Manual for operating RoboDIMM




1. Start up
2. Shortcut to run RoboDIMM

        3. New Commands and Features in the GUI

             4. Definitions or terms in the RoboDIMM software

        5. Non-routine operation (for advanced students only!)

        6. Normal Shutdown for RoboDIMM (end of night)

        7. Winter Procedures for RoboDIMM and Dome

             8. Start-up for the night

        9. Observing tips — overcoming cloud and pointing problems

        10. Error messages

        11. Command line options for ./robodimm

        12. How to use snapper (not used anymore)

       13. Recover RoboDIMM pointing using the optical finder

        14. Adjusting the RoboDIMM telescope to park position marks

        15. Recover RoboDIMM pointing (at night from the control room)

        16. Optical alignment of the LX200 finder scope

        17. RoboDIMM pictures

        18 .Shutdown (thunderstorm bad weather)


       18. Revision history


       Webcam link (not active in the moment)



             Procedure for recovering communication and pointing of the RoboDIMM telescopes

        1. If communication is lost, it most likely means the telescope has hit its slewing limits and its power

            has been shut down. Shut down the software completely (control room).


        2. Go the tower in daytime (or night-time if observing conditions allows) and check the position and

            power status of the telescope. If telescope power indicator is lit, then the rest of this procedure is

            NOT pertinent.

            Instead check the RS232 cable and reboot the RoboDIMM pc. Once the pc is back, check

            communication again using the . /robodimm –t command. (Xterm sshwhtobs@taurus and

            ssh –Xl robodimm robodimm)

            If this fails, repeat cable check at both ends and reboot pc. If it fails twice, enter a fault report.


        3. If the telescope is powered up but not on its pointing reference marks (at zenith), correct this and

            park the telescope in software using the ./robodimm –p command.


        4. If this causes it to slew, allow motors to run to the end, releasing the brakes if the slew is long and

            holding the telescope upright to prevent it reaching limits. (Alternatively, press the override limit

            switches but do not allow telescope to become entangled or hit physical limits). Apply the clamps

            again and return to previous item.


        5. If telescope power is off, return telescope to approximate zenith position and press the "reset limits"

            button on the limit switch pox. The power should return. Set slewing speed to 2 using the handset

            (MENU >TELESCOPE > scroll to SLEW, hit ENTER, then MODE).

            Go back to item 3 again (and then item 4 if needed).


        6. Make sure the focus mechanism is not at one extreme (inward = upper limit, outward = lower limit)

            of its movement. Move it to mid-range if necessary.


        7. Once telescope is reliably parked and slewing speed is 2, it is ready for attempted use that night.

            Set the mosaic size to 5000 to improve chances of finding a star. Use profile cloudy in the presence

            of clouds. [ return ]



Procedure for recovering the pointing of the RoboDIMM telescope MEADE LX200 using

            the optical finder

             Note that some of the steps will not be necessary (e.g. power cycle the telescope or opening the clamps)

             if the pointing error is not very  large or the star appears in the field of view of the finder.


            1. If for some reason the program is not working properly apply a shutdown –r.

                Before going to the tower take note of the sidereal time to choose later a brilliant star close to zenith.


            2. On the tower apply a power cycle to the T/S (important step to recover from a communication or

                time out error with the T/S.) and un-screw the prism plate (watch for the position marks).


            3. Release the clamp for RA, align to the red mark and clamp on again but just finger tight. Then do the

                same for DEC.


            4) Choose a star out of the list of the blue manual. In case of problems of identifying constellations use

                Star ALKAID (!) which is located in URSA MAJOR (Eta Ursa Major) visible the whole year.


            5. Get the handset, go to the MENU, choose ALIGN and change the mode from LAND to POLAR. 


            6. Press now button 6 (STAR) and enter the number of the star (in this case) 140 (the apparent

                magnitude will appear) and press ENTER


            7. Alternatively you can use the catalogue of stars of the RoboDIMM program to choose a brilliant

                 star close to zenith, but there is a risk to align on a different star (since field of view of the finder of

                 the T/S is probably to small to identify the region or constellation in the sky. 


            8. On the white override control box set the safety limit to OVERRIDE but be prepared to open a

                clamp in time in the case that the T/S moves to a limit in RA or/and DEC.

                Connect to the T/S:

                telnet robodimm 3505

                findtarget 40  and choose a brilliant star close to zenith.


                goto < saoxxxxx>

                If it does so let it run (the motor(s) until they stop. Finally align the T/S to the star using the finder. 


