UltraDAS' user interfaces

This page is part of the ING document INS-DAS-29: Operations manual for UltraDAS

UltraDAS is driven from the system computer in the telescope control-room. There is a command-line interface, which also serves for running observing scripts, and various graphical displays; these controls are all described below. Some instruments (e.g. the INT wide-field camera) provide graphical user interfaces which include UltraDAS functions; these GUIs are described in the separate manuals for specific instruments.

Finding the right computer

You need to locate the system computer (sometimes also known as the instrument-control-system (ICS) computer) and to log on to the observing account on its console. See the section on starting up UltraDAS for details.

If the system has been started for you - typically it is started by the duty engineer in the early afternoon - then the observing account is already logged in.  You then need only to find the screen with the SYS> command-line, as described below.

The command lines

The SYS> command line

When the observing system is running, you should find on the console of the system computer a terminal window, probably with a pale-pink background showing the prompt SYS>. This is the main command-line for the observing system and, by extension, for UltraDAS.

With this window you can command, the instrument, the detectors and the telescope.

The SYS> terminal window runs a Unix shell - tcsh - and the shell is the command language of the system.

The TO> command line

You may find a terminal window showing the TO> prompt; if it is present, it will usually be amongst the TCS displays on the telescope operator's terminal. You can issue all the same commands from this window as from the SYS> window, and you can drive UltraDAS from here.

The DAS> command line

You may find a terminal window , probably with an orange background, showing the DAS> prompt. This window is only used for starting and stopping the DAS; you cannot run your observations from here, and it does not display useful information while UltraDAS is running. If you see this window, iconify it and forget it.

When you ignore the DAS> window, it may well quietly log itself out and disappear. This does not mean that the DAS has crashed; the DAS does not need the window to be there during observations.

The USER> command line

Amongst the telescope displays, nearly always on the telescope operator's terminal, you will find a window with the USER> prompt. This is the dedicated command-line for the telescope-control system (TCS). You cannot control UltraDAS from here.

The talker and the alarm window

The talker displays progress and error messages. If the system has something to say, it will generally write the message into the talker instead of to the command terminal. Sometimes, a programme in the system will write a "headline" message to the command terminal but will send a fuller report to the talker.

The talker has a companion window for displaying alarms. This window is normally iconified, but will spring up to the middle of the screen if an alarm is raised, beeping and flashing frantically. To stop the noise while reading the alarm message, press the button marked quiet. To make the alarm box go away, press "acknowledge" (the text of the message remains available in the main window of the talker).


The UltraDAS mimic

When the instrument mimic or GUI does not include UltraDAS functions, a separate mimic is run for UltraDAS.  Currently, the UltraDAS mimic is run for UES and PFIP at the WHT and for IDS at the INT; WFC at INT prime-focus has UltraDAS controls in the instrument mimic.

The mimic looks like this:
UltraDAS mimic
Most of the data are self-explanatory, but these details may be of interest.

The backgrounds of the data fields change colour to express the state of parts of UltraDAS. Green means the value is stable in a good state; blue indicates an intended change of state; orange indicates an unusual or transient state; red indicates an error.

Elapsed time and exposed time are shown separately; see the integration section for the definitions and the distinction.

The states of the detector clocks are idling (i.e. clearing continuously between observations), clearing (clearing once at the start of an observation), integrating (i.e. accumulating charge on the detector), reading, and (very occasionally) aborted.

The four readout windows are expressed as image-sections in detector co-ordinates (see the geometry section for an explanation of this). Each of the windows is either enabled or disabled; if it is disabled, it is not applied in readout, and if all windows are disabled, then the full area of the detector is read out.

Progress counters for two runs are shown. The upper line of counters is for the most recent run, and the lower line for the second most recent. Normally, all the activity is in the upper line, but the multiple-exposure commands (multrun et al.) cause the two most recent runs of a series to be progressed in parallel.

The Identify window

There will be, among the displays on the observer's console, a small GUI-window in which you can and should record the name of the principal observer and the code, as listed in the observing schedule, for your observing programme. Please take the time to fill this in: the data are logged in the header of each file and they make the subsequent administration easier.  The identify window looks like this: