Putting Guide on a hard drive

Revised 7 Apr 1999

It is possible to put Guide 6.0 or later on one's hard drive, for use on a laptop that lacks a CD-ROM drive (or for use on an older PC that has been exiled to your observatory). It is a little tricky to do this right now; I expect to add a simpler user interface to handle the process.

One warning: If you expect to see a great speed improvement, think again. Guide has to do so much math and graphics that the time spent reading the CD-ROM is not a big problem. (This is partly because the data is highly compressed, so very few bytes actually need to be read from the CD.) However, it does mean less swapping of disks when using RealSky or A1.0/A2.0 data, and can extend battery usage on laptops.

Currently, I've tested two hard drive installations. The first involves a "full" installation, where absolutely everything is copied onto your CD-ROM drive. This does have the penalty of requiring about 670 MBytes. With a "full" installation, Guide runs much as it did before, except that its data comes from a hard drive instead of CD.

Also, you can run a "minimal" installation, that copies about 11 MBytes from the Guide CD-ROM to your hard drive. The result is much as with the "full" installation, except one doesn't bother to copy about 98% of the data. When running in this mode, Guide has asteroids for a limited period (about 150 days) surrounding the present; stars down to magnitude 7.0; low-precision (i.e., within about an arcsecond) planetary data; and all its variable stars, galaxies, open clusters, comets, satellites, and so forth. You can zoom in and out on this data, and click on the objects shown. All of the languages are supported, and functions such as animation, printing, and telescope control will work.

What you don't get, though, is most of the details about objects; when you click for "more info", little or no information will appear. Some of the "Go To..." functions will be broken, returning "Object not found" messages. Eclipse/occultation mode can provide a world map, but if you zoom in from that map, no details will be given. All the "user-added datasets" (such as quasars, Palomar plates, etc.) are omitted. The RealSky extraction is left out.

It is actually quite possible to selectively add some of these options back in. For example, copying over the file \HIPP\LG_TYCHO.LMP will increase the limiting star magnitude to about 11.0 (at a cost of 25 MBytes). Copying over the files in the GSC directory will provide the full Hubble GSC, giving you back the usual mag 14 or 15 limit (at a cost of about 200 MBytes). I will eventually document what files are needed for what purposes (or, more probably, create a utility where one can select desired items, see the amount of space required for them, and click "OK" to confirm that selection).

The steps to put Guide on your hard drive (for both minimal and full installations) are as follows.

  • (1) Install Guide in the usual manner, from the CD, and install the updated software from the Web site, again in the usual manner.
  • (2) Make a directory on your hard drive, such as C:\GUIDE_CD. You will have to copy files from the CD-ROM into this directory, while maintaining the directory structure (for example, the file \ASTEROID\ASTNAMES.DAT on the CD would end up at C:\GUIDE_CD\ASTEROID\ASTNAMES.DAT on your hard drive).
  • For "full" installation, you could copy the entire CD doing a "drag and drop" in File Manager, or with the DOS XCOPY command as follows:

    xcopy f:*.* c:\guide_cd /s

    The '/s' tells XCOPY to copy all subdirectories from f: (your CD drive) into the GUIDE_CD directory.

    For "minimal" installation, you should download this MINIMAL.BAT file to do the job. For a case such as the above, you should run it as follows:

    minimal f: c:\guide_cd

  • (3) Edit the text file STARTUP.MAR, in your Guide directory. (If attempting to do this causes Microsoft Access to start, click here.) It will contain a line such as:

    18 drive f:\

    Change this to read:

    18 drive c:\guide_cd\

    You'll also see a line such as "63 real CD f". DO NOT CHANGE THIS LINE. It is the drive letter used for RealSky and A1.0 CD-ROMs, and therefore must match the actual drive letter of your CD drive.
  • At this point, you can now run Guide from the hard drive, without a CD.