          10. Align the star to the centre (hair-cross) of the finder using the handset, moving the T/S by hand

                or using the SNAPPER program.


          11. Once the star is well aligned in the finder press on the handset the ENTER button for 3 seconds

                 until you hear a “beep” which tells you that the T/S is successfully synchronized to this region in

                 the sky. As well there will appear a message on the handset saying the same. 


          12. Check the pointing with a different star some +/-10 degrees off in RA or DEC e.g. STAR xxx.

                The new target should appear very close to the centre of the hair-cross of the finder and bring the

                T/S back to park position.


          13. Back in the control room start the RoboDIMM program in automatic mode: ./robodimm. The T/S

                will start normally a spiral search to find the target which can take some time. When the star is

                found and RoboDIMM is tracking on it, you can apply another SYNC to synchronize the T/S to

                the current region on sky. [ return ]




             Adjusting the RoboDIMM telescope to park position marks

             In the RA_mark picture you will see a groove on the top the RA plate of RD with seven scale lines,

             the large one is the reference for the RA which has to be lined up with a scratch on the scale of the  

             RD fixed base plate which has five scale lines. It is the first small line to the right [ | ' ' ' | ] after the big 

             one in the centre.
             On the picture the "0 upon 0" lines nearly up to the scratched line.

             For the DEC park position please see the DEC_mark picture's a bit aside of the 25 degree scale

             line ~ 25.1 degrees.
             Reference is the scratched groove on the DEC base fork to the triangle peak (which is NOT in the same

             place as the black arrow in this picture!!!!)....shifted ~0.1 degrees.
             Anyway if there is no mark any more move the RD in DEC that the circle scale ~25.1 degrees lines up

             with the small groove scratched  in the fork. [ return ]



A shortcut to run RoboDIMM:                                                                                                             

             I suggest you put the following aliases in the .postcshrc file in your account. You should normally log

             into the RoboDIMM pc from your personal account, but in case of Network problems, use an account

             with a directory at the telescopes, such as lplogs.

             Please use username 'robodimm':

             alias robo          'xterm -e ssh -l robodimm &' or

             alias loquesea  'xterm -e ssh -X -l robodimm robodimm &'

             The -X (capital) is for X11 graphics but appears to make no difference in SunOs or linux versions

             Currently in use. You can abbreviate the RoboDIMM pc address as shown, but on first use ssh will

             request confirmation.

             With alias like this, all you have to do is type 'robo' and you will get a new xterm where you enter the

             password. You can then use 'up-arrow' to get the cd command from the buffer.

             I suggest to open 2 X terminals: in one you run “./robodimm” and in the other run “./ru [ return ]



New Commands and Features:

             The new GUI (vl.99p) has some new command buttons and a menu system for the management of

             configuration parameters. (There is also a bug whereby the Status tab is out oil on the right hand side).

             On the command prompt tab there are some new buttons, which have the following functions:


             "shutdown" causes the server program (./robodimm) to exit. It should be used instead of Ctrl-C,

             but only after  the robot has stopped and parked the telescope, e.g. at the very end of the night.


             “abort", in automatic mode (Robot started), has the same effect as "stop robot", that is, once the

             current action is completed, it parks the telescope and turns off tracking. 

             In manual mode' (i.e. no robot running, but telescope is controlled by individual commands) "abort"

             causes the current action to stop but does not park or switch off tracking!

            The "current action" can mean slewing, searching or taking measurements. 

             Searching takes a long time to respond to abort or stop robot simply because it takes a long time

             to complete. The "park telescope" button has no effect if the robot routine is running. It only

             works in manual operation (see below). If you want to park the telescope without starting the server

             or GUI, use the command option: ./robodimm -p


             There are two "profile" buttons, which optimise the robot search procedure for cloudy and

             clear conditions respectively. The program starts with profile clear by default and searches for stars

             between 2 and 4 magnitudes.

             Profile “clouded“ will switch the robot over to using stars between -0.9 and 3rd magnitude, but first

             it waits until the current star goes below 60 degrees elevation. The two profiles also have small

             differences in their search algorithms.



            The button "goto another target star", used after a change of profile, forces the robot to move to

             the next star in a new list, once the current action is completed. Once the clouds have cleared, it is

             necessary to switch back to profile clear because very bright stars cause problems for the search

             algorithm and no seeing data will be taken. Normally the clouds have to be quite thick, for example,

             causing some problems for the WHT auto-guider or even the observing program, before the profile

             clouded “is required. Anyway if clouds are too thick to observe on the WHT, the RoboDIMM

             should be stopped and the dome closed.


