Software Bisque Newsletter


Software Bisque Newsletter
TheSky Turns 30 • New Machines • X2 Camera Support • Upcoming Events
In the last four years Software Bisque
has released entirely revamped versions
of all of our flagship software, and
hardware products, as well as introduced
several new products. In August 2012,
we moved into a new facility that allows
a far greater machining capability
and vastly improves our production
Looking Forward
and Back
“Software Bisque is investing
in the latest software and hardware
technologies so that we can continue
to offer innovative products now,
and in the future. After thirty years,
we’re as excited about the future
of astronomy as ever!”
Steve Bisque
ntroduced in 2001, the Paramount ME
was Software Bisque’s exclusive hardware
product for ten years, and demand kept
our small machining facility perpetually
busy. In early 2012, Software Bisque retired its dated 2D CAD-CAM software and replaced it with SolidWorks, a state-of-the-art 3D
modeling package that ties directly into MasterCam, the software used by CNCs to actually
make stuff. This transition allowed Software
Bisque to rapidly bring several new hardware
products to market, including the Paramount
MX, Paramount ME II, and the Pyramid Portable Pier. Several new products are now under
In September 2012, MasterCam visited Software Bisque to review our design and development process. They were impressed enough to
make a video! You can watch it by going to the
Accuracy in Arcseconds – Web Link or scanning the QR Code.
In August 2012, after residing twenty-two years in
downtown Golden, Software Bisque packed up both
its office and machine shop
and moved two miles north.
With everything, and everyone in one place,
material handling, research, development, testing and engineering are more efficient and lets
Software Bisque make better products even
faster. In 2013, Software Bisque increased the
capacity of the new machining facility by upgrading its CNC equipment.
It is hard to believe that we have
spent over thirty years updating
TheSky to take advantage of the
latest, greatest technologies. And it
seems our incredible journey is just
getting started. In the early days,
our excitement came from faster
computers with cool new features,
and today it is… well, pretty much
the same thing. There is something
very satisfying about applying software
technology and computer hardware
to make astronomy more accessible
and fun. Our three decade long run
has witnessed star databases grow from
hundreds to billions; the number of
known asteroids from a few thousand
to well over six hundred thousand,
and growing. The time required for
a computer determine the orbital
positions of the planets, for one instant
in time, used to be nearly twenty
seconds. A run of the mill laptop can
now compute these positions several
thousand times each second! And
astronomical gadgets have matured
to the point where small aperture
telescopes in the backyard can discover
planets going around stars other than
our Sun. Simply remarkable!
As we take a look back, we’re excitedly
looking forward to bringing you
the next generation of astronomical
Steve Bisque
Out With the Old,
In With the New!
Basic economics tells us the more efficiently
we can make parts, the sooner we can bring
products to market, and the sooner our
customers can enjoy them. So, we’re always
looking for ways to improve efficiency and
In August 2013, Software Bisque purchased
three new Doosan DNM 500 machining
centers. Each new mill tips the scales at
eight tons, represents a twenty year leap
in technology, and are better, smarter,
and faster in every way compared to their
predecessors. After about a week and
half of set up, calibration, testing, and
programming, they were all up and running
full speed!
More photos at ...
Daniel R. Bisque
Blog – Web Link
“I don’t have room to even list all the features
of the Paramount MX and its software,
yet alone describe them in detail.”
Dennis di Cicco
Sky & Telescope Report
Paramount MX – Web Link
The Paramount MX is well suited for portable
imaging or permanent installations. With a
head weight of 50 lb (23 kg) it may not be the
lightest portable mount on the field, but it certainly is the most sophisticated. Software Bisque
applied the technologies we developed over the
last decade for the Paramount ME to the Paramount MX, and then raised the bar. The Paramount MX’s brushless servomotors are powered by our
fourth-generation control
system, the MKS 5000.
Building on the
mechanics over the last fifteen years. The
Paramount ME II has a higher payload
capacity (240 lb/110 kg total instrument
capacity not including counterweights),
higher-torque brushless servomotors, larger
bearings, and a completely redesigned control system compared to the Paramount
ties of earlier control systems, the MKS 5000
also features USB to PC control, has a built-in
two port USB hub, can track objects well beyond the meridian, and sports a sleek new hand
The Paramount ME II includes:
• TheSkyX Professional Edition*
• TPoint Add On*
• Camera Add On*
• Multi-OS* and Six License Add On
*Windows and Mac OS X
Paramount ME II –
TheSkyX Professional
Now is the time to
Web Link
Edition – Web Link
purchase the
First introduced in 1996
In 2005, Software Bisque
at the SBIG and Software
made the decision to rein March the price
Bisque Imaging Conferwrite our entire suite of
ence, the Paramount
will increase to $15,000. observatory
software to target both Mac
Mount ushered in a
and Windows operating
new era of remote astronomy and autosystems. Though it was obvious it would
mation. The design goal was simple—
be a large undertaking, looking forward,
make a mount capable of pointing and
Software Bisque knew there was no choice.
tracking well enough to run all night,
We recognized that the dominant hardware
unattended. The Paramount ME II
and operating systems would not tolerate
represents a continual refinement and
software build on legacy source code using
integration of software, electronics and
legacy development tools.
