Feder Observatory

A Blog for Minnesota State University Moorhead's Paul P. Feder Observatory

Archive for March, 2014

Telescope computer maintenance and experimentation 0

Posted on March 06, 2014 by Matt

I came to the observatory today to do a few things:

  • Update software
  • Try running ACP (astronomer’s control panel), a piece of software for automating some aspects of observing.
  • Peek at the wiring of the computer and telescope to better understand how things fit together.
  • Try to find the State Property ID tag on the computer.

Software updated:

  • AVG Free anti virus updated to 2014 version.
  • Updated AVG virus definition files.

There is a new version of MaxImDL (v5.24, we have v5.23) but the changes seem pretty minor and we’d have to pay for the upgrade.

After creating a system restore point in case something goes wrong, I installed ACP v7.1, FocusMax and the GSC 1.1.

On the upside, it doesn’t break anything that currently works. On the downside, it doesn’t give us any new capabilities until the ASCOM/ACL driver issues are fixed. It must be possible to talk to the telescope via ACL because TheSky v5 does it successfully.


Tried TheSky-controlled telescope ASCOM driver, no luck. Apparently I would need to set up Sky v5 for scripting, didn’t get a chance to check how to do that.

And I have no idea where the property tag is…

“Observing” Log, 3/1/2014 0

Posted on March 01, 2014 by Matt

I use the term “observing” very loosely here.

Beautifully clear night when I arrived around 8PM, almost no wind, just like the forecast said.

Had a few minutes to spare before the object I was interested in would be up so I decided to update a bit of software on the computer. No problem, then I connected the camera, again no problem.


  • The telescope decided it should slew to the star I was going to initialize on by taking the long way from zenith to the 2 degrees from zenith it needed to move. Ended up like in the picture below.
  •  The camera didn’t seem to appreciated having its cord unceremoniously unplugged. The computer no longer recognized the camera and claimed the “USB Device was damaged”.
  • Apparently my judgment was damaged too, because I decided to fix the problem by reinstalling the driver.
  • Several reboots and a handful of chocolate covered espresso beans later the computer still claimed the camera was damaged so I went back out to the dome.
  • The camera’s fan sounded like it was breathing so I jiggled the power cord; after that it sounded better so I went back inside. Maybe it was complaining about the temperature, around -15F.
  • I plugged the USB cable back into the back of the computer, and…success! After two hours the camera can talk to the computer.
  • Not trusting TCS to steer the telescope to a star I decided to shoot a pic, fit astrometry to it, and use that to initialize the telescope direction, which confirmed what I thought when I went out to the dome: it was cloudy 🙁
  • Called it a night at that point.

NOTE: The camera power cord is in the control room…that way it will be able to bend when taken back out to the dome so that it can be placed in a more stable position.



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