Remote Start-Up and
Shut Down Operations Procedure
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The purpose of this document is to provide basic instruction on the start-up and shut-down sequence of the JAT Observatorys systems and its operational sequences when used under Remote Desktop, Log-Me-In or VNC control. Even though this mode uses software control it is considered as manual operation of the observatory. Reading this manual will enable the user to conduct remote operation of the observatory in a safe and reliable manner. Failure to follow the sequences described here could lead to observatory and/or telescope damage.
If the remote user is accessing the system from either the ACP Observatory Control GUI or the ACP Scheduler GUI, this manual does not apply as the user just needs to supply information about which target they wish to image, how long the exposure time should be, and which filters should be used. All other observatory functions are handled by the ACP software. However you are invited and encouraged to read this manual in order to understand what is occurring behind the scenes.
The procedures presented in this document cover the remote operation of the observatory for lunar, planetary, solar, deep sky and satellite observing under local-remote or remote computer control. Local-remote computer control is defined as controlling the observatory from any computer that resides on the observatory's Local Area Network (the LAN). "Remote computer control is defined as controlling the observatory from a remote location via a broadband connection (the Internet). The manual assumes the operator has a valid JAT Observatory user account and is familiar with the basic operation and functions of each piece of equipment they will be controlling during the remote session of the observatory's equipment. The manuals listed in the "Applicable Documents" section below cover the key equipment used at the observatory.
This user manual does not cover operations via ACP Observatory Control software or the ACP Scheduler software. If you are accessing the observatory via the ACP Observatory Control Software please use the online help contained within the ACP software if you need assistance. It should also be note that the user accounts used for ACP Observtory Control and ACP Scheduler access will not provide access via Remote Desktop, Remote Desktop Web, Log-Me-In or VNC. The ACP accounts will also not allow computer startup up, shutdown or reboots. If the observatory PC is not running ACP access will not be possible.
Since the observatory accepts logons from any flavor of VNC, Microsoft's Remote Desktop, Remote Desktop Web, "Log Me In", ACP Observatory Control Software or the ACP Scheduler Program, the observatory can be controlled from any device from a desktop to a cell phone that has internet connectability and web browser capability.
Boltwood Systems, Cloud Sensor Users Manual
DC3 Dreams, ACP Observatory Control Users Manual
Dew Buster Users Manual
Diffraction Limited, MaxIm DL 4.1
GStar, EX, Black & White CCD Video camera User's Manual
Mallincam, Hyper Color CCD Video Camera User's Manual
Meade, Lunar Planetary Imager Instruction Manual
Meade, Deep Sky Imager Pro Instruction Manual
Optec Inc, Pyxis Camera Rotator Users Manual
Software Bisque, CCDSoft Version 5 Users Manual
Software Bisque, Orchestrate Scripting and Automation Software users Manual
Software Bisque, Paramount ME Users Manual
Software Bisque, TPoint Telescope Pointing Analysis Software
Software Bisque, TheSky6 Professional Users Manual
The following procedures explain the operations of dome rotation control,
telescope control and CCD camera operation.
Warning: Failure to follow the sequences described below can lead to observatory and/or telescope damage.
1.) Before beginning remote operations you will need to check the local and regional weather conditions. This can be done by using the weather portal on the JAT Observatory home page. Be sure there is no rain in the vicinity of the observatory and the sky is clear. Verify there are no storms moving toward the observatory. The prevailing wind is form the west. If the weather permits move on to step 2.
2.) Next you need to verify the DOME SCOPE MOUNT CAMERA status icons on the JAT Observatory home page under the observatory picture are not "RED". If any of them are "Yellow" click on the status icons to find out why. The observatory can be operated with a YELLOW status, but the observatory will have reduced capability. A "RED" status must be corrected before remote operations are allowed. Remote telescope and dome control are disabled if any any status is displayed as red.
After checking and verifying the
operational status of the observatory, log onto the "Observatory Computer"
(from either a "local console" or a "remote terminal")
using your username and password.
If you are unable to logon to the observatory computer and you have verified your username and password are correct the observatory PC may be OFF. To turn ON the observatory PC follow the procedure below:
a. From the JAT Observatory website select the "Remote Operations" option from the left side menu.
b. Scroll down to the "Observatory PC Power Control" option toward the bottom right of the page.
c. From the "TCP/IP Remote Reboot Controller" menu:
- Set the address
- Select the "Power Button Push and Hold 2 Seconds" radio button
- Enter your password and click submit.
- Wait approx 3 minutes for the computer to boot up and then repeat the login procedure.
4.) The Observatory
Control program (Figure1.) should be visible upon log in, if not it can
be started by clicking the observatory icon (the same ICON that
appears in the upper left of the GUI below). The ICON can be found on either
the desktop or the Tool Bar at the bottom of the screen.
Figure 1. Observatory Control GUI
5.) Click the "Observatory Start-Up" button in the upper left the Observatory Control program (Figure 1).The Observatory Start-Up button will begin the start-up sequence. The start-up button will automatically perform the following sequence of events:
- Turn OFF the dehumidifier (if on).
- Turn OFF the Heating and Air Conditioning unit (if on).
- OPEN both the upper and lower shutters.
- Terminate the ACP, Sky, SirusDome, CCDSoft and MaxImDL processes.
- Turn ON the power for dome rotation and enable computer dome rotation control.
- Turns ON the Aux 12 volt DC power.
- Turns ON the Paramount ME.
- Turn ON the ST-2000XM CCD cameras (if available).
- Initialize the CFW10a and CFW8 color filter wheels (if available).
- Turn ON the ST-402ME CCD camera with internal filter wheel (if available).
- INITIALIZE the Pyxis Camera Rotator to zero degree rotation. (if present)
- Turns ON power to the Mallincam CCD video camera
- Turns ON power to the GStar-EX CCD video camera.
- Starts the WebcamFirst video monitoring software.
- Turns on the red interior light so the telescope and dome movement are clear visible to the remote user.
- Turns on Power to any device connected to the AUX 12 volt DC Power strip #3 on the pier.
- Turns on all AC powered devices on the pier.
- Select FOCUSER #1 as the active focuser.
- Start the "TheSky6"
- HOME the Telescope.
- Move the Dome to the park position.
- Turn off the red interior light.
- Start the "ACP Observatory Control program.
The user will see some of the above sequence of events take place while watching the remote observatory display. When the TheSky6 program starts and the software connects to the telescope it will automatically begin the telescope homing sequence as shown in Figure 2. The pop-up box will display the homing status. Homing is complete when both the RA and Dec phase equals 9.
Warning: Never rotate the dome with the shutters closed when the telescope is in the home position. Depending on the configuration doing so may cause the screw-drive for the lower shutter to contact one of the OTAs.
Note: The JATO sky is the default sky that is loaded when TheSky6 starts. If you find the telescope pointing is not accurate one of the T-Point models will need to be loaded. Do not use the Sync function when a T-Point sky is loaded. Doing so will degrade the T-Point model.
Before the system can be used the telescope and dome must be connected.
From the ACP console use the pull down menu under "Telescope" and select
"Connect" as shown in Figure 3.
This will connect the ACP program to the telescope and dome. It will move the dome from the Parked position to the Home position. It will then auto- slave the dome to follow the scope's position. It will take anywhere between 10 and 60 seconds for the dome to move after the telescope has been commanded to slew to a new position. After the scope and dome are connected ACP console will display the system status and the user will have access to the dome and scope controls.
2.) Enable "Sidereal Tracking" from the "ACP console" or "Tracking" from "TheSky6" telescope pull down menu.. If you do not do so the telescope will remain stationary and not track celestial targets.
4.) Verify the "Paramount ME" is set as the focuser. This is be done from TheSky6 Tool Bar, by selecting Telescope> Options> More Settings> Advanced. Under the Focus Controller Setup be sure the "Paramount ME" is selected.
2.) From the ACP
console use the pull down menu under "Camera" and select "Connect" as shown in
This will start the MaxImDL 4.1 camera control and image processing software. If you are familiar with CCDSoft and wish to use it as the camera control software instead od MaxIm DL skip this step and start CCDSoft by selecting the icon from the task bar.
3. 3 Connecting to the Video Camera (Dome Slit Monitoring)
The GStar-EX video camera is used to monitor the position of the dome's slit in order to insure it stays positioned in front of the telescope's aperture and to see the sky (weather) in the direction the scope is pointed. The MyWebcamFirst software is normally the software used to display the real-time video from the Mallincam and GStar video cameras. The WebcamFirst software is automatically started by the Observatory startup procedure. The Slingbox can also be used to display the video images.
1.) To connect to the GStar-EX camera click the SlingPlayer Icon on the desktop.
2.) To enable power to the camera select "Aux Power On" from the "Observatory Control Menu".
2.) From the Pop-up Menu make sure "Observatory" is selected then click "Start". After a few seconds a video image will be displayed. If the image seen is not similar to the one show in Figure 5 below, from the menu select, "Slingbox" > "Video Input" > "Composite". (The S-Video selection is for the color video camera mounted on the F50 finder).
