- ING Autoguider -
Version 1.5

on-line manual


Getting started

Step 1: power up

Assuming that the software has already been built and installed, and that the hardware has been installed and configured, the VME system can be powered up.

On power up the VME rack will load the real-time operating system which in turn loads the autoguider application. Once loaded the autoguider system software is executed.

The first action of the autoguider system software is to self-test all the hardware. If successfully tested, the autoguider software then attempts to 'ping' its CCD controllers. If it cannot find a controller, the autoguider software defaults to test-mode, which allows the user to use the autoguider with artificially generated starfields. The system is now ready for use.

Step 2: Using the command set

To use the autoguider, commands are issued from the UNIX command line. A list of valid commands are provided in this document. The commands themselves can be combined using scripting facilities such as the UNIX shell-scripts, or PERL for example. This allows the user the flexibility to produce higher level functions for specific purposes.

The only command necessary at this stage is:


which establishes a communication link to the autoguider system software in the VME rack. Once this has been achieved, all other commands can be utilised.

Step 3: Using the GUI

Once step 2 has been completed, the autoguider GUI can be invoked using;


This produces a window based image display environment with menu options and button controls for majority of autoguider functions.

User commands

Note - position of guide probes for INT Cassegrain

    Command:    agping 'rackName'


        This command provides a mechanism to determine if the autoguider
        system has booted and is running. Due to the nature of its
        implementation, it is only able to determine if the DRAMA interface
        task is operational on the autoguider system.


    Command:    agstargen 'function' 'value'


        In order to allow testing of the autoguider when no CCD (or CCD
        controller) is available, a test generator has been included which
        provides test frames suitable for checking the functionality of the
        autoguider. The interface to the test generator is provided by the
        agstargen command.

            ENABLE            - Enables the star test generator
            DISABLE           - Disable the star test generator
            TESTCARDENABLE    - Enables the testcard generator
            TESTCARDDISABLE   - Disables the testcard generator
            NUMSTARS 'n'      - Sets the number of stars that the
                                test generator should generate.
                                This can be between 1..10 inclusive
            XMOTION 'value'   - Sets the pixel increment in the X
                                direction which will be added to the
                                star x-position each frame. The
                                value is in pixels between 0..5
            YMOTION 'value'   - Sets the pixel increment in the Y
                                direction which will be added to the
                                star y-position each frame. The
                                value is in pixels between 0..5
            RESETMOTION       - Returns the test stars to their
                                defined positions before motion
                                was added

    Command:    agtest [POST | PROCTEST | RAMTEST | DR11WTEST]


        The agtest command allows self-testing of the autoguider system
        hardware. Each test provides complete testing of registers (stuck
        bits, connected bits, etc.), clocks, RS-232 ports (using loop-back
        testing), RAM (again stuck bits, coonnected bits, etc.), ID registers
        and board existence in VME rack, for example. Note that this command
        is an engineering function only and is provided for diagnostic
        purposes only.

            POST              - The power-on self-test command
                                provides a mechanism to execute the
                                autoguider POST function. This tests
                                all the hardware in the autoguider
            PROCTEST          - Tests the facilities of the VME CPU card
            RAMTEST           - Tests the facilities of the VME RAMcard
            DR11WTEST         - Tests the facilities of the DR11-W
                                interface card

    Command:    agwin [acq | gui] [pos | size] 'x' 'y'


        Allows the setting of the position and size of the acquisition and
        guide windows. Position co-ordinates are provided in pixels referenced
        to the readout corner of the of the device (on the display this
        corresponds to the top-left of the screen). Size values are also in
        pixels and should be set to a size greater than (1,1). The maximum
        values for the co-ordinates and sizes depends on the the size of the
        CCD device (all current Peltier cooled CCDs have dimensions (400,288)
        pixels, with a bias strip accounting for the first 10 pixels in the

        Note that when setting the window positions, the co-ordinates refer to
        the centre of the window.

            ACQ               - apply operation to the acquisition window
            GUI               - apply operation to the guide window
            POS               - change position of window
            SIZE              - change size of window
            x, y              - define (x,y) position or size

    Command:    autotime 'integrationTime'


        Sets the image capture integration time.

            integrationTime   - the integration time in msec. Value
                                must be in the range 50msec..30sec

    Command:    autotv [ON | OFF]


        Enables or disables the autoguider continuous acquisition (TV) mode.
        This mode continuously reads ou the CCD using the given integration
        time. The image data is avaiable via the appropriate monitored DRAM

            ON                - enable continuous acquisition
            OFF               - disable continuous acquisition

    Command:    field


        Performs a field operation. An image is acquired using the selected
        acquisition time. The image is then processed and up to a maximum of
        10 objects suitable for using as guide objects are identified. The
        identified objects are categorised and their associated data is
        available via a DRAMA monitored parameter. This client initiates the
        field operation and returns immediately. The updating of the monitored
        parameter should be used to indicate completion of the operation.


    Command:    guide [ON | OFF | ON STAR 'n' | ON PIXEL 'x' 'y']


        Enables or disables the autoguider guide mode. The options allows the
        client to select autoguiding on an object from the list obtained by
        the field command, or to guide on a particular location in the image.
        When guiding on a specific pixel, the guide window will be centred on
        that location. The guide window will be prevented from being placed
        outside the acqusition window. The pixel position is given in pixels
        relative to the readout corner of the CCD device; on the display this
        corresponds to the top-left of the screen. When guiding on an object,
        the value must be a valid entry in the star-log and must have a value
        in the range 1..10.

            none              - enable guiding on object 1
            ON                - enable guiding on object 1
            OFF               - disable guiding
            ON STAR 'n'       - enable guiding on object 'n'
            ON PIXEL 'x 'y'   - enable guiding at location (x,y)

Note on INT Cassegrain probe positions

In order to place the image centre of the autoguider camera on axis, the INT Cassegrain probes should be set to (493750,499490).

Where to get help

On-line help

On-line help can be found at the RGO autoguider systems web page. The URL for the page is:


Reporting faults

Faults with the autoguider should be reported using the standard fault database, in the usual way.

Product support

Requests for changes to the system, release information, and other related support issues can be addressed directly to the RGO.

Copyright (c) 1997 Royal Greenwich Observatory
Last updated Fri May 16 14:40:28 BST 1997