26 July 2016 A new telescope control software for the Mayall 4-meter telescope
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Abstract
The Mayall 4-meter telescope recently went through a major modernization of its telescope control system in preparation for DESI. We describe MPK (Mayall Pointing Kernel), our new software for telescope control. MPK outputs a 20Hz position-based trajectory with a velocity component, which feeds into Mayall’s new servo system over a socket. We wrote a simple yet realistic servo simulator that let us develop MPK mostly without access to real hardware, and also lets us provide other teams with a Mayall simulator as test bed for development of new instruments. MPK has a small core comprised of prioritized, soft real-time threads. Access to the core’s services is via MPK’s main thread, a complete, interactive Tcl/Tk shell, which gives us the power and flexibility of a scripting language to add any other features, from GUIs, to modules for interaction with critical subsystems like dome or guider, to an API for networked clients of a new instrument (e.g., DESI). MPK is designed for long term maintainability: it runs on a stock computer and Linux OS, and uses only standard, open source libraries, except for commercial software that comes with source code in ANSI C/C++. We discuss the technical details of how MPK combines the Reflexxes motion library with the TCSpk/TPK pointing library to generically handle any motion requests, from slews to offsets to sidereal or non-sidereal tracking. We show how MPK calculates when the servos have reached a steady state. We also discuss our TPOINT modeling strategy and report performance results.
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Behzad Abareshi, Robert Marshall, Shelby Gott, David Sprayberry, Rolando Cantarutti, Dick Joyce, Doug Williams, Ronald Probst, Kristin Reetz, Anthony Paat, Karen Butler, Christian Soto, Arjun Dey, David Summers, "A new telescope control software for the Mayall 4-meter telescope", Proc. SPIE 9913, Software and Cyberinfrastructure for Astronomy IV, 99131O (26 July 2016); doi: 10.1117/12.2233087; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2233087
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