Swope GUI Software Documentation

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

Version 1.7

Christoph C. Birk (birk AT carnegiescience DOT edu)

Location of this document: http://instrumentation.obs.carnegiescience.edu/Software/Swope/swope.html

  • News
  • GUI Documentation
  • Scripting
  • Troubleshooting
  • HowTo(s)

    Further documentation:

  • CCD User Manual (LCO)
  • Galil DMC-4080 Controller Manual
  • Galil DMC-4080 Firmware Manual
  • Granville-Phillips 375 Vacuum Gauge Controller
  • Varian MicroVac Ion Pump Controller
  • Swope Network Layout (pre IMB-upgrade)

    Instrument Software Documentation Index


    v1.7.6 (2022-08-22)
  • Update the airmass (FITS-header) after each exposure in a loop sequence.
  • v1.7.5 (2021-04-02)
  • Fixed enabling the [Start] button too early when the filter was changed during the exposure readout.
  • v1.7.4 (2019-05-07)
  • Popup a warning if a long focus exposure (> 30 sec) is attempted.
  • Fixed some minor bugs.
  • Deployment target macOS 10.13 (HighSierra).
  • v1.7.3 (2019-01-11)
  • Removed the (telescope/M2) focus limits when in engineering mode (Preferences--General)
  • Allow to reset the telescope focus controller by entering an "R" (no quotes) on the focus edit control and pressing Enter.
  • v1.7.2 (2018-10-23)
  • Extended the (telescope/M2) focus limits from {22000,26000} to {10000,30000} when in engineering mode (Preferences--General)
  • v1.7.1 (2018-09-04)
  • Fixed the focus sequence to allow using the new focus control from the TeleGUI.
  • The Swope-GUI was blocked while the "Change Focus -- Continue" dialog was on-screen.
    The new version just blocks the "Camera" window.
    v1.7 (2018-08-28)
  • Added control of the telescope focus from the Swope-GUI.
  • The Swope-GUI communicates via the network with a custom electronics board built by Andres.
    The TELFOCUS FITS header record contains now the telescope focus.
    v1.6 (2018-07-10)
  • Added the Gaia catalog.
  • Note about Scripting: Please set the exptype before any other exposure parameter (eg. exptime, loops) because setting the exposure type may affect other exposure parameters.

    Release Notes

    Screen Shots and GUI Documentation

    Startup, Menu and Preferences
    Main Menu
    Data Acquisition
    QuickLook Tool
    Dewar Status
    Filter Hardhat
    Telescope and Guiders
    Object List
    Airmass Display
    Guider Control
    Galil Hardhat

    Startup, Menu and Preferences

    Configuration -- Main Menu -- Preferences


    The images below show the standard setup for normal operations:

    Main Menu

    Swope -- File -- Telescope -- Camera -- Guider -- Help

    About Swope: displays a window that shows the version of the Swope-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 As..: saves the current object list.
    Load FITS: load FITS file(s) into the QuickLook Tool.
    Select all (4) files of the run-number that you want to load.
    Show Logfile(s): opens the Swope-GUI logfile in the Console.
    Show DataFolder: open the current data path(s) in a Finder window.
    Show AppSupport: opens the "Application Support" folder in a Finder window.
    This folder contains the Objects, Scripts and Subrasters directories.
    SkyMap: opens the SkyMap window.
    Clear Savepos: removes the green squares that mark previous exposures from the SkyMap.
    ObjectList: opens the Object List window.
    Airmass: opens the Airmass window.
    DataPaths: opens a dialog that allows the user to set the path for writing the FITS files.
    QuickLook Tool: opens the QuickLook Tool.
    Dewar Status: opens the Dewar Status window.
    CCD Voltages: opens a dialog that allows to set the CCD voltages (requires password).
    CCD Hardhat: opens a dialog that reloads the DSP code.
    File Number: enables (temporarily) the File number edit on the Camera GUI
    Note: Existing files will be overwritten without warning.
    Filter Hardhat: opens a dialog that defines the list of available filters.
    Guider: opens the Guider Control windows.
    GalilHardhat: opens the Galil Hardhat window.
    User Manual (LCO Web): opens a web-browser with the Swope CCD user manual:
    User Manual (PDF): opens a PDF-reader with a local version of the user manual.
    Software Documentation: opens a web-browser with this document:


