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PHD2 v2.6.5 User Guide April 30, 2018

PHD2 v2.6.5 User Guide

April 30, 2018

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

2

 

Introduction

4

 

Main Screen

5

 

Basic control

5

Menus

6

Status Bar

6

Using PHD2 Guiding

7

 

Equipment Connection

7

 

Camera Selection

7

Support for SBIG Dual-chip Cameras

8

ASCOM Camera Properties

8

Multiple Cameras of the Same Type

8

Mount Selection

9

Aux Mount Selection

9

Benefits of Using ASCOM (or INDI) connections

10

Adaptive Optics and Rotator Selections

10

Simulators

11

Equipment Profiles

11

New-Profile-Wizard

11

 

Exposure Time and Star Selection

12

Automatic Calibration

12

 

Conventional Mounts

12

Adaptive Optics Devices

13

Guiding

13

Dark Frames and Bad-pixel Maps

15

 

Introduction

15

Dark Frames

15

 

Bad-pixel Maps (Defect Maps)

16

Step-by-Step Guide to Refining a Bad-pixel Map

17

Reusing Dark Frames and Bad-pixel Maps

18

Visualization Tools

19

Overlays

19

Graphical Display

19

Stats

19

Star Profile and Target Displays

20

Adaptive Optics (AO) Graph

21

Dockable/Moveable Graphical Windows

21

Advanced Settings

22

 

Global Tab

22

Camera Tab

23

Guiding Tab

24

 

Algorithms Tab

27

 

Declination Backlash Compensation

28

Uni-directional Declination Guiding

29

 

Other Devices Tab

29

Guide Algorithms

31

 

Guiding Theory

31

Guide Algorithm Parameters

31

Tools and Utilities

34

Manual Guide

34

Auto-Select Star

34

Calibration Details

34

PHD2 Server

35

Dithering

35

Logging and Debug Output

36

Polar Alignment Tools

37

Drift Alignment Tool

38

Static Polar Alignment Tool

38

Polar Drift Alignment Tool

38

Lock Positions

38

Comet Tracking

38

Guiding Assistant

39

Star-Cross Tool

43

Managing Equipment Profiles

43

Aux-Mount Connection using "Ask for coordinates"

43

Advanced Settings for the Simulators

44

Multiple Program Executions

45

Keyboard Shortcuts

45

Software Update

45

 

Checking for updates

46

Table of PHD2 keyboard shortcuts

47

Trouble-shooting and Analysis

48

 

Calibration and Mount Control Problems

48

Display Window Problems

51

Hot-pixel Problems

51

Restoring a Working Baseline

52

Camera Timeout and Download Problems

52

Poor Guiding Performance

52

Alert Messages

53

 

Log Analysis

53

Guiding Log Contents

54

 

Problem Reporting

54

PHD2 Drift Alignment Tool

55

 

Preparation

55

 

Azimuth Alignment

55

Altitude Alignment

60

 

Using Bookmarks

62

Notes about ASCOM

62

PHD2 Static Polar Alignment (SPA) Tool

62

 

Automated Mode

62

 

Manual Mode

65

 

Using the Polar Alignment Overlay

68

PHD2 Polar Drift Alignment Tool

69

Introduction

PHD2 is the second generationofCraigStark's originalPHD application. PHD has become a fixture ofthe amateur astronomycommunitywith more thana quarter milliondownloads. Fromits inception, it has successfullyembraced three seeminglyconflictingobjectives:

1. For the beginningor casualimager, to deliver ease ofuse and good guidingperformance "out ofthe box"

2. For the experienced imager, to deliver sophisticated guidingalgorithms, extensive options for tuning, and broad support for imaging equipment

3. For allusers, to consistentlyexhibit a commerciallevelofqualitywhile beingavailable free ofcharge

Inorder to extend PHD to more platforms and further expand its capabilities, Craigreleased his programto the open-source community, and PHD2 is the direct result ofthat generosity. It has beensubstantiallyrestructured to make it more extensible and supportable goingforward. Now, after over 5 years ofindependent development, PHD2 includes a substantialnumber ofnew features and refinements, manyofwhichfocus onhelpingyouachieve better guidingresults. Users ofPHD2 canbe confident it willremaincommitted to the three objectives that made the originalapplicationso successful.

Main Screen

The PHD2 mainwindow is designed for ease ofuse and clarity. Its intent is to support a quick and naturalsequence ofinteractions to start and controlguiding. The basic steps for doingthis are as follows:

1. Connect to your guide camera and mount

2. Start a sequence ofguide exposures to see what stars are available inthe field ofview

3. Choose a guide star and calibrate the guider

4. Continue guidingonthe target star while usingvarious displaytools to see how things are going

5. Stop and resume guidingas necessary

how things are going 5. Stop and resume guidingas necessary The majorityofthe screenis takenup bythe displayofthe

The majorityofthe screenis takenup bythe displayofthe star field fromyour guide camera. The displayis automaticallyadjusted for size, brightness, and contrast so youcanhave a clear view ofavailable stars. However, these adjustments are done onlyfor displaypurposes. Internally, PHD2 operates onthe raw, un-adjusted data inorder to maximize guidingaccuracy. This displayis also used to select a guide star by simplyclickingonit. Youshould definitelyadjust the slider controlso youcansee eventhe faintest stars inthe field.

Basic control

Near the bottomofthe screenare the maincontrols. PHD2 is largelycontrolled bythese buttons and sliders, withadditionalpull-downmenus at the top ofthe window for more detailed functions. Movingfromleft to right inthe window, the primarybuttons are as follows:

1. The USB connector icon- used to connect to your camera and mount devices

2. The Loop icon- used to start a sequence ofrepeated exposures withthe guide camera ("looping"), witheachresultant image (guide frame) beingdisplayed inthe mainwindow. Ifguidingis subsequentlystarted, clickingonthe 'loop' iconagainwillpause guidingwhile continuingto take guide exposures.

3. The PHD2/Guide icon- used to start calibration, ifneeded, and thento start guidingonthe selected star.

4. The Stop icon- used to stop bothguidingand looping

To the right ofthe stop iconis a pull-downlist ofexposure durations (0.01s - 15s). Youuse this controlto quicklyset the guide camera's exposure duration. Ifyour camera does not support anexposure duration, PHD2 willdo its best to emulate that duration. For example, ifyouuse a short-exposure webcam, your maximumtrue exposure durationmight be only1/30thofa second. Ifyouselect one second as the desired exposure time, PHD2 willautomaticallyacquire images for one second and stack themonthe flyto create a composite image for guiding.

The next controlto the right is a slider for adjustingscreenstretchand contrast, essentiallya "gamma"adjustment. PHD2 automaticallyadjusts the displayaccountingfor the darkest and brightest pixels inthe image, and the slider is used to fine-tune the displayto better see the stars inthe field ofview. This maybe useful, for example, ifyouare tryingto focus the guide camera for the first time and need to see the large, out-of-focus star image. Movingthe gamma slider onlymakes the displaybrighter or dimmer for your viewing. PHD2 always uses the raw pixels fromthe camera for guiding, and movingthe gamma slider has no effect onguiding. A displayof"completelywhite"or "completelyblack"is usuallyanindication that no stars are available inthe field ofview.

Next to the gamma slider is the "brainbutton." This buttonbrings up anAdvanced Dialogfor makingdetailed adjustments to PHD2's guiding operations. Animportant designgoalofthe programis to minimize your need to change these parameters, but "the brain"is nothingto be feared - there are adjustments available here that cansignificantlyimprove your guidingresults and make your life easier. Over a period oftime, youshould take a look at this dialogand learnwhat it cando for you.

The rightmost controlinthis row is a "camera properties"button.

access to a configurationdialogunique to the camera. However, commoncamera properties suchas gainand binningwillnormallybe set inthe 'Camera' tab ofthe PHD2 Advanced Dialog. Ifthe buttonis disabled, anyavailable properties canbe set inthe PHD2 Advanced Dialog

Menus

Dependingonthe particular camera, this buttonmaybe enabled to provide

The pull-downmenus above the mainguider displayare used to access a varietyoffunctions. These are described inthe Darks, Tools and Utilities, and Visualizationsections ofthis help document.

Status Bar

Visualization sections ofthis help document. Status Bar The status bar at the bottomofthe mainwindow is used

The status bar at the bottomofthe mainwindow is used to displaymessages and status informationthat willhelp youkeep track ofguiding operations.

Near the center ofthe status bar are fields showingthe current state ofthe guide star. Ifthe SNR value drops below 10, its value willbe shownin yellow as a warningthat youmayencounter some 'lost-star' events. Ifthe guide star is saturated, the field to the left ofSNR willshow 'Saturated' ina red typeface.

To the right ofthe star status fields are two text fields showingthe latest RA and Dec guide commands. These show the size ofthe guide pulse, the correctionamount inpixels, and anarrow showingthe direction. The arrows follow the usualcompass conventions:Dec up/downcorresponds to north/south, RA left/right corresponds to west/east. Allofthis informationis captured inthe logfiles and displayed inthe various graphicaltools, and those are what youshould use for visualizingyour guide performance. But these status fields maygive youa quick visualclue whensomething is behavingunusally.

The rightmost panels inthe status bar show icons that give youvisualclues about the current state ofPHD2:. These icons are color-coded to give youa dashboard view ofcurrent status and have the followingmeanings:

'Dark' - red means neither a dark librarynor a bad-pixelmap is beingused, greenmeans one or the other is in-use. Ifyou're usinga bad-pixel map, the text willsay'BPM' rather than'Dark'

'Cal' - shows the state ofcalibration. Red means the mount is currentlyuncalibrated, while yellow means there is a calibrationbut it isn't being adjusted automaticallyto account for scope pointingposition. This willhappenwhenyouaren't usingeither anASCOM or 'aux' mount connection inPHD2. Ifthe iconis yellow, youwillgenerallyneed to recalibrate whenyoumove the scope to different declinationpositions.

"The Ball"- shows whether allthe equipment inyour profile has beensuccessfullyconnected. Ifthe ballis yellow, some components are not connected, while greenmeans everythingis connected.

Ifyouhover the mouse cursor over anyofthese status icons, you'llsee details about the current state.

Using PHD2 Guiding

There are five basic steps to start guiding.

1. Press the USB-iconbuttonand connect to your guide camera and mount.

2. Pick anexposure durationfromthe drop-downlist.

3. Hit the loop buttonand look at the available stars, adjustingfocus ifnecessary. Move the mount or adjust the exposure durationas needed to find a suitable guide star.

4. Click ona non-saturated star that's not verynear anedge for use as the guide star.

5. Press the PHD2 Guide button.

Details ofthese operations willbe described inthe sections below.

Equipment Connectionofthese operations willbe described inthe sections below. Exposure Time and Star Selection Calibration Guiding

Exposure Time and Star Selectionwillbe described inthe sections below. Equipment Connection Calibration Guiding Equipment Connection Inorder to

Calibrationbelow. Equipment Connection Exposure Time and Star Selection Guiding Equipment Connection Inorder to beginguiding, PHD2

GuidingConnection Exposure Time and Star Selection Calibration Equipment Connection Inorder to beginguiding, PHD2 must

Equipment Connection

Inorder to beginguiding, PHD2 must first connect to your hardware:the guide camera, the mount, and, optionally, an'aux' mount, anadaptive optics (AO) device, or a rotator. Whenyouclick onthe USB icon, you'llsee a dialogthat looks like this:

onthe USB icon, you'llsee a dialogthat looks like this: Camera Selection The Camera drop-downlist shows allthe

Camera Selection

The Camera drop-downlist shows allthe camera types currentlysupported byPHD2. Inallcases, the OS-leveldrivers for the camera must be installed correctlyinorder for PHD2 to connect to the device. Ifthe camera uses anASCOM interface, you'llalso need to installthe correspondingASCOM driver for the camera. Ifyoudon't see your ASCOM-compatible camera showninthe drop-downlist, youprobably don't have the ASCOM driver installed. Neither the ASCOM nor OS-leveldrivers are included withPHD2, so theymust be located, downloaded, and installed separately. For non-ASCOM cameras, the PHD2 distributiondoes include the additionalapplicationlibraries needed byPHD2 to use the camera

It is not practicalto provide anexhaustive list ofcameras that are supported byPHD2. Inmanycases, camera vendors extend their product lines byupdatingtheir lower-leveldrivers without havingto change the applicationlibraries used byPHD2. Inthose cases, we aren't aware ofthe changes unless a user reports problems. The list shownbelow should be interpeted as follows:

1. Ifthe camera vendor is completelyabsent, it is unlikelythat the camera is supported, or it mayonlybe supported usinga web-caminterface

2. Ifthe camera modelis showninthe list, it is supported unless there are unresolved problems withthe vendor's drivers

3. Ifthe specific camera modelis absent but earlier models are shown, it is likelythe camera is supported

4. Ifthe camera uses anASCOM interface, it is supported

Since the PHD2 download is free, the simplest course ofactionis to installit and see ifyour camera is showninthe PHD2 drop-downlist. Alternatively, youcancheck for camera support info inthe Wikionthe PHD2 Google forum:

Finally, youcanalways post a message onthe open-phd-guidingforumaskingifanyone has experience withthe camera.

Baseline list ofsupported cameras:

Windows:

ASCOM v5/6 compliant camerasBaseline list ofsupported cameras: Windows: Atik 16 series, color or monochrome Atik Gen3 color or monochrome

Atik 16 series, color or monochromeofsupported cameras: Windows: ASCOM v5/6 compliant cameras Atik Gen3 color or monochrome CCD-Labs Q-Guider Fishcamp

Atik Gen3 color or monochromev5/6 compliant cameras Atik 16 series, color or monochrome CCD-Labs Q-Guider Fishcamp Starfish iNova PLC-M MagZero

CCD-Labs Q-Guider16 series, color or monochrome Atik Gen3 color or monochrome Fishcamp Starfish iNova PLC-M MagZero MZ-5

Fishcamp Starfishmonochrome Atik Gen3 color or monochrome CCD-Labs Q-Guider iNova PLC-M MagZero MZ-5 Meade DSI series:I-III, color

iNova PLC-MGen3 color or monochrome CCD-Labs Q-Guider Fishcamp Starfish MagZero MZ-5 Meade DSI series:I-III, color and monochrome

MagZero MZ-5monochrome CCD-Labs Q-Guider Fishcamp Starfish iNova PLC-M Meade DSI series:I-III, color and monochrome OrionStarShoot

Meade DSI series:I-III, color and monochromeCCD-Labs Q-Guider Fishcamp Starfish iNova PLC-M MagZero MZ-5 OrionStarShoot DSCI OrionStarshoot Autoguider OrionStarshoot

OrionStarShoot DSCIMagZero MZ-5 Meade DSI series:I-III, color and monochrome OrionStarshoot Autoguider OrionStarshoot PlanetaryImager and

OrionStarshoot AutoguiderDSI series:I-III, color and monochrome OrionStarShoot DSCI OrionStarshoot PlanetaryImager and Autoguider QHY 5-II QHY

OrionStarshoot PlanetaryImager and Autoguiderand monochrome OrionStarShoot DSCI OrionStarshoot Autoguider QHY 5-II QHY 5L-II SAC4-2 SBIG SBIG rotator Starlight Xpress

QHY 5-IIAutoguider OrionStarshoot PlanetaryImager and Autoguider QHY 5L-II SAC4-2 SBIG SBIG rotator Starlight Xpress SXF /

QHY 5L-IIOrionStarshoot PlanetaryImager and Autoguider QHY 5-II SAC4-2 SBIG SBIG rotator Starlight Xpress SXF / SXVF /

SAC4-2PlanetaryImager and Autoguider QHY 5-II QHY 5L-II SBIG SBIG rotator Starlight Xpress SXF / SXVF /

SBIGPlanetaryImager and Autoguider QHY 5-II QHY 5L-II SAC4-2 SBIG rotator Starlight Xpress SXF / SXVF /

SBIG rotatorand Autoguider QHY 5-II QHY 5L-II SAC4-2 SBIG Starlight Xpress SXF / SXVF / Lodestar Webcams

Starlight Xpress SXF / SXVF / Lodestarand Autoguider QHY 5-II QHY 5L-II SAC4-2 SBIG SBIG rotator Webcams (LXUSB, parallel, serial, OpenCV, WDM)

Webcams (LXUSB, parallel, serial, OpenCV, WDM)SBIG SBIG rotator Starlight Xpress SXF / SXVF / Lodestar ZWO ASI Mac: Fishcamp Starfish KWIQGuider

ZWO ASI/ Lodestar Webcams (LXUSB, parallel, serial, OpenCV, WDM) Mac: Fishcamp Starfish KWIQGuider Meade DSI series:I-III,

Mac:

Fishcamp StarfishWebcams (LXUSB, parallel, serial, OpenCV, WDM) ZWO ASI Mac: KWIQGuider Meade DSI series:I-III, color and monochrome

KWIQGuiderserial, OpenCV, WDM) ZWO ASI Mac: Fishcamp Starfish Meade DSI series:I-III, color and monochrome OrionStarshoot

Meade DSI series:I-III, color and monochromeOpenCV, WDM) ZWO ASI Mac: Fishcamp Starfish KWIQGuider OrionStarshoot Autoguider SBIG Starlight XPress SXV The

OrionStarshoot AutoguiderKWIQGuider Meade DSI series:I-III, color and monochrome SBIG Starlight XPress SXV The ImagingSource (DCAM Firewire)

SBIGseries:I-III, color and monochrome OrionStarshoot Autoguider Starlight XPress SXV The ImagingSource (DCAM Firewire) ZWO

Starlight XPress SXVcolor and monochrome OrionStarshoot Autoguider SBIG The ImagingSource (DCAM Firewire) ZWO ASI Support forSBIG

The ImagingSource (DCAM Firewire)OrionStarshoot Autoguider SBIG Starlight XPress SXV ZWO ASI Support forSBIG Dual-chipCameras Manycameras fromthe

ZWO ASISBIG Starlight XPress SXV The ImagingSource (DCAM Firewire) Support forSBIG Dual-chipCameras Manycameras fromthe Santa

Support forSBIG Dual-chipCameras

Manycameras fromthe Santa Barbara Instrument Group (SBIG) have two sensors - a primaryone for imagingand a second, smaller one for guiding. While the two sensors are physicallyseparate, theyshare electronics inside the camera and more importantly, share a single USB data link to the computer. This means that downloadingofdata fromthe two sensors must be coordinated - youcan't retrieve a guider image while an image fromthe mainsensor is beingdownloaded. Beyond that, Windows willonlyallow one applicationat a time to connect to the camera over the single USB link. These are physicaland architecturalrestrictions that can't be circumvented byPHD2. However, it is possible for the camera- controlling(image capture) applicationto implement aninterface for PHD2 to get data fromthe guide chip - essentially, a "side door"mechanism that won't violate anyofthe above rules. Withthis arrangement, the image capture applicationis actingas a traffic cop to coordinate access to the two camera sensors. At the time ofthis writing(October 2015), the onlyimagingapplicationthat does this is Sequence Generator Pro (SGP). If youuse SGP as your mainimagingapplication, youcanalso use their "SGP API Guider"module, whichallows PHD2 to access the guide chip on the SBIG camera.

ASCOM Camera Properties

Ifyouchoose anASCOM camera, you'llalso be able to access the ASCOM setup dialogfor that camera byclickingonthe properties button immediatelyto the left ofthe 'Connect' button:

immediatelyto the left ofthe 'Connect' button: Dependingonthe camera, this mayprovide access to properties

Dependingonthe camera, this mayprovide access to properties that are not controlled byPHD2.

Multiple Cameras of the Same Type

Ifyour computer is connected to multiple cameras fromthe same manufacturer, you'llusuallyneed to specifywhichcamera should be used by PHD2. Youcando that byclickingonthe 'fork' buttonto the right ofthe camera drop-downlist:

buttonto the right ofthe camera drop-downlist: Clickingthis buttonwillshow a list ofthe available cameras

Clickingthis buttonwillshow a list ofthe available cameras and youcanchoose the one youwant. PHD2 willremember the choice and save it as part ofyour equipment profile, so youshould onlyneed to do this once.

Mount Selection

The Mount drop-downlist displays options for connectingto your mount. There are generallytwo ways to do this:

1. Use anASCOM-compatible telescope driver that sends guide commands to the mount over a serialcable (or more commonly, a USB/Serialconnection)

2. Use the ST-4 compatible guide port interface onthe mount witha specialized cable and anintermdiate device like a camera or a Shoestring box

The ASCOM interface relies onthird-partydrivers to communicate withthe mount. These drivers are available fromthe ASCOM web site (ASCOM Standards) or fromthe mount manufacturer - theyare not distributed withPHD2. So the drop-downlist willbe populated byonly those ASCOM drivers youalreadyhave installed onyour system. The ASCOM driver must support the 'PulseGuide' interface, whichhas beena requirement for ASCOM compliance for manyyears and is widelysupported. Withthis type ofmount control, guide commands are sent from PHD2 to the mount over the serialinterface. The high-levelPHD2 guide commands (e.g. "Move west 500 mSec") are translated bythe mount firmware into the appropriate motor controlsignals to execute the command. Withthe ASCOM interface, PHD2 canalso obtainthe pointing positionofthe mount, especiallythe declinationand side-of-pier, whichcanbe used as factors inguider calibration.

The "Guide-port"interfaces use a specialized, hardware-levelcontrolport available onmost mounts. To use this type ofinterface, there must be another device inthe link betweenPHD2 and the mount:

1. Anyofthe guide cameras whichhave anST-4 compatible "on-camera"guider interface. Use the 'oncamera' mount choice for these setups.

2. Anyofthe ShoestringGP-xxxdevices

3. A supported AO device witha guide port interface

Withthis style ofinterface, PHD2 guide commands like "Move west 500 mSec"are translated bythe intermediate device (camera, Shoestring box, AO) into electricalsignals necessaryto drive the mount motor for the correct lengthoftime.

Aux Mount Selection

Ifyouhave selected anST-4 style ofguidinginthe 'mount' section, that interface cannot be used to querythe pointingpositionofthe telescope. As a consequence, guider calibrationwon't be automaticallyadjusted for declination, nor willit be automaticallyflipped whenthe side-of-pier changes. Youcanrestore these features byspecifyingan"aux"mount connectionthat willbe used onlyto get the telescope pointinginformation. Anexample is shownbelow:

connectionthat willbe used onlyto get the telescope pointinginformation. Anexample is shownbelow: 9

For Windows users, the "aux"mount canuse anyofthe ASCOM-compatible mount drivers, while Linuxusers cantake advantage ofINDI drivers. The "aux"mount choice willbe used onlyifthe primarymount interface cannot returnpointinginformation- it willotherwise be ignored. Note:some mounts (e.g. Celestronand iOptron) have a separate hardware port also labeled 'Aux' - DO NOT USE THIS for guiding- it is completelyunrelated to the 'Aux' connectioninPHD2. The last entryinthe list of'Auxmount' connections is labeled "Ask for coordinates." This canprovide a rudimentaryaux-mount facilityifyoucan't use anASCOM or INDI connectionto your mount. Ifyouneed to pursue this option, youcanread about the details inthe Tools section.

Most ASCOM mount drivers use a serialport interface, so the driver expects to use one ofthe Windows 'COM' ports. Since most personal computers no longer have serialport connectors, youcanuse one ofthe USB ports and a USB-serialadapter. The software that comes withthe USB-serialadapter willcreate a software COM port, and that's the one you'lluse withthe ASCOM driver. The first time youconnect to the mount withASCOM (either as 'mount' or 'aux-mount'), you'llneed to tellthe driver whichCOM port to use. That's part ofthe driver's setup dialog, and youcanquicklyopenthat window byclickingonthe 'properties' iconjust to the left ofthe 'Connect' buttoninthe above image. Once you've done this, the COM port willbe saved as part ofthe equipment profile

Benefits of Using ASCOM (orINDI) connections

Ifyou're runningona Windows platform, you'llprobablybe better offusinganASCOM connectionfor guidingyour mount. Onother operating systems, your best choice is likelyto be anINDI connectionifone is available. This advice maybe contraryto some old-schoolexperience or folklore onthe Web and probablyisn't what you'llhear fromthe manufacturer ofthe guide camera. But the benefits ofdoingso withPHD2 are substantial, and youshould use this alternative unless youhave specific and credible informationagainst it. Here are some ofthe primarybenefits:

1. A drastic reductioninthe number ofre-calibrations you'llneed to perform. Changingtargets willnot require another calibrationbecause PHD2 canknow where the scope is pointingand automaticallymake adjustments to the guider calibration. Most users get a good calibrationand thenre-use it untiltheymake hardware changes ofsome kind.

2. Automatic adjustment for meridianflips - no need to remember to manuallyflip the calibrationdata.

3. Automatic adjustment ofRA calibrationto handle targets indifferent parts ofthe sky(declinationcompensation)

4. Eliminationofthe ST-4 guide cable as a point offailure - this is a surprisinglycommonproblembecause the cables canbe damaged or confused withsimilar-lookingcables (e.g. telephone cables)

5. Eliminationofa movingcable that cansnag, drag, or bind as the scope is moved around.

6. Improved abilityfor PHD2 to sanity-check calibrationresults and warnofpossible problems before youwaste hours ofimagingtime.

7. Better diagnostic and trouble-shootinginformation, whichis particularlyhelpfulifyouneed to ask for assistance

8. Availabilityofscope-slewingoptions duringdrift alignment whichcanfurther speed the process ofpolar alignment

Ifyouhave anolder mount built before 2005 or thereabouts, it maynot have firmware-levelsupport for ASCOM pulse guiding. Inthose cases, youmayget better guidingresults usingthe ST-4 guidinginterface. Ifyou're indoubt, check the documentationfor your mount or ask onone of the forums about pulse-guide support. Eventhen, youcanuse ASCOM for the PHD2 "aux-mount"connectionand get manyofthe benefits listed above. A commonmisconception, frequentlyseenonWeb forums, is that ST-4 guidingis hardware-based and thus more accurate or efficient. For anyofthe modernmounts you're likelyto encounter, this is no longer true - there willalways be software runningat eachend ofthe cable, just like ASCOM guiding. The bottomline is this:ifyouhave anASCOM or Indidriver available for your mount, youshould probablyuse it.

Adaptive Optics andRotatorSelections

WithPHD2, younow have the optionofcontrollingthe Starlight Xpress adaptive optics unit and/or anyofseveralASCOM-compatible camera

rotators These canbe specified byclickingonthe 'More Equipment

"buttoninthe above dialog:

camera rotators These canbe specified byclickingonthe 'More Equipment "buttoninthe above dialog: 10

Ifyoudon't have these devices, just leave the selections at 'None.' Ifthese devices are connected, you'llsee additionaltabs inthe 'Advanced Settings' dialogthat provide access to various device-related properties. PHD2 does not controla rotator, but it willread the current angle setting fromthe rotator and adjust the guidingcalibrationifneeded.

