We have released ACP Expert 8.1.1, a maintenance update to ACP 8.1. Here are the release notes (showing the new features and changes) for ACP 8.1 and 8.1.1. The release notes for Scheduler are in the next post of this thread.

ACP 8.1.1 Release Notes

This is a "cleanup" release for ACP 8.1. No new features were added.

Changes and Bug Fixes:
  • A change to observing initialization was made to reduce the time needed for some mounts, and to eliminate historical logic that is no longer needed.
  • Fix the weather server support logic for a timing hole in re-entrancy protection (a new 8.1 feature that needed a bit more work).
  • Fix the feature that locks out live observing in the web interface when the scheduler dispatcher is active (a new 8.1 feature that somehow got dropped from the latter code tree).

ACP 8.1 Release Notes

This release adds many new features and corrects some things that were found to be broken or needed improvement. It is part of ACP Expert 8.1. The scheduler and ACP are a matched set.

NOTE: If you do panel/screen flats, this release has support for separate per-filter panel brightness values for each binning level. To take advantage of this new feature, you will need to edit your AutoflatConfig.txt file and add the PerFilterBrightness lists for each binning level. You will need to test for each binning level like you did for the original (bin-1) PerFilterBrightness list. See the SampleAutoflatConfig.txt file that comes with this release (as usual in Public Documents\ACP Config).

NOTE: A new custom action AcquireImage has been added to this release. This means that if you have custom actions in effect, you should migrate the .wsc file to include this new function. See Migrating if New Actions are Added. In this release, failure to migrate will be harmless. In future releases, however, an ugly caution message may appear, followed by a failure due to incompatible user actions in a release after that.

Critical Changes:

The following changes may affect your existing ACP installation:
  1. In ACP 8 saving of the raw/uncalibrated files when doing auto-calibration was not done by default. This was a change from earlier versions of ACP. With this release, the original default is restored. Now, by default, ACP will save the uncalibrated data. You can turn this off using the Save original uncalibrated file/data images option in ACP Preferences, Imaging tab. This used to be an edit to the AcquireSupport library. That is gone now, replaced by the setting.
  2. When doing auto-calibration, your raw/uncalibrated images will now be saved into a subfolder named RAW under your final/calibrated images (as well as having RAW_ prepended to their names as before). This may cause a disruption to your automated pipeline if you depend on the locaiton of the RAW_xxx files.

Product Changes and Improvements

  1. A new weather server for the AAG CloudWatcher system has been included, and the online help has been edited to reflect its usage and setup.
  2. The AAG, SRO, and Boltwood II file weather servers now look for the "alert" flag (it is present only in post-2012 versions of Clarity). If it is present, that will be used for safe-unsafe decisions instead of the parameter thresholds (Very Cloudy etc).
  3. A new custom action AcquireImage has been added. This hook allows the replacement of the ACP image acquisition logic with something else, for example acquiring a spectrum.
  4. The web interface now contains a new Sky Flat Analyzer tool. This great tool comes from ACP wizard Dick Berg. It analyzes ACP sky flat run logs and graphs the exposures. It is a great help when ordering the filters and binnings to make the most out of twilight time.
  5. The web interface now contains a new pictorial field of view tool which shows an astro-photo of the current telescope location and field. It is generated via the Aladin Lite service of CDS, Strasbourg University, France.
  6. When all-sky plate solving is used, it is now possible to use a local all-sky solving engine (Andy Galasso's ansvr) instead of needing a network connection to get to the online Astrometry.net server nova.astrometry.net.
  7. The Scheduler Single Image form now accepts optional time spacing and time tolerance values, and thus may be used to create time series with gaps between Observations. This greatly increases the power of this form.
  8. In the Scheduler web forms, checking the Moon Down checkbox causes the Moon Avoidance Lorentzian fields to fade out and be initialized to default values.
  9. A new option for auto-calibration has been added (Imaging tab of Preferences) allowing you to control whether or not the uncalibrated/raw image(s) should be saved. A corresponding API member Prefs.CameraPrefs.AutoCalSaveRaw has been added to support this in script.
  10. The auto-calibration documentation has been expanded, corrected, and updated. It was totally inadequate!
  11. The web interface now has a weather radar information item. It contains info for administrators on how to edit it for their location. The included map is from the US National Weather service. It can, of course, be customized for other countries.
  12. The web interface now has a Clear Sky Chart item. It contains info for administrators on how to edit it for their location.
  13. The web interface now contains a new tool for displaying AAVSO finder charts. Thanks to ACP wizard Dick Berg for this tool.
  14. The custom user-actions now includes a new "hook" AcquireImage. This allows optional branch-out to special image acquisition code during an ACP plan or Scheduler Observation. This has been included as part of an ongling effort to support spectroscopic observations mixed in with wide field imaging. We'll announce this when the research and development has been completed.
  15. The weather settings will now allow 0 minute minimum unsafe time, to accommodate weather stations that have their own minimum unsafe time.
  16. The exclusion zone for guide star selection has been increased from 16 to 24 pixels, to allow for dithering and position noise during startup.
  17. The Live Observing part of the web UI's main menu disappears when the Scheduler dispatcher is enabled.
  18. A new setting has been added (General tab of Preferences) to disable the auto-resume feature for ACP plans. A corresponding API member Prefs.DisablePlanResume has ben added to support this.
  19. Panel/screen flats can now be given separate brightness values for each binning level as well as for each filter. See the AutoflatConfig documentation for details.
  20. Panel/screen flats now start with the exposure last used for a given filter and binning. This makes the process more efficient by limiting the TEST exposures to one in most cases. If the saved value doesn't result in ADU in limits, the TEST will continue as usual to determine the needed exposure.
  21. Two new FITS fields have been added to all acquired images: HJD-OBS the Heliocentric Julian Date, and BJD-OBS the Barycentric Julian Date (Syn barycenter).
  22. The web user interface now displays Wait Flip in the 4th column if waiting for a flip. Details can be seen in the console log.
  23. The preview thumbnail and larger popup are now preserved until a new image has been completed.
  24. A new setting has been added (General tab of Preferences) to force an autofocus whenever the (GEM) mount flip. A corresponding API member Prefs.AutoFocus.FocusAfterFlip has been added to support this.
  25. The Scripting Guide's information on debugging and debug tools has been updated to reflect the availability of Visual Studio 2015 Community Edition. This is an excellent system for both writing and debugging scripts.
  26. The jQuery library included with the ACP Web user interface has been updated to V1.12.4. Despite there being newer jQuery versions (V2 and just this month V3) we've found that most of the tried and true components, including the jQuery UI library are stable with V1.12.4. We'll review this again in a year.
  27. The browser support library function DC3.Lib.postChdir() has been changed to take the trarget URL of the POST request, like the DC3.Lib.postMkdir() function. In addition the "Multiple Objects Plan" server support script /ac/aacqplan.asp has been changed to include the URL in its call to DC3.Lib.postChdir(). This will affect only authjors, and then maybe only one (Dick Berg)!!
  28. The ACP.Weather object has been strengthened to prevent in-process weather servers (e.g. WSCs) from allowing re-entry into the weather server via calls to (e.g.) Util.WaitXxx()).
  29. The ACP Util.DeltaT property has been updated through 2020.0.
  30. An updated USNO NOVAS-COM Vector Astrometry component is installed if needed. It has new Delta-T tables theough 2020.0.
  31. The initital guider trackbox image for the web UI has returned to using a more efficient API of MaxIm, following a fix for thie API in MaxIm.
  32. When there is no existing FilterInfo.txt file, the FocusOffsets script restores the reference filter's focus position at the start of each iteration through the filters. This prevents a last filer's large focus offset from causing focus or plate solving failures at the start of the next iteration through the filters.
  33. If the API function Weather.DisableWeatherInterrupts() is used within a script, the weather unsafe interrupts will now always be restored at script end, whether normal or an error.
  34. The web services documentation now has info on what to do during installation if port 80 is already in use on your system.

