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What's New

What's New in K3CCDTools 3.0.1


K3CCDTools 3 has again a new core open for further enhancement while keeping the well known K3CCDTools' speed. Both video capture core and sequence processing core were rebuilt.
K3CCDTools 3 is now a project with more than 260000 lines of source code (5x more than K3CCDTools 1).

K3CCDTools 3 finally brokes 1GB and 2GB barriers in both video-capture and sequence-processing parts.

Video Capture

1, Video for Windows (VFW) - enhanced capture modes


Although VFW is rather old technology, it's still often used - so I decided to add new capturing modes for Sequence capturing. These new modes enable to capture very long sequences without loosing a single frame.
Now, there are 4 VFW capture modes:

  • Default (2GB limit) - it's original video capture mode used also in K3CCDTools 2
  • Segments (50MB - 2GB segments, no limit) - this mode enables to capture very long continuous sequence. When a specified AVI segment size is achieved, a new AVI file is created and capturing continues without loosing a frame. New segments are named according to specified file name + additional "_(001)"..."_(999)" extension. When you open such files in K3CCDTools Sequence Processing part, they load as it was one big AVI file.
  • AVI 2.0 (standard disk access, no limit) - this mode enables to capture sequence to a single AVI file. The AVI format is compatible with AVI 2.0 standard, so there is no 1GB or 2GB barrier. This mode also enables to capture into multiple AVI segments - it ensures compatibility with programs which don't support AVI files longer than 1GB or 2GB.
  • AVI 2.0 (fast disk access, no limit) - this is the similar mode as previously mentioned mode, but it uses another disk access method (multi-threaded).
  • Separate Capture Thread - it enables capturing in a separate thread - this VFW feature enables to switch between Windows programs without interrupting video capturing.

Example of segment capture mode settings:

2, Disabling Screen Saver during capturing

Now it's possible to disable screen saver and set high task priority during video sequence capturing (applicable in VFW and WDM capture modes). It helps to decrease number of dropped frames on slower computers.

3, Meade DSI and DSI Pro cameras support

Try to use K3CCDTools with popular Meade DSI or DSI Pro camera and you will favour it soon. Video capturing with DSI camera was never so easy.

You can easily control your camera with DSI Control Panel:

DSI camera settings:

Video capturing is performed into single 16-bit AVI file, so you can process it easily like you used to process AVI files from webcams or Long Exposure modified webcams.
If you prefer FIT files - you can convert AVI file into FIT files using Sequence Processing part of K3CCDTools.
All DSI camera settings can be logged to a log file - so you will never miss your camera settings during capturing.

4, Live Histogram

K3CCDTools provides a new tool for helping to choose a proper exposure - Live Histogram. Live Histogram shows you histogram of captured or previewed sequence. In long exposure capture mode and DSI capture mode it also enables to tweak the previewed image - with its help you can see dark parts of captured image easier. In DSI capture mode it's invaluable helper, because camera's 16-bit range is very wide to show all image features without histogram tweaking.

5, Focusing Aid

Every capturing session starts with focusing. K3CCDTools 3 wants to make focusing easier :-)

6, Enhanced Big Display

The Big Display is now configurable - you can choose from 3 sizes and set your own display colors. Use the Large display size to enable watching the Big Display status from several meters.

The Big Display and its Settings dialog:

Example of application of user's settings - now you have LCD display :-)

7, Video Capture Alarm

You can define an alarm event for long exposure or DSI capturing. When K3CCDTools captures a defined number of frames, it will run an user definable alarm. It's also possible to define a repeating or a single alarm sound.

Capture alarm settings:

Once a repeating alarm appears, you can mute it by clicking the alarm icon:

This feature is very useful for signalization of time for changing color filter or covering a scope (for taking dark frames).

