Getting a speed boost of 5% is nice, but if I need to put in a lot of hours that could be spend on new functionality it would hardly be worth the effort. However, if you can decrease the total processing time a lot, you could for example process more recordings in the same time, or experiment on the same recording to find better stacking parameters that will actually end up improving the image quality. It is also much more fun to work with a program that is fast.

So my main priority now has been to make all the critical code in AS!2 as fast as possible, without compromising image quality. I think I succeeded. Aligning images and creating a reference frame is now almost twice as fast. Stacking monochrome* images is more than twice as fast, and performing surface alignment received a speed boost of about 30%.

Now it is back to the boring list of other to-do’s…

* I still need to have a look at the color stacking code (and drizzling), but I don’t think there is a lot of performance to be gained there.

Change is coming!

Around the end of August I’ll release a new version of AS!2, featuring some bug fixes and of course new features so I can find more bugs in the following months. Gotta stay busy.

A short list of things that have changed:

– Native MJPEG support (no codec required, and of course very fast)
– Fixed flat field calibration resulting in brightened images.
– Drag & drop folders of valid image files (jpg, bmp, tif, fit, pngs) should now work all the time correctly.
– Optimised RGB color file stacking. There should be a performance increase when using RGB images/videos in MAP mode.
– Stacking multiple files in MAP mode is now possible (if you just want to create a single stack, make sure that you only fill ONE of the frame nr/percentage boxes with a valid number and set all the others to ‘0’!!!).
– Fixed reading some AVIs coming out of WinJUPOS(AS!2 made them look misformed). I might have broken other avis though, so be ware and let me know if you find any problems.

I’m currently working to see if I can squeeze a bit more performance out of the image alignment phase. It’s already at light speed, but as we all know, light speed is too slow. Light speed , too slow? Yes, we’re gonna have to go right to ludicrous speed. No, I’m not going to use GPGPU (yet?), but I think it might be possible to squeeze out another 25% speed improvement. This of course does should not have priority over the items already on my TODO list, but it’s fun, so I’m making it a priority.

And, just a reminder. If you find ANY problems in AS!2, please do let me know. I don’t know if I can fix it, but I certainly can’t fix what I don’t know.

AutoStakkert! is up

A new version of AS!2 has just been released, you can find it in the download section. Here is a small list of the most important changes/fixes:

  • Fixed regression bug: failed to open any image files (fit, bmp, tif, jpg, etc.. it would all show there were no frames available)
  • Fixed when switching to Single AP mode, AS!2 would not stack automatically (you had to manually place an AP first).
  • Maximum size of the frame is set to 3000×2000, internal frame size limitations have been removed. Use the INI-file to further increase the maximum image size (the INI-file contains a maxWidth and maxHeight value).
  • Made edge quality estimator more robust still. It will now still provide a meaningful quality estimation whenever it encounters missing information.
  • Fixed bug in detecting horizontal and vertical artefacts, causing random lockups after analysing.

If you run into any problems with this new version, or just have a good idea you think should be implemented, just let me know. I’m always open to suggestions.

AutoStakkert! 2.1 Bugs

One big bad bug has slipped past me, and it affects all those using images files (e.g. bmp, tif, png). At the moment those using image files can’t use version, as it mistakingly believes there are no frames to be processed when you try to drag and drop the image files onto AS!2. I already fixed it, but want to run some tests before this fixed version can be found in the download section.

It’s not entirely unthinkable that more bugs are found in the coming days, so please keep a close eye on this website. I tend to update the software regularly instead of running weeks of tests, but still, in the future I’ll try to run the software by some non-avi/ser users before updating a new version 😉


AutoStakkert! 2.1

A new version of AS!2 has just been release, have a look at the download section to find out what has changed.

Version 2.1 includes some fancy new features like dark and flat-frame support to calibrate your images, but more importantly, a whole lot of bugs got fixed. I probably didn’t manage to catch each and every one of them, so if you run into any problems with version 2.1, or just have a good idea you think should be implemented, just let me know. I’m always open to suggestions.