The Seven Windows Of The GUI
An introduction to the Graphical User Interface
by P. Bizenberger
with help from D. Thompson
This manual introduces to the Graphical User Interface (GUI) that controls
the following cameras:
It contains a full description of the software and the
prepared options that will make observer's life much easier. For more information
about the cameras, observing guidelines and general hints, see the home
pages of the instruments.
Although the GUI is an important step to get nice
data in a convenient way, you still need a little bit of
good luck and a cloudless sky,
Your MPIA Team
Software development and maintenance: Christoph
Birk and Clemens Storz.
Table of Contents
How to call up the GUI
The Camera Control Window
The Telescope Control Window
The SAO Map Window
The Air Mass Window
The Strip Chart Window
The Temperature Controller
Object List Format
The GUI runs under System V UNIX (Solaris). Although all functions
you need to operate the system are in the GUI, it would be helpful to have
a very basic knowledge of UNIX.
Since this manual describes the GUI for all four
cameras the displayed images here in the manual may look slightly different
to the windows you can see on your screen when you actually run one of
the cameras. The contents of the windows are arranged according to the
selected camera e.g. if you have selected OMEGA Cass, the camera control
panel shows a pull down menu for the grism wheel. Because in the other
cameras are no grism wheels, the control panels for these cameras do not
include this menu. All options for all cameras are described here, even
if they are not shown in the image. So, you can find options here in the
manual which are not used for the camera you are interested in.
To control the GUI is pretty easy, nevertheless you
should know how to talk to the GUI. There are three ways to give input
to the GUI.
The first is typing in parameters or commands using
the keyboard after selecting the appropriate box. These boxes are white
with a black frame and the current setting is written in the box.
If you move the cursor in the box the frame will
turn green. You can start to write the input and the background of the
box will turn red. In some boxes you can edit the old contents and in some
boxes the old contents of the box will be overwritten. Don't forget to
press RETURN after you finished your input. The background must turn to
The second way is to select a pop up (these ones
with the circle) or pull down menu (these ones with the triangle) with
the left hand mouse button. You have to simultaneously press the button
and move the pointer to the desired choice.
The third and easiest way to give an input is to
simply click on a button (these with the shadow). The GUI will immediately
start the appropriate process.
In this section you get an overview of the GUI. A brief
summary of the windows is given below, more detailed information about
the windows appears in the following sections.
The GUI consists of seven windows:
The Camera Control Panel
This window is the main window of the GUI, form here you call up all
the modules. It controls the camera, the read out electronic and it sets
the software environment. In addition, you can define how to save data
and how to handle macros.
Here, the current data is displayed and you have some options to enhance
the depiction, like subtracting a sky frame or integrating frames. All
these options affect only the displayed data, not the data you save to
disk. It offers further useful options e.g. on-line measurement of the
FWHM of a selected star for focusing the telescope or moving a star in
the field with drag and drop.
The Telescope Control Panel
This window controls the telescope. It also handleSs the object lists.
For convenience, we recommend that you create your own object lists. You
will appreciate this option at 5 o'clock in the morning when you are tired
and you don't have to type in the coordinates and the equinox and the object
name and the comment and the.....
The SAO Map
The complete SAO star catalogue and optional sources such as IRAS objects.
This window is helpful for checking the pointing against a nearby SAO star.
The Air Mass
A display of the current air mass of your object.
The Strip Chart
A data base for the images taken with the camera. Previous images can
be displayed in a 128 by 128 pixel format.
The Temperature Controller
This window allows you to remote control the temperature controller
and trace the temperature profiles. Only useful with the MAX camera because
all the other cameras are not active temperature stabilized.
A possible setup could look like this:
3 How to call up the GUI
The first step is to login. The support staff will tell
you which account you can use and the corresponding password for this account.
After login, the OpenWindows system will start up and you can type in any
Xterminal, corresponding to the camera you want to use, start_magic,
start_max, start_oprime or start_ocass to call up the GUI. You will
get this window.
