Zerene Stacker

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stacker:docs:stackshot [2012/04/18 12:28]
rjlittlefield [Nikon D5000 with Nikon Camera Control Pro 2 software]
stacker:docs:stackshot [2017/03/15 14:36] (current)
rjlittlefield [Installing the StackShot device drivers] fixing the updated URL
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 However, many people prefer to plug the StackShot into a USB port on their computer, then control it directly from Zerene Stacker using a graphical user interface on their computer. However, many people prefer to plug the StackShot into a USB port on their computer, then control it directly from Zerene Stacker using a graphical user interface on their computer.
  
-This feature is available for 30 days free trial starting from first use of the feature.  After the trial is completed, you'll need a Professional Edition license to continue using it.  Personal and Student Edition licenses can be upgraded to Professional for the difference in purchase price.  Just email [[support@zerenesystems.com]] for details. +This feature is available for 30 days free trial starting from first use of the feature.  After the trial is completed, you'll need a Professional or Prosumer Edition license to continue using it.  Personal and Student Edition licenses can be upgraded to Prosumer or Professional for the difference in purchase price.  Just email [[support@zerenesystems.com]] for details. 
  
 For practical purposes, you can think of the StackShot interface as being divided into two major features: For practical purposes, you can think of the StackShot interface as being divided into two major features:
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 Zerene Stacker uses industry-standard device drivers for the USB chip that is utilized by the StackShot controller.   Zerene Stacker uses industry-standard device drivers for the USB chip that is utilized by the StackShot controller.  
  
-**For Windows computers (Windows 7, Vista, and XP)** that are connected to the Internet, the required drivers usually will be automatically located and installed by the operating system when the controller is first plugged in.  For computers that are not connected to the Internet or cannot find the proper drivers online for themselves, drivers for the Stackshot controller can be downloaded from [[http://www.ftdichip.com/Drivers/D2XX.htm]].   At the current time, the setup executable for Windows (both 32-bit and 64-bit systems) is [[http://www.ftdichip.com/Drivers/CDM/CDM20814_Setup.exe]] .  Simply download this file, burn it to CD or thumbdrive, transfer it to the offline machine, and run the executable there.+**For Windows computers (Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, and XP)** that are connected to the Internet, the required drivers usually will be automatically located and installed by the operating system when the controller is first plugged in.  For computers that are not connected to the Internet or cannot find the proper drivers online for themselves, drivers for the Stackshot controller can be downloaded from [[http://www.ftdichip.com/Drivers/D2XX.htm]].   At the current time, the **setup executable** for Windows (both 32-bit and 64-bit systems) is [[http://www.ftdichip.com/Drivers/CDM/CDM21226_Setup.zip|http://www.ftdichip.com/Drivers/CDM/CDM21226_Setup.zip]].  Simply download this file, burn it to CD or thumbdrive, transfer it to the offline machine, and run the executable there.
  
-**For Macintosh computers**, drivers are provided as part of the Zerene Stacker bundle and will be installed by Zerene Stacker itself if necessary.  You do need to run this process from an account with administrative privileges, and you'll be asked to provide the password for that account.  Other than that, Zerene Stacker manages all the details of selecting the proper driver for your system and copying it into /usr/local/lib for you. +**For Macintosh and Linux computers**, drivers are included in Mac OS X and Linux and will be configured by Zerene Stacker if necessary.  You do need to run Zerene Stacker from an account with administrative privileges (one that is allowed to update Mac OS X), and you'll be asked to provide the password for the account that you're using For most usersyour regular account will work fine, and the password to provide is just the one that you normally use to login to your computer Once the password is provided, Zerene Stacker manages all the details internally.
- +
-For Linux, the StackShot interface is not yet supported.  If you want to use StackShot on a Linux system instead of Windows or Mac OS X, please contact support@zerenesystems.com .+
  
 ==== Using the Zerene Stacker controls ====  ==== Using the Zerene Stacker controls ==== 
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 Once a StackShot has been connected to your computer and the appropriate device drivers have been loaded, Zerene Stacker’s interface can be activated by selecting Tools > Stackshot from the Zerene Stacker menu system.   Once a StackShot has been connected to your computer and the appropriate device drivers have been loaded, Zerene Stacker’s interface can be activated by selecting Tools > Stackshot from the Zerene Stacker menu system.  
  