Simulators

Allofthe PHD2 devices - camera, mount, AO, rotator - include built-insimulators. Don't confuse these withanyofthe ASCOM simulators whichmaybe installed onyour system- those willhave 'ASCOM' intheir names. Althoughyoucanconnect to the ASCOM simulators, they don't provide the necessaryfeedback to PHD2 for guidingand calibration. As a result, they're onlyusefulfor limited types oftestingand experimentation. But youcanuse the built-insimulators to explore how PHD2 works and to decide how youwant to use the program. There's no reasonto waste valuable dark-skytime learningto use PHD2! Virtuallyallof PHD2's features, includingfullcalibrationand allthe graphical displayoptions, willwork properlywhenthe built-indevice simulators are used. You'llevensee fairlyrealistic guidingperformance to give you some idea ofwhat to expect inthe field. To get started usingthe simulators, choose 'Simulator' for the camera type and 'On-camera' for the Mount type.

That said, the simulators are not usefulfor trouble-shootinganyproblems youencounter withyour realmount. Boththe camera and the mount must be realdevices inorder to diagnose problems or otherwise get your gear calibrated and working. Inthat sense, what yousee whenusingthe simulators is realistic but "fake"behavior. The simulators canbe usefulinsome cases for reproducingPHD2 applicationproblems, but not for anythinghavingto do withyour actualguidingequipment.

Equipment Profiles

At the top ofthe 'Connect Equipment' dialogare some additionalcontrols for managingequipment profiles. Allofthe guider settings inPHD2, default or otherwise, are automaticallystored as part ofanequipment profile. Ifyouhave onlyone guidingsetup - youuse the same camera and guide scope combinationeachtime - youwillonlyneed one profile; and youcanjust use the default profile. But youmayhave multiple equipment

configurations - for example, anoff-axis-guidingarrangement for a longfocallengthscope and a separate guide scope/camera configurationfor a shorter focallengthimagingscope. The PHD2 guide settings for those configurations are likelyto be different, so youwould want to use separate equipment profiles The controls at the top ofthe 'Connect Equipment' dialoglet youchoose the profile youwant to use and to create/edit/remove profiles as yousee fit. Whenyouselect a profile and connect to its associated equipment, allofthe settings last used withthat profile are automaticallyreloaded. Once you've established the profiles youneed - perhaps onlythe default one - youcansimplyclick onthe 'Connect All'

buttonand you're readyto move ahead.

equipment just as before, youcando a <shift>-click onthe mainscreen'USB' buttonand PHD2 willautomaticallyre-connect to your hardware.

Ifyoualreadyhave a suitable default equipment profile and yousimplywant to connect to the

New-Profile-Wizard

The best wayto create a new profile is to use the "Wizard"capability. The wizard takes youthrougha sequence ofwindows that explainthe

various settings and help youdecide how to set them. It willalso calculate baseline algorithmsettings that are likelyto work reasonablywellfor

your set-up.

PHD2 for the first time onyour system, this wizard willbe automaticallylaunched. Subsequently, youcanuse the new-profile wizard byclicking

onthe 'Manage Profiles' field inthe 'Connect Equipment' dialog, then choosing'New usingwizard

Creatinga profile this wayis faster and less error-prone thandoingit byhand inthe 'Connect Equipment' dialog. Whenyourun

'.

The wizard asks a number ofquestions that are important for gettingyour profile built correctly. The explanatorytext ineachpane ofthe wizard should make clear what is beingasked and what needs to be done. But here are some additionaltips to help youthroughthe process:

1. ConnectionOptions: As youmake selections for the various devices, youwillusuallysee a prompt askingifthe device is already

connected and readyto communicate withPHD2. Ifyousay'yes', PHD2 willtryto connect and thenfillinsome ofthe data fields with informationread fromthe device. Saying'no' simplymeans you'llhave to enter the data byhand. IfPHD2 tries to connect withthe device

and fails, you'llstillbe able to proceed byjust enteringthe data manually.

feature that makes it easier to fillinthe fields withaccurate values. Youwon't see the prompt ifPHD2 alreadyknows the device can't return usefulinformation- for example, ifthe mount choice is 'on-camera.' 2. Camera connectionpane: unbinnedpixel size. Ifyousaid 'yes' to the connectionprompt, this informationwillusuallybe filled in

automaticallyand the controlwillbe disabled.

hand. Youshould be able to get the unbinned pixelsize fromthe camera spec sheet or the manufacturer's web site. Ifthe pixels aren't square, just specifythe larger dimensionor the average value ifyouprefer. This won't have anyeffect onyour actualguidngresults, but it willallow PHD2 to know the image-scale for your set-up. This is used for settingbaseline guidingparameters, doingsanity-checks on calibrations, and reportingguidingperformance.

3. Camera connectionpane: binning level. Ifyour guide camera supports binning(manydo not), youcanspecifywhat levelofbinning

youwant to use for this equipment profile. Ifyouwant to use the same equipment set-up withdifferent binninglevels, it's best to create separate profiles for eachbinningvalue.

4. Camera connectionpane: guide scope focal length. This seems to be a commonplace for mistakes, so it's worthbeingcarefuland

gettingit right. The correct value is not the aperture ofthe guide scope, it is the focal length. So, for example, ifyou're guidingwitha

50mmfinder scope, the focallengthwilllnot be 50mm- it willprobablybe somethingcloser to 150-175mm.

A 60-80mmrefractor guide

Ifyousaid 'no' or ifthe device doesn't report its pixel-size, you'llneed to enter the value by

Device-connectioninthe wizard is basicallya convenience

scope willprobablyhave a focallengthinthe range of240-500mm, not 60-80mm. Similarly, ifyou're guidngwithanOAG onyour main imagingscope, the focallengthwillbe that ofthe mainscope. Insome cases, youmaybe usinga smallthreaded focalreducer onthe guide camera, so that must also be takeninto account. Like the pixel-size entry, the focallengthdoesn't demand a great dealofprecision, but you

should get as close as youcan. Otherwise, the performance numbers maynot reflect your actualresults and the baseline guidingparameters maybe sub-optimal. 5. Mount connectionpane: mount guide speed. This is another area that seems to cause confusion. The guide speed is a parameter set in the mount or in the mount driver, it's not somethingcontrolled byPHD2. PHD2 never sets the mount guide speed, it onlyreads it. It is usuallyexpressed as a multiple ofthe siderealrate and is typicallyinthe range of0.5x- 1xsidereal. Despite what youmayread

elsewhere, it's generallybest to use guide speeds inthis range rather thanmuchlower speeds.

backlashmore quicklyand mayhelp to overcome stictionproblems. Ifyousay'yes' to the connectionoptionprompt, PHD2 willattempt to read the current guide speed fromthe mount. Ifthis fails for some reason, you'llneed to enter the guide speed manually. PHD2 uses this

value to automaticallyset the calibrationstep-size and to aid incheckingcalibrationresults; but the guide speed informationis not important

for the actualguiding. Ifyou're usingdifferent guide speeds onthe RA and Dec axes, enter the larger value. what the guide speed settings are inthe mount, leave the settingat the default value of0.5X.

Higher guide speeds canhelp to clear

Ifyoureallycan't determine

Inthe last pane ofthe wizard dialog, you're giventhe optionto build a dark libraryfor the profile, Youshould always do this unless youalready

have a compatible dark librarythat you're goingto import froma different profile. Ifyouare changingcameras and want to keep the dark libraries and bad-pixelmaps associated withthe old camera, youshould create a separate profile for the new camera. Whena camera selectionis changed

inanexistingprofile, the previouslybuilt dark libraryand bad-pixelmap data willno longer be usable.

withdifferent binningvalues. Setups usingdifferent binningfactors should be kept inseparate profiles because the dark libraryand bad-pixelmaps depend onthe binningfactor.

That also applies to usingthe same camera

Exposure Time and Star Selection

The guide star canbe selected (clicked on) while "looping"is active - infact, this is the recommended method. It canalso be selected after looping has beenstopped, but this opens the possibilitythat the star might have moved since the last exposure. No great precisionis required inclicking onthe star - PHD2 willfind the star nearest to the cursor. After youdo this, a greenboxwillappear to frame the star. Ifyoupick a star that is too bright (saturated), the status bar willshow a red 'SAT' label and youshould choose a fainter star. Youshould adjust the gamma slider to the left to see fainter stars. Most new users are fooled bythis and oftenchoose the brightest star theyhappento see inthe field ofview. But that choice is oftena saturated star, not a good choice for auto-guiding. The choice ofexposure time willdepend entirelyonyour equipment, sky conditions, and the available stars. The exposure time youchoose has severalimplications:

1. It affects the signalstrength(brightness) ofthe selected star - a brighter star willstand out better fromthe background and willgenerally produce better guidingresults so longas it is not saturated.

2. It also determines the frequencywithwhichguide commands are sent to the mount - guide commands cannot be sent anymore frequently thanonce for eachexposure cycle. Some mounts need frequent smallguidingadjustments while others do not - youmayneed to experiment to understand what works best for your situation.

3. It has a strongeffect onthe sensitivityofthe guide algorithms to seeingconditions. As the exposure time is increased up through2-4 seconds, the effects ofseeingare smoothed out. The camera is essentiallyaveragingout the larger, high-frequencyseeingmovements, so the guide algorithms have less difficultydistinguishing"seeingjitter"fromactualguide star displacements that need to be corrected. This is particularlynoticeable ifyouare guidingwitha longfocallengthsetup. Ofcourse, the convenience ofusinglonger exposures must be traded offagainst the need for the mount to get frequent corrections.

As a startingpoint, tryusingexposure durations inthe range oftwo to three seconds. Rather thanchoosingthe star yourselfwitha mouse-click,

it's better to let PHD2 Auto-select the guide star byusingthe Alt-S keyboard shortcut after stars are visible inthe maindisplay. Ifyouwant to de-

select a star without choosinganother one, youcando a shift-click anywhere onthe image displaywindow.

equipment set-up, you'llprobablyneed to focus the guide camera - doingso is important for good guiding. Youcanuse the Star Profile toolto

Ifyou're usinga smallguide scope, like a finder-scope, the focus mayreact stronglyto smalladjustments. It's important to

spend the time to get a good focus because a poorlyfocused guide star canlead to manyother problems. The camera exposure controldisplays a wide range ofpre-set exposure times. Exposure times smaller thanone second are intended for use withadaptive optics devices or inother specialsituations - theyare generallynot appropriate for use withtypicalguide camera set-ups. There is also a 'custom' exposure optionat the bottomofthe list that lets youspecifya value not alreadydisplayed. Again, this is intended for specialapplications, for example where an unusuallylongexposure time is needed.

help withthat process.

Ifyouare just startingwiththis

There is also anAuto exposure time selectionavailable. Whenexposure is set to Auto, PHD2 willattempt to adjust the exposure to keep the selected guide star at a constant signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) value. This is a specialized measurement used byPHD2 to determine how wellthe star canbe distinguished fromthe background - it is similar but not identicalto the signal-to-noise ratio used inphotometry. The Auto settingis primarilyintended for AO users who want to minimize exposure time without losingthe guide star. The settings to controlAuto-exposure are on the Camera Tab ofthe Advanced Dialog. Non-AO users should probablynot use the "Auto' exposure settingbecause it complicates interpretationofthe guidingresults.

Automatic Calibration

Conventional Mounts

Two things need to be measured byPHD2 as part ofguider calibration:

1.

The angle ofthe camera relative to the telescope axes

2. The lengthofthe guide pulse needed to move the telescope bya specific amount

PHD2 handles these measurements automaticallybysendingguide pulses to the mount and watchinghow far and inwhichdirectionthe star moves betweenguide camera images. This process begins after youhave selected a star and thenclicked onthe PHD2/Guide iconbutton. Yellow cross-hairs willappear over the originallocationofyour guide star and PHD2 willstart to move the mount invarious directions, trackinghow the star moves as a functionofwhat move commands were sent to the mount. The status bar willdisplaythe commands as theyare sent to the mount, alongwiththe incrementalmovements ofthe guide star relative to its startingposition. PHD2 willdo this onbothaxes, first movingeast and west, thennorthand south. PHD2 wants to move the star up to 25 pixels ineachdirectioninorder to get anaccurate calibration. Once this is complete, the crosshairs willturngreenand guidingwillstart automatically.

AlthoughPHD2 moves the guide star inallfour directions, onlythe west and northmovements are actuallyused to compute the guide rates and camera angle. The east and southmoves are used onlyto restore the star roughlyto its startingposition. Before the northmoves are begun, you

willsee a sequence ofpulses that are intended to clear backlash. PHD2 takes a fairlyaggressive approachto clearingthis backlash, watchingfor a clear patternofmovement ina single directionwithno reversals. Evenso, these pulses maystillnot clear allthe declinationbacklashinyour

mount, particularlyifyouare significantlyaffected byseeingconditions.

that is discussed further inthe Tools and Utilities section. Youmayalso see that the southpulses leave the guide star well-short ofits starting position- this is another visualclue that youhave significant declinationbacklashinyour mount. Ifyousee evidence ofsizable backlash, youcan runthe GuidingAssistant tooland measure it directly.

Inthat case, the computed declinationrate maybe too low, a situation

Inmost cases, calibrationwillcomplete automaticallywithout anyuser involvement. Ifyouget frequent failures duringcalibration, youshould consult the trouble-shootingsection.

Ifyou're usinganASCOM (or Indi) connectionfor either the 'mount' or 'aux-mount', a good calibrationcanbe re-used for a longtime, and that is the preferred wayto operate. These connectionoptions allow PHD2 to know where the telescope is pointing, so a calibrationdone at one point inthe skywillbe automaticallyadjusted as youslew to different targets. The old method ofhavingto re-calibrate whenever youslewed the scope or switched the side-of-pier is a thingofthe past so longas PHD2 has pointinginformation. Withthis type ofset-up, youwould onlyre-calibrate if yourotate the positionofthe guide camera bymore thanabout 5 degrees or make other major changes to the hardware configuration. Ingeneral, the best practice is to get a good calibrationwithinabout +/- 20 degrees ofthe celestrialequator and highenoughinthe skyto avoid major seeing (turbulence) problems. Since PHD2 has pointinginformationfor this type ofconfiguration, the 'Auto restore calibration' optioninthe Guidingtab ofthe Advanced Dialogwillbe checked automatically. Fromthis point forward, youcansimplyconnect to your gear, choose a guide star, then beginguidingimmediately. Finally, ifyou're usinganinstrument rotator as part ofyour equipment profile, PHD2 canuse the 'Rotator' connection to adjust the calibrationdata based onthe angular positionofthe guide camera - one less reasonfor re-doinga calibration.

Youcanalways review the results ofyour last calibrationbyusingthe 'Tools' menuand clickingon'Review CalibrationData' That willopena dialogthat shows a graphicalrepresentationofthe mount's movements alongwiththe values that were computed for guidingyour mount. This window is described elsewhere inthe CalibrationDetails sectionofthe help file. As a quick qualitycheck, youcanopenthis window and confirm

that 1) the RA and Dec lines are roughlyperpendicular and 2) the plotted points are roughlylinear withno significant curves, bends, clumpingof

points, or reversals indirection.

high-end mounts, calibrations canoccasionallygo awrybecause ofenvironmentalconditions, especiallywind and bad seeing.

Ifyoudo see these kinds ofodd patterns inthe graph, youshould probablyre-do the calibration. Evenwith

After a calibrationis completed, PHD2 will"sanitycheck"the results to be sure the calculations at least look reasonable. Iftheydon't, youwillsee an'alert' message at the top ofthe mainwindow that describes the calibrationresult that looks questionable. Youcanchoose to ignore the alert or click on'Details' to get more information. It is generallyadvisable to payattentionto these alerts because there is no point intryingto guide usinga significantlybad calibration.

Adaptive Optics Devices

Ifyouare usinganadaptive optics device, there are actuallytwo calibrationprocesses that must complete. The first handles calibrationofthe tip/tilt mirror inthe AO and calculates the magnitude and directionofthe adjustments as theyrelate to displacements ofthe guide star. The second calibrationis the one described above, dealingwithguide commands that need to be sent to the mount. Knownas "bump"commands, these will be issued whenthe guide star has moved beyond the range ofcorrections that canbe achieved withthe AO alone.

Guiding

Once guidinghas begun, diagnostic messages willbe displayed inthe status bar to show what guide commanda are beingsent to the mount. PHD2 willcontinue guidinguntilyouclick onthe 'Stop' icon. To resume guiding, simplystart loopingexposures again, select your star, and click onthe 'Guide' button. Youwillnot need to repeat the calibrationinorder to resume guiding. Insome cases, PHD2 maylose the guide star and you'llbe alerted byanaudible beep and flashingorange crosshairs. There are severalreasons this might occur:

1. Somethingmaybe obscuringthe star - clouds, the observatoryroof, a tree, etc.

2. The star mayhave abruptlymoved out ofthe trackingrectangle because somethingshifted inthe mount/camera/cablinginfrastructure - cable snags cancause this

3. The star mayhave "faded"for some other reason, perhaps because it is overlyfaint or the camera is not well-focused

Obviously, you'llneed to identifythe source ofthe problemand fixit. However, it's important to understand that PHD2 willnot start movingthe telescope around inanattempt to relocate the guide star. It willsimplycontinue to take exposures and look for the guide star to reappear within the bounds ofthe current trackingrectangle. Whenyoufirst start guiding, youmaysee an'alert' dialogat the top ofthe window ifno dark library or bad-pixelmap is beingused. Youcanchoose to ignore this warningand continue withguiding, but youare likelyto get better results ifyou spend the few minutes needed to construct a dark libraryfor future use.

Ifyouare usinga Germanequatorialmount (GEM), youwillusuallyhave to do a "meridianflip"around the time your image target crosses the meridian. This means youwillmove the telescope around to the opposite side ofthe pier and thenresume imaging. Doingthis invalidates the originalcalibration, typicallybecause the declinationdirections are now reversed. Ifyouare usinganASCOM (or 'aux' ) mount interface, your calibrationwillbe adjusted automaticallyand youcansimplyresume guiding(assumingyouhaven't also rotated the camera or focuser). Ifyou aren't usinganinterface that returns pointingposition, youwillneed to take actionto adjust the guider calibration. Youcan, ofcourse, simplydo another calibrationonthe current side ofthe pier, a process that willtypicallytake onlya couple ofminutes. Or, youcanuse the pull-downmenu itemunder 'Tools/ModifyCalibration' to "flip calibrationdata"and thenresume guidingimmediately. Note:'flip calibrationdata' willhave no effect ifPHD2 is usinganASCOM or 'aux-mount' connection.

Insome cases, youmaywant to force a re-calibration. For example, youmayhave rotated the guide camera as part ofresolvinga cable problem. Youcando this byclickingonthe 'Brainbutton', movingto the 'Guiding' tab, and clickingthe 'Clear mount calibration' checkbox. Or, youcan simplydo a <shift>click onthe 'Guide' buttononthe mainscreenand PHD2 willstart a calibrationrun.

Once youhave started guiding, youwillalmost certainlywant to know how things are going. Youcanofcourse watchthe star inthe guide camera displaybut inmanycases youwon't be able to see allthe smalladjustments that are takingplace. But PHD2 provides manytools for measuring and displayingyour performance, as described inthe Visualizationsection. Severalofthe guidingalgorithms have limit settings for the maximum guide correctionthat canbe issued witha single command. Ifthese values are smaller thanwhat is needed to correct the mount's position, youwill see analert dialogat the top ofthe mainwindow advisingyouofthe situation. Ifthis is a recurringproblem, youmaywant to increase the values for these settings or otherwise solve the underlyingproblem.

Dark Frames and Bad-pixel Maps

Introduction

Cameras used for guidingare typicallynot temperature-regulated and mayproduce images that appear quite noisy. As a result, guide exposures frequentlyshow obvious defects inthe formof hot ("stuck") pixels or regions withspurious brightness levels. Ifthere are too manyofthese defects, youmayhave trouble identifyingand selectinga good guide star - tryingto calibrate ona hot pixelis a commonproblemfor beginners. Evenafter guidinghas begun, a spurious hot pixelclose to the guide star candisrupt the calculations needed for smoothguidingand maycause the software to "jump"betweenthe realstar and the hot pixel. These sorts ofproblems canbe mitigated byusingeither oftwo approaches inPHD2:

dark frames and bad pixelmaps. Allfunctions related to dark frames and bad-pixelmaps are located under the top-level'Darks' menu.

Dark Frames

PHD2 willbuild and use a libraryofdark frames that matchthe range ofexposures youuse for guiding. Once the libraryis built, it willbe saved automaticallyand willbe available for use across multiple PHD2 sessions. As a result, youcanspend a modest amount oftime to build a good dark library, thenuse that libraryfor anextended period oftime. Once youhave connected to your camera, youcanbuild a dark libraryfromthe '

'Dark Library

itemunder the top-level'Darks' menu. That willstart a dialogthat looks like this:

menu. That willstart a dialogthat looks like this: Youuse the two controls at the top to

Youuse the two controls at the top to specifythe minimumand maximumexposure times that willbe used to acquire dark frames. The starting, ending, and intermediate values matchthe exposure times used inthe mainPHD2 window, so youcanacquire dark frames that willmatchany exposure time youchoose for guiding. The third controlspecifies the number ofdark frames that willbe acquired and averaged for eachexposure time. The averaged image is referred to as a "master dark frame." Historically, PHD has used 5 dark frames for this purpose, but youmaywant to increase that number to improve the qualityofthe master dark frame. Youcanalso add a note or comment ifyouwish- this willbe embedded inthe header ofthe master dark frames for later reference.

The two radio buttons above the Notes field let youspecifywhether youwant to modify/extend your current dark libraryor build a new library fromscratch. Ifyou've gottenalert messages sayingthe dark librarymust be rebuilt, youshould choose the 'Create entirelynew dark library' option. This insures that allofthe master dark images matchthe format ofthe camera you're currentlyusing. Otherwise, youcansimplyrefreshor expand the current dark librarybytakingnew dark frames at the specified exposure times

One you've set your parameters, click on'Start' to beginthe process. Ifyour guide camera does not have a shutter - most do not - you'llbe

prompted byPHD2 to cover the guide scope. To get the best results, be sure there is no light leakage into the guide camera - doingthis indaylight is not likelyto work well. PHD2 willsystematicallywork throughthe range ofexposure times you've chosen, takingthe specified number of frames for eachexposure time. Progress willbe displayed onthe status bar at the bottomofthe window, so youcansee where youare inthe overallprocess. Once you've started the process, the 'Cancel' buttonabove willchange to a 'Stop' button. Youcanclick onthis ifsomething goes wrongor youwant to change the parameters before the entire sequence completes. Stoppinginthis waywilldiscard whatever data has

alreadybeencollected, so you'llneed to make your corrections and thenrestart the process.

compute the master dark frames, store themina dark librarydata file, thenshow a message boxsummarizingthe results. Ifyour camera has no shutter, you'llalso be prompted to uncover the guide scope so youcanreturnto normalimaging.

Once allthe frames have beencollected, PHD2 will

Once your dark libraryhas beenbuilt, youcontrolits use bythe 'Use Dark Library' itemunder the 'Darks' menu. The checkboxonthe menuitem willtoggle onor offeachtime youclick onit. The settingofthe itemis retained across programexecutions, so ifyouchoose to leave the menu itemchecked, PHD2 willautomaticallyload the dark libraryand resume its use the next time yourunthe application. The dark libraryitselfis retained ondisk untilyoubuild a new library, so youcanfreelychange the settingonthe 'Use Dark Library' menuitemwithout loss ofanydata. If youare usinga dark libraryand there is no master dark frame that exactlymatches your guide exposure time, PHD2 willuse the nearest fit. However, youare encouraged to obtainmatchingmaster dark frames for best results. Ifyouhave a dark librarythat has missingexposure times, youcansimplyacquire the missingdata and it willbe added to the existingdark library- there is no need to start over. Bychangingthe settingof the 'Use Dark Library' menuitem, you'llbe able to see the effect ofusingthe dark libraryand determine whether your guider images are sufficiently improved.

Remember that a dark libraryis associated witha particular camera. PHD2 willcheck to be sure that the dark librarymatches the camera youare currentlyusing. Ifit does not, youwillsee analert message tellingyouthe dark librarycan't be used and must be rebuilt. This canhappenwhen you've changed cameras inside anexistingequipment profile, somethingyoushouldn't do unless youhave upgraded your guide camera and have no planto revert to use ofthe old camera.

Bad-pixel Maps (Defect Maps)

For some guide cameras, dark frames don't do anadequate job ofremovingthe defective pixels that are visible inthe guide frame. Inthose situations, youcanprobablyget better results bybuildingand usinga bad-pixelmap. This approachdirectlymeasures and compensates for specific areas ofthe sensor that produce false signal(hot/stuck pixels) or don't respond correctlyto incominglight (cold pixels). Sucha "map"is created bytakinga sequence ofcomparativelylongdark exposures (e.g. 15 seconds), averagingthem, thenstatisticallyanalyzingthe resultant frame to identifythe locations ofdefective pixels. These pixellocations are saved for future use. Duringnormalguiding, eachofthese pixel locations onthe guide image is replaced bya statisticalsample ofthe surroundingpixels, thus eliminatingallor most ofthe effect ofthe "bad"pixel. The finalresult is usuallyanimage witha smoother background and fewer obvious defects. For anydefects that remain, PHD2 also provides a wayfor youto manuallyclick onbad pixellocations and add themto the map. This entire process ofobtainingand analyzingdark frames is handled for youbyPHD2, so it's easyto build a bad-pixelmap.

Buildinga bad-pixelmap is done byclickingonthe 'Bad PixelMap

time, youwillbe prompted to obtaina sequence ofdark frames for analyzingyour camera sensor and buildingthe map:

'

itemunder the top-level'Darks' menu. Ifyouare doingthis for the first

menu. Ifyouare doingthis for the first This is a slightlydifferent versionofthe dialogused for

This is a slightlydifferent versionofthe dialogused for obtainingdark frames, described inthe previous section. Because the analysis is based on statistics, youshould use relativelylongexposure times (> 10 sec) and at least 10 frames. Since the bad-pixelmap canbe re-used for fairlylong time periods, youwon't have to repeat this operationveryoften, and it's worthspendingsome time to get higher qualitydata.

