Change log

2016 December: GoQat version 2.1.1

The following features are added/modified:

  • The code base and GUI have been updated to recent releases of the underlying libraries to remove obsolescent code whilst maintaining backwards compatibility with older libraries.
  • GoQat now saves and displays monochrome video sequences recorded from autoguider cameras in the popular '.SER' format. This is not backwards-compatible with previous versions of GoQat that used a proprietary format.
  • The autoguiding tab on the main GUI has been refreshed and re-organised with some functions moved to a separate window. It is now possible to modify and update some autoguider settings whilst autoguiding is in progress.
  • This release includes some important changes (mostly internal) for compatibility with iAstroHub 3.0 by Anat Ruangrassamee.

2015 February: GoQat version 2.0.0

The following features are added/modified:

  • GoQat now has an INDI client interface. Additional tabs are added for each device that is detected, enabling control over all the features that are exposed by the INDI driver for each device.
  • The visual appearance of GoQat can be modified by editing the gtk.css style sheet that is installed in the GoQat folder of your home directory.
  • The process for saving and restoring GoQat's settings has been improved. You can now save and restore FITS keyword, autoguider and focuser settings from a user-selectable pick list.
  • You can now send commands and settings directly to GoQat via a user-selectable file that GoQat will watch for incoming messages. (This is in addition to being able to send tasks to the task list in a similar fashion, which has been possible since GoQat 1.0.0). This gives almost complete control over any aspect of GoQat and makes it straightforward to operate on a machine with no display hardware via the X virtual framebuffer Xvfb.
  • The 'full frame' option for displaying CCD images has changed slightly and is now on by default. See the documentation for more information.
  • The 'region of interest' selection rectangle on the autoguider image window and the video playback window can now be drawn by dragging the mouse in any direction.

2014 April: GoQat version 1.0.3

The following features are added/modified:

  • Built-in support for Starlight Xpress filter wheels is now available. Special thanks to Fredrik Florgård for extensive testing with Starlight Xpress hardware.
  • GoQat now detects whether Starlight Xpress cameras have set-point cooling or a colour chip automatically.
  • A 'cooling tolerance' value can be specified for Starlight Xpress cameras. The camera target temperature is considered to have been reached when the actual temperature lies within the tolerance range of the target temperature.
  • The user may choose to ignore camera cooling via a checkbox on the main CCD Camera tab - by default GoQat waits for the target temperature to be reached before making an exposure.
  • The user may choose not to have images displayed in DS9 via a checkbox on the main CCD camera tab - useful for fast sequences of short exposures, or if a different image viewer is being used. Thanks to Tony Morris and Fredrik Florgård for this suggestion.
  • It is now possible to adjust the mapping between camera coordinates and DS9 coordinates to permit sub-frames to be correctly obtained from the desired part of the camera chip.
  • There are many internal improvements to the video-for-linux code, increasing the range of image formats that GoQat can recognise and making configuration of frame-grabbers possible. The user can now set various V4L parameters via an option on the Cameras menu. Special thanks to Vincent Hourdin for many helpful comments and suggestions, and coding, debugging and testing.

The following bugs have been fixed:

  • Two long-standing bugs arising as a result of decimal separator problems for locales that use "," rather than "." have been fixed:
    - Transfer of selection rectangle box coordinates from DS9 to GoQat now works correctly for sub-frames.
    - The pan and zoom can now be restored correctly after each image is loaded into DS9 - no more 'XPA' errors.
  • Images from interlaced Starlight Xpress cameras (for the Lodestar at least) were not de-interlaced properly when the image was the "right way up". If the user selected to invert the image in the camera configuration dialog, the de-interlacing was correct.
  • For Starlight Xpress cameras, the camera status display on the CCD Camera tab did not reset to 'Idle' if an exposure was cancelled.
  • In certain circumstances, some QSI cameras "choked" during image download after a few exposures and no further exposures were possible. The image download was taking place in the wrong thread - this has been fixed. Thanks to Robert Sherwood for reporting this bug.

2013 November: GoQat version 1.0.2

The following features are added/modified:

  • The main application toolbar is now hideable via an option on the Windows menu. This shrinks the vertical height of the main window which is useful for small displays.
  • The 'Wait for guide correction' option on the Autoguider tab was redundant and has been removed.

