General PC Configuration for Video Recording

General PC Configuration suggestions:

System Time:

Recent versions of Windows will update the system time to be close to UT on a regular basis.  This default behavior is not good enough for precise timing but it is good enough to setup timed recording intervals (to record an occultation event while you are not at the scope).  However, if your computer is not connected for many days, the system clock can drift far away from the actual time and throw off your planned time for a timed recording.  You should make sure of the time on your PC before any timed recordings!

Windows Login accounts:

If you already have a Windows 8 computer I recommend that you start with the same login as your primary login for your recording.  But if you computer is portable and you might lend it to another observer for an observation, you should consider setting up a separate “iota” account login on your computer. For my small tablets I also setup an additional user account (Windows login) as a “guest” account.  Since my standard windows login accesses email and other “personal” information I wanted a separate login for “guests”.  If I lend the computer to someone else, or just let them operate it as part of a occultation observation, they can login with the guest account (and I don’t have to tell them my password for my standard Windows account).  To setup this up I started by going to and setting up an account with the user name “iotasbp”.  Then I added this account to my Windows PC via the user accounts options of the control panel. I setup the account with administrator priviledges – just in case some software requires this option – but that may not be necessary.

Airplane Mode:

You should put your PC in airplane mode (or at least disable WiFi) while recording.  Airplane mode saves battery power.  And it reduces the change that a Windows update or some other status message could interfere with recording.

Power Management:

Never sleep.  In the default configuration, most battery powered PCs will switch to “sleep” mode after a few minutes of idle time.  If you plan to use your PC for unattended recording, you should change the default settings so the PC never goes to sleep “automatically”.  Otherwise the PC might go to sleep while waiting to record.  At the same time, you should check the power management settings for low battery power.  This is a different scenarios from “sleep while idle”.  For most battery powered PCs, Windows will notice when the battery power reaches a critical level and shutdown the PC.  This is a good thing because it avoids the possibility of data loss.  But you don’t want it to shutdown when the battery still has 30% power.  So you should check the critical battery level settings for your PC – it is probably sufficient to set it to shutdown at 20%.

External peripherals

Don’t connect any unnecessary peripherals.  Avoid capturing to external hard drives unless that is your only option.  The analog video capture device will be connected via a USB port.  Disconnect any other USB peripherals that you don’t need.

Screen Background

Try to use a dark background for your desktop and reduce the brightness of the display.  A bright white display will interfere when trying to point your telescope.

Tablet PCs:

If you have a tablet PC with a small touch screen:

  • Enable Standard keyboard.  Normally, the tablet will pop up a “touch” keyboard on the screen when you need to enter text.  Some applications are not designed for a touch device so you must bring up the keyboard manually by touching (clicking) on the small keyboard icon on the right side of the taskbar (at the bottom of the screen in desktop mode).  The default version of the touch keyboard shows only some of the keys that are on a standard keyboard.  I recommend that you enable the standard keyboard configuration for the touch keyboard.  With the standard keyboard, the “keys” will be smaller on the screen but the additional keys are very useful.  To enable the standard keyboard: go to the “Start” screen, search for PC Settings, PC and devices, Typing, enable standard keyboard.
  •  Disable auto-rotate.  The screen display on many tablets can appear in either portrait or landscape orientation.  If you align the tablet with the long side vertical, the screen displays in portrait mode.  If you align the tablet with the long side horizontal, the screen displays in landscape mode.  Windows “automatically” rotates the display as you change the orientation of the tablet.  I prefer to disable “auto-rotate” and leave the tablet in landscape mode.  The landscape configuration works better with the apps that I use for screen capture.  To disable auto-rotate: Go to landscape mode, go to desktop, bring up the context menu for the display (“touch” and hold for a couple of seconds on an area of the desktop background screen which has no icon, the release the “touch”), choose “screen resolution” from the menu, turn off auto-rotate.