The Xterminal in which you started the GUI will
be the interpreter terminal for the GUI. It can't be used as a normal Xterminal
anymore. All messages from the software system will be displayed in this
window and any command can also be typed in with the keyboard. See the
macro list for the syntax of the commands.
4 The Camera Control Window
This window is the interface to the selected camera.
Since all cameras are different this window appears according to the camera
and is slightly different for each camera.
Modules Menu The modules menu is used to start the different
modules, each of which has its own description section.
Init wheels sends all of the filter wheels back to their zero positions.
System setup will bring up the initialization window.
Quit system will quit the GUI.
The other options are less useful.
Display Image display - should start automatically.
Telescope Telescope control - should start automatically.
Satcheck Turns on audible saturation warning
Stripchart Keeps a visual record of the past several images.
Temperature control Only available with MAX.
Wheels Control According to the selected camera this part
of the window can look slightly different. Only the menus for available
wheels are displayed. While the control panel allows for addressing each
wheel separately, all requests for filters should be made from the Wheel-Macro
menu, where all normal observing configurations are available. The individual
filter (optic, grism or Lyot) wheels should say moving as the wheels are
being repositioned, then display the actual position (filter name, open,
or blank) when there.
Sound calls up a sound menu, where a specific sound file can be
associated with a variety of different functions (such as telescope moves,
completion of a read...).
Savepath, Macropath, and Objectpath tell the GUI where to save data
and where to look for macro and object files.
Logfile specifies where the log file is kept. Note that the logfile
path needs to be re-entered each time the GUI is restarted and the other
path parameters should be checked!
Read Mode The different read modes available in various
cameras are described in detail in the corresponding observer's manual.
For standard broad band observing this should normally be left at double
correlated read (called dcr or rrr).
IT(s) is the integration time in seconds. Note
that the minimum exposure time with Omega-Prime is 0.8 seconds! Keep this
in mind when doing broad band observations under high background conditions
or when observing bright objects - the array can easily saturate during
this 0.8 seconds of "dead time" while the array is resetting.
Repeat is the number of images with the specified exposure
time which will be taken each time a read is executed. The total exposure
time will then be N repeats times T seconds. The maximum number of images
depends of the current setup of the computer with memory.
File Name The next file to be saved is given the
name which appears in the window just below repeats. The name will automatically
increment by one each time a save is executed.
Read The read button executes a read using the current
exposure time and number of repeats. On completion of a read, the images
are not saved unless autosave is selected under the save option.
Save The save button saves the most recent image(s) obtained
using the currently defined save options.
Save-Options Calls up a save configuration panel which
defines the default way in which to save images. The main choices are whether
to save individual exposures as separate disk files, or to integrate them
(sum) and save only a single disk file. Note that, as with MAGIC, the first
image typically has problems. If saving integrated images, it is highly
recommended that the first exposure of a series is not included in the
sum! Also, note that the save options are overridden by any options specified
in observing macros. For example "save -f 2 -i" in a macro will integrate
from image 2 to the end of the series, and save only a single file, even
if the save options specify saving images separately. Turning on auto-save
will execute a save after every read, without clicking on the save button.
Endless turns on a continuous read. The images are read
out with the current integration time and dumped to the display, but are
not saved. This is useful for positioning the telescope before e.g. starting
Object is the object name which is written into the fits
header under the keyword "OBJECT" for the current image. It will be updated
automatically if object selection is done through object files (recommended),
or can be changed by hand.
Sky Clicking on the sky button writes a sky flag into
the fits header, but otherwise has no effect.
Macro Here, you specify a macro to read into the macro
buffer. The filename, without the .mac extension, is all that is necessary
(all macros must have the .mac extension). The macro file must be in the
MACROS directory specified under the macro path on the options menu (see
above). See also section 11 Macro Format.
Execute, Pause, and Abort control the execution of observing
macros. Note that if a pause is issued, the macro will continue executing
until the current command are completed! Check in the command window to
be sure that the pause is in effect. Clicking on continue will continue
executing the macro after the pause. This is useful when changing the dome
Disk The green portion of the bar indicates the fraction
of the selected disk space which is still available. If you are taking
lots of data, keep an eye on this. The GUI also issues an audible warning
when the disk is getting close to full (assuming you have not turned off
Lamp switchs the calibration lamp on or off (only for
Mirror moves the mirror of the calibration unit in out
of the beam (only for Omega Cass).