             Other commands can still be written into the Command box (“sunset” is currently written there and

             activated by pressing return.

             However, the buttons will not send any command unless there is a current (telnet) session. Therefore,

             before you first press a command button, you need to press "reconnect" (to the right and below the

             command prompt box) to open a telnet session for the GUI.. Pressing it causes a prompt to appear in

             the box labelled "response", but if the server (./robodimm) is not running, an error message to that

             effect will appear in the response box. [ return ]


             The server is the program which manages connections to the RoboDIMM pc, which are made by

             telnet or from the GUI (by entering a command in the command prompt). Those sessions are the only

             way to start/stop the robot or to send other individual commands. The window where the server is

             running also displays all messages on the status of the RoboDIMM instrument. The robot cannot work

             if these messages cannot be displayed (see below). The server is started by issuing “./robodimm“in

             the directory /data/robodimm/robodimm and can only be excited by Ctrl-C after “stop robot” and

             “park telescope”.

             The robot schedules all tasks, including acquisition, slewing, exposures, calculations and database

             storage. Once it is started using “startrobot”, the telescope tracking motors are activated and remain

             active until the “stop robot” command is executed, even during daytime, and even if the server is exited.

             Tracking is the only hardware function not controlled by the robotic routine: it is only controlled by the

             “start/stop robot” commands.

             So it is dangerous to interrupt the server (Ctrl-C or Hold-Screen on the. /robodimm terminal) for a

             long time without first stopping the robot.

             This is because the Meade telescope will continue tracking and will keep running the tracking motors

             even after the telescope is touching the base plate!

             However, on 14 July 2003, 3 limit switches have been installed on the telescope to prevent tracking to

             low elevations. When the limit switches is activated, the telescope power is switched off and the user must
             go outside to the dome to recover the telescope. [ return ]


Non-routine operation: 

             This section describes some consequences of operating outside of the routine “stop robot/ start robot”,

             e.g. running the robot  continuously (see next) but is also useful as background knowledge when

             solving problems. The robot also switches tracking off automatically after sunrise or parking the telescope.

             The status page of the GUI says "RoboDIMM will stop in xx minutes" - this is the effective time

             before the robot will park the telescope and switch off tracking. Tracking is switched off by changing

             the telescope mode from POLAR to LAND.

             So if the robot is left running beyond sunrise, it correctly displays "parked" on the GUI (it doesn’t do

             this after  “stop robot” command - a bug). Therefore there is no need to do a “stop robot” before you

             leave. During the daytime, the only task the active robot will carry out is to monitor the time until sunset,

             which it calculates approximately, and for which it needs to have a correct UT. The robot will then

             start searching for the first star automatically a few minutes before sunrise, without the need for a new

             “start robot” command from the user. However, to do this, it needs the server to be running.

             This is because the robot can't really take any action on the hardware (slewing, exposures) if no messages

             can be written to the terminal where the server (./robodimm) is running. So if Hold-Screen is on, or

             the server has been exited ), the robot's activity is interrupted.

             If the telescope is powered down while the server is running (e.g. spontaneously or after running into

             a safety limit) then any further commands will be ignored and the server cannot be restarted until the

             telescope is powered up again. If you then re-start the server, the robot will continue from the point

             where it was interrupted, which may again cause the telescope to run into a safety limit. The best thing

             to do in power-down cases is to release the RA and Dec clamps, restart the server and send a “stop robot”

             command. Then wait for the robot to say "telescope is parked" before parking it manually. Pointing will

             then have to be corrected because of the power down.

             If the robot has not been shut down, it will start acting on the hardware again as soon as ./robodimm

             is started again (unless it's between sunrise and sunset). [ return ]



          Closing down RoboDIMM in routine operation: 

             “stop robot

          This button in the GUI Command Prompt tab sends the "stop robot" command, which parks the

           telescope and turns off tracking, after stopping the automatic monitoring processes as soon as it can.

             Ctrl-C is the currently the only way to exit the server and GUI programs after a "stop robot".

             Ctrl-C can also be used if you want to temporarily interrupt the robot. If you do only Ctrl-C and restart

             the programs, the robot will resume working and send a warning email asking "did robodimm crash?".

             However Ctrl-C does NOT stop the telescope from tracking.   

             The “park telescope” button is ignored if the robot is still running.

