At this point, you have a bunch of Flat Events and you have taken the time to detail how those events should be captured. You’re just a button click away from starting. Given that clicking the “Capture” button doesn’t require much documentation, this section will cover what the AutoFlats Runner does and the order in which it does it.

Pre-Flat Event Actions

Upon clicking the “Run” button you may or may not be presented with some prompts that either inform you of odd or inconsistent settings, errors or calls to action (like manually position your telescope, etc). Once past the AutoFlats preamble, the AutoFlats run starts by connecting to any required equipment and then determining start and end times for the run (as defined above). Depending on your settings, the run will either start or delay until the desired start time. If a delay is incurred at this point, the AutoFlats run status area will indicate that it is waiting to start at a specific time.

At this point, AutoFlats will conditionally set the position of gear that will not change between Flat Events. This includes, in order of execution:

  • Position the telescope (optionally)
  • Close the automatic flat box shutter (optionally)
  • Start “unsafe condition” monitoring (optionally)

Flat Event Actions

Now, AutoFlats will process Flat Events in the order they appear in the list. For more information on Flat Event ordering, see above. When AutoFlats starts a new Flat Event, the following actions are taken, in order:

  • Set the Flat Event’s specified filter (optionally)
  • Move to the Flat Event’s specified rotator position (optionally)
  • Determine the Flat Event’s ideal focus position and move the focuser (optionally)
  • Set camera gain and offset levels (optionally)

After equipment setup for a new Flat Event is complete, AutoFlats will continually expose the camera until the desired number of flat frames have been captured. A flat frame will be considered as captured if its measured intensity level falls between the Target Mean value +/- the specified Tolerance. If the flat frame falls outside of the allowable range, it is discarded. AutoFlats will continuously assess the required exposure length and adjust as necessary (even when the last flat frame is within the specified tolerance)

Flat Frame Actions

Within the context of a Flat Event, multiple Flat Frames will be captured. Between each frame, AutoFlats will assess exposure properties and determine how the next frame should be adjusted in order to keep you as close to the defined Target Mean as possible. For all run types, camera exposure length is the primary variable and will always be used as the primary means of adjusting flat frame intensity. If an Flat Event can no longer adjust exposure length, it will either fail or ,if using a Light Panel, adjust the brightness level to compensate.

Note: Panel brightness will only ever be adjusted when camera exposure length is at a min / max exposure limit. A minimum exposure limit always exists and, here, brightness may be decreased in order to compensate. A maximum exposure limit is optional and not defined by default. This means that unless you define one, AutoFlats will never increase brightness as a means of increasing the flat frame’s intensity. If you want to force all flat frames to use a very particular exposure length and only adjust brightness, you will need to set the minimum and maximum exposure length to the same value. In this case, the exposure length is always at a min / max limit and AutoFlats will begin adjusting brightness level automatically.

Note: The initial panel brightness level will be as defined in the associated Filter’s “Flat settings” or, if not explicitly defined, start at 50% of maximum brightness.