CCDAutoPilot Version 4
Basic and Professional
© 2003-2010, John C. Smith, All rights reserved
Thanks to Matt and Steve Bisque, Ken Crawford, Doug George, Stan Moore, Ray Gralak,
Don Goldman, Andrew Read, Steve Walters and Rick Bennion for invaluable assistance.
Special thanks to Sandy Barnes, Emmanuel Schalit, Wes Stauffer and all the beta testers.
CCDAutoPilot continues to be dedicated to my astro-wife, Diane, for putting up with my countless hours writing and testing this code. It would have been impossible without her continuous generous and loving support.
CCDAutoPilot is technically an executive program that will command other programs, such as your camera control program, telescope control program and other programs used in operating your imaging system. If you were operating the system manually, you would have to take certain actions with one or more programs at certain times to achieve a successful imaging run. With CCDAutoPilot, you can set up the activities during the day or whenever convenient and CCDAutoPilot will execute those activities at the appropriate time and take appropriate corrective action if things don't go as planned.
Successful use requires an initialization whereby CCDAutoPilot extracts key parameters about your system. Once initialized, you can select a target anywhere in the sky and CCDAutoPilot will slew to that point within a few arc-sec. tolerance regardless of your mount tolerance, automatically calibrate your guider and guide exposure and take the series of sub-exposures you desire for one or more targets. It will also take any calibration frames you desire, either before or after your light frames and even take twilight flats at dawn or dusk. If appropriate for you system, it will monitor the weather conditions, open and close your dome and even send you an email or text message concerning significant events. CCDAutoPilot can inter-operate with other observatory control systems, either commercial or of your design by a powerful control file facility. Some of these features are not available in the Basic Edition.
Given the level of complexity of these systems, initialization and configuration setup is essential for successful operation. Through this help file and other instructional material, I hope to make the transition from manual to automatic imaging as painless and enjoyable as possible. Once you successfully make this transition, you will have a reliable protocol to operate your system to its greatest capability and get to sleep while all this is going on as a bonus!
See Getting Started to begin using CCDAutoPilot.