CCDAutoPilot's user friendly interface is continued and enhanced in version 5. This overview will give the general organization of the interface. The rest of the command summary will give details for each command by page or menu. Here is a view of the opening window.
The Main Page has the controls used for a given Main Button selection. The lower buttons may be hidden by clicking on and moving the button splitter vertically. For example, once the Focusing, Guiding and Preference settings are established for your system, they can be hidden in the tray at the bottom like this:
The controls are still there, just minimized to the button tray at the bottom.
The main buttons at the lower left bring up the corresponding main page and info window. There is a status panel at the bottom of the main page that has four panes. The first shows the connection status, the second the target list in use, the third the system profile in use and the fourth shows status of any activity initiated from the user interface. Hovering the mouse over the Target Database or System Profile will bring up the complete path to the file in question. For example, hovering the mouse over the Target Database shows this:
There are a number of aids to operation. With most settings, hovering the mouse over a given control (checkbox, entry field, button, etc.) will give some tips on its use and application. From any page, hitting F1 on the keyboard will bring up the command summary help file topic for that page. Where a given field entry might be long (status panel at the bottom of the window, paths, command files, etc., hovering the mouse will show the full field. Items that are grayed out are not usable. Hovering the mouse over many of the controls will display a "tip" giving some hints on that controls use. It takes around a half-second with the mouse till for the tip to appear. Here is an example:
CCDAutoPilot uses a number key files, the system profile, the target database, the session log and the control file.
The system profile represents the settings you would use from night to night for consistent operation of your imaging system. This includes not only all the settings on all the pages but includes the selected control programs on the settings page. You can have multiple system profiles if you have multiple camera/OTA systems. The system profiles end in .ap5 and are registered to Windows. Double-clicking on a system profile will start CCDAutoPilot with that system profile loaded. Any control programs that are not loaded will be started.
New in version 5, the target database is a relational database that maintains referential integrity. What this means is it is very unlikely the database can be corrupted. It also allows on-the-fly session editing. The target database stores all target information and session exposure information as described on the Session page. This allows you to plan your sessions days, weeks, months or for a whole year at one time. You can either add targets to the target database on your planning computer, if different from your observatory computer or network into your observatory computer and add session planning information directly. A session plan must have at least one target to take any light frames. With the basic edition, one and only one target can be entered and used.
The session log is a detailed log with time stamping of nearly every event, command and response between CCDAutoPilot and the various servers. It is essential for troubleshooting and contains much useful information concerning your session. It is written to a CCDAutoPilot_Logs folder off the Base Folder directory. If you haven't changed it on the Preferences/File Setting tab, the log will be located in
The file name will be
ccdapyyyyMMdd_HHmmss.log where yyyy = year, MM = month, dd = day, HH = hour, mm = minute and ss = seconds of the start of the session.
In the event of a program error, RunOnError.vbs is executed.
Control File (Professional Edition Feature)
The control file provides external control and configuration of CCDAutoPilot. By use of the Control File Editor, various notification configurations can be defined. An external program can write to the control file to control session execution, notifications and