Better grab a cup of coffee… or maybe popcorn and your favorite soft drink. This is going to take a while. Here comes Voyager’s extensive feature list. And when you’re done, check out Why Voyager? to learn how Voyager’s imaging philosophy helps you get quality images night after night
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Single Target Sequences
Define and save as many single target sequences as you like, containing detailed information on how to image an object, controlling everything from filters, exposure length, binning, ISO settings and repeats to your choices for guiding, focusing, start and end actions, error handling, meridian flip, plate solving, pointing, tracking and more. You can create a sequence per target, or create a few sequence templates such as RGB and narrow band. Use the templates from a DragScript that loads the target coordinates, start and end times, etc.
The Sequence Editor can be used while running a sequence. You have to stop and restart a running sequence to use your changes. If you are editing a sequence that will be run later in the night with your DragScript, your changes will be used when the sequence starts, no need to stop the running DragScript.
Flexible Sequence Modes
Sure, Voyager can run your filter choices in sequence or cycle around taking a shot per filter. But it can also repeat the entire sequence a specified number of times, great when you are at a dark site and want to be sure you get something from each filter but want more than one shot between filter changes
Easy Profile Handling
Never wonder if the right equipment profile is in use. Voyager shows the profile in use at the top of its window, warns if you try to edit or run a sequence created with a different profile, and lets you apply the current profile to a sequence with one click
Push to Run or Use in a DragScript
Just push a button to run a sequence while you watch, or drag and drop a sequence action to a DragScript and run with full control of your imaging flow. Imaging multiple targets in a night? Just drag as many sequence blocks to the DragScript as needed
When the sun is coming up, Voyager can run your Good Night sequence, optionally parking your scope, warming your camera, closing a flat device, running arbitrary external scripts and programs, and more
Research and Survey Sequences
Searching for exoplanets, asteroids, comets, novae or supernovae? Measuring positions or brightness from night to night? Voyager’s easy to use Research and Survey sequence makes it a snap to load a long list of targets, define a few parameters, and go.
Import a list of as many targets as you wish and run the same filter(s) and exposure(s) against every object in the list, once or repeatedly
Control all the parameters available for a single target sequence: guiding, plate-solving, autofocus, meridian flip, etc. Relax some criteria such as precise pointing to increase the speed of acquisition
Reduce the time spent slewing with smart options like automatically skipping targets that would cause a meridian flip. Those targets will automatically be imaged on the next loop
Use the online service SIMBAD to lookup all the targets in your list and set their coordinates before running your survey, or use a predefined list with coordinates of your choosing
Total Control Automation with DragScript
Want to image two or three targets, one after the other? Set the start and end times for each? Take a bunch of dark frames? Wait until your target reaches a given altitude and then start a sequence? Define your entire night from startup to shutdown and everything in between? Stop shooting when clouds roll through and then get back to it when things clear? Voyager’s unique, proprietary drag and drop automation tool, DragScript, can do all this and more.
Drag & Drop
No coding required, just drag and drop any of the over 100 possible elements from the list to your DragScript in the order you want.
Reorder items in your DragScript by drag and drop, copy and paste, or up and down arrow button clicks
Fill Out the Form
Double click any element in your DragScript and a form pops up. Fill out the form to select the options for that element, such as start and stop time for a Sequence, number of flat or dark frames to shoot, time to wait until, etc.
Decisions and Repeats
Drag and drop to add a wide array of decisions such as wait until astronomical night or target altitude to your DragScript. Repeat blocks of your DragScript any number of times or until a condition is satisfied
Suspend, Resume and Exit
Define the actions to take when a weather event occurs. Command a Suspend or Exit from your DragScript. Resume when conditions improve, skipping ahead if your target’s end conditions have been met during the suspension
Voyager supports any mount available via ASCOM, TheSky6 or TheSkyX. There is also an extra cost custom version of Voyager available with support for arrays of mounts, as used by the MasterDarks group in Thailand (https://www.masterdarks.com)
Connect any mount with an ASCOM driver directly to Voyager
Have Software Bisque’s TheSky6? Use it to connect to your mount
Software Bisque’s TheSkyX is another popular way to control your mount from Voyager
A custom version of Voyager is available at extra cost to control an array of mounts, scopes and cameras
Voyager can acquire images with only an ASCOM connection to your camera, or one of the popular third party camera control software packages. Voyager supports DSLR’s via Maxim DL or TheSkyX’s Camera Addon. There is no native DSLR support in Voyager.
