Contents - Index


Initialization is the process by which CCDAutoPilot learns about the relationships between your imager, guider and rotator if used. It can also check your rotator direction to see if its rotation direction is consistent with CCDAutoPilot requirements.  In order for initialization to be successful, the Equipment data must be accurately entered and plate solving must be functional.  Initialization must be performed under the stars with the telescope, camera and if used rotator functional and linked to CCDAutoPilot. For unguided imaging, CCDAutoPilot will confirm your image scale and determine the difference between your imaging camera and the Position Angle in TheSky. If you are using a rotator, it will calibrate any rotator offset so that it can precisely move to a desired PA automatically. For guided imaging, additional data will be taken on your guider's orientation and sensitivity by doing a guider calibration. The necessary information from this process will be saved in the system profile.
Please review the Hardware topic for any special settings that may apply to your hardware.

Unguided Initialization
Simply point the telescope to a point in the sky above 60 altitude and hit the initialize button. CCDAutoPilot will take an image and plate solve it. You will be given an opportunity to save the data to a system profile. Please do. 

Guided Initialization
Point your telescope to a point in the sky above 60 altitude. Adjust the telescope position so that a reasonably bright guide star is located in the guider's FOV. With your camera control program, choose a guide star exposure to get a good signal. Again using your camera control program, calibrate your guider, making sure the guide star stays on the guide chip throughout the calibration. Once a successful calibration is completed, you are ready to Initialize. Do not delete the remaining guider image in your camera control program. Now hit the Initialize button. CCDAutoPilot will take an image and plate solve it. It will then perform a second guide calibration. Upon successful completion, you will be given an opportunity to save the data to a system profile. Please do.

Note: Recent versions of Maxim 6 will not allow initialization with a binning of other than 1x1 with an AO in use. This is the case with version 6.15 -  6.17 at least but may change in the future. Be sure to initialize with the binning in CCDAutoPilot set at 1x1 for initialization. Once initialization is complete, you can change the binning to whatever you wish. Maxim and CCDAutoPilot can handle the change without requiring additional initialization.

Choose meaningful names for your profile. Some examples are MX080526RY, which would mean to me Maxim, May 26, 2008, camera relays used. Another might FSQCS0526DG, which would mean FSQ-106 telescope, CCDSoft, May 26, 2008, DirectGuide. Anything that helps you identify the profile afterward. Remember you can double click the profile to launch CCDAutoPilot so meaningful names are helpful.
As long as you don't disturb the relationship between your imager, guider and the sky, you don't need to initialize again. No matter where in the sky you image, any RA, Dec or PA, either side of the meridian, CCDAutoPilot will provide optimized calibration vectors to your camera control program. (These are not simple transformed guide vectors from a possibly marginal calibration; these are derived from proprietary algorithms to optimize guiding performance.)

When To Re-initialize
  • Imaging telescope FL change, either different telescope or focal reducer 
  • Guide telescope FL change 
  • Different imager or guider 
  • If using a powered rotator, change to the relationship between the imaging camera and/or guiding camera to the rotator 
  • Change in guide method, e.g. from self-guided to Off-axis guided 
  • Change in guide control, e.g. from camera relays to DirectGuide or MicroGuide 
  • Change in guider binning 
  • Change in camera control program, e.g. from Maxim to CCDSoft 
  • Lose your home setting with the RCOS PIR

    Easy Method for Initializing
    This method requires TheSky6 and saves you from hunting the telescope position to get a guide star centered in the guider FOV. Read the above sections on Unguided and Guided Initialization.
    1. Perform an unguided initialization. Save the profile.
    2. Using the techniques outlined here, position TheSky's FOVI so that a suitable guide star is in the guider's FOV.
    3. Slew to the FOV_Center target with precision slew checked. Once the process completes, you should have the guide star on the guide chip.
    4. Run a guider calibration with your camera control program to insure the guide star stays on the chip for all movements
    5. Set your guide method as desired and initialize again.