Notes on upgrading observatory computer to Windows 10, Summer 2020
Just as we did for the upgrade of the computer from Windows XP to Windows 7 in 2012, this page is to document the process of installing a new computer in the observatory, and noting any steps we need to take or problems we encountered. It is mostly for our own internal records, but perhaps it could help someone else installing observatory software as well.
- Installed UltraVNC on both old and new computers so we can transfer files easily via VNC.
- Installed ASCOM platform 6.5 from here.
- As part of that installation, I found that the system required me to enable Microsoft .NET 3.5 via the Control Panel. Ultimately that only worked when logged in to my normal user account, not the telescope account; that is probably related to trying to contact the local Windows Update server, but not being logged into the Swarthmore domain. It worked just fine from my domain account.
- Installed the ASCOM 2X mount adapter for TheSky (used to be called "TheSky-controlled telescope driver") from the Software Bisque site, linked from the ASCOM page.
- The Edgeport/4 (USB-serial converter) - plug and play. Windows recognized it right away and set it up automatically. The COM ports show up in Device Manager as COM3, COM4, COM5, COM6, corresponding to ports 1-4 on the device.
- Now working on the RCOS TCC. This could be exciting as they went out of business and the software is so old. Fortunately we have good notes from the previous update.
- Download the full installation package (1.5.17) and the update (1.5.26) from the archived RCOS support site. I'm going to keep local copies of these installers this time, in case they disappear off the web.
- The last full installer there is 1.5.17, so download and install that first.
- Then download and copy over just the 1.5.26 RCOS-ae.exe file into the Program Files (x86) -> RCOS TCC folder, replacing the copy of RCOS-ae.exe in that folder.
- To get the presets from the old install, copy over the file RCOS.dat from the old installation. This has those values saved. There is also a file named RCOS-rotator.dat that I copied over, though I don't think we have saved much in the way of rotator settings.
- Based on last time, these programs can run into problems with Windows User Account Control, and need to be run as Administrator (at least once). This sequence worked:
- Right-click the RCOS-ae executable and then choose "Properties", and in that dialog, select "Run as administrator." Answer "yes" in the resulting dialog about allowing the program to make modifications.
- Do the same thing for the RCOS executable, again choosing "Run as administrator."
- Having done that once, it now works to simply double-click the RCOS executable - so something about that initial run sets things up to work on subsequent runs.
- Connected to the telescope and tested this out - everything works! The RCOS TCC is set up on
- ACE SmartDome - I transferred the whole folder over from the old PC and put it in Program Files (x86). After a few false starts with bad serial cables, I made sure I had a known-working cable and it worked just fine.
- TheSkyX Professional - downloaded from Software Bisque website.
- The version there is nominally the same as what we have installed already, 10.5.0, but the build is quite a bit newer (10305 old vs. 12545 new).
- Initial installation was uneventful. Now to get settings transferred as much as possible so we don't have to transfer everything by hand. It looks like settings are stored in My Documents -> Software Bisque.
- Copied over the file
AppSettingsas well as several files from the subfolder "Field of View Indicators". On restarting TheSkyX, it has the correct FOV indicators, though I'm sure we'll need to configure some other things, including the telescope interface.
- Also three files (those that appeared to have been modified) into the subfolder "TPoint": "TPoint base run in", "TPoint base run outmod", "TPoint Settings.tptx". We may need to revisit the pointing model once we're up and running, since I believe it has shifted from being a standalone program to now being integrated within TheSkyX itself. And it wouldn't hurt to check the model, especially at low elevations.
- Leaving this on hold for now to do the basic installation of some other software.
- To get the installer, I opened MaximDL on the old PC, and chose "Check for updates" from the menu. That took me to the Diffraction Limited website with a link to download the latest version, 6.22. This is a big jump from our installed 6.13. Reading release notes, it looks like there are number of improvements to guiding, including a multistar guiding mode.
Hardware / system settings
- Formatted D: drive as NTFS, named as "Telescope data".
To consider for later
- Windows subsystem for Linux (enable via Control Panel --> Turn Windows Features On or Off). This enables installing a Linux distribution as well and running some Linux executables. I don't have a specific use case for this yet, but it's an interesting option to have.
- Anaconda Python distribution.