5 The Display
The display tool shows one frame of the current set
of data. Some on-line data processing techniques are available. These techniques
affect only the displayed data, only the raw data is saved to disk. In
addition there are various helpful options to move the telescope to certain
File Menu selects the basic display size.
Color Menu selects the color look-up table for displaying
256 Changes display window to 256 screen pixels square. The full
Omega-Prime image is e.g. displayed, binned 4x4.
512 Changes display window to 512 screen pixels square.
1024 Changes display window to 1024 screen pixels square.
Slave Opens a second display window at a size of 1024x1024 pixel
on a second screen.
Quit Quits the display module. It can be restarted by selecting
"display" under the module menu of the camera control window.
MagMode Menu switches between the zoom window and a measurement
of the image seeing.
Gray is a black-and-white color table.
Temp is the standard "temperature" color table.
BB is the standard blackbody color table.
Pixel When the cursor is on the image display window, the
pixel position and counts in that pixel are displayed here.
Magnifier Zoom window, this is the default mode.
FWHM-log Measures the FWHM of the indicated object each time a new
image is displayed, and plots a running history of the values. This is
useful when focusing Omega-Prime. Note that to get reasonably accurate
measurements of the FWHM, the aperture of the box used (set with radius,
see below) must be large enough to include a couple of rows of sky pixels
around the object you are measuring!
Radius Sets the radius of the small cursor box on the
image display. See the above note on FWHM-log about measuring the seeing.
min/max Show the minimum and maximum values of the pixels
within the cursor box.
mean/dev Shows the mean and standard deviation of the
pixels within the cursor box.
FWHM/flx Shows the FWHM and total flux (in counts) of
an object selected with the cursor box.
First - + Last Controls the display of a series of images.
Unless you need to review a set of images to determine, for example, whether
the seeing was good enough to bother saving the data, just leave this on
BAD Toggles between displaying the bad pixels (in red)
or not. Note that the bad pixels are ignored when determining display cuts
only if the bad pixels are turned on.
Cuts Display stretch control. This button brings up a
menu with various options for determining the minimum and maximum display
levels. The options include:
Min-Cut & Max-Cut These windows show the current minimum
and maximum levels used for the display. They will automatically update
each time a new image is displayed except if using the "Cuts" option.
Cuts Allows you to enter your own minimum and maximum display levels
in the "Min-Cut" and "Max-Cut" windows.
67% Sets the display range to cover 67 % of the full dynamic range
of the data.
90% Sets the display range to cover 90 % of the full dynamic range
of the data.
med3 Sets the display from (mean - 3sigma) to (mean + 3sigma).
med5 Sets the display from (mean - 5sigma) to (mean + 5sigma).
3/10 Sets the display from (mean - 3sigma) to (mean + 10sigma).
minmax Sets the display range to cover the full dynamic range of
Single/Sum/Ave Single will display each individual read
as it comes off the camera. Sum will display the sum of all images taken
in the current series. Average displays the average of all images taken
in the current series.
Tele Provides for offsetting the telescope directly from
the image display, which is useful for centering standard stars or science
objects. Click on the "tele" button to get a green circle. Place this circle
on some object on the display and click again. Move the cross which appears
to where you want this object to be moved.
Movie Plays a movie of the series of exposures currently
Image shows which image in a series of repeated exposures
that is currently being displayed.
Sky The "sky" button (small square) tells the computer
to subtract a sky frame from the images before displaying, and is on when
the square appears green. The file used for the sky frame is specified
by name in the window to the left of the button.
Send Send the current image to the data base of the strip
6 The Telescope Control Window
Basic control of the telescope, such as moving to an
absolute position or offsetting from the current position, is done on the
telescope control panel. The basic information from the telescope, such
as airmass, UT, and current telescope position is also displayed here.
