>>>    SET'n'C    <<<

Solar Eclipse Timer and Camera controller

 

 

 

 

Download SET'n'C v.3.8.0.0

Download SET'n'C v.3.7.0.0

Download SET'n'C v.3.6.0.0

Download SET'n'C v.3.5.0.0

Download SET'n'C v.3.4.0.0

 

 

Please, play with it and drop me an email with hints, ideas, wishes ...
 

 

SET'n'C  -  Solar Eclipse Timer and Camera controller

 

SETnC is a Freeware program for the automated solar eclipse photography by means of a Canon EOS Camera connected via USB to a PC running Windows XP or Windows7/32 (windows Vista and Windows 8 not tested).

 

There are other programs for the same purpose available:


Fred Bruenjes          : EclipseOrchestrator for Windows PCs and Canon DSLR cameras:
http://www.moonglowtech.com/products/EclipseOrchestrator/index.shtml


Wolfgang Strickling: EclipseDroid for Android devices and Canon or Nikon DSLR Cameras:
http://www.strickling.net/eclipsedroid.htm


Xavier Jubier           : Solar Eclipse Maestro for MacOS X and Canon or Nikon DSLR Cameras:
http://tinyurl.com/SolarEclipseMaestro


Glenn Schneider    : UMBRAPHILE for Mac Computers and "any" cameras.
http://nicmosis.as.arizona.edu:8000/ECLIPSE_WEB/UMBRAPHILE/UMBRAPHILEX_BETA_RT005.zip or
http://nicmosis.as.arizona.edu:8000/ECLIPSE_WEB/UMBRAPHILE

 

*****   The Advantage of SETnC is ease of use !   *****

 

Step 1: From the main menu: Choose a solar eclipse and input the coordinates of the observation site.

(Hint: Choose the Eclipse of 2017-08-21, enter Latitude 42 North, 138 West, Height 500)
 

Step 2: From the main menu: 

Step 3: From the main menu:  

 

*****   These six mouse clicks are all you need !   *****

 

 

Program history (improvements and changes)

 

Date

Version  New in this version

20170321

3.8.0.0 Two additional ISO values 16'000 and 20'000 implemented.
All image quality format names made unique by appending a lowercase letter a to the legacy camera names. Example:
{PTP} ( PropID: $00640013 : PropStr: 'RAW+LarFinJPG'
{LEG} ( PropID: $00240013 : PropStr: 'RAW+LarFinJPGa'

20170320

3.7.0.0 Two additional ISO values 204'800 and 409'600 implemented.
Three RAW format names changed to RAW, RAWa, RAWb

20170319

3.6.0.0 Bug corrected: Empty fields in the exposure table triggered default values, which is wrong. Empty fields are now ignored.

20170302

3.5.0.0 Bug corrected: Exposure time values were loaded to the wrong position in the Exposure table.

20170203

3.4.0.0 Installation package compiled using NSIS (NullSoft Installation System).
Visual filter alarms are always displayed.

20161117

3.3.0.0 Error in the exposure tables corrected. (the 2" value was handled in a wrong way)

20150924

3.2.2.0 Delta-T for the year 2017 reduced to 68.8 sec.

20150826

3.2.1.1 EDSDK v.3.2.1 implemented.

Bug fixed: After a shutter release the image quality was set to another value.

20150305

2.15.3.16 Bug fixed: Dummy aperture value f/4 is no longer inserted into the exposure table, if a camera without this possibility is connected.

20150117

2.15.2.8 Bug fixed: Commas as decimal separator in exposure tables are converted into periods. (DecimalSeparator="."). System wide settings are not touched.

20150112

2.15.1.1 EDSDK+v2.15 implemented.

20121002

2.11.2.x Minor change. The adopted Delta T is shown.

20121001

2.11.1.x Minor change. Coordinates can be entered with sub-arcsecond resolution.

20120805

2.11.0.x EDSDK+v2.11 implemented.

Program tested with Canon EOS 400D, EOS 450D, EOS 5D Mark II.

20100814

2.8.1

Bug fixed (World map image size was not exact).
Program tested with Canon EOS 400D, EOS 450D, EOS 5D Mark II.

20100620

2.8 EDSDK+v2.8 implemented.

Program tested with Canon EOS 400D, EOS 450D, EOS 5D Mark II.

