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INDI Library v1.9.2 Released (14 Sep 2021)

Bimonthly Stable INDI Library release introduces new drivers and fixes for existing ones.

Thoughts on KStars Obs Planner to Ekos scheduler bulk Job list transfers

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From the KStars/Ekos tutorial videos, it appears that the KStars Observation Planning "Wish List" is primarily used for individual object pre-planning functionality (Alt vs Time checks). No multiple object selections (i.e. Cntrl-A or multi-Cntrl select) work for Ekos Job list creation. Multi-object selections can be used to create a Session Plan however. Has the KStars Planner "Session" concept been effectively deprecated by Ekos Scheduler? IMHO, the work flow of creating a Wish list (time insensitive object list superset) to session plan subset (e.g. objects visible tonight) to Ekos scheduler job list (subset sequence definition + conditions/constraints) has value as an operations concept and should be supported. The scheduled time field in the Planner Session tab is certainly less capable as compared to Ekos scheduler conditions and constraints, so I could see why Ekos scheduler might have over-taken the session plan tab. However, the time/geometric sensitivity aspect for Session Plan subset generation is still compelling. What's missing is a mechanism to transfer a time/geometric sensitive Session Plan for population of the Ekos Scheduler job list. The Ekos Scheduler conditions and constraints provide more detailed limits to the defined Session provided by the Planner.

For ad-hoc observing or in cases of only a few objects, inserting each object individually to the Ekos scheduler GUI (directly or via Planner pulldown menu push) is great. But for larger lists (e.g. bulk surveys), this feature could dramatically reduce bulk job setup, allow the Observation Planner Wish List to be a more useful general repository, and restore a slightly more specific role for the Session concept. Given that an individual Wish List item can currently be pushed to the Ekos Scheduler Target fields, wouldn't a Session list push to Ekos be almost as easy?? One complication might come from needing a sequence file apriori (before list ingestion). If so, could the sequence + start/constraints/completion info be required to be pre-populated for list ingestion so transfer and association could be successful (otherwise, an error msg be generated if attempted)? The Ekos scheduler Target field could just remain blank on a bulk list transfer until a particular object is selected via mouse in the list. After list transfer/ingestion, job changes would be allowed as normal. From what I can tell playing with the Kstars Session Plan, the scheduled time field's calculation may not be right and/or could just go away (or maybe I don't understand its algorithm?). If that algorithm is broke or unworkable, should it be fixed or removed?

Finally, a note about Alt vs Time graphs in the Planner. The two graph implementations differ unnecessarily. The small instance to the right of the Observation Planner list allows mouse select for horizontal alt line and vertical time line labels (VERY USEFUL!). The large graph (list object right mouse click menu) doesn't have the same mouse action. The Small graph is missing sidereal time and altitude axis labels. The colors also differ between graphs (small one has grey night where the large one has a darker color for the same time period). Can these two graphs be reconciled?

Comments?...especially on multi-object session list transfer->Ekos Job scheduling
RASA11, Celestron CGX-L, ASI183mc Pro, 60mm guider + ASI290mm mini, ASI EAF focuser, PPB, Rpi4-4Gb+SSD, Powered USB3 hub, hardwire Ethernet.
1 year 10 months ago #46994

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Thank you for the feedback. So right, there is no way to export multi-targets from observation planner to the scheduler. The session planner in KStars was developer prior to Ekos, it is about visual observation and was never meant for Ekos.

Perhaps this could be a Google Summer of Code project? I am now collecting ideas for improvements to Ekos/KStars for the next Google Summer of Code. It might be early, but this idea needs to be broken down into tasks that can be done by an average student over 3 months.
Jasem Mutlaq
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1 year 10 months ago #46995

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Hi Jasem,

Thanks for responding. The ability to plan and process a generic multi-object target list into time sensitive observations, with conditions and constraints (and revisiting these observations as necessary to completion), is pretty much what professional observatories call "Queue Scheduling". KStars/Ekos is almost there! Finishing a multi-obj Wish list & Session list workflow into Ekos Scheduler will make KStars/Ekos stand out even more than it already does. It completes simple and generic multi-object astro-imaging planning, gives a slightly richer meaning to both Wish List and Session Plan concepts, and opens the path to survey imaging execution. There's no change to current workflow for ad-hoc & low volume observing. Seems like a Win-Win. Ok, I'll stop selling.