Almost all astro imaging cameras have an ASCOM driver available, and this is a great way to connect Voyager with your camera
Cyanogen Imaging® MaxIm DL™ is a powerful image acquisition option with support for DSLR’s and astro cameras both natively and via ASCOM. Automate it with Voyager
Voyager can use Software Bisque’s TheSkyX’s Camera Addon control which connects to a wide array of ASCOM and native connections to both DSLR’s and dedicated astro cameras
Voyager provides native support for QSI cameras
Voyager works with the most popular guide software products. You can use their algorithms to pick a guide star, or use Voyager’s RoboGuide feature to get even more control over guide star selection. And in every case, Voyager’s configurable watchdogs and smart retries keep your guiding between the guard rails
PHD2 is probably the most popular guiding software available today. Voyager makes it even better with RoboGuide
Cyanogen Imaging® MaxIm DL’s™ built-in single and multi-star guiding works great with Voyager
Own Software Bisque’s TheSkyX and want to use it for guiding? No problem, just choose it in Voyager
Voyager makes good guiding software great with RoboGuide’s watchdogs and retries. When there’s a guiding glitch, Voyager works hard to get things back on track
Voyager’s built-in VCurve (single-star) and LocalField (multi-star) autofocus routines are worth the price of the product by themselves. Voyager’s proprietary RoboFire technology uses artificial intelligence to learn more about your focusing system every time it runs, getting smarter all the time.
We highly recommend you try RoboFire. But as with everything, Voyager offers you choices. You can also use TheSkyX, Maxim DL or FocusMax for autofocus.
Voyager’s built-in single-star VCurve autofocus is fast and accurate. It learns more about your focusing system every time it runs
Most optical systems are not completely flat across the field. RoboFire LocalField obtains the best average focus from edge to edge, perfect for large objects like nebulae and open clusters
Voyager’s VCurve autofocus can run in-place if you know there’s a good star in the field of view. Or, be sure with AcquireStar – Voyager will automatically choose and slew to a nearby star, autofocus, and return to your target
First Light Wizard
There’s no need to spend hours setting up your autofocus with Voyager’s First Light Wizard. For most systems, it will generate a useful starting VCurve with a single click
Voyager can trigger an autofocus run on filter change, sequence element change, meridian flip, start of a sequence, change of temperature, change of altitude, elapsed time, and elapsed number of exposures
Voyager does a good job choosing a star automatically, but you can also dictate the focus star, and make a different choice for both sides of the meridian
You can list as many “bad stars” as you like, and Voyager will never use them for autofocus
On a per-filter basis, you can set the minimum and maximum magnitudes for your focus stars, exposure times, and binning. You can also choose whether to focus with the actual filter in use or another filter, such as your luminance
If you own Cyanogen Imaging® MaxIm DL™, you can use its autofocus routine with Voyager
You can use Software Bisque TheSkyX’s VCurve-based autofocus routine, @Focus2, with Voyager
Software Bisque’s TheSkyX also has a newer autofocus routine, @Focus3, that has gained popularity with its ability to achieve focus on practically any target
CCDWare’s FocusMax works with Voyager too. Use FocusMax’s “focus in place” or “AcquireStar” methods to maintain sharp focus all night long
Need to support a filter wheel with your imaging camera? Voyager has you covered.
If you use an ASCOM camera with Voyager, select an ASCOM filter wheel to go with it
Configure a filter wheel in Maxim DL to go along with your use of Cyanogen Imaging® MaxIm DL’s™ camera for image acquisition
Configure a filter wheel in Software Bisque’s TheSkyX when you use it for your camera support
Voyager supports the internal filter wheel in your QSI camera
Voyager interfaces directly with planetarium software and SIMBAD, the massive online free database, to look targets up by name and return their RA and DEC coordinates to use for slewing your mount and creating an imaging sequence.