    The Swope-GUI will be used from multiple accounts and it is desireable that certain settings are maintained between account resets. I therefore keep these settings outside the current user account in
    General -- Camera -- QuickLook

    Observer: FITS header keyword OBSERVER.
    Engineering Mode: certain features (CCD-Voltages, Galil-Hardhat) of the Swope-GUI are potentially harmful to the instrument and require the GUI to run in engineering mode (password protected).
    Shutter Closed: sound after the shutter closes (before readout).
    Exposure Done: sound after the readout is done.
    Script Done: sound after a script has finished.
    If the the text in the edit-box is enclosed in single quotes ('), it will be spoken using the default system voice; otherwise the string will be interpreted as a sound file name and be played.
    Unless an absoulte path is given, the file is expected to reside in the "/Users/Shared/Library/Application Support/Swope" directory.
    Saturation Level: pixels above this level will be shown in red.
    Default Subraster: subraster geometry when adding a subraster using the 'a' key on the display.
    Clear Display Before Redaout: clears (black) the display before a new exposure is read out.
    Trim bias section from loaded FITS files: This allows to display the bias sections (overscan and biaslines)
    in the QuickLook tool for FITS files loaded from disk (not for data directly read from the array).

    Data Acquisition

    Camera -- DataPaths -- Dewar Status -- CCD Voltages -- CCD Hardhat -- Filter Hardhat -- QuickLook Tool


    ExpTime: sets the exposure time (1..8200 seconds)
    Loops: number of exposures per sequence.
    ExpType: sets the exposure type
    { Object, Focus, Bias, Dark, Flat }
    Readout: sets the readout mode
    { Full, Subraster }
    Binning: set the binning
    { 1x1, 1x2, 2x1, 2x2, 4x4 }
    Speed: sets the readout speed/gain combination
    fixed to Turbo
    Filter: moves the filer wheel(s) to the selected filter combination
    There are 2 filter wheels with each 5 positions
    Q: selects which quadrants should be saved to disk

    Object: OBJECT value in the FITS header.
    This field will be sampled at the beginning of the readout.
    Comment: COMMENT value in the FITS header.
    This field will be sampled at the beginning of the readout.
    The FITS record will be truncated to the first 26 characters.
    Start: starts a loop sequence of Loops exposures.
    Snap: takes a single exposure in 4x4 binning.
    After the exposure the previous settings are automatically restored.
    File: next file name number (ccdNNNN.fits)
    The number may be set using the Camera--FileNumber menu.
    Pause: close the shutter and stop the exposure timer.
    Resume: open the shutter and re-start the exposure timer.
    Abort: aborts the current readout (frame will be lost).
    Stop: stops the current exposure, the shutter closes and the readout will start immediately.
    Execute: executes the script file in the edit-box to the right of the button.
    Disk(s): disk status


    The FITS files will be written to both paths simultaneously.

    Dewar Status

    Displays the temperatures, heater currents and setpoints of the DSP control loop.

    VacGauge: pressure reading from the GP-375 vacuum gauge.
    IonPump: pressure reading from the ion pump.
    { Off, On, Auto }
    The Auto mode turns the ion-pump ON if
  • pressure below 1.2e-4 (from the GP375 vaccum gauge) and
  • CCD temperature (2nd highest) below -100 [C]
  • The Auto mode turns the ion-pump OFF if
  • pressure above 1.8e-4 (from the GP375 vaccum gauge or ion-pump sensor) or
  • CCD temperature (2nd highest) above -95 [C]
  • CCD Voltages

    Engineering Mode only (password protected).

    CCD Hardhat

    Reset DSP/CCD-Server: reloads the DSP code.

    Filter Hardhat

    This window allows to define the filter name in each of the 5 positions of the 2 filter wheels.
    The Swope-GUI automatically updates the Filter menu on the Camera window.

