CIMA Configuration Files

CIMA configuration files

CIMA configuration files offer You a conveniant way of saving CIMA set-ups to files. You can save receiver, IF/LO and backend set-ups, source selections and observing mode parameters. Then instead of making this selections interactively when You are observing, You can just load and apply the configuration files.

CIMA configuration files have to have the suffix '.conf', but You don't have to remember that since CIMA will add this suffix automatically to any configuration file You create. CIMA is also generating a short index of what a configuration file contains which will be shown when You select a configuration file for loading.

Note that this page only describes configuration files used in CIMA version 2.3 or later! Earlier versions of CIMA use three different types of configuration files: '.gui', '.iflo' and '.wapp'. These configuration files are NOT compatible with '.conf' and vice versa. You must thus create new configuration files, if You are migrating from earlier versions of CIMA.

What You can put in a CIMA configuration file

You are free to select which of the following set-up(s) You want to include in Your configuration file: Note that if You do a 'Load and apply' on a configuration file the 'Signal path', 'Source' and 'ALFA' set-ups will be applied automatically. However, the 'Calibration' and the 'Obs mode' only set up the parameters --- You will always have to press the 'Observe' button Yourself.

Use of CIMA configuration files in command file scripts

Configuration files can be used with the 'LOAD' command in a CIMA command file script. A configuration file used in a command file script should only contain the 'Signal path' and possibly a 'Catalog' selection. Any other set-up will be ignored! If the 'Catalog' selection is used, then You don't need to use the 'CATALOG' command. NOTE starting with CIMA version 3.1 You can also include an optional ALFA set-up in the configuration file used with the 'LOAD' command. The 'Signal path' must, however, always be included in a file used by 'LOAD', so it is not valid to just have an ALFA set-up in a configuration file intended for command file use.

Manipulating CIMA configuration files

Since CIMA configuration files are plain ASCII-files, it may be tempting to modify them manually. DON'T!!! CIMA configuration files are computer-generated files that MUST NOT be touched. CIMA does not perform any error checking when loading a configuration file and any modification to a configuration file can thus lead to unpredictable results including situations where CIMA will claim that it has done exactly the things You asked for, but where it has actually done something completely different! The proper way to modify a configuration file is to launch CIMA (typically in off-line mode), load the configuration file to be modified, make the changes, apply them (with the 'Accept' or 'Apply' buttons) and then save a new configuration file. Note that the 'apply' stage is important --- CIMA saves the configuration that has been applied (except for 'Calibration' and 'Obs mode').

Updating old CIMA configuration files

CIMA configuration files now come with a version control system. If You try to load a configuration file with a different version number (most typically because You have an old configuration file), CIMA will warn You about it. In that case, You are forced to use the 'Load only' option to load the configuration file, inspect the selected set-up carefully, apply the set-up (with the 'Accept' or 'Apply' buttons) and then save a new version of the configuration file. Note that the 'apply' stage is important --- CIMA saves the configuration that has been applied (except for 'Calibration' and 'Obs mode'). To make it easier to save an updated copy of the configuration file, there is a button (introduced in CIMA version 3.1) in the configuration file saving window called 'Set up like last loaded file' which will copy the file name, file description and content selection from the last loaded file into the save window.

Note that the configuration file version number is not the same thing as the CIMA version number. The configuration file version number is changed whenever there is a modification to the data stored in configuration files, so Your configuration files may become old even if You stay with the same version of CIMA.

Configuration file strategies

The use of configuration files saves time, since You don't have to type in rest frequencies and source coordinates each time You are observing. It can also prevent You from observing with the wrong parameters because You are tired and type in the wrong value in the middle of the night.

Whether You should use a single configuration file or use several depends on the type of the project. If Your project is to observe one source with a single set-up, then You can put everything in one big configuration file. However, if you are going to observe different sources or using different set-ups, it is better to have several more specialized configuration files. For example, for a project to observe a couple of source with different observing parameters, You could select to have the receiver, IF/LO and backend set-up in one configuration file, and then have one configuration file for each source which selects that source and sets up the observing parameters to be used for that source.

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This page is administered by Prakash Atreya ( patreya (a) naic . edu ) and was last updated on 11 December 2008.