ACP 8.2 is now available. Thanks goes out to all of the people who provided suggestions, worked with us through bugs, and kept the faith. We really appreciate you all!! The Release Notes tell what has changed since 8.1.

ACP 8.2 Release Notes

Critical Changes:

The following changes may affect your existing ACP installation:

  1. The sky flat process now simply pauses tracking (if possible) between flats instead of slewing the mount. This can dramatically improve the cadence on slow mounts. In the AutoFlatConfig.txt file you may adjust this pause time, however an upgrade of ACP will not overwrite your existing AutoFlatConfig.txt file, so it will default to 3 seconds. Please take a few minutes to look over the new SampleAutoFlatConfig.txt file. Better yet, take your old one and make the adjustments to a fresh copy of SampleAutoFlatConfig.txt.
  2. The built-in FTP server has been removed from ACP. This server was an inefficient OEM engine, and FTP is a technology whose time has passed. We strongly recommend you set up ACP to deliver acquired images via a cloud service such as DropBox, Google Drive, iCloud, etc. For more info see Customizing File and Folder Names.

Product Changes and Improvements:

  • Web submission forms have been improved in several ways. All forms have been made more responsive to modes values used. Some, particularly for scheduled operation, have been improved to allow for new features in scheduler.
  • The web server now supports the Secure Sockets Layer encryption and security. Server authentication certificate is created and stored in the Windows Certificate Store.
  • The generation of preview images for the web UI has been made much faster.
  • The AutoFlat process now uses a brief pause in the tracking of the telescope to achieve dithering between frames. This results in a substantial improvement of efficiency, allowing more flats to be acquired. Requires a mount that has tracking control.
  • In addition, the autoflat process no longer generates the thumbnail and preview images for the web System Status display. That too was taking away from the cadence, and the gee-whiz factor is hardly worth it, even with the above listed preview speed-up that was also done for this version.
  • Autoflats now support an optional sub-frame fraction to be specified. This is not provided, however, in the web flat forms. It is accessible only from ACP Flat Plans.
  • Efficiency of screen/dome flats has been improved via choosing test intervals more intelligently and starting with a short exposure.
  • The autoflat test exposures now use a subframe that is half way from the center to the edge of the sensor to mitigate vignetting and again speed up convergence.
  • The support for defocused observations has been improved to minimize focuser moves.
  • Web System Status displays of the image and guiding thumbnails no longer flashes on refresh. Now uses the HTML 5 canvas element to display these. Also the guider trackbox preview has been rescaled to double size for better visibility.
  • During guide star selection, a new test for star size is applied. If it is less than 45 square pixels, it is rejected. This can be changed or eliminated by editing AcquireSupport. However, it should really just reject the small hot pixel clusters found on some sensors.
  • The FTP server has been removed, and all references to FTP have been removed from the web page content.
  • Internal support for the old Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) has been removed.
  • The web server now understands several new HTTP/MIME content types (including the awesome JSON).
  • At startup, ACP detects if its security environment has been changed by a major Windows update, registry cleaner, security enhancer. etc. If so, it attempts to restore its security to normal before showing its man window. No more need to re-run the ACP installer.
  • If ACP detects that it has been run "as Administrator" it immediately pops up an error message "Running ACP as Administrator is prohibited", then when OK is clicked it exits. This should prevent people from creating havoc by running things "as Administrator".
  • The clicking sound on external web accesses can now be disabled.
  • The FocusOffsets script now lists the filter names and numbers before asking for the reference filter number, and also says numbers start with 0
  • The "you are using ACP in the observatory" advisory popup from the Welcome item when running the browser from the Use Web Browser has been removed.
  • The Agent and Voice features are now supported by Double Agent, and open source replacement for Microsoft Agent that runs on Windows 7/8/10. This restores the voice output features of ACP on Windows 10.
  • The description of the #AFINTERVAL directive for ACP observing plans has been clarified per user request.

Bug Fixes:

  • If the selected guide star fades during exposure refinement, detect this and fail gracefully instead of it causing a fatal script error.
  • The Plan checker now reports the count for dark/bias targets with only one value in the #count directive (or no count at all)
  • The BoltwoodFile weather server now works correctly with the old Boltwood Cloud Sensor 1 units.
  • Fix RA and Dec rate calculation for orbital tracking with NEOCP type ephemerides.
  • The Scheduler "disabled" legend in the web System Status item is no longer "ghosted" and is now easier to read.
  • The Instruments and Equipment section in the web interface will no longer "wikify" names of instruments or filters.
  • Fixed a couple of weather-related FITS fields, added a decimal digit to temperatures, added TEMPERAT and PRESSURE to weather fields.
  • Trailing commas in the FilterInfo.txt file are now ignored, and the corresponding error in documentation (showing trailing commas) ahs been fixed.
  • Interlocking field in the web forms for the scheduler have been improved in appearance, disabling/enabling, etc. Logic was refactored and improved.
  • The AutoFlat process now ignores dawn vs dusk for panel/screen flats. This was an old bug!!
  • Prevent Index Out of Range in MaxIm by skipping unnecessary guider trackbox preview image when multi-star guiding.
  • Fixed inconsistency between the Preferences dialog and the actual setting used for All Sky Domain.
  • The Single Image Series web form now takes air mass range in the order Max, Min, as documented and as offered by both Scheduile Browsers.
  • The complex and strange logic for TheSky's "uncommanded disconnect on park" issue is not optional and defaults to OFF. Unless specifically enabled in Preferences, Telescope tab, this logic is replaced with a simple call to park the scope and wait for completion.
  • The FocusOffsets script now outputs only integer values for focus offsets into FilterInfo.txt.
  • Polling rate of Rotator.IsMoving has been reduced to 1Hz like the rest of the Rotator telemetry.
  • Fix image simulation mode for cameras with very long download times.
  • The web observing request forms will no longer show "wikified" catalog names for minor planets and comets when the "Get Coordinates or Ephemeris" link is used to check if they are in the MPCORB or MPCCOMET database.
  • Remove leading and trailing whitespace from AutoFlatConfig lines.
  • The Park and Unpark items in the Telescope menu now reflect the current park state of the scope.
  • Plan documentation has been corrected: #DAWNFLATS will not be performed on a #QUITAT plan termination
  • Fix the mount exclusion tilt-up test when finding a focus star (FindBrightStar()) for alt-az mode. The test was backwards!
  • The ASCOM MPCCOMET component has been updated for the new MPC comet database name.
  • Several typos in the docs were corrected, thanks to the eagle-eyed Dick Berg.
  • The installer no longer gives a false error and negative space remaining on disks > 2GB.
  • The installer no longer removes settings for weather servers (and other data saved under the ACP Profile root). The UserData key is now preserved.
  • The ACP.Telescope.AlignmentMode property no longer requires the scope to be connected. This info comes from the Preferences > Telescope settings anyway. Scheduler needs it before deciding whether to start the observatory (looking at limits to test available Plans).
  • Documentation on obtaining the Minor Planet and Comet databases from the Minor Planet Center has been updated.
  • The simulation pointing error generator has hopefully been fixed once and for all for comma-decimal systems.
  • When disconnecting the telescope from the web UI, the "Park?" yes/no popup now disappears when you click the Answer button
  • The statement that DC-3 Dreams offers Dome driver programming services has been removed. This was from so long ago... and nowadays, no way.
  • Fix the tool tips on rotator Set Angle button and the input angle field.