    Note for "full" installations: You can also, if you wish, delete many of the files you have just copied to the hard drive. For example, all files in and below the COMBINED, COMPRESS, ELP, IMAGE, NLTT, RADIO, TABLES, and VOYAGER directories can go without the slightest problems; that will save you about 50 MBytes. Removing almost anything else will have some small penalty. For example:

  • Below the ASTEROID\ASTEROID directory is a series of subdirectories for orbital elements. Each subdirectory has data for 1000 days; for example, the data in ASTEROID\ASTEROID\2450 contains asteroid elements for the interval JD 2450000 (9 Oct 1995) to JD 2451000 (5 Jul 1998).
    If you don't plan on asking Guide to compute asteroid positions for the distant past and future, you can delete the corresponding directories. As you can see from the above example, the 2451 directory contains all you'll need for "where are the asteroids tonight"... by the time JD 2452000 (31 Mar 2001) comes around, you'll be on Guide 7 or 8 or 9 anyway. Furthermore, asteroid elements consume a _lot_ of disk space. If you deleted all elements save those in the 2451 directory, you would clear up about 120 MBytes.
  • In the GSC directory, the entire GSC 1.1 is stored as 200 MBytes of compressed data. It is split into 24 "zones" of declination, each 7.5 degrees high, clearly labelled. You can free up some space by deleting some far southern hemisphere (or far northern hemisphere) zones.
  • If you don't use the ability to extract A1.0 or RealSky data from their CD-ROMs, you can delete the REALSKY directory. Unfortunately, that only clears up about 2 MBytes.
  • If you don't use the eclipse/occultation display system, you can delete the GEO directory.
  • You can delete all the data in the GALAXIES directories. Guide will still display these objects correctly. But when you ask for "more info", data from the deleted catalogs will not be shown. (Guide is bright enough to handle the fact that the data can't be found.) Also, you won't be able to "Go To" these objects.
  • You can delete the data in the BSC (2 MB), DM (7 MB), HD (38 MB), PGC (19 MB), SAC (4 MB), SAO (10 MB), and WDS (7 MB) directories, and the files \PPM\PPM.DAT (22 MB), \HIPP\HIP_COMP.DAT (24 MB), \HIPP\TYC_EXT.DAT (19 MB), and all files in the VARIABLE directory except for VARIABLE.LMP (13 MB); but problems similar to those mentioned above (loss of "more info" and "go to" for those catalogs) apply. If you're like most people, though, your interests don't include _all_ of these catalogs, so you'll be able to free up a little space without much penalty.
  • People sometimes ask about eliminating the files for other languages. This is harder to do than you might think, because there are many such files on the CD. Furthermore, the amount of space involved is not very great (perhaps 3 MBytes). However, in the TEXT directory, you can eliminate these files:
  • filename             size        purpose
    ALLDAT.TLE          1254183    Large satellite data (.TLE) file
    IHELP.TXT            479758    Italian help file
    DHELP.TXT            476229    German help file
    BHELP.TXT            437910    Dutch help file
    AAVSOMAP.UOV         286048    AAVSO map overlay
    GCVS.NOT             261718    Some notes for variable stars
    GEO.TLE               94299    Orbital data for geosynchronous satellites
    SUPERNOV.NAD          91247    Supernova data (German)
    SUPERNOV.NAI          73729    Supernova data (Italian)

    Further deletions will take more effort without greatly reducing the space consumed.

    Problems with editing STARTUP.MAR: Several people have found that, when they attempt to edit STARTUP.MAR, Microsoft Access starts up and tries to read it instead. Here's why that happens and how you can get around it:

    When you click on a file to open it, Windows automatically figures out how to open it using "associations". Click on a file with extension .html, for example, and it knows that it should use your Web brower. Click on one with extension .jpg or .gif, and it knows the file is an image, and will start up whatever software you've got for viewing images.

    If you happen to have Microsoft Access, then Windows will assume any file with extension .mar is a Microsoft Access Report file. You can evade this misbehavior by starting Notepad (or your text editor of choice) directly. Then use "File", "Open", and specify startup.mar.

    At the very worst, if Notepad isn't on your desktop or in your program menus, you can click on "Start", then "Run...", and enter "notepad" in the resulting edit box.