The Seven Windows Of The GUI

An introduction to the Graphical User Interface

by P. Bizenberger, Jan. '01
with help from D. Thompson
 Version. 2.4

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

Your MPIA Team

Software development and maintenance: Christoph Birk and Clemens Storz.

  Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Overview
  3. How to call up the GUI
  4. The Camera Control Window
  5. The Display
  6. The Telescope Control Window
  7. The SAO Map Window
  8. The Air Mass Window
  9. The Strip Chart Window
  10. The Temperature Controller Window
  11. Macro Format
  12. Object List Format
  13. Troubleshooting

1 Introduction

   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 white again.
    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.


2 Overview

    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.
  • The Display

  • 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.

    File Menu

    Modules Menu The modules menu is used to start the different modules, each of which has its own description section. Options Menu 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.

    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 a macro.

    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 slit segments.

    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 the sounds!).

    Lamp switchs the calibration lamp on or off (only for Omega Cass).

    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 positions.

    File Menu selects the basic display size.

    Color Menu selects the color look-up table for displaying images. MagMode Menu switches between the zoom window and a measurement of the image seeing. Pixel When the cursor is on the image display window, the pixel position and counts in that pixel are displayed here.

    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 last.

    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.

    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 in memory.

    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 chart.


    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.

    File Menu:

    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.

    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 displayed.


    10 The Temperature Controller Window

        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 is updated.

    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.

    read  ;start the 1st read
    sync  ;wait until all previous commands are finished
    tele rel 25 25  ;move the telescope 
    save -i -f 2  ;save the data as integrated, starting from the second frame
    sync tele ;wait until only telescope move is finished, save will continue
    read  ;start the 2nd read 
    sync ;wait until all previous commands are finished
    tele rel -50 0 
    save -i -f 2 
    sync tele
    tele rel 0 -50 
    save -i -f 2 
    sync tele
    tele rel 50 0 
    save -i -f 2 
    sync tele
    tele rel -25 25 
    save -i -f 2 
    sync tele
    All macro files must have the extension: *.mac

    A complete description of the macro commands is available as an HTML document.

    Double buffering
    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 format:

     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
    G158-27| 0:04:12.0|-7:47:54.0|1950|-0.056|-1.85|7.43|J=9.31
    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


    13 Troubleshooting

        From time to time it can happen that a process hangs. Mostly you can simply kill the hanging process. Some commands are prepared for this:     Type these commands in the interpreter window where you have started the GUI.

        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 trouble.

    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 data.

    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.

    Peter Bizenberger
    Tel. (+49) 6221 528311