The following bugs have been fixed:

  • Autoguiding using the integrated guide port on Starlight Xpress cameras now works properly (tested with Lodestar). Thanks to Mike Collins for enthusiastic assistance with debugging and testing.
  • The number of north/south guide corrections was being reported incorrectly at the end of a guiding session. The values were much too large.
  • GoQat was unable to find an instance of DS9 that had been opened by a previous invocation of GoQat.
  • The controls for choosing a destination folder for saving files (on the Files tab and the Live View window) were not initialised with any default location on some systems. The user's home folder is now set explicitly when GoQat starts.
  • The following changes have been made to FITS header records:

    - EPOCH was deprecated and is now EQUINOX.
    - Records whose value contains a decimal point now appear correctly with a decimal point irrespective of the user's locale. Thanks to Guenter Gebhard for reporting this bug.
    - The values of the CTYPE1 and CTYPE2 keywords have been changed to ' '. The existing value caused DS9 to crash on some systems. Thanks to Fredrik Florgård for reporting this problem.

2013 July: GoQat version 1.0.1

The following features are added/modified:

  • GoQat now recognises the Starlight Xpress SXV USB 2.0 interface box.

The following bugs have been fixed:

  • On some systems, GoQat closed a Starlight Xpress camera immediately after opening it, if it was opened as the main CCD camera. Thanks to Bernhard Vöcklinghaus for reporting this bug and testing the modified code.
  • Some errors in the README file relating to Vendor and Product IDs for QSI and Starlight Xpress cameras have been corrected.

2013 May: GoQat version 1.0.0

The following features are added/modified:

  • Support for Starlight Xpress cameras using the USB 2.0 interface has been added. This has been tested with a Lodestar as an autoguider camera or as a main CCD camera. It is possible to send guide signals via the Lodestar in either of these configurations. It is expected that GoQat will support all USB 2.0 cameras, including those with temperature regulation and colour chips. However, these options have not yet been tested. Using a Starlight Xpress camera as both the main and autoguider cameras simultaneously has also not been tested yet, but this is expected to work.
  • There is a new option for controlling GoQat remotely. GoQat can be instructed to watch a file for incoming commands and any instructions available via the task list can be sent to this file. GoQat executes commands as they are received.
  • USB/serial ports now appear and disappear dynamically on the Communications menu as USB-serial converters are plugged in or unplugged.
  • There are now four fixed options for video-for-linux devices on the Cameras menu (i.e. /dev/video0 to /dev/video3 inclusive).
  • The user may now specify whether guide signals in north/south and east/west directions can be processed simultaneously or not. Some hardware may not support this option.
  • The user can now specify whether GoQat is to correct only for long-term guide star drift in the north/south direction (e.g. to correct for polar misalignment) rather than responding immediately to any 'spikes' in the star position arising from seeing variations.
  • The sign of star positions in the star_pos.csv file and the guide corrections file that can be produced by the autoguider camera has been reversed. A negative sign now means that the star has moved east and a positive sign means it has moved west, relative to its initial position. Columns in the star_pos.csv file are now separated by tabs rather than commas.
  • A number of internal improvements have been made to the autoguiding code.
  • GoQat's auxiliary files are now installed in /usr/local/share/GoQat by default, rather than /usr/local/GoQat. Thank you to Vincent Hourdin for pointing out this configuration error in previous versions.

The following bugs have been fixed:

  • A previous version of GoQat was reported to crash on Debian 6.0.6. The underlying cause for this has probably (!) been fixed in this release.

2012 July: GoQat version 0.9.8

The following features are added/modified:

  • The dependency on gnome-specific libraries has been removed. In particular, GnomeCanvas has been replaced with GooCanvas, plus one or two other minor changes.
  • The mechanism for storing configuration data has been changed from GConf to a text-based configuration file containing key-value pairs. Users will need to use the gconf-editor utility to retrieve their existing settings from the GConf database and enter them into the new configuration file.
  • The interface has been completely re-built using gtk's internal GtkBuilder mechanism, rather than using the external libglade library.
  • GoQat's simple video-for-linux capability is now provided by the libv4l library. The previous method was not compatible with version 3 of the Linux kernel. As a result of this change, long exposure Philips webcams are no longer supported.
  • Support for frame-grabbing via the Imperx card has been removed.
  • The video playback window has been improved with new zoom in and zoom out features. It now behaves in the same way as the autoguider image display window.
  • Photometry of video data has been improved. Photometry data is now written to successively-numbered output files, rather than overwriting the same files each time a photometric measurement is made.
  • GoQat's CCD camera filter names are now read from the text-based configuration file, rather than being hard-wired in the code. Users may edit the list of of filter names as required.

2012 July: GoQat version 0.9.7-1

The following features are added/modified:

  • The documentation has been modified to reflect some minor changes relating to DS9 version 7.

