EZCAP is a simple and easy to use software developed by QHYCCD. It offers the basic camera control and capture functions for cooled QHYCCD Cameras.This software is easy to learn and very suitable for beginner.
Please note the EZCAP only supply basic functions and allow you run the camera. If you need more advanced capture functions please consider using some third part capture software via ASCOM.For example, MAXIMDL, Nebulosity, AstroART and so on.
EZCAP works under WINXP,WIN7(32,64bit),WIN8(32,64bit) and WIN8.1(32,64bit). QHYCCD is developing the linux version and MAC/OS version EZCAP. It will be coming within the year of 2014.
You can download the lastest version from download area of QHYCCD website. After download, you will get a zip file. Uncompress it and run the exe file, software will be installed into your computer. You can find it at the Windows Start->QHYCCD EZCAP->EZCAP.
EZCAP now support English,Chinese and Germany language. You can select it in Menu->Language
If you have connected the USB cable of camera and run the EZCAP. You will find the camera name under Menu->Camera. Select it. If connected successfully, the Preview table will be opened.
If you run the EZCAP first then connect the USB cable. You need select the Menu->Camera->Scan Camera. Then the camera name will be shown under it and you can select the camera.
Set CCD Temperature
Before imaging you must set the CCD temperature. For future image calibration like the dark frame calibration etc it must use the the same temperature for light frame and dark frame. So do not forget to set the temperature each time.
Most QHYCCD cooled camera support the CCD sensor temperature regular function. You can click menu->Camera setup->Temp control and then the temperature control window will appear.
There is three temperature control mode: TEC OFF, Manual, Auto Control. TEC off mode will shut down the power to TEC and CCD sensor will return back to ambient temperature naturally. Manual mode will use the constant voltage to drive the TEC. In this mode, the power percent to TEC is fixed and it can be adjust from 0%-100% by the left bar. But it only regulates the power, not the temperature. Auto Control mode is the really temperature regular mode. In this mode , you can set a target CCD temperature with the right bar and the EZCAP will make a loop control and the temperature will get the target point after some minutes.
Let's assume you have connect the camera with the telescope(or lens).After camera connected, the first thing you want to do is making a preview then see if you can see something.
You will see the offset and gain setting bar in the Preview table. If it is the first you are using camer Please set Gain=0, OFFSET=130. This value is a common value for most QHY cooled camera. (You may need read the user manual of your camera to learn what is the offset and gain in future).
You can set a exposure time . For example 300ms. In order to get the picture instantly, Normally you do not need set a very long exposure time. In preview mode EZCAP offer 4*4binning and allow the sensitivity increase 16times.
Now you can click the Preview button. The camera will take a picture. You can also click on the Live button, the camera will capture image continuously.If you want to stop the live preview, you can click off the Live button to stop it
Preview mode will help you do a rough focus and find your target. If the focus is too faraway, you will not see any star, but you may see a weak disk after a stretch. Keep on live preview and adjust your telescope focus , if the disk become small and small, congratulations, you are in right way. Otherwise you need to reverse the directions.
You will see the disk becoming more and more smaller and finally you will see the sharp star. It means the rough focus adjustment done.
Now you can control your mount to GOTO your target. You can still keep the live preview and you should see the target directly in the preview image. For some faint object , you may need increase the exposure time to some seconds. But for most condition you only need a shorter exposure to get the preview more fast.
The preview table supply three markers and it allow you adjust the mount to put the object almost centered. The markers is also very useful when you are doing the mount alignment.
Stretch is an important conception in astronomy imaging.The camera output an image and it is more than 8bit(Most QHY cooled camera is 16bit). 16bit image will give you fully dynamic range of the CCD sensor and it is 65536 grayscales. While your monitor is only 8bit(256 grayscale). It means your monitor can not show all 65536 grayscale.
Stretch is a linear image processing to re-map the selected grayscale range to 0-255 to match your monitor dynamic range. You need define two position in the 16bit image. One is the black point and another is the white point. The number of black point is regards as 0(fully dark) in your monitor and white point is regards as 255(fully white).
For deep sky image. Object is very faint. Even after a long exposure, most pixel's output value is still small. In the histogram you will see the spread of the whole dynamic range and you will find a background peak. You can adjust the stretch bar. Let black position on left of the peak and white position on the right of the peak. This allow you inspection the background and find the faint signal.