-{{:stacker:docs:betas:stackshotbeta:image001.jpg}}+{{:stacker:docs:betas:stackshotbeta:image001.jpg|}}
    
 Clicking this entry will cause a new window to appear: Clicking this entry will cause a new window to appear:
  
-{{:stacker:docs:betas:stackshotbeta:image002.jpg}}+{{:stacker:docs:betas:stackshotbeta:image002_a.jpg|}} 
  
 +The rail position can be adjusted with any of the controls indicated by the red arrows.  Sliding the small solid triangle left-right provides very coarse positioning, turning the large outer dial provides finer control at 2 mm per turn, and turning the small inner dial provides finest control at 0.2 mm per turn.  (To turn a dial, position your cursor over the black dot, then press-and-drag in a circular manner.)  A value can be typed into the text field, and the rail will move to that position when you hit Enter on the keyboard or click away from that field.
  
-The rail position can be adjusted with any of the controls indicated by the red arrows, or by typing a value into the Rail Position field.  Sliding the small solid triangle left-right provides very coarse positioning, turning the large outer dial provides finer control at 2 mm per turn, and turning the small inner dial provides finest control at 0.2 mm per turn.  (To turn a dial, position your cursor over the black dot, then press-and-drag in a circular manner.)+"Zero" button relabels the current position of the rail to be "0.00000".
  
 “Back” and “Fwd” buttons act like the corresponding physical buttons on the Stackshot controller box.  They cause the rail to move incrementally, with acceleration, using the maximum speed and ramp time settings from the Configuration panel.   “Back” and “Fwd” buttons act like the corresponding physical buttons on the Stackshot controller box.  They cause the rail to move incrementally, with acceleration, using the maximum speed and ramp time settings from the Configuration panel.  
  
- “Set Start” and “Set End” buttons specify the start and end of stack as being the current rail position.  Values can also be entered by typing into the corresponding fields   +"Back Step" and "Fwd Step" buttons move the carriage by the amount specified in the Step Size field.
  
 +“Set Start” and “Set End” buttons specify the start and end of stack as being the current rail position.  Values can also be entered by typing into the corresponding fields.    
  
- “Go to Start” and “Go to End” move the rail to the specified positions.  They are used to confirm that the desired endpoints have been specified.+“Go to Start” and “Go to End” move the rail to the specified positions that have been set.  They are used to confirm that the desired endpoints have been specified.
  
-Step Size must be manually entered by typing.  (Be sure to press Enter on the keyboard when finished.)+"Step Size" is usually entered manually by typing.  (Be sure to press Enter on the keyboard when finished.)  Or if you have defined standard settings on the Step Sizes tab, then you can click to select there.
  
 # Steps will update automatically as the Start, End, or Step Size fields are set. # Steps will update automatically as the Start, End, or Step Size fields are set.
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 “Shutter” button is used to confirm that the camera, flash, and image acquisition software have been set properly. “Shutter” button is used to confirm that the camera, flash, and image acquisition software have been set properly.
  
-“Shoot Stack” button begins the shoot/move/shoot/move... sequence.  Once this button has been pressed, it will change to a red “<html><font color="red">Stop Shooting</font></html>” button that can be used to interrupt the sequence.+“Shoot Stack” button begins the shoot/move/shoot/move... sequence.  Once this button has been pressed, it will change to a red “<html><font color="red">Stop Shooting</font></html>” button that can be used to abort the sequence. 
 + 
 +"Pause" button is used to temporarily interrupt the sequence when shooting a stack.  It will change to "Resume" when pressed, and pressing "Resume" will let the sequence proceed from the point that it was interrupted. (Note: you should avoid repositioning the rail when the sequence is Paused.  If you do, then proper position may not be restored when the sequence resumes.) 
 + 
 +"Panic Stop" is used to immediately stop the sequence and stop the rail, even if it is in the middle of moving.  This button should be reserved for situation where equipment may be damaged if the movement is allowed to complete. 
 + 
 + 
 +A typical setup sequence goes like this: 
 + 
 +  - Use the Back and/or Fwd buttons to position to the front of your stack. 
 +  - Press the Set Start button to lock in this position. 
 +  - Use the Back and/or Fwd buttons to position to the back of your stack. 
 +  - Press the Set End button to lock in this position. 
 +  - Use the Go to Start and Go to End buttons to confirm that you have Start and End positions properly set. 
 +  - Type an appropriate value into the Step Size field. 
 +  - Click into the # Steps field and read the number, to confirm that it makes sense. 
 +  - Press the Shoot Stack button to begin shooting the stack. 
  
