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swag72

Automated ROR system available?

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I will be extending the obs at some stage and so decided that I fancy an automated system.... preferably one that can open and close upon cloud and clear as well as something that will park the scope and not chop it in half!!!

My requirements are that it needs to be as out of the box working as possible. I can't do / make electronics and neither can I do scripting etc ... so all in all, pretty useless! So what's out there? Who makes something for the roll off roof that will suit my needs?

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Whatever you use if you control it via SGP there is an option to park the scope before closing the roof!

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I'm not aware of a fully encompassing system Sara.  I've just done mine using the Velleman boards and the Lesvedome driver.  No electronics or scripting required as the driver interfaces with SGP perfectly and, as noted by Martin, parks the scope first (I needed this also).

This system works really well, and only needs a relatively small amount of wiring (drawings available on Lesvedome website).  The only thing you may struggle with is automating the close roof after parking the scope in the event of rain sensor operation without scripting as Lesvedome drive won't provide this function, it will just close the roof.

It will be interesting to see how this thread progresses as I did do a fair amount of research before going the route I did, but of course I could well have missed something that is readily available.

Edited by RayD
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There's the Dragonfly control box which we have here. It isn't plug and play as a complete system but it is designed to operate observatory rooves in conjunction with a weather station. The Spanish manufacturers might not have chosen the name Lunatico Astronomia had they been better versed in English!!

https://tienda.lunatico.es/en_GB

They also do a cloudwatcher system. Maybe if you speak to them they can come up with a more or less joined up system. I don't know.

On Martin's point, above, I would go one step further and not install any instrument which can collide with the roof because if it can - it will!

Next week we begin converting the big 'Per Frejvall' shed's motorization from garage door opener to garden gate opener. While the garage door opener still works it is too close to its payload limit for comfort.

The single scope shed I made for our Italian team uses a side mounted garage door opener with no modification whatever. A bike chain runs outside next to the rail, under its alloy cover, and a motor drives itself back and forth along the chain. The motor is just bolted to the side of the moving roof. It works nicely. However, we use vee section wheels and rails which do tend to track very straight, which is important. The limit switches are electro-magnetic rather than contact types. Good decision by the Italians.

We'll be working on this from Wednesday next with Peter in residence. He's overseeing the mods and will be around so drop me a regular email if you fancy a chat with him.

Olly

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Hi Sara

Steve and I have the Dragonfly for our remote rig and it works very well.  I have been trialling it in my home Obs for a number of weeks, even with Steve remoting and controlling the session.  The scripting is mostly already set up within the software and Jaime of Lunatico is extremely helpful should you need advice and guidance.  Steve learned how to amend the supplied scripts for our kit and various remote scenarios.  It controls power either through the app on the pc desktop or remotely through its own app for tablet and phone.  It has an ascom driver for roof, can monitor park, monitor electricity for power cuts in conjunction with a UPS, as well as relays for power, sensors for roof, mount etc.  It operates via ethernet so is very robust.

The Dragonfly can appear daunting I agree, however once I understood the principles it is a very versatile piece of hardware.  There are plenty of folk on the forum I'm sure who can help.  I am getting one for my home Obs to replace my IP power switch as it can do so much more.

For my home observatory (and also for Steve and I's remote setup . . . travelling on 9th Nov to setup :angel4:) I have used Lunatico's Solo in conjunction with the AAG Cloudwatcher for a couple of years now for weather and ascom safety switch.  It is straightforward to set up and integrates with SGP seamlessly: when the safety switch triggers (eg by rain) the sequence terminates and runs End of Sequence events, ie will park mount and close roof.  I can attest to this working . . . lots of practise in rainy Devon.

I'm happy for you to interrogate me on automation . . .

HTH.

Barry

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Hi Sara,

I have recently had exactly this conversation with Antonio Perez - aperez@fi.upm.es - (his email is publically available on his site) and whilst being very helpful, he directed me to astrograph.net as I am UK based.

As a result, I am having a system ordered and my instructions were just the same as yours; i want plug and play as much as possible and don't want to fight it so Rupert is sketching me out a wiring design. Might also be worth a phone call as I know he goes out to Spain fairly regularly.

I'm happy for you to interrogate me on automation . . .

 

Barry, you might get a message form me :p

Edited by ampleamp
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I have both electro mechanical and purely mechanical switches on mine. The mechanical ones cut the power directly, the magnetic ones are spaced just behind the limit switches and report to the software, which then cuts the power, they also report that the roof is open or closed, or moving. There is also a built in timer I set it 2 seconds longer than it takes to open or close, if no limit switch is activated in the time frame the timer shuts of the power in case of an overrun!...... Don't want the roof in next doors garden!!

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Motorising and automating my observatory roof is on my project list but on hold.  I doubt it will see any progress this year I'm afraid depending on how other projects go.  The UK weather makes me wonder if any astro projects are worthwhile though :(  I shall not be trusting the automatic system with any scope that doesn't clear the roof as it opens and closes!!

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1 hour ago, swag72 said:

I will be extending the obs at some stage and so decided that I fancy an automated system.... preferably one that can open and close upon cloud and clear as well as something that will park the scope and not chop it in half!!!

My requirements are that it needs to be as out of the box working as possible. I can't do / make electronics and neither can I do scripting etc ... so all in all, pretty useless! So what's out there? Who makes something for the roll off roof that will suit my needs?

Hi Sara

I have an Ian King ROR with the electric roof and Hitechastro weather delux option. The installation incorporates sensors which you can (optionally) attach to your mount so that the roof will only open/close when the telescope is at your predefined parked position. 