The “abort” button is also for manual operation. [ return ]


Winter is coming! Please read the Bad Weather for RoboDIMM


Normal shutdown at the end of the night:

             Press the “stop robot” button, (or write the command in the dialog box in the GUI command prompt

             page, or in the telnet session if you are not using the GUI). This command is now supposed to work as

             soon as the telescope finishes its current task, e.g. search mosaic.

             Use “park telescope”, in the case where the robot was not running. The command “stop robot” is

             supposed to send a “park telescope”command, but you can send it another park command, just to confirm.

             “park telescope” stops the telescope from tracking by putting it into LAND mode.

             In case of “stop robot” and/or “park telescope” fails press the “abort” button.

             When the telescope is parked, press the “shutdown” button” to close the communication. Then close

             the dome completely using the red close button in the DOME GUI. [ return ]




             Opening the dome:

             There are two control panels for the dome, one in the RoboDIMM tower and one in the WHT control

             room. All of the functions are related to the dome and none to the telescope, e.g. the emergency stop

             prevents the dome from being closed but doesn't stop the telescope from tracking. (To stop it tracking,

             it should be switched to LAND mode)

          In order to open the dome of RoboDimm, you first need:

             1. The entry hatch to the dome to be closed (interlocked with dome power)

             2. The DOME CONTROL power key on the panel to be switched ON

             3. The blue SYSTEM RESET button to be pressed → all LED indicators light up.

             Now you can open the dome, by pressing and holding the DOME OPEN buttons until the red LED's

             comes ON (on the tower there are two buttons, for left and right sides of the Dome).

             The CCD power supply is connected to mains by a programmable timer plug. Note that you cannot

             run the ./robodimm program with the CCD switched off. [ return ]



Shutdown procedure for thunderstorms and bad weather

                  In case of an announced thunderstorm (ORM STATUS REPORT) or a visible worsening of the local

                  weather conditions probably changing to a thunderstorm, all RoboDIMM related equipment should

                  be isolated and unplugged from the common power lines.

                  Follow the risk(s) assessment for RoboDIMM! Never go out to the tower during a thunderstorm!


                  Thunderstorm situation:

             (1) If RoboDIMM is already running, stop the Robodimm program in the control room:

      stop robot (park robot) and shutdown the connection to the RoboDIMM pc.

      This will not shut down the RoboDIMM pc. To do so log-in as user (root) and enter shutdown –h

      which will shut down and power off the RoboDIMM pc on the tower.


                  (2) On the tower: (all plugs mentioned below are marked in red).

                        Log out the RD computer, shut down and switch off.

                        Unplug the hub (trendnet) and the RASP Pi.

                        Unplug the power supply for the RD MEADE LX200 telescope “RD TELESCOPE)      

                        Unplug the “REGLETA BLANCA” (west-side double socket right)

                        Unplug the APC (from the UPS) which then isolates completely as well the MASSDIMM equipment.

                        Switch off the UPS and unplug it from the main power socket. (west-side double socket left)

                        Unplug the power supply for the sky monitor. (south-side double socket)


                       ((Disconnect the dome PLC by switching off  the interrupters marked with “D” and “X” in the right

      cabinet situated at the bottom (south-side)))

              ……to be updated.


                  (3) Send an email to and  that RoboDimm is electrically

                        disconnected due to the bad weather.


                  (4) To reconnect RoboDIMM switch on all switched off devices and plug back all plugs starting from

                        the bottom to the top of  (2) list of actions:

                        Connect the power supply for the sky monitor. The socket is located right hand on the south-side

                        steel frame close to the sky monitor mounted on a pole at the south-east corner of the steel frame.


                  Plug in the UPS plug “TO UPS MAINS INPUT” into the double socket marked “UPS POWER”

                  located west-side left hand of the EMERGENCT STOP button on the steel frame.

                  Switch on the UPS located on the floor left hand west-side below the NICE and MASSDIMM pc’s,

                  (power on button is on the front cover facing south). Picture CIMG5600.jpg


                  Plug in the plug “APC POWER” into the double socket marked “APC POWER” located west-side

                  steel frame right hand of the EMERGENCT STOP button. Picture CIMG5600.jpg


                  Plug in the plug “REGLETA BLANCA” into the double socket marked “REGLETA BLANCA”

                  located west-side right hand of the EMERGENCT STOP button on the steel frame. Picture CIMG5600.jpg


                  Plug in the plug “RD TELESCOPE” into the multiple socket bar marked “REGLETA BLANCA”

                  located west-side on the inner steel frame. Picture CIMG5599.jpg

                  You will see red leds (2 bars) lit at the RD telescope base (where the focus, power and hand-set cables

                  are plugged in) on the very left which indicates that the RD telescope is connected.


