At Home Observing (aka Pajama Mode) during the COVID-19 Pandemic
During the pandemic, Keck will support at-home observing. At-home observing requires the installation of software on the observer’s local computer which only runs on linux and macOS operating systems. The software run on python 3.6 or newer. At-home observers should install and test the software several days ahead of their run to allow time for troubleshooting.
More information on the remote observing software for at home observing can be found in the readme file for the software: https://github.com/KeckObservatory/RemoteObserving
Uninterruptible power supply: The remote station will be equipped with a UPS capable of powering the computers, monitors, telephones, and routers in case of a power outage. The UPS must keep the equipment powered across power outages of at least 1 hour or the length of the worst-case power outage that has occurred at the site during the last 5 years, whichever is longer.
Workstation: The remote site will provide a Linux or macOS based computer. The selection of the workstation will be made in consultation with WMKO to ensure that the hardware is acceptable for use with the remote observing system.
Spare workstation: The site will provide a second workstation that can substitute for the primary observing host quickly in case of a computer failure during the night.
Static IP: The workstation(s) at the remote site will have static IP addresses.
Monitors: The workstation should include computer monitors such that 4 VNC desktops (roughly HD resolution) can be displayed at once. This could be accomplished, for example, with four independent 1920x1200 monitors or with a single, large 4k or higher resolution monitor. The monitor's physical size should be such that an individual VNC session renders to a comfortable size for reading. This should be of order 100 dpi or lower pixel pitch (this works out to ~43 inch diagonal for a 4k monitor). Some 4k or higher resolution monitors will be physically smaller (e.g. 28 inch diagonal) and thus have much higher pixel pitch (e.g. 160 dpi), this renders the instrument user interface too small to be comfortable for many users. Sites should use their judgement in consultation with their users and WMKO in choosing monitors as available specifications change rapidly.
Audio: The workstation must include a functioning audio device and external speakers with adjustable volume control. This will enable instrument sound cues such as exposure complete signals to be heard by the remote observer.
Videoconferencing Unit: The remote site will have a Zoom compatible client which allows the observers to call a WMKO specified Zoom meeting ID. Hardware which uses the H.323/SIP protocol (i.e. Polycom units) are allowed for sites which exited existed prior to the adoption of this version of the policy, but new sites should not use Polycom hardware (or units which only use the H.323/SIP protocol) for connecting to WMKO videoconferences as they require WMKO to purchase additional licenses to support this protocol.
Videoconferencing microphone: The Zoom client should have a high quality conference microphone capable of picking up sounds from multiple people in the room and which has a mute button with visible feedback to the user about the mute status. WMKO has had positive experience the Jabra Speak series (i.e the Jabra Speak 410), but as with all technological components, models and capabilities evolve, so the site should use their judgement when selecting a high quality microphone. Note that we also have experience with inexpensive generic webcam+microphone combinations and those are not acceptable for this purpose as they are typically designed for a single user who is expected to be sitting immediately in front of them. As many observations are done by teams, this is not an acceptable solution.
Videoconferencing camera: The Zoom client should have a high quality camera which is positioned and has a field of view which covers the area where the observer observers would be sitting. A camera with pan, tilt, and zoom capabilities is recommended as that allows the observer to position it appropriately.