Second Monitor Lightbox from Paw-Print Software

What's it all about

SM Lightbox is a utility to help astro-photographers while they perform the onerous task of aquiring calibration frames, specifically flat frames. Flat frame acquisition requires the collection of mutliple frames shot at a even light source. Ideally, the exposure level needs be about the centre of the dynamic range of the camera - for a 16bit camera, this is an ADU value of about 30000. Getting this right for a mono camera with a filter wheel is a bit tiresome as the brightness of the light source probably needs to change for each filter.

This is where SM Lightbox helps out. If you don't have a dedicated light box but you do have a laptop with an external video port and you have an old monitor kicking about somewhere, grab that monitor and attach it to your laptop. Fire up SM Lightbox and calibrate it for the best light level (and hue if you like) to hit that middle-range target for each filter. Then link it up to whatever software you use to collect the flat frames so that the light level changes on the second monitor to automatically match the position of the filter wheel when you take the flat frame exposures.

What next

Download SM Lightbox and get going. It's free so knock yourself out. If you like it, use it. If you don't, dump it.

When you install the software, you'll get a warning from Windows to say that it's from an 'Unknown publisher'. That's just because I haven't gone to the expense of buying a developer's certificate to sign the software. Just click 'More info' and 'Run anyway'.