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Remote Tracking Software for the ST-4

The CCDTRACK program allows you to use your IBM PC or compatible computer in conjunction with the ST-4 to do Autoguiding with several improvements over the ST-4's built in capabilities.  With CCDTRACK you can designate the object (star, asteroid, comet, etc.) within the field of view, and are not limited to tracking the brightest object in the field of view.  Additionally, the software can scan the object periodically along a line for use with spectrometers or other instruments.  The software gives the user complete control over the tracking gains and hysteresis and displays tracking performance with both instantaneous and RMS tracking errors reported.

In addition to numerical information, the program offers several different graphic displays of the tracking session in real time.  A simulated cross hair eyepiece mode lets the user guide manually by watching the guide star in relation to large cross hairs on the monitor just as one would if looking through a guiding eyepiece with illuminated cross-hairs.  With CCDTRACK complete remote operation of the ST-4 is possible.

Track1c.gif (6086 bytes)

Figure 1

The menu driven program is very easy to use and the interface is quite similar to other ST-4 software packages such as CCD and CCDUTIL.  A sample screen shot is seen above in Figure 1.  Once the tracking session is started, the screen switches to one of several user selected graphics displays. 

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Figure 2

The screen shot above (Figure 2) shows the error vs. time plot graphics screen in VGA mode.   Other graphics modes allow you to display the text information in larger characters for easier viewing at a distance from your monitor.  A night vision mode is also available.

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Figure 3

The screen shot in Figure 3 shows the graphics display set to MCGA and night mode for easier viewing at a distance in an observatory setting.  The user may toggle between any of the several graphic modes:

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Figure 4

The four graphs shown in Figure 4 are:  (a) Error vs. Time plots for X an Y, (b) Integrated image of the guide star during the guiding session, (c) XY Scatter of the guide star and (d) Histograms for both X and Y during the guiding session.  These graphic modes plus the tabular data displayed in real time are very helpful in tuning up your system or trouble shooting guiding problems to get the best results possible during an Autoguiding session.  They also are very helpful in monitoring the progress and accuracy of your Autoguiding session.

In addition to the Autoguiding enhancements found in CCDTRACK, the software also allows the user to manually guide using the ST-4 as an electronic cross-hair guiding eyepiece.  In focus mode the "track" function displays and continually updates an enlarged image of the selected guide star in the center of a guiding box with large cross-hairs.  The user manually guides by making corrections with a hand controller while keeping the guide star centered in the box just as one would do when looking through a guiding eyepiece with illuminated crosshairs.

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Figure 5

Figure 5 shows a night vision screen shot of the manual Focus / Track mode which the user invokes to manually guide using the ST-4 as an electronic crosshair eyepiece.

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