 === Panic Stop === === Panic Stop ===
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 At the **Configuration** tab are controls that you will generally set once and then leave unchanged for many stacks.   At the **Configuration** tab are controls that you will generally set once and then leave unchanged for many stacks.  
  
-{{:stacker:docs:stacker:docs:stackshot:configurationtab.jpg|}}+{{:stacker:docs:betas:stackshotbeta:image003_a.jpg|}}
  
 Within the Configuration tab, settings are broken into two major sections, Stack Settings and Device Settings. Within the Configuration tab, settings are broken into two major sections, Stack Settings and Device Settings.
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 "Prerun distance" allows you to specify a distance that the rail should "back off" before moving to the start position to begin shooting a stack.  It will also back off before positioning in response to the "Go to Start" and "Go to End" buttons.  The purpose of prerun is to guarantee that all types of mechanical slack have been removed before the designated position is reached.  The main type of slack is backlash along the rail axis, but usually there is also a small amount of rotational backlash that can be important at higher magnifications.  Be careful when using prerun at short working distances, to avoid running your lens into the subject.  When moving to Start, the prerun position will be on the side away from End.  To be safe, you should set Start to be farther away from your subject, and End to be closer.  That way prerun will first move the lens farther away from the subject, then advance it toward the subject to reach the target position. "Prerun distance" allows you to specify a distance that the rail should "back off" before moving to the start position to begin shooting a stack.  It will also back off before positioning in response to the "Go to Start" and "Go to End" buttons.  The purpose of prerun is to guarantee that all types of mechanical slack have been removed before the designated position is reached.  The main type of slack is backlash along the rail axis, but usually there is also a small amount of rotational backlash that can be important at higher magnifications.  Be careful when using prerun at short working distances, to avoid running your lens into the subject.  When moving to Start, the prerun position will be on the side away from End.  To be safe, you should set Start to be farther away from your subject, and End to be closer.  That way prerun will first move the lens farther away from the subject, then advance it toward the subject to reach the target position.
  
-"High precision threshold" indicates a step size at which Zerene Stacker should switch the rail from normal to "high precision" mode.  The difference is that in normal mode the rail position is accurate to roughly 0.005 mm uncertainty, while in high precision mode the accuracy is increased to roughly 0.001 mm uncertainty.  Obviously high precision mode is better for fine work, such as through a high power microscope objective where the nominal step size may be only 0.010 mm or less.  However, high precision mode has the drawback that it causes the stepper motor to produce a nearly continuous high-pitched whining sound that can be annoying to people around it.  Often a good strategy is to set the high precision threshold to something like 0.020 mm so that large steps are done in normal mode and the rail is quiet except when it is actually moving, while small steps are done in high precision mode where the increased accuracy is required.+"High precision threshold" indicates a step size at which Zerene Stacker should switch the rail from normal to "high precision" mode.  The difference is that in normal mode the rail position is accurate to roughly 0.005 mm uncertainty, while in high precision mode the accuracy is increased to roughly 0.001 mm uncertainty.  Obviously high precision mode is better for fine work, such as through a high power microscope objective where the nominal step size may be only 0.010 mm or less.  However, high precision mode has the drawbacks that 1) it causes the stepper motor to produce a nearly continuous high-pitched whining sound that can be annoying to people around it, and 2) the motor drive currents are larger so the motor will become warm.  Often a good strategy is to set the high precision threshold to something like 0.020 mm so that large steps are done in normal mode and the rail stays cool and quiet except when it is actually moving, while small steps are done in high precision mode where the increased accuracy is required.
  
 "Log all communications" causes every communication event between Zerene Stacker and the StackShot to be written into Zerene Stacker's console log.  This is useful as a debugging tool. "Log all communications" causes every communication event between Zerene Stacker and the StackShot to be written into Zerene Stacker's console log.  This is useful as a debugging tool.
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 Zerene Stacker can also be made to simulate keystrokes and mouse actions by itself, even on Windows systems.  This is useful for driving third party applications that are not prepared to be launched or controlled by command line actions.  This "robot" capability is described separately, **[[:stacker:docs:stackshot:robot:|HERE]]**. Zerene Stacker can also be made to simulate keystrokes and mouse actions by itself, even on Windows systems.  This is useful for driving third party applications that are not prepared to be launched or controlled by command line actions.  This "robot" capability is described separately, **[[:stacker:docs:stackshot:robot:|HERE]]**.
  