Cartes du Ciel
Cartes du Ciel is mature, complete… and free! Use it to turn your target names into coordinates, then let Voyager grab a disk full of images for you
If you have the older Software Bisque planetarium, TheSky6, it works with Voyager
Software Bisque’s TheSkyX is one of the best commercial planetarium programs. Of course you can use it with Voyager 🙂
Hallo Northern Sky
Another great freeware planetarium program, HNSKY integrates directly with Voyager
If you have an Internet connection available, Voyager can do a lookup in SIMBAD which returns an extensive array of info about your targets
Plate Solving finds the RA, DEC and Position Angle (rotation relative to North) coordinates of an image. After plate solving an image, Voyager can use those coordinates to slew the scope, precisely point the scope (command the mount to slew, take an image at the new position, determine the error between the commanded slew and the actual position, and slew again to correct the error), or create a new imaging sequence using the solved coordinates. Voyager can plate solve an existing image from a FITS file, or take a real-time image and solve that.
Blind Plate solving works anywhere in the sky, without your scope reporting accurate coordinates. It’s a great way to synch your mount with Voyager at the start of the night if you just set up
If your mount is reporting fairly accurate coordinates, plate solving can proceed more quickly by providing the reported coordinates as a “hint” to the plate solving routine.
Voyager can use Software Bisque’s TheSkyX’s ImageLink plate solver, both All Sky (Blind) and referenced
Voyager works with both DC3 Dreams’ PinPoint LE and PinPoint Full
Use PlaneWave’s free PlateSolve2 for referenced plate solving
Blind solve if you have an Internet connection with the excellent online service at nova.astrometry.net
All Sky Plate Solver
Blind solve offline with the fast and free All Sky Plate Solver program
Voyager can automatically use a blind solver if referenced solving fails, do auto retries, and raise an error if the reported image scale exceeds your configured one by a specified percentage
Not only does Voyager store all your equipment and setup choices in your profile, it continually learns about your gear and uses that knowledge to improve the performance of the neural net inside of Voyager. Yes, Voyager uses sophisticated automata under the hood to make your imaging sessions go smoothly.
All the changes you make to your setup are automatically and immediately stored in the active profile. No need to remember to save them in a separate step
From a single menu you can perform all the things you would expect: Clone a profile, Load a new profile, Save as… the active profile to a new name
Sequences and Profiles
Sequences contain the name of your profile, not the details. So if you change your setup, all the sequences associated with that profile benefit from the changes the next time you run them
If you edit a Sequence that was defined with a profile different from the active one, Voyager warns you and lets you decide how to proceed. No surprises due to mismatches
Flats don’t have to be scary. Voyager has a dedicated Flat Sequence control that is specifically designed for acquiring flat frames. You can take completely automated dawn and dusk sky flats – the easiest way to get flat files; or use a panel or flip-flat.
No need to run a clunky wizard before taking flats to determine the exposure times for your flat sequence. Tell Voyager the acceptable ADU range for your flats and it calculates the correct exposure times on the fly, keeping only the flats that meet your criteria.
Want to use fixed exposure times for your flats so you can calibrate them with matching flat darks? No problem, just set the min and max exposure times to the desired value and the allowable ADU tolerance to 100%.
Take Sky Flats on the fly or as part of your “all-night imaging automation” DragScript. Sky flats are completely automated – the painless way to acquire flat files for calibrating your night’s haul of images
Voyager’s flat sequence can slew to a predetermined position so your scope is pointing at your illuminated flat panel. Own a commercial flat panel from Alnitak, Gemini or Tecnosky? Voyager can open and close them, and set their brightness on the fly
Arduino Flat Device
Build your own flat panel controller with one of the popular open source designs and Voyager will set its brightness
Voyager calculates exposure times on the fly to keep your flats within your desired ADU range. No need to run wizards before taking your flats to determine exposure times
Basic dome control via ASCOM is standard with Voyager. Advanced control of observatory relays, switches, pulse-width modulated devices, and analog or digital I/O can be achieved with Voyager’s optional companion product, Viking. And yes, you can manage it all from a drag and drop DragScript automation sequence, sundown to sunup.
