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    Default Welcome to ACP Expert 9.0 Production Release

    [24-Feb-2022] ACP Expert Version 9 has been released to production. In order to install V9, your ACP and Scheduler (if you have Expert) license must have an expiration date after Jan 1, 2022. Before doing anything, be sure your latest licenses are installed. The license dialogs have this date displayed in them.

    PLEASE: Avoid updating multiple things at once. If you plan to update the ASCOM PLatform to 6.6, update device drivers, update MaxIm, and especially upgrade Windows to V11, please do these things one at a time then test under the stars. If you have problems please seek help from me. Especially do not try to uninstall and back-rev your installation. It can create a mess that will take a long time to unscramble. I do not support back-revving, I don't test for it, so please avoid taking us into uncharted territory. Just work with me here in this forum section. We'll get past any problems.

    Download Page for ACP Observatory Control V9
    Download Page for ACP Scheduler V9

    Install right on top of your existing ACP and Scheduler installations including V9 Field Tests 1 and 2 or the Release Candidate. See below for Release Notes for both ACP and Scheduler.


    ACP 9.0 Release Notes

    This major release is a roll up of issues and new features that came up over the last year plus. There are no major architectural changes here, so you can be confident in the stability of this release.

    WARNING: If you are currently using the Lunatico Good Night System according to the ACP Integration directions in Section 4.5 of the GNS manual that was current as of May 2021, you must make the transition to the new integral GNS support in ACP. Details are given here in the GNS section of ACP Help.

    Note: The ACP Scripting API has changed to provide for ASCOM flat illuminators and the new FocusMax MultiStar focusing mode. If you have an application that holds a hard-reference to ACP, you will need to rebuild it to be compatible with the new interfaces. Scripts and programs that use late binding will not be affected.

    Note: Autofocus logs have been moved into their own folder in Documents\ACP Astronomy Logs\Autofocus. If you are upgrading, your existing AutoFocus log files have been moved there by the ACP installer.

    Product Changes and Improvements:

