Today, we get our first glimpse of what’s new to come with the upcoming release 1.11 of NINA with a more advanced sequence manager. To help people navigate around some of the latest changes and learn how to create a sequence, we’ll walk you through the basic steps of finding an object and generating a sequence on it.
For those who already have used NINA, you should find much of this familiar. If you’re new to NINA, this will show you a brief step of how to create a sequence, however, you will need to set up your devices and configuration on your own. The docs are referenced at the bottom of this post.
Download NINA 1.11 Daily
Be forewarned, this is an advance release and there may be bugs 🙂
Update to ASCOM 6.5
The latest beta/daily release of 1.11 is built against ASCOM 6.5 – it’s best to upgrade before we install. You may need to reboot after installing/updating from a prior ASCOM release
Install NINA 1.11
Extract the ZIP file and run the ninasetupbundle
Once you click on the setup, you may get this warning – click more info
Then click “Run Anyway”
Select you agree to the license and then click Install
Once installed let’s click on Launch
Create a Sequence
To keep things simple, we’ll walk through how to find an object, frame it and then generate a sequence. Steps that should be mostly familiar to anyone who used prior versions of NINA or helpful to those who have never done this before but who want to see how to generate a sequence that is mostly complete and ready to go.
Click Sky Atlas -> Type m31 and hit enter.
It may take it a second to query its built in catalog but you should see Andromeda like this:
Let’s click “Set for framing assistant”
One new feature in the image source is the HIPS 2 FITS Sky Survey – this one is much faster than NASA Sky Survey, so let’s select that as our image souce.
Now let’s click Load Image button to load this sky survey
Here, you can do multiple things to your image. You can drag the box around to change framing, you can turn it into a mosaic to capture multiple subs or you can set/change the rotation. We’ll leave it as defaults. I mostly just wanted to show this as a process to go through so you’re aware of it and how to do these.
Once you have the image framed, click the “Add target to” button
Once you click the add target to, you will see a small dropdown button
We’ll click Sequence builder
This screen should look mostly familiar to people who have used prior versions of NINA.
We want to start guiding, slew to target, center target, cool camera, open cover, unpark mount and vice versa – when closed, we want to close everything up.
BTW, did you know you can save templates to use here and set one as default? Great time saver to make sure you don’t miss anything!
Now let’s click the button on lower right screen
This will build a sequence and open the sequence screen
From here, you can modify it, view how everything was set up, save a sequence, delete a sequence, or click the Play button to run a sequence
To get rid of all the red alerts, click the Power button on the lower left screen. That will connect all the devices and the red marks will go away. For this doc I just ran through with simulator devices, so I didn’t have anything to connect.
Once you have generated a sequence template, you can explore around and see what the different settings are.
NINA breaks it down into “Start of Sequence instructions” which contains anything that should happen before the sequence starts, the actual “Sequence” – which is named per the sequence we generated above and near the bottom you can see the “End of Sequence Instructions” which run when the sequence is done – to park/close flip flat and warm up camera.
Start of Sequence
Here we can expand this box, set up our expected parameters, and sequence items we want. We’ll cool our camera to -5, unpark scope and open flat panel.
If you have a Dome Observatory automation tool running, you can drag over the Dome sequence item and add it to the start of sequence Instructions.
The drag-drop will show a red line where it will be inserted so you can change the order of events.
If you want something to always be set, you can save the sequence as a Template
Click on the sequence, choose the save as template and click save.
You will now have a user template saved on right side bar
BTW, you can change the name of the sequence by clicking on it and saving it – this helps make sure you have something more descriptive if you wish.
To keep things simple, we just start with the generated sequence. Our target is M31 – this was created through the Sky Atlas -> Framing Wizard -> Create sequence process. This creates a target with the correct position for us to image.
Since its a manual imaging run, there is no trigger up front. You can modify this to say “Wait for altitude” to have the sequence triggered when M31 is above the trees, but for now, I already know it’s up and available.
Our instructions are to slew to position, center the object, run autofocus and start guiding. If you select force calibration to ON, then PHD2 will re-calibrate its guiding -otherwise be sure to have PHD2 load its guiding automatically on startup. Check out our NINA & PHD2 Guide here for EQ6R users (helpful to any mount)
Triggers are actions that are triggered upon the condition while the target is being imaged. We’ll want to meridian flip, after 25 exposures we’ll re-focus and we’ll re-focus after Filter change. You can drag in to refocus at HFR change or any trigger you want. NINA supports custom triggers so you can build your own as well.
The Instructions or Loop condition can go hand in hand. Since I specified a total sub count knowing how long it would take, I just said 160×90 second subs. You can change the loop condition to be “Loop until iteration” or “Loop until time” to loop until you have 160 (or whatever number you want) or loop until time and you will just collect data until time.
With these basic triggers and instructions, you can now create super simple but re-usable building blocks for sequences that afford you great control – from running a mosaic over multiple nights to imaging multiple targets at their prime imaging area based on altitude.
This guide is just the beginning, experiment around but use this process to start out building something that works well.
End of Sequence
Just like the other sequence “stanzas” the end of sequence just shows what will run when the main sequence is complete. I run the typical ones of parking my scope, closing the flip flat and warming the camera back up. You can use your own custom scripts here to send a text, email, SMS or whatever you want to notify you that the sequence is complete.
Here we can see what it looks like when NINA steps through the sequence. Focus is currently running, and you can see the steps that have completed prior and the ones coming up.
First light with 1.11
Spent the night imaging between the clouds shooting M31 – Everything worked out pretty well!
How to get Help
Happy to answer questions here, but otherwise the best place to get support is the amazing Discord Server where there is a great community to help answer questions and point you to the right direction.
You can also read the documentation here:
I’m a 40 something father of two girls who loves the mountains, still plays in the sand and enjoys being in the great outdoors. The mountains are always calling my name.
“Wilderness is a necessity” – John Muir