Contents - Index

Data Organization

A large number of files can be expected over the course of an evening's imaging session. In addition to your light frames, you will have flat frames and most likely dark and bias frames. CCDAutoPilot provides a number of ways of dealing with these file names and locations.  
Typically master dark frames are used and match the data frames in exposure duration, binning and cooler temperature.  Master bias frames are also developed as needed.   Flat frames, whether taken from the sky of an artificial light source, are generally grouped by filter, binning and perhaps the camera rotation. CCDAutoPilot can be customized to meet your work flow and desires in a number of ways.


Folders can be defined on the Settings page/File Settings tab. If all the folder names are blank, the default base folder will be:

(My) Documents\CCDWare\CCDAutoPilot5\Images\

If the folders for the other four frame types are blank, corresponding frames will be stored in:

Light frames: (My) Documents\CCDWare\CCDAutoPilot5\Images\yyyymmdd\Data Files\

Dark, bias and flat frames: (My) Documents\CCDWare\CCDAutoPilot5\Images\yyyymmdd\Calibration Files\

where yyyy = year, mm = month and dd = day.

Now, suppose I want a different base folder, say C:\Astro but I leave all the others blank.  Then the corresponding folders would be:

Light Frames: C:\Astro\yyyymmdd\Data Files\

Dark, bias and flat frames: C:\Astro\yyyymmdd\Calibration Files\

Suppose I want the dark frames in one place and the flat and bias frames in another since bias frames are used most often to calibrate flat frames.  Then, I leave the light frames folder blank and navigate to suitable folders for the calibration frames, such as:

Dark frames: C:\Astro\Dark Frames\
Bias frames: C:\Astro\Flat Frames\
Flat frames: C:\Astro\Flat Frames\

Another scenario: suppose I want all calibration frames in one folder and all light frames (data frames) in the same folder. Then I would set:

Light frames: C:\Astro\Data\
Dark frames: C:\Astro\Calibration\
Bias frames: C:\Astro\Calibration\
Flat frames: C:\Astro\Calibration\

Log files are always written in a folder called CCDAutoPilot_Logs in the base folder.  

File Names

By entering suitable file names in the description field for each series in each session phase, you can precisely customize those file names.  This can get tedious.  There is an easier way by taking advantage of file naming templates.  These are described on the Setting page/File Settings tab,  By using these templates, you can get automatic file naming very easily.  Any character immediately following a '%' character defines the element that replaces the combination of the '%' character and that letter.  These definitions are shown in the box immediately to the right of the File Names box.

For example, suppose you wanted the light frame file names to have the target name, file name, binning, exposure time in seconds and side of the meridian the exposure took place as part of the file name.  Entering a template %t&f&b%e%s would result in a file name of:

But maybe you'd like to make that a little clearer.  Entering %t_%f%b_%eSec_E would result in

Maybe you'd like all the light frames to be in a folder of their target name.  Entering %t\%t\_%f%b_%eSec_E would result in exposures for M33 going into an M33 folder with file names like and exposures for M32 going into an M32 folder with file names like Note that the proper folder delimiter for Windows is the backslash, '\'.

You can experiment with these file templates and see what the name would look like simply by hovering the mouse over the file name template box.

The starting sequence is an arbitrary serial number for each exposure and is indexed by one as each exposure is saved.  In certain rare conditions, you may want to avoid the serial number.  Entering %n in the template structure will do that but you will overwrite each file with the subsequent one.  You will be warned in this instance.  Lastly, you can set the extension to be fit, FIT, fits or any variant that is compatible with your processing system.

By way of example, assuming the folders are defined as above.  Here is what some full file names would be

Light frames: %t\%f%b_%m%dM_%e : C:\Astro\M33\

Dark Frames: %mM\%c%i%b_%mM would be C:\Astro\Dark Frames\10M\ (all my dark frames of a given exposure are in the same folder.)

Bias Frames: %c%e%b would be C:\Astro\Flat Frames\

Flat Frames: %f%b_%d%r would be C:\Astro\Flat Frames\ (This way I can match up the flats with the light frames for position angle and side of meridian.

By experimenting with various templates and folders, you can customize your file names pretty much any way you would like with minimal effort.