Abstract Details

Title: Automation of the 1.3-meter Robotically Controlled Telescope (RCT)

Authors: Richard R. Treffers (starman Systems, Llc)

Institute/Affiliation: Western Kentucky University - Robotically Controlled Telescope Consortium

Abstract Type: poster

Abstract Information:

This poster describes the automation for the Robotically Controlled Telescope (RCT) Consortium of the 50-inch telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory. Building upon the work of the previous contractor the telescope, dome and instrument were wired for totally autonomous (robotic) observations. The existing motors, encoders, limit switches and cables were connected to an open industrial panel that allows easy interconnection, troubleshooting and modifications. A sixteen axis Delta Tau Turbo PMAC controller is used to control all motors, encoders, flat field lights and many of the digital functions of the telescope. ADAM industrial I/O bricks are used for additional digital and analog I/O functions. Complex relay logic problems, such as the mirror cover opening sequence and the slit control, are managed using Allen Bradley Pico PLDs. Most of the low level software is written in C++ using the GNU compiler. The basic functionality uses an ASCII protocol communicating over Berkeley sockets. Early versions of this software were developed at U.C. Berkeley, for what was to become the Katzman Automatic Imaging Telescope (KAIT) at Lick Observatory. ASCII communications are useful for control, testing and easy to debug by looking at the log files; C-shell scripts are written to form more complex orchestrations.