Richard S. Wright, Jr.
- Web Link
Lake Mary, FL
November 22, 2013
I feel like Paul Revere
announcing a coming
invasion, and to some
extent it’s true. Cross platform X2 camera
support is about to explode.
In the last couple of months, we’ve been to
AIC (Advanced Imaging Conference), and
the SWAP (Southwest Astrophotography)
seminar, coupled with the Arizona Science and
Astronomy Expo (ASAE). I bet you think we
go to these things to meet our customers, and
sell stuff... well of course we do... but it’s also so
we can talk to other vendors, make deals, see
what they are up to, etc., etc.
So, boy do I like to image. Boy, do I like to
image on a Mac, and now that I have a few X2
camera plug-ins under my belt, I seem to have
achieved camera control critical mass. Cross
platform camera support is now shipping and
solid for SBIG (thanks to Matt), and Canon
DSLR’s (my first X2 plugin). My next X2 foray
TheSkyX Professional Edition was released in
May, 2010, chock full of new and improved
features. Rather than continue having multiple,
separate applications to extend its functionality,
TheSkyX’s optional, tightly integrated Add Ons
• TPoint Add On for telescope pointing
• analysis.
• The Camera Add On offers native camera,
• focuser, filter wheel, rotator and other device
• control, as well as autoguiding, automated
• focusing and more.
• The Dome Add On keeps the OTA and
• dome slit aligned, and continuously moves
• the dome slit to maintain telescope and
• dome alignment.
• The Multi-OS and Six Licenses Add On
• provide licenses for both Mac and Windows
• on up to six different computers.
• The Database Add On is a physical hard
• drive containing more than 200 GB of
• astronomical databases.
Astronomers worldwide are now realizing the
benefits one application control their entire observatory.
The Cameras are Coming,
the Cameras are Coming!
was porting the QSI Windows X2 plug-in to the
Mac, then I got the SSAG from Orion up and
going on both platforms. Meanwhile FLI and
Evan Warkentine have risen to the challenge
of getting FLI going across operating systems
as well. Lets’ review the Camera Add On’s
Mac camera support right now: SBIG, QSI,
FLI, Canon, Orion (SSAG),
Starlight Xpress SX Lodestar.
get this working correctly). In the labs, I
have QHYCCD and ATIK cameras taking
images, cooling, etc. already. The plugins are coming along very nicely. Finally
Apogee has promised some support so that
we can get X2 up and going on the Mac for
their cameras as well.
crowd. I’ve recently forged
good relationships with
Starlight Xpress, QHYCCD, ATIK, and Apogee
(Apogee X2 is already available on Windows),
the Starlight Xpress Lodestar support has been
out a while now, and after a preliminary trip/
stumble, I’ve checked in a very stable Starlight
Xpress X2 plugin that should work across
platforms, and across their camera lines (not
just Lodestar... I really needed two cameras to
camera vendor via X2,
and I know of at least one
other camera vendor who is making their
own X2 plug-in. On Windows, I think
the Camera Add On is a very competitive
alternative to some of the other imaging
suites, and on the Mac there really isn’t
anything that compares to the level of
integration you can get between TheSkyX
and your imaging tools....
All Sky Image Link – Web Link
Software Bisque’s Image Link™ was
first released in 1996. Image Link
finds the astrometric solution of
your photos, provided the image
scale and approximate coordinates (right ascension/declination) are known, and is an invaluable tool.
“I really like TheSkyX Pro.
For me, the improved Image
Link and Automated Astrometry
features are excellent and worth
the price of the upgrade...”
All Sky Image Link™ breaks through Image
Link limitations to “plate solve” digital photos
without any knowledge of the photo’s position
or exact scale. This exciting new technology
makes the processes of telescope setup, polar
alignment and pointing calibration more efficient, easy, and fun!
data. Paramount users routinely experience
all sky pointing accuracies of ten arcseconds
RMS or less. And the Automated Pointing Calibration feature using the vastly
improved Image Link makes collecting the
pointing calibration data a breeze.
Within a few months,
we are going to have
Windows and Mac
That’s a nice handful of
Canon, Orion (SSAG),
cameras available to the Mac Starlight Xpress SX Lodestar support for every major
TPoint Add On – Web Link
TPoint telescope pointing analysis software has
been a fixture in virtually every professional observatory since the 1970s. In 1996, Software
Bisque forever changed how amateurs point
their telescopes by offering TPoint for Windows
to augment TheSky’s built-in
telescope control. Today, the
TPoint Add On offers numerous enhancements that push
telescope pointing accuracy,
and observatory productivity,
to a whole new level.
