iTelescope.Net is the process of rolling out major software upgrades to its telescope systems bringing many new exciting features. The rollouts will be complete over the next few days.
Major Features Include:
- New Reservation System, with Plan Generator
- New Smart Autoguiding System
- New Focusing System
- New Improved User Interface
- Many more system wide improvements
- New ACP User Interface. We have removed Advanced Mode, Regular Mode, etc and consolidated everything into a single improved ACP user interface. Included will be the ability for users to view a LIVE screen grab of the Telescope controlling PC Desktop.
- Usage receipts. These now include thumbnails of the All Sky Camera, Seeing, Weather Station and Cloud Sensor Graph (if the site has the sensors operating) as well as a jpeg preview of all the images in your image run. Allowing you to see what the weather conditions were like during your imaging run.
- Focusing. Systems have changed the way they focus. You now have a database of suitable focusing stars, systems will also do a quick plate solve on the focus star to ensure its right in the center of the frame to ensure field curvature will not interfere with the optimal focus position.
- Focusing between filters. Systems now call for a focus between each filter switch to ensure that the precision of focus is maintained. You can also choose to disable this new behavior and use filter offsets instead, with our new smart plate solving it greatly reduces the time between spent focusing.
- Optimised startup times. Systems now launch straight into centering your first target without focusing the telescope, if for some reason the initial plate solve fails we will then focus the telescope and then try to re-center the initial target.
- Improved focusing between user sessions. Systems now keep track of the focus positions between user sessions allowing faster start up times.
- Improved Reservation system. Its now easier to reserve time and schedule a launch a plan (LAP) session on the telescopes including new email confirmations.
- A new Plan Generator, is now embedded into the reservation system allowing users to create plans, the system also provides a suggested start, transit and end imaging times for the selected target as well as the Sunrise and Sunset times. Making it easier than ever to schedule plans.
- Smart Auto guiding, so it will be easier for ACP to seek out and lock onto a guide star with our new bright star detection technology. If needed ACP will slightly bump the telescope to place a bright guide star on the auto guider without compromising the framing of the main target.
- Auto guider settling. Systems have changed the way the guider settles before starting the exposure to ensure the starting error is kept to a minimum, if the error is erratic it will choose another star to guide on, before starting the exposure.
- Dithering. You can turn this option on when you run your plan. Dithering slightly shifts telescope by a small number of pixels between each exposure, so when you stack your images it will all but eliminate any remaining CCD artifacts.
- Periodic focusing support. If you enable this option ACP will focus the telescope every 30 mins to ensure sharp focus is maintained over an extended imaging session.
- Smarter plate solving. Your telescopes now remembers where the center of the target is after the initial plate solve, which makes slewing between two known targets much quicker.
- Improved meridian flipping. Systems have greatly reduced the time it takes for telescope to flip at the meridian. On most of the systems you shouldn't have to wait at all for your target to track past the meridian before the telescope flips.
- User Logfile format. It wil be easier to read the ACP log file, we now have a image counter which will count all your images, and will now include the Moon's position from your current target.
- DOME Slaving (G11 only). We have improved how ACP slaves the telescope to the dome, which greatly reduces the over head waiting time for the dome to settle.
- Image file naming format have changed. All pre-calibrated image now will have "calibrated-" as the prefix, also grouping all your imaging files on the date of the night starting. This prevents splitting of your imaging files over two dates. We have also improved other aspects of the file structure to permit better sorting.
- Dark/Bias Calibrations can now be taken during Roof Closed night hours by users. These are Notcharged to accounts.
- Moon awareness. We have now made ACP moon aware. So it will alert you when your too close to the moon which may cause poor imaging results.
- Improved aborting. It is now possible for users to abort their plan during a long exposure and it will now tell you in the log file who and why your script was aborted.
- ACP plan compensation. We have removed this function, which means when you fire off a script that you have previously run it wont start half way though it.
- Express mode is now called via the ACP directive #EXPRESS. Express mode will cause the systemnot to auto guide and not to plate solve your targets. The system will maintain focus via its filter offsets.
- Larger Preview JPEG images attached to your Email as well as on the FTP server. This will allow you to download the JPEG previews to review your session.
- Better color processing (GRAS-003). You will now also receive a color converted FITS files ready for your processing in additional to the RAW fits color file.
- TIFF files can now be selected as a image file format in addition to FITS format.
- Faster load time for ACP. We have optimised the code that is downloaded to your web browser providing improved faster startup times.
- Additional FITS keys. FOCALLEN, APTDIA, APTAREA that will make it easier to plate solve your images.
NEW Scripted Plan Directives
For those users who are happy to write their own scripted plans we have made these changes and additions to the planning service. See PDF file here for details on ACP GRAS Scripting.
Express mode is now set via a plan directive. Express mode bypasses auto guiding, pointing updates and plate solving.
ACP will also save your images in a 16bit TIFF file format in addition to FITS format.
The #VPHOT directive now will send your image files to the VPHOT server for progressing, you may have to update any scheduled VPHOT plans to include this new directive.
We have changed the way systems now focus. Telescopes now call for a focus on each filter change to maintain a high level of focus between filters. If you want to use filter offsets instead please use this directive.
This directive will now plate solve all your image after the exposure.
We now support Dithering, if you plan to stack a large amount of images its always a good idea to turn this on as it grealy aid in the elimination of CCD artifacts.
This causes the telescope to re-focus during a imaging run every 30 mins (by default). You can also add a number after the directive to change its default behavior e.g. #AFINTERVAL 15, will cause the system to focus ever 15 mins (Minimum 5).
We ask users that discover any bugs or issues with the changes to contact Support.
Thanks to our iTelescope Tech Dept for the hard work!