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Control File Editor

Professional Edition Feature

The Control File facility allows a number of additional options that are useful for more sophisticated remote observatories, whether remote is in your back yard or across the globe.  This file can be created or modified by any text editor.  The Control File Editor provides a convenient way to create the control file as well.

  • Load: Loads an existing file for editing
  • Save: Saves the open file or creates a new one
  • Test Message: Enter up to a 20 character string that will accompany any email messages or log entries as desired
  • Characters 1 through 6 (CCDAP5): These characters must be "CCDAP5".  This string of characters is used to validate this as a control file.
  • Check Polling (Character 8: If Y, the following field must be updated more frequently than the CCDAutoPilot polling time of 6 sec.  This option is useful for sophisticated observatory control systems to insure communication between a client application and CCDAutoPilot.  If the following field is not updated within the polling interval, the current run is aborted.  If this character is anything other than Y, the next field is ignored.
  • Character 10 through 20: This string can be generated by a Now(days) function in the client program.   As long as this string changes between CCDAutoPilot polls, the run will progress if Character 8 is Y.  
  • Start Session (Character 22): If Y, the run will start when the Run Session is pressed on the Run Session page of CCDAutoPilot.  If set to anything other than Y, the session will not start until the character changes to Y.
  • Pause Session (Character 24): If Y, the run will pause in the same manner as when the Pause Session button is pressed on the Status window.  When set to anything else, the run will resume as when the Resume Session button is pressed on the status window.
  • Abort Session (Character 26): If Y, the run will be aborted as if the Abort Session button is pressed on the Status window.
  • Abort Session and Shutdown (Character 28): If Y, the run will be aborted as if a cloud sensor had triggered the Run Abort Conditions.  Additionally, the imager cooler will be warmed up.
  • Send Email (Character 30): If Y, an email will be sent using the Email address and SMTP server settings on the Preferences page.  Any other character and no email will be sent.
  • Include Log (Character 32): If Y, the current log will be attached to the email sent as above.  Any other character and no log attachment will be included.
  • Plate Solve Error (Character 34): If Y, any plate solve error will result in a message "Plate solve error" being sent to the email address, assuming character 30 is Y.  Any other character will result in no message.
  • Slew Error (Character 36): If Y, any slew error will result in a message "Slew error" being sent to the email address, assuming character 30 is Y.  Any other character will result in no message.
  • Guide Error (Character 38): If Y, any automatic guide star error failure will result in a message "Guide star not recovered.  Imaging unguided." being sent to the email address, assuming character 30 is Y.  Any other character will result in no message.
  • Reserved Identifier (Character 48)
  • Message (Characters 50 through 70): Up to 21 characters can be appended to any messages sent from the above events.

    The control file consists of a single line file that may or may not be updated continuously as the need arises.  When Use Input File is checked on the Preferences page and a suitable file is entered by the File/Path button, this file will control CCDAutoPilot.

    Here is the general structure of that file:

    0        1         2         3         4         5         6         7
    CCDAP4 N 01234.67890 y N N N N N N N N           Test Message........X
           |             | | | | | | | | |           |
    Y=Check+             | | | | | | | | |           |
                         | | | | | | | | |           |
    Y=Enable start++++++++ | | | | | | | |           |
                           | | | | | | | |           |
    Y=Pause, else resume++++ | | | | | | |           |
                             | | | | | | |           |
    Y=Abort run+++++++++++++++ | | | | | |           |
                               | | | | | |           |
    Y=Abort Run and Shutdown++++ | | | | |           |
                                 | | | | |           |
    Y=Send Mail+++++++++++++++++++ | | | |           |
                                   | | | |           |
    Y=Send Log++++++++++++++++++++++ | | |           |
                                     | | |           |
    Y=Report plate solve error++++++++ | |           |
                                       | |           |
    Y=Report slew error+++++++++++++++++ |           |
                                         |           |
    Y=Report guide star recovery error++++           |
    Reason/text message (21 characters)+++++++++++++++

    The top line indicates character position, starting with 1 and going through 70.  The character positions have meaning as defined below:


    By the judicious choice of these options, you can arrange for any number of notifications and control.  Some examples:

    Assume you have a sophisticated weather and observatory control system such that if primary power is lost, you have enough UPS power to secure the system.  You might use the Abort function to abort the run.  Then, assuming your observatory is properly constructed, you can close the slit and gracefully power down the system.  You can be notified of this by email or text message, along with any additional text, identifying the reason for the change

    You can your email address of your phone's text message subscription to receive notification of any plate solve or guide star failure.

    Note that, independent of this control file, you can elect to be notified via email of run completion and receive the log as an attachment by checking the appropriate boxes on the Preferences page.