This GUI panel should start automatically when the GUI is first initialized.
If not, you can call it up from the camera control window in the menu Modules.
Moving to an absolute position An absolute position can be
entered directly in the RA and Dec windows. After setting the equinox,
the position can be sent to the telescope by clicking on the move button.
Note that the telescope does not actually move - only the coordinates are
sent! To move the telescope, you must press the "go" button on the old
telescope controls. The RA and Dec windows also display the current telescope
position after each offset.
SAO map: Calls up a separate GUI panel which shows the area of sky
where the telescope is pointing, including nearby SAO stars. This panel
is described in more detail below.
Airmass: Graphical display of the current airmass and plot of the
airmass history for the currently set object.
Quit: Quits the telescope control panel, but not the GUI. This module
can be restarted from the modules menu on the camera control panel.
Relative offsets Offsets in arcseconds can be supplied
in the dx and dy windows. Clicking on one of the directional buttons in
the compass panel will then offset the telescope by the requested amount.
The "set zero" button zeroes the cumulative offsets (S(dx) and S(dy)),
and the "0,0" button in the center of the compass returns the telescope
to this defined zero position.
Object Files An object file can be given in the Object-List
window (the .obj extension is not necessary). Objects can be selected with
a single click, and set with the set button. Setting an object sends the
object's coordinates to the RA and Dec windows. These can then be sent
to the telescope computer by clicking on move as described above. A useful
feature is that when an object is set, the airmass panel will display the
object's current airmass in graphical form, though there is no obligation
to actually move to the object. See also section 12 Object List Format.
7 The SAO Map Window
The SAO map shows an area of sky centered on where the
telescope is pointing. The display includes all of the SAO stars in the
vicinity, color-coded as to spectral type (Blue=O,B, Green=A,F, Yellow=G,
Red=K,M, Black=unclassified), where the size of the dot indicates relative
brightness. The dashed red square shows the size of the camera field of
view. A scale bar in the upper left corner of the image gives a scale reference.
Zooming the display in or out is done with the two arrow buttons
in the upper right corner of the window.
Stars can be selected by clicking on the image, with additional information
(SAO number, spectral type, and visual magnitude) appearing at the bottom
of the window. The coordinates can be sent to the telescope computer with
the Move button.
A log of all previous exposures is kept, displayed as green squares
on the SAO map. This feature is useful for following the progress of observing
macros. Clear Frames will clear the display of the old frames,
though future frames will continue to be displayed.
The SAOmap can be turned off by reselecting the "SAO map" option in
the file menu of the telescope control panel. Using the "quit" option in
the xwindows menu will also kill the telescope control panel!
8 The Air Mass Window
The airmass window graphically displays the airmass
of the currently selected object (red dot), as well as a tracing of the
airmass over several hours of time (blue line). The number of hours depends
of the width of the window. This feature is particularly useful when used
in conjunction with object files. Objects selected and set from an object
file will show their current airmass in the airmass window. The airmass
plot will automatically reset to the current telescope position whenever
the GUI queries the telescope computer for the current position (for example,
when a read command is finished).
The airmass window can be turned off by reselecting the "Airmass" option
in the file menu of the telescope control panel. Using the "quit" option
in the xwindows menu will also kill the telescope control panel!
9 The Strip Chart Window
The strip chart is a data base for images taken with
the GUI. The images are always displayed in a 128 x 128 pixel format. To
add an image to the strip chart you have to press the button send
in the display window. The number of displayed images depends of the size
of the window. If you increase the size of the window, more images are
10 The Temperature Controller
The temperature controller is only used in combination
with MAX. For all the other cameras it doesn't make sense to call up this
window since the temperature of these cameras is not actively controlled.
Enables or disables an acoustic warning for a temperature change. You
can select either an indication of a temperature change only to higher
temperatures or to higher and lower temperatures. Useful to check the running
out of helium.
Quits the window
Gives you a selection of values in seconds how often the Temp. display
Gives you a selection of values how often the temperature is saved
to the file. This value is always >= the value of the SampleTime
Here you can change the parameters of the PID controller. The default
values are the best for the MAX camera.