    QuickLook Tool

    Left mouse button: moves the Magnifier window.
    Right mouse button: adjusts the contrast and level of the color map (SAOimage, DS9).
    Cursor keys: moves the Magnifier window by 1 pixel.
    If the 'shift', 'option' or 'command' keys are held down, then the Magnifier moves by 5 (25, 125) pixels at a time.
    Color: sets color lookup table
    { Gray, BBdy, Rain, InvG }
    Stretch: sets the dynamic range of the scaling algorithm
  • cuts: manual data range (edit-boxes at the top and bottom)
  • med3: -3..+3 sigma around the background (median of frame)
  • med5: -5..+3 sigma around the background
  • 3/10: -3..+10 sigma around the background
  • mima: full data range
  • Scale: sets the scaling scope
    { Global, Chip }

    Pixel: The current cursor pixel coordinate (center of the aperture and magnifier) and pixel value at the cursor position.
    Min/Max: Minimum and maxium pixel value within the aperture.
    Ave/Sig: Average and standard deviation within the aperture.
    FWHM/Flux: FWHM and flux estimate
    Press the 'space' key while centered on a star to calculate an estimated FWHM and flux.
    Magnification: Magnification factor of the Magnifier window.
    Radius: Sets the radius for the aperture statistics (MinMax, AveSig above).

    Telescope and Guiders

    Telescope -- SkyMap -- Object List -- Airmass Display -- Guider Control


    Get: Reads the telescope coordinates (alpha, delta) from the TCS (telescope control system).
    Note: The current TCS does not provide equinox or focus values. This will be added in a future version.
    Send: Disabled
    The current TCS does not support slews commanded from the instruments
    NE,N,NW,E,W,SE,S,SW: Moves the offsets from the N/S and E/W windows.
    0,0: Moves the negative offset from the Sum(dx),Sum(dy) windows (above the Zero button).
    Zero: Resets the offset-sums in the Sum(dx),Sum(dy) windows to zero.
    Keyboard Cursor Guiding: allows to "drag" the telescope by using the cursor keys on the keyboard.
    Focus: Move the telescope focus (secondary mirror).
    Edit the number in the (left) edit control and press the enter (return) key to move the focus to that number.
    The [+] and [-] button move the telescope by the number in the (left) edit control.


    Displays the selected Star Catalog {SAO, GSC, USNO, 2MASS } with an overlay of

  • CCD array (red square)
  • previous exposures (green squares)
  • guider accessible field (blue rectangles)
  • area where the guider probe vignettes the CCD (dashed blue rectangle)

    If you click on a star its name will be displayed in the edit-field in the lower left corner of the SkyMap window.
    Additionally, the relative star position will be transferred into the guider window's Goto fields. The guider may then be moved to that star by pressing the Goto button on the respective guider's GUI.
    An Option-click transfers the star's offset to the TeleGUI (Swope) window.
    The telescope may then be moved to this star by pressing the 0,0 button on the TeleGUI, if the offset does not exceed the maximum allowed offset (?).
    A Control-click transfers the star's coordinates to the TeleGUI (Swope) window
    The TCS does no allow to move the telscope (yet), but you may get the coordinates of the star.

    Object List

    The object lists are 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 | 0,0 | Comment
    The default location for object lists is
    /Users/Shared/Library/Application Support/Swope/Objects/

    Airmass Display

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

    Guider Control

    Init: initializes both probe axes (x,y) and the focus stage.
    When the Swope-GUI is started after a power-cyle all controls execpt the Init button will be disabled and an initialization is required before any guider may move.
    Park: moves the probe close to the Home position.
    CenterField: moves the probe to the position marked by the SetCenter button.
    Position: current X,Y position of the probe [arcsec].
    SetCenter: marks the current position for future quick access by the CenterField button.
    Offset: moves the amount in the dX,dY fields [arcsec].
    Goto: moves to the absolute position in the X,Y fields [arcsec].
    Keypad: { Disabled, Slow, Medium, Fast, Turbo }
    The guider probe may be moved by holding down the N,E,S,W buttons.
    Since the field-of-view of the guider cameras is not square to the cardinal directions on the sky, the probes may be moved in two modes { Move Probe , Move FoV }.
    Shack-Hartman Mode: { Imaging, SH, SH+LED }
    The Shack-Hartman control of the telescope focus is not yet available, because the current TCS does not allow for external focus control.
    Focus: moves the guider-probe focus to the entered position.
    The slider moves the focus in a velocity controlled way; ie. the further one moves the slider, the faster the focus motion becomes. If the mouse-button is released the focus motion stops immediately.
    The focus units are calibrated to be equivalent to the telescope focus (ie. 1 unit ~ 3.5 um at the probe stage).
    Foff: current focus offset applied due to the Filter selected on the Camera-GUI.

    Galil Hardhat

    Engineering Mode only (password protected).

  • News
  • Troubleshooting
  • HowTo(s)

    Instrument Software Documentation Index

    2014-06-13, Christoph C. Birk, Carnegie Observatories