PHD GuidingPHD Guiding is designed to be "Push Here Dummy" simple, yet provide powerful, intelligent auto-guiding of your telescope for both PCs and Macs. Connect your mount, your camera, select a star, and start guiding. That's it!
Despite actually having a Ph.D., I've always had a tough time figuring out which way North is in the guide frame, whether an axis is mirrored (and if so, which one), how that's affected by camera rotation, how many arcseconds per pixel I'm actually running at (especially since a "2x" barlow isn't always 2x), etc. This is especially tough when standing out in a cold field late at night when all you really want to do is stay warm and collect good images of your DSO.
In PHD Guiding, all calibration is taken care of automatically. You do not need to tell it anything about the orientation of your camera, nor do you need to tell it anything about the image scale. The automatic calibration routine takes care of this for you. Odds are you won't ever need to set a single parameter. Just select your star and hit "PHD Guide" and let the software take care of it.
See submitted sample shots from users of PHD Guiding and sample shots from PHD and EQMOD
PHD Guiding (v1.14) is free. PHD is actually even better than free. PHD Guiding is open source in both the v1 version here and in the new v2 (available for Windows and Mac). Donations to help support PHD Guiding and its development are certainly appreciated. Like Public Radio, you decide if you want to contribute and how much.
Features• Windows and OS X
• Simple, clean interface designed for ease of use.
• Arbitrary camera orientation, pixel size, scope focal length, etc. measured during automatic calibration process.
• Guides through ASCOM's PulseGuide commands for lag-free, accurate commands on a wide range of mounts (Windows)
• Guides through ShoeString Astronomy's GPUSB (Windows & OS X) and GPINT (Windows) ST-4 style adapters for lag-free, accurate commands on a wide range of mounts
• Guides through Pierro Astro's USB Guiding interface to support a wide range of mounts
• Guides through Astro Gene's GCUSB ST4 interface to support a wide range of mounts (Windows:ASCOM and OS X)
• Guides through mounts connected to Equinox 6 (OS X)
• Guides through camera's onboard output port if present
• Stacking shorter subframes on the fly to extend effective exposure duration on short-exposure cameras
• Guiding in RA and Dec
• Intelligent automatic unidirectional and manual unidirectional Dec guiding modes
• Automatic sizing and stretching of guide image for display purposes.
• Image noise reduction with or without dark frames
• Real-time plotting of performance
• Supports the following cameras:
- ASCOM v5/6 compliant cameras (Windows)
- Atik 16 series, 3xx, 4xx, 4000, 11000 (Windows)
- CCD-Labs Q-Guider (Windows)
- DCAM compliant Firewire (OS X)
- Fishcamp Starfish (Windows and OS X)
- Meade DSI series: I-III, color and Pro (Windows and OS X)
- MagZero MZ-5 (Windows)
- Orion StarShoot DSCI (Windows)
- Orion Starshoot Autoguider (Windows)
- Orion Starshoot Planetary Imager and Autoguider (Windows)
- Opticstar PL-130 / PL-130C (Windows)
- SAC4-2 (Windows)
- SBIG (Windows and OS X, but see Help for details)
- Starlight Xpress SXF / SXVF / Lodestar (Windows and OS X)
- The Imaging Source (Windows and if Firewire, OS X)
- Webcams (short and long-exposure - parallel port, serial port or LXUSB, Windows).
Download PHD Guiding v1.14 (Windows XP/Vista/7(32 and 64)/8 and OS X Intel 10.6-10.8)
If you're running an Orion autoguider and you've not upgraded their drivers for some time and things don't work - upgrade their drivers from their site.