 +"Rail position at left/right of indicator bar" is used to adjust the Common Controls panel for rails or other focusing devices of different sizes.  It can also be used to swap the left and right sides, for example to support setups in which "Forward" means "to the left".
  
 Torque and similar parameters are still specified using buttons on the StackShot controller, at this time. Torque and similar parameters are still specified using buttons on the StackShot controller, at this time.
 +
 +=== Step Sizes ===
 +
 +The "Step Sizes" tab of the controller panel allows predefined step sizes to be recorded in a table for convenient re-use at a later time.  This function is provided mainly for the use of system integrators, who can provide settings that are known to work well with the optics that they provide.  But it's also useful for anybody who uses a number of standard setups on a regular basis.
 +
 +Here is what the table looks like once it has been set up to contain typical settings for a Canon MP-E 65 lens:
 +
 +{{:stacker:docs:betas:stackshotbeta:image005.jpg|}}
 +
 +At this point, clicking on the row for "5X f/4.0", with an Adjustment Factor of 0.700, then clicking on "Use Selected Step Size", will immediately plug in the value 0.050 * 0.700 = 0.035 back on the Common Controls panel.
 +
 +To set up or modify the table, you start by putting a checkmark in the "Show all controls" checkbox.  That causes additional controls to appear:
 +
 +{{:stacker:docs:betas:stackshotbeta:image006.jpg|}}
 +
 +In these additional controls, "Up", "Down", "Delete", and "Add" are used to rearrange rows, while "Save..." and "Load..." are used to write the table to a text file and read it back again.  
 +
 +The name and location of the last file loaded is kept as part of the Zerene Stacker configuration, so that file will be automatically loaded when Zerene Stacker is launched again.  (Note that you must manually "Load..." after "Save...", when you first create the file.)
 +
 +The format of the text file is one line per row, columns separated by a tab character.
 +
 +As shown in a spreadsheet program, here is the file that represents the above table:
 +
 +{{:stacker:docs:betas:stackshotbeta:image007.jpg|}}
 +
 +Note that the description field can be entered either as plain text or as HTML-formatted text.  Here we have used HTML formatting codes to make "MP-E 65" print in bold and red.  This sort of formatting is useful to organize the table when many setups are provided.
 +
 +
  
 === Notes ===  === Notes === 
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 (Remaining operations as for Canon recipe, above.) (Remaining operations as for Canon recipe, above.)
  
