Initial Software Installation

Assuming a fresh start (either due to OS upgrade, or drive failure).
Install Windows. You can get install media from the ICT Help Desk in Hardman & Jacobs. We’re currently running Windows 10, so the following instructions are based around that version.
Download and install Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5, 3.0, and 2.5
Install Cygwin (we mainly use it for cron jobs). The installer will list all of the packages you can choose from. Be sure to add cron, maybe emacs and tcsh. Allow ping requests: get admin CMD window (CMD+CTRL/SHIFT/ENTER), enter: netsh advfirewall firewall add rule name="ICMP Allow incoming V4 echo request" protocol=icmpv4:8,any dir=in action=allow

VNC/Remote Control

Download the installers for TigerVNC, Teamviewer, and !AnyDesk.
Set passwords for TV and AD. AAVSO requested specific passwords for these, so check with them.
You’ll need to note down the ID numbers for both TV and AD, and send them on to AAVSO so they can access the computer remotely. AAVSO has licensing information for AnyDesk.
We use VNC for remote access. Launch TigerVNC, right click the tray icon and go to options. Set authentication password for remote access.

Observatory/Telescope Control

Download and install:

AAVSO have the necessary licenses for MaxImDL. They’ll send you an email with the download link (Jon Rees and Jon Holtzman should also have a copy of this). Install MaxImDL and copy the text of the email to the clipboard. Start MaxImDL and the license information should automatically populate into the window. If it doesn’t, double check that the license information in the email is applicable for the version of MaxIm and/or that the license is still valid for updates.

Download Clarity II for the Boltwood II Weather Station (under Downloads tab). When starting the software it may complain about a missing file, MCI32.ocx. This used to be included in older versions of Windows, but not in the current version of Windows 10. If you need it you can get a copy from the Clarity II Support Forum (look for a thread titled Clarity II and Windows 10 - missing file). Put the MCI32.ocx file in the C:/Windows/SysWOW64 folder. Once Clarity II launches successfully hit setup and enter the COM port for the Boltwood II (currently COM4, check device manager to determine current COM ports)

Download and install Focusmax 3.8. Focusmax was the last free version. Focusmax 4 now requires a purchase/license. AAVSO can send you the installer, or it’s available on the web at the above link (at least as of the time of writing). Our focuser is an optec tcf (temperature controlled focuser). Download the optec ascom driver. Open Focusmax. In Focusmax, click ‘choose’ next to ‘not connected’. Select the Optec driver. Click properties, to set up the focus properties. Select the COM port for the focuser. Currently COM5

In March 2021, switched to FocusMax v4, needed for new large format camera. License purchased.

Download camera drivers. Camera is a QSI 583. You can download an image of the installation CD from the QSI site (under support, drivers) Open the installer, select MaxImDL plugin, install. Move the CCDPlugQSI.dll file from C:/ProgramFiles(x86)/Cyanogen/MaxImDL V5 to /MaxImDL 6 if it put it in the wrong location. Our guide camera is a Starlight Xpress Lodestar. Download the Starlight Xpress drivers and install. Open MaximDL6 Go to camera control tab, setup camera1, select model QSI Camera 2, setup, SX Universal. You should now be able to connect to the cameras. Disconnect again and click Set Up Filter on Camera 1 to set up the filter wheel. Select the QSI Universal driver under ‘Filter or Controlling Camera Model’. Set the Filters in each slot. Currently we have B,V,R,I,Halpha in slots 1-5 respectively. Delete the names in slots 6+ if they’ve been auto-populated.

March 2021, switched to QHY 600 camera, downloaded drivers from their web site. Select ASCOM drivers for camera and filter wheel. Set up camera using Advanced button on ASCOM setup.

Open Servoconfig, setup COMM port, and enter the COM port for the telescope (currently COM 6). Open SiTech.exe, config, change config, misc, select COM Port for the telescope.

Dome control is usually done through ACP, but low-level checks can be done through ASCOM Dome Control directly. Open ASCOM Dome Control, Select dome, and select the MaxDome II driver. Click Setup Dome, select COM port (Currently COM10).

Now we should be able to connect to everything. It’s time to tweak the setup. Check telescope config in SiTech (Config tab, change config). Check telescope name (TM61), Aperture (24 inches), and focal length (Telescope is f/5, but effectively f/5.6 due to coma corrector -> Focal length is 5.6*24=134.4 inches). Check site Lat/Long/Elevation. Under Mount Params, check that the mount is set to Equatorial. We haven’t changed any of the other parameters under this tab yet.

