Friday, November 10, 2017

PANOPTES - Diving in

James has done a lot of work to get PAN006 up and running at Wheaton College in Norton, MA and this morning we attempted to do a polar alignment test so that we can drive the unit toward first light. Things went...sort of.

First, big thanks to Sean and Joe at Wheaton for helping out with the procedure. We had James remotely operating the unit via ssh while looking at webcam, Sean on the inside communicating with James and I on a Hangout, and Joe doing the dirty work (read: -1.4 C degrees cold work) in the dome itself. The relay switches aren't quite hooked up yet so Joe was mostly acting as a control in case things when horribly wrong. In the end, they went wrong, just not horribly.

Clearly some issues with the hacky web interface I created for doing a remote polar alignment, so we skipped that and had James manually driving. First we tested some basic Home->Park->Home commands to make sure the mount goes more or less where it should.  Despite one large bad sounding noise and some friction on the RA axis, not to mention some self-strangulation by the Dec. cable, we were able to test the basic mount movement commands. Having this accomplished we were finally able to get the procedure up and going only to be stymied by the inability to do a plate-solve on the images. Getting late, that is where we left things.

So now I am in the lab for the first time in weeks, remembering what a disarray I had left things in. 

"It is better to take what does not belong to you than to let it lie around neglected." Thankfully Mark Twain hasn't visited my lab.

Two simple goals for today: 1) try to reduce the startup time for the POCS shell, mostly by limiting the time the cameras take to do initialization, and 2) try to fix the solving.

I already passed some info off to James to play with the solving on his NUC so I'm checking that box for the day. Now to clean up this lab bench and get the cameras up and running quicker...

EDITED: 1) Turns out gphoto2 can take all the options at once, so we were able to drastically speed up init via this PR.

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