AstroToaster Help

The AstroToaster  is an application for performing Near Real Time observing using a DSLR or CCD camera.
It stacks images as they are taken, presents them in a simple effective viewer.

The stacking is performed using the DeepSkyStacker software
Stacking Engine.

is a freeware program by Luc Coiffier, and can be downloaded from ""
The help and user instructions that come with it are very well written and useful.
There is a yahoo group for it, and you can find knowledgeable users on many online forums.

I have done my testing and development on DSS version 3.3.2, and 3.3.4 under windows xp, service pack 3.
I have tested it briefly on windows Vista and windows 7
My hardware is an HP laptop with 2 CPU's 1.6ghz and 3gig of ram.

The Operation and work flow are similar to DeepSkyStackerLive.

The camera drops files into a 'Monitoring' folder, they are automatically processed and continuously stacked and updated into a viewer window.

- You can use darks/flats, etc.
- Color adjustments for levels, curves, are re-applied
  automatically to the refreshed image in the viewer.
- Performs a continuous complete align and restack of the
  data as it is acquired, instead of just a running average.
- The user has control over the images being stacked,
- You can view and tweek images taken earlier in the session
  while acquiring new images.



AstroToaster Controls


Monitor - Automatically Monitors the 'Monitoring' folder,
      registers and calibrates images
     ( when Monitoring is turned on the Stack, Single, and
      Refresh controls will run in automatic mode )

Stack   - Aligns and Stacks the current image group as new
       images are acquired.

Single  - fully processes the last Single image ( this is
       instead of stacking )

Refresh – Automatically Refreshes the Viewer, as a new
        stacked or Single image is created

Stop    - Turns off all Automatic processing


Refresh - Manually Causes Refresh of Picture,


Viewer  - Image viewer on/off

Full    - Full screen image viewer on/off

ColorAdj   - Color adjustments dropdown menu on/off
        (only while in the Viewer )

NewStack  -  Starts a New Stack

FileList – organize and quick view the Images being stacked

Camera – ASCOM Camera Control and Capture


RSync – Remote Folder Synchronization

Help    - Help/UserGuide/Faq/About

Quit    - Exit from the application


Processing statusBar  the colored progress bar   
     on top the right hand side.

     Blue/Green – normal
     Yellow – slow
     Red – even slower
     Brown – not enough stars detected
The TitleBar of the Main window and Viewer also has
     additional processing information, including
     image size and star count

     ( see notes in USER GUIDE about performance,
        image size and star counts )


Drop Down Menus



    - Manually select picture files

CalibrationFiles - Manually select calibration files
    ( darks, flats, offsets )

Picture Scale
- 1.0 is the default, (no resize is done),
    .75x Scales the image by 75%
    .75T Trims the image by 75%

Select Best “Percent”   - Select the acceptable image     
      quality percentile to stack .

Stacking Limit –Limits stacking to the ‘last’ x frames
      ex. if ‘5`was chosen it will stack the last 5
      frames taken.
      None’ is the default, it will stack all frames          
      in the current group

Star Detection Threshold  -  Select Star Detection
     Threshold, for Registering Stars used for alignment
     during stacking.
     Select ‘Auto’ to have the program automatically
     select the optimal Star Threshold
     ( see DSS User Guide Star Threshold for documentation

Dark Frame Factor -  If using Dark calibration files,
     adjusts the power of the dark frame subtraction.
     ( see DSS Dark Multiplication Factor )

HotPix Detect - Detects and removes Hot Pixels
     Use lower values if possible, since higher values will   
     create artifacts, and use more system resources

StackingMode – Select the Stacking Mode, Default,
     KappaSigAvg, RunningAVg, MultiSpectrum, Comet.

Hide Viewer Boarder –
Hides the windows boarder on the 
     viewer window.

Image Message Text – Text to display under image

Image Text checkbox – Displays text and status under image

Image Text Font – Font of image text

ReCalibrateStack - Initiates complete reprocessing of all
      the ‘checked’ images for the Current stack
ReCalibrate Darks - Initiates reprocessing of all darks into  
      MasterDarks (all ‘checked’ darks )
      (Will also process all Offsets, Flats, DarkFlats into
      Masters )

ReStack – Re-Stacks all ‘checked’ images for the current

– UnChecks all image files in the list

Settings – Opens the settings screen for application options
      and settings.