The following bugs have been fixed:

  • A change in the Linux kernel at some point after version 2.6 meant that GoQat hung when attempting to open a serial/USB port. This has been fixed.
  • The documentation incorrectly referred to the 'Settings' menu rather than the 'Communications' and 'Cameras' menus. This has been modified.

2011 November: GoQat version 0.9.7

The following features are added/modified:

  • Full support of RoboFocus for electronic focusing, including 'V-curve' calibration (using published method by Larry Weber and Steve Brady), autofocus, temperature compensated focusing and the ability to adjust focus according to defined offsets for each filter change.
  • 'FocusTo' and 'FocusMove' tasks added to task list commands for moving the focuser to a given position or moving it in or out by a given amount.
  • Scripts executed via the task list 'Exec' or 'ExecAsync' commands now receive the current focuser position, the maximum travel range and the focuser temperature, so you can write your own focusing routines e.g. for focusing a spectrograph.
  • The CCD camera configuration window now contains sufficient data entry fields for wheels with 8 filters, and fields for specifying filter focus offsets. Data entered in these fields must be saved with the 'Save settings' button before they can be applied.
  • Support for the fast readout option for QSI 600-series cameras has been added. Fast readout can be selected automatically for focusing operations.
  • The video-for-linux autoguider camera option has a mono mode to support V4L devices with mono output (e.g. modified webcams with no Bayer filter). Thanks to Armando Beneduce for suggesting and testing this option.
  • A 'Notify' checkbox has been added to the CCD camera tab. Check this to give a 'beep' at the end of each exposure. Thanks to Michel Borde for this suggestion.
  • The menu items have been rearranged.
  • The beta 'b' post-fix is dropped from the version number with this release.

The following bugs have been fixed:

  • Various small bug fixes and tweaks have been made.

2011 May: GoQat version 0.9.6b

The following features are added/modified:

  • GoQat now supports the execution of arbitrary scripts either synchronously or asynchronously via the new Exec and ExecAsync tasks, with communication of script results to GoQat.
  • The following new tasks have also been added: IfTrue, IfFalse, Endif, While, EndWhile, Exit and SetParam. The execution of 'If' and 'While' statements can be controlled by external scripts.
  • Video photometry and astrometry can be performed automatically on GoQat's video files via Emmanuel Bertin's SExtractor code, for analysis of asteroid occultations and other transient events.
  • A long form of file name is now optionally available when saving CCD images; this appends the CCD temperature and exposure length to the file name. Thanks to Michel Borde for this suggestion.

The following bugs have been fixed:

  • GoQat did not run properly on systems using a comma decimal separator. Thanks to Guenter Gebhard for reporting this bug and testing the fix.
  • When saving a file, the filter name was used instead of the exposure type in the file name.
  • The Move task was not recognised when loading a task list from a file.
  • Error messages when failing to open V4L devices were incorrect.

2011 March: GoQat version 0.9.5b

The following features are added/modified:

  • GoQat now supports long exposure webcams (the SC1 modification). Thanks to Armando Beneduce for suggesting this modification and assisting with testing and debugging.
  • GoQat now supports sending TTL guide signals via a parallel port (either native port or add-on card). Thanks to Armando Beneduce for suggesting this modification and assisting with testing and debugging.
  • One-click autoguider calibration for the autoguider camera at any angle. Please read the manual carefully for details of this and other changes to autoguiding.
  • The task list now includes a Move command for offsetting the telescope from its current position by the specified number of arc minutes.
  • Task lists written 'by hand' can now be free-format, including blank lines, indentation and comment lines beginning with a hash. This is not backwards compatible with the previous fixed format.
  • Task list checking now takes place immediately prior to execution and displays intelligent warnings - for example the task list will not execute if it contains a GoTo task but the link to the telescope controller is closed.
  • The Losmandy Gemini commands have been separated out and the user may select whether to use them or not (the default is elements from the Autostar/LX200 command set).
  • Menu items have been modified and re-arranged.
  • Automatic restoration of the pan setting in DS9 has been removed - do this by setting DS9 preferences instead - see the GoQat manual.

The following bugs have been fixed:

  • A QSI CCD camera without a filter wheel was closed immediately after opening, due to an unexpected return value in an underlying library.
  • Buffer overruns when communicating with telescope controllers caused GoQat to crash on some Linux systems.
  • DS9 closed with "xpa_display_image: Can't find DS9 to display image!" message if an attempt was made to display an image that was a different size from the currently displayed one.
  • There was an error in the format of declination strings when sending GoTo commands to non-Gemini controllers.
  • The GoTo command now works correctly for Gemini and non-Gemini controllers and GoQat successfully detects the end of the telescope motion.
  • Video frame time-stamps could not be modified correctly if the local time was other than UTC.
  • The documentation has been completely reviewed and some cut-and-paste errors have been corrected.

