2.4m Observatory Technical Note

2.4m Observatory Technical Note
2.4m Observatory Technical Note
2008 January 7 – version 1.1
Obscam User's Manual
Obscam is the main observatory camera user interface tool for MROST. It provides basic
functionality common to each of the engineering cameras and video acquisition camera.
Starting obscam
To run obscam you must have a user account on one of the MROST workstations. If you need an
account, please see the system administrator. Once you are logged in at a system within the
observatory firewall, type the following command into a command window:
obscam -h indi
If you are outside the firewall, start obscam with no arguments and it will prompt for host, ssh
tunneling port, INDI port and login information. This can be given on the command line as well
using the -t command line argument.
Throughout Obscam, lingering the cursor over a field or control (without clicking) will display a
small temporary tool tip message that summarizes the field and gives key information such as
units. Also, Obscam makes extensive use of small colored dots everywhere to indicate specific
state information. These are always one of four colors with the following meaning:
Gray: Idle or unknown
Green: OK or ready
Yellow: Busy or in progress
Red: Alert or problem
Obscam has other command line arguments as well. Follows is the complete list:
-h h
-p p
-t h s i l
specify alternate socket host, default is to create an ssh tunnel
specify alternate INDI port, default is 7624
display inbound INDI messages for debugging
display outbound INDI messages for debugging
use smaller and tighter window layout
specify host, ssh port, INDI port and login for remote tunnel connection
The main Obscam window is showing in Illustration 1. This window has a dual purpose. It can
operate any camera on the observatory INDI network that is compliant with the INDI properties
listed in the INDI Properties OTN. It can also display any 16 bit FITS file currently on disk.
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Illustration 1: Obscam
Camera Operation
To operate a camera, enter the name of the Driver in the field provided and type Enter if it is not
already correct. The current cooler temperature is displayed and the target temperature may be
set as desired, if this capability is supported by the camera. Set the desired Binning and
subwindow size and location as desired (entering window width and height of 0 results in the full
size frame). Set whether the shutter will be open or closed (if available) and the exposure
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To take one exposure click Take 1. A count down timer will be shown in the upper status area
then the image will be displayed after it is read from the camera. Continuous exposures can be
taken by clicking Run on and will continue until the Run button is clicked back off which will
gracefully stop after the next exposure completes. An exposure in progress begun by either
means can be abandoned immediately by clicking Abort, which will also turn off Run if it is on.
To save the current image, click Save, browse to the desired location, enter the desired file name
and click Save. (If dark or flat processing is in effect, the raw image is saved, not the calibrated
Any image which arrives from the camera will be saved automatically if Auto save is on. The file
name consists of the A-S auto save prefix followed by three digits followed by .fits, where the
number portion will start at zero and increase by one after each file is saved. The images are
always saved in the current working directory from which obscam was executed.
Darks and Flats
Obscam can apply a dark and/or flat calibration frame automatically as each new exposure
arrives if desired. A dark frame is one which is assumed to have been taken with the shutter
closed for the same duration as the new image. (If the exposure time is different, the amount of
dark current will be somewhat different but this becomes less significant for cameras operating
at cold temperatures). A flat frame is one which was taken while pointing at a uniform field of
To specify the calibration images, click the Dark or Flat buttons to bring up a file selection box
to define the desired dark or flat calibration image file as desired. The file(s) will be applied only
if they are the same dimensions as the new exposure. Once a file has been selected, it will be
applied to each successive exposure as long as the button remains on. To stop applying the
calibrations, click the corresponding button back off.
Each pixel is replaced by a new value as defined by the following formula:
p i '= pi −32768d i  f / f i 
where pi, di and fi are corresponding pixels in the new exposure, dark and flat frames,
respectively, and bar f is the mean of all pixels in the flat frame. The formula assumes the FITS
16 bit convention where each pixel is a signed value from -32768 through +32767. Resulting
pixel values will be clamped to this range if the formula under- or overflows. Obscam displays the
resulting image but always saves the raw image.
Displaying FITS Files
Obscam may also display any FITS file already residing on disk. To load a FITS file, click on Load
and browse to the desired file. Suffixes may be either .fts or .fits. Then Open the file to display it.
Image Display
Regardless of how the image came to be displayed, the image is shown resized to be entirely
visible within the alloted space; beware of sampling artifacts. The initial contrast will be centered
on the mean pixel value, with black set at 1σ below the mean and white set at 2σ above the
mean. The contrast slider may be adjusted to larger or smaller deviations about the mean.
Dragging the cursor over the image will display its pixel grid location and raw value in the top
information line and a magnified view centered on the cursor in the lower right of the window.
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If the FITS file headers contain either the traditional WCS fields or the STScI plate fields then the
RA and Dec at the cursor will also be displayed in the top line.
Whenever an image is first displayed, the FITS header fields will be displayed in a separate
window. This window may be moved or resized as desired. If it is iconified (not closed) it will
remain invisible until opened again.
Pressing the mouse button near a star will find the brightest pixel in the neighborhood and fit the
radial pattern of pixels to a Gaussian. The pixels and the right half of the Gaussian will be
displayed in the lower right corner, as shown in Illustration 2, until the mouse is released. The
Gaussian maximum, noise level and half-width-at-half-max box will be labeled. The second
message line will display the location of the brightest pixel and the FWHM value.
Illustration 2: Gaussian fit
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Document History
2007 Feb 21 E.C.Downey
First release (within obscon doc)
2007 Mar 3
Update camera snapshot to show temp controls
2007 Mar 15 E.C.Downey
Describe Binning, Run and Auto save camera features.
2007 Aug 31 E.C.Downey
Separate doc; discuss windowing, dark/flat controls.
2008 Jan 7
Add FWHM Gaussian feature
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