For more information about the video camera operate refer to Appendix E.
Warning: It is recommend that the imaging and/or autoguiding cameras be shut down before performing the shut down procedure from the OCP software! The cameras should be shut down directly from the imaging control software. The ACP program will only shut down the MaxImDL imaging software, it will not terminate the CCDSoft software.
1.) If the Observatory Control program (Figure 6.) is not visible it can be started by clicking the observatory icon (the same ICON that appears in the upper left of the GUI below). The ICON can be found on either the desktop or the Tool Bar at the bottom of the screen.
Fig 6. Observatory Control GUI
2.) Click the "Observatory Shut-Down" button in the upper left the Observatory Control program (Figure 1).The Observatory Shut-Down button will begin the shut-down sequence. The shut-down button will automatically perform the following sequence of events:
- Park the Dome
- Close the shutters
- Home and the Park the telescope.
- Turn OFF the power for dome rotation and disable computer dome rotation control.
- Turn OFF the AUX 12 volt DC power.
- Turn OFF the dew heater power.
- Turn OFF Paramount ME
- Turn OFF the ST-2000XM CCD camera.
- Turn OFF the ST-402ME CCD camera.
- Turn OFF the Pyxis Camera Rotator
- Turn OFF power to the any device connected to the AUX 12 volt DC power strip #3 (pier mounted)
- KILL the ACP, Sky, SirusDome, CCDSoft, MaxImDL and FirstCam processes
- Turn OFF the Video cameras.
- Restarts the ACP software.
Note: The observatory shut-down procedure will not turn on the Heating & A/C unit. If the HAC unit needs to be on if must be turned on manually by selecting the "Heat - A/C ON" button from the Observatory Control Program. However the dehumidifier will be turned on.
The observatory is now be shut down and in a safe condition.
To disable the cloud and rain sensor's control of the shutters lift the red cover labeled "RAIN SENSOR LOCKOUT" located on the "Remote Shutter Control Box". The shutter control box is located on the wall behind the Weather Station PC and is shown in Figure A1. Place the switch underneath the red switch cover in the UP position. This will disable automatic control of the shutters.
routine or maintenance of the shutters the remote shutter lockout must be
enabled to prevent possible injury by unexpected closure of the shutters, by
either a remote user, automated computer control or the rain and cloud sensor.
The remote shutter control lockout switch is located on north wall of the
observatory. Locate the red switch shown shown in Figure B1. Lift the cover
and place the switch underneath in the UP position. This will disable remote
control of the shutters.
The shutters can now only be operated locally by the switches on the shutter control boxes in the observatory. WARNING: Failure to re-enable the remote shutter control system will result in possible equipment damage should it rain and the shutters are open. To re-enable the remote shutter control system place the red switch cover in the DOWN position. WARNING: If the remote shutter control system sent a closure signal to the shutters when the system was disabled the shutters will automatically begin to close as soon as the switch cover is placed in the down position.
The observatory PC's power switch can be
manually or computer controlled. The factory front panel switch has been
augmented with a "CPS Intelligent Auto Push Board".
The I-APB allows the computer to be remotely turned OFF, ON or POWER CYCLED.
The function should only be exercised if:
1. The PC is non-responsive and rebooting from the Start Bar or task manager proves unsuccessful.
2. The PC is off and the user needs to turn it on from a remote location.
To control the I-APB execute the N-RRC TCP/IP Remote Reboot Controller program.
- To power down the PC select "Auto Push Board" from the main menu, then select "Power Button Push and Hold for 10 seconds" from the Auto Push Board menu and submit. This will energized and hold the relay connected to the front power button and the PC will shut down.
- To power up the PC select "Auto Push Board" from the main menu, then select "Power Button Push and Hold for 2 seconds" from the Auto Push Board menu and submit. This will energized and hold the relay connected to the front power button and the PC will power-up. The power up cycle will take approximately 60 seconds when the ambient temperature in the observatory is around 55 degrees F or higher. If the the temperature is lower and the PC of been off for an extended period of time the boot sequence could take longer. If after 3 minutes the PC is not on-line execute the power down procedure above and repeat this power procedure until the PC boots. If during very cold weather the PC has been off for an extended period of time it may not boot until the ambient temperature inside the PC reaches approx 50 degrees F. To ensure this happens wait about 30 minutes before attempting to repeat the power-up procedure if it fails after the 3rd attempt.