20090831

2.7 Bugfix in EDSDK API: Value 0x00000000 = AUTO in kEdsPropID_ISOSpeed.

Bugfix in SETnC:

Program tested with Canon 450D.

20090506

2.6.1.xxx EDSDK+v2.6 implemented.

20090131

2.5.1.xxx EDSDK+v2.5 implemented.

20080917

2.4.1.xxx EDSDK+v2.4 implemented.

Bug fixed: Only in Test mode, exposure times following the total phase were sometimes not recognized.

20080714

1.7.0.xxx Bug fixed: Times in exposure tables are now calculated to 1/10 sec, regardless of the option "Tenths of seconds" state. In previous versions, the time points C1, C2, CMax, C3 and C4 were rounded to the nearest second, if the option "Tenths of seconds" was not checked.

20080604

1.6.0.xxx Attempt to implement the model Canon EOS 40D.

20080603

1.5.0.xxx Upon program exit, the user coordinates are stored in the installation directory of SETnC. (In previous versions, the Windows temporary directory was used)

20080601

1.4.0.xxx The 30s instead of 0"5 bug corrected.

20080530

1.3.0.xxx Runs without settable aperture ring. When the camera is attached to "nothing" or to a non-Canon lens, the 400D displays F00 (instead of f/2.8...). The aperture values in the Exposure Table are then ignored.

20080529

1.2.0.xxx Latitude and longitude can be entered in decimal or sexagesimal notation.

20080526

1.1.0.xxx EDSDK2.3 implemented.

20080524

1.0.0.26 Minor fixes.

20080519

1.0.0.24 Interested, but no Camera available? Now you can see how SETnC works ...
The Eclipse Photography can be performed in Real Time mode or in Rehearsal Time Mode without having a Camera connected (SIMULATION MODE).

20080514

1.0.0.19 Rehearsal Time mode implemented. The System Time of the PC is no longer manipulated. With the button "Advance Time" the program enters the rehearsal mode and the "fictive" PC date and time are advanced to 5 seconds before the next line in the Exposure Table.

20080511

1.0.0.12 When pressing "Create Exposure Table", the column width of the Exposure Table grid is set automatically to fit the cell contents. (The width of individual columns can be manually adjusted with the mouse by dragging the fine vertical lines between columns.)

 

Table of contents

 

System requirements and Software installation

User instructions

Operating philosophy

Actual state of the project

Acknowledgements

Trade marks and copyrights

 

 

System requirements and software installation

 

PC: Windows XP and Windows 7 (Windows Vista or Windows 8 should work, but are not yet tested); 1 USB port for the camera connection. SETnC is downloaded as a "normal" Windows installation file. If you run the downloaded file, SETnC will be installed in the program files folder or in a user specified folder.

SETnC does NOT store any data in the Windows registry.

If you exit from the program, a file SETnC.prm is created in the users AppData\Roaming\SETnC directory. This file contains the solar eclipse number and the last coordinates of the observation site. These parameters are loaded into memory, if the program is restarted at a later time.

 

Camera: Any of the tested models in the following table. Other Canon camera models should work, but are not yet tested). It is not necessary to have any delivered camera software installed on the PC.

The camera should be equipped with a large and fast memory card, as the images are stored in the camera. I'm using CompactFlash® Extreme III® and Extreme Pro® with  8 and 32 GB capacity.

 

Tested Camera models:

Canon EOS 400D
Canon EOS 450D
Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Canon EOS 6D (reported)
Canon EOS 70D (reported)

 

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Not supported camera models:
Canon EOS 350D

 

 

User instructions
 

The communication between SETnC and your camera can be tested at any time at home or in the field. Please make you familiar and play with SETnC and your camera.

When working outdoors under real solar eclipse conditions, it is important that you are already familiar with SETnC and your camera. There is no time for testing, as you know, if you have already witnessed a total solar eclipse. Here are some key points that must be checked: If you are a computer expert, you will probably ignore some of the following items.

 

PC check list

  • Is there enough battery power for the eclipse duration? This can easily be tested by setting the PC's date and time to the next eclipse and entering your expected observing coordinates.

  • Alternatively a power adapter/connector for a car battery (cigarette lighter) or a dry battery must be used.

  • Set the computers time zone to Universal time and disable (uncheck) the automatic clock correction for DST.

  • Disable any CPU consuming "infantile" Windows gadgets. In "Start" - "Settings" - "Control panel" - "System" - "Advanced" - "Performance settings"  select the tab "Visual effects" and bullet the option "Adjust for best performance".