 +===== Troubleshooting =====
 +
 +Sometimes things don't work right, so that you cannot shoot a stack.  
 +
 +A particularly common problem is that everything seems to be fine, the rail moves and everything, but **the camera won't take pictures during a stack** even though it //will// take pictures when you press the button in some camera control program like Canon EOS Utility. This puzzling situation (and many others) can be debugged as follows.
 +
 +**First, a bit of background may help...**
 +
 +__Very important__: **Zerene Stacker never attempts to talks to the camera directly**.  When Zerene Stacker wants to take a picture, it sends a command to the StackShot controller to do that.  The StackShot controller then closes an electrical switch on the shutter cable.  The closing of that electrical switch causes the camera to take a picture.  In response to the picture being taken, the camera and EOS Utility have a conversation between themselves to transfer the image to the computer. 
 +
 +When things are acting normally, there are three separate communication channels: USB from Zerene Stacker to StackShot controller box, shutter cable from StackShot controller box to camera, and USB from camera to EOS Utility.  (If you are using the "Stack New Images" function in Zerene Stacker, then there is a fourth communication channel of sorts, in which Zerene Stacker periodically checks a folder in the computer's file system to see if there are new images to process.  But that is seldom an issue when people see problems.) 
 +
 +Each of these communication channels should be completely independent of the others, except to the extent that activity on one may alter timing of events on another.
 +
 +Each of the USB connections is bidirectional.  The shutter cable and associated electronics are unidirectional.  A signal goes from controller box to camera, but no information goes the other way.  The StackShot controller cannot tell whether the camera did or did not take a picture.
 +
 +**...end background info...**
 +
 +So, the fact that your camera control program is working OK means that the USB connection between camera and computer is OK.  But that path is not used by Zerene Stacker.  The problem lies someplace on the other path, or in some interaction between the two paths.
 +
 +If the camera won't take pictures as part of the stack, then the first thing to check is always step 9 in the Canon recipe above, or step 2 of the Nikon recipe, or some similar setting if you're using another brand of camera.  Each of these steps has to do with camera or software settings that are required in order for the shutter cable to tell the camera to take pictures.
 +
 +If that does not resolve the problem, then check all the cabling again.  The problem could be something as simple as a dislodged shutter cable.
 +
 +If that does not resolve the problem either, then it's probably best to start at the beginning and work your way forward, testing at each step.  Here is a long and detailed description of a comprehensive test process using Canon EOS Utility.  Make the obvious substitutions if you're using some other camera control program.
 +
 +  - Remove all cables, so that the StackShot and camera are two separate units, not connected to anything else.
 +  - Be sure that there's a memory card with some free space installed in the camera, so that it can take pictures when not connected to the computer.
 +  - Install the shutter release cable between the StackShot controller's Shutter socket and the camera's remote shutter release socket.
 +  - Be sure that both the StackShot controller and the camera are powered on.
 +  - Press the physical Shutter button on the StackShot controller, and confirm that the camera takes a picture.  Repeat this a couple of times.  Notice the red light above the Shutter button on the StackShot controller.  It should turn on briefly at the instant the button is pressed and the picture is taken, then turn off again a fraction of a second later.  If this does not work correctly, then it's possible that the StackShot controller needs to be reset to factory settings, or that there is some problem with the shutter release cable or its connectors.
 +  - After you have confirmed that the Shutter button on the StackShot controller can make the camera take a picture, continue as follows...
 +  - Connect the StackShot controller to the computer by USB, leaving the camera still not connected to the computer.
 +  - Launch Zerene Stacker and do a Tools > Stackshot so as to open Zerene's StackShot Controller panel.  If this panel opens properly, then you will know that the USB connection to the StackShot controller is OK.
 +  - Mouseclick the Shutter button in the StackShot controller panel, and confirm that the camera takes a picture.  Repeat a couple of times.  It is very unlikely that this will fail, but if it does, the issue is almost certainly that either 1) the StackShot controller needs to be reset to factory settings, or 2) there is an intermittent failure in the USB cable or its connectors.
 +  - After you have confirmed that the Shutter button in the StackShot controller panel can take a picture, then continue as follows...
 +  - Connect the USB cable from camera to computer.  Be sure that all equipment is powered on.  If EOS Utility launches automatically, then manually Quit out of it.
 +  - With the camera powered on and connected to the computer, but with EOS Utility not running, again mouseclick the Shutter button in Zerene's StackShot controller panel and confirm that the camera takes a picture.  Repeat a couple of times.
 +  - Set up a short stack in Zerene Stacker's StackShot controller panel, then press the Shoot Stack button and confirm that the rail moves and the camera fires correctly.
 +  - After you have confirmed that you can shoot a stack with everything cabled, but with EOS not running, then continue as follows...
 +  - Launch EOS Utility and make sure that it is configured to automatically download images as they are shot.
 +  - Be sure that Live View is not enabled in EOS Utility.
 +  - Again test to see if you can shoot a stack under these conditions.  When this all works, continue as follows...
 +  - In EOS Utility, go into Live View.
 +  - Do whatever is required, to make the Live View image also show on the camera's own LCD screen.
 +  - Again test to see if you can shoot a stack under these conditions.  This is testing full functionality: Zerene Stacker driving the StackShot,   StackShot driving camera, EOS Utility showing live view and downloading images as they are shot.  If this fails, but all the other steps worked, then the problem is probably a bad USB cable that is causing some sort of crosstalk between the two USB connections (one to StackShot, one to Camera).  In that case try swapping in new USB cables and repeat the testing.
 +
 +We've mentioned a couple of places about resetting the StackShot controller to factory settings.  Here is how to do that, instructions copied from the Troubleshooting section of the StackShot manual:
 +> With StackShot powered off, hold down the DOWN button, and apply power. Once the splash screen shows up, release the DOWN button. This will load the factory defaults. It will NOT erase your saved settings.
  
 +**As always, feel free to email [[support@zerenesystems.com]] if you need assistance.**
stacker/docs/stackshot.1334766488.gz · Last modified: 2012/04/18 12:28
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