                  Plug in the plug “TRENDNTE & RASPBERRY” for  the hub (trendnet) and the RASP Pi. You will see

                  A green and a yellow led lit after the RASPBERRY Pi has finished booting. Picture CIMG5601.jpg


                  Switch on the RD computer pressing the “RESET” button on the front cover and wait until it booted

                  completely to and the log-in screen appeared.        


                  Check if dome opens and closes via control buttons on the tower and via the dome GUI  in the WHT control



                  Bad weather situation (snow/ice, heavy rain-fall, high humidity):

                  As long as there is no evidence of an accompanying thunderstorm and the bad weather especially with

                  high  humidity will last a couple of days/nights pass all steps of  (2)  but the last one.

                  The dome PLC needs to be running to switch on the humidifier. It can be switched on via the dome GUI

                  in the WHT control-room.

                  Be aware that the tube for the condensed water of the humidifier is connected and passed through a hole

                  in the floor to the outside. [ return ]




            RoboDIMM pictures

            RoboDimm pictures can be seen at

     [ return ]


Observing tips:

            1. The robot task is in an apparently endless search loop. This can happen if clouds move in or pointing is bad.

               The robot simply starts a new “findtarget” if the previous one did not locate the star. This can now be

                 interrupted using the “abort” button.

            2. If the telescope has been powered down, you will need to follow Carlos Martin's recovery procedure

            3. Bad pointing: If the robot is not running, you can send commands manually to improve the pointing:


telnet robodimm 3505

             selecttarget 40

             goto saoxxxxxx

             findtarget                       This does a spiral search out to 2.000 arcsec and can take up to 20 min to complete

             centertarget                   This gives output on the ./robodimm session showing the centroid of images


             If the x or y of these is outside the range 50~200 it may be too close to the edge, then use:

             move ra dec                    Where ra and dec are increments in arcsec (30 to 40 is a good number) dec

                                                     + or – direction. We have found that Dec pointing errors are the most common

                                                      cause of bad pointing. Try a move of 120 (+/-).

             centertarget                   To check if the Centroids are now closer to the centre.


             sync RA DEC                Where RA and DEC are the coords of the target you are pointing at according to

                                                     the SAO catalogue. Enter these in format hh:mm:ss  dd:mm:ss

             start robot                      Should now return you to routine operation



             However, if the pointing is so bad that “findtarget“ did not work, you will have to go to the tower and

             "help" the software to find its target. Use “goto saoxxxxx“ to get close to the star - you should now be

             able to see it in the field of view of the finder of the telescope.

             Use the telescope handset to centre the star in the finder (the 4 left-hand buttons select the speed, indicated

             by a LED). Now run “findtarget” on the PC outside: it should locate the star after a few minutes. In fact,

             you can move the telescope in this way while the robot is doing a “findtarget”, but this is for the " advanced"

             user only! If the star does not appear in the finder after a goto (eg. after you have interrupted the robot; see

             point 3) then the "zeroset" is out.

             Release the clamps and park the telescope manually at the HA=0 and DEC=25.1 positions, Type "resume"

             into the telnet session and now try a “goto saoxxxxxx“ .

             You should now be able to see the star in the finder. If not, check that the sidereal time is correct

             (=RA in the park position). [ return ]



             How to use snapper:

             To check the pointing (and adjust the finder to target at large distance) you can use “snapper” to see

             the image of the camera  attached to RoboDimm.

             On the tower you have to login in the pc as “root” with password “t . . . . .

             The program should be started with  “./snapper” at /home/robodimm/data/robodimm/robodimm.

             To be sure you can find the program snapper in the file system using “locate snapper”. Accept all default

             settings with “Enter” then a small window will appear (camera image) which is updated continuously.

             Now search for the star.

             If it's a bright one, the default exposure time will cause it to saturate and "bleed" the display (the star image

             will be elongated vertically). If not you have the wrong star!

             But as long as you can identify with certainty it in the finder, you can use it to align the finder too.

             Then use the robodimm command sync to update the pointing OR you can choose a star from the lx200

             handset, (see the catalogue page in the manual, select a proper star for the season, goto star [number]) and

             after centred on the star hold down the ENTER button for some 3 seconds to synchronize the telescope to the

             region in the sky … will hear a “beep” when done. [return ]



Optical alignment of the LX200 finder scope:

             Mark the positions of the camera, prism plate and primary mirror focus knob in their places for

             references later. Remove the prism plate, the camera, only the camera, not the focuser. The idea

             is to keep the back focal distance similar when using an eye piece.