  • Set the screen background color to black. Right click on the desktop, set in "Properties" - "Desktop" - "Color" the color to black.

  • Disable Screen savers.

  • Close any unneeded programs. If you are not connected to a network, Firewalls and Virus-scanners can be disabled.

  • If possible, reduce the CPU frequency and the LCD screen brightness of your PC.

Camera check list

  • Is there enough battery power for the eclipse duration?

  • If you have a battery pack, use it instead of the Li ion battery pack.

  • Alternatively a power adapter/connector for a car battery (cigarette lighter) or a dry battery must be used.

□ Objective (s)
□ Solar foil (ND=4 or ND=5)
□ Telescope adapter
□ USB cable (Camera-PC connection)

  • Insert an appropriate Memory card. (Large memory capacity; fast access times)

  • Format the Memory card.

  • Set the date and time in the camera to Universal Time.

  • Turn the AE mode wheel to position M (manual). For some camera models setting the AE mode is a menu option.

  • Set the camera's Review Time off.

 

Startup

  • Power the PC and start Windows.
    Do not start any unnecessary applications.

  • Power the camera and connect it via USB cable to the PC.
    After a few seconds, a form (see
    below) will appear indicating the camera is recognized.
    Press or close the form.

  • Start the program SETnC.
    It is recommended to have the powered camera connected with the PC before starting the program SETnC.

  • SETnC consists of three forms, which are explained on the next three sheets.

 

Main form: Solar Eclipse Selection / User Coordinates / Solar Eclipse Timer

 

 

The main form is divided in three zones or "columns". The leftmost zone is the input zone for the Solar Eclipse selection and the input of the coordinates of the observation site. In the middle column the system time and the contact times  for the selected eclipse at the given observation site are shown. In addition to these local circumstances, the global begin and end of the penumbral eclipse (P1 and P4) are shown. Upcoming events are shown in green or greenish color; passed events are shown in red or reddish color.

  • Solar Eclipse Selection
    All solar eclipses of the 21. Century are available in SETnC. An eclipse is selected with the scroll bar in the top left corner. Below the scroll bar the date of the eclipse is shown (Year, Month, Day), the general type of the eclipse and the time of global greatest eclipse on the center line.

  • Geographic. Coordinates
    of Observation Site
    Latitude and longitude of the observing site can be entered in two different notations:

    a) "Normal" d
    ecimal notation
    b) ":"-separated sexagesimal
    notation". In this user friendly notation the first colon separates the degrees() from the arc minutes('), and the second colon separates the arc minutes(') from the arc seconds(").

Examples (Values in same row are equivalent):

Decimal value

Sexagesimal value Entered as ":"-separated sexagesimal notation

45.5000

4530'
4530'00"
45:30
45:30:00
 

  0.7500

0045'
0045'00"
00:45
00:45:00
:45
::2700


Zero values can be omitted (0 in this example)
2700" = 45' = 0.75

10.5000

1030'
1030'00.0"
10.5::
5:330:
10:30.0

You like it crazy? Then enter 5 plus 330'. It works!
This notation is often found on GPS displays: Degrees plus decimal arc minutes.

 

The hemispheres (North/South and East/West) are chosen from dropdown lists.
If available, the height in meters above mean Sea level can be entered.
The crosshair on the World map shows the entered coordinates.

  • System Time
    Knowing the exact time is the heart of the program! All calculations and triggering of the camera are based on this time, the system time of the PC. Once more: Set the computer system time zone to Universal Time (UT) or Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and disable (uncheck) the automatic clock correction for Daylight Saving Time (DST) prior to starting SETnC.
    The system time is indicated (white characters on black background) below the title bar. If desired, tenths of seconds can be displayed with "Options" "Tenths of seconds".

  • Contact Times (UT) - The Solar Eclipse Timer
    In the middle column, the times of the various contact times of the eclipse for the given coordinate are shown. Above each contact time, the time difference (Countdown) from the actual system time to the event is given.

Note: If SETnC is terminated by hitting Alt-F4 or by the menu option "File" "Exit", the Geographic Coordinates are saved in the Windows temporary directory, from where they are restored.

