RetroCam Software

The Observatories of the Carnegie Institution for Science (Carnegie Observatories), Pasadena, CA

Version 3.4

Christoph C. Birk (birk AT carnegiescience DOT edu)

Location of this document:

  • News
  • GUI Documentation
  • Macro Scripts
  • Network Layout

  • RetroCam (LCO)
  • Observing Procedures (Carnegie Supernova Project II)


    v3.4.1 (2019-10-04)
  • Fixed a bug in the Nyden motor controller code (introduced in v3.4).
  • v3.4 (2019-06-12)
  • Added the Gaia catalog to the SkyMap window.
  • This requires the new StarCatalog format (/Users/Shared/StarCatalogs/).
  • Fixed a bug in the QuickLook Tool when resizing the window.
  • Deployment target macOS 10.13 (HighSierra).
  • Release Notes

    Screen Shots and GUI Documentation

    Setup -- Main Menu -- Preferences -- Data Acquisition -- Telescope -- Temperature Control

    Setup Window

    Please enter your name in the Observer edit window.
    All components should be online.
    CoolDown button:
    Preset the check-marks for operation during dewar cool down (left)
    Observing button:
    Preset the check-marks for regular observing (right)

    The Hosts tab sets the TCP/IP hosts.

    After pressing OK the RetroCam-Control window will be opened.

    Main Menu

    RetroCam -- File -- Telescope -- Camera -- TempCon -- Help

    About RetroCam: displays a window that shows the version of the RetroCam-GUI.
    Preferences: opens the preferences window.
    Open ObjectList: opens a file-selector dialog that allows to load an object list into the ObjectList window.
    Save: saves the current object list.
    Show Logfiles: opens the RetroCam-GUI logfiles in the Console.
    Show DataFolder: Opens the data path folder(s) in a Finder window.
    Show AppSupport: Opens the Application Support folder in a Finder window.
    Load Image: opens a file-selector dialog to load a FITS file into the QuickLook tool.
    Load Sky: opens a file-selector dialog to load a FITS file into sky-subtraction buffer of the QuickLook tool.
    Airmass: opens the Airmass window.
    ObjectList: opens the Object List window.
    SkyMap: opens the SkyMap window.
    Clear Savepos: removes the green squares that mark previous exposures from the SkyMap.
    DataPath: opens a dialog that allows the user to set the path for writing the FITS files.
    QuickLook Tool: opens the QuickLook Tool.
    Set Current As Sky: sets the current images as sky-image used for sky subtractions.
    Filter Move+: moves the filter wheel a small amount in the positive direction
    Filter Move-: moves the filter wheel a small amount in the negative direction
    Filter Center Detent: find the nearest detent and centers on it
    Reset Server: resets the (Win98) data server (IRcam server)
    Target: opens a dialog that allows to set the Target temperature for the cooldown.
    Tuning: opens a dialog that allows to change the LakeShoretemperature controller PID values.
    Show Graph: opens the temperature graph window
    GraphPars: opens a dialog that allows to change the graph parameters
    RetroCam GUI: opens a web-browser with this document:
    User Manual (LCO): opens a web-browser with the RetoCam user manual:


    Observer: value for the FITS-record OBSERVER
    Saturation Level: pixels values above this number will be displayed in red
    Loop Done: text spoken after an exposure loop
    Macro Done: text spoken after a dither macro
    Single Step: popup a dialog box after each macro command
    Abort On Error: abort macros when an error occurs
    Show Macro Lines: show each macro line in the Messages window
    Win98 Path: temporary storage path on the Win98 computer

    Data Acquisition

    Camera -- DataPaths -- Dither -- QuickLook Tool -- Macros


    ExpTime: sets the exposure time (3..999 seconds)
    ReadMode: sets the readout mode
    {Double, Quadruple, Sextuple, Octuple, Single, Bias, Reset}
    ObjType: sets the object type
    {test, standard, astro, tflat, sky, dark, dflat}
    Filter: moves the filer wheel to the selected filter
    {dk, Yc, Jo, Hc}
    Go: starts a loop sequence of Loops exposures
    Loops: number of exposures per sequence
    Object: OBJECT value in the FITS header
    Filename: name of the next FITS file
    File: macro scripts filename
    Dither: opens the dither-macro dialog
    Execute: executes the macro-script
    Pause: pauses the current macro-script (after the current command)
    Abort: aborts the current macro-script (after the current command)
    Disk(s): disk status

    Data Path(s)

    The FITS files will be written to both paths simultaneously.

    Dither Macros

    This dialog creates standard dither macro-scripts.
    Step: step size [arcsec] between exposure loops
    {None, Dice-5, Rot-5, Square-9, Rot-9, Random-11}
    {None, Auto, Manual}

    QuickLook Tool

    Magnifier (top right)
    Can be moved by holding down the left mouse button, or with the cursor keys (up/down/left/right arrows).
    The current cursor pixel coordinate (center of the aperture and magnifier) and pixel value at the cursor position.
    Minimum and maxium pixel value within the aperture.
    Average and standard deviation within the aperture.
    Press the key while centered on a star to calculate an estimated FWHM and flux.
    Magnification factor of the Magnifier window.
    Sets the radius for the aperture statistics (MinMax, AveSig above).

    Telescope Control

    TeleGUI -- SkyMap -- Airmass -- ObjectList


    Get: Reads the telescope coordinates (alpha, delta, equinox) and focus from the TCS (telescope control system).
    Note: It is recommended to press the Get button before starting a macro to ensure proper telescope pointing. This also updates the focus value that is written to the FITS header.
    Send: Sends the coordinates in the Alpha and Delta windows to the TCS.
    NE,N,NW,E,W,SE,S,SW: Moves the offsets from the dx and dy windows.
    0,0: Moves the negative offset from the S(dx),S(dy) windows.
    Zero: Resets the offset-sums in the S(dx),S(dy) windows to zero.


    Displays the current view (red square) of the RetroCam array.


    Shows a graph of the change in airmass at the current telescope position.

    Object List

    The object lists a ASCII files, formatted as one object per line; each data field is seprarated by a '|' (pipe) character:

    Name | 10:50:10.0 | -12:00:15.0 | 2000.0 | Comment
    Edit: opens a dialog that allows to change the properties of the selected object.
    Add: opens a dialog that allows to add an object to the list.
    If the coordinates (alpha, delta, equinox) are left empty they will default to the current TeleGUI coordinates.
    Remove: removes the selected object from the list.
    PreView: sets the coordinates in the TeleGUI
    and Airmass window to the selected object (coordinates are not sent to the TCS).
    setObject: Sends the coordinates of the selected object to the TCS.
    If the equinox of the list object is different from the equinox of the TeleGUI (TCS), then the coordinates are precessed to the TCS equinox before they are sent.

    Temperature Control (Cooldown only)

    Instrument Software Documentation Index

    2004-10-14, Christoph C. Birk, Carnegie Observatories