Once the dark frames have beencaptured, PHD2 willcompute the statistics and identifyaninitialset ofdefective or suspect pixellocations. After a short delay, you'llthensee a dialogthat looks somethinglike this:

The 'GeneralInformation' sectionshows a summaryofthe statistics computed byPHD2 duringthe identificationofbad

The 'GeneralInformation' sectionshows a summaryofthe statistics computed byPHD2 duringthe identificationofbad pixellocations. Normally, youwon't need to look at these, and youcanhide this portionofthe displaybyclearingthe 'Show Master Dark Details' checkbox. The "Results"

group shows the counts for hot and cold pixels based onthe current settings ofthe two "Aggressivness"sliders below them. Ifyou're doingthis for the first time, the aggressiveness sliders willbe set at their default values, 75 withinthe range of0 to 100. You'llneed to experiment or make some judgment about whether the counts look reasonable based onwhat yousee onyour normalguide frames. Ifyouadjust the aggressiveness sliders left and right, you'llsee the hot and cold pixelcounts change. The sliders controlhow "aggressive"PHD2 should be inidentifyingsuspect pixels

and flaggingthemas beingdefective - so higher aggressiveness settings willresult inhigher pixelcounts. them, click onthe 'Generate' buttonto compute and load the new defect map.

Once the settings are where youwant

At this point, you'llprobablywant to examine the results. The mainwindow ofPHD2 is stillactive, so youcantake a normalguide exposure to see how things look. Ifyouwant to quicklysee the result ofusingthe defect map, just toggle the 'Use Bad-pixelMap' menuitemunder the 'Darks'

menu.

smallnumber ofremaininghot/cold pixels that neither younor the PHD2 guidingalgorithms willmistake a bad pixelfor a star. Ifyouover-correct

withveryaggressive settings, youmaycreate so manybad pixelareas that theyinterfere withdetectionofusable guide stars. It's easyto make adjustments withthe sliders - just change the slider settings, click on'Generate' again, and look at the results inthe mainPHD2 window.

Keep inmind that youdon't need to achieve a perfectlysmooth, black background inthe guider image - youjust need to have a sufficiently

Youmayfind this approachstillleaves some hot pixels that you'd like to eliminate.

applyto a wide range ofcameras, it isn't a "fire-and-forget"operation- youwilloftenneed to fine-tune it usingthe steps below.

Since the default approachrelies onstatistics and needs to

Step-by-StepGuide to Refining a Bad-pixel Map

The followingsteps are recommended for refininga bad-pixelmap to controlpixel-levelartifacts inyour camera:

1. Cover the guide scope and start looping5-second exposures

2. Openthe Refine Bad-pixelMap window (Menu/Darks/Bad-pixelMap), thendragit to the side ofyour screenso youcansee boththe BPM and guidingwindows

3. Adjust the gamma slider inthe mainwindow untilyoucansee the hot pixels - this mayrequire a brighter image thanyouare accustomed to seeing

4. Select the option"Show defect pixels." Withthe boxchecked, red dots willappear for anyhot pixels that are alreadyknown.

5. Slowlydragthe hot-pixels aggressiveness slider left and right untilmost ofthe hot pixels are covered bya red dot, witha muchsmaller number (or evenzero) hot pixels not covered. Click the 'Generate' button

6. Now pick up the remaininghot pixels bymanuallyaddingthemto the bad-pixelmap

Un-check the "Show defect pixels"checkboxremaininghot pixels bymanuallyaddingthemto the bad-pixelmap Select a hot pixelinthe guidingwindow byclickingonit Click

Select a hot pixelinthe guidingwindow byclickingonitUn-check the "Show defect pixels"checkbox Click on'Add bad pixel' inthe BPM window Repeat as

Click on'Add bad pixel' inthe BPM windowSelect a hot pixelinthe guidingwindow byclickingonit Repeat as necessaryuntilyousatisfied most ofthe bad pixels

Repeat as necessaryuntilyousatisfied most ofthe bad pixels have beenhandledSelect a hot pixelinthe guidingwindow byclickingonit Click on'Add bad pixel' inthe BPM window 17

Close the BPM window - DO NOT click 'Generate' againbecause that willundo the manualpixelselection Once

Close the BPM window - DO NOT click 'Generate' againbecause that willundo the manualpixelselection

Once your bad-pixelmap has beenbuilt, youcontrolits use bythe 'Use Bad-pixelMap' itemunder the 'Darks' menu. This settingis retained across programexecutions, so leavingit checked willtellPHD2 to automaticallyload the defect map and use it for allguide exposures. The settings for 'Use Dark Library' and 'Use Bad-pixelMap' are mutuallyexclusive - youcanuse one or neither, but not bothat the same time. As withthe dark library, the bad-pixelmap data file is stored permanently, so youcandisable its use without losinganydata. Bothofthese data structures canbe used for extended time periods, but it's worthrememberingthat camera sensors do change over time. As a result, youmaywant to rebuild the dark libraryor bad-pixelmaps at periodic intervals or whenyoustart to see a degradationinthe appearance ofyour normalguide images. Inthese cases, it is also advisable to click onthe checkboxfor 'Rebuild Master Dark Frame', whichwilltellPHD2 to reacquire the underlyingdark frames and recompute a baseline bad-pixelmap. You'llthenneed to refine the map as youdid before untilyou're happywiththe results. There is no reasonyoushould need to interact witheither the dark libararyor bad-pixelmap data files, but youcanfind themlocated in the 'AppData\Local' logicaldirectoryused byyour operatingsystem.

Like dark libraries, bad-pixelmaps are associated witha particular camera. PHD2 willcheck to be sure that the bad-pixelmap matches the camera youare currentlyusing. Ifit does not, youwillsee analert message tellingyouthe bad-pixelmap can't be used and must be rebuilt. This canhappenwhenyou've changed cameras or binningfactors inside anexistingequipment profile, somethingyoushouldn't do unless youhave no need for the old settings.

Reusing Dark Frames and Bad-pixel Maps

Ifyou're usingthe same camera inmultiple profiles, youmaywant to re-use the dark libraries or bad-pixelmaps youbuilt for that camera. This canbe accomplished byimportingthe camera-related data files into a profile that doesn't alreadyhave those files. For example, suppose youbuilt anoriginalprofile - callit Profile1 - that uses your Lodestar guide camera, and youbuilt botha dark libraryand bad-pixelmap for it. Some time

later, youcreate a new profile, Profile2, that has different mount or focallengthproperties but stilluses the originalLodestar camera. Inthat case, '

youwould connect your gear usingProfile2, thenuse the 'Import FromProfile

Profile1 as the source ofthe import functionfor the dark library, bad-pixelmap, or both. Youwillbe shownonlythose profiles that have a camera withcompatible sensor geometry(size and pixelsize). Clickingon'Ok' willcopythe dark/bad-pixelmap files and willassociated themwithyour new profile, Profile2. Since theyare copies, changingthe data files inone profile willnot affect other profiles. Keepingthemsynchronized, ifthat is what youwant to do, willrequire a subsequent 'import' operation.

menuitemunder the top-level'Darks' menu. Youwould select

Visualization Tools

PHD2 provides numerous visualizationand displaytools to help yousee how your guider is performing. Allofthese tools are accessed under the 'View' pull-downmenuand are described below.

Overlaysthe 'View' pull-downmenuand are described below. GraphicalDisplay Stats Display Star Profile and Target

GraphicalDisplaypull-downmenuand are described below. Overlays Stats Display Star Profile and Target Displays AO Graph

Stats Displayare described below. Overlays GraphicalDisplay Star Profile and Target Displays AO Graph Dockable Windows

Star Profile and Target Displaysare described below. Overlays GraphicalDisplay Stats Display AO Graph Dockable Windows Overlays The simplest displaytools

AO GraphStats Display Star Profile and Target Displays Dockable Windows Overlays The simplest displaytools are grid

Dockable WindowsStats Display Star Profile and Target Displays AO Graph Overlays The simplest displaytools are grid overlays

Overlays

The simplest displaytools are grid overlays superimposed over the mainguider displaywindow. These are quite straightforward and include the followingchoices:

Bullseye targetare quite straightforward and include the followingchoices: Fine grid Coarse grid RA/Dec - this shows how

Fine gridand include the followingchoices: Bullseye target Coarse grid RA/Dec - this shows how the telescope axes

Coarse gridand include the followingchoices: Bullseye target Fine grid RA/Dec - this shows how the telescope axes

RA/Dec - this shows how the telescope axes are aligned relative to the axes ofthe camera sensorthe followingchoices: Bullseye target Fine grid Coarse grid Spectrographslit/slit position- for spectroscopyusers, this

Spectrographslit/slit position- for spectroscopyusers, this willoverlaya spectrographslit graphic onthe maindisplaywindow. The size, position, and angle ofthe graphic can be adusted to matchthe opticalconfiguration.axes are aligned relative to the axes ofthe camera sensor None Youcanjust click onthe various overlayoptions

Nonegraphic can be adusted to matchthe opticalconfiguration. Youcanjust click onthe various overlayoptions under the

Youcanjust click onthe various overlayoptions under the 'View' menuand choose one that suits you.

Graphical Display

The graphicaldisplaywindow is one ofthe more powerfultools for judgingguidingperformance, and youwillprobablylearnto relyonit. A typicalexample is shownbelow:

relyonit. A typicalexample is shownbelow: The major portionofthe window shows the detailed

The major portionofthe window shows the detailed displacements ofthe guide star for eachguide exposure, plotted left-to-right. Normally, one line shows displacements inright ascensionwhile the second line shows declinationdisplacements. However, youcanuse the 'Settings' buttonto the left ofthe graphto switchto camera (X/Y) axes ifyouprefer. Youcanalso use the 'Settings' buttonto switchbetweendisplayunits ofarc-seconds vs. camera pixels or to change the colors ofthe two graphlines. The range ofthe verticalaxis is controlled bythe second buttonfromthe top, labelled y:+/-4"inthis example. The range ofthe horizontalaxis - the number ofguide exposures beingplotted - is controlled bythe topmost button, labelled x:50 inthis example. This scale also controls the sample size used for calculatingthe statistics yousee inthe lower left part ofthe graphwindow. These values show the root-mean-square (RMS or standard deviation) ofthe motions ineachaxis alongwiththe totalfor bothaxes. These are probablyyour best estimators ofguiding performance because theycanbe directlycompared to star sizes and seeingconditions. The 'RA Osc' value shows the odds that the current RA move is inthe opposite directionas the last RA move. Ifyouare too aggressive inyour guidingand over-shootingthe mark eachtime, this number willtrend toward 1.0. Ifyouwere perfect and not over- or under- shootingand your mount had no periodic error, the score would be 0.5 Takingperiodic error into account, the idealvalue would be closer to 0.3 or 0.4. Ifthis score gets verylow (e.g. 0.1), youmaywant to increase the RA aggressivness or decrease the hysteresis. Ifit gets quite high(e.g. 0.8), youmaywant adjust aggressivness/hysteresis inthe opposite direction. There are two other checkboxes to the left that canhelp youevaluate guider performance. Clickingonthe 'Corrections' boxresults inanoverlayshowingwhenguide commands are actuallysent to the mount, alongwiththeir directionand magnitude. Inthis example, these are shownas the verticalred and greenlines appearingat irregular intervals alongthe horizontalaxis. This shows youhow "busy"the guidingis - under optimalconditions, youshould expect to see extended intervals whenno guide commands are sent at all. The other checkbox, labelled 'Trendlines', willsuperimpose trend lines inbothaxes to show ifthere is a consistent overalldrift inthe star position. This is primarilyusefulfor drift aligningwhere the declinationtrendline is used extensively. But the RA trendline canshow ifyour mount is trackingsystematicallyslow or fast (or is seeingthe effects offlexure) and canhelp ifyouare tryingto set up customtrackingrates. Ifditheringcommands are issued, usuallybyanexternalimagingapplication, a 'dithering' labelwillbe superimposed onthe graphinthe appropriate time interval. This tells youthe star displacements beinggraphed are beinginfluenced bythe ditheringoperation. Ifyouare usinganASCOM connectionfor either the 'mount' or 'aux-mount', PHD2 willalso show the directions (GuideNorth, GuideEast) associated withthe guide commands, as showninthe example above. This canbe helpfulifyouare lookingat overalldrift and want to determine how to set uni-directionalguidingfor declination. The up/downconventionused inthis graphhas nothingto do withthe camera orientationor N-S-E-W movements inthe field ofview.

The recommended wayto look at guidingperformance is to use units ofarc-seconds rather thanpixels. Doingthis allows anequipment-independent wayofevaluatingperformance because it transcends questions offocallengthand image scale. To do this, youneed to provide PHD2 withsufficient informationto determine your guider image scale:namely, the focallengthofthe guide scope and the size ofthe guide camera pixels. These parameters are set inthe 'Brain' dialog, onthe 'Global' and 'Camera' tabs, respectively. Iftheyare not specified, PHD2 willuse default values of1.0, and the guidingperformance numbers willeffectivelybe reported inunits ofpixels.

At the bottomofthe graphwindow are active controls for adjustingguidingparameters "onthe fly". The guidingalgorithmselections you've made willcontrolwhichcontrols are shown. These controls have the same effect as those inthe 'Brain' dialog, and theyeliminate the need to stop guidingand navigate to another window to adjust guidingparameters.

Stats

Ifyouwant to monitor guidingperformance without necessarilyhavingthe graphwindow open, youcanclick on the

Ifyouwant to monitor guidingperformance without necessarilyhavingthe graphwindow open, youcanclick on the "Stats"menuitem. That willdisplaythe salient statistics with controls for clearingthe data or changingthe number ofguide exposures used to compute the statistics. This window is also usefulfor confirmingcamera binning, monitoringthe guide camera temperature, and gettinga quick calculationofyour guide camera's field ofview.

Star Profile and Target Displays

camera's field ofview. Star Profile and Target Displays The star profile displayshows the cross-sectionofthe guide

The star profile displayshows the cross-sectionofthe guide star alongwithmeasurements for its full-width-half-maximum(FWHM) and half-flux-diameter (HFD). HFD is generalya more stable measure ofthe star size since it doesn't require curve fittingor anyassumptionabout the overallshape ofthe star image. That's whyautomated focusingapplications like FocusMaxuse it. Ifyousee substantialfluctuations inthis parameter or wildlyvaryingstar profiles, it maybe anindicationthat the star is too faint or the exposure time is too short. This toolcanalso help withfocusingthe guide camera, a procedure that canbe a bit tedious ifyou're usinganoff-axis-guider at a fairlylongfocallength. For that purpose, the HFD number is shownina large font so youcansee it froma distance while focusingyour guide scope/camera. Just un-dock the Star Profile window and expand it untilyoucansee the HFD number easily. Ifyouare startingwellout-of-focus, you'llprobablysee onlya few fuzzystars inthe frame, so just choose the smallest one that is clearlyvisible. Use exposure times ofat least 2 seconds ifpossible so youdon't chase the seeing. At the same time, don't let the star become saturated, showinga distinctive flat top. Now adjust the focus so the HFD gets consistentlysmaller - but stop as soonas HFD reverses directionor seems to plateau. At that point, the star maybe saturated, so move to a dimmer star inthe field. Since youhave alreadyimproved the focus, youcanhopefullysee a dimmer star. Continue inthis wayuntilyou've reached a focus point that shows a minimumlevelofHFD for the faintest star youcanuse. At eachpoint inthe focusingprocess, you'llprobablywant to watchthe HFD values for a few frames so youcanmentallyaverage out the effects ofseeing. Bad focus is a commonissue for beginners, leadingto problems incalibrationor generallypoor guidingresults. Use the Star Profile toolto be sure the star doesn't have a flat top (saturation) and shows a tapered shape like the example shownabove.

The target displayis another usefulwayto visualize overallguider performance. The red 'X' shows the star

The target displayis another usefulwayto visualize overallguider performance. The red 'X' shows the star displacement for the most recent guide exposure, while the blue dots show

the recent history. Youcanzoominor out withthe controls at the upper left ofthe window, as wellas change the number ofpoints showninthe history.

ASCOM connectionfor either the 'mount' or 'aux-mount', PHD2 willalso show the directions (SkyNorth, SkyEast) associated withthe star movement, as showninthe example above. This canbe helpfulifyouare lookingat overalldrift and want to determine how to set uni-directionalguidingfor declination. The up/downconventionused inthis graphhas nothingto do withthe camera orientationor N-S-E-W movements inthe field ofview.

Adaptive Optics (AO) Graph

Ifyouare usingan

field ofview. Adaptive Optics (AO) Graph Ifyouare usingan The AO graphis equivalent to the 'target' display,

The AO graphis equivalent to the 'target' display, but shows the historyofcorrections relative to the axes ofthe adaptive optics device. The red rectangle indicates the outer edges of the AO device, while the interior yellow rectangle shows the "bump"region. Ifthe star moves outside the yellow rectangle, PHD2 willsend a sequence ofmove commands to the mount - the "bump"- to smoothlyplace the guide star back near the center position. Whenthis occurs, greenand blue lines willshow the incrementalbump and the remainingbump respectively. The white dot onthe displayshows the current AO position, and the greencircle (red whena bump is inprogress) shows the averaged AO position. The buttoninthe upper left controls how manypoints willbe plotted inthe history.

Dockable/Moveable Graphical Windows

Whenthe various performance windows are initiallydisplayed, theyare "docked"inthe mainwindow. This means theyare sized ina particular wayand are aligned withtwo edges of the window - theyare entirelycontained withinthe bounds ofthe mainPHD2 window. However, youcanmove themaround and resize thembyclickingand draggingonthe title bar ofthe window youwant to examine. This willoftenlet youget a better view ofthe details beingshowninthe graphs. Theycanbe re-docked bydraggingthe title bar to the general regioninwhichyouwant themdocked - bottom, right, etc. Withjust a bit ofpractice, it's easyto place themwhere theyare most convenient.

There is also a menuitemunder the 'View"pulldownmenulabeled 'Restore window positions.' Clickingonthis menuitemwillautomaticallyrestore allofthe dockable/moveable windows to their default, docked positions. This canbe useful, for example, ifyouare switchingbetweenscreens withdifferent resolutions and one or more ofthe dockable windows has been"lost." This functionalso restores the mainPHD2 window to its default size, witha positionnear the upper lefthand corner ofthe screen.

Advanced Settings

Advanced settings are accessed byclickingonthe 'Brainbutton', a feature well-knownto users ofthe originalPHD. PHD2 has a considerably larger set ofparameters that canbe adjusted to optimize your guidingperformance. Althoughthese are called "advanced"settings, theyare not particularlydifficult to understand, and youshouldn't hesitate to explore them. Allofthe fields onthese forms include "tooltips", smallmessage

windows that describe eachfield insome detail. Simply"hover"the cursor over the field to see the tool-tip. Inmanycases, this willprovide allthe

informationyouneed.

Because there are manymore settings available, the Advanced DialoginPHD2 is organized into notebook tabs that are

activated byclickingonthe tab names. Allofthe tabs share a commonset of'Ok' and 'Cancel' buttons at the bottomofthe form. Clickingon 'Ok' means that changes made to anyofthe tab fields willbe put into effect. Clickingon'Cancel' discards anychanges that were made.

GlobalTab Camera Tab GuidingTab Algorithms Tab Other Devices Tab

Global Tab

Tab GuidingTab Algorithms Tab Other Devices Tab Global Tab The controls onthe 'Global' tab are well-described

The controls onthe 'Global' tab are well-described bytheir respective tool-tips, but theyare summarized here for completeness:

'Language' - determines the language used inthe PHD2 user interface, subject to available localization. Changingthis requires a program restart PHD2 user interface, subject to available localization. Changingthis requires a program restart

'Reset Configuration' - restores allsettings to their initialvalues as ifPHD2 had beenfreshlyinstalled PHD2 had beenfreshlyinstalled

'Reset Don't Show Againmessages' - restores the displayofalert messages ifyouhave previouslychosento not show themto their initialvalues as if PHD2 had beenfreshlyinstalled Software Update Automaticallycheck for updates - allow PHD2

Software Update Automaticallycheck for updates - allow PHD2 to check for software updates whenthe programstarts up PHD2 to check for software updates whenthe programstarts up

PHD2 to check for software updates whenthe programstarts up Onlycheck for major releases - indicates whether

Onlycheck for major releases - indicates whether to include development builds whencheckingfor software updates. See the Software Update sectionfor more informationabout PHD2 software updates. Software Update sectionfor more informationabout PHD2 software updates.

'LogFile Location' - specifies a file directorywhere PHD2 guide logs, debuglogs, and anydiagnostic image files willbe stored.sectionfor more informationabout PHD2 software updates. Dither Settings 'Randommode' - tells PHD2 to use a

Dither Settings 'Randommode' - tells PHD2 to use a random-number generator to compute boththe size and the directionofthe dither, subject to anyconstraints imposed byRA-onlymode or bythe Dec guidingmode beingset to 'None'. 'Spiralmode' - tells PHD2 to dither withfixed-size amounts ina clockwise spiralpattern. This canbe a good choice whenthe imagingcamera has significant fixed-patternnoise or the mount has a troublesome amount ofDec backlash.- specifies a file directorywhere PHD2 guide logs, debuglogs, and anydiagnostic image files willbe stored. 22

choice whenthe imagingcamera has significant fixed-patternnoise or the mount has a troublesome amount ofDec backlash. 22
choice whenthe imagingcamera has significant fixed-patternnoise or the mount has a troublesome amount ofDec backlash. 22

'Dither RA only' - tells PHD2 to dither onlyonthe RA axis.'Dither scale' - anoptionalmultiplier used to adjust the maximum-dither amount specified bythe image application.

'Dither scale' - anoptionalmultiplier used to adjust the maximum-dither amount specified bythe image application. See Dithering Operations Dithering Operations

'Enable diagnostic image logging' - used primarilyfor product support and diagnosis ofproblems dealingwithPHD2 star-recognitionand measurement. However, it canbe used to examine and analyze guide frame images for anyother purpose as well. Guide frame images are captured and logged ina FITs format subject to the filter/trigger controls inthe group-box. Images are saved insub-folders ofthe PHD2 loggingdirectorywiththe date and time encoded as part ofthe sub-folder name. Individualguide frames are saved withfilenames that indicate the time the image was captured and the reasonthe frame was saved. Since the guide frames are saved ina FITs format, the header willinclude other usefulinformationsuchas exposure time. Because the loggingfunctionis primarilyused for trouble-shooting, the image sub-folders are automaticallyremoved after 30 days. Ifyouwishto keep the images for your ownpurposes, youshould either rename the sub-folders or copy/move themto a different directory. Whenloggingis triggered byone ofthe "events"- e.g. lost star or large errors - a group ofimages (animage set) willbe saved, centered intime onthe image that triggered the event. This provides a image set) willbe saved, centered intime onthe image that triggered the event. This provides a record of guider images that willshow what the guide star and guide frame looked like bothbefore and after the unusualconditionoccurred. The various triggeringand filteringcontrols are described below and are also showninthe tooltips for the controls:

'Alllost star frames' - logs the image set for anylost-star events, regardless ofthe reasonfor the lost star (low SNR, mass-change, etc.)below and are also showninthe tooltips for the controls: 'Allauto-select star frames' - logs the image

'Allauto-select star frames' - logs the image set for anyframes used for auto-selectionofthe star, regardless ofoutcome. Note that anyfailed attempts to auto-select a star willalways result ina logged image, regardless ofchoices made inthe user interface.ofthe reasonfor the lost star (low SNR, mass-change, etc.) 'Whenrelative error exceeds' - logs the image

'Whenrelative error exceeds' - logs the image set whenthe star deflectiononthe current frame exceeds the running-average error by the factor choseninthe adjacent spincontrol. For example, ifthe average (RMS) error is 0.5 pixels and the current frame's error is 1.5 pixels, the relative error is 3.image, regardless ofchoices made inthe user interface. 'Whenabsolute error exceeds' - logs the image set

'Whenabsolute error exceeds' - logs the image set whenthe star deflectionexceeds the number ofpixels specified inthe adjacent spincontrol.frame's error is 1.5 pixels, the relative error is 3. 'Untilthis count is reached' - logs

'Untilthis count is reached' - logs images untilthe count matches the value ofthe adjacent spincontrol. The counter is reset to zero whenthe limit is reached.the number ofpixels specified inthe adjacent spincontrol. Camera Tab The controls onthe 'Camera' tab are used

Camera Tab

is reset to zero whenthe limit is reached. Camera Tab The controls onthe 'Camera' tab are

The controls onthe 'Camera' tab are used as follows:

'Noise reduction' - specifies the algorithmto use for handlingnoisyguide camera images - those for whichdark frames are not sufficient. Choices include None, 2x2 mean, and 3x3 median. Both2x2 meanand 3x3 medianwillreduce the noise considerably. 3x3 medianis especiallyeffective at removinghot pixels and neither willsignificantlyaffect guidingaccuracy. However, creatinga bad-pixelmap is likely to be a better solutionwithless impact onyour abilityto detect faint stars.The controls onthe 'Camera' tab are used as follows: 'Time lapse' - imposes a fixed delaybetweenguide

'Time lapse' - imposes a fixed delaybetweenguide exposures. This canbe usefulifthe guide exposures are veryshort and youdon't want to overload either the mount or the camera link withveryhightraffic rates.solutionwithless impact onyour abilityto detect faint stars. 'Auto Exposure' - these are the settings that

'Auto Exposure' - these are the settings that controlAuto exposure time.the mount or the camera link withveryhightraffic rates. MinExposure - the minimumexposure time. PHD2 willnot set

MinExposure - the minimumexposure time. PHD2 willnot set the exposure time less thanthis value, evenifthe guide star SNR is higher thanthe target SNR value. Ifthe minexposure time is set too low, youare likelyto chase seeingeffects and therebyget poor guidingresults. Users ofAO units willusuallyset this to a lower value, since rapid smallcorrections are oftendesirable withanAO.camera link withveryhightraffic rates. 'Auto Exposure' - these are the settings that controlAuto exposure time. 23

MaxExposure - the maximumexposure time. Before a guide star is selected, PHD2 willset the exposure time to the maximumvalue. Once a guide star is selected, PHD2 willthenincrementallydecrease the exposure time untilthe desired SNR is reached.Target SNR - this is the average SNR value that PHD2 willattempt to achieve byadjustingthe

Target SNR - this is the average SNR value that PHD2 willattempt to achieve byadjustingthe exposure time. SNR canfluctuate fromframe to frame evenwitha fixed exposure duration, so be sure to account for that whenchoosinga target SNR value. PHD2 willreject frames whenSNR drops below 3.0. The default value of6.0 should provide enoughofa cushionto prevent fluctuations fromcausingthe SNR to go below 3.0. As mentioned inthe 'Basic Use' section, SNR is similar but not identicalto the signal-to- noise ratio used inphotometry.the exposure time untilthe desired SNR is reached. 'Pixelsize' - The guide camera pixelsize inmicrons.