In ACP, Preferences, Dome Control: Check that the dome is set to MaxDome II (under Select Dome). Under Properties, hit auto calibrate to determine the number of tics in a complete rotation (currently 193). Set the home position (~88 degrees) and the park position (90 degrees). Also make sure shutter control is enabled, and select “has upper shutter only”. Also select “Close and park dome when scope parked” and “safe to slew scope with shutter closed”.

Under Advanced there’s an option to slave the dome when slit is closed. Useful for testing, but disabled by default to avoid sun in the telescope (if we were to open the slit, telescope could be pointed at sun, and dome would be slaved). ACP -> Preferences -> Server Tab -> Enable, to allow web services (scheduler etc.) Under Observatory tab, enter the site name (TMO), latitude (+32 17 35), longitude (-106 41 53) and elevation (1505m). Under Telescope tab set the Telescope Name (TM61), aperture (609.6mm), focal length (3460mm) min elevation (15 deg) and ensure ‘telescope needs local topocentric coordinates’ is selected. Select German Equatorial mount. Under Flip Settings set the flip before(East-West)/after(West-East) meridian values to large (~360 minutes), because our mount doesn’t actually flip. Under Dome Control tab enable ACP Dome Control, select close and park dome when scope is parked, and safe to slew anywhere with the shutter closed. For mount geometry we currently have the values: Mount Pivot E/W: Mount Pivot N/S: Mount Pivot Vert Offset: Optical Axis Offset: 900mm Dome Radius: 4m Dome Az Bias: 0 We’re still getting some errors with the dome slit positioning, so these values need to be tweaked.

In Focusmax, go to open -> options. Enable auto connect for focuser and camera.

In MaxImDL, Observatory Control select the setup tab. Add Telescope (SiTechDLL Telescope) and Focuser (FocusMax Focuser Hub). If it auto-detects the weatherstation (Boltwood CS and Davis), make sure to disable them for enable all (click the arrow for more options, then deselect Enable for Connect All)

Clarity II Setup: To integrate the Boltwood weather station with ACP, enable the data file by going to setup -> data file. Set the file name/location (default boltwood.log, in Documents/ClarityII). This will write a single line file which ACP can read to determine conditions (see Clarity II Limits section below) In ACP go to Weather, Setup. In Weather Server Object ID enter ACP.BoltwoodFile and enable the weather services by checking the box. Make sure the Minimum Unsafe Time is set to something sensible like 10 minutes. This is the time that ACP will wait after the weather becomes safe again before resuming. Then edit the ACP weather script (located in C:/ACP Obs Control/ACP-Weather.vbs) and uncomment the lines to allow the dome to close before telescope is parked (because we have a ‘real dome’).

Clarity II Limits: Clarity has limits (set under setup tab) to define the level at which you switch from e.g. cloudy to very cloudy. You can then select what levels trigger alerts. For example maybe you want the system to trigger alerts when the wind level is above either the windy or very windy limits, but for clouds only when it’s above the very cloudy limit. These selections will determine whether the alert flag is set in the one-line file (see the Boltwood manual, section 17.1.1 New Format for the format of this file). The alert flag is either 0 (no alert) or 1 (alert), and should be the final digit in the file. Unfortunately currently this file is missing the alert bit. Diffraction Limited forums show other users encountering this as well, currently waiting on a response to a post I’ve made.
It looks like the alert flag was never actually implemented in the software, but still made it into the documentation. So Bob Denny incorporated it into ACP based off of the documentation, but the functionality never truly existed.
In the interim, if the alert flag is not present ACP can still function (older versions of Clarity also didn’t have this alert bit). Instead ACP will look at the level digits for the individual conditions (cloud, wind, rain, daylight), and trigger the weather script if any of the conditions is at Level 3.


In maximDL, observatory window, Telescope tab, calibrate to allow point here

using Guider window in expose, calibrate guider. Need to select AscomDirect in Autoguider output control. For some reason, need to change sign of Xspeed

For ACP, add SchedulerDawnFlats.txt in /Users/admin/Documents/ACP Astronomy/Plans

add Autoflat.config in /Users/Public/Public Documents/ACP Config/

edit filename in ImageConfig

see also /Users/Public/Public Documents/ACPConfig/Scheduler, StartupObs.js, ShutdownObs.js, temperature.txt

Run focusoffsets script, creates FilterInfo.txt in ACP Config, put in MaximDL

Last modified 6 weeks ago Last modified on Oct 20, 2021, 3:04:19 PM
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