Historyv 1.14 (November 2012)
- All updates from pre-releases 1.13.1 - 1.13.7 (see below)
- Based on OpenPHD r109
- Initial QHY5-II support
- Fixed ST4 onboard connection bug
- Will save / restore window position
- (1.13.7a) Tweak to ASCOM mount's for mounts that PulseGuide but don't support IsPulseGuiding
- (1.13.7) Oct 22, 2012 based off of OpenPHD branch/craig r107
- (1.13.7) Fixed bug in star SNR calculation. Converted mean to a double to avoid divide by zero errors (came up in 8-bit cams with 0 backgrounds)
- (1.13.7) Altered star saturation detection to also check against img.Max (global max). Low bit depth cams on faint stars were triggering b/o quantization error
- (1.13.7) Fixed several error dialogs (e.g., ASCOM Chooser for mount: if Cancel, no more exception error)
- (1.13.7) (Bret) Patch to cleanly call Scope::Connect() at end of connection routine for specific mounts (ASCOM and some Mac specific)
- (1.13.7) Fixed bug in calculation of median filter for ROI mode
- (1.13.6) Users won't see too much, but this is a very significant pre-release. The guts of PHD Guiding have been open source for some time, but now the full releases have gone open source as well via a branch off of Open PHD Guiding (the "craig" branch). This is the beginning of a real shift in how PHD Guiding is developed as programmers across the world can now not only get the basic guts of PHD, but a 98% complete version (some hardware drivers cannot be included). Two developers have already stepped up to help out. Bret McKee did a major refactoring of the mount code and other internals and Jared Wellman has added new scripting bits. Both have also helped significantly in this transition and are to be commended.
- (1.13.6) iNova PL-M support added (Windows)
- (1.13.6) Server calls to auto-find-star now work when paused or guiding (so you can pause, slew, auto-find, resume)
- (1.13.6) Fixed bug in auto-find-star routine
- (1.13.6) Auto selecting previously used camera in camera chooser
- (1.13.6) Added ability to abort during calibration
- (1.13.6) Added the following server commands: MSG_FLIPRACAL (16), MSG_GETSTATUS (17), MSG_STOP (18), MSG_LOOP (19), MSG_STARTGUIDING (20)
- (1.13.6) Rewrite of the crosshair routine
- (1.13.6) Will no longer flag large-motion errors if Dec guiding is disabled to allow for drift.
- (1.13.6) Updates to make display intensity more stable, particularly w/darks
- (1.13.6) Tweak of plist for Retina display
- (1.13.5) Fixed bug in Ctrl-Click not letting you set the Dec color (thanks Igor!)
- (1.13.5) Automatic detection of shutter and use of it when taking dark frames (SBIG, SX, ASCOM, Atik in place)
- (1.13.5) Updated Atik to latest library
- (1.13.5) New server command (id=14) to auto-find star (same as pulling down this from the menu)
- (1.13.5) "None" camera added to list and calling the camera connect dialog up and pressing cancel will no longer disconnect (Thanks Nicola)
- (1.13.4) Updates to LE webcams to make them more reliable on capture in progress (clean up)
- (1.13.4) Updates to LE webcams to go COM1-COM16 as trigger options
- (1.13.4) Updated dark frame handling to ensure no strange values
- (1.13.4) Ability to load/save dark frames
- (1.13.4) SX "Superstar" properly named
- (1.13.3) Ability to connect to EQMac (think EQMod but for Macs http://hulse.id.au/eqmac/) for control over Atlas type mounts
- (1.13.3) Minor adjustment to DCAM/Firewire/IIDC cams on Mac (thanks Ken)
- (1.13.3) Load/save settings feature added. Anything PHD normally saves (e.g., Advanced dialog) will be saved to a user-specified file.
- (1.13.2) Fix to long-exposure webcams. Was not remembering port number
- (1.13.2) Changed name of Open SSAG on Mac
- (1.13.1) Beta-level support for Orion StarShoot Autoguider on Intel based Macs via Open SSAG (Thanks to Eric Holmes for 99.9% of the work on this!)
- (1.13.1) Updates to The Imaging Source (TIS) cams on Windows to use default FPS setting (changing to 5 FPS was giving issues on some cams).
- (1.13.1) Updates in place for ASCOM v6 (e.g., should detect color sensors and strip off matrix)
- (1.13.1) Updated to current SBIG library for support of STi cameras
- (1.13.1) Mac build now requires Intel processors and 10.5+
- (1.13.1) Windows build now bundles VC2005 libraries needed for some clean installs (e.g. XP)
- (1.13.1) Should now save the Dec slope weight parameter
- (1.13.1) Small bug-fix tweaks to find-star routine (thanks Tom H!)
v 1.13 (July 2011)
- All updates from pre-releases 1.12.1-1.12.4
- LAST build on the Mac that supports 10.4 and the PPC processors.