'Pixelsize' - The guide camera pixelsize inmicrons. This is the second oftwo parameters needed byPHD2 to compute the guider image scale and thus report guider statistics inunits ofarc-seconds. The PHD2 to compute the guider image scale and thus report guider statistics inunits ofarc-seconds. The other parameter required for this is the guide scope focallength, located onthe 'Guiding' tab. Refer to your camera documentationto determine the correct value for pixelsize. Ifyour camera has non-square pixels, just choose one ofthe dimensions or input the average ofthe two. The pixelsize has no effect onguidingaccuracy, so a small amount ofimprecisioninthe user interface won't cause anyproblems. Ifyou're usingthe binningsettinginthis dialogto controlcamera binning, the pixelsize should be the native, un-binned size. Note: this controlmaybe disabled ifthe camera and camera driver canreport

the pixelsize to PHD2. Inthat case, the value displayed inthe disabled controlrepresents the device-reported pixelsize - it is what it is. If you're also specifyinga binningfactor at the camera driver levelrather thaninPHD2, the reported pixelsize maychange as a result. It is generallybetter to use PHD2 to set binning(see below).

'Camera gain' - Sets the gainlevelfor the manycameras that support this feature. Reducingthis parameter canhelp to reduce the noise levelor mayallow use ofa bright star without saturation.It is generallybetter to use PHD2 to set binning(see below). 'Disconnect nonresponsive camera after (seconds) -

'Disconnect nonresponsive camera after (seconds) - Camera malfunctions willsometimes occur, oftenbecause offaultyUSB connections. Inmanycases, the camera willnot returnthe requested image data, and PHD2 willappear to "hang." This parameter determines how long PHD2 should wait for a response after the expected exposure time has expired. For example, a timeout value of5 seconds inconjunction withanexposure time of2 seconds willtellPHD2 to wait up to 7 seconds for a response. Ifthe data are not received withinthat period, PHD2 willattempt to halt the operation, disconnect the camera, and displayanalert message inthe mainwindow. Since a hardware problemis likelythe underlyingissue, this recoveryattempt won't always succeed. Youshould be generous withthese timeout values to avoid spurious recoveryactions. Also, ifyouare usinga guide camera that shares electronics withthe mainimagingcamera, youshould set this timeout to a large value, wellabove the maximumexpected time for a full-frame download fromthe mainimager. This is a consideration for users ofthe SBIG driver that is packaged withSequence Generator Pro. Regardless ofwhether PHD2 is able to handle the situation gracefully, the underlyingproblemis almost certainlyinthe hardware or the camera driver and willneed to be resolved before guidingis continued.levelor mayallow use ofa bright star without saturation. Binning- for those cameras that support on-chip (hardware)

Binning- for those cameras that support on-chip (hardware) binning, youcanspecifythe binningthat willbe used while takingguide exposures. See below for a more detailed discussion. This controlwillappear onlyifthe camera is capable ofon-chip binningand onlyif the camera is connected to PHD2.and willneed to be resolved before guidingis continued. 'Use subframes' - For cameras that support this

'Use subframes' - For cameras that support this feature, PHD2 willdownload onlya subframe ofeachguide exposure. This is veryuseful for cameras withslow download times, PHD2 willdownload onlya subframe ofeachguide exposure. This is veryuseful for cameras withslow download times, allowingthemto be used more effectivelyfor guiding. This feature applies to bothcalibrationand guiding. Duringinitialloopingwithout a selected star, the fullframe is downloaded, but once a star is selected, onlythis smallsubframe is

downloaded.

displaywindow.

Ifyouare usingsubframes but want to see the fullframe to select a different star, just shift-click anywhere inthe image

Use of Binning Some ofthe guide cameras available inPHD2 support hardware-levelbinning, and this maybe helpfulinsituations where youare guidingat long focallengths or have a guide camera withverysmallpixels. These scenarios oftenresult inhavingto use faint guide stars, and the guider images maybe substantiallyover-sampled. Over-samplingprovides no realbenefit, and the projectionofa faint star disk onto manysmallpixels can result ina low signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). Bybinningthe image, youcanreduce the impact ofcamera read noise and thus improve the SNR; and ifyouare over-sampled, youwon't degrade the accuracyofcomputingthe guide star location. Choosinga binningfactor greater thanone will have the followingeffects:

1. Star images willhave a higher SNR and willbe easier to detect above the background noise level. This is onlybeneficialifyouare limited to a choice amongfaint stars (i.e. withSNR values near the threshold of3).

2. The amount ofdata downloaded fromthe camera willbe reduced bythe square ofthe binningfactor. This canbe helpfulifyouare usinga camera that makes heavyuse ofUSB resources evenifstar brightness and SNR are alreadyreasonable withun-binned images. Ofcourse, usingsub-frames canachieve the same result once a star has beenselected.

3. The resolution(image scale) ofyour guider image willbe reduced bythe binningfactor. This is not likelyto be a problemifthe un-binned image scale is below 1 arc-sec/pixel, but your guidingresults maysuffer ifthe un-binned image scale is wellabove 1 arc-sec/pixel. Youmay need to experiment because the results willalso depend onthe image scale ofyour maincamera system.

Eachbinninglevelrequires its owndark frames and bad-pixelmap - theyare not interchangeable, nor cana transformbe done automatically. If youforesee the need to switchback and forthbetweenbinningsettings, youshould create separate profiles for eachbinningvalue. Thenbuild a

dark libraryand a bad-pixelmap for eachofthose profiles. Whenyouwant to change binningfactors, just switchto the profile that has the setting

youwant, and a dark libraryand/or bad-pixelmap willbe available.

Stats window to confirmthe firame size and current on-camera binsettings.

Guiding Tab

Ifyouwant to check that the camera is binningcorrectly, youcanuse the

The guidingtab shows the parameters used for calibration, star-tracking, and guidingbehavior shared byallofthe guide

The guidingtab shows the parameters used for calibration, star-tracking, and guidingbehavior shared byallofthe guide algorithms

Guide Star Tracking

'Searchregion' - specifies the size ofthe "trackingrectangle", inunits ofpixels. Youmayneed to increase this value ifyour mount does not performwellor, more commonly, ifit's not well-aligned onthe celestialpole. Youmayalso want to increase it temporarilywhile usingthe GuidingAssistant so that backlashmeasurement canbe done without losingthe guide star. Just remember that anoverlylarge searchregion also increases the likelihood that multiple stars willlive withinits boundaries, whichcould lead to guidingproblems.shared byallofthe guide algorithms Guide Star Tracking 'Star mass detection' - tells PHD2 to monitor the

'Star mass detection' - tells PHD2 to monitor the brightness and size ofthe guide star compared to the skybackground. PHD2 to monitor the brightness and size ofthe guide star compared to the skybackground.

'Star mass tolerance' - ifthe 'Enable' boxis checked, PHD2 willtrigger a 'lost star' error ifthe measured brightness and size varybymore thanthis percentage. This PHD2 willtrigger a 'lost star' error ifthe measured brightness and size varybymore thanthis percentage. This might be usefulifyouhave two stars inside the trackingrectangle and youwant to be sure PHD2 doesn't mistakenlyswitchstars. It canalso prevent errors caused bythinclouds, highcamera noise, or alpha particle artifacts; but it maybe unreliable ifyouare guidingona faint star. Ifyouare gettingtoo many'lost star' errors whenthe star is plainlyvisible onthe display, try increasingthe value ofthis setting. Resettingthe 'Enable' checkboxor settingthe threshold to 100 willdisable the warnings entirely.

'Minimumstar HFD' - specifies the minimumhalf-flux-diameter (roughtlythe 'size') ofa suitable guide star. This is probablythe best wayto prevent PHD2 frommis-identifyingclumps ofhot pixels as usable guide stars. Youcandetermine a suitable value for your systemby manuallyselectingsome smallstars that youknow are not just hot pixels, thenuse the star-profile toolto see the HFD values ofthose stars. You'llwant to specifya minimumHFD value that allows selectionoflegitimate faint stars but not hot pixels.threshold to 100 willdisable the warnings entirely. Calibration 'Focallength' - the focallengthofthe

Calibration

'Focallength' - the focallengthofthe guide scope (millimeters). This provides one oftwo parameters needed byPHD2 to compute the image scale and thus report guidingperformance inunits ofarc-seconds. The other parameter PHD2 to compute the image scale and thus report guidingperformance inunits ofarc-seconds. The other parameter required for this is the guide camera pixel size, located onthe 'Camera' tab.

'Calibrationstep-size' - specifes the durationofthe guide pulse that PHD2 willuse duringcalibration. Its use is described inthe 'Auto Calibration' sectionofthe 'Basic Use' PHD2 willuse duringcalibration. Its use is described inthe 'Auto Calibration' sectionofthe 'Basic Use' help page. Youcanadjust the value dependingonwhether the guide star is movingtoo quicklyor too slowlyduringcalibration. As a generalguideline, it is good to calibrate withinabout 30 degrees ofthe celestialequator (declination= 0), '

and to use a calibrationstep size that willresult in8-14 steps ineachdirection.

a dialogthat canhelp youcompute anappropriate value (see below)

The 'calculate

buttonto the right ofthis controlwilllaunch

'Auto restore calibration' - tells PHD2 to automaticallyreload the most recent calibrationdata as soonas the equipment is connected. If you're PHD2 to automaticallyreload the most recent calibrationdata as soonas the equipment is connected. If you're usinganASCOM (or Indi) mount connectionor have an'aux-mount' connection, you'llprobablywant to have this optionset. Conversely, ifPHD2 has no scope pointinginformationavailable, this optionwillnormallybe reset. The new-profile wizard willchoose a default settingfor this optionbased onthe configurationyoudefine. Note that auto-restore is remembered for eachseparate equipment profile, and it onlyhas aneffect whenyouload the profile and connect to the equipment. Ifyouwant to force a recalibrationbefore an individualguidingsessionbegins, youcansimplyclear the mount calibration(see below).

'Assume Dec orthogonalto RA' - Normally, the calibrationprocess independentlycomputes the camera angles for bothright ascensionandto force a recalibrationbefore an individualguidingsessionbegins, youcansimplyclear the mount calibration(see below). 25

declination. There is no need for great precisiononthese values, and the default behavior normallyworks well. However, ifyour mount has veryhighperiodic error or youare dealingwithverybad seeingconditions, youmaywant to force the RA and Declinationangles to be perpendicular. Ifyouchoose that option, PHD2 willcompute the camera angle for RA, thenassert a declinationangle that is orthogonalto it.

'Clear mount calibration' - tells PHD2 youwant to clear the calibrationdata currentlybeingused for the mount and re-calibrate before guidingis restarted. PHD2 youwant to clear the calibrationdata currentlybeingused for the mount and re-calibrate before guidingis restarted. Youmight do this for a varietyofreasons - rotatingthe guide camera or changingthe mount guide speed, for example. Youcanalso accomplishthe same result bydoinga Shift-Click onthe PHD2/guidingicononthe mainpage, whichwillforce a re- calibration.

'Use DeclinationCompensation' - ifPHD2 canget pointinginformationfromthe mount via anASCOM connection('Mount' or 'Aux'), it will automaticallyadjust the RA guide rate based onthe current declination. This boxshould normallybe left checked except inunusualcases. For example, SiTechmount controllers evidentlyapplya compensationautomatically, inwhichcase the boxshould be left un-checked. Don't confuse this optionwith'Declinationbacklashcompensation', whichis anentirelydifferent feature.mainpage, whichwillforce a re- calibration. Shared GuidingParameters 'Fast re-center after

Shared GuidingParameters

'Fast re-center after calibrationor dither' - duringcalibrationor dithering, the mount maybe moved a significant distance fromthe initial "lock"position. Ifyouclick this checkbox, PHD2 willmove the mount back to the lock positionas quicklyas possible, usingthe largestanentirelydifferent feature. Shared GuidingParameters guide commands permitted bythe 'MaxDuration'

guide commands permitted bythe 'MaxDuration' settings ofyour guide algorithms and bythe size ofyour trackingregion. This is onlyan optimization, so the use ofthis checkboxis completelyoptional. Ifyoufind that calibrationoftenfails because the star is lost duringthe fast re-center, youshould disable this option. That sort ofproblemmayindicate that youhave a large polar alignment error or excessive periodic error inRA. Youcanrunthe GuidingAssistant to help see what's causingthe problem.

'Reverse Dec output after meridianflip' - tells PHD2 how to adjust the calibrationdata after a meridianflip. Some mounts track their 'side ofpier' PHD2 how to adjust the calibrationdata after a meridianflip. Some mounts track their 'side ofpier' state and automaticallyreverse the directionofthe declinationmotor. Most mounts do not do this. Ineither case, PHD2 needs to know ifthe mount willautomaticallychange its behavior based onside-of-pier. Youmayhave difficultyfindinginformationabout how your mount behaves inthis respect, so it's probablyeasiest to just runa quick experiment. Withthe checkboxdisabled, calibrate onone side of the pier, thenmove the mount to the other side. Ifyouare guidingvia ASCOM or Indior are usingan'auxmount' connection, just start guiding. Ifyou're guidingonlyvia ST-4 and PHD2 has no scope pointinginformation, first select 'Flip Calibration' under the 'Tools' menu, and thenstart guiding. Ineither case, ifthe guidingworks normally, leave the boxun-checked; but ifyousee run-awayin declination, check the boxand repeat the entire procedure, includingcalibration.

'Enable mount guide output' - this is normallychecked because it tells PHD2 to send guide commands to the mount. But there are some circumstances where youmight PHD2 to send guide commands to the mount. But there are some circumstances where youmight want to disable this, usuallybecause youwant to observe the uncorrected behavior ofthe mount. For example, youcandisable guider output inorder to see the generalshape and amplitude ofyour mount's periodic error or to check the amount ofdrift frompolar mis-alignment.

'Stop guidingwhenmount slews' - a diagnostic optionfor workingwithASCOM mount drivers that mayreport the slewingstatusor to check the amount ofdrift frompolar mis-alignment. Also, it will generallynot detect slews that are

Also, it will

generallynot detect slews that are initiated bythe hand-controller. Inanycase, PHD2 willcontinue to tryto track the guide star, so slews

incorrectly. The optionshould be left checked unless youknow the driver for your mount has this problem(highlyunlikely).

willtypicallyresult inlost-star notifications - beepingand flashingofthe PHD2 image window.

CalibrationStep Calculator

To use the calculator, be sure the topmost three edit controls are correctlyfilled in. Ifyouhave

To use the calculator, be sure the topmost three edit controls are correctlyfilled in. Ifyouhave alreadyspecified the focallengthand the camera pixelsize inthe 'Global' and 'Camera' tabs respectively, those fields willalreadybe populated inthis form. Ifyouare usinganASCOM connection to your mount, the fields for "Guide speed"and "Calibrationdeclination"willalso have the correct values. Otherwise, you'llneed to supplythem yourself. The guide speed is specified as a multiple ofsiderealspeed - most mounts willuse somethinglike 1X or 0.5X sidereal, but youcan choose somethingelse. Youcanleave the 'calibrationsteps' field at the default value of12, whichis likelyto result ina good calibration. Use ofa significantlysmaller value raises the likelihood that seeingerrors or smallmount errors willcause calibrationerrors . As youchange the values in these fields, PHD2 willrecalculate your current image scale and a recommended value for the calibrationstep-size. Ifyouthenclick on'Ok', that value willbe inserted into the calibrationstep-size field ofthe 'Guiding' dialog. Clicking'Ok' willalso populate the focallengthand camera pixel size fields inthe 'Guiding' and 'Camera' tabs, so anychanges youmade inthe calculator willbe reflected there as well. However, this willnot be done ifyouclick on'Cancel' inthe calculator dialog. Note that PHD2 never changes the guide speed settinginyour mount regardless ofwhat may be entered inthe 'Guide Speed' field.

The goalofthe calculator is to recommend a step-size that is likelyto result inanaccurate calibrationwithout wastingtoo muchtime. There is no great precisioninvolved inanyofthis, and there is nothingmagic about the choice of12 steps as a target. As longas youare gettingsuccessful calibrations without alert messages, the calibrationstep-size is probablygood enough.

Algorithms Tab

The algorithms tab canbe used to select the guidingalgorithms youwant to use and to fine-tune

The algorithms tab canbe used to select the guidingalgorithms youwant to use and to fine-tune the parameters associated withthem. The parameters displayed willchange significantlyifyouchange the algorithmselections. For that reason, allthe parameters related to guide algorithms willbe treated together, ina separate section.

The remainingcontrols, the ones that are independent ofthe guidingalgorithmselections, are described below.

'MaxRA duration' - specifies the maximumallowed guide pulse durationfor right ascension. Youmight reduce this below the default value ifyouwant to avoid chasinga large deflectionthat could be caused bya spurious event (e.g. wind gust, hot pixel, etc.) .'ofthe guidingalgorithmselections, are described below. 'Use backlashcomp' - this controls whether PHD2

'Use backlashcomp' - this controls whether PHD2 willapplya compensationfactor whenthe directionofdeclinationguidingneeds to be reversed. See sectionbelow.bya spurious event (e.g. wind gust, hot pixel, etc.) .' 'MaxDec. duration' - specifies the maximumallowed

'MaxDec. duration' - specifies the maximumallowed guide pulse durationfor declination(same as above but for declination).to be reversed. See sectionbelow. 'Declinationguide mode' - gives

'Declinationguide mode' - gives youadditionalcontrolover declinationguiding. Declinationguidingis not like RA guidingbecause the errors are not caused byimperfections inyour mount's gears. Instead, deflections indeclinationare primarilythe result ofimperfect polar alignment or flexure. The result is anerror that should be smoothand mostlyuni-directional, assumingthere is no over-shoot fromanearlier correction. The default value of'auto' tells PHD2 that some reversals indirectionare acceptable, subject to the behavior ofthe various guidingalgorithms. However, PHD2 that some reversals indirectionare acceptable, subject to the behavior ofthe various guidingalgorithms. However, ifyour mount has severe declinationbacklash, youmaywant to prevent directionreversalaltogether. Ifso, youcanselect either 'north' or 'south' to restrict corrections to onlythat direction. Keep inmind, however, that anover-shoot incorrection withone ofthese modes willleave the star positoned off-target for anextended period oftime. So you'llprobablywant to use conservative parameters for aggressiveness ifyouare disallowingdirectionreversals. Finally, a choice of'off'' here disables declinationguidingaltogether.

'Reset' - resets the guidingparameters for the selected RA or Dec algorithmto their default values. Min-move settings willbe set usingthe same algorithmemployed inthe new-profile-wizard. Ifyoupreviouslyused the GuidingAssistant to adjust the min-move settings, you should probablyrepeat that procedure.here disables declinationguidingaltogether. DeclinationBacklashCompensation Most commonly-used mounts

DeclinationBacklashCompensation

Most commonly-used mounts have some amount ofbacklashindeclination. This causes a delaywhenever there is a change indirectionofthe Dec guide commands. Duringthis interval, the declinationgears aren't fullyengaged and the axis doesn't move inresponse to the guide commands. Manymounts have settings for backlashcompensationbut these should not be used for guiding- theyare typicallyintended for visualuse where highprecisionisn't required. Because the actualamount ofcompensationneeded at anygiventime maydepend onthe pointingpositionand the mechanicalload onthe system, a fixed value willusuallyresult inoscillations that never stabilize. The backlashcompensationimplemented by PHD2 is adaptive, meaningthat the compensationamount is adjusted up or downdependingonthe measured results. Before enablingthis feature, youshould runthe GuidingAssistant and measure the declinationbacklash- the time delayrequired to fullyreverse directionindeclination. Keep inmind, the higher the guide speed settinginthe mount (e.g. 0.9xsidereal), the smaller this delaywillbe. Ifthe measured amount is 3 seconds or less, the GuidingAssistant willrecommend tryingbacklashcompensation. Ifyouapplythat recommendation, the backlashcompensationsettings willbe handled for youautomatically. The UI controls for backlashcompensationinclude settings for 'minimum' and 'maximum' compensation

amounts. These effectivelylimit the range ofthe adjustments that are made to the startingcompensationvalue. Ifyou're experienced withyour mount's behavior, youcanadjust these settings manuallyto be sure that the compensationstays withina range that youknow works well. Otherwise, youshould just leave these at their default values. The backlashcompensationalgorithmwillgenerallywork wellifthe backlashis less thana few seconds and the mount doesn't have other significant mechanicalproblems. Youshould expect a short period of instabilitywhen guidingstarts because the initialstate ofthe Dec gear systemis unknown- just let it stabilize before youactuallystart imaging. Ifyousee recurring periods ofDec oscillationor the axis won't settle down, disable the compensationfeature and submit your debuglogfile to the PHD2 support forum.

Uni-directional DeclinationGuiding

As discussed elsewhere, some mounts have too muchdeclinationbacklashto support guidinginbothnorthand southdirections. This situationcan be mitigated byconfiguringPHD2 to guide inonlyone ofthe directions, what we calluni-directionalDec guiding. This canbe a manageable situationbecause declinationguidingis onlyintended to correct for slow drift - errors caused bypolar misalignment and to a lesser extent, mechanicalflexure. Ironically, youmight want to de-tune your polar alignment a bit to make it easier to see the drift directionand to reduce the likelihood that seeingwillinterfere withuni-directionalguiding. Remember that polar mis-alignment, withinreason, doesn't usuallydegrade guiding performance. Instead, it mayintroduce field rotationifyou're imagingnear the pole and have a large camera sensor. A good first step would be to polar alignto withina few arc-minutes ofthe pole before settingup for uni-directionalguiding. Youcanalways go back later and check for field rotation. Just take a sample image withyour maincamera at the highest declinationyouwould expect for imaging- perhaps 70 degrees north. If youdon't see field rotationthere, youcanleave the polar alignment where it is. Withanyamount ofpolar mis-alignment, the directionof Dec corrections willchange at some point inthe sky. (Technically, it willreverse directions at two points inthe skybut one ofthose is usuallybelow the horizon.) The skylocationfor the reversaldepends entirelyonhow youare mis-aligned onthe pole - the relative amounts ofazimuthand altitude alignment errors. Youmayevenhave a situationwhere the reversalpoint is near enoughto the horizonthat youdon't encounter it duringnormal imaging.

To set up for uni-directionalguiding, youcanfollow these steps:

1. Move to a field witha good guide star and openthe GuidingGraphwindow. Disable Dec guidingentirelybysettingthe Dec guide mode to 'off', thenstart guiding. Now watchthe graphuntilyoucansee a clear trend inthe waythe guide star is driftingeither northor south. Once yousee this, reset the Dec guide mode to issue corrections inthe right direction. For example, ifthe star is driftingnorth, set the Guide mode to 'south.'

2. Tryusingthe 'LowPass' or 'LowPass2' guidingalgorithms for declinationand start witha fairlylow aggressiveness factor, say50%. Ifthe aggressiveness is too high, the correctionmaypushthe star to the "wrong"side ofthe lock position, where it willremainuntilthe slow drift rate moves it back. It's better to issue a few consecutive smallcorrections rather thanone larger one inorder to minimze this type ofover- shoot.

3. Watchthe guidinggraphto be sure the corrections are beingissued inthe right directionand the star isn't just steadilydriftingoff-target. Over the course ofminutes or hours, youmaynotice the amount ofdrift is decreasing. This means youare slowlyapproachingthe point of declinationreversaland youshould be prepared to change the Dec guide mode accordingly.

4. Ifyouare dithering, set the ditheringparameters to "RA-only"to avoid disruptingthe Dec guiding.

Other Devices Tab

dithering, set the ditheringparameters to "RA-only"to avoid disruptingthe Dec guiding. Other Devices Tab 29

Ifyouare usingeither anadaptive optics or rotator device, the "Other Devices"tab willbe shown. The upper sectiondeals withthe AO device if one is beingused. Youcanuse the first four parameters to controlthe calibrationprocess and the manner inwhich'bump' operations are done. The 'calibrationstep' field tells PHD2 the amount to move the tip/tilt element ineachofthe up/down/left/right directions, inunits ofAO steps, duringcalibration. The guide star positionis measured at the beginningand end ofeachlegofthe calibration, and the 'samples to average' parameter tells PHD2 how manysamples to take at eachofthese points. Averagingimages is important because the seeingwillalways cause the guide star to "bounce around"a bit. As discussed earlier, the AO unit canmake corrections onlywithina limited range ofguide star movement. Youwillwant to initiate mount 'bump' corrections before these limits are actuallyreached, and the 'bump percentage' field is used for that purpose. To move the mount, the fullbump correctionis accomplished insteps - the 'bump step' field controls the size ofthese increments. Ifthe bump operationhas begunand the guide star remains outside the "bump percentage"area, PHD2 willincrease the bump size untilthe guide star is back withinthat range. Additionalmovement fromthat point to the center positionwillcontinue at the specified "bump step size". This complexity is required inorder to maintaingood guiding, withno elongated stars, evenas the mount is beingbumped. Duringthe bump operation, the AO is continuingto make corrections, so the long"mount bump"is continuouslyoffset byadjustments inthe AO.

The 'Bump ondither' optiontells PHD2 to bump the mount whena dither command is received and thus move the guide star back closer to the center positionofthe AO. The optionto enable or disable AO guide commands operates independentlyfromthe 'Enable mount guiding' checkboxinthe Guidingtab. So youcanindependentlyenable/disable either the guide commands to the tip/tilt device or the 'bump' guide commands to the mount. The same principle holds for the 'Clear AO calibration' option- that willforce a recalibrationofthe AO without affecting calibrationofthe mount.

WhenanAO is inuse, the 'Algorithms' tab willonlyshow choices for controllingthe tip/tilt opticalelement inthe AO device itself.

tip/tilt opticalelement inthe AO device itself. Since the AO is not tryingto move a heavypiece ofequipment,

Since the AO is not tryingto move a heavypiece ofequipment, youcanafford to be more aggressive inyour guide algorithmchoices. The default

algorithms for anAO are 'None', whichmeans there willbe no dampingor history-based calculations applied at all. Inthat case, eachcorrection willbe based onlyonthe most recent guide frame and willmake a 100% correctionofthe most recent deflection. Ifyouuse a different

algorithm, youshould probablystart witha highlevelofaggressiveness there as well, perhaps 100%.

normallydisplayed onthe 'Algorithms' tab willnot be shownfor the AO because theyaren't used to controlthe device.