2010 July: GoQat version 0.9.4b

The following features are added/modified:

  • The previous pan state is restored when an image is displayed in DS9 (so a zoomed and panned part of an image will be displayed consistently from one exposure to the next).
  • The task list now supports nested loops up to ten deep.
  • Error checking has been improved when loading a task list from a file.
  • Video frame time-stamps can be automatically set to match the on-screen display from a GPS time inserter for a user-selectable range of frames.
  • A user-selectable sub-set of a video recording can be saved as a new video file (in GoQat VID format).
  • Video frames saved as FITS files are now numbered with six significant figures instead of four.
  • Many video operations can now be halted via the Esc key.

The following bugs have been fixed:

  • A recently introduced bug caused GoQat to crash after a CCD exposure when retrieving the RA and Dec coordinates from the telescope controller.
  • It is now possible to play back a video file larger than a 4Gb limit.
  • Streams of FITS images from a video file are now not saved unless the user sets valid values for the frame range (previously GoQat would attempt to save every frame as a FITS file if the specified range was invalid).
  • Selecting a subset of a video frame to save as FITS didn't work correctly if the video frame was not the same size as the display window.

2010 February: GoQat version 0.9.3b

The following features are added/modified:

  • When playing back video recorded via the Live View window, a subset of each video frame can be exported as a FITS file, rather than exporting the entire frame as previously.
  • When playing back video, every n-th frame in the selected range can be exported as a FITS file, rather than having to export every frame as previously.
  • When playing back video, any frame can be jumped to directly by entering the desired frame number.
  • Right-clicking on the task-list pane opens the list in an external editor. Saving any changes and closing the editor automatically re-loads the (modified) task list.

The following bugs have been fixed:

  • It was not possible to play back a video file beyond a 2Gb limit.
  • Single autoguider images that were saved, or displayed via DS9, were garbled in some circumstances.
  • Compilation failed on more recent Linux distributions because of a change in the C++ string header file.

2009 November: GoQat version 0.9.2b

The following features are added/modified:

  • When recording video, all frames are now time stamped with the time that the frame was captured from the video device. The time stamp is written to the FITS header of any individual frames that are saved from the video stream.
  • When recording video, the user can specify whether to save every frame or only every n-th frame.
  • All video frames are now saved at the end of a recording session; previously, the frames that were still in memory were discarded.
  • If a CCD camera is connected, the full-frame coordinates of the chip are automatically entered in the relevant fields of the 'Expose' task when the 'Edit tasks' window is opened.
  • If a CCD camera is connected, selecting the exposure type as 'BIAS' automatically fills the relevant exposure time field with the minimum exposure time supported by the camera. This applies to the 'Edit tasks' window and the 'CCD camera' tab of the main window.
  • A checkbox has been added to the Autoguider tab to specify whether to save the RA worm position with each guide star position; previously the worm position was always saved whenever the serial link to the telescope was open.
  • The exposure time field in the FITS header for saved files now has 3 decimal places rather than 2.
  • The y-axis scale for the plot of CCD temperatures via Glade now has 5C more at the top and 5C less at the bottom.

The following bugs have been fixed:

  • Compilation failed if one or both of the libftdi and libqsiapi libraries were not installed.
  • Compilation failed if the libvce library was installed.
  • GoQat crashed on starting if XPA support was unavailable, due to an unrelated bug.
  • The following message appeared in the message log if an 'Object' task was executed: "set_entry_string: Not a valid text field: txtAUGFile", due to a mis-named text field in the Glade definition file.
  • The task list elapsed time counter wasn't automatically reset to zero when the tasks 'Start' button was pressed.
  • The default chip temperature on the 'CCD camera' tab of the main window was not automatically set to the value defined in the 'CCD Camera Configuration' window when a camera was connected.

2009 September: GoQat version 0.9.1b

The following features are added/modified:

  • Added support for sending guide commands via the port on the QSI camera head.
  • Fixed multi-threading so requesting CCD camera status, issuing guide commands and downloading image data now take place in a separate thread.
  • Tidied up greying-out/un-greying some menu items and buttons on the Autoguider tab.

2009 September: GoQat first public release, version 0.9.0b