Hi Harry -
Let me chime in here - first, thanks for the great PixInsight Tutorials you have posted on your website, they helped me get started. Very useful.
I discovered Voyager in December in a big “SGP Alternatives” thread on CN. I am a bit of a software nut, it’s been my career and I enjoy looking at new products. Like you, though, the enjoyment ends when I wake up and find my software crashed or hung at 1:30AM while I was sleeping and one of those rare clear nights has been lost with only a couple of hours of data collected.
I have licenses for, and have used, ACP Expert, CCD AutoPilot, Prism, CCD Commander, SGP, SharpCap and more. They all work and they all have their fans and success stories. I am sure that many of the issues I have had were my fault.
All that said, the only two that consistently worked night after night without failure for me are ACP Expert and Voyager. I run a Paramount MyT and an iOptron CEM60 on any decent night. Until December I ran ACP on the Paramount and everything else on the iOptron. ACP was good, but it only works with Maxim DL for guiding and image acquisition. The camera side worked fine, but guiding was hit or miss with Maxim. Again, I know Maxim is used the world over, so mea culpa, just reporting my experience.
I started using Voyager on the CEM60 in mid-December. Like all new software, as you well know, there is a learning curve, but honestly, it went very smoothly, and at that time, there was basically a partially finished manual in Italian that I Google translated to English and stumbled through. But I still got it running the first night with autofocus, meridian flip management, automated sequence, PHD2 for guiding, etc. It just worked.
It’s now mid-April and I have imaged 35 full nights of unattended runs with Voyager. No crashes, no hangs. I have had some hardware issues like a loose power cable and USB plug but I have Voyager set to text me when that happens and I can wake up and go fix it. But Voyager itself has simply not crashed.
Leo’s day job is writing real-time software - he understands how to structure a program so it won’t crap out if a third party software piece doesn’t return as expected. Voyager will time out and take the appropriate action - much of which you can choose. E.g. it may retry the action if it is safe to do so, or park the mount if it is not safe (e.g. an impending pier crash if the scope keeps tracking).
I agree with you that Voyager is priced too low. I think its real market is mid-range - people who may be hitting the limits of free or low-cost packages, or would like fully automated imaging but don’t have the means to put together the full ACP package which requires Maxim DL and strongly recommends FocusMax.
After using Voyager on my CEM60 for a couple of months, and having another round of Maxim DL guiding frustration, I tried Voyager on the Paramount MyT. I haven’t gone back to ACP, and am now running Voyager without issues on both mounts on every clear night.
I feel like Voyager is an undiscovered gem that would benefit a lot of people who want to collect data every clear night. I think the lack of complete English documentation was a hindrance. As I said earlier, I like learning software and I’ve always wanted an excuse to write a Wiki, so I built one for Voyager: https://voyager.tourstar.net
- Download the trial version of Voyager
- Go through the Quick Start tutorial in the Wiki - you can do it 100% with ASCOM Simulators so you don’t even need to hook up your gear. It will give you a feeling for the software and you can go on from there.
Hope that helps and please feel free to ask questions here or shoot me an email - rarcher at the same domain address as the Wiki.