Since I've quite a restricted horizon (I'm surrounded by trees),  I decided to draw up a list of requirements for my controlling program that would maximize my imaging efficiency. I came up with this list:

  • Take into account of my local horizon
  • Allow me to image multiple targets per night   
  • Take into account the position and phase of the moon.
  • Automatically close the roof when either rain or cloud was detected and automatically open everything up and restart when things became clear.
  • Integrate into an autofocus program. 
  • Be very stable !

So, after a bit of research, I decided go down the ACP + scheduler route, however, for your requirements you can choose an alternative controlling program since the roof/weather sensor is ASCOM compliant. 

Since CCDNavigator is now ACP compliant I also decided to integrate this into my set up. This further simplifies imaging, since it eliminates the need to write imaging scripts.  So to image, within CCDNavigator, I click on a photographic icon of the object , enter the exposure times for the filters, select moon crescent and click.  ACP will then check that the object is above my local horizon and has a sufficient angular distance from the moon given its phase, if it is a candidate for imaging, it will then compute the priority relative to other requests in the  imaging queue (you can, for instance, prioritize objects for imaging that are higher in the sky) - the candidate with the highest priority is then sent for imaging.  If rain or cloud is detected when all this is going on the telescope will first be parked and then the roof closed. When it becomes clear again, ACP will automatically open the roof and recalculate which object now has the highest imaging priority before slewing to the target.  

I've been very impressed with the stability of the software and the excellent customer support that you also obtain. 

Alan 

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I'm watching this with interest. I've got a hankering to automate the observatory.

I've got no hankering to spend the thick end of £1500 on ACP and Scheduler though.:shocked:

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I know it can all be done with KStars/Ekos/INDI but I don't know how yet :D  If I live long enough and have the inclination, I might find out :D

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We have also just started work on a future automated facility. A builder member has just built the blockwork, my input will be the hardware and others are working on the electronics. Don't hold your breath!     :icon_biggrin:

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OK thanks for all the comments - @Barry-Wilson what are you using with the dragonfly as a roof opener? 

Perhaps it is doable for a luddite, but I'm still not totally sure yet. 

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5 hours ago, ampleamp said:

I have recently had exactly this conversation with Antonio Perez - aperez@fi.upm.es - (his email is publically available on his site) and whilst being very helpful, he directed me to astrograph.net as I am UK based.

As a result, I am having a system ordered and my instructions were just the same as yours; i want plug and play as much as possible and don't want to fight it so Rupert is sketching me out a wiring design. Might also be worth a phone call as I know he goes out to Spain fairly regularly.

 

What website is this? Fi.upm.es takes me to a Madrid university site ........ Is he a seller of automated stuff?

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7 minutes ago, swag72 said:

What website is this? Fi.upm.es takes me to a Madrid university site ........ Is he a seller of automated stuff?

It is from this website that i had my email conversation - http://observatoriosspag.es/index.htm specifically the Talon 6 which i am linking to a Cloudwatcher and Dragonfly; it all sounds quite complicated but am assured it is not, and very reliable, which is of a lot more interest to me 

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The software and control hardware is pretty much available off the shelf and I can confirm that the AAG Cloudwatcher from Lunatico will set closure in action when required but the actual drive motors/chain drive/rack and pinion are likely to require some fettling, Sara.

As you already know, I can offer advice on the drive system and roof guides but that still leaves the actual components to be 'hand made' which is your stumbling block!

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Thanks for that @ampleamp - I'll take a look. 

@steppenwolf - I'm fairly confident that the hardware can be done........ie connecting some kind of opening device to the roof.

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6 minutes ago, martin_h said:

I retro fitted mine..... Garage door opener

As long as the software and electronics doesn't require any knowledge then that will work! But I seem to remember you having to make stuff Martin? Electronics and stuff? 

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Had to wire up a couple of relays.

If you use this system..... http://www.felopaul.com

The Ascom ROR driver and use the usb control board mentioned the relays are already there, just need to connect to whatever you use to open/ close. It works,that is the system I first used.

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18 hours ago, ollypenrice said:

The Spanish manufacturers might not have chosen the name Lunatico Astronomia had they been better versed in English!!

Chuckle. I don't know! It applies to most of us here. :)

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Just what I was thinking :D  More like astromania though :D

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I guess the bottom line is there really isn't anything "off the shelf" as such as there are simply too many variables relating to the installed hardware and software.  Any system is going to take some interfacing and hard wiring, along with locating and fitting sensors etc. and of course you can have a custom one made as noted, but that's not off the shelf.

Certainly going the Dragonfly route with AAG Cloudwatcher looks very good, but boy does that come at a price!  However, I suppose this is the price you have to pay for full unattended automation based on current conditions.  Mine is automated as such in that once my set time arrives SGP will open the roof, image, take flats, run end of sequence events and then park scope and close the roof, which in turn tells the HA system to turn on the dehumidifier, but it won't do it based on cloud conditions, which is where the AAG Cloudwatcher comes in I suspect.

Think I'll stick with the £150 system I'm using for now.  I've run out of money on all the other stuff I don't need :icon_biggrin:

** Just for interest, this is my system during install (pre-wiring) and it does seem to work pretty well thus far (coupled to a 600kg limit sliding gate operator).

20170902_133606.thumb.jpg.6ededbfdf90ed2670300b97124215a9e.jpg

Edited by RayD
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I've just been to an astronomy provdiers' meeting at the Observatoire des Baronnies where Marc Bretton runs an enormous hosting operation. We were discussing robotic sheds and he, like me, takes the view that no instrument should ever be able to collide with the roof under any circumstances. He said a system which is operating hundreds of times a hear simply will go wrong at some point. Unlike me, Marc is an IT expert and still takes this view...

Olly

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