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Session 42 - Ground-Based Optical Telescopes & Instruments.
Display session, Tuesday, January 14
Metropolitan Ballroom,

[42.05] Automation of the Air Force Academy 0.6-m Telescope

M. S. Burns (USAFA), C. J. Wetterer (USAFA)

We report on progress towards automating the Air Force Academy's 0.6-m telescope. The final goal of the project is to have a fully automated system capable of automatically selecting objects for observation, monitoring the weather, opening the telescope dome, taking CCD images of objects of interest, and shutting down the telescope when necessary. We are approaching the automation incrementally with the first goal being to automate the telescope pointing and image acquisition process. The telescope currently uses a DFM Engineering computer interface to point and track. The CCD camera is a Photometrics PM-512 CCD camera using PMIS software for data acquisition. The automation control software sends commands over a serial line to the the telescope control computer. The PMIS data acquisition software runs on the automation control computer. Dynamic data exchange (DDE) protocol is used to allow the automation program to communicate with the data acquisition program. The filter wheel is controlled via a parallel port connection to a custom made filter controller. We expect to have the first stages of automation complete by January of 1996. The second stage of automation will be to integrate a weather station into the system and automate the start-up and shut-down procedure.

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