             Use a 26mm eyepiece on the main telescope and centred it on a fixed position on the DOT tower

             (weather mast) or the JKT (comm mast on the roof) using the hand box. Override the limits to let

             it slew this far down.

             The correct adapter for the eye pieces is just connected to the face of the robodimm camera.

             Disconnect it from the camera to mount the eye piece(s).

             To get the eye piece in focus you need to move the primary mirror focuser some 2.5 turns clockwise

             (record the exact value of turns you did).

Adjust the finder in the way that the reference object appears centred in the cross-hair.

             Put the prism plate back on the reference position, same for the camera and turn back the primary

             mirror focuser anticlockwise to its original position. [ return ]



Error Messages:

             Error messaging has been improved in the version 0.99 software and while most error messages do

             not require action from the user, they need some explanation. The program sends emails containing

             error messages to Neil O’Mahony (user nom) by default, and if you want to change this and receive

             the error emails yourself,  you have to issue:

             ./robodimm --email note the double dash (--), or use the -e option which

             is equivalent.

             The different command options are outlined in the next section and can be listed by issuing options

             --help or –h  (which are equivalent).

             In any case, the RoboDIMM software also sends pop-up error messages to the currently active

             workspace, with

             the same content as the email error messages. The currently known error messages are as follows:



        RoboDimm lost the communication with the telescope.

             The telescope is well parked but the software can`t send the commands to the telescope.

             Also the RoboDimm PC after a remote reboot didn`t come up.

             Do again a proper reboot of the pc (ensures data integrity by terminating processes and synchronizing

             the file system: “shutdown -r now” or “init 6” as user root.


             Command interface problem (executing the previous command instead of the actually typed

             in or applied via the GUI radio buttons)

             In this case rebooting the application will not solve the problem but will instead affect RoboDimm

             in a way not to find any stars further on. 

             This can be fixed by pressing the “reconnect” radio button on the GUI before typing or applying via

             radio button a new command.


             findtarget(): Time out! Telescope should have reached position by now, but it didn't.

             Is it still connected?         

             The "killer fault". Means the telescope has had one of its mysterious hardware freeze-ups. You will

             Probably have to go outside to correct the  pointing before you can use RoboDIMM again.

             Check the limits, reboot the RoboDimm pc if necessary, if RoboDIMM is driven to limits move it

             out to the marks and send a ./robodimm –p and check again the park position.


             TCcmdImportSAO::ExecuteCmd():Error opening database       

             This means that the change of profile (clear/cloudy) has not worked because the catalogue could

             not be opened for some reason. This is a rare fault. Try “profile clear/cloudy” again.


             Can’t select a suitable target star within 30.000000 zenithal distance!

             This occurs only in "cloudy" profile when the number of (bright) stars available is much less.

             Try using the clear profile. If this does not work, close RoboDIMM and wait some time for better weather.


             Can’t find any suitable star within the specified area.

             This is a repeated version of the previous error message. Redundant – it’s a bug.


             Both configured atomic clock NTP time servers ( and

             have been unreachable for more than an hour now. The CMOS/system clock isn't synchronized

             during that Time!                                                                             

             This is caused by internet outages. (frequent recently). Not important in the short term, starts becoming

              important if it occurs more than two nights in succession. The telescope needs an accurate UTC for

             good pointing. This can be updated on the tower using the handset.           



             TCmdTelescopeGoto::ExecuteCmd(): Distance to target = 0d0m39s

             TTP_Alt::Set(): invalid coordinate entered!! Altitude degrees=90.0000

             This is easily resolved by loading the catalogue.

             Select the profile first:

             telnet robodimm 3505 (when the server (program) is running)

             profile clear

             importsao 2 4.5 (this sets the range of magnitudes used in clear conditions)

             profile cloudy

             importsao 1.5 2.5 (sets the range of magnitudes for cloudy conditions)

             …if still no change then type ./fixconfigfile


             The GUI disappeared given an error message of segmentation fault. Message from talker is:

             CenterCCD() failed. Going to select another target to try again...(No objects were detected)

             TTCPClient::CommThread(): select() error, session ID=3, error: Bad file descriptor

             Segmentation fault.