Bug Fixes

  1. The "skip saturated stars" feature has been enhanced so that a guiding field with a single saturated star will not result in failed guiding.
  2. If a second autofocus is performed within the same target (focus between filters) the post-focus pointing update is now correctly done (if the other conditions are met).
  3. Readout mode support has been fixed for systems with no filters (filter wheel).
  4. Sexagesimal input to web observing request input fields has been fixed for comma as decimal point.
  5. The logging of the focus star magnitude range used for FocusMax AcquireStar has been fixed (typo).
  6. The polling of Weather.Safe has been reduced to the user-selected polling interval. It was being polled way too fast (just for the annunciator status and nothing else!). ACP will still respond to weather unsafe within 10 or fewer seconds.
  7. Several of the file-based weather servers were not installed. This has been fixed.
  8. Fix object centering for sync-able mounts when target is above 70 deg declination.
  9. Several of the web interface items have been enhanced with directions on how to customize them. The directions are in comments, with a highlighted phrase that is visible only to administrators.
  10. The User Action SlewEnd() is now called only when a slew actually ends.
  11. The web user interface will now disallow things based on whether the Scheduler's dispatcher is active or not, not whether the scheduler executable is simply running.
  12. An incorrect weather server ID for the Weather Simulator has been fixed in documentation. Other improvements and clarifications have been made to the Weather Safety documentation as well.
  13. API members Prefs.GEMTrackPastMinutes and Prefs.GEMPostFlipMargin are now documented and described in the API IntelliSense info.
  14. Documentation did not address several file based weather servers. This has also been fixed.
  15. The weather server for the Boltwood Cloud Sensor (only) has been changed to ignore the last-data date/time in the data file and instead use the "last modified time" of the file itseelf. The Clarity software occasionally produces illegal time strings that choke the conversion routines.
  16. The AutoFocus script now starts and stops tracking per the tracking contgrol changes in ACP 8.
  17. The AutoFocus script now starts its logging at the very beginning, so the initialization of AcquirSupport is logged (important).
  18. A long-standing obscure target sequencing bug has been fixed. It occurred when slew overlap is enabled, the "from" and "to" targets are on opposite sides of the mount's flip point (e.g. the meridian), and the last image of the "from" target has enough pointing error to require a recenter. Skip this recenter if the last image of the "from" target.
  19. The QuickCheck script has been fixed for the case where the check point is within 4 deg of the meridian. Misspelled variable (actually cut-n-paste eror).
  20. The installer removes an old/stray test script AcquireImages-7.1.584.js from the system if present.
  21. The plan checker will now allow #screenflats when run in offline mode.
  22. The #waitforairmass, #waitzendist, #waitinlimits, and the sun-down angle form of #waituntil have been corrected for comma as decimal point.
  23. The installer will look for ACP license info in the virtualized location when upgrading from ACP 7 and before, and deciding whether the license is current for the current ACP version.
  24. The web UI code has been changed to avoid use of a deprecated HTML attrobute that was part of a Safari workaround that no longer is needed.
  25. The AutoFlat script will no longer try to re-open the dome if panel flats start in safe weather then finish in unsafe weather. Note that panel flats may be done in unsafe weather.
  26. Fix use of readout modes for bias and dark frames.