The other, shared guidingparameters

The rotator device has onlyone parameter, whichlets youmatchthe behavior ofthe device to the ASCOM notionofpositive and negative angles. The "Reversed"checkboxcanbe used for opticalsystems that reverse the image, usuallybecause theyhave anodd number ofmirrors. The directionand amount ofrotationis used to adjust the calibrationdata, so PHD2 follows the ASCOM standard: "the rotator positionis expressed as anangle from0 up to but not including360 degrees, counter-clockwise against the sky." Experimentationis likelyto be the quickest wayto determine ifthe boxshould be checked.

Guide Algorithms

GuidingTheory Guide AlgorithmParameters

Guiding Theory

The default guidingalgorithms inPHD2 are well-established and should work wellfor most users. Unless youalreadyhave some experience with guidingand understand the basics, youshould probablybe cautious about changingalgorithms. However, youmayhave some special circumstances that require changes or youmaysimplywant to experiment withthe different algorithmchoices. The Advanced Dialogsettings in PHD2 make it easyto do that. Eachalgorithmhas a set ofparameters that controls how observed changes inguide star position(star deflections) are translated into guidingcommands that are most likelyto restore the star to its initialposition.

Before discussingthe details ofthese parameters, it is worthreviewinga little guidingtheoryand lookingat what these algorithms are tryingto accomplish. Settingaside adaptive optics devices, whichare entirelydifferent, conventionalguidingfaces enormous challenges. The problemat hand is how to move machinerythat weighs tens or evenhundreds ofpounds witha levelofprecisionthat willnot cause streaked or oblongstars. This type ofguidingcanonlyhope to dealwithtrackingerrors that are "slow and steady", not "fast and random." Sources ofslow and steady (correctable) errors include the following:

Certainkinds ofmechanicalimperfections inright ascensiongears, includingthose that cause periodic error.and steady (correctable) errors include the following: Smalllerrors inthe siderealtrackingrate ofthe mount

Smalllerrors inthe siderealtrackingrate ofthe mountascensiongears, includingthose that cause periodic error. Atmospheric refraction- stars appear to move more slowlyas

Atmospheric refraction- stars appear to move more slowlyas theynear the horizonerror. Smalllerrors inthe siderealtrackingrate ofthe mount Limited kinds ofmechanicaldeflectionand flexure - but not

Limited kinds ofmechanicaldeflectionand flexure - but not differentialflexure not differentialflexure

Mis-alignment ofthe right ascensionaxis onthe celestialpoleflexure - but not differentialflexure So what isn't included inthe above and isn't

So what isn't included inthe above and isn't correctable byconventionalguiding? Unfortunately, it's a verylonglist, ofwhicha few are:

Atmospheric seeing("turbulence")Unfortunately, it's a verylonglist, ofwhicha few are: Gear noise, roughness, and vibration Differentialflexure -

Gear noise, roughness, and vibrationofwhicha few are: Atmospheric seeing("turbulence") Differentialflexure - relative movement betweenthe

Differentialflexure - relative movement betweenthe imagingscope and the guide scopeGear noise, roughness, and vibration Wind gusts, cable snags, grit inthe drive gears And lots

Wind gusts, cable snags, grit inthe drive gearsmovement betweenthe imagingscope and the guide scope And lots more The commondenominator shared bythe guide

And lots moreguide scope Wind gusts, cable snags, grit inthe drive gears The commondenominator shared bythe guide algorithms

The commondenominator shared bythe guide algorithms is the need to somehow react to the slow and steadydeflections while ignoringthe rest. This is a difficult problemat best because anygivenguide star deflectionis likelyto have contributions frommanyofthese sources. And ifthat isn't hard enough, remember that real-world mounts are never perfect - so the move youask for willnot be exactlythe move youget. Usually, the most important requirement for anyalgorithmis to avoid over-correcting, whereinthe mount is beingpushed back and forthand the guidingnever stabilizes. A typicalapproachinthese algorithms is to apply"inertia"or "impedance"to the guidingcorrections. That means makingcorrections that follow a patternand are generallyconsistent withcorrections that have beenmade before, while beingreluctant to make corrections that require a bigchange indirectionor amplitude. Resistance to changes indirectionis particularlyimportant indeclination, where gear backlashis a commonproblem. Hopefully, this background willgive youenoughinsight into the basics ofguidingso that the various guidingparameters used in PHD2 willmake sense.

Guide Algorithm Parameters

InPHD2, the various guide algorithms canbe applied to either the right ascensionor declinationaxes. Most ofthese algorithms include a minimummove parameter. This is used to avoid makingguide corrections that are overlysmall, are unlikelyto have anyeffect onstar shape, and are mostlydue to transient seeingeffects. These values are entered inunits ofpixels, so youneed to think about theminthe context ofyour image scale and the typicalsize ofyour guide stars. Ifyouhave used the new-profile-wizard to configure your system, the min-move parameters willbe set to values that are likelyto work wellfor the image scale you're using. The GuidingAssistant canalso adjust these values based onits measurement ofhigh-frequencyseeingdisturbances. Ifyouare seeinga highrate ofguider corrections and lots ofdirectionreversals, youmaybe "chasingthe seeing"and adjustingthe min-move values upward canbe a simple wayto reduce that. Ofallthe detailed guidingparameters discussed here, the two min-move values are the most likelyto warrant adjustment ona nightlybasis dependingonseeingconditions.

The hysteresis algorithms keep a historyofthe guidingcorrections that have beenmade inthe recent past, and these are used to help compute the next guide correction. The hysteresis parameter, expressed as a percentage, specifies the "weight"that should be givento this historyas opposed to lookingonlyat the star deflectioninthe current guide frame. Consider anexample where the hysteresis parameter is 10%. Inthat case, the next guidingcorrectionwillbe 90% influenced bythe star movement seeninthe current guide frame and 10% bythe corrections that have beenmade inthe recent past. Increasingthe hysteresis value willsmoothout the corrections at the risk ofbeingtoo slow to react to a

legitimate change indirection. The hysteresis algorithms also include anaggressiveness parameter, againexpressed as a percentage, that is used

to reduce over-correcting.

Oneachframe, PHD2 computes how far it thinks the mount should move and inwhat direction(s) it should move. The

aggressivness parameter scales this. For example, take a case where the star deflectionhas beenevaluated and a corrective move of0.5 pixels is warranted. Ifthe aggressiveness is set to 100%, a guider command willbe issued to move the mount the full0.5 pixels. But ifthe aggressiveness is set to 60%, the mount willbe asked to move only60% ofthat amount, or 0.3 pixels. Ifyoufind your mount is always overshootingthe star, decrease this value slightly(say, by10% steps). Ifyoufind PHD2 always seems to be laggingbehind the star's motion, increase this bya little bit.

A little cango a longwayhere.

The ResistSwitchalgorithmbehaves muchas its name implies. Like the hysteresis algorithms, it also maintains a historyofpast guide corrections, and anychange ofdirectionmust be "compelling"inorder to issue a reversingguide command. This is appropriate for declinationguiding, where reversals indirectionare bothsuspect and likelyto trigger backlashinthe gears. For that reason, ResistSwitchis the default algorithmfor declinationbut not for right ascension, where valid directionreversals are expected. StartingwithRelease 2.4.1, two additionalparameters are available for fine-tuningthe ResistSwitchalgorithm. The first is "aggression", a percentage amount that controls how muchofthe computed guide correctionwillbe issued. Reducingthis parameter canhelp to avoid over-shootingwithmounts that have little or no backlash. The second parameter is a checkboxlabeled "Fast switchfor large deflections." Ifthis is checked, PHD2 willreact immediatelyto a large change ofdirection rather thanwaitingfor three consecutive deflections inthe new direction, whichis the normalbehavior. This canhelp to more quicklyrecover from large excursions inDec, perhaps caused bywind, cable snags, or other mechanicalshifts The definitionofa "large deflection"is 3xthe minimum- move value. So ifPHD2 is over-reactingto directionchanges, youcantune the behavior withthe min-move parameter or disable the "fast switch" optionaltogether. It is worthrememberingthat "less is usuallybetter"whenit comes to Dec guiding, so don't tryto over-tune these parameters.

The LowPass algorithms also employa historyofrecent guidingcorrections inorder to compute the next correction. The startingpoint for the computed move is the medianvalue ofthe guide star deflections that have occurred inrecent history. This means that the star deflectionseeninthe current guide frame has relativelylittle impact oncalculatingthe next move and the algorithmis veryresistant to quick changes. But the history accumulationalso includes a calculationto determine ifdeflections are trendingina consistent direction. The slope weight parameter, expressed as a percentage, determines how muchinfluence this should have incalculatingthe actualguider movement - it is there to keep the algorithmfrom beingoverlysluggish. Ifyouset a slope weight ofzero, the guide pulse willalways be just the medianvalue ofthe recent history. Ifyouset a non- zero slope weight, that medianvalue willbe adjusted either upward or downward based onthe recent trend ofguide star movements. Because the low-pass algorithmis so resistant to quick changes, it is probablymost applicable to declinationguiding.

The LowPass2 algorithmis a variationofthe originalLowPass algorithmwithsomewhat different behavior. It also maintains a historyofguiding corrections, but the next correctionis simplya linear extensionofthe commands that have come before it (i.e. a slope calculation). This continues untila significant change indirectionis seen, at whichpoint the historyis cleared. The algorithmhas two adjustable properties:minimum-move and aggressiveness. Minimum-move has the same effect as it does inthe other guide algorithms, and aggressiveness (percentage) is a wayoffurther dampeningthe size ofthe guide corrections. LowPass2 is a veryconservative, high-impedance algorithmthat maybe a good choice for users with good seeingconditions and well-behaved mounts withlittle or no declinationbacklash.

PHD2 Predictive PEC Guide Algorithm(PPEC)

Overview

The PPEC algorithmis different fromthe others inPHD2 because ofits modelingand predictive capabilities. The algorithmanalyzes the tracking performance ofthe mount inreal-time and once that analysis is complete, it willcompute guidingcorrections evenbefore a repetitive error is actuallyseen. Issuingproactive guidingcorrections reduces the time delayinherent intraditionalguidingand cansignificantlyimprove performance. Withthe other algorithms, whichare completelyreactive, guide corrections are issued onlyafter the error has beenseenonthe camera sensor.

Once guidinghas begun, the algorithmanalyzes the performance ofthe mount and looks for trackingerrors that are repetitive and thus, predictable. The algorithmemploys a sophisticated Gaussianprocess modeldeveloped bya researchteamat the MaxPlanck Institute in Germany. The mathematicaldetails canbe found ina paper referenced here:

The PPEC algorithmwillnormallybe used for RA, where residualperiodic error and other gear-related errors oftenreduce trackingaccuracy. The algorithmuses separate time-scales for characterizingthe behavior ofthe system:

· Short-term:for high-frequencyerrors suchas those caused bygear roughness or seeing

· Medium-term: for residualperiodic errors, typicallyoccurringat intervals less thanor equalto the wormperiod

· Longer-term:for steadydrift and for lower frequency(longer time interval) harmonics that canbe caused bythe interactionofmultiple gears in the drive train

The short-termbehavior is used to identifythe unpredictable noise inthe system, whichis essentiallyfiltered out inorder to identifycomponents that are predictable. For most mounts, the medium-termcomponent is likelyto be the most important. Ifyou’re followingbest practices, youwill have programmed periodic error correctioninyour mount (assumingthat feature is available to you). Doingthis reduces the amount ofwork that needs to be done byPHD2, and the PEC correctioninthe mount is normallysaved permanently. This approachis preferable to havingto measure and infer the periodic error behavior everytime youset up your equipment. That said, PEC inthe mount is never perfect, and youwill oftensee residualrepetitive errors evenwhenPEC is active. These oftenarise whenthe trackingerrors occur witha frequencythat is not a harmonic (integer fraction) ofthe mount’s wormperiod – most PEC implementations can’t dealwiththose. Youcanalso get residualperiodic errors iftheyare dependent onthe mechanicalloadingofthe mount or ifthe mount’s behavior has changed since the PEC was programmed. The PPEC algorithmcanbe quite effective at identifyingand reducingthese errors because it doesn’t depend onthe wormperiod and is always doinga freshanalysis ofthe mount’s current behavior.

The PPEC algorithmwillalso detect and proactivelycorrect for drift errors. Althoughdrift is typicallyhandled wellbyanyofthe guide algorithms,

the corrections willalways lagthe error bysome amount. For some use cases – perhaps spectroscopy, photometryor comet-tracking– this might be a problem, inwhichcase PPEC maydeliver better results.

Since PPEC employs a learningprocess, it willusuallytake about 2 wormperiods to modelthe mount and become fullyeffective. Duringthis trainingperiod, the algorithmwillbehave more like the ‘hysteresis’ algorithm, so youwon’t normallysee a performance penaltywhile the internal modelis beingbuilt. Instead, you’re likelyto see a steadyimprovement intrackingas the modelis refined and the algorithmshifts seamlesslyfrom

hysteresis to predictive-mode.

Since the PPEC modelis implicitlytied to the state ofthe gear train, it must be re-learned ifthe mount is slewed to a new target. For the same reason, it can’t be retained across different guidingsessions, whichis whyconventionalPEC is important. However, the PPEC modelwillremain intact duringdither operations and while guidingis paused (via automation) for activities like focusing. For the most commonuse-case, namely imagingthe same target for multiple hours withperiodic dithering, the PPEC modelwillremainvalid. Inanycase, the learningprocess and transitionfromone mode to the other is handled automatically, so youwon’t need to payit anyattention.

This improvement canusuallybe seenevenbefore the medium-termmount behavior is fullymodeled.

AlgorithmDetails

Once the trainingperiod is completed, the PPEC algorithmcomputes the guide correctionusingtwo factors. One is reactive, based onthe displacement ofthe guide star inthe most recent exposure. The second is predictive, based onthe output fromthe Gaussianprocess model constructed duringthe trainingperiod. Eachofthese terms includes a separate gainor aggressiveness factor, so the finalguide pulse amount is a sum:

Guide-correction= (predicted amount * predictive gain) + (recent displacement * reactive gain)

The ‘predictive gain’ and ‘reactive gain’ parameters are exposed inthe Advanced Dialog, and their default values for these parameters should work wellfor most mounts. Youshould be conservative about changingthembecause bad choices for these parameters candefinitelymake your guidingworse.

Duringthe trainingperiod, the algorithmneeds to identifyperiodic errors inthe observed guide star movement. For initialtrials, youcanuse the wormperiod ofyour mount as the startingpoint for the ‘periodlength’. This gives the algorithma good startingpoint, but youshould also leave the ‘auto-adjust period’ optionchecked. This tells the algorithmto adjust the period as needed to better controlwhatever periodic errors it finds. Once youhave runthe altorithmmultiple times and are happywiththe results, youcanleave this field set to whatever value was computed inthe previous sessions.

The ‘min-move’ parameter affects onlythe reactive component ofthe algorithm. Ifthe measured star displacement is less thanthis amount, the reactive component willbe set to zero. However, the predictive component ofthe algorithmwillstillbe computed and applied.

Tools and Utilities

ManualGuide Auto-Select Star CalibrationDetails PHD2 Server DitheringOperations Loggingand DebugOutput Polar Alignment Tools Lock Positions Comet Tracking GuidingAssistant Equipment Profiles Ask for Coordinates AuxMount Simulator Parameters Multiple ProgramInstances Keyboard Shortcuts Software Update

Manual Guide

Keyboard Shortcuts Software Update Manual Guide Ifyouare connectingto a new mount and are

Ifyouare connectingto a new mount and are encounteringcalibrationproblems, youwillprobablywant to be sure that PHD2's commands are actuallygettingto the mount. Or youmaywant to nudge the mount or experiment withmanualdithering. Inthe 'Tools' menu, click on'Manual Guide' and a dialogwillappear to let youmove the mount at guide speed inanydirection. Ifyouhave anadaptive optics device attached, you'll see separate move buttons for boththe AO and the secondarymount. Eachtime youpress the button, a pulse ofthe durationspecified inthe 'Guide Pulse Duration' field willbe sent. The default value is the 'calibrationstep-sze' set inthe Advanced Options dialog. Ifyouare debugging mount/calibrationproblems inthe daytime, listento (rather thanwatch) your mount to determine ifit is gettingthe commands fromPHD2. The idea here is just to figure out ifthe mount is respondingto PHD2's signals. Youwon't be able to see the mount move (it's movingat guide speed) but youmaybe able to hear the motors. Other options include watchingthe motors and gears or attachinga laser pointer to your scope and aimingit at somethingfairlyfar away(to amplifyyour motions). A better approachfor nighttime testingis to runthe "star-cross"test described here.

Ditheringis used primarilywithimage capture or automationapplications throughthe PHD2 server interface. However, youcando manual ditheringor experiment withdither settings usingthe controls at the bottomofthe dialog. The 'dither' amount field at the left controls the amount the mount willbe moved , inunits ofpixels. Youcanscale this amount - i.e. multiplyit bya constant - byusingthe 'scale' spincontrolto the right. These two controls establisha maximumamount ofmovement that willbe used for dithering- the product of'scale' X 'dither'. Whenyouclick on the 'Dither' button, PHD2 willmove the mount bya randomamount that is less thanor equalto the limit youhave set, inone ofthe north/south/east/west directions. The 'RA Only' checkboxwillconstrainthe dither adjustments to onlyeast or west. Obviously, ifyouare doinga manualdither inthis way, you'llwant to be sure your imagingcamera is not inthe middle ofanexposure.

Auto-Select Star

Clickingon'Auto-select Star' under the 'Tools' menu, or usingthe keyboard shortcut of<Alt>S, tells PHD2 to scanthe current guide image and identifya star suitable for guiding. PHD2 willtryto select a star ofsufficient brightness that is not saturated, not near another star, and not too close to the edge ofthe frame. The selected star mayappear fairlydimonthe screen, but that's usuallynot important - just adjust the gamma slider onthe mainwindow. The auto-select functionwillusuallydo a better job thanyoucanjust lookingat the display. Inmanycases, a star you choose interactivelyis at or near saturationand willproduce sub-par results. Youcanuse the Star Profile toolto examine the properties ofthe selected star, however it was chosen. Ifyouwant to use Auto-Select, youshould definitelyuse either a bad-pixelmap or dark libraryto reduce the likelihood ofPHD2 mistakenlychoosinga hot pixel.

Calibration Details

Most ofthe calibration-related windows, includingcalibrationsanity-checks, willopena window that looks somethinglike this:

willopena window that looks somethinglike this: The first thingto look at is the graphto the left,

The first thingto look at is the graphto the left, whichshows what star movements resulted fromthe guide pulses that PHD2 sent during calibration. The lines represent the RA and Dec guide rates that were computed as a result ofthe calibration, and these lines should be roughly

perpendicular. The data points willnever be perfectlyaligned, but theyshould not have major curves, sharp inflections, or reversals indirection. Particularlywithlonger focallengthscopes, the points willoftenshow considerable scatter around the lines, but this is normal. The solid points (west and northpulses) are used to compute the RA and declinationrates, while the hollow points show the "return"paths ofthe east and south moves. These canhelp yousee how muchfluctuationoccurred due to seeingand also whether there is a significant amount ofbacklash. Ifyouare usingthe "fast-recenter"optioninthe Advanced Settings, there maybe manyfewer points showninthe east and northpaths. The tabular informationto the right shows what was knownabout the pointingpositionofthe scope and the various ASCOM settings that relate to guiding. If youare not usinganASCOM mount and don't have an"Auxmount"specified, some ofthis informationwillbe missing. The table willalso show the expected guidingrates for a "perfect"calibrationusingthe same skypositionand guide speed settings youused. Youwillalmost never achieve these idealvalues, and youshouldn't worryabout themunless your values are verydifferent. Ifyoudidn't see analert message whenthe

calibrationcompleted, your results are probablygood enough.

few extra minutes to check this informationand confirmthat the calibrationwent reasonablywelland produced sensible results. Bad calibrations canoccur evenfor veryexperienced imagers usinghigh-end mounts, so it is good to check.

Ifyouwant to re-use a calibrationfor anextended time, it is probablywortha

Ifyouare havingconsistent problems gettingalert-free calibrations, youshould review the materialinthe trouble-shootingsection.

OtherCalibration-RelatedMenuOptions Calibrationdata are saved automaticallyeachtime a calibrationsequence completes successfully. The use ofthe calibrationdata has been described elsewhere (UsingPHD Guiding), including options for restoringcalibrationdata fromanearlier time or "flipping"it after a meridianflip. Youaccess these functions usingthe 'ModifyCalibration' sub-menuunder the 'Tools' menu. Two other calibration-related items are shownthere, namelythe options to clear the current data or to enter calibrationdata manually. The "clear"optionaccomplishes the same thingas the 'Clear calibration' checkboxinthe Advanced Dialog- it willforce a recalibrationwhenever guidingis resumed. The 'Enter calibrationdata' optionshould be used onlyunder veryunusualcircumstances and onlyifyou're sure youknow what you're doing; but it is available as a matter ofcompleteness. Ifyouclick onthe 'Enter calibrationdata' item, you'llsee a dialogboxthat allows input ofrelativelylow-levelcalibrationdata. This data might come froma muchearlier session, perhaps extracted fromthe PHD2 guidinglogfile. Keep inmind, ifyouare usinganASCOM driver for either the 'mount' or 'auxmount' connections, youshould have little need for these calibrationdata controls.

PHD2 Server

PHD2 supports third-partyimagingand automationapplications that need to controlthe guidingprocess. Stark Labs' Nebulosity programwas the first to do this, but other applications have subsequentlybeenproduced. Byusingthe PHD2 server process, image capture programs can controlditheringbetweenexposures or suspend guide exposures while the primaryimagingcamera is downloadingdata. To use these capabilities witha compatible application, youshould click on the 'Enable Server' optionunder the 'Tools' menu. The server interface has beenreworked substantiallyinPHD2, and it's now possible for anapplicationto controlmost aspects ofPHD2's guidingoperations. Documentationfor the server API is available onthe PHD2 Wiki.

Dithering

The primarypurpose ofditheringis to make post-processingeasier byremovingsome kinds offixed-patternnoise inthe images, especiallyhot pixels. This is almost purelya functionofthe camera you're usingand to a lesser extent, the sophisticationofthe post-processingsoftware. For imagers withtemperature-regulated, low-noise cameras, ditheringis mostlya convenient wayto eliminate hot pixels that aren't gettingremoved by

the dark frames. Hot pixelpositions change as sensors age, so dark libraries don't usuallycorrect for allofthem. Those hot pixels canalso be also removed inpost-processing, but that becomes tedious ifthere are lots ofthem. It's also possible that ditheringcanhelp withsome other kinds of sensor behavior suchas columndefects, and it's particularlyhelpfulifthere is no temperature regulationonthe sensor and therefore no good way

to use a dark library. DSLR imagers oftenuse aggressive ditheringfor those reasons. Inthe PHD2 implementation,

accomplished throughthe server interface, so make sure youhave 'Enable Server' checked under the 'Tools' menu. Youfirst specifya maximum dither size youwant to use duringthe guidingsession- this willbe set inyour imagingapplication Then, whenthat applicationissues a dither command, PHD2 uses a randomnumber generator to decide how large the dither willactuallybe for that command. The actualdither mount will be > 0 and <= the maximumamount allowed. Youwant to use pseudo-randomdither amounts like this to be sure that ditheringdoesn't follow a consistent patternor shift the frame back to a locationwhere it has previouslybeen. But for some ofthe applications that do PHD2 dithering, you can't specifythe maximumamount directly- youare perhaps limited to choices like small/medium/large and the maxdither amounts willhave preset values. For that reason, PHD2 has a dither scalingparameter inthe 'Global' tab ofthe Braindialog. It is basicallya multiplier termthat lets

youadjust the range ofdither amounts that are possible. So a scale factor of1 doesn't change the preset value at all, a value of10 multiplies it by 10X, etc. Ifyou're usinganapp that lets youspecifythe maximumamount directly(e.g. PHD_Dither), youshould leave the dither scale set to

automated ditheringis

1.0. Otherwise, youcanadjust the scale factor ifyouaren't happywiththe overallrange ofditheringyou're gettingwithone ofthe

small/medium/large type imagingapps.

There are typicallytwo costs associated withdithering:1) the extra time and uncertaintyrequired for "settling"and 2) the need to crop the final stacked frame inorder to remove the low-signalmargins. Settlingis the termused for a period ofstabilizationafter the mount has beenmoved by

a dither command.

canlet PHD2 determine this byspecifyingthe settlingparameters or the app cando the calculations itself. You'llneed to look at your imaging/ditheringapp to see what controlyouhave over this process. Ifthe app uses the latest PHD2 server interfaces, it canspecifya settling requirement that might look like "guidingerrors must be less than1.5 pixels for a period ofat least 10 seconds." This is a process that can consume some time, dependingonhow tight the requirements are for settling. It is likelyto take more time ifyouare ditheringindeclinationand the dither forces a change indirection. Most mounts have some declinationbacklash, so it cantake a number ofguide commands to get the mount movinginthe right direction, and thenmore time for the process to converge onthe new target locationfor the guide star. That's whyPHD2 also offers the optionto dither onlyinright ascension. Again, this is anoptiononthe 'Global' tab, right next to the dither scalingparameter.

Ifyour mount has a substantialamount ofdeclinationbacklashinthe mount, youmaybe guidinginonlythe northor southDec direction. IfPHD2 receives a command to dither indeclinationwhile you're operatinginthis mode, it willtemporarilyallow guidinginbothDec directions untilthe dither and settlingare completed. It willthenrevert to the originalnorth/south-onlyguidingmode. Ifyoudon't want this behavior, youshould restrict ditheringto 'RA-only' ('Globaltab ofthe Braindialog).

Logging and Debug Output

The imagingapp that starts the dither willalso decide whenthe guidinghas stabilized enoughto continue imaging. The app

PHD2 automaticallycreates two types oflogfiles:a debuglogand a guidinglog. Bothare veryusefulfor different reasons. The guidinglogis

similar to the one produced byPHD, but withextended information. The guide logis intentionallyformatted to allow easyinterpretationbyeither a humanreader or anexternalapplication. For example, the verycapable PHDLogView application(not part ofthe PHD2 release) canproduce a

varietyofgraphs and summarystatistics based ondata inthe PHD2 guide log.

applications for analysis and graphing. Whenimportinginto Excel, just specifythat a comma should be used as a columnseparator. The debug loghas a complete record ofeverythingthat was done inthe PHD2 session, so it is veryhelpfulinisolatinganyproblems you have. It also employs a human-friendly(albeit verbose) text format, so it's not difficult to examine the debuglogto see what happened. Ifyouneed to report a problemwiththe software, youwillalmost certainlybe asked to provide the debuglogfile. Ifyouhave neither logfile available, youare unlikelyto get anyhelp.