- Support for Starlight Xpress CoStar on Mac (earlier versions supported it on Windows)
- Updated support for The Imaging Source Win-7 drivers
- Fixed bug in display of some cameras (e.g., Orion SSAG) on nebtook sized screens
- Fixed memory leak in ASCOM (late) camera driver
- (1.12.4) Added Preference to scale dither commands sent via capture program (e.g., Nebulosity). Default is 1 (to keep things at +/- 0.5, 1, 2, 3, and 5) but you can now multiply these levels by anything you want.
- (1.12.4) Updated to new drivers for Fishcamp Starfish (Win)
- (1.12.4) Fixed issue that could make the Advanced dialog be super-tiny (came in from a nice feature in OpenPHD). If you're stuck with a small dialog, on Windows fire up RegEdit (Start, Run, enter in "regedit") and navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\StarkLabs\PHDGuiding. You'll see an entry there for "Advanced dialog fontsize". Just delete that key.
- (1.12.4) Fixed issue on Mac with incorrect positioning of guide box for some odd image sizes
- (1.12.4) Added ability to save star images as FITS files (hold down shift while pulling down Enable Star Image Logging)
- (1.12.3) Allowed ranges on parameters in graph log and advanced dialog synced.
- (1.12.3) Support for "late bound" ASCOM cameras ("ASCOM (late) camera" in menu). This will allow in v4 and v6+ ASCOM cameras and any v5 cameras that did not support the (now defunct) "early binding" mode.
- (1.12.3) Support for "subframe" mode on late-bound ASCOM cameras
- (1.12.3) Last-used ASCOM camera now remembered in ASCOM Chooser dialog
- (1.12.2a) Mac-only fix to >1 Starlight Xpress camera
- (1.12.2) Tweak to Star Mass tolerance. Hopefully, it's less prone to rejecting things now. You can disable it entirely (promise!) by setting it to 1.0. Also, it will only reject two frames in a row because of this.
- (1.12.2) Calibration portion of log file cleaned up to put commas between values for easier analysis
- (1.12.2) If entering calibration data manually, current value will be pre-filled in dialog
- (1.12.1) Log file changed: Another column has been added to list what kind of fault PHD might have found with a star during guiding. 0=OK, 1=saturated (but still trying to work with it), 2=Low SNR, 3=Low star mass, 4=High change in star mass, 5=Large motion detected. Anything above 1 causes PHD to sit still and not move.
- (1.12.1) "Max RA Duration" parameter added to Advanced menu(default is 1000 ms). Can be used to cap the RA duration during guiding.
- (1.12.1) Flip RA data entry added to Tools menu to flip the vectors post meridian-flip
- (1.12.1) "Star mass tolerance" added to Advanced menu (default is 0.3). If the change in mass from one time to another exceeds this fraction, the current sample is rejected and not used for guiding. So, if the star mass on one sample is 10000 and the next it is 12000, the command is sent. If the next is 14000 (or 6000) it isn't (with the threshold set at 0.3 -- if it were at 0.4, these would be sent).
- (1.12.1) Reworked Advanced dialog
1.12 (May 2010)
- All updates from pre-releases 1.11.1-1.11.3
- Support for Orion Planetary Imaging and Autoguider with 32/64-bit drivers
- Removed QGDEBUG info from logs on the QHY5
- Fixed Equinox guide output mode on Mac
- Fixed PL-130C name
- Manual lock position mode added. Enable and it will ask for the position. Click on the star you want to move to that position and hit Guide. It'll move it there (albeit slowly, at guide speed).
- Package now installs the 32/64-bit version of SSAGIF.dll for the Orion Autoguider by default (Orion's request). Users should either update the driver (http://www.telescope.com/rsc/img/catalog/lc/articles/ssag64bit.html) or rename SSAGIF_orig.dll (the previous version, still bundled with PHD) as SSAGIF.dll in \Program Files\PHD Guiding
- (1.11.3) Fixed issue with "hide" and "clear" button in graph log and added mouse-over tips.
