Main ScreenThe PHD2 main window is designed for ease of use and clarity. Its intent is to support a quick and natural sequence of interactions to start and control guiding. The basic steps for doing this are as follows:
- Connect to your guide camera and mount
- Start a sequence of guide exposures to see what stars are available in the field of view
- Choose a guide star and calibrate the guider
- Continue guiding on the target star while using various display tools to see how things are going
- Stop and resume guiding as necessary
The majority of the screen is taken up by the display of the star
field from your guide camera. The display is automatically
adjusted for size, brightness, and contrast so you can have a clear
view of available stars. However, these adjustments are done only
for display purposes. Internally, PHD2
operates on the raw,
un-adjusted data in order to maximize guiding accuracy. This
display is also used to select a guide star by simply clicking on it.
You should definitely adjust the slider control so you can see
even the faintest stars in the field.
- The USB connector icon - used to connect to your camera and mount devices
- The Loop icon - used to start a sequence of repeated exposures with the guide camera ("looping"), with each resultant image (guide frame) being displayed in the main window. If guiding is subsequently started, clicking on the 'loop' icon again will pause guiding while continuing to take guide exposures.
- The PHD2/Guide icon - used to start calibration, if needed, and then to start guiding on the selected star.
- The Stop icon - used to stop both guiding and looping
The next control to the right is a slider for adjusting screen stretch and contrast, essentially a "gamma" adjustment. PHD2 automatically adjusts the display accounting for the darkest and brightest pixels in the image, and the slider is used to fine-tune the display to better see the stars in the field of view. This may be useful, for example, if you are trying to focus the guide camera for the first time and need to see the large, out-of-focus star image. Moving the gamma slider only makes the display brighter or dimmer for your viewing. PHD2 always uses the raw pixels from the camera for guiding, and moving the gamma slider has no effect on guiding. A display of "completely white" or "completely black" is usually an indication that no stars are available in the field of view.
Next to the gamma slider is the "brain button." This button brings up an Advanced Dialog for making detailed adjustments to PHD2's guiding operations. An important design goal of the program is to minimize your need to change these parameters, but "the brain" is nothing to be feared - there are adjustments available here that can significantly improve your guiding results and make your life easier. Over a period of time, you should take a look at this dialog and learn what it can do for you.The rightmost control in this row is a "camera properties" button. Depending on the particular camera, this button may be enabled to provide access to a configuration dialog unique to the camera. However, common camera properties such as gain and binning will normally be set in the 'Camera' tab of the PHD2 Advanced Dialog. If the button is disabled, any available properties can be set in the PHD2 Advanced Dialog..
Darks, Tools and Utilities, and Visualization sections of this help document.
The status bar at the bottom of the main window is used to display messages and status information that will help you keep track of guiding operations.
Near the center of the status bar are fields showing the current state of the guide star. If the SNR value drops below 10, its value will be shown in yellow as a warning that you may encounter some 'lost-star' events. If the guide star is saturated, the field to the left of SNR will show 'Saturated' in a red typeface.
To the right of the star status fields are two text fields showing the latest RA and Dec guide commands. These show the size of the guide pulse, the correction amount in pixels, and an arrow showing the direction. The arrows follow the usual compass conventions: Dec up/down corresponds to north/south, RA left/right corresponds to west/east. All of this information is captured in the log files and displayed in the various graphical tools, and those are what you should use for visualizing your guide performance. But these status fields may give you a quick visual clue when something is behaving unusally.
The rightmost panels in the status bar show icons that give you visual clues about the current state of PHD2:. These icons are color-coded to give you a dashboard view of current status and have the following meanings:
'Dark' - red means neither a dark library nor a bad-pixel map is being used, green means one or the other is in-use. If you're using a bad-pixel map, the text will say 'BPM' rather than 'Dark'
'Cal' - shows the state of calibration. Red means the mount is currently uncalibrated, while yellow means there is a calibration but it isn't being adjusted automatically to account for scope pointing position. This will happen when you aren't using either an ASCOM or 'aux' mount connection in PHD2. If the icon is yellow, you will generally need to recalibrate when you move the scope to different declination positions.
"The Ball" - shows whether all the equipment in your profile has been successfully connected. If the ball is yellow, some components are not connected, while green means everything is connected.
If you hover the mouse cursor over any of these status icons, you'll see details about the current state.