             Try to restart the GUI on the xterm: ./ru and send a ./fixconfigfile or reboot the RoboDIMM pc.


             Frozen GUI

             Exit the GUI and restart it on the proper xterm: ./ru  ….no success reboot the RoboDIMM pc on the tower.


             "Error trying to read out the CCD !  TSBIGdriver()::ReadOut()" (buttelescope is moving)

             1) Maybe the socket timer is not properly set (e.g. to random (RAND))

             2) CCD controller needs to be reset (power cycled) using the "manual mains" button in the PLC Dome

             remote control panel.


             The telescope doesn`t start to move (although the program is running and the GUI shows telescope


             The telescope is probably in limits and therefore switched off. It is necessary to go up onto the tower

             to reset the limits and park thetelescope at the correct marks in RA and DEC (./robodimm –p).

             Don’t forget to set the slewing rate to "2” using the handset of the LX200!!!


             You are not allowed to do that!

             This message appears in the GUI while pressing start robot, park telescope or any other radio button.

             This appears mostly because of a corrupt configuration file.  As user robodimm just run on the 

             ./robodimm window: "fixconfigfile".

              A good idea also is to check that the telescope is parked correctly and not in limits.


              Not able to do valid measurements. Trying to locate the target object again...

              SBIG error: SBIG_TX_TIMEOUT

              Error trying to read out the CCD !  TSBIGdriver()::ReadOut()

              SBIG error: SBIG_TX_TIMEOUT

           Dome GUI shows no status, no clock. At the bottom line appears: `RESET_MCR` has failed:

           Application layer timed out while waiting for a response. A “ping robodimm” responds:

           destination host unreachable. Probably problems with the net switch SW4WHT or the fibres themselves.

           Reboot and check.


        Testing CCD camera....

             - Trying to connect to the CCD camera...

             - CCD camera not found!

             Check all cables especially the RS232 link telescope to pc. As well try to power cycle the CCD controller

             using the "manual mains" button on the PLC Dome remote control panel.


             Server not responding

             Possibly the telescope ran into limits and is powered off. Switch on the telescope power and send  the

             ./robodimm –p park command.

             …check that it is parked at the marks and slew rate set to 2 (handset)


             The robodimm rsview32 (dome GUI) can’t be loaded. Error message:

             OLE Automation failure. Exception caught [80010105][]

             Re-start the application or if this fails re-boot the pc. Login as “whtobs”


             The (Seeing)GUI is running slowly or even not responding.

             Exit and re-start the GUI with “./ru” in the proper xterm window. If this fails open another telnet

             terminal and send “abort” and “park telescope” commands to stop the robot.

             The telescope must already have been parked before you sent the shutdown and the GUI was not responding.


             For future reference:

             Open a new X-window and type:

             telnet robodimm 3505

             type: “abort” and wait (sometimes a long while) for a response to the command. When you get the

             prompt back,  type "park  telescope"

             If the GUI is not responding, you can simply kill the window with “exit” or (X) and park the telescope

             using the procedure above. Finally type the command "shutdown”, reboot the pc and restore the

             configuration file if necessary>>> ./fixconfigfile and park using ./robodimm –p.


             No star can be found in clear conditions (Telescope and CCD are working fine)

             Check and change the parameters to previous values or defaults to give the telescope a good chance

             of finding a star. Before you change parameters you must first send a “stop robot”, “park telescope

             and exit the ./robodimm program. Only the GUI should be running when you edit parameters.


             The selected horizontal range (x/width) is out of boundaries!

             Not able to do valid measurements. Trying to locate the target object again...

             TLX200driver::SendCommand(): LX200 timed out!! Response expected, command=#:GZ#

             Shutdown the Robodimm program and restart.


             Robodimm is out of action. The telescope seems fine, but the control software does not respond

             as expected.

             Suspected a problem with the postgres database manager on the robodimm computer.

             When trying to restart this service as root the following error message appears:

             /sbin/service postgresql restart

             Stopping postgresql service:  [  OK ]

             Starting postgresql service: su: warning: cannot change directory to /var/lib/pg

             sql: Permission denied

             .... and similar error is displayed on startup when the machine is rebooted.

             Login to robodimm as postgres and execute the following:

             /usr/bin/pg_ctl -D /var/lib/pgsql/data -p /usr/bin/postmaster start

             or as root:

             [root@robodimm usr]# su - postgres

             su: warning: cannot change directory to /var/lib/pgsql: Permission denied

             bash-2.05a$  /usr/bin/pg_ctl -D /var/lib/pgsql/data -p /usr/bin/postmaster start

             postmaster successfully started

             enter: “service postgresql restart” (as root)!


