RoboDIMM operating manual
18 Dec 2005author: Neil O'Mahony
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). These 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 exited by ^C
`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 stoprobot 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/stoprobot
So it is dangerous to interrupt the server (^C or Hold-Screen on ./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 are activated, the telescope power is switched off and the user must go to the RoboDome to recover the telescope (see below) and
This section describes some consequences of operating outside of the
routine stoprobot/startrobot, e.g. running the robot continuously
(see next) but is also useful as background knowledge when
The robot also switches tracking off automatically after
sunrise, parking the telescope the same as a stoprobot command. The
Status page of the GUI says "RoboDIM will stop in xx minutes" - this
is the effective time before the robot will park the telescope and switch
of tracking. Tracking is switched off by changing the telescope
mode from 'Polar' to 'Land'(scape).
So if the robot is left running beyond sunrise, it correctly displays
"parked" on the GUI (it doesn't do this after stoprobot command - a bug).
Therefore there is no need to do a stoprobot 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 startrobot command from the use. 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 ( ^C), 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 saftey limit) then any further commands will be ignored and the server cannot be restarted untilt he 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 go 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 stoprobot 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 doen..
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).
This button in the GUI Command Prompt tab sends the "stoprobot" 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 "stoprobot". Ctrl-C can also
be used if you want to temporarily interrupt the robot. If you 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
The PARK button is ignored if the
`robot' is running
It is only used in manual mode.
The Abort button is also for manual operation.
Press stoprobot 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, in the case where the robot was not running. Stoprobot is supposed to send a park command, but you can send it another park command, just to confirm. 'Park' stops the telescope from tracking by putting it into LAND (-scape) mode.
Close dome completely using the red close buttons.
In order to open the RoboDome, we first need :
The CCD power supply is connected to mains by a programmable timer plug. Note you cannot run the robodimm program (see below) with the CCD switched off.
findtarget This does a spiral search out to 2000 arcsec and can take up to 20 minutes to complete. centertarget This gives output on the ./robodimm session showing the Centroid of the 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 (30-40 is a good number) in the + or - direction. I have found that Dec pointing errors are hte most common cause of bad pointing. Try a 'move 0 120' (+/-). centertarget To check if the Centroids are now closer to the centre. If they are use: 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 i.e. with a colon (dos puntos) delimiter. startrobot 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 to get close to the star - you should now be able to see it in the the finder telescope field. Use the telescope Handset to centre the star in the finder (the 4 lefthand 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, Carlos says you can move the telescope in this way while the robot is doing a Findtarget, but I think this is for the "advanced" user only!
If the star does not appear in the finder after a goto (e.g. after you have interrupted the robot; see point 3) then the "zeroset" is out. Release the clamps and park the telescope manually at the Hour Angle=0 and Dec=90 positions. Type "resume" into the telnet session and now try a goto. 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).
|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.
|TCmdImportSAO::ExecuteCmd(): Error opening
||Means the change of profile (clear/cloudy)
has not worked because the catalog could not be opened for some reason.
Try changing profile 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 "clear" profile. If this doesn't work, close RoboDIMM and wait for a couple of hours.
|Can't find any suitable star within the specified
||Repeated version of the previous error message.
Redundant - a bug.
|Both configured atomic clock NTP time servers
(clock2.netcetera.dk , bigben.ing.iac.es) have been unreachable for more
than an hour now. The
CMOS/system clock isn't synchronized during that time!
|Caused by internet outages (frequent recently).
Not important in the short term, starts becoming important if occurs more than two nights in succession.
Telescope needs an accurate UTC for good pointing. This can be updated using the handset.