 

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Camera Form

 

On the Main form there is a menu item "Camera". This brings you to the Camera Form. Any camera activities (tests, eclipse photography) are triggered from this form. Beside the Connect and Disconnect buttons, the Camera form contains three tabbed pages:

 

  • Interactive Camera Tests

  • Advanced Camera Tests

  • Eclipse Photography

 

By default, the Interactive Camera Control page is shown.

 

 

If the camera is powered and connected to the PC, the button "Connect Camera" enables connection. The possible settings are read from the camera and filled in the combo boxes. After successful connection the form looks like ...

 

 

Note: The Camera must be and REMAIN in AE mode M ! The grayed and inactive AE mode field should remind you NOT to change the AE mode.

You can now take your first "remote" picture by pressing the release button. Changing any settings on the form are reflected on the camera screen. Changing any settings on the camera are reflected on the camera form.

Note: The pictures are saved in the memory card of the camera. SETnC does not transfer any pictures to the computer.

 

 

The next page on the Camera Form is called "Advanced Camera Tests". This page is not for you. I use this page for test purposes.

 

 

The third (and most important) page on the Camera Form is called "Eclipse Photography". Before you press the "Test Eclipse Photography" button or the "Start Eclipse Photography" button, an Exposure Table must be created. If you have not already done, go to the Main Form, select "Exposure Tables" and press the "Create Exposure Table" button.

Hint: Keep the Exposure Table open somewhere on the desktop.

 

 

When this button is pressed, the pictures are taken according to the Exposure Table, but the date and time are ignored. With this test you can quickly check, weather your memory card has enough storage capacity.
Note: The loop during the totality is only passed once!

If you didn't already create an exposure table, a message is shown in the right text box.

 

When this button is pressed, the eclipse photography starts. You can press this button at any time. In the middle text box the description of the next action will be written, the time difference to the action (yellow) and the date and time of the action (gray).

The following picture shows this Real Time behavior. The "Start Eclipse Photography" was pressed on June 20, 2010, some 21 days before the beginning of the partial eclipse in French Polynesia.

 

 

During the real solar eclipse you leave now the computer untouched !!!

 

But for test purposes, a "Rehearsal Time" can be advanced to the next Line in the Exposure Table. If the button "Advance  Time" is pressed exactly once, you can test the complete eclipse sequence of actions without waiting for the real eclipse to begin.
If all lines in the Exposure Table are processed (and all pictures are taken), the system resets automatically to Real Time mode.

The following pictures show what happens, when the "Advance Time" button is pressed:

  • Date and time are advanced to 5 seconds before the next event, and counting.

  • The "System Time" indicator in the middle column on the main form changes to "Rehearsal Time" and the background changes to red color. This is a warning indicator that the system is NOT in Real Time mode.

 

You can press the "Back to Real Time" button at any time of the tests.

 

 

Exposure Table

 

 

On the Main form there is a menu item "Exposure Table". This opens the Exposure Table on a new form. Depending on the eclipse type at the given Location, different bullet groups for the different phases of the eclipse are shown.

The Button "Create Exposure Table" can be pressed at any time. An Exposure Table is then created from the actual settings and bulleted items.

The form contains the following items (Please choose the total solar eclipse of 2017-08-21, and set the coordinates 42.0 S / 103.0 W on the main form, then press "Create Exposure Table"):

  • Camera Defaults:
    If the camera connection is established, the available settings are filled in the combo boxes. Otherwise "reasonable" default values are preset.

  • Part. phases: Take pictures every...
    During the partial phase(s) pictures can be taken in intervals of 1 to 9 minutes. The default value is 5 min. By default three pictures are taken (1/1000, 1/500 and 1/250 sec).

  • Near C2,C3: Baily's beads: Take ...
    By default pictures from -6.0 to +6.0 sec around second and third contact are taken. The interval is 1.5 sec.

  • During totality:
    During totality the program loops through the checked exposure times.

The exposure table has a grid structure like Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. You can set or delete the cell contents. For example, if you do not want to take pictures at 1/250 sec during the partial phases, select the corresponding cells and press the delete key. For example, if you want to take pictures in RAW format during the totality, change the corresponding "image quality" cell accordingly (see below).

 

 

Example for a modified entry: The Image quality entry is set to RAW+LarFinJPG and every second "x" from the exposure times during the totality is deleted.

 

Note:

  • Exposure Tables can be saved to and loaded from disk. When saving, the corresponding eclipse parameters (date of the eclipse and coordinates of the observing site) are saved to the file, too.