            TSBIGdriver::TakeExposure(): frame=(X=93,Y=14,127x113), shutter=opened File size limit


            The log file/home/robodimm/logs/robodimm.log had reached 2.0G which happens to be a file size

            limit in redhat 7 linux and is probably the reason why the program spontaneously exited, closing the

            telnet connection.

            To fix this change the name of the log file to a backup name. The program then starts a new robodimm.log


            PLC is indicating "fault"  It is not possible to operate robodimm dome either local and/or remote.

            Can be a Major Error at the PLC: The controller cannot communicate with an expansion I/O module.

            To fix the problem clear the Major Error.


            The RSVIEW program to drive the robodimm dome crashed

            Restart the rsview32 application


            OLE Automation failure. Exception caught[80010105][]

            The robodimm rsview32 plc program can`t be loaded

            Reboot the robodimm rsview32 pc


            The dome opens and then closes again after a few seconds.

            A reset of the dome plc (on the tower) does not fix it.

            Start the open dome sequence and stop at half way. [ return ]



           Command line options for the ./robodimm program

           BEWARE: Some of these options are hazardous! 

            For normal operation, please log onto robodimm pc as user "robodimm", to avoid executing some of

            these options by mistake.


            RoboDIMM v0.99p, 18 Dec 2003


            usage: ./robodimm [option ...] [other-arguments ...]


            The following table gives a detailed description and explanation of the output of command./robodimm --help



option (multi)  

Long form synonym, single option*





Does not start the robot automatically. Requires "startrobot" command.

otherwise the robot will start automatically, minutes before sunset 



Emulates the CCD camera and telescope hardware

"Simulation mode", for software tests.



Park the telescope and exit the program

(robot is NOT started)

The Park position can be at zenith or the pole, as set in the configuration file.



Start robot with a logging level (n=0..8), as follows:

The logging level applies to the current session only


0 = 'Emergency', system is unusable



1 = 'Alert', serious error, action must be taken immediately



2 = 'Critical', critical conditions



3 = 'Error', standard error conditions



4 = 'Warning', user is normally informed about it but may be ignored



5 = 'Notice', normal but significant conditions



6 = 'Info', informational messages (a.k.a. verbose)



7 = 'Debug', normally not shown to the user, disabled in release mode

currently used value in the configuration file


8 = 'Debug level 2', extra verbose debug output




Start the robot but email the error reports to the given address

to send error reports to an address different from that in the configuration file (currently nom), e.g. yourself.



run in the background (as a daemon)

not yet used at ING



Check whether the telescope is online and then exit

Does not start robot. Useful check for telescope power.



Check whether the CCD camera is online and then exit

Does not start robot. Useful check for CCD power.



Recalculate all seeing values for the centroids in the database DBNAME. Note: to recalculate data that was recorded in emulation mode, combine the -E option with this


Executable by "root".

Can overwrite current DB!!!



Recalculate all extinction AND seeing values for the centroids in the database DBNAME. Note: to recalculate data recorded in emulation mode, combine the -E option with this


Executable by "root".

Can overwrite current DB!!!



Test mode, does not write recalculated seeing values to the database.

Only works in combination with the option '-r'



Print version information and exit

Prints version at start with all options in any case.



Starts robot using current window as a Status Screen (ncurses)

Alternative to a scrolling-message output. Can be unclear unless correct size of window


--testseeing [files] 

Calculate a seeing value from the fits-files given on the command line. Also shows detailed information on the way it is calculated. The altitude is read from the files.




Check whether the RoboDIMM software (this software) is still functioning properly. If that is not the case, the telescope will be parked and all robodimm instances will be killed.



            *A double-dash (--') indicates that the rest of the line is not to be scanned for options. [return ]


            Default Values:

            All default values can be seen in the “Configuration” section (GUI), choosing “expert mode” under

            “help” for each item.


            The drift correction (object tracking parameter in config) default value should be: 0.15





                  Revision History:







Karl W. Kolle

Document created



Karl W. Kolle 

Command glossary and Hyperlinks added



Karl W. Kolle

Snapper & finder alignment added 



F. Jimenez

Check focus mechanism while recovering procedure added



Karl W. Kolle

RD manual update



Karl W. Kolle

RD manual pictures update



Karl W. Kolle

Shutdown  procedure (bad weather) added



Karl W. Kolle

RD manual  update





                [ return ]