But the logcanalso be easilyimported into Excelor other

The locationfor the files is controlled bythe 'LogFile Location' field inthe 'Global' tab ofthe 'Advanced Settings' dialog. Bydefault, logfiles are stored inthe OS-specific default directoryfor user documents. InWindows7, for example, the files willbe stored ina 'PHD2' sub-folder inthe "Documents"directory. This maynot be a convenient location, so youcanspecifya different folder usingthis edit field. Inorder to prevent excessive accumulationoflogfiles, PHD2 automaticallyremoves debuglogs that are more than30 days old and guide logs that are more than60 days old. Ifyouwant to retainthe files for longer periods, youshould move or copythemto a different folder location, one not used byPHD2.

Insome unusualcases, youmayneed to capture guide camera images, usuallyto support debuggingand problemresolution. This canbe done by clickingthe 'Enable Star ImagingLogging' menuitemunder the 'Tools' menu. The resultant image files willbe stored inthe same locationas the other logfiles. The format ofthese image files is controlled fromthe 'Global' tab ofthe 'Advanced Settings' dialog. Ifyouare tryingto document a problemyou're having, youshould choose the 'Raw Fits' format for maximumflexibility.

Automatic Log File Upload

Ifyouneed help usingPHD2 or improvingyour guidingresults, you'llwant to post a request onthe Open-PHD-Guidingforum (https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/open-phd-guiding). Your questionshould be accompanied bythe PHD logfiles associated withthe guidingsessionyou're talkingabout. To make that easier, PHD2 has a built-infunctionto select, compress, and automaticallyupload the relevant logfiles. That functionis located onthe 'Help' menu. You'llsee a dialogboxthat shows allthe available logfiles, includingtheir timestamps and duration:

Just select the files youwant and start the upload process byclickingon'Next'. IfPHD2 is generallyworkingfor

Just select the files youwant and start the upload process byclickingon'Next'. IfPHD2 is generallyworkingfor youbut youcan't interpret the guidingperformance or youwant to improve it, youcanstart byjust uploadingthe guide logs. But ifyou're havingtrouble withcamera or mount

connections or otherwise can't get PHD2 running, youshould also include the matchingdebuglogfile.

just the files for the sessionyouwere havingtrouble with. Whenthe upload process is complete, you'llsee another window that gives youa link to

the files:

Be selective about the files youchoose -

link to the files: Be selective about the files youchoose - Youneed to capture or record

Youneed to capture or record that link so it canbe included withthe questionyou'llpost onthe forum.

onthe server after a reasonable amount oftime has elapsed, so youwon't need to worryabout that. Whenyoupost your request for support,

please include a fulldescriptionofwhat youwere doing, whatever problemyousaw, and roughlywhat time period youwant us to focus on.

Logfiles willbe automaticallyremoved

Polar Alignment Tools

PHD2 offers three different polar alignment tools. The three approaches share the same basic objective:to help youphysicallyalignthe RA axis of your mount to the celestialpole. These polar alignment tools are different fromthe “two-star”or “three-star”alignment procedures that are part of most popular go-to mounts. The mount software routines are generallyfocused onoptimizinggo-to operations, correctingthe slewing/pointing operations for a varietyoferrors inthe mount, includingpolar alignment error. Theygenerallydon’t involve physicaladjustment ofthe mount’s azimuthand altitude controls, whichis what is necessaryfor successfulimagingand guiding.

The originalpolar alignment routine, drift alignment, is stillconsidered bymost to be the “gold standard”for accuracy. Partly, this is because it directlymeasures the thingyou’re interested in:the amount ofdrift that willbe caused bymis-alignment ofthe RA axis onthe celestialpole. The drift alignment toolrequires use ofonlyone visible star at a time, and identificationofthe star is unnecessary. But the procedure canbe time- consuming, especiallyfor beginners, because eachmount axis must be adjusted separatelyand the telescope willneed to slew over a fairlywide area. Also, it works best ifyouhave clear views ofthe celestialequator/meridianintersectionand anarea around 30 degrees above either the

easternor westernhorizon(azimuth90 or 270 degrees). requirements maybe unattractive.

The second alignment option, static polar alignment, addresses these concerns bytakinga different approach. It specificallytrades offa bit of accuracyto optimize the speed ofthe process. It requires onlya clear view ofthe northernor southernpolar region, and it facilitates adjustment of bothmount axes at the same time. It is therefore a bit more intuitive and quite likelyto be quicker to complete. It does require visibilityand identificationofseveralstars near the pole, but the toolmakes that reasonablyeasyassumingyour skyconditions are good enoughto see the stars.

The third alignment option, polar drift alignment, is probablythe simplest one to performat the expense ofa bit ofaccuracyand speed. It requires

For imagers who are rushingto set up eachnight or have a limited view ofthe sky, these

a clear view ofthe northernor southernpolar region, and it facilitates adjustment ofbothmount axes at the same time. Minimaluser input is needed so it is verysimple to use.

The three techniques are described indetailinthe followingsections. Imagers should probablyexperiment withthemand choose the one that best suits their needs. The importance ofalignment accuracyis oftenover-emphasized, so users need to keep things inperspective. Most declination

However, at some

point, the amount ofpolar alignment error cancreate field rotationinthe images, somethingthat can’t be corrected. The larger the imagingsensor and the closer to the pole the target is, the more field rotationcanbe anissue. Youcancompute the expected field rotationusinganonline calculator suchas this one:

drift canbe well-managed byPHD2 guidingassumingthe mount behaves welland doesn’t have a lot ofdeclinationbacklash.

The calculator canhelp youdecide how muchaccuracyis “good enough”for your situation. It’s also important to remember that either procedure canbe limited bythe precisionofthe adjustment mechanisms onthe mount.

PHD2 normallysets a 'lock position' where the guide star is located at the end ofcalibration. Dependingonthe details ofthe calibrationsequence, this maynot be exactlywhere the star was located at the start ofcalibration- it could be offbya few pixels. Ifyouare tryingto preciselycenter your target, youmaywant to use a 'stickylock position.' Youdo this byclickingonyour guide star before calibration, thensettingthe 'Sticky Lock Position' under the 'Tools' menu. After calibrationis complete, PHD2 willcontinue to move the mount untilthe star is located at the sticky lock position. So youmaysee anadditionaldelayafter the calibrationwhile PHD2 repositions the scope at guide speed. The stickylock position willcontinue to be used evenas guidingis stopped and subsequentlyresumed. Again, this insures a rigorous positioningofthe guide star (and presumablyyour image target) at the expense ofdelays needed for PHD2 to repositionthe mount.

Ifyouneed to fine-tune the positionofthe guide star onthe camera sensor after guidinghas begun, youcanuse the 'Adjust Lock Position' function under the Tools menu:

Lock Position' function under the Tools menu: Youcannudge the guide star insmallincrements (at guide

Youcannudge the guide star insmallincrements (at guide speed) or youcanmove it bya larger amount bytypingina new lock positionand clicking'Set'. Clickingonthe up/down/left/right buttons willcause the lock positionto be shifted inthe correspondingdirectionbythe amount

shownin'Step', and the revised lock positionwillbe displayed

new positionfalls outside the current searchregion. This toolis usefulifyouneed to achieve precise positioningofeither the guide star or the imagingtarget, for example withspectroscopy

Ifyoutype ina new lock position, yourunthe risk oflosingthe guide star ifthe

Comet Tracking

One wayto image a comet is to have PHD2 use the comet as the guide "star", but this approachmaynot always work. For example, the head of the comet maynot present a star-like center suitable for guiding. Or, whenusinganoff-axis guider, the comet maynot evenbe visible inthe guide camera.

PHD2 provides a Comet Trackingtoolfor use whenguidingonthe comet itselfis not feasible. The idea is to guide onanordinarystar, but to graduallyshift the lock positionto matchthe comet's motion, or tracking rate.

There are a three different ways to provide the comet trackingrate to PHD2.

Some planetariumapplications, like Cartes duCiel, cansend the rate directlyto PHD2;different ways to provide the comet trackingrate to PHD2. Youcanenter the trackingrate manually, or, Youcantrainthe

Youcanenter the trackingrate manually, or,like Cartes duCiel, cansend the rate directlyto PHD2; Youcantrainthe rate inPHD2 byfollowingthe comet for a period

Youcantrainthe rate inPHD2 byfollowingthe comet for a period oftime inthe imagingcamera.like Cartes duCiel, cansend the rate directlyto PHD2; Youcanenter the trackingrate manually, or, 38

To enter the rate manually, youwould select "Arcsec/hr"for units and "RA/Dec"for axes, thenenter the rates

To enter the rate manually, youwould select "Arcsec/hr"for units and "RA/Dec"for axes, thenenter the rates fromthe comet's ephemeris.

Comet rate trainingworks like this:

First, center the comet inyour imagingcamera. Ifyour imagingapplicationhas some kind ofreticle display, youshould use that to note the precise positionofthe comet onthe imagingsensor. Once this is ready, select a guide star inPHD2 and start guiding. Next click "Start"inthe Comet Trackingtoolto begintraining.

Take a continuous series ofshort exposures inyour imagingcamera usingyour imagingapplication's Frame and Focus feature. Over time, the comet willdrift awayfromthe startinglocation. Use PHD2's "Adjust Lock Position"controls to move the comet back to the startinglocation. You mayhave to experiment a bit to determine whichwaythe comet moves onthe imagingcamera sensor inresponse to the Up/Down/Left/Right controls inPHD2. Youmayfind it usefulto enable the "Always ontop"buttoninthe Adjust Lock Positionwindow so the controls stayvisible on top ofyour imagingapplication.

PHD2 willquicklylearnthe comet trackingrate as youre-center the comet. Once youare satisfied that PHD2 is trackingthe comet, youcanclick Stop to end the training. PHD2 willcontinue shiftingthe lock positionto track the comet untilyoudisable comet trackingbytogglingthe Enable/Disable button.

Youcanpractice the comet trainingtechnique usingthe built-incamera simulator. Check the "Comet"optioninthe CamDialog, and the simulator willdisplaya comet. Use a bookmark to mark the comet's startinglocation, and use the Adjust Lock Positioncontrols to move the comet back to the bookmark location.

Guiding Assistant

The GuidingAssistant is aninstructionaltoolto help youmeasure current seeingconditions and the generalbehavior ofyour mount and guiding subsystem. Whenit's run, it temporarilydisables guidingoutput and measures the ensuingmotionofthe guide star. This canhelp yousee the high- frequencymotions caused byseeing(atmospheric) conditions. These cannot be corrected byconventionalguidingbecause theyoccur at a much higher frequencythanyoucantypicallyevenmeasure. Tryingto correct for themwithconventionalguidingis oftencalled "chasingthe seeing"and usuallyleads to poor results. Avoidingit is best accomplished bysettinga minimum-move levelthat willcause PHD2 to ignore most ofthis high- frequencybehavior. The GuidingAssistant canalso show youother behavior ofyour systemsuchas overalldrift rates inright ascensionand declinationas wellas peak-to-peak and maximum-rate-of-change measurements inright ascension,. While these things canusuallybe "guided out", measuringthemcanbe helpfulifyouwant to improve the underlyingperformance ofthe mount - for example, byimprovingyour polar alignment ifthe declinationdrift rate is high. The GuidingAssistant canalso measure the declinationbacklashinyour systemifyouselect that optioninthe user interface.

Whenthe GuidingAssistant is first started, you'llsee a dialogboxlike this:

The upper message area inthe GuidingAssistant dialogboxdisplays usage instructions, muchlike a wizard interface. Inorder

The upper message area inthe GuidingAssistant dialogboxdisplays usage instructions, muchlike a wizard interface. Inorder for the Guiding Assistant to start measurement, youfirst need to start guidinginthe usualway. This identifies the target star inthe frame and enables (but does not start) the underlyingdata collectionmechanism. Youthenclick 'Start' inthe GuidingAssistant to beginthe measurement process. Once youdo this, guidingcommands willbe disabled, so the star willappear to wander around onthe display- this is entirelynormal. As guider images are

acquired, statistics are computed and displayed inreal-time inthe user interface. Ofparticular interest are the table entries for "High-frequencyStar Motion"and "Polar Alignment Error". After about two minutes ofdata collection, these numbers willusuallystabilize and you'llhave reasonable measurements. Ifyouwant to get a more accurate measure ofyour polar alignment error and anyuncorrected periodic error inRA, you'llneed to let the GuidingAssistant runfor up to 10 minutes. Also, the computed polar alignment error is sensitive to the current scope declination. To get the most accurate measurement, youshould point the scope to withina few degrees ofthe celestialmeridian. Whenyoufinallyclick the 'Stop' button,

this phase ofthe measurement process willstop.

below). Ifnot, guidingcommands willbe re-enabled and the data collectionprocess willend. Other computed results willbe displayed inthe lower area ofthe table showingoveralldrift rates and various other measurements. Allofthese values are displayed inunits ofbotharc-seconds and pixels. The dialogboxwilllook somethinglike this:

Ifyou've checked the boxto 'Measure DeclinationBacklash"that process willcommence (see

DeclinationBacklash"that process willcommence (see The contents ofthe 'Recommendations' group onthe

The contents ofthe 'Recommendations' group onthe right side ofthe window reflect the results ofthe statisticalmeasurements. Assumingyour chosenguide algorithms support a minimum-move property, youhave the optionofautomaticallysettingthose parameters based onthe results.

Youcanalso decide to re-runthe measurements or close the dialogboxaltogether ifyouwant to proceed withnormalguidingoperations.

Measuring DeclinationBacklash Ifyou've checked the boxto 'Measure DeclinationBacklash', that process willbeginas soonas the high-frequencymeasurements are completed. Inother words, clickingonce onthe 'Stop' buttonhalts the high-frequencymeasurements and begins the measurement ofdeclinationbacklash.

However, ifthe initialsamplingperiod was less than2 minutes, a dialogboxwillappear and the backlashtest willcontinue to sample untilthe 2-

minute period has expired. beingdone:

A new group ofstatus messages willbe shownimmediatelyabove the 'Start' and 'Stop' buttons so youcansee what's

and 'Stop' buttons so youcansee what's To do backlashmeasurement, PHD2 willmove the star bylarge

To do backlashmeasurement, PHD2 willmove the star bylarge amounts, first inthe northdirection, thenback to the south. There is some risk the star willbe lost duringthis process or the star might alreadybe too close to the northedge ofthe sensor. Youshould choose a guide star that has plentyofroomto move northto get the best accuracy. Ifthe star is lost because it's beenmoved outside the searchregion, youcan temporarilyincrease the size ofthat regionfromthe 'Guiding' tab ofthe Advanced Settings dialog. A searchregionsize of20 pixels should work for most configurations - just be sure youdon't have multiple stars inside the searchregion. The first phase ofbacklashmeasurement involves an initialattempt to clear whatever backlashis present inthe northdirection. The GuidingAssistant (GA) willcontinue withthese clearingcommands untilit sees a significant and consistent movement ofthe guide star inone direction. Once this is done, the GA willissue another sequence of commands to continue movingthe star northbya large amount. This willtake at least 16 seconds and maytake longer dependingonthe configuration- youcanwatchthe status update to see what's beingdone. Whenthe northsteps are finished, the GA willissue anidenticalnumber ofsteps inthe southdirection. Ifthere's significant backlashinthe mount, it maytake a longtime for the star to start movingsouth, but that will usuallybe handled. Once the southsteps are done, regardless ofhow far the star has actuallymoved, the backlashamount willbe computed. However, ifthe star hasn’t moved at allinthe southdirection, the computed backlashamount willbe too small. At that point, youcanknow your declinationbacklashexceeds 8 seconds, whichis a verylarge amount. The GuidingAssistant willthentryto move the star back to its starting positionand willre-enable guiding. Again, there is some risk the star maybe lost, but this won't affect the calculations - youcansimplystop and resume guidingas younormallywould. Unlike the first process for measuringhigh-frequencystar movement, youdon't need to click onthe 'Stop' buttononce backlashmeasurement has begun. The measurement process willterminate whenallthe steps have beencompleted, and normal guidingwillbe resumed. However, youcanclick onthe 'Stop' buttonifsomethinghas gone wrong- suchas a lost-star condition- and thenrestart whenyou're ready. Whenthe backlashtests are finished, you'llsee the results displayed as before, withthe additionofentries for the amount of declinationbacklashand the measurement uncertainty::

Dependingonthe amount ofbacklash, youmaysee a recommendationfor settinga backlashcompensationfactor - 390 ms inthe example

Dependingonthe amount ofbacklash, youmaysee a recommendationfor settinga backlashcompensationfactor - 390 ms inthe example shown

warrant anycompensation. Ifthe backlashis verylarge, over 3 seconds, you'llsee a different recommendationto use uni-directionalguidingin declination. That's because tryingto compensate for suchlarge values probablywon't work verywell, and the mount willprobablynot be able to reverse directions quicklyenoughto support bi-directionalguiding. Obviously, youcanreachyour ownconclusions based onyour experience with how the mount behaves. Before doingthese measurements, be sure to disable anybacklashcompensationthat's previouslybeenenabled inthe mount software. Ifthis isn't done, the measurements and anysubsequent attempts at compensationbyPHD2 willbe invalid. Ifyouwant to try uni-directionalguiding, youcanfind instructions here: Uni-directionalguiding

Youcanlook at a graphicaldisplayofthe backlashmeasurement results to get a better understandingofhow the mount performed. Just click on the 'Show Graph' buttonto see a graphthat might look somethinglike this:

buttonto see a graphthat might look somethinglike this: The red points show the measured declinationpositions,

The red points show the measured declinationpositions, shownleft to right, beginningwiththe northmoves and endingwiththe south(return) moves. The blue points show the south-returnbehavior for a perfect mount withzero backlash. Inthis example, there is onlya modest amount of backlashas evidenced bythe flattened top ofthe red points. However, the flattened top willbe muchmore pronounced whenthere is significantly more declinationbacklashinthe mount, as inthe followingexample:

Star-Cross Tool The star-cross toolcanhelp youtest the mount's response to guide commands as described inthis

Star-Cross Tool

The star-cross toolcanhelp youtest the mount's response to guide commands as described inthis trouble-shootingsection. Althoughthe test is easyto performmanually, youmayprefer to use this tool. The star-cross toolwillshow the followingdialog:

this tool. The star-cross toolwillshow the followingdialog: This test presumes you're using the mainimage camera to

This test presumes you're using the mainimage camera to expose the image, so PHD2 doesn't know what image scale is beingused for that. You'llneed to be sure the settings are large enoughto show a distinct patternonthe maincamera but not so large that the stars willmove out ofthe field ofview. The default settings should work wellfor most set-ups but youcanadjust themas needed. The important thingis to get a clear record ofthe movement ofthe stars inthe maincamera image and to save that image ina raw, uncompressed format (eg. FITs or uncompressed TIF). Duringthis test, loopingwillbe active but no guide star willbe selected, and it doesn't matter ifindividualstars move out of the guide camera frame. Loopingis activiated just so youget some quick visualfeedback onwhether the mount is moving.

Managing Equipment Profiles

Equipment profiles were introduced inthe sectiononBasic Use where theyare used as part ofthe 'Connect Equipment' dialog. Ifyouwant to manage multiple profiles, youwillprobablywant to use the 'Manage Profiles' buttoninthe 'Connect Equipment' dialog. Usingthe menuitems there, youcancreate a new profile or edit/rename/delete anexistingone. Eachprofile holds allthe settings that were active at the time the profile was last used. Ifyoucreate a new profile, youcanimport these settings fromeither the PHD2 generic defaults or fromanexistingprofile. You canalso use the 'Wizard' optionto have PHD2 establishsettings that are specific to your equipment configuration. To edit the settings inan existingprofile, youfirst select it inthe equipment profile drop-downlist, thenclick on'Settings' under the 'Manage Profiles' pull-down. This will take youto the 'Brain' dialog, where youcanmake whatever changes youwant. Remember thanprofiles are automaticallyupdated anytime settings are changed duringa PHD2 session. Finally, youcanimport and export profiles for purposes ofdebugging, backup, or evenexchange withother PHD2 users.

Aux-Mount Connection using "Ask for coordinates"

Ifyoucan't connect to your mount usingeither ASCOM or INDI drivers, youstillhave a better-than-nothingalternative byusingthe "Ask for coordinates"aux-mount connection. Withthis option, you'llbe asked to enter or confirmthe scope positioneachtime guidingis goingto begin::

confirmthe scope positioneachtime guidingis goingto begin:: Ifyouenter your scope's current declinationand

Ifyouenter your scope's current declinationand side-of-pier values, PHD2 willautomaticallyadjust the calibrationto matchthat pointingposition. Youdon't need to be precise, a Declinationvalue that's withina few degrees willwork. This means youwon't need to recalibrate as youslew to different targets so longas youupdate these values eachtime. For example, youcando a calibrationnear Declination=0 thenenter new position values whenyou've slewed to a highdeclinationimagingtarget. This is likelyto produce a better result thantryingto calibrate at a near-pole position. This dialogwillnot be displayed ifthe start ofguidingis the result ofa dither operationor a server command fromanimagingapplication. Inorder for the calibrationadjustment to work correctly, your previous calibrationmust have beencompleted withcorrect positioningdata available.

Ifyou're usingthis optionwiththe Drift Alignment tool, the dialogwilllook a bit different:

Drift Alignment tool, the dialogwilllook a bit different: Ifyouenter the additionalinformationfor Right Ascension,

Ifyouenter the additionalinformationfor Right Ascension, latitude, and longitude, the Drift Alignment toolcanmore accuratelyadjust its magenta target circle. Otherwise, the circle willshow onlyanupper-bound estimate ofthe pointingerror duringthe 'adjustment' phases.

Youcanconnect or disconnect the "Ask for coordinates"aux-mount without affectingthe camera or mount connections. So youmight decide to use the optionfor drift alignment or for aninitialslew to your imagingtarget, thendisconnect fromit inorder to avoid the repetitive dialogdisplays. Regardless ofhow youchoose to use it, you're responsible for havingthe correct values inplace, and youshould remember that significantly wrongvalues canresult inpoor guidingresults.

Advanced Settings for the Simulators

The device simulators were introduced inthe Basic Use sectionas usefultools for youto experiment withPHD2 and become famliar withits features. Remember that youmust choose 'Simulator' as the camera type and 'On-camera' as the mount type inorder to get the benefits of simulation. As youbecome more interested inthe details ofthe simulation, youcanuse the 'CamDialog' buttononthe maindisplayto adjust the simulationparameters:

Youcanadjust simulated mount behaviors for declinationbacklash, drift due to polar mis-alignment, and periodic error.

Youcanadjust simulated mount behaviors for declinationbacklash, drift due to polar mis-alignment, and periodic error. Youcanalso adjust the 'seeing' level, whichwillcreate fairlyrealistic guide star deflections that look like seeingeffects. Ifyouadjust these parameters one-by-one, you'll see how theyaffect star deflections and how the different guide algorithms react to those movements. Ofcourse, you're dealingwitha "nearly perfect"mount inthese scenarios (except for backlash), so the simulationcan't be entirelyrealistic.

Multiple Program Executions

Insome situations, youmaywant to runmultiple instances ofPHD2 at the same time. To start the second instance ofPHD2, youneed to supplya command-line parameter of-i2; the third instance would be started with-i3, etc. Youcanaccomplishthis inWindows byrunningPHD2 froma command line usingthe Windows cmd.exe utility. Or youcancreate a Windows desktop shortcut bydoingthe following:

Right-click onyour desktop Select:New/Shortcut Enter the followingstringto identifythe locationofthe program:"C:\ProgramFile (x86)\PHDBuiding2\PHD2.exe"-i2 Click Next Enter a name for the shortcut, e.g. PHD2 #2 Click Finish

Note the quotes around the name inthe 3rd line are required byWindows because there are blanks embedded inthe directoryname.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Software Update

One ofthe most commonresponses to a request for support inthe PHD2 Forumis:please upgrade to the latest versionand see ifthe problemstill exists. Ifyouare seeinganissue inanolder versionofPHD2 it is quite likelythat youare not the first personto encounter it, and that it has already beenreported and fixed ina newer versionofPHD2. For this reason, the developers ofPHD2 feelthat it is important to be runningthe most up to date versionofthe program.

Upgradinga programthat yourelyonfor unattended imaginginour limited available clear skytime cansometimes be perceived as a risky proposition. The developers ofPHD2 recognize this sentiment--we are imagers too! There is a necessarytrade-offbetweenmaintinainga stable software installation, and ofupdatingto receive the latest bugfixes and other improvements.

PHD2 achieves a balance betweenthese two opposingneeds bypublishingtwo series ofsoftware releases. The development releases containthe latest ongoingbugfixes and feature improvements, and are tested bythe developers--usuallyduringactualimagingtime--before beingreleased. Users who choose to runthe development releases willget the latest bugfixes and newest features. Development releases have names like "2.6.3dev6"indicating, for example, the 6thdevelopment release after the 2.6.3 major release.

Periodically, after a development release has received more test time, it willbe published as a major release. For example, 2.6.3dev6 could be

published as major release 2.6.4.

Checking forupdates

PHD2 has anoptionto automaticallycheck for software updates. We recommend enablingthis optionto help keep your versionofPHD2 up to date. Whenthe automatic check optionis enabled, PHD2 willquietlycheck for updates inthe background whenPHD2 starts. Ifnew updates are available, PHD2 willgive youthe optionto installthe new version. Enablingthe automatic check for updates willnot interfere withthe ordinary operationofPHD2, includingautomated operation. It is also safe to leave the optionenabled ifyouare imaginginthe field without internet connectivity. IfPHD2 cannot check for updates, it willwait untilnext time it is started before tryingto check again.

Regardless ofwhether youallow PHD2 to automaticallycheck for updates at startup, youcanalways manuallycheck for updates byclicking "Check for updates"fromthe Help menu.

Table of PHD2 keyboard shortcuts

Shortcut

Function

F1

Help

Ctrl-C

OpenConnect equipment window

Shift-Ctrl-C

Connect allequipment

Ctrl-L

Loop

Alt-S

Auto-select Star

Ctrl-G

Guide

Ctrl-S

Stop

Ctrl-D

Dismiss alert

Alt-C

Review calibration

Ctrl-O

Clear calibration(force re-calibration)

Ctrl-A

OpenAdvanced settings

B

Toggle Bookmarks shown/hidden

Ctrl-B

Delete allBookmarks

Shift-B

Bookmark lock position

Shift-Ctrl-M

Enter Manualcalibration

Trouble-shooting and Analysis

Calibration and Mount Control Problems

Ifyouare just startingto use PHD2 or are connectingto new equipment for the first time, youmayhave trouble gettingthe guider calibrationdone. This problemusuallytakes one oftwo forms, eachrequiringdifferent responses:

1. The star moves duringcalibrationbut it moves "too far"or "too little." Ifyou've used the new-profile wizard and have provided correct values for focallength, camera pixel-size, and mount guide speed setting, the "step-size"used incalibrationshould alreadybe correct. But if you've configured your profile byhand or have changed guide speed settings inthe mount, youmayneed to adjust the 'calibrationstep-size' parameter inthe 'Guiding' tab ofAdvanced Settings. The help content there describes how this parameter is used, and youshould be able to resolve the problemquickly. But ifyou've used the new profile wizard and are seeingproblems with"too far"or "too little"guide star movement, the problemprobablylies elsewhere.

