BAO Software Division & BAO Hardware Division.

BAO Software Division

BAO Software Division (abbreviated BSD ) is responsible for all software developments at BAO. One very important part of the division's work is to maintain OPERATE , the user interface of the BTCS (BAO Telesope Control System). Also, the division is responsible for keeping the image reduction software up to date - quite a large task since we make practically all software ourselves. The very first program developed by the division was BAOphot , designed for the reduction of photoelectric photometry data from the Brorfelde 25 cm telescope. The main programmes beeing maintained by BAO Software Division right now are:

As mentioned above, OPERATE is the interface to the telescope control system. The system is actually based on two personal computers but one of them, running a program called BTCS , is merely a "black box" from the user's point of view. For a long time it did not even have a screen, and only half of the keys on the keyboard worked. This didn't matter, however, because all you have to do from this PC is to start up the control software, using a script we called 'bb' (because 'b' happened to be one of the keys that worked!)

The other PC is the one that actually runs OPERATE . From this PC you can control the motion of the telescope (i.e. pointing and tracking), the Lynxx CCD camera and the autoguider camera. All this can be done at the same time, and you can even do some simple image reductions too. We recommend that you see the BAO Telescope control system page.

This was the first piece of image reduction software from BSD. The development of it actually started before we got our first CCD camera, but we wanted to be sure that we could process the images right from the start, and commercially avaliable software did not fullfill our critical requirements. CCDIM is a very specialized program in that it can only handle images of the special format from the Lynxx camera (192 x 165 pixels). This is, admittedly, rather disadvantageous, but it means at the same time that the program is very efficient for handling that particular image format.

Other MS-DOS stuff
CCDIM is capable of doing rather simple reductions only, so we have developed a number of utility programs for cross-correlation of images, deconvolution, convertion between different formats etc.

One of the future goals of BAO is to interchange the Lynxx PC camera with a more efficient one. This requires, in turn, more efficient image reduction facilities, running under a more powerfull platform than MS-DOS. We have chosen Linux for this purpose, and right now BAO Software Division is working on a program called BAOLab which is designed to run in the Linux / X-Windows environment. BAOLab is pretty much inspired by the IRAF package, but it is much simpler and it is completely self-contained - no need to use other programs like SAOImage for the display of images. Another advantage is that BAOLab will be able to run on most UNIX systems - all you need to compile it is a C-compiler (preferably gcc) and properly installed X-libraries. The program is designed to require as little hardware as possible, and even though BAOLab is able to draw graphics on your screen, you can also use it while sitting at a dumb VT-100 terminal, but with no graphics of course.

BAO Hardware Division

Also known as BAO Hardware Group, this division takes care of all kinds of hardware installments to the observatory (except implementation of new computer components which is done in cooperation between the hardware and software divisions).
Stepper motor TCS
The first project of BAO Hardware Division was the construction of the steppermotor controlled BTCS - a vast step forward in the location of faint objects. This system is based on two 4-phased steppermotors, the one mounted on the Right Ascension axis having 800 steps / revolution, and the declination motor having 400 steps / revolution. Both of the motors are attached directly to the worm drives with no gears in between - this makes it possible to use the stepper motors for slewing the telescope with a rate of several degrees pr. second. For tracking we use the so-called "micro-stepping" technique to achieve a sufficiently smooth movement.

The BAG (Bjarne AutoGuider)
Until recently, we had to guide our long exposures manually - a very tiresome job, and not always with the best results. It was therefore with very great expectations that we looked forward to the release of the BAG-camera (Bjarne AutoGuider) in early 1994. Unfortunately, the first version of the camera did not work very well, but during the summer the design was significantly improved and the autoguider is now very good.

The guideplatform
Almost simultaneously with the development of the autoguider, a new guidetelescope was implemented instead of the 60mm refractor we had previously been using. Along with a larger aperture (114 mm), the new guidescope also features a much better adjustment system, making it easy to find guidestars anywhere withing 3 degrees from the main object.

New equatorial mounting.
Our next project is a new mounting for the telescope. The old one is not really capable of carrying all the things we have hung on it, and we have a lot of problems with mechanical flexure.

New CCD camera.
Our current CCD is a Lynxx PC camera, based on a Texas TC-211 chip with only 192 x 165 pixels. This camera is rather old-fashioned now, so we hope that we will be able to get a new one in near future. The new camera should be based on a Kodak KAF-0400 chip with 768 x 512 pixels, and much better noise characteristics.

This page is maintained by Jacob Clasen
and Søren Larsen
Last updated: May 15. 1995.

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