The TPoint Add On’s Super
Model feature automatically
determines the best pointing
model from your pointing
R. Archer
Camera Add On – Web Link
Historically, installing and configuring all of
the software components that are necessary
for successful image acquisition has been
a daunting task. And many components
were simply non-existent on the Mac. The
Camera Add On represents the final piece
in Software Bisque’s “Imaging
Pipeline Version 2.0.” It is now
possible, and easy, to install and
use a single application** to
control your telescope, camera,
focuser, filter wheel, rotator, AO
device, and dome. ■­­
**Add Ons are integrated into
TheSkyX and activated by serial number. No separate software must be installed.
TheSkyX Professional Edition
Camera Add On $199.00
Upcoming Events...
February 23 - March 2, 2014
30th Annual Winter Star Party - Web Link
“Scout Key” Florida Keys, FL
The Cameras are Coming
Arguably, this is true on Windows as well, but
I’ll try and not turn this into too blatant of an
Best of all, the winter imaging season is arriving
in Florida, and I can actually use these cameras
to take images of something other than the
wall on the other side of the room! My primary
responsibility is still mobile products, but I
don’t mind at all becoming the resident camera
expert. It’s an interesting view across the different
vendors too, and they all have their quirks, pros
and cons, and these shift depending on the
environment and application of the cameras.
I plan to investigate these myself from my
backyard, and my dark sky site. The question is,
will my mobile side and my imaging side ever
produce offspring? Time will tell...Meanwhile,
release the photons!
* * *
I have to get something off my chest. I do not
work for SBIG. SBIG and Software Bisque are
not the same company. SBIG does not own
Software Bisque. Software Bisque does not
own SBIG. Not that I’m feeling self-conscious
or anything, but if I had $1 for every time
someone said oh, this is Richard Wright, he
works for SBIG, I could buy...well at least a nice
meal. It is true that SBIG mentored Software
Bisque to some extent in the early years when
Software Bisque got into the imaging business,
and started making the Paramount mount.
We worked closely together, and still do. We
DO want to support other cameras, however,
in the Camera Add On, our cross platform
imaging pipeline. I came late to the game, and
started via the DSLR route. I took the blue pill
however, and my first CCD was not a red SBIG
camera, but a blue QSI. Kevin Nelson at QSI,
as well as Tom Bisque, mentored me a good bit
on the CCD journey, and I’ll always owe them
a great debt of gratitude. But I don’t work for
QSI either... I’m just say’n is all. ­­­­■­­
Join nationally recognized guest speakers,
vendors, product promotions, mirror-grinding
lessons, door prize giveaway on Friday, and
much more!
“I was a boy in a candy store! We had three
Paramount models setup near the wheelhouse and I was in “imager central” with some
other nearby imagers… Entirely on a Mac, and entirely with Bisque software, plus
PixInsight and some Photoshop for good measure, I ttook 4.5 hours of RGB data on M81
and M82 with my Veloce and a QSI 683 CCD camera using our new guiding feature in
the Camera Add On and the SSAG!”
Richard S. Wright, Jr., February 11, 2013
April 10 & 11, 2014
Northeast Astro-Imaging Conference Web Link
Crowne Plaza Conference Center
April 12 & 13, 2014
Northeast Astronomy Forum - Web Link
Rockland Community College
Suffern, New York
The conference hosts leaders and acknowledged experts in extra solar and minor planets,
variable star, asteroids, comets, and supernova research with the intention of fostering proam collaborations. NEAIC is a 2-day event that showcases all the leading astro imaging
equipment manufacturers.
May 22-26, 2014
RTMC Astronomy Expo - Web Link
Camp Oakes
Big Bear City, California
Software Bisque’s Richard S. Wright, Jr. will
be hosting an imaging workshop on Sunday,
May 26. Since its inception, the RTMC has
expanded to encompass all aspects of amateur
astronomy from beginning to advanced topics
and from telescope making to “armchair” astronomy. The RTMC offers a chance to see
and look through a large variety of telescopes, attend talks by professional and amateur
astronomers on different aspects of telescope construction and use, see astronomical
equipment and software in use, and buy astronomical equipment and software. The
vendors contribute door prizes for Saturday and Sunday evenings.
The site includes locations for camping, several dormitories, as well as eighteen three-sided
shelters, a meeting/dining hall, and the Charles Walker Observatory. There are also events
for the whole family including horseback riding, hikes, and activities for kids.
Software Bisque, Inc.
862 Brickyard Circle
Golden, CO 80403-8058 USA
© 2014 All rights reserved by Software Bisque, Inc.