HideStacks, UnHide - Hide/UnHide (and unchecks) all the
      stacks in the Filelist


Files List Items context menu
( select an item or items and right click to access menu)

Click - on file to display in viewer

File type –
change to Dark, Flat, Light, RefLight, Offset

Check, Uncheck 
- toggle check box

Hide, UnHide Stack - Hide/UnHide (and unchecks)the
         highlighted stack in the Filelist

ExpViewer – view file with extended viewer modes

DisplayLabel –
additional text to display on an item

OpenWith –
open highlighted item with the selected program

or image editor (requires windows Vista or greater)

Copy – copy file to clipboard

Remove –
Removes file from list (does not harm the file )

Delete –
Permanently Deletes
file from list and file system


Color Adjustments

    Red Green Blue sliders for basic color adjustments

    Black - Adjusts the lower Black level

    White - Adjusts the upper White level

    Contrast - Adjusts contrast

    Brightness - Adjusts overall brightness
    Colorfulness - adjusts the color Saturation

    Tint - Adjusts the overall tint

    Sharpen - Adjusts the Sharpens of the image
           (Note: Only for Windows Vista, win7,8,10)


    Expand - Expands the luminance of dim objects        
        and nebulosity and in the image

    LensGrad  - basic lens gradient correction
    SkyGrad - basic sky gradient correction
    SGAngle  - sky gradient angle

    ColorProfile – WB+ ( extra White Balance ) rgbSHO/SHO  
        (Hubble Profile), rgbHOO/HOO ( Ha-OIII Profile).

    Apply  - Applies adjustments chosen for Expand and
        Gradients, ColorProfile to the image.

AutoExp  – Automatically calculates Expand and viewing          adjustments

    Negative  - invert the colors and intensity

    Logarithmic - mild luminance expand

    ColorChannel – display individual Color channels
              Red, Green, Blue as Greyscale

    Rot       Rotate the Image

    Flip    -   Flip the Image

    Zoom    -   +/- change image size
              ( Mouse wheel will also zoom )

    Crop    - Viewer Crops and zooms to the selected
              Rectangle, ( Click ‘Crop’ control again
              To reset the picture size )

    Reset - Resets all viewer settings

    Open  - open an image

    Save  - Save the current image

Hint: To adjust images of faint objects, first use the
Expand tool to give the image a fairly bright washed
out look, then use Brightness, Contrast and Black to
trim it back into more pleasing view.

Hint: For fine adjustments of colorAdj sliders, you can use either the keyboard arrow keys, or the Mouse Wheel



    Picture type/extension - select picture type that the
            camera places in the monitor folder

    Monitor Folder - indicate folder to monitor for new
             camera images

    Output Folder - folder to place stacked output images

    DeepSky program Folder - folder where the DeepSky     

    Fits SuperPixels
– Use SuperPixels for translation of              
             Fits Bayer raw files. Generates smaller image
             files with better color properties.            

    Fits File Bayer
– Use Fits settings from image file                
             header to override DSS settings for Bayer raw                
             translation.(if imagefile has this information)


    Grey Screen Theme – use grey Screen Colors them,
             If unchecked uses default windows Colors
    Set CPU Priority – Sets CPU priority for AstroToaster 
             processing tasks. (default is 1 = belowNormal)
    Refresh Settings From DSS – Refresh Processing
             Settings from DSS.
    Apply Changes – Apply changes made to settings

    Cancel Changes
– Cancel changes made to settings

   Session Delete Temp Files – remove temporary files used
            by the Application and DSS processing.

