Important: If some or all of your control programs are not started, CCDAutoPilot will attempt to start them in what should be the proper order. Depending on your PC's performance, they may or may not start properly. If things don't seem to be operating properly, start them manually before starting CCDAutoPilot. For example, assume you are using RoboFocus to control your focuser, FocusMax for focusing and CCDSoft to control your camera. Load and start RoboFocus, confirming it connects to and can control your focuser hardware. Next Load CCDSoft, confirming it connects to your camera. Take a short image to be sure. Next, load FocusMax since it must control both RoboFocus and CCDSoft. Finally, load CCDAutoPilot.
1. Make sure the .NET 2.0 framework is installed. You can verify its installation by going to Control Panel, Add/Remove Programs and making sure there is an entry for "Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0". If that entry is not present, please install it before proceeding. See the Application Requirements topic for a link to the Microsoft download location.
2. Insure installation of all programs required for your operation is proper and functional by testing them standalone. See the Application Requirements topic for links to all programs. Make sure you are using the latest version of CCDAutoPilot. The most recent version information and change history can be found here.
3. Verify you have the minimum version level for the above programs. CCDAutoPilot will warn of out-of-revision programs and prevent operation. See the Application Requirements topic for minimum version requirements. Of course, higher version numbers can be used. Program version numbers can generally be checked by the Help | About menu on the individual program. For programs that do not support this feature, you must locate the program's .exe file, right click on it, select properties and select the version tab.
4. Before connecting CCDAutoPilot to any of your programs, be sure the programs are able to properly control their related hardware. Can you take an image with your camera control program? Can you slew the telescope with your telescope control program? Can you control your focuser and focus with your focuser program? Does your rotator program control your rotator? Does your dome control program move your dome?
5. Connect to CCDAutoPilot and use the test buttons on the Tools page to verify CCDAutoPilot is able to control the appropriate hardware through your programs.
6. On the Targets page, create a target using the Get function with TheSky6 or the Add button otherwise. Uncheck Precision Slew to Target and hit the Slew to Target button. Does the mount slew properly?
7. Set up a single, short exposure on the Light Frames page. Run a short session to confirm the telescope slews to the target and takes a short exposure.
8. Add other functions and complexities gradually, verifying proper operation with each addition.
When things don't go as expected
While every effort has been made to trap invalid user entries, some slip by. These are addressed as they are identified but with over 600 controls, there is a lot of opportunity for bad entries or combinations. Here are some techniques to help resolve such a problem.
Global Error Handler: CCDAutoPilot traps and handles many potential errors during the course of a session. Occasiional setup and input errors can lead to errors as well (unhandled exceptions). Should the latter error occur, CCDAutoPilot will capture the error information and setup information in a file and notify you of the file name and location. This file is located in (My) Documents\CCDWare\CCDAutoPilot4\ and will have a file name of the format ErrorY<yyyymmdd>_<hhmmss>.log. Next, CCDAutoPilot will attempt to run a script named RunOnError.vbs located in Program Files\CCDWare\CCDAutoPilot4\ if it exists. This script can be set up to park the telescope, run an external application, etc. Google "wsh help" for more information on scripting. Next, CCDAutoPilot will launch your browser and link to the CCDWare support forum. Finally CCDAutoPilot will close. If the error is repeatable and the next steps don't resolve the issue, feel free to post the error file to the CCDWare support forum for assistance.
Reset: If CCDAutoPilot fails to load, selecting CCDAP4 Reset from the Start menu resets all key data as if CCDAutoPilot were never installed (except for the trial period status of course). Your system profile(s) and target list(s) are not affected. You can also access this function from CCDAutoPilot's Help/Reset menu item.
Create a new System Profile: From the System Profile menu, select New to create a new system profile. Of course you will need to re-enter all your settings but often this resolves the issue of a bad setting.
Task Review: Open Task manager and select the Processes tab. If you click on the Image Name table header, the processes will be sorted in alphabetical order for easy viewing. Verify that one and only one process is running for each server program you have operating. If you see more than one process, then proper automation is not possible. You should either reboot your PC (easiest) or close all programs and use the End Process button to stop any server programs that remain running. This can happen when a run is aborted and the abort process is not allowed to complete. After hitting the Abort button on the status window, remember to wait until the main window restores (re-opens). This minimizes the chance of multiple processes in task manager.
Information (Read First): links to the Troubleshooting Overview.
Trace: While the status window and the attendant log provide event logging during an active run, there are possible occasions when things don't go as expected before starting an actual session. The trace facility can be used whenever things don't seem to be "working right" before running a session. The Trace facility provides diagnostic information for this condition. When this topic is selected, CCDAutoPilot's trace facility is turned on and CCDAutoPilot closes. When CCDAutoPilot is next started, the trace facility is engaged and a trace file will be written in the CCDAutoPilot4 data directory. The data directory is located at My Documents\CCDWare\CCDAutoPilot4 (XP and Prior) and Documents\CCDWare\CCDAutoPilot4 (Vista).A new file is written each time CCDAutoPilot is started. The file has a file name of Trace<yyyymmdd>_<HHmmss>.log and will record any error messages. When Trace is enabled, all plate solving images ("Sync_Image") are saved, whether successful or not. Trace being on is indicated by a check next to the Help menu selection. To turn Trace off, select this topic again. CCDAutoPilot will close and Trace will be disabled when CCDAutoPilot is next started. Contact support for interpretation of any messages in the trace file.
Disable Revision Checking: This should normally not be checked to enable revision checking of the various applications that will be connected to CCDAutoPilot. However, it may be checked for trouble shooting purposes. When checked, application revision checking is not enabled and CCDAutoPilot operation may be compromised. Checking this in concert with enabling the Trace facility above can be used to trouble shoot unexpected results.
Remove and Reinstall CCDAutoPilot: While this should not be necessary. it has been shown to help resolve some unique issues. This should be used in conjunction with the CCDAutoPilot Reset Tool. First remove CCDAutoPilot then run the CCDAutopilot Reset Tool. If possible, it is a good idea to reboot your PC before reinstalling.
If none of the above resolves the issue you are having, please use the CCDAutoPilot support forum, which is also accessible from the Help menu.. If you have problems during a run, be sure to post the related .log file as an attachment. If you are having problems that prevent a run from starting, post the error log file described above.The more detail you include in your problem report along with the suggested attachments, the more quickly the issue can be resolved.