  • If an Exposure Table is loaded from disk, the corresponding eclipse parameters (date of the eclipse and coordinates of the observing site) are loaded into the main form, too.

  • If you press "Create Exposure Table", the complete Exposure Table is recreated from scratch and unsaved modifications are lost.

 

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Exposure Table for partial eclipses
 

The proposed exposure table for a partial eclipse is built as follows: At maximum eclipse (Mx) a picture is taken.

Before and after that moment, pictures are taken at equally spaced  time intervals, until  the begin (C1) or the end of the partial eclipse (C4) is reached, or the Sun is below the horizon. One picture on both sides will be taken.

The following graph shows a partial eclipse with its maximum at Mx. User selected the option "Take a picture every 5 min".

The eclipse begins at 67 min before Mx, therefore the first picture will be taken 70 min before Mx, which is immediately before the beginning of the eclipse.

Sunset occurs 32 min after Mx, therefore the last picture is taken at 35 min after Mx.

 

 

Operating philosophy

 

 

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Depending on the location of the eclipse observer, the following "visibility matrix" describes what can be seen. The eclipse of 2008-08-01 is taken as example. If this eclipse is chosen, user can enter the location.

Note: if the eclipse is annular at the observation site, it is treated by SETnC just like a partial eclipse, as there is no need to remove the solar filter. However, around the contact times C2 and C3 more pictures are taken.

 

Location

Contact Comment Can I use SETnC ?

(0000 m.a.s.l.)

C1 C2 Mx C3 C4    

10.0N

10.0 E - - - - - No eclipse is visible at the given location. No

20.0N

111.0 E C1 - - - - A partial eclipse begins just before sunset. No

20.0N

95.0 E C1 - Mx - - A partial eclipse begins and the maximum of the partial phase is visible before sunset. Yes

30.0N

95.0 E C1 - Mx - C4 A complete, but only partial eclipse is visible. Yes

60.0N

70.0 W - - Mx - C4 The Sun rises partially eclipsed. the maximum of the partial eclipse and the rest of the partial eclipse is visible. Yes

50.0N

70.0W - - - - C4 A partial eclipse ends just after sunrise. No
                 

34.0N

114.4E C1 C2 - - - A partial eclipse begins (late afternoon) and totality/annularity occurs seconds before sunset at the horizon. Eclipse maximum occurs after sunset. Not recommended
Currently disabled

34.0N

114.2E C1 C2 Mx - - A partial eclipse begins (late afternoon) and totality/annularity occurs before sunset at the horizon. The eclipse maximum is theoretically visible, but the totality occurs after sunset. Not recommended
Currently disabled

34.0N

110.0E C1 C2 Mx C3 - A partial eclipse begins (late afternoon). The entire totality/annularity is visible, but near the horizon. The sun sets partially eclipsed. Yes

45.0N

92.0E C1 C2 Mx C3 C4  
The complete solar eclipse is visible!
 
YES

70.0N

99.0W - C2 Mx C3 C4 The sun rises partially eclipsed. The entire totality/annularity is visible, but near the horizon. The ending partial phase is completely visible. Yes

68.4N

103.5W - - Mx C3 C4 The sun rises during total/annular phase. The eclipse maximum is theoretically visible, but near the horizon. The ending partial phase is completely visible. Not recommended
Currently disabled

 

68.0N

102.0W - - - C3 C4 The sun rises during total/annular  phase. But the eclipse maximum occured before sunrise. The ending partial phase is completely visible. Not recommended
Currently disabled

 

 

Actual state of the project

 

Not yet implemented:

  • Multiple Canon DSLR cameras selection.

  • Help File.

Note: I'm working with the Software developer kit EDSDK+v3.5 from Canon and with Canon 400D and 5D Mark II cameras.

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Acknowledgements

 

My thanks go to Canon Inc., who provided the software developer kit EDSDK+v3.5. This is the communication software between the computer and the camera.

My thanks go to Priyatna Harun, who provided the smart Delphi component NiceGrid 2.20.

This is the Excel-like data grid holding the Exposure Table. ( http://www.priyatna.org ).

 

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Trade marks and copyrights

 

Windows XP™, Windows Vista™, Windows 7™, and Windows 8™ are trade marks of Microsoft Inc.
CompactFlash
® is a registered brand of CompactFlash Association.
Extreme®III and Extreme®Pro are registered brands of SanDisk Corporation.
 

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