   Session ReStackAll - Reprocesses all the image Stacks
      for all the files (will AutoDetect the stacks)
   Session Delete All Files – remove ALL files from the    
            Monitor folder, include source image files

Viewer Window

Pan – Mouse Left Click and hold on image, to pan the view
      in the display in viewer

Zoom – You can use the Mouse Wheel to zoom on the image

ReSize window –
Mouse Left Click and hold on viewer window
      boarder to resize the viewer

- In Viewer, Mouse Double Left Click to Hide    
      the toolbars. Double click again to make them reappear


Stacking Mode Window   (new, version 3.0)

Default – use stacking mode selected in DSS
      (DSS Settings->StackingSettings->StackingParam->Light)

KappaSigAvg – DSS Kappa-Sigma clipping + optimizations

RunningAverage – DSS Average stacking + optimizations,
      is faster and uses less cpu and disk resources

MultiSpec – for use with Mono Cameras, allows for processing
      and combining of multiple filtered color channels

ComentOnly – uses DSS Comet Only stacking to display the
      Comet with star trails

Comet_Stars – uses DSS Comet with Stars Stacking to
      dispaly the Comet with stars in background

OK – saves stacking mode and exits the window
      For processing to take effect you may need to apply

      the ‘NewStack’ or ‘ReStack’ buttons


Cancel – Cancel stacking mode changes.

Multispec Options

Channels – filter  Red, Green, Blue, LUM, HA, OIII, SII, NII 
      Check the filter channels you will be using
      Select color you want the channel displayed as
      from the dropdown,

      Red, Green, Blue channel maps to single color

      Blue+Green, Red+Blue, Green+Red maps to both Colors

      LUM replaces the image’s Luminance with the Channel     
      LUM+ will add the Channel to the image’s luminance 

      Red+Lum, Blue+Lum, Green+Lum maps to color and lum+

      Your Image’s file name must include channel name, 
      using the ‘_’ as a delimiter,  examples….,    maps to RED channel
      Eagle_oiii_nebula.cr2 maps to OIII channel

ReApply Colors – applies any channel config changes to the
      current data and image.

ReOrg FileList – Re-organize order in the Filelist so that
      files in the same channel are grouped together.


Remote Folder Synchronize  (new, version 3.0)

Browse  - enter path of your Remote synchronization
      folder to monitor. It can be a local folder,
      network drive, or a Share path to a folder  
      another computer.

Include Remote Subfolders – synchronize remote subfolders  
      as well the main folder.

New files Only – synchronize new files only  

Start Sync – Start remote folder synchronization
Stop Sync – Stop remote folder synchronization


Camera Control  (new, version 3.0)

(The Camera Control feature is new, and is experimental, so may not work for your given camera.)

Camera – select your Ascom Camera. 
Connect – connect to the selected Ascom Camera 
Setup – modify and save changes to the camera configuration     

Camera Name – displays the name of the selected camera

File name – enter a descriptive filename for your images

Monitor Folder – displays the current AstroToaster Monitor
      folder name.

Seconds – Enter or select image exposure 
      duration in seconds

Repeat – Enter or select number of repeats of the

Delay – Enter or select number of seconds to delay
      between exposures.

Start – Start Exposure sequence 

Stop  - Stop Exposure sequence, wait for current image
      to complete.

Stop Now – Stop Exposure sequence Immediately don’t wait
      for current image to complete.

New Stack – Start a new stack of images in AstroToaster 

Live View – images will be viewed immediately in 
      Astrotoaster, images will not be stacked or saved.

Stacking – images will be saved and viewed in AstroToater
      AstroToaster, with option to be stacked.

Darks – images will be saved and processed as Dark Frames

Flats – images will be saved and processed as Flat Frames     


Ascom Camera settings and status

      Display and enter camera settings where access
      is allowed by the Ascom Interface

      If not available or not working correctly here

      try using the camera Ascom Setup to adjust the

      the camera settings.

Gain – displays or sets the gain of the camera.  

Bin – displays or sets the camera binning.  
CoolerOn – turn cooling on/off, if the camera has cooling,

Cooling Rate – Degrees Centigrade per Minute to cool or
      warm up the camera. Only needed if your camera
      manufacturer indicates this in its user manual.
      A value of ‘none’ turns off this option, and the
      camera cooldown will be controlled by the camera’s


Target Temp – display or sets the cameras target cooling   
      temperature for the sensor( degrees Centigrade ) 
Cooler Power – displays the current camera cooler power
      level (as a percent of the maximum power).

CCD Temp – displays the current sensor temperature
      ( degrees Centigrade )