    • ACP has new logic that allows selection to the new FocusMax V5 multi-star focusing feature as well as its AcquireStar feature.
    • Built-in support for the Lunatico Good Night System has been added. The "Owl" service is accessible from ACP's scripting namespace, and when no script is running, ACP maintains the GNS status and heartbeat according to the observatory status.
    • ACP now includes an ASCOM compatible weather input server that takes inputs from any ASCOM SafetyMonitor for its safe/unsafe status, and optionally from any ASCOM ObservingConditions server for its weather measurements.
    • The ACP special scripts ACP-Weather.* and ACP-ScriptFail.* are now saved and restored with the ACP Profile.
    • The ACP Plan language now allows the specification of a #filter for cal frames (darks and biases). This addresses the cameras that have no shutters or leaky shutters, forcing the use of an opaque filter for calibration frames.
    • The file/folder customization for autoflat images now supports substitution of the filter name, the binning, and the position angle (PA) in the created folders.
    • Plate solving in ACP has been changed to take advantage of the Gaussian PSF detector and hot-pixel remover of PinPoint. This not only provides more sensitivity for image star detection but also helps with Bayer matrix color images.
    • The AutoFlat system now supports light panels that use an ASCOM CoverCalibrator driver as well as those that use command line programs as before.
    • The web log viewer page now has a link at the top which can be used to download the log, along with instructions on how to download it.
    • The Radar Weather item in the web UI now embeds the fancy new NWS weather radar display including direct support for user interactions.
    • The web System System Status display, Guider section, now displays more detailed status during the guider startup process.
    • The Aladin-Lite "Pictorial Camera Field" item in the web interface was improved to show the real camera dimensions and field. Thanks to ACP user John Ramdenee for this
    • The logs from AutoFocus are now saved in Logs\Autofocus instead of Logs. The V9 installer will move existing log files into Logs\Autofocus.
    • The FilterOffsets measurement script now re-slews to the optimum focus part of the sky after focusing for each filter. This assures the least airmass for every focus run, avoiding the situation where the scope drifts westward into thick air.
    • When starting a run, the code for assuring FocusMax is running no longer waits for 5 seconds every time. It now checks a "FocusMax is ready" variable. If it is already running there is no delay at all.
    • Support for FocusMax V3 has been removed.
    • AutoFocus logs are now written to an AutoFocus subfolder instead of the the root Logs folder.
    • The web authoring info on recovering from errors has been corrected and clarified in both the Authoring Environment as well as in ACP Help.
    • Final image plate solving will no longer be attempted if doing orbital tracking. Streaked stars usually prevent it.
    • The optional post-flat dew-avoidance slew now occurs whether or not the flat process is chaining to an ACP Plan. This addresses the common usage where flats are followed by evening observing, but with a wait until much darker. The optics are now protected during this time.
    • The Slew-Sync window now accepts either local topocentric or J2000 coordinates per the state of the J2000 checkbox on the console. The coordinates input field is labeled as to which equinox is being used. This is not the same thing as the equinox of the coordinates needed by the telescope, and is a completely separate setting.
    • A new control has been added to allow setting the PinPoint Catalog Maximum Magnitude. This was provided to allow for variably ATLAS magnitude bands being available, and to help large format/wide field cameras avoid maxing out PinPoint's catalog stars array. THe AcquireImages script now uses the Prefs.PointingUpdates.CatalogMaximumMagnitude property for this.
    • ACP no longer supports FocusMax 3.x. You must be running 4.x or newer.
    • The scripting info in help has been updated to refer to the more current VSCode and other tools that have superseded the formerly recommended ones. This is really worth your look.
    • Auto-Flat documentation has been improved to make the post-flat slew feature more apparent and more general in its applications.
    • The optional post-flat dew-avoidance slew may now have destination alt/az coordinates outside the ACP slew limitations. This makes it possible to slew to 0 elevation without needing to remove the protection of the ACP minimum elevation limit.
    • When connecting the telescope and dome (they are integrated) errors coming from the Dome are now specifically prefixed with the fact that they are from the Dome and the error's "source" is also included.
    • The creation of the web thumbnail and preview images has been sped up significantly (thanks to Dick Berg and Russ Croman).
    • Allow graceful auto-disconnect from a mount when the mount's control program (exe ASCOM driver) completely disappears. No more popup and ACP exit from this.
    • The PinPoint reference catalog selector now includes the new PinPoint 7-supported ATLAS All-Sky Stellar Reference Catalog and no longer includes UCAC2, UCAC3, B1.0 (internet) or NOVAS (internet). The deleted catalogs are either no longer available, obsolete, or not recommended.
    • The logged choice of plat solving catalogs (with extra info) now says that A2.0 is "dated" and recommends UCAC4 and ATLAS.

    Bug Fixes:

