PlateSolve2 Maxim Plugin V0.0.5


PlateSolve2 is a utility for plate solving astronomical images developed by Dave Rowe at PlaneWave Instruments. PlaneWave uses PlateSolve2 as part of their mount control package and for other purposes related to their product line. It is an excellent application that solves positions very quickly and robustly, and is available for free on PlaneWave's download pages. PlateSolve2 can also be used as a standalone application, but in this mode it simply reports the solved position so it is inconvenient to use for syncing.

The PlateSolve2 Maxim Plugin provides a seamless interface between Maxim/DL and PlateSolve2 that makes it easy to use for solving and syncing with any mount. After installing the plugin, simply start the plugin with the current image and solve the position and sync the mount to the position. The image below shows the user interface.

Using the PlateSolve2 Plugin

The ASCOM chooser allows you to pick which telescope driver is in use. This driver should be the same as the one Maxim uses to control the mount. Maxim must be connected to the ASCOM driver for the plate solving and sync to function. The driver only needs to be selected once and will be remembered.

The Set Application Path button selects the path to the PlateSolve2 executable. Again, this only needs to be set once.

Most people configure Maxim so that the focal length of their optical configuration is stored in the FITS files. If you do not have the focal length configured (or it doesn't match what you are using) you can specify the image scale for solving by clicking the Override Image Scale checkbox and entering the image scale in arcseconds per pixel.

The plugin allows PlateSolve2 to run for a specified time before it gives up. The default value is 30 seconds but this can be altered using the Max allowed solve time setting.

By default, the PlateSolve2 plugin terminates the application once the solve has completed. If you deselect the Auto-terminate PlateSolve2 checkbox then PlateSolve2 will remain running. You also need to click the Keep Open box in PlateSolve2 to keep it open indefinitely. There are many features in PlateSolve2 worth exploring, including astrometry and photometry of the image contents.

With an active image in Maxim, you can select Plugin->PWI PlateSolve2 to launch the PlateSolve2 plugin. Click the Solve button to start the platesolve process. The solved position and plate geometry info will appear to the right of the button. Once the image is solved the Sync button will be enabled and you can use this to sync the mount to this position (in current epoch coordinates).

Installing and Configuring PlateSolve2

PlateSolve2 can be found on PlaneWave's site at the link below:
(Scroll down to "PlateSolve2")

The application can be installed at any path you want. When you run the plugin the first time you need to point it at the application in order for it to work.

The APM catalog is not required but the UCAC3 catalog should be downloaded. It can also be installed anywhere, but I recommend placing it under the same folder where PlateSolve2 is installed. After it is downloaded and unzipped, run PlateSolve2 manually and use File->Configure Catalog Directories to select the path for UCAC3.

Most of the default parameters for PlateSolve2 should work well, but I recommend setting the Max Star Size parameter to 12 sigma for more robust operation. You can do this by running PlateSolve2 manually and use Edit Parameters to change this setting.

Downloading and Installing the Plugin

The PlateSolve2 plugin DLL can be downloaded at the link below:

To install the plugin, unzip it and copy it into a folder of your choosing. Then run Maxim and use Plug-in->Add/Remove Plug-in and click Browse to select the plugin DLL. After that, the PWI PlateSolve2 plugin will appear in Maxim's Plug-in menu.

Some users have had issues registering the DLL. To help with this, a full installer is available that copies the plugin to the pwi_ps2_plugin Program Files folder and registers it. It also installs some windows components that may be required for PlateSolve2 or the plugin. The installer can be downloaded at the link below:


After the plugin is used and Maxim is exited, Maxim will complain that "Another application is accessing an Automation Object in MaximDL." You can ignore this message and close it anyways. (This behavior also happens with the example plugins.)