Akamai Project: A GUI Checklist for Astronomical Instrument Exchanges
Project Site: Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope
Mentors: Bill Cruise, Gregory Barrick, Sarah Gajadhar & Tom Vermeulen
At the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT), observing runs are scheduled to allow scientists to utilize different astronomical instruments. An instrument exchange is the process in which one instrument is removed and another is installed on the telescope, sometimes accompanied by changes of the telescope’s upper end, secondary mirror, and other equipment. During this process, engineers fill out a checklist to ensure that all procedures are completed in order for the instruments to function properly. While some of the instrument checkout procedures are electronic, the instrument exchange checklists are currently completed on paper. Given the need for an easier and more efficient alternative, we created electronic checklists with a graphical user interface (GUI). Written in Tool Command Language and its graphical counterpart, Tool Kit (Tcl/Tk), the GUI checklist incorporates all components of the current checklist plus the capability to retrieve data from the Status Server, an existing database of status information about the observatory. Beginning with an initial configuration scheme that allows the user to choose the instruments to be exchanged, a checklist unique to that particular instrument combination is built from the source files. Engineers then complete checklist items by signing off with their initials, entering data, and adding comments to each subsection. The saved checklist data can be accessed from both the observatory at the Mauna Kea summit and the CFHT headquarters in Waimea, and data can also be reloaded for further modifications to a current exchange or to review information about a previous exchange. The testing process of this design consists of checking all aspects of the GUI for accurate performance, verifying its display compatibility on multiple computers, and finally testing it at the summit for an actual instrument exchange. The program can be expanded to include new and legacy instruments at CFHT, and its infrastructure can be modified to include the instrument checkout process.