Monthly Archives: February 2020

Replaced observatory computer

My old observatory PC has started becoming unstable, with sudden unexplained restarts and failures.  Not bad – it’s had a good 5-year run, living permanently outdoors in the cold.  It was also time to do something about the demise of Windows 7, and I found I couldn’t upgrade it to Windows 10 easily (nor was I sure that would fix the failures problem).

So, I’ve replaced it with a new machine.  As before, I configured the machine for no moving parts – especially no rotating hard drives – to reduce the effect of cold weather. I found, a couple of PCs ago, that hard drives seize up in the cold. (In fact the new machine has one moving part – a fan – but, being thermostatically controlled, a computer fan is rarely a problem in the cold since it doesn’t try to come on anyway.) The new one is installed in the observatory now and seems to be fine, and stable.

I forgot a number of configuration things though.  It took a couple of weeks to get all the necessary software and drivers installed and working.  Then, last night, I tried a “real” observing run and instead generated a big to-do list of things I forgot to set up.  Things such as transferring the PEC and TPoint models for the mount.

I think I’ve done all the necessary things now, but we’re back in cloudy weather for several days, so next test is some time away.

Flat Frame Acquisition App

A sibling to the Dark Frame app announced below, this application orchestrates the collection of Flat Frames. It is simpler, designed to be used at the end of an imaging session when the scope and camera are already running – so it does not contain delayed start and finish logic.

It’s available for download, in both Mac and PC binaries, here.  Use at your own risk and don’t build commercial dependencies on these tools – I’ll continue to work on them best-effort.

The program is written in python (v3.8) and is open-source.  View or modify here.