Starlight Xpress AO Control

The SX AO is a tip/tilt autoguider accessory that integrates with Starlight Xpress CCD cameras. It can also be used with other cameras, subject to their optical and mechanical compatibility, provided an SX camera is used as the autoguider. The AO requires a radically different user interface than that provided by the standard MaxIm DL autoguider functions; therefore, the Guide tab is not used.

For configuration information on this driver, please see Starlight Xpress Universal. If using a non-Starlight Xpress main camera, use the appropriate plug-in for Camera 1 and SX Universal for Camera 2, selecting the AO COM Port on the latter.

Tips for AO Operation

We strongly recommend you:

The SX AO device uses the SX Universal driver, which controls both the camera and the AO unit itself. The Guide tab is not used; instead, a special AO Control window appears. The SX AO Control window is similar to the Camera Control window in that it is a tabbed dialog.

The SX AO Control window cannot be hidden as long as the AO is connected; however it will minimize when the MaxIm DL application is minimized.

The four SX AO Control tabs are:

Locate  Take exposures to locate and select the guide star, including choosing exposure and binning settings. Also used to calibrate the motor drive (if used) and the AO tip/tilt system.

Track    Track a star and monitor its position both visually and numerically. Control the exposure duration (track time) and certain guiding parameters, and monitor the guide star position.

Drive     Setup auxiliary correction using the telescope mount motors. This is optionally used to keep the guide star within range of the tip/tilt system when mounts having large drift or periodic error are used.

Setup   Select the track box size, view or edit AO tip/tilt calibration settings, exercise the tip/tilt system to check operation, dither exposures to compare guided and unguided star images, and enable calibration (e.g., dark subtraction) of guider images.

When the AO is in operation, all of the regular Camera Control window exposure controls operate normally. This means that exposure sequencing and automatic tricolor operation is supported while tracking with the AO. It is strongly recommended that a five second exposure delay be set to allow the AO to reacquire the guide star before the next exposure starts.

Before operating the AO, please read the Overview of AO Operation.