    • If the ACP profile info is deleted for some reason, and the demo period expired "long ago", the program will no longer fail with a Runtime Error 13. Instead it will offer to let you enter your license.
    • The MPCComet tool has been fixed for corrupt CometEls.txt files seen to come from the MPC. Thanks to ACP users Dick Berg and Eric Dose for this.
    • Due to PinPoint 7 having been fixed for AMBTEMP and TEMPERAT FITS mapped properties, ACP is now correctly writing the CCD Temperature (TEMPERAT) and ambient temperature from weather (AMBTEMP).
    • If the weather input server raises an exception when reading its Safe property, it is no longer (rarely) fatal to ACP. Instead we have softened the effect of an exception from reading the Safe property of the weather server. The WEA light flashes rapidly red (failure, unsafe) and the exceptions are repeatedly written to the console. If the Weather.Safe exception is transient, the system will recover after the weather unsafe time.
    • Rotated guiding when using the SBIF STX-16803 internal guide sensor has been corrected.
    • The AAVSO Chart item in the web interface has been corrected to account for a change in Windows 10 security. Thank you Dick Berg!
    • The Catalog Lookup in several web forms now handles Deep Sky objects with a "+" in their name. It was being converted to " " and lookup would fail.
    • Comet lookup (CT xxxx) now works with comets whose name has no discoverer name in parentheses, e.g. A/2021 E4.
    • The installer and the Repair Security feature both now open/reopen write access to users for MPCORB and MPCCOMET, allowing the web Update MPC tool to run on a Windows 10 system with full security.
    • On very rare systems, if the system "tick count" starts with a large negative number, the Dome Control logic now properly starts its polling cycle.
    • The PinPoint catalog selector button now defaults to the path shown in the path field not the saved path from the program settings. This was confusing. Also the pre-select would not work on the ATLAS catalog, presumably because of the 324,000 files in five subfolders. It worked on all of the other paths tested. The logic has been changed to use the Windows PID for the path as the pre-select.
    • The internal timer interrupt source has been changed to use the Windows Multimedia Timer. This was made necessary by long-interval timing for Good Night System.
    • The web service account management API no longer creates the obsolete UserData keys in ACP's settings, and it will now properly delete an old UserData key when a user's account is deleted.
    • A bug where the AutoFocus AcquireStar process (only) would not use the faint and bright focus star limits from FilterInfo table has been fixed. In the past it would use the limits set in the FocusMax settngs. Now those mags for the reference filter (used for focusing) are properly set from the FilterInfo table.
    • A long time rare bug in the Actve Server Page Response.End() method has been fixed. There was an event leak tahta could allow for re-entrancy under rare conditions.
    • Fix AutoFlat for multiple AutoFlat run with GEM & rotator using panel flats when the LST is over 18 hours. Ranging of RA used 360 not 24.
    • The image duration sanity timer has been given a larger "slop" factor, from 120 to 300 seconds for Alpaca delays.
    • Correct the #defocus directive documentation to explain that it persists across images in a given filter.
    • Errors from the Dome system when commanded from the ACP Dome Control Panel no longer cause an uncaught error and exit of ACP.
    • Documentation for the file and folder customization on AutoFlat images has been corrected by removing some very old and superseded info.
    • The ACP program will no longer "go to sleep" if a scope is parked or unparked externally then unparked or parked (respectively) from within ACP.
    • Prevent run start failures on some Windows Language/Locales from format clashes when reading and writing the date/time when the last filter was used.
    • The bright star search algorithm now uses PinPoint's internal magnitude filtering during the catalog search, decreasing the time need for selection.
    • The bright star search function now reports the detailed error from trying to look up stars from the PinPoint catalog. It could be something other than no stars in the range, like a bad catalog!
    • A very rare sec of conditions when solving plates with a damaged image that resulted in an infinite loop has been corrected.
    • A rare bug in the licensing crypto logic (C++) has been fixed.
    • An old quirk in the utility/test AutoFocus.vbs script has been fixed. If a FilterInfo table is available, this script will not ask for the filter to use. It will always use the reference filter as defined in the FilterInfo table.
    • The SkyTools support now has a special RTML uploader that tags Projects as belonging to SkyTools via Project.ExternalID.
    • The SHUTTER ERROR annunciator light on the Dome Control panel is now red in color. The deep blue color was a bug (long standing!).
    • Fix the Console AskYesNo() and ReadLine() methods so that the "No" button will be re-shown after being hidden by an OkOnly call.
    • Updated the instructions for registering WSC components for newer Windows OS that have UAC security.
    • Connecting to a V1 Telescope is again supported. It was looking for AtPark which is not in the V1 interface.
    • The FindLostScope script has been corrected for a typo ion Declination. This could cause large errors!
    • Profile save will refuse if the ACP Version is corrupted. We had one customer with a corrupted version and it is essential to successful profile save/restore.
    • The web log viewer ASP was causing the degree symbol (UTF 0xB0) from ACP to display as a diamond-?, the "missing character" symbol within the HTML <pre> area in which the text is displayed verbatim. I could not find a way to do this so I substituted "d" for degrees.



    Release Notes for ACP Expert Scheduler V9.0

    Major release to pick up problems and to add resilience to losing the connection to ACP (hardware failure takes out ACP, etc). There were several post 8.3 private builds to help locate obscure problems, including subtleties with Fixed-Time Plans, which have been fixed. Some new features were also added.

    Please note: The addition of Good Night System support in ACP requires scripts to manage their own heartbeat time-outs. The standard supplied ACP and Scheduler scripts already incorporate this. However the user-customized StartupObs.js and ShutdownObs.js scripts will need to have one-line calls to Util.NotifyGNS() to renew the time-out as needed. The Version 9 supplied SampleStartupObs.js and SampleShutdowObs.js scripts have sample calls to Util.NotifyGNS() which you can incorporate and adjust the time-out in seconds.

    New Features and Improvements

    • Review your existing StartupObs.js and ShutdownObs.js scripts!
      The following are improvements that are in the new Samples but you will need to merge these changes with your existing code:
      • The sample StartupObs script now includes improved reporting of mount versus dome connection problems on Telescope.Connected = true.
      • The samples include calls to send a GNS heartbeat to prevent a timeout ruing startup and/or shutdown (see note above)
      • The samples now use UTC in their log file names, matching the convention used for other log files.