- To Auto Reboot (cycle power) the PC select "Auto Push Board" from the main menu, then select "Power Button Recycle" from the Auto Push Board menu and submit. This will energized and hold the relay connected to the front power button and the PC will shut down. The I-APB will then automatically energized the relay and the PC will begin the boot-up sequence. The reboot sequence can takes up to 5 minutes to complete. If you were connected using Remote Desktop Server the system should reconnect you automatically. If you are using VNC or LogMeIn you will have to initiate the login procedure manually after the 5 minute wait period.
Attach the Canon 10D camera to the
With the Camera off attach the USB,
shutter control and power cables to the 10D. Because of the short length of
the 10Ds USB cable a USB extension cable is required. The white USB
extension cable should be connected to the lower USB port at the rear of the
laptop. The 10Ds USB cable can then be connected to the extension cable.
Connect the cameras AC power cord to
the observatorys AC power
With the laptop off connect the Canon
Imaging laptop to the observatorys network and AC power.
With the laptop off connect the Canon
parallel and USB cables to the Laptop. Be sure all cables are routed so they
will not become entangled in the telescope, camera or the mount.
Plug in the cameras USB and Parallel
cables in to the laptop.
Power up the laptop and login. (A
complete boot-up and login may take as long as 5 minutes.) Wait for
completion before proceeding to the next step.
Power up the Camera. The cameras
shutter should fire (if it does not check the connections). The camera auto
shut-off should be set to OFF or 30 minutes.
The EOS 10D pop-up window will be
displayed verifying the camera is connected. Close this window by selecting
Start the ImagesPlus program by
selecting the Icon on the desk.
From the File menu select Canon
DSLR > Custom Shutter Control.
From the pop-Up menu select
Reset. Select OK to next 2 Pop-Up windows.
From the File menu select Canon
DSLR > Camera Control.
From the Pop-up window select
Connect. Select OK to next 2 Pop-Up windows.
The camera is now ready for use.
Note: If the camera is going to be used locally it may be done from the laptop. If the camera is going to be used remotely the laptop may be closed (it is setup to remain on when closed). The laptop can be accessed remotely from any PC on the network using either Remote Desktop or Log-Me-In.
If the cameras auto shut-off is enabled and the camera shuts down a message will be displayed stating the connection to the camera has been lost. To re-power the camera remotely repeat steps 11 through 14.
The observatory uses two specialty video cameras for monitoring where the scope is pointing and where the dome's slit is in relation to the telescopes' apertures. One camera is black and white and other camera is color. The color camera is attached to a 50mm finder scope. The black & white color uses a wide angle, 6mm (1/2"), manual focus, manual iris, F/1.4 CCTV lens. The video output from both cameras are fed to a SlingBox A/V video unit. The Slingbox video unit can be accessed from any local or remote (internet) terminal by using the SlingPlayer video client following the directions below.
1. Ensure the power for the video cameras has been enabled. Use the Observatory Control program to enable camera power. The power is either enabled when the "Pier Power On" button or the "Aux Power On" button is selected.
2. From the remote terminal click on the SlingPlayer icon. The SlingPlayer client should always be launched from the remote user's local machine (the PC they are using) and not the remote observatory terminal. While a SlingPlayer client does reside on the observatory computer using it remotely instead of the user's local client copy will degrade the real-time video performance.
3. When the SlingPlayer client launches highlight "Observatory" from the "Slingbox Directory" and select "Watch". An image from one of the cameras will appear on the screen. If the selected camera is not powered a message will appear on the screen prompting the user to check the connections.
4. To select the other camera, from the SlingPlayer toolbar select "SlingBox" and then "Video Input". The menu box will present the user with a "Composite" or "S-Video" choice. The currently selected camera will have a bullet next to the selection. The color camera is connected to the 50mm finder via the S-Video cable. The wide-angle black & white camera is selected by choosing "Composite".
5. To disconnect from the remote Slingbox select the stop button at the bottom of the SlingPlayer or from the Tool Bar select "Player" then "Disconnect Observatory".
Dome will not rotate
Verify the reb button toggle switch below the computer labelled "Aux Power" is in the "ON" position.
Click the "12 volt DC ON" button from the OCP GUI.
Verify the 15 amp 12 volt DC power supply is on.
Click the "Dome ON" button from the OCP GUI.
ACP returns a Motor Stalled
Disconnect the telescope
Exit ACP (shut down the program)
Click the "12 volt DC OFF" button from the OCP GUI.
Wait 10 seconds
Click the "12 volt DC ON" button from the OCP GUI.
Click the "Home Dome" button from the OCP GUI.
Wait for the Dome o home
Start the ACP sofware
Connect the telescope.