8, Mode Zoom Sizes

It's up to you which zoom mode you select :-)

9, Cooperation with Martin Burri's WcCtrl program

Now you can recall the WcCtrl dialog directly from K3CCDTools. If you use WDM mode, it even recognizes your current camera's serial number and activates it in WcCtrl automatically. It's also possible to set automatical dumping of camera settings to file before each capturing.

10, Support for ShoeString LXUSB Interface

Now you can use your SC modified camera or SAC1) and ATIK2) cameras also with notebook without parallel port - you can control your camera with ShoeString LXUSB interface, which is supported by K3CCDTools 3:


Drift Explorer + Autoguiding

  Supports the following autoguiding protocols:

New Features:

  • RA/DEC Backlash parameters
  • Added LX200 moving speed buttons
  • Possibility to switch on/off the guiding interface without leaving the Drift Explorer dialog (by using the green LED on toolbar)
  • Possibility to autoguide during WDM sequence capturing (e.g. if you have not properly aligned scope, you can hold the planet in center of field of view) - by using the same camera for capturing and auto-guiding
ASCOM Platform support

Now K3CCDTools 3 supports ASCOM telescope platform. It enables to guide a wide range of telescope mounts.

ShoeString GPUSB interface support

Now you can use the ShoeString GPUSB interface which can control ST4 compatible mounts via USB port (i.e. you can use it also with notebooks without parallel port).

Digital Camera Shutter Control

Digital SLR cameras control

With K3CCDTools 3 you have several possibillities how you can control your DSLR:

  • Parallel ports
  • Serial ports
  • ShoeString DSUSB adapter (this adapter is connected to USB port, so you don't need to have parallel or serial ports)

K3CCDTools 3 now also supports AutoFocus function for some cameras (the button AF in Digital Camera Control dialog).

Sequence Processing

New features:
  • No 1GB or 2GB barrier - you can load and process very long video files - even AVI files of several tens of GBs are not a problem for K3CCDTools 3
  • Support for very long videos - the previous versions of K3CCDTools had speed problems when video sequence had more than 5000-10000 frames. With K3CCDTools 3 it's not a problem anymore. You can load a sequence with 500000 frames in a fraction of second. Try it with K3CCDTools 2 :-)
  • New Thumbnail view style - you can see thumbnails of every frame of sequence (user definable thumbnail size).

    Note: this feature requires a faster computer.
  • Reworked Sequence Processing core - provides trouble-free DivX encoding
  • Supports 2 types of FIT file orientation
    - Bottom line first (NASA standard)
    - Top line first (use by Meade, Maxim DL and some other programs)
  • Live Histogram - Live Histogram also works in Sequence Processing mode and you can tweak histogram settings for better preview.

    This Live Histogram has no effect on stacked image - it work only in preview mode. This feature is especially useful for viewing 16-bit or 32-bit FIT files.

Enhanced User Interface

User friendly interface of program is very important for easy program usage - especially during cold nights :-)
That's why I paid attention to enhancement of user interface.

New Settings Dialog Style

New Settings dialog style enables very fast orientation in various K3CCDTools settings:

Each settings tab is now directly accessible from the left side tree view.

Software Keyboard

Everyone who entered a file name under night skies will appreciate the software keyboard - for entering file name, etc.:

Naming History

K3CCDTools 3 now remembers recently used file names and it offers them during your typing:

Another Advanced User File Naming for Experienced Users

If several file naming modes in K3CCDTools 2 were not enough for you - try Advanced User file naming method:

You can immediatelly test your file name setting when you place your mouse cursor above "Test" area and wait a second - you will see a hint label with actual file name.

Sorting Icons in Frame List

It's a small feature, but it took me several days to implement it. So I mention it here :-)

Other New Features

- Possibility to define a list of forbidden video capture devices - you can define devices which you don't want to use with K3CCDTools. These devices will be grayed out then. E.g. I use this feature for my Matrox video capture card which has buggy video capture drivers for Windows XP and when this device is activated then computer resets. Now I am protected from unwanted restarts!

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Last Update: 24.03.2006