Control your ASCOM-interfaced dome or roll-off roof directly from Voyager
Voyager can slave your dome with your mount, automatically updating the dome’s position as the mount changes azimuth. If your dome is externally slaved to your mount, no problem, that works too
Connected or Connectionless
Some dome drivers work best if you maintain a connection. Others don’t. Voyager handles both
Other I/O Devices
If your observatory has other I/O devices that need to be monitored by your automation script, Voyager’s optional companion product, Viking, can talk to those devices and integrate them with Voyager
We can’t guarantee clear skies, but if you have cloud monitoring hardware, we can suspend your night’s imaging – and most importantly, resume when conditions improve. But what if the target you were imaging is no longer in view when things get better? No worries, just set a start and end time or altitude for your targets and Voyager will skip to the next available one when the clouds go away.
And of course, Voyager can perform your shutdown sequence if the conditions deteriorate to your specified level. Park your scope, close the dome or roll-off roof, warm up the cameras – whatever you choose. You determine in detail what conditions trigger suspending, terminating or resuming your automation
AAG’s popular Cloudwatcher and Cloudwatcher solo devices provide detailed information about the weather. Configure Voyager to suspend, terminate or resume imaging on any combination of conditions
Boltwood / Clarity II / SkyAlert
Own any of these fine weather monitoring systems – or something that produces compatible weather data? You’re all set, Voyager will do your bidding as conditions change
Loss of Connection
Networks and hardware can fail. You don’t want to risk your gear and neither do we. You decide how long a drop of connection to your weather sensor is acceptable. After that, Voyager can shut things down
Every possible combination of reported weather conditions, Cloudiness, Wind, Rain and Light, can be configured as “Don’t Care,” “OK / Resume,” “Suspend,” or “Exit”
Observing Conditions, Sky Quality and Safety
Voyager can read status from an ASCOM controlled Observing Conditions, Sky Quality, or Safety monitor. Safety monitor readings can trigger Voyager Emergency Suspend, Exit or Resume actions. Sky Quality and Observing Conditions are displayed in the status window and the values can be read and tested in your DragScript. Based on the values tested, you can direct your DragScript to take any actions you desire.
Voyager can read and display status information from an ASCOM Observing Conditions monitor. Values can be tested in a DragScript and actions taken based on the current conditions
Sky Quality values can be read from an ASCOM Sky Quality monitor. Values can be displayed in the status window and tested in your DragScript, triggering any actions you wish based on the current conditions
ASCOM Safety Switch values can be used to cause Voyager to Suspend, Exit and Resume execution of your automated imaging session
With the flexibility of Voyager’s Drag and Drop automation workflow editor, you decide exactly what actions to take based on any of these conditions. You are not limited to our ideas of what should happen when conditions change
Voyager can use your automatic rotator with an ASCOM driver to rotate your setup to different position angles for framing, finding a guide star, or keeping the orientation of your images the same after a meridian flip
Voyager supports any rotator with an ASCOM driver
You can set Voyager to automatically rotate your camera 180 degrees after a meridian flip so your images all have the same orientation
Other Cool Stuff
Yes, there’s still more 🙂 . Here are some more goodies that don’t fit in any of the above categories, but are too important to leave out. Like, taming the much-feared meridian flip, or the fact that Voyager includes a full-fledged application server. Cool.
Meridian Flip Management
German Equatorial Mount owners learn to dread the meridian flip. Mishandled it cal lead to lost data or worse, crashing your gear into the pier. Voyager not only manages the meridian flip, it has numerous safety features to avoid these problems
Configuration options and log window messages are color coded to convey severity at a glance
Need to point near the zenith to start the night with a blind solve and sync? Want to point near the meridian and equator to calibrate your guider? No need to convert Alt Az to RA and DEC – just push a button for the zenith or load the Alt Az coordinates and go
Voyager contains an application server that is used in the custom version to provide full control and communication between multiple Voyager instances. Read the API docs to see what is available in the different versions of Voyager
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