- (1.11.3) In graph log, user can now change colors for lines. Shift-click RA/Dec button to change RA color. Ctrl-click to change Dec color.
- (1.11.3) Can now tweak numerous guide parameters on Graph Log window on the fly
- (1.11.2) When guide output is disabled, PHD will now track the star as it moves anywhere on the screen and not be confined by the search region (useful when doing PEC training)
- (1.11.2) Manual Guide dialog will now send commands even when guiding is active
- (1.11.1) Fixes for >1 SX camera on Macs - still an issue on PPC Macs
- (1.11.1) Fixes to the auto-star find routine (thanks Sander), but may still not be perfect
- (1.11.1) Removed warning about checking IsPulseGuiding -- handles it transparently as it really didn't matter
- (1.11.1) PHD can now remember which camera was last used. Shift-click on the camera button to connect to your last-used camera.
1.11 (9.25/09) Full release
- All updates from pre-releases 1.10.1 to 1.10.10
1.10.10 (9/8/09) - Pre-release
- More fixes for non-US customers that use commas in decimals (1.10.10a)
- Fix for non-US users so that log file will still use commas as delimiters and periods for decimal points in all locales
- Fix for lingering “garbage” on screen
1.10.9 (8/12/09) - Pre-release
- Crosshair changed to better click on stars
- Update code to reset lock position on start of guide
1.10.8 (8/2/09) - Pre-release
- Fixed GC USB ST4 adapter (1.10.8b - OS X)
- Fixed bug in star-finding routine that would lead to occasional dropped stars (1.10.8a)
- Updated star finding routine to deal well with large stars
- Added manual calibration entry routine (Ctrl-M or Tools menu)
1.10.7 (8/1/09) - Pre-release
- Clear button added to graph view
- RMS (RA) report added to graph view
- Updates to Dec resist switch - will decided on a side sooner
- Updates to Dec lowpass. New "slope" parameter included to help
keep constant, slow drift from building up (default value is 5)
- Huge number of internal updates to support OpenPHD's compile on
- Source of initial OpenPHD Linux code (core code now under BSD open
1.10.6 (6.20.09) - Pre-release
- Fixed ASCOM code to deal with drivers that report image size as Y,X vs. X,Y (e.g., QHY)
- Added suport for Atik "Generation 3" cams (314, 4000, etc. - TEC if avail, high-speed preview mode).
- Update internals to wxWidgets 2.9
1.10.5 (6/8/09) - Pre-release
- Work-around for SBIG ST-402 on Mac
- Support for GC USB ST-4 adapter (Mac)
- Updated dark routine to help prevent over-subtraction of dark
1.10.4 (4/30/09) - Pre-release
- Fixed bug in setting Max Dec duration
1.10.3(4/20/09) - Pre-release
- Link to Microprojects Equinox added (Mac). You can now send guide commands to the mount attached in Equinox (bringing a whole host of mounts into play for the Mac)
- Dark frame mode now takes and averages 5 darks instead of just 1
- Pixel squaring added as-needed on SX cams
- Fixed some bugs in the usability of the auto-find-star routine
- Fixed display for for low-res screens (e.g. 800x480 monitors)
- Updated Dec guide routines. All algorithms now have a "Max dec duration" parameter to limit things. The "resist switch" algorithm has been substantially re-tuned to be more intelligent as well.
1.10.2 (3/9/09) - Pre-release
- Added ASCOM v5 camera support (Windows)
1.10.1 (12/20/08) - Pre-release
- Update to modified DSI driver on Windows
- Opticstar 130C added
1.10.0 - Full release
- Fixed bug in Star Profile that could cause crash
- Updated Help file
- Auto-star select routine added. Right now, it will try to find the best star if you pull it down off the Tools menu or if you hit its shortcut key (Alt-S)
- Hitting Stop should free up Neb if aborting during a dither command
- Fixed high-dither command to do the +/- 2 pixels it should do. Was doing +/- 1.5. Also, setup for larger dither commands
1.9.2 (11/12/08) Pre-release
- If "onboard camera" selected on mount, will automatically connect to "mount" when connecting to camera.