On implementation tasks: The SW infrastructure already exists in KStars for mouse actions related to selecting multiple items in a list, creating a new (derived) list from an existing list (using mouse item Cntrl selections), and invoking menu pulldown actions on derived lists. The work needed in KStars/Ekos is conceptually simple (hopefully the code changes will be simple too). I see three tasks...others who know the code well might see differently:

a. Ekos Scheduler: Not sure if the Ekos Scheduler function prototype for Observation Planner interface already accepts an input list (as opposed to a single target), but if not, this should change. The Ekos Scheduler would need to check the number of objects in the input list from KStars Observation Planner. If only one object, processing is as it is now (Target field entries update). If more than one object is in the list, a follow-on check would be needed to ensure the Ekos Scheduler Sequence file field is correctly populated. If the Sequence file is not populated, then multi-obj list import to the Scheduler Job list should be blocked (as a single target is blocked now without a sequence file specified). An error message should probably be given (suggest: "multiple target Job list ingestion requires a defined sequence file first"). If the Sequence file is pre-populated correctly, then association of the sequence file to each Job list item would need to occur as Job list additions occur (as is done now for a single target). What to do about GUI Target field(s)? GUI Target field(s) population should occur as normal for a list with a single target. For a multi-obj list, the Target fields could either be unfilled (no Job entry selected) or an auto-select / fill performed from the first Job item in the Job list.
b. KStars Observation Planner GUI: The "push" menu option currently provided from Wish List to Ekos Scheduler needs to actually allow multi-obj list transfers. The Session Plan tab needs the same implementation (for Session Plan list). The Session Plan tab also needs a menu pulldown option added for the push to Ekos Scheduler. Also, on the Session Plan tab, the "Scheduled Time" field (near bottom - left) should probably be removed or fixed, depending on difficulty. My personal preference would be removal as it's currently in conflict with Ekos Scheduler.
c. Finally, a fix of lesser importance would be to make the two Alt vs Time charts (one beside the Session Plan tab, and the other on the item selected right mouse click popup menu) be operationally consistent as described in the original post.
RASA11, Celestron CGX-L, ASI183mc Pro, 60mm guider + ASI290mm mini, ASI EAF focuser, PPB, Rpi4-4Gb+SSD, Powered USB3 hub, hardwire Ethernet.
1 year 10 months ago #47006

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I assume this bridge from the Observation Planner Session Plan to the Ekos Scheduler has not been implemented yet. I look forward to this implementation.

I have saved the Session Plan and have verified that the file does appear in the File Manager list. But when I try to open the plan file, it does not appear in the selection list. Is there something missing in the implementation?

Is there documentation on how to use the Ekos Scheduler? I have not figured out to enter objects into the list.

I have found the 'What's up Tonight" tool and the "Observation Planner" to be very helpful for selecting objects. It is very helpful to see the most relevant information about the objects of interest in one table and to be able to sort the objects by the data columns. One other piece of information that would be helpful for selecting objects in the list is the apparent size of the object.

A general question about Kstars/Ekos: Is there a reason why the windows are not independent - minimizing a sub window also minimizes the Kstars screen. Ekos and the Indi Control Panel can be configured to be independent but that option apparently is not available for other windows. The most common default behavior of programs is for the sub windows to be independent of the main window.

Thank you for an excellent product. After using it for over a year, I am still learning new things.
1 year 4 months ago #54784

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edh: I haven't given up on improved observation planning flow from wish list, to session list, to scheduler (along with graph cleanup as described in the orig post), but the "summer of code" implementation idea never gained traction. Not giving up, but just thinking this won't come without a champion to make the interface changes. This could still happen in time. Cheers, Doug
RASA11, Celestron CGX-L, ASI183mc Pro, 60mm guider + ASI290mm mini, ASI EAF focuser, PPB, Rpi4-4Gb+SSD, Powered USB3 hub, hardwire Ethernet.
1 year 4 months ago #54800

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Doug,

Thanks for the response. Since my station has limited automation it is not a high priority here. But I can't even enter objects into the scheduler manually. It appears to require a sequence name but does not permit me to enter it. What am I missing?
I noticed a couple ideosyncrasies in the sorting of objects in the session plan. The dec sorting goes from the ecliptic to the north then from the ecliptic south. And the magnitude sorting appears to be an alphanumeric sort rather than a numerical sort. So mag 2 - 9 comes after mag 10 - 19. Is there a location on this site for bug reports?

Ed
1 year 4 months ago #54836

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I found the bug report list but it requires an account to post.
1 year 4 months ago #54839

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About sequences, use the CCD tab to set all values of interest in the left pane, then add to the sequence queue with the + button on top. Save the sequence by using the top right buttons (save or save_as with filename). Then in the scheduler, use the button right of the sequence entry to pull your sequence file back up for use in the scheduler. Specify target, and it should schedule ok.

Been a while since I looked at the session or wish list (since they don't exactly function as they should).....
RASA11, Celestron CGX-L, ASI183mc Pro, 60mm guider + ASI290mm mini, ASI EAF focuser, PPB, Rpi4-4Gb+SSD, Powered USB3 hub, hardwire Ethernet.
1 year 4 months ago #54842

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Got it. Thank you. It looks like it will be very useful but will take some practice to learn how it works.
1 year 4 months ago #54856

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