2. The star doesn't move enoughduringRA calibration, declinationbacklashclearing, or Dec calibration. These problems are announced by alert messages at the top ofthe displaywindow. Withlonger focallengths, smallmovements mayevenbe the result ofseeingdeflections, and the mount isn't reallymovingat all. Dealingwiththis sort ofproblemis described next.

Innearlyallcases, the "no movement"problemis caused byfailures inthe hardware or, evenmore likely, problems inthe cablingand connections. The best toolfor trouble-shootingthis is the 'ManualGuide' optionunder the 'Tools' menu, as described inthe Tools sectionofthis help document. Simplyuse the directionalcontrols inthe 'ManualGuide' window to send commands directlyto the mount while watchinga star inthe image displaywindow. Use fairlylarge guide pulse amounts - at least severalseconds - so youcanclearlysee ifthe mount is moving. Tryto move the mount inallfour directions and verifythe target star is movingbyroughlyequalamounts. Ifthe mount does not respond, youknow you have either hardware or connectivityproblems to resolve - nothingto do withPHD2. Ifyou're usinga Shoestringdevice to connect to the mount, watchits indicator lights to see ifthe commands are reachingit. Similarly, your ST-4 compatible guide camera mayhave indicator lights to show whenguide commands are beingreceived. Ifyou're usinganASCOM connectionto the mount, be sure the COM port assignments are correct. Youcanalso use some ofthe ASCOM-supplied tools like POTH to be sure the ASCOM driver is communicatingcorrectlywiththe mount. It is best to use the latest versionofthe ASCOM driver for your mount because older versions ofthese drivers oftenhad bugs associated withpulse- guiding.

CalibrationSanity-Checks andAlerts It is also possible that the calibrationprocess willcomplete but PHD2 willpost a calibrationalert message sayingthat some ofthe results are questionable. This "sanitycheck"dialogwillshow anexplanationofthe issue and some details ofthe calibrationresults:

issue and some details ofthe calibrationresults: Startingwiththe 2.4.0 release, there are four things checked

Startingwiththe 2.4.0 release, there are four things checked byPHD2:

Too few steps (shownabove) - resolvingthis issue canbe easyassumingthe mount is actuallyworkingcorrectly. Just adjust the calibration step-size downward untilyouget at least 8 steps inboththe west and northcalibrations. Ifyouused the new profile wizard to set up your configuration, a good startingvalue for calibrationstep-size willalreadybe set. Ifyoufind that the number ofsteps inRA and Declinationis substantiallydifferent, youare probablyseeingevidence ofdeclinationbacklashunless youare usingdifferent guide speed settings onthe two axes.2.4.0 release, there are four things checked byPHD2: Non-orthogonalcamera axes - the camera axes are

Non-orthogonalcamera axes - the camera axes are normallycomputed independentlyeventhoughtheyshould be perpendicular. The angle calculations do not require great precision, but iftheyare signfiicantlynon-orthogonal, should be perpendicular. The angle calculations do not require great precision, but iftheyare signfiicantlynon-orthogonal, youshould repeat the calibration. Ifyousee repetitive alerts ofthis type and the axes are significantlynon-orthogonal, you'llneed to identifythe problemand fixit. Commoncauses are

bad polar alignment, large declinationbacklash, or large periodic error inRA. Anyofthese problems cancause the guide star to move significantlyonone axis while PHD2 is tryingto measure its motiononthe other axis. Ifyoususpect these problems, go ahead and accept the calibration, thenrunthe GuidingAssistant to measure your polar alignment error, declinationbacklash, and RA trackingerror. Inother cases, the mount maynot be movingat all, and the measured displacements ofthe star are just caused byseeingeffects. This sort of problemshould be obvious inthe calibrationgraphat the left ofthe dialog. Ifthe axis error is relativelysmalland youare convinced the hardware is workingproperly, youcanavoid further alerts ofthis type bysettingthe optionto 'Assume Dec orthogonalto RA' inthe 'Guiding' tab ofthe Advanced Setup dialog. But youshould do this onlyifthe error is fairlysmall- otherwise, youare simplyignoringa serious problem.

Suspicious RA and Dec rates - assumingthe guide speeds inthe mount are the same for bothaxes, the measured guide rate for right ascensionshould be related to the declinationguide rate byapproximatelya factor ofcosine (Declination). Inother words, the RA rate gets smaller as youmove the scope further awayfromthe celestialequator (Dec=0). PHD2 won't tryto identifywhichrate is incorrect - it is simplyalertingyouthat somethinglooks wrongwiththe rates. Youcansanitycheck these rates yourselfquite simply. Ifyouare guidingat 1X siderealrate, your declinationguide rate should be approximately15 arc-sec/sec; witha guide rate of0.5X sidereal, the declinationrate would be 7.5 arc-sec/sec, etc. A declinationrate that is significantly smallerthanthe RA rate is oftenanindicationof substantial declinationbacklash . A declinationrate that is significantly smallerthanthe RA rate is oftenanindicationof substantial declinationbacklash. Usinga calibrationthat triggered this alert canlead to over-shootinginDec guidingbecause the actual guide rate is probablylarger thanthe measured one. To work around this problem, youshould manuallyclear the Dec backlashbefore startingcalibration. Youcando this ineither oftwo ways:1) make sure the mount's last slew directionwas northor 2) use the hand controller to manuallymove the mount northat guide speed for 20 seconds.

Inconsistent results - ifthe calibrationresults are significantlydifferent fromyour last-used calibration, analert message willbe generated. This mayhappenbecause you've made a change inyour configuration. That doesn't implya realproblem, but youshould probably consider creatinga separate profile for the new configuration. Bydoingso, PHD2 willremember settings for eachofyour profiles, letting youswitchbetweenthemeasily. Ifyouhaven't made a configurationchange, youwillprobablywant to determine whythe results are so different.manuallymove the mount northat guide speed for 20 seconds. Withanyofthese alerts, the relevant data field willbe

Withanyofthese alerts, the relevant data field willbe highlighted based onthe type ofmessage. Youcanchoose to ignore the warning('Accept calibration'), re-runthe calibration('Discard calibration'), or restore your last good calibration('Restore old calibration'). Withthe third option, youcandefer calibrationuntillater and start guidingwithyour last good calibrationdata. Ifyousee repeated alerts onthe same topic and are convinced there reallyisn't a problem, youcanuse the 'don't show' checkboxto block future alerts ofthat type. But youshould be aware that the sanity-checkingused byPHD2 works wellfor a wide range ofequipment, and most users don't see these calibrationalerts at all.

DeclinationBacklash Byfar the most commonsource ofcalibrationproblems is declinationbacklash, whichis present to some degree inmost geared mounts. With manyless-expensive mounts, however, the problemcanbe severe and canlead to poor calibrationand guidingresults. Consider the following example ofa calibrationreview dialog:

Consider the following example ofa calibrationreview dialog: The first clue to the problemis found bycomparingthe number

The first clue to the problemis found bycomparingthe number ofsteps required for calibrationonthe two axes - 10 for RA but 42 for Dec. This shows the mount was not movingconsistentlyindeclination, probablybecause the backlashhad not beeneffectivelycleared. This also explains the "wandering"behavior ofthe declinationpoints (light green) whenthe guide commands were reversed fromnorthto south. Finally, the computed declinationrate is muchsmaller thanthe RA rate eventhoughthe guide speed settings onthe two axes were identical. Infact, this would have triggered a calibrationalert dialog. There are actuallytwo problems to be addressed here. First, the calibrationresult is poor and should be repeated inorder to get a more accurate measure ofthe declinationguide rate. Second, the mount is likelyto behave badlyduringdirection reversals indeclinationevenifthe dec guide rate is correct. The calibrationcanbe improved byfirst manuallymovingthe mount northat guide speed for 10-20 seconds untilconsistent star movement is seeninthe mainwindow. Youcando this withthe 'ManualGuide' toolor byusingthe hand-controller onyour mount. Once this is done, most ofthe declinationbacklashinyour mount should have beenovercome. Youcanthen

repeat the calibrationprocedure and probablyget a declinationguidingrate that is more reasonable. The underlyingbacklashproblemgenerally requires some mechanicaladjustment to the mount. Youcantryusinga backlashcompensationsetting, but this is not likelyto work wellifthe backlashis large - more than2-3 seconds, for example. Ifyoucan't correct the backlashor reduce it to manageable levels, youshould consider choosinguni-directionalguidingfor declination. To do this, youdetermine whichwaythe mount drifts due to polar alignment error, and tellPHD2 to guide onlyinthe opposite direction(see Uni-directionalguiding). This is controlled bythe 'Dec guide mode' controlonthe'Algorithms' tab of the Advanced Dialog. For example, ifthe mount tends to drift northoverall, restrict guide commands to south-only. This is not anidealsolution, obviously, but youcanstilluse reasonablylongexposures and achieve decent guidingresults - and there are plentyofimagers out there who use this technique effectively. Ifyouhave anunusualcircumstance, suchas a mount withno declinationcontrolat all, youcanset the 'Dec guide mode' choice to 'Off'.

Validating Basic Mount Control - the Star-Cross Test Ifyouare havingrepeated problems gettingcalibrationto complete without alert messages, youshould runa verysimple test to see ifthe mount is respondingto guide commands. This test basicallymimics what is done duringcalibration, but it is more direct and cangive youa better feelfor what's goingon. We'llcallit the "star-cross"test. The idea is to openthe shutter onthe mainimagingcamera, thensend guide commands that should cause the stars inthe field to trace out a distinctive cross pattern. Inother words, youwant to get animage that looks somethinglike this:

words, youwant to get animage that looks somethinglike this: The angular orientationdoesn't matter, that's just a

The angular orientationdoesn't matter, that's just a functionofhow youhave the guide camera rotated. What is important is that the lines inthe cross are perpendicular and have roughlyequallengths ineachofthe four directions relative to the startingpoint inthe center. Ifthe image youget doesn't have this approximate appearance, guidingwilleither be impaired or perhaps impossible. For example, consider the followingpoor result:

impossible. For example, consider the followingpoor result: Youcansee the star has moved alongonlyone axis - onlyinright

Youcansee the star has moved alongonlyone axis - onlyinright ascensioninthis example. The declinationguide commands sent to the mount did nothingat all. Untilthis is fixed inthe mount, youwon't be able to guide indeclinationat alland willhave to disable declinationguidingto even complete a calibration. There are manyother permutations ofbad results, eachsuggestinga particular probleminthe mount, the guide cable, or muchless likely, the ASCOM driver for the mount. Youcansafelyassume it has nothingto do withPHD2.

Here are the steps for runningthe test:

1.

Set the mount guide speed to 1X sidereal. Bringup the 'ManualGuide' toolinPHD2 and choose aninitialpulse size - start with, say, 5 seconds.

2. Start a 60 second exposure onthe maincamera.

3. Send a 5-second pulse west, thentwo 5-second pulses east, thena final5-second pulse west. This should returnthe star to its approximate startingposition. Youshould wait about 5 seconds after sendingeachguide pulse to give the command time to complete before sendingthe next pulse.

4. Now send a 5 second pulse north, thentwo 5-second pulses south, thena final5-second pulse north. This should againreturnthe star to its startingposition.

5. Wait for the main camera image to download and see what you get.

Youcanuse different pulse lengths ifyouwant, perhaps usingsmaller values to confirmthe mount willrespond to them. Just be sure the total exposure time onthe mainimagingcamera is longer thanthe total ofguide durations plus a marginfor error. Onmost mounts, the star willnot returnto its exact center because ofsome declinationbacklash- youcansee that inthe first example image. But it should be fairlyclose or you'll need to look more carefullyat how muchdeclinationbacklashyouhave inthe mount. PHD2 also has a star-cross test tool, descibed here:Star- cross Tool. Youcanuse that to automaticallyperformthe test steps described in1-5 above.

One benefit to usingthis test is that it reduces things to the absolute basics:willthe mount move as directed or not. It has nothingto do withPHD2 guide settings because theyaren't involved inthe test. Youmayfind it helpfulto use the test results to communicate withthe mount manufacturer or other users who understand that specific mount and its typical problems.

Measuring the Mount's Behavior Ifyou're havingtrouble gettingdecent guidingresults, your first instinct willprobablybe to trymakingwild changes to the guidingparameters inthe hope offindinga magic solution. This almost never works, and you're more likelyto just make things worse. Ifthe default parameters fromthe new-profile-wizard aren't producingreasonable results, the fault is probablywiththe hardware and you'llneed to determine the underlyingcause. Once youunderstand the cause, youcanprobablyimprove your guidingresults evenifno actualrepairs canbe made - but understandingthe underlyingproblemis important. To understand what the mount is doing, performthe followingsteps:

1. Use the new-profile-wizard to create a new equipment profile for the test, beingsure the guide scope focallengthand camera pixelsize are correct. Don't guess at them, look themup ifyouaren't sure.

2. Use anASCOM connectionto the mount ifone is available.

3. Performa freshcalibrationnear Dec=0 withthe scope pointingat least 40 degrees above the horizonto minimize seeingeffects.

4. Make sure there are no backlashcompensationsettings active inthe mount, and set the mount guide speed to 0.5x- 1xsidereal.

5. Runthe GuidingAssistant for 10-15 minutes and applywhatever recommendations it makes, particularlywithrespect to min-move

values. Let it measure your declinationbacklash. Youmayneed to use a large trackingregionto avoid losingthe guide star duringthis part ofthe process - just be sure there aren't multiple stars inthe trackingrectangle. The backlashtest willmove the star a longdistance north, so choose a guide star that is nearer the southernedge ofyour camera frame to give yourselfplentyofroom.

6. Do not change anyofthe guide parameters beyond what is recommended bythe GuidingAssistant.

7. Take a carefullook at the results showninthe GuidingAssistant table. Eachentryinthe table cantellyousomethingusefulabout the

mount's performance. These results are also writtento the guidinglog, so theyare available for later analysis.

8. Ifyougot calibrationalert messages instep 3, youshould probablyremedythose problems before proceeding. Guidingwitha bad

calibrationis not likelyto produce good results. Also, ifyour polar alignment error is 10 arc-minor more, youshould improve onthat and thenrepeat the above steps.

9. Let PHD2 guide for another 10-15 minutes, just lettingit runso longas there aren't gross errors fromwind or other "mistakes." Do

NOT change anyofthe guidingparameters while this is beingdone.

Ifyouwant to analyze the results yourself, use the PHDLogView tooland the tutorialonAnalyzingPHD2 GuidingResults. Youshould also consult the document onPHD2 Best Practices. Allofthese references are available onthe OpenPHDGuiding.orgweb site under the 'News' tab. Ifyou'd like some help understandingthe results, post boththe guidingand debuglogfiles onthe OpenPHD2 Google forumand we'llbe glad to help youout.

Display Window Problems

New users oftencomplainthat the image displayed inthe mainwindow is extremelynoisyor is almost all-white or all-black. Assumingthe camera is functioningand actuallydownloadingimages, the displayissues are oftencaused bythe absence ofanyusable stars inthe frame. For example, tryingto test the camera indoors or indaylight willalmost always create these conditions. The appearance ofthe image displaywindow inthese situations provides no usefulinformationand should be discounted. PHD2 uses anautomatic screen-stretchingfunctionthat is intended to help you see realstars under a nightime sky. Whenno stars are present, the displaywillbe stretched to show the range ofminimum-to-maximumbrightness values ofwhatever is inthe frame - whichis oftennothingat all. This is usuallywhat causes the noisy/all-white/all-black displayresults. Youmay also encounter displayproblems ifthe guider is not well-focused. Focusingthe guider canbe a tedious and frustratingexperience but it's criticalto gettinggood guidingresults. A good technique is to start witha bright but unsaturated star and tryto reachfocus withthat. Thenmove to successivelyfainter stars to fine-tune the focus position.

Hot-pixel Problems

Evenwithsome high-qualityguide cameras, youmayencounter problems where clumps ofhot pixels are mistakenbyPHD2 as guide stars. This canbe especiallyannoyingifyou're usingautomationtools and the 'auto-select' guide star selectionis mistakenlychoosinghot pixels. For many cameras, a simple dark frame willsuffice for reducingor eliminatinghot-pixelproblems, and dark frames should always be used as a starting-point. But for other cameras, youwillneed to build a bad-pixelmap and update it as necessarywhenyousee changes inthe locations and sizes of defective pixels. Camera sensors change over time and mayreact to changingtemperatures, so bad-pixelmap maintenance is a smalltask you should be able to perform. Step-by-step instructions canbe found inthe Bad-pixelmap chapter ofthis document. These problems are different fromtransient hot pixels, whichcanbe caused bycosmic raystrikes onthe sensor. Althoughcosmic rayhits candisrupt guiding, there's really nothingyoucando about them.

Restoring a Working Baseline

Despite advice to the contrary, youmayhave made rapid, uninformed changes to your guidingparameters onlyto find the performance stayed the same or evengot worse. Before proceeding, youshould restore the settings to their default values. Ifyouused the new-profile-wizard to build your profiles, the parameters willhave beenset based onthe specifics ofyour configuration, and theyare likelyto be prettyclose. Ifyou encounter significant guidingproblems usingthose settings, youare probablyhavingissues withthe mount or other hardware. Blindlychanging guidingparameters almost never solves these problems and quite oftenmakes things worse. Youhave severaloptions for restoringthe settings to their default values:

1. Onthe 'Algorithm' tab ofthe Advanced Dialog, youcanindividuallyreset parameters bylookingat the tool-tip for eachfield. Hover your mouse cursor over the field and the default value willbe displayed. Note that this is not accurate for the min-move settings, whichdepend onyour image scale. This approachis best whenyouwant to restore onlya few settings.

2. Click the 'reset' buttons onthe 'Algorithm' tab for the selected RA and Dec guide algorithms. This is the recommended approachfor resettingallthe guidingparameters. The min-move settings willbe reset to the values originallycalculated bythe new-profile-wizard. Ifyou subsequentlyadjusted those settings byrunningthe GuidingAssistant, youshould repeat that process.

3. Runthe new-profile-wizard, accessed byclickingonthe 'Manage Profiles' buttoninthe 'Connection' dialog. Use the same camera and mount choices youalreadyhave and give the profile a new name. Ifyouwant to re-use the dark libraryand bad-pixelmap fromthe old profile, connect to the new profile and use the 'Darks' menuto import those files fromthe old profile. Once youare satisfied withthe new profile settings, youcandelete the old one.

Camera Timeout and Download Problems

Insome cases, youmayexperience problems where guider images aren't downloaded or displayed. Inextreme cases, this mayevencause PHD2 or other camera-related applications to be non-responsive (i.e. to "hang"). Again, this is almost always due to hardware, camera driver, or connectivityissues, withone ofthe most commonculprits beinga faultyUSB cable or device. It is highlyunlikelyto be caused byan applicationlike PHD2, so youshould beginyour investigationat the lower levels ofthe system. Youcanstart byconfirmingthat the guide camera is working- tryusinga short, direct cable fromthe camera to the computer and takingexposures withthe native or test applicationthat came with the camera. Ifthe camera is functional, youcanstart lookingat USB hubs and cables, swappingthemone at a time to see ifyoucanisolate the problem. It's worthrememberingthat we work ina hostile environment while doingour imaging, and manyofthe components we use are not designed for cold, outdoor conditions. So somethingthat worked just last week or last monthmayno longer be reliable.

Startingwiththe 2.3 release, PHD2 uses a camera timeout propertyto protect against hangconditions. This propertyis set inthe Camera tab ofAdvanced Settings. and uses a default value of 15 seconds. This means that PHD2 willwait up to 15 seconds after the completion of the exposure to receive the image fromthe camera. This is a verygenerous amount oftime and should work wellfor the majorityofcameras. However, some cameras are knownto create problems bymakinglarge bandwithor power demands onthe USB subsystem. Ifyouare getting timeouts ofthis sort and are convinced the camera is workingproperly, youcanincrease this timeout value. Youcanevenchange it to a veryhigh number - even1000 seconds or more - so that timeout errors are never shown. Doingso leaves youvulnerable to apparent hangs inthe user interface and erratic guidingbehavior, but it is a choice youcanmake for yourself. A larger value for the timeout willnot create extra delays during normalcamera operations - once the image is downloaded fromthe camera, the timer is cancelled and guidingwillproceed immediately.

Poor Guiding Performance

Once you've gotteneverythingrunning, youwillprobablyget reasonablygood guidingresults almost immediately. Youwillhave to decide what "good enough"means, and everyone's standard is likelyto be different. But ifyoufind your imagingresults are not acceptable because the stars are streaked or elongated, you'llneed to take a systematic approachto correctingthe problems. It is oftentemptingto just start blindlyadjusting the various guide parameters inaneffort to make things better. There is nothingwrongwithadjustingthe parameters - that's whythey're there - but it should be done carefullybased onanunderstandingofwhat theydo. The PHD2 default settings are carefullychosento produce reasonable results for most amateur equipment and locations. Optimalsettings are entirelydependent onthe image scale, seeingconditions, and behavior of your specific mount. Inother words, theyare unique to your situation- there is no magic "red book"ofcorrect guidingparameters, and settings youget fromother users maybe completelyirrelevant to your situation. Ifyougot started byusingthe New-Profile wizard, the default settings will alreadybe tuned somewhat to matchyour image scale. Byusingthe GuidingAssistant, youcanget more specifics about your situation- how the seeingconditions look and how youmight adjust the minimum-move settings to avoid chasingthe seeing. Youcanalso use either the Guiding Assistant or the ManualGuidingtoolto see how muchbacklashis present inyour mount, somethingthat canbe important to understandingyour declinationguidingresults.

Achievingthe best possible guidingperformance canbe a complextask and not somethingthat canbe covered here. However, youcanget help onthe web froma varietyofsources, withthe document byCraigStark beinga verygood place to start:

http://www.cloudynights.com/page/articles/cat/fishing-for-photons/what-to-do-when-phd-guiding-isnt-push-here-dummy-r2677.

Alert Messages

PHD2 willsometimes displayalert messages at the top ofthe maindisplaywindow. These generallyshow error or diagnostic informationthat warrant your attention. Duringnormaloperation, youprobablywon't see anyofthese, but ifyoudo, this sectioncanhelp youdecide what to do about them.

Dark-library andBad-pixel MapAlerts

"Use a Dark Library ora Bad-pixel Map" - usinga dark libraryor bad-pixelmap reduces the likelihood that PHD2 willmistakenlyidentify hot pixels or some other image defect as a star. Ifyouchoose to ignore this message, you'llbe vulnerable to situations where PHD2 inadvertently switches fromthe guide star to a hot pixeland no longer guides correctly.

Format/geometry mismatches - dark frames and bad-pixelmaps must matchthe format ofthe sensor inthe camera beingused. Ifyou've changed the camera inanexistingprofile, the existingdark/bpmfiles willnot be usable and you'llsee this alert message. To avoid seeingthe message, youshould instead create a new profile whenyouchange cameras. You'llstillneed to shoot new darks or bpms, but youcankeep the old files for use withthe originalcamera. Inveryunusualcircumstances, youmaysee this message wheneither the driver or PHD2 code for handlingthe camera has changed. Youmight also see a format-incompatibilityalert message ifyouhave anold dark librarythat has somehow accumulated frames withdifferent sensor formats.

ASCOM Alerts Whenyoufirst connect to a mount, camera, or other ASCOM-controlled device, youmaysee analert message sayingthat a required capabilityis not supported bythe driver. One example would be lack ofsupport for pulse-guidingbyanASCOM telescope/mount driver, somethingthat can occur withoutdated drivers. Inthese situations, your onlyrecourse is to update the ASCOM driver. These drivers are generallyavailable from the ASCOM web site or, insome cases, fromthe device manufacturer. As a rule, the best practice is to use the latest versions ofthese drivers so youdon't encounter problems that have alreadybeenidentified and fixed.

Youmight also see other alert messages associated withthe ASCOM driver for the mount:

1. "PulseGuide command to mount has failed - guidingis likelyto be ineffective." This is usuallycaused bya bugor timingsensitivityinthe ASCOM mount driver, and there is generallyno wayto know ifthe guide command was executed properlyor not. Ifyourarelysee the alert and your guidingresults are acceptable, youcanprobablyignore it. Despite the alert condition, PHD2 willcontinue to issue guide commands, so youdon't need to take anyimmediate action. Ifyousee the alert frequently, youshould send us your debuglogso we can understand the details ofthe problemand possiblyhelp youdescribe it to the author ofthe ASCOM driver.

2. "Guidingstopped:the scope started slewing." This is prettyself-explanatory, but the determinationthat the scope was slewingis

somethingreported to PHD2 bythe ASCOM mount driver. Whether it was actuallyslewingisn't knownto PHD2. Assumingyoudidn't mistakenlyslew the scope withguidingactive, there is probablya timingprobleminthe driver. Ifyouwant to sidestep the problem temporarily, youcandisable the logic to check for slewing- go into the 'Guiding' tab ofthe braindialog, and un-check the boxthat says "Stop guidingwhenmount slews." This willlet youcontinue guiding, but the results might be suspect. The debuglogshould provide the details needed to describe the problemto the author ofthe ASCOM driver.

Camera Timeout Alerts Alert messages associated withcamera timing/timeout problems are discussed above:Camera Timeouts

CalibrationAlerts A number ofalerts mayappear duringthe mount calibrationprocess. These are described here:CalibrationAlerts

Maximum-DurationLimit Alerts Duringnormalguiding, youmaysee analert message sayingthat your settings for maximum-durationlimits inRA or Dec are preventingPHD2 fromkeepingthe guide star locked. Ifyou've decreased these parameters fromtheir default values, youshould consider increasingthem. However, ifthe limits are wellabove one second, this alert probablyindicates you've encountered a mechanicalproblemthat needs to be corrected. Inthe simplest cases, youmayhave suffered a cable snag, wind gust, mount bump, or other externalevent that caused the guide star to move bya large amount. Insuchcases, yousimplyneed to correct the problemifyoucanand proceed withguiding. But inother cases, the alert maybe triggered bya steadilygrowingguide star displacement that is not beingcorrected at all. For example, ifPHD2 can't move the mount correctlyineither the northor southdirections, the cumulative uncorrected error willeventuallyreacha point that triggers the alert. These sorts of problems willrequire carefuldiagnosis and correctionand simplyincreasingthe maximum-durationlimits willnot help.