- Star "mass" now added to log file
- Able to save images of star + box + crosshair as JPEGs during guiding (Tools menu). Known bug on OS X: color not present in saved images.
1.9.1 (10/4/08) Pre-release
- (1.9.1a Windows only) Fix for >1 Starlight Xpress camera
- Added Star profile viewer to the Tools menu
- Fixed bugs for Meade and Firewire (TIS) cameras on OS X
- Fixed bug that could lead to missing Dec values in log files if using North or South-only guiding
- Fixed bug that would ignore dark frames on several cameras
- Fixed bug that would keep exposure durations from being changed while guiding.
- Added timestamp to log file when logging manually enabled
- Poor star box changed to dotted line and good star green brightened to better see w/red lith. Other color / red-lith tweaks as well.
1.8.6 (7/17/08) - Pre-release
- Updated color scheme to make osc-index visible
- Updated dithering code for Neb2-RC1
1.8.5 (7/9/2008) - Pre-release
- Updated star-finding routine for enhanced precision in the face of noise
- Color of RA line changed in graph so it will show up with red lith over screens
- Set to flash a very dark red instead of a bright red when star is lost to show up better on red lith-covered screens
- Server log will only show up if "Enable Debug Logging" is selected (and can only appear when the server is started).
1.8.4 (only released with Neb2 betas)
- Graph set to have dark background
- Enable Server entry set to save/restore across sessions
- Default exposure duration set to 1s on startup
- Can now go directly from Loop to Guide without hitting Stop
- Distance criterion set to max-out at 25 pixels
- Default Calibration step sized increased to 750 ms from 500 ms
- Default Minimum Motion dropped to 0.15 from 0.25
- Updated to latest Atik / Artemis code (3.13) and bug fixed with connecting to these cameras with other FTDI devices present.
1.8.3 (4/2/2008) - Pre-release
- Support added for SXV / SXVF cams including the Lodestar. Both Mac and Windows.
- Setpoint.exe bug fixed -- Most DLLs set to delay-load. Users of the SAC4-2 will still have issues if running setpoint.exe. This is a camera driver issue, not a PHD issue.
- Graph log bug fixed (1.8.1)
- Meade DSI III driver updated
- Graph of recent history added (Tools menu)
- Opticstar PL-130 and Meade DSI III support added (Opticstar is on Windows only)
- Updated to new libraries for Fishcamp Starfish
- Updated docs
- Debug logging mode put in (Tools menu)
- Server mode (for link to Nebulosity v2) in place but not very functional
- The Imaging Source (TIS) camera fixes (Windows) to support more models
- DCAM / Firewire fixes (OS X) to support more models
- Manual Guide moved to new Tools menu
- Various overlay options added (bullseye, coarse grid, and fine grid) in Tools menu
- Button added to take (and use) dark frames and Tools entry to clear dark frame
- QGuide code updated with version 1 of a horizontal line remover algorithm
- Max Cal Step Duration increased to 10s
- Tools menu item added to clear dark frame
- Fixes to recording of RA_Dist and DEC_Dist in logfile
- Full Vista compatibility (no longer need XP SP2 mode) - v1.6.1
- WDM (webcam) handling altered for more intelligent handling of dropped frames vs. dim frames
- Noise reduction modes added (2x2 mean, 3x3 median)
- Atik 16 series support added (Windows)
- Option for subframe / ROI download only on cameras that support this (So far: Atik, SBIG). Subframes will be shown when a star is selected (Shift-click to clear selection)
- CCD Labs QGuide code altered to use new drivers from Tom Van den Eede. This driver must be used if you use a QGuide now.
- Audible alert added when guiding and guide star lost
- Dialog added to let you manually move the scope (at guide speed). See Mount menu.
- QGuide code updated for better stability
- GPUSB code updated on Macs to work with newer GPUSB adapters
- MagZero MZ-5 support added
- DCAM / Firewire library on Macs updated
- Long-exposure parallel ports can now be reconfigured prior to connection
- Entire rewrite of the Dec guiding routines to better track large amounts of Dec drift while still attempting to stay on the same side of the gear in "Auto" mode
- User has choice between the original Dec guide method ("Lowpass filter") and this new Dec guide method ("Resist switching") in the Advanced panel.
