NIRC observers may find the following procedure useful for
setting up the instrument in the afternoon. Please ask your
Support Astronomer (SA) for help if you have any questions.
- Log into the data-taking computer as nirc, using
the password supplied by your SA. Wait for
the window system to finish its startup procedure.
- Check the VNC server status. Using the desktop pulldown
menu, go to:
If no servers are running, please contact your support
astronomer to start vnc servers
- Start VNC viewers. Using the desktop menu select
VNC -> Start VNC PRIMARY viewers
and enter the login information. Please contact you
support astronomer for assistance.
- In a maili window, type
check_dcs_mode to check whether NIRC is set up to
communicate with the drive and control system. If you get back
You are talking to the REAL DCS
Then proceed to the next step. If instead you get the message
You are talking to the DCS Simulator
then type the following command to change modes:
- Using the mouse, move cursor to the leftmost
screen. From the window manager's pulldown menu, select NIRC
Tools menu, and then select the Start NIRC
Software option. This will bring up the following
- NIRC P3 Control for control of the instrument
- NIRC P3 Auxilliary for performing
non-instrument-control tasks on maili
- rabbit tip showing status of the motor crate
- log tail showing status of the detector
- NIRC Status giving continuous readout on
- FIGDISP Display for inspection of images
- FIGDISP Control for manipulation of the
- Initialize the NIRC software by responding to the prompts
in the NIRC P3 Control window.
- At the prompt enter data directory name: type
to select the default or type the name of the
directory you wish to use. The default is to create a new
- At the prompt do you want to home the motors
- At the prompt do you want to home the image
converter? type y unless you know
that the image converter is out. If you don't know the
status of the image converter, always answer y.
- Wait for the script to display the message NIRC/P3
should now be ready to go.
- Check the temperature of the detector by typing the command
sn tempdet into the window labeled NIRC P3
Control. The nominal operating temperature of the
detector is 31°. If the temperature is more than 3°
off, contact your SA for help.
- On the first night only: reset the frame number to
1 by typing mn frameno=1 in the NIRC P3
- Select the timing pattern. The default is patslow and
is used under most observing conditions. To change
timing patterns, typing one of the
following commands in the NIRC P3 Control window:
- patslow to use the standard timing pattern
- pat4x to use the faster timing pattern
- max12ur to use the fastest timing pattern
- Set the integration time to the desired value by typing
tint X, where X is
the desired integration time. To use the smallest possible
integration time, type tint 0.
- Set the number of co-adds to perform for each frame by
typing coadd N, where N is the
number of integrations to perform per exposure. (The length of
each integration is given by the tint setting, so
the total exposure time is tint×coadd.
- Close the tertiary mirror cover by typing tmc.
- Set the instrument up for taking darks by typing
- Take a dark exposure and display it using the command
- Set up the FIGDISP image display window:
- Reset the FIGDISP display to a reasonable viewing
window by clicking the NORMAL and
CENTER buttons in FIGDISP Control.
- Click the IN button to magnify the image
until it fills the viewing window.
- Click the HISTEQ button to invoke a more
- Click the PAN/COLORS button to enable mouse
control of the colormap, then use the right mouse
button to scale the image so that details are visible.
- Check the baseline counts. Take a cut across the image by
placing the FIGDISP cursor near the image center and pressing
the L2/Again key (to the left of the keyboard) to plot a
row. The lowest values should be about 23,000 DN, plus or
minus 1,000. If not, contact your SA.
- You are now ready to observe.