Log Analysis

Anysort ofproblemisolationor tuningwillinvariablyrequire use ofthe PHD2 logfiles. Bothare formatted for straightforward interpretationbya

humanreader, and the guide logis constructed to enable easyimport into other applications. As mentioned inthe 'Tools' section, applications such as PHDLogViewer or Excelcanbe used to visualize overallperformance, compute performance statistics, and examine time periods whenguiding was problematic. WithExcelor similar applications, simplyspecifythat the guide loguses a comma as a columnseparator.

Guiding Log Contents

The contents ofthe guidinglogwillcontinue to evolve as new capabilities are added. But the basic content is stable, and considerable care is takento not "break"applications that parse it. Ifyouwishto analyze the logyourself, the followinginformationwillbe helpful.

The PHD2 guide logwillcontainzero or more sequences ofcalibrationand zero or more sequences ofguiding. Eachofthese sections has a

header that provides most ofthe informationabout the guidingalgorithms beingused and the internalparameters used byPHD2 for guiding. At the

start ofeither a calibrationrunor a guidingsequence, the last line ofthe header informationdefines a set ofcolumnheadings. those columns are shownbelow:

The meanings of

Calibrationcolumns:

dx, dy are offsets fromthe startingposition, inpixels, inthe camera coordinate systemcolumns are shownbelow: The meanings of Calibrationcolumns: x, yare the camera x/ycoordinates ofthe guide star at

x, yare the camera x/ycoordinates ofthe guide star at the end ofeachcalibrationstepstartingposition, inpixels, inthe camera coordinate system Dist is the totaldistance moved inthe camera coordinate

Dist is the totaldistance moved inthe camera coordinate system(dist = sqrt(dx*dx+ dy*dy). This is the value used byPHD2 to compute the calibrationparametersofthe guide star at the end ofeachcalibrationstep Guiding columns: dx, dyare the same as for calibration-

Guiding columns:

dx, dyare the same as for calibration- offsets fromthe "lock position"ofthe guide star inthe camera coordinate systembyPHD2 to compute the calibrationparameters Guiding columns: RARawDistance and DECRawDistance - these are the transforms

RARawDistance and DECRawDistance - these are the transforms ofdxand dyinto the mount coordinates - inother words, theyuse the arbitraryangle ofthe guide camera to map fromX/Y onthe camera to RA/Dec onthe mountposition"ofthe guide star inthe camera coordinate system RAGuideDistance and DECGuideDistance - these are the outputs

RAGuideDistance and DECGuideDistance - these are the outputs fromthe various guidingalgorithms. The guide algorithms operate onthe "raw"distances and decide how far, ifany, the telescope positionshould be adjusted ineachaxis. For example, witha "minimummove" parameter set, the "guide"distances canbe zero evenwhenthe "raw"distances are non-zero.camera to map fromX/Y onthe camera to RA/Dec onthe mount RADuration, RADirection, DECDuration, DECDirection- these

RADuration, RADirection, DECDuration, DECDirection- these are the values determined bythe two "guide"distances above. The "durations"are the lengths ofthe guide pulses, inmilliseconds, needed to move the mount bythe distances specified byRAGuideDistance and DECGuideDistancecanbe zero evenwhenthe "raw"distances are non-zero. XStep, YStep - step-adjustment durations for the adaptive

XStep, YStep - step-adjustment durations for the adaptive optics device ifone is beinguseddistances specified byRAGuideDistance and DECGuideDistance StarMass - a brightness measure ofthe guide star image SNR -

StarMass - a brightness measure ofthe guide star imagedurations for the adaptive optics device ifone is beingused SNR - aninternal"star-detectionratio"used byPHD2 -

SNR - aninternal"star-detectionratio"used byPHD2 - essentiallya measure ofhow wellthe star canbe distinguished fromthe sky backgroundStarMass - a brightness measure ofthe guide star image ErrorCode - aninteger value representingthe qualityofthe

ErrorCode - aninteger value representingthe qualityofthe guide star measurement:wellthe star canbe distinguished fromthe sky background 0 - no error 1 - star is saturated

0 - no error

0 - no error

1 - star is saturated

1 - star is saturated

2 - star has low SNR

2 - star has low SNR

3 - star mass is too low for accurate measurement

3 - star mass is too low for accurate measurement

4 - star has drifted too near the edge ofthe frame

4 - star has drifted too near the edge ofthe frame

5 - star mass has changed beyond the specified amount

5 - star mass has changed beyond the specified amount

6 - unexpected error

6 - unexpected error

Alldistance values are inunits ofpixels. The header for the guidingsectionwillshow the image scale as it is knownbyPHD2, and that canbe used to scale the pixeldistance values into units ofarc-seconds ifdesired.

Problem Reporting

Ifyouencounter applicationproblems that are specific to PHD2, youare encouraged to report themto the open-phd-guidingGoogle group:

https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups=#!forum/open-phd-guiding. Obviously, the more informationyoucanprovide, the more likelywe willbe able to resolve the problem. Usingthe followingguidelines willhelp inthat regard:

1. Tryto reproduce the problem- ifwe have a clear set ofsteps to follow, we are more likelyto find a solutionquickly. Ifyoucanreproduce it, tryto reduce things to the minimumnumber ofsteps. Remember, we won't have your hardware or computer environment whenwe tryto reproduce it ourselves.

2. Tryto be complete about describingyour configuration- operatingsystem, equipment types, PHD2 version, etc.

3. Attachthe PHD2 debuglogfromthe sessioninwhichyouencountered the problem. Youcanfind the debugloginthe PHD2 folder inyour Documents folder. Ifyoucan't reproduce the problem, tryto estimate the time ofdaywhenyoufirst saw it - this could help us find evidence inthe debuglogwithout havingto sift throughhundreds oflines ofoutput. The 'Upload logfiles' functiononthe 'Help' menucanhelp you find and upload the logfiles.

PHD2 Drift Alignment Tool

The drift aligntoolinPHD2 canbe used to quicklyobtaina precise polar alignment ofyour equatorialmount. The process takes a little bit of practice, but after doingit a few times, youshould be able to obtainanaccurate polar alignment inminutes.

Preparation

Make sure your mount is reasonablylevel.to obtainanaccurate polar alignment inminutes. Preparation Make sure your scope is balanced and readyfor guiding. Tryto

Make sure your scope is balanced and readyfor guiding.Preparation Make sure your mount is reasonablylevel. Tryto get your mount's polar axis roughlyaligned

Tryto get your mount's polar axis roughlyaligned byusingyour mount's polar alignment scope ifit has one. Otherwise, make sure the mount's polar axis is pointingtowards the pole, and the altitude settingcorresponds to your locallatitude.Make sure your scope is balanced and readyfor guiding. Make sure youcansee your computer screenwhenyouare

Make sure youcansee your computer screenwhenyouare standingat the mount.and the altitude settingcorresponds to your locallatitude. Start PHD2 and connect your equipment. Youshould be

Start PHD2 and connect your equipment.your computer screenwhenyouare standingat the mount. Youshould be usinganup-to-date versionofPHD2 These

Youshould be usinganup-to-date versionofPHD2standingat the mount. Start PHD2 and connect your equipment. These instructions assume youhave anASCOM connectionto your

These instructions assume youhave anASCOM connectionto your mount so PHD2 knows where your scope is pointing. Youcanstill drift alignwithout anASCOM connection, see Note about ASCOM . Note about ASCOM.

Calibrate onanyconvenient guide star, preferablyat a low declination.alignwithout anASCOM connection, see Note about ASCOM . Make sure your PHD2 settings have the correct

Make sure your PHD2 settings have the correct values for your guide scope focallengthand your guide camera pixelsize. (Brain=> Globaltab for focallength, Camera tab for pixelsize)onanyconvenient guide star, preferablyat a low declination. Now youare readyfor drift aligning. Azimuth Alignment

Now youare readyfor drift aligning.

Azimuth Alignment

Openthe Drift AlignTool:

Now youare readyfor drift aligning. Azimuth Alignment Openthe Drift AlignTool: Youwillsee a window like this: 55

Youwillsee a window like this:

Positionyour scope for the Azimuthaxis adjustment. Point near the Meridianand the celestialequator. Youcaneither click the

Positionyour scope for the Azimuthaxis adjustment. Point near the Meridianand the celestialequator. Youcaneither click the 'Slew' button, or move the mount manually. Your scope should now be pointingsomethinglike this:

the mount manually. Your scope should now be pointingsomethinglike this: And the Drift Alignwindow willlook like

And the Drift Alignwindow willlook like this:

Notice we are onlya few degrees offthe meridian("Meridianoffset"), and close to the equator (smallvalue

Notice we are onlya few degrees offthe meridian("Meridianoffset"), and close to the equator (smallvalue ofDeclination.)

Youare goingto alternate betweenmeasuringthe error ('Drift'), and adjustingthe mount ('Adjust'). The rate ofdeclinationdrift tells us the amount ofalignment error. Eachadjustment willreduce the error, and yourepeat the process as manytimes as youneed to get the error close to zero.

Click 'Drift' to start measuringthe declinationdrift. PHD2 willselect a guide star and start guiding. After a few moments youshould see something like this:

After a few moments youshould see something like this: Payparticular attentionto the Declinationtrend line (Red).

Payparticular attentionto the Declinationtrend line (Red). At first the Dec trend line willbe jumpingup and down, but soonthe noise should "average out"and the slope ofthe line willbecome somewhat stable. Whenthat happens youare readyto adjust the mount's Azimuth.

Our goalis to make the Dec trend line "flat"-- neither trendingup nor downover time. Byadjustingthe mount's azimuth, youwillchange the slope ofthe Dec trend line.

Ifthis is your first time adjustingAzimuth, youwillnot know whichwayto go--East or West? PHD2 does not know either, so youjust have to guess, and youhave a 50-50 chance ofgettingit right. Ifyouchoose correctly, the new drift line willbe flatter (less steep, closer to horizontal) If youchoose incorrectly, the drift rate willincrease (more steeplydownward inthe example above.)

Click the 'Adjust' button. PHD2 willstop guiding, and youcanmake your adjustment. You'llsee somethinglike this:

your adjustment. You'llsee somethinglike this: Slowlyturnyour mount's Azimuthadjustment, watchingthe

Slowlyturnyour mount's Azimuthadjustment, watchingthe screenand movingthe guide star towards the magenta circle. The magenta circle shows how far the guide star needs to move. The magenta circle is larger whenthe Dec slope is steeper, and it mayinitiallybe so large that it is not visible onthe screen. That's to be expected; ifit is not visible, just move the guide star approximatelythe widthofthe screen. Ifyoudo see the magenta circle, youshould move the guide star to the circle, like this:

After movingthe guide star, click 'Drift' to make another measurement. Before youclick 'Drift', it's

After movingthe guide star, click 'Drift' to make another measurement. Before youclick 'Drift', it's OK to nudge the mount to re-center the star, or to find a different star, or to get back closer to the meridian. Also, youcanchoose your ownguide star byclickingonit, or just let PHD2 choose.

After a short time drifting, youwillhave another Dec trend line. Did it get better (closer to horizontal) or worse (awayfromhorizontal)? Make a note to yourselfinthe "Azimuthadjustment notes"area, recordinghow youadjusted azimuthand whichdirectionthe Dec slope moved. Youcan use this informationnext time youdrift alignso youdo not have to guess whichwayto make the azimuthadjustment. For example, withmysetup, turningthe azimuthknob clockwise makes the slope go down. Havingthe note there reminds me that I need to turnthe azimuthknob counter- clockwise to make the slope go up.

Repeat the measurement and adjustment ofthe mount untilyouachieve a good flat horizontaldec trend line, like this:

Altitude Alignment Now, youwillneed to repeat the process for the mount's Altitude adjustment. Click the

Altitude Alignment

Now, youwillneed to repeat the process for the mount's Altitude adjustment. Click the Altitude button; the Drift toolwillnow look like this:

the Altitude button; the Drift toolwillnow look like this: Click 'Slew' or manuallyslew your mount toward

Click 'Slew' or manuallyslew your mount toward the horizon(east or west):

The exact positionis not important, but 23-35 degrees above the horizonworks well. Click 'Drift' to

The exact positionis not important, but 23-35 degrees above the horizonworks well.

Click 'Drift' to start drifting.

horizonworks well. Click 'Drift' to start drifting. Drift untilyouhave a stable Dec slope. Click Adjust,

Drift untilyouhave a stable Dec slope. Click Adjust, thenturnthe mount's Altitude adjustment knob. Use your notes recorded inthe "Altitude adjustment notes"area froma previous sessionto determine whichwayto turnthe knob to move the slope inthe desired direction. For example, withmysetup I turnthe altitude knob clockwise to make the slope go "down".

Just as withthe Azimuthadjustment, repeat cycles ofDrift and Adjust makingthe measurements and movingthe guide star to the magenta circle. Again, the goalis to get the dec drift line to be horizontal.

Using Bookmarks

Untilyouare experienced withdrift aligningyour particular mount, the 'adjustment' part ofthe process canbe a bit tedious. At first, you'llhave to determine how to adjust a knob onthe mount to achieve the desired effect:"how much"and "what direction." To help withthis, the PHD2 drift aligntoolsupports "bookmarks". These are a handywayto record the positions ofthe guide star before and after you've made anadjustment. Bookmarks are accessed usingthe Bookmarks menu, or keyboard shortcuts, as follows:

b :toggle/show bookmarks

b

:toggle/show bookmarks

Shift-b :set a bookark at the current guide star position(the "lock position")

Shift-b :set a bookark at the current guide star position(the "lock position")

Ctrl-b :clear allbookmarks

Ctrl-b :clear allbookmarks

Ctrl-click somewhere onthe image:set a bookmark at that position, or remove the bookmark that's alreadythere

Ctrl-click somewhere onthe image:set a bookmark at that position, or remove the bookmark that's alreadythere

Bysettinga bookmark before youmake a mount adjustment, youcanget a clear view ofhow the adjustment has moved the star onthe guide frame.

Notes about ASCOM

The instructions and screenshots above correspond to what yousee inPHD2 withanASCOM or INDI connectionto the mount. There are a couple ofdifferences ifyoudo not have one ofthose connections.

Scope positiondata and slewingfunctions willnot be available - you'llhave to slew the scope yourself. Keep inmind, the target altitude/azimuthpositions are onlyapproximate - youdon't need to be particularlyconcerned about accuracy- just get reasonablyclose witha good guide star available inthe field ofview.ofdifferences ifyoudo not have one ofthose connections. The solid magenta circle becomes a dashed-line magenta

The solid magenta circle becomes a dashed-line magenta circle. The dashed magenta circle represents a limit to how far the guide star needswitha good guide star available inthe field ofview. to move, not the exact distance. We onlyknow

to move, not the exact distance. We onlyknow that the star should not move past the circle. Rather thanmovingthe star allthe wayto the

circle, youmaywant to onlymove it half-wayor so as aninitialguess. Youcanuse Bookmarks to keep track ofwhere the guide star was

ineachDrift/Adjust iteration.

PHD2 Static Polar Alignment (SPA) Tool

The Static Polar Alignment toolprovides two modes ofoperation. Automated mode requires a mount that canslew under computer controland report its position. Otherwise manualmode is available for ST-4 type guiding('Oncamera', GPUSB, etc) or for mounts that are manually controlled. The SPA toolselects the most appropriate mode accordingto your mount's capabilities.

Automated Mode

Inthe automated mode, PHD2 willslew the telescope as needed to performthe alignment procedure. To do this, PHD2 must be connected to the mount througheither anASCOM or INDI interface, and the mount must be initialized and readyto performgo-to (slewing) operations. To get started, performthe followingsteps:

Connect PHD2 to your camera and to your ASCOM or INDI mount driveroperations. To get started, performthe followingsteps: Be sure that PHD2 has alreadydone calibrationfor this set-up

Be sure that PHD2 has alreadydone calibrationfor this set-upPHD2 to your camera and to your ASCOM or INDI mount driver Manuallyadjust the mount’s RA

Manuallyadjust the mount’s RA axis to point within5 degrees ofthe apparent pole, thenslew the telescope to point to Dec = +90 or -90. Ona Germanequatorialmount, it’s best to start withthe mount inthe counterweight-downorientation, pointingat the pole. Use star alignment or plate solvingto get as close as practicalto Dec = +90 or -90 degrees.Be sure that PHD2 has alreadydone calibrationfor this set-up Duringthe alignment process the mount willslew 10

Duringthe alignment process the mount willslew 10 degrees west, so make sure there is nothingto obstruct the view or interfere withthe scope’s rotation.get as close as practicalto Dec = +90 or -90 degrees. Now openthe SPA toolvia 'Tools'/'Static

Now openthe SPA toolvia 'Tools'/'Static Polar Alignment', and the first window willopen:

The PHD2 maindisplaywould look like this (southernpole example): The star map at the top ofthe

The PHD2 maindisplaywould look like this (southernpole example):

PHD2 maindisplaywould look like this (southernpole example): The star map at the top ofthe SPA window

The star map at the top ofthe SPA window shows the approximate positionofthe polar stars oriented accordingto your PHD2 calibrationand mount position. Youcanadjust the ‘Hour Angle’ controlor use the ‘Flip Camera’ optionto orient the star map to the maindisplay. To panthe star

map youcandouble click the point youwant at the center; or click the ‘>’ buttonto center the selected reference star. The buttonto the right ofthe star map lets youtoggle betweendisplayingthe star map or instructions for usingthe SPA tool. Youhave the optionto use manualcontrolbytickingthe ‘ManualSlew’ checkbox. Refer to the instructions below for manual-mode alignment. Use the star map to select a ‘Reference Star’ onthe mainPHD2 display. Identifywhichstar youselected withthe drop-downlist. Don't worryif youdon't get it right; it canbe corrected later. Whenyouare readyto start aligning, click ‘Rotate’. The current positionis indicated witha smallblue circle onthe maindisplay, and the coordinates are displayed inthe status bar. Note that the ‘Rotate’ buttonhas changed to a ‘Stop’ button. Ifyouwant to quit or stop the mount slewing, click the ‘Stop’ button.

buttonhas changed to a ‘Stop’ button. Ifyouwant to quit or stop the mount slewing, click the
After youclick 'Rotate', the mount willslew west inRA insmallsteps as indicated inthe status bar. Once

After youclick 'Rotate', the mount willslew west inRA insmallsteps as indicated inthe status bar. Once two points have beenrecorded, the alignment graphic is overlaid onthe PHD2 maindisplay.

the alignment graphic is overlaid onthe PHD2 maindisplay. Ifyoumade a mistake identifyingyour ‘Reference Star’,

Ifyoumade a mistake identifyingyour ‘Reference Star’, select the correct one inthe drop-downlist. Now follow the instructions under Using the PolarAlignment Overlay to adjust your mount’s polar alignment.

Manual Mode

Ifyoudon’t have a mount driver that supports go-to’s or youwant to retainmanualcontrolofscope slewing, youcanuse the manualmode of operation. To get started, performthe followingsteps:

Connect PHD2 to your camera and to your mount’s guider interface (e.g. ST-4)Be sure that PHD2 has alreadydone calibrationfor this set-up Manuallyadjust the RA axis to point

Be sure that PHD2 has alreadydone calibrationfor this set-upcamera and to your mount’s guider interface (e.g. ST-4) Manuallyadjust the RA axis to point within5

Manuallyadjust the RA axis to point within5 degrees ofthe apparent pole, thenmanuallyslew the telescope to point to Dec = +90 or -90. Ona Germanequatorialmount, it’s best to start withthe mount inthe counterweight-downorientation, pointingat the pole. Use star alignment or plate solvingto get as close as practicalto Dec = +90 or -90 degrees.Be sure that PHD2 has alreadydone calibrationfor this set-up Duringthe alignment process you’llneed to slew the

Duringthe alignment process you’llneed to slew the mount up to 15 degrees west, so make sure there is nothingto obstruct the view or interfere withthe scope’s rotation.get as close as practicalto Dec = +90 or -90 degrees. Now openthe SPA toolvia 'Tools'/'Static

Now openthe SPA toolvia 'Tools'/'Static Polar Alignment', and the first window willopen:

Polar Alignment', and the first window willopen: The star map at the top ofthe SPA window

The star map at the top ofthe SPA window shows the approximate positionofthe polar stars oriented accordingto your PHD2 calibrationand mount position. Youcanadjust the ‘Hour Angle’ controlor use the ‘Flip Camera’ optionto orient the star map to the maindisplay. To panthe star map youcandouble click the point youwant at the center; or click the ‘>’ buttonto center the selected reference star. The buttonto the right ofthe star map lets youtoggle betweendisplayingthe star map or instructions for usingthe SPA tool. Youhave the optionto use manualcontrolbytickingthe ‘ManualSlew’ checkbox. Refer to the instructions below for manual-mode alignment. Use the star map to select a ‘Reference Star’ onthe mainPHD2 display. Identifywhichstar youselected withthe drop-downlist. Don't worryif youdon't get it right, it canbe corrected later.

Whenready, click ‘Get first position’. The current positionis indicated witha smallblue circle onthe maindisplay, and the coordinates are displayed inthe status bar.

Slew the mount at least 20 minutes west inRA (RA decreases as youslew west). Select

Slew the mount at least 20 minutes west inRA (RA decreases as youslew west). Select the same reference star onthe maindisplay. Click ‘Get second position’. The positionis marked withanother smallblue circle and the coordinates are displayed inthe status bar.

circle and the coordinates are displayed inthe status bar. Slew west another 20+ minutes inRA and

Slew west another 20+ minutes inRA and select the same star again. Click ’Get third position’.

After a few moments the alignment graphic is overlaid onthe maindisplay. Ifyoumade a mistake, select the correct ‘Reference Star’ inthe drop downlist. Similarly, ifanyofyour alignment points are suspect, slew the mount to the bad point and click the appropriate buttonto replace its coordinates. Ifyouhad to slew eastwards thenit’s best to overshoot and make your finalslew westwards to clear anybacklash. Alternatively, slew westwards to a new positionand replace the bad point. The points do not have to be inorder.

The corrected alignment graphic updates automatically.

Follow the instructions inthe next sectionto adjust your mount’s polar alignment. Using the Polar Alignment

Follow the instructions inthe next sectionto adjust your mount’s polar alignment.

Using the Polar Alignment Overlay

The polar alignment overlayis placed onthe maindisplayonce enoughalignment points have beencollected.

maindisplayonce enoughalignment points have beencollected. The center ofthe displayis indicated witha grey+. The Center

The center ofthe displayis indicated witha grey+.maindisplayonce enoughalignment points have beencollected. The Center ofRotationis indicated witha red +. A magenta

The Center ofRotationis indicated witha red +.The center ofthe displayis indicated witha grey+. A magenta circle shows the orbit traced byyour reference

A magenta circle shows the orbit traced byyour reference star.witha grey+. The Center ofRotationis indicated witha red +. A greencircle shows the desired orbit ofyour

A greencircle shows the desired orbit ofyour reference star whenthe polar alignment is accurate.magenta circle shows the orbit traced byyour reference star. Yellow circles show the orbits ofthe other

Yellow circles show the orbits ofthe other reference stars.byyour reference star. A greencircle shows the desired orbit ofyour reference star whenthe polar alignment is

Withineachofthe greenand yellow orbits, a smallcircle indicates where the star should be located. A greyline connects your reference star to its target circle onthe greenorbit. These positions are dependent onthe guide star beingcorrectlyidentified. A blue line shows the azimuthcorrectionneeded to move the reference star and a red line shows the altitude correctionrequired.

To make the adjusment lines easier to see, the orbits canbe shownor hiddenwiththe ‘Show Orbits’ option. Adjust your altitude and azimuthknobs to move your reference star to its target circle. Adjustinginaltitude moves the reference star alongthe red line. Adjustinginazimuthmoves the reference star alongthe blue line. As analternative, youcanpositionthree reference stars ontheir respective orbits. This is important whenusingmanualmode. To get the most accurate alignment, adjust the ‘Hour Angle’ tillthe stars onthe maindisplayare alloffset bythe same amount and directionfrom their target circles. Thenmake your adjustments. To confirm, youcanredo the process. Youmayneed to adjust your declinationto keep the polar regioncentered ifyouhad to make large adjustments. Youmayalso want to returnthe mount to the start positionifyouhave limited visibility. Whenfinished, click ‘Close’. Ifyoumade large adjustments youmaywant to re-calibrate.

PHD2 Polar Drift Alignment Tool

The Polar Drift Alignment tooloperates ona similar principle to the regular Drift Alignment tool. The difference is that the drift is measured near the celestialpole to calculate the adjustments needed inbothAzimuthand Altitude at the same time. However, it becomes less accurate as the distance ofthe drift star fromthe pole increases. Also, it maytake some time for the adjustment to settle so Static Polar Alignment canbe faster. The main advantages ofPolar Drift Alignment are that anystar canbe chosenand the toolonlyneeds to know whichhemisphere you're in. To get started, performthe followingsteps:

Connect PHD2 to your camerayou're in. To get started, performthe followingsteps: Be sure that PHD2 has alreadydone a calibrationfor this

Be sure that PHD2 has alreadydone a calibrationfor this set-upperformthe followingsteps: Connect PHD2 to your camera Manuallyadjust the mount’s RA axis to point within5

Manuallyadjust the mount’s RA axis to point within5 degrees ofthe apparent pole, thenslew the telescope to point to Dec = +90 or -90. Ona Germanequatorialmount, it’s best to start withthe mount inthe counterweight-downorientation, pointingat the pole.sure that PHD2 has alreadydone a calibrationfor this set-up Check that your hemisphere is correctlyidentified and

Check that your hemisphere is correctlyidentified and adjust ifnecessaryinthe counterweight-downorientation, pointingat the pole. Select a suitable guide star onthe maindisplay Click the

Select a suitable guide star onthe maindisplayhemisphere is correctlyidentified and adjust ifnecessary Click the ‘Start’ buttonto start the drift.

Click the ‘Start’ buttonto start the drift.

maindisplay Click the ‘Start’ buttonto start the drift. Youwillsoonsee a red line appear onthe maindisplay. This

Youwillsoonsee a red line appear onthe maindisplay. This shows the adjustment needed onthe guide star to minimise the drift. At first it will move around a lot untilit settles onto a stable adjustment. Whenit has settled, click the ‘Stop’ button. The adjustment willremainonthe maindisplay. Adjust the altitude and azimuthknobs to move the guide star into the red circle at the end ofthe red line.

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