In EZCAP, the stretch adjustment bar is under the Histogram table. You can see the histogram after capture an image. You can adjust the black position bar and white position bar below the histogram window. In order to get better adjustment, EZCAP also offer the some buttons below the histogram window and allow you make a fine/coarse adjustment.
EZCAP supply some automatic stretch functions. You can select a style in the automatic stretch list and click the the AUTO button.
By using the preview table you can get a rough focus. But since the preview mode is using 4*4binning. It is hardly to get a more precision focus.
EZCAP offers a focus table and offers a FWHM tools allow you make a fine focus adjustment.
Before you enter the focus table you must use mouse to click the preview image. You will see a red "Focus Area" box following the clicked position. You can click a bright star in the image. It is best to find a star in center of the image because you want to focus based on the image center. If you use a star on the edge. The focus will based on the image edge. This is not good.
After defined the focus area. You can open the focus table by click the focus title. You will see a narrow image . It is just the range you select in the preview window. This image normally use 1*1binning or 2*2binning and it will give better resolution for fine focus adjustment.
You can set a suitable gain/offset(by default it is 0 and 130) and then click the Focus button. The camera will capture one frame focus image. You can adjust the stretch bar and exposure time to get a better image. Normally do not need long exposure . 300ms-500ms is good for most stars. Too long exposure will cause the focus adjustment very slow.
Now you can click the Live button in focus table and let camera capture image in continuous. You can use mouse to click the focus image and select the star. After selected. the star will appear in a zoomed window and the FWHM and peak value will be shown in the grid.
The image is five time zoomed and the FWHM value is also five times than actual size. For example, the FWHM=15 means the star is 15/5=3 pixels. More small FWHM means more better focus.
Because of the atmosphere agitation the FWHM will not be stable each time. You need to watch its tendency and find a best position.
After you get a good focus position. You can capture the images now. Please stop the live focus and then Click the Capture title and the Capture table can be opened.
Please read the user manual of the camera to see how to get the best gain/offset. Actually you can a common value GAIN=0 and OFFSET=130 for most cameras. Some camera need a higher/lower offset to avoid the some pixel below zero.
In Capture table you can see the exposure adjust bar. By click the ms/s button you can switch the time unit from "ms" to "sec".
If you want a quick setup you can move mouse on the exposure bar and right click mouse. An exposure list will appear and you can select an exposure time quickly.
If you want to have a quick view of the picture, you can check on the "high download speed" box and capture one frame. Camera will use high download speed to transfer image. But for formal capture you need check off the high download speed to get the minimum readout noise and avoid other image problems(like a shadow after a bright star etc).
Now you can click Capture button to capture an image.
After get the image you can use stretch bar to inspect the image. Normally the image size is bigger than the screen. You will see a bird view in the screw view window. Use mouse to click it and you can move the main image window quickly to the area you want to see.
After you get an image. You can save it to disk. Select Menu->File and you can see three functions: save FIT, save BMP, save JPG . Normally speaking you need save to FIT format for future process. FIT format is a popular astronomy image format defined by NASA.
You can save the image in all preview, focus and capture mode.
After you finding the object and getting focus well done.You may want to capture some frames and then stack them. EZCAP has the planner function to this propose.
By clicking the Menu->Planner you can see planner window.
Noise analyze function can be open by check on the Menu->Image process->Noise Analyze. It will give nine area's RMS, STD, MAX, MIN. It also gives such information on overscan area.
Some QHY camera has both mono and color version. Includes QHY9, QHY11,QHY21,QHY22,QHY23 etc. EZCAP can not identity your camera color or mono. You need select it by manual.
Over Scan Area
EZCAP will readout the overscan area of the CCD sensor. The overscan is a black area in surround the effective image area. It is very useful for CCD calibration. You can get more information of Over scan calibration by GOOGLE.
If you check on the Menu->File->Igorl overscan area. You will see a green box appear on the image window. The image within the green box will be saved, overscan area is out of this box and it will not be saved. Otherwise, all image will be saved.
Advanced Camera Setting
Advanced Camera setting is in Menu->Camera Settings->Favorite. In this setup window there is the following items:
TEC protection. If this box checked. EZCAP will limit the DC201 output power below 70%. If you are using the battery, sometimes the input voltage will be up to 13.8V. The output voltage at 100% power is harmful for the TEC and reduce the life of TEC. You can check this box on in this conditions.
FineTone. This is a timing adjustment function for QHY9 and QHY11. It can used to get the best readout noise performance. The detail can be see at :