- Dec now respects the "Minimum Motion" parameter
- Greater precision in star location, especially on Orion Starshoot cameras, resulting in more accurate guiding
- Initial (beta level) support for Firewire / DCAM cameras from The Imaging Source (cameras other than the DM_21F series - i.e., those with exposure durations longer than 1/30s) on Windows and OS X.
- Log file now has date stamp in name
- Fixed bug in connecting to SBIG USB cameras
- SBIG support (Win & OS X): USB, Ethernet, and Parallel (parallel only on Windows). Note, only 1 CCD may be used on dual-CCD cameras, so if you use 1 in PHD, the other will not be available to other programs.
- Fishcamp Starfish support (Win & OS X)
- CCD Labs QGuide support (Win)
- Fixed minor bug in saving LXUSB's read delay across sessions
- Option to disable the actual guide output commands during guiding added to Prefereces. Useful for generating unguided periodic error curves on your mount.
- Impatient instructions updated
- Bug fixed that kept 0x278 from working as LE adapter address
- When star is lost during guiding, button bar will flash red
- Detects small displays (e.g. 800x600) and scales to fit
- Buttons automatically enabled and disabled appropriately
- Can no longer attempt to calibrate w/o a guide star selected
- Search size now customizable (Advanced dialog) and default expanded slightly
- Advanced dialog redone with automatic sizers
- Mounts that do not support IsPulseGuiding (but do support PulseGuide) handled gracefully. Will turn off movement check (and alert user) but operate just fine.
- Max duration taken to 10s
- OS X version supporting DSI cameras and GPUSB output
- Stop button now far more responsive
- DSI support improved. Can select from any connected DSI. (If using Envisage as well, please uncheck the "Live" preview for the camera you are using in PHD or enjoy the show as both programs fight for the image).
- Log file improved. One line per frame (both RA and DEC commands on the same line) and timestamps inserted.
- Support for the Meade DSI, DSI Pro, DSI-II, and DSI-II Pro added (kudos to Sean Prange for the low-level work)
- Slider in control panel on the bottom of the screen now controls screen / image gamma (brightness). Position will hold across sessions.
- Advanced panel now has setting for the minimum star movement tolerance (values are in fractional pixels). The default is the star must move 0.25 pixels before a guide command is sent, but any value may be used. This value will hold across sessions.
- Installers reworked to better support Win2k and Win9x. Some cameras will not work on Win9x, however. If you get an error on installation, please upgrade to the lastest Service Pack.
- Dec calibration routine tuned to better take out backlash prior to calibration
- Dec guiding now has 4 modes: Off, Auto (as in previous versions), North, and South
- Font size increased and stable across monitor settings
- Individual frames can be saved in FITS format
- Abort/Stop button more responsive
- Logging of guide commands turned off by default
- Logic of serial port long-exposure webcam control fixed
- SNR threshold for star detection adjusted to work better with Orion StarShoot
- Serial port support for long-exposure webcams
- Timing of long-exposure webcams tweaked for fewer dropped frames (Please set your camera's FPS to 5)
- Camera Setup button for webcams moved to main screen
- Documentation updated
- Long-exposure webcams (SAC7, Atik, SC-1 or 1.5) added with control either via the parallel port or via the ShoeString LXUSB
- SAC4-2 support enhanced by up to 2s real exposure duration
- Short-exposure webcams set to have 3 frame minimum for noise / dropped frames purposes
- Visual indication (box turns from green to orange) if its not sure where the star is (dropped frame, poor SNR) during guiding and during star selection.
- GPUSB (ShoeString USB adapter) support added
- GPINT (ShoeString parallel port version) support added
- "Mount" menu added to let you choose which kind of mount the connect routine will go to
- Dec backlash taken up before Cal begins
- If Dec cal fails, will turn off the feature, alert the user, but init guiding in RA only
- All values on the Advanced menu and selection off the Mount menu saved across sessions
- Support for older "VFW" style webcams and video capture cards added
- Multiple WDM devices now let you choose which one to use
- Saturated stars now show warning in Status Bar
- Initial beta release