    • The RTML importer can now be prevented from sequence numbering repeated Observations by including #nosequence within the RTML Target.Description.
    • The GEM flip wait period now is Good Night System aware, per this new feature of ACP. GNS will be advised of a meridian flip wait.
    • A line has been added to the log from AcquireScheduler to allow the ACP Log Analyzer to read and parse the log.
    • Periodic auto focus now remembers the last auto focus time across weather unsafe periods, schduler stop/restart sequences, etc. However, the periodic auto focus schedule (if in use) will be reset to the beginning under these conditions.
    • A new consecutive failure limit has been added. If ACP fails to acquire images more than X times in a row, the scheduler gives up and goes to Operator Intervention. The feature can be disabled.
    • The log viewer page of the web Schedule Browser now has a link and instructions for downloading the log.
    • Documentation on Fixed-Time Plans has been clarified and expanded.
    • Documentation on file and folder customization has been expanded to include detailed description of each substitution token, general info, and a table of tokens used by both ACP and Scheduler for comparison.
    • The close-if-idle time is now fractinal hours, and may be set as low as 0.2 hours.
    • The creation of web preview image and thumnail has been made much faster (thanks to users Russ Croman and Dick Berg).
    • The originally supplied ReceiverData files may now be removed for clarity without the Windows Installer automatically replacing them. The StandardFiles subfolder also contains the originals and they canot be deleted (for safety).
    • The web Schedule Browser Project edit form now pops up "Are you sure?" alerts for Resubmit All, Resubmit All Failed, and Disable All.

    Changes & Fixes

    • If unsafe weather exists at dusk flat time, Scheduler will now wait for safe weather and try taking flats again, until it is just too dark. It was giving up after one try.
    • The log viewer in the web Schedule Browser now shows 'd' for degree symbol instead of the "missing symbol" graphic.
    • Fix fatal error when sending email on Operator Intervention. If ACP is compromised, a fatal error occurs trying to get the TLS status. The needed info is now gathered at startup.
    • Further, the "last chance error handler" no longer gets errors resulting from ACP being compromised. The response is a lot more rational, with an explicit message in the log and in a plain english error popup.
    • The SampleStartupObs.js script has been updated for FocusMax V4 and MaxIm DL V6.
    • The scary message "HTTP command listener failed to start: Access is denied" now onlyu shows in Debug level logging, and it also has a message telling the user that this is not aconcern unless they specifically need that service.
    • A long running but rare problem with startup exceptions was finally identified and fixed the right way. See SCHEDULER-1600 Park if Idle.
    • Fix processing of major planet targets to use the Planet name for Kepler ephemeris calculating, not the Observation name.
    • The combination of Startup in Unsafe Weather = False, Close if Idle with a specified scope idle position, and the observatory has never been cold started, and then the weather goes safe, it now knows not to try to move the scope to the idle position since the scope is not even powered up yet.
    • Fail Fixed-Time Plans that do not have both an Earliest and Latest Time. This should be enforced by the User Interface. but not yet.
    • If a Fixed-Time Plan is submitted, and it's started on the next scheduling pass, and and earliest time has been passed but not its latest time, then start the Plan at the current time not at the earliest.
    • Invisible blanks in the Idle Scope Alt-Az setting are now trimmed out.
    • The VOEvent Receiver now correctly reports that it speaks VOEvent Transport 1.1, and the 'imalive' message is now correctly spelled. It is amazing that I got away with 'imalive' for so many years!!
    • The Test Operator Intervention item in the Utility menu is now correctly disabled when the dispatcher is running.
    • The spurious message "No controllable dome" in the log has been removed. It was actually meaningless.
    • Additional "Debug" level logging marked [EV...] has been added for evening startup sequencing mysteries.
    • Avoid trying to use Logger.Log() within Logger.Open(). This chicken-and-egg probem came about with a locked CurrentLogPath.txt file.
    • The installer's check for the ACP version will now work on systems with either '.' or ',' as the decimal point.
    • The periodic autofocus schedule format has been changed from , delimited to | delimited so that Europeans with ',' decimal point can use this. In the profile XML, the values are integral seconds in the string.
    • The web schedule browser's Project editor now allows dates out to 2040.
    Last edited by Bob Denny; Feb 24, 2022 at 23:30.
    -- Bob

 

 

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