You can set the limits of the temp. and time axis for the plot.
11 Macro Format
You can prepare macro files in advance (see also Macro
Commands in the Observer's Guide). The following example shows a simple
macro that moves a star to five positions on the detector, starts a read
at each and saves the data.
All macro files must have the extension: *.mac
||;start the 1st read
||;wait until the read is finished
|tele rel 25 25
||;move the telescope
|save -i -f 2
||;save the data as integrated starting from the second
||;wait until move and save is finished
||;start the 2nd read
|tele rel -50 0
|save -i -f 2
|tele rel 0 -50
|save -i -f 2
|tele rel 50 0
|save -i -f 2
|tele rel -25 25
|save -i -f 2
A complete description of the macro commands
is available as an HTML document.
It takes a considerable amount of time to transfer the data from the
camera and save it to the hard-drive on the workstation. To reclaim some
of this otherwise lost time, Omega-prime has been configured with two image
buffers. Thus, a new image can be read out while the previous image is
being saved. To implement this feature, the macros should be written as
in the example above, with a sync tele after the telescope offset and save
commands. The GUI will then only wait until the telescope move is completed
before starting the next read (the save command may still be in progress).
When observing in the K band, the increase in efficiency of observing (the
fraction of time spent actually integrating on source) is significant.
With 3 second integrations, 11 repeats, and saving images 2 through 11
as an integrated image, efficiency jumps from 33% to 40%.
12 Object List Format
You can create your own object list in the following
Object name | Alpha | Delta | Equinox | pm.A | pm.D | mag | Comment
HD 225023| 0:00:11.8| 35:32:14.0|1950|0.0000|-0.004|6.96|J=7.97
HD 1160| 0:13:23.1| 3:58:24.0|1950|0.006|-0.013|7.04|J=7.06
HD 3029| 0:31:02.3| 20:09:30.0|1950|-0.0001|0.011|7.09|J=7.25
Gl 105.5| 2:38:07.6| 0:58:57.0|1950|*|*|*|*
HD 18881| 3:00:20.5| 38:12:53.0|1950|0.0001|-0.030|7.14|J=7.12
G77-31| 3:10:40.5| 4:35:12.0|1950|0.112|0.15|7.84|J=8.74
HD 22686| 3:36:18.7| 2:36:07.0|1950|0.0017|-0.010|7.19|J=7.20
HD 40335| 5:55:37.6| 1:51:09.0|1950|-0.0005|-0.018|6.45|J=6.54
HD 44612| 6:21:09.7| 43:34:35.0|1950|*|*|*|*
Note! The line | character is used as a separator between fields.
If you don't want to put in numbers in some fields, you still have
to use a * character as a place holder.
Important! If you have negative declination less than one degree
than you must place the negative sign before the minutes e.g. 0:-13:45.6
The required fields are: Name, Alpha, Delta, Equinox
The optional fields are: pm.A, pm.D, mag, Comment
pm.A and pm.D are in units of arcsec/century.
All object list files must have the extension: *.obj
From time to time it can happen that a process hangs.
Mostly you can simply kill the hanging process. Some commands are prepared
Type these commands in the interpreter window
where you have started the GUI.
terminates a read command
kill telescope terminates any command to the telescope
terminates any command for the filter wheels
If you have any trouble with one of the instruments
please report to Peter Bizenberger. We will create a list of problems (and
if possible with solutions) to help future observers avoiding the same
You can't start the GUI
Type cleanup before you start the GUI. This program deletes
all remaining software parts from a previous session.
Data is useless (counts between 0 and 65000, randomly distributed)
and the Abort button does not work.
The fibers are connected wrong. Interchange the two fibers for the
Anything seems to work well but there are no stars.
1. Check to see if the TV Guider mirror is in the optical path, if
it is, retract it.
2. Check the last button in the display window.
Message 'can't allocate info page' and you can't start the GUI
There is still a shared memory socket existing. Delete in the tmp
directory the shmsocket.
Tel. (+49) 6221 528311