201010 - robodome relocated to Winchester Ontario for further development. So far just the telescope has moved along with the workstation control and software. The dome itself will move in the spring.
20100524 - disconnected workstation to allow for observatory floor renovation. thinking about replacing workstation with laptop
20090711 - worked on workstation access
20090610 - more pointing tests
20090424 - more tests, more lockups and failsafe failures
dyndns.org up and running
20080826 - tried again, power controller reset right away.
20080825 - pointing issues.. 3 hours and could not find jupiter! Then
the power controller reset and everything went dead. The dome did not reset
or go into safe mode. restarted workstation, regained comms and shut the dome
20080810 - removed and repaired silicon seal around base to platform
20080720 - still pointing issues
20080704 - pointing issues. Why?
20080615 - FIRST LIGHT! Yay! see the RASC-KC Roboscope Project page for images and details.
20080607 - inspected the setup.. no telrad.. will have to remove the dome and resync and park the scope.
20080523 - more attempts to locate Arcturus, saturn and the moon failed.
The scope is also no longer centered on the centre of the shutter or vice versa.
20080520 - several power issues with the dome sticking and the controller board resetting... which had the added effect of powering down the ccd camera and the lx200 in a non park position. As a result pointing is way off.
An attempt of 2 hours to reacquire any two stars and sync the telescope failed.
20080419 - replaced 20cm LX200GPS with 20cm LX200 "Classic".
Everything started to work like a charm! Point, nudging and more.
Anyways, after over a year of trying to get the software to get along
with the GPS scope, we
decided to quit the GPS Scope and put in an LX200 Classic scope, also
The GPS would never point accurately. When you nudged it 30
arcminutes (0.5 degrees) it
would move 10-20 degrees. Every time you told it to park, it would
park somewhere else.
Saturday morning we were up and at it again installing the 20cm LX200
Within an hour it was installed in the robodome and within 10 minutes
we knew the system
was working far better than with the GPS scope. We parked it. We
told it to go to
someplace and it did. We told it to go other places and it did. We
parked it and it did.
No troubles whatsoever!
So later tonight (Saturday) we will be attempting to do more proving
with the system and see
if it can actually find things for real and image them.
200711 - more work on software, dome, focussing. still need to do some aligning
and syncing to get the pointing calibrated.
200708 Saturday - removed dome, realigned mechanically with the mount
did several coarse alignments with eyepiece. Using the handpaddle works. Using the software to position does not. Put in CCD and finished coarse focus.
20070721 Saturday - fired up and attempted to coarse focus. No luck
Could not be sure of alingment on any bright target object.
20070716 Monday - resiliconed around base of robodome to platform as
the previous caulking was done at too cold temperatures to set.
Added powered 4 port USB Hub Dynex (Futureshop/best buy brand) DX-4P2H for $40
First attach to 5m active repeater usb cable. if that checks out add serial -usb
adapter. If that checks out add SBIG camera.
20070715 Sunday - more testing. Add in unpowered USB hub in between
5m active repeater cable and the USB Serial adapater, now on Com5. We found
a note in the Yahoo Groups LX200GPS forum that said do NOT use
it on Coms 1-4, which we did before and had unstable results.
So far Com5 is rock solid, surviving many reboots without issues.
* Moved the robodome weather station. Turns out that the rechargable 9vdc
battery inside the transmitter only ever got recharged when the shutter was in
motion! No wonder the battery was always dying and the weather sensors were
running amuck and closing down the shutter!
So the weather station got attached to our observatory with the weather module
placed inside the observatory through a hole, and then it will be connected into
the 12vdc of the observatory to keep charged.
The manual hand paddle of the robodome was also relocated to help keep earwigs out.
Steel wool is used to block the cable entrance hole and it was mounted
up off the ground.
20070714 Saturday - reglued shutter nylon track ising pl200 - needs 24 hours to
dry. Control box in case on ground was full of earwigs. Ick.
ACP trial expired .. need a new "software hub" to allow multiple programs
to comunicate to the telescope. Try The Sky v6 Student version. no Dice.
Try The Sky V5 II Demo. works. kinda. can't send telescope RA corrections
to initialize and sync. LX200GPS scope still acting strangely.
rotating off against hard stop and not stopping. Not going to park position,
after startup drifts in RA by an hour, slowly. Rain stopped us for the day.
20070429 Sunday - Walter visits and we reinstall the whole suite of programs
necessary to make this thing work up to the point where it was before
the computer upgrade: foxusmax, acp, maxim d/l, MS .NET v1.1 and SP1
Identified where to put counterweights and teflon. 30day licence
runs out on Maxim, need to get an extension.
Discovered that ACP has no ability to control power. So a telescope admin
will need to remote desktop in every night, fire up DDW, turn on
power to lx200gps, sbig st402me and the kendrick heater power supply,
and then activated ACP. At the beginning of dayilght a telescope admin will
have to power down those items.
20070428 Saturday - replaced robodome server in observatory after
installing only service pack 2. Reinstall the driver for the USB2 PCI card
by allowing windows to go to the net.. We have NOT installed any other
critical patches (they number in the high 70's)
Step 1: Install ascom 4.1 - success
Step 2: Install DDW. missing .ocx files. found them in archive
and copied to \windows\system32. DDW now communicating on COM2
20070427 Friday - Donated another workstation for use as the robodome
server as the old one was just too slow and unreliable.
The old specs were: p3-733MHz, 512mb PC100 RAM, hda 20gb hdb 10gb, cdrom
PCI USB2, PCI video, PCI NIC
The new specs: p4-1700MHz, 756Mb PC133 RAM, hda 20gb, hdb 20gb, cdrom
PCI USB2, PCI video, PCI NIC
Transferring the hda 20gb drive over failed to start (too many different pieces
of hardware and devices on the motherboard. Forced to reinstall WinXPPro
overtop of the old without reformatting. Will still have to resinstall all
of the drivers and software. Also doing some modifications to the
wooden warmbox the computer sits in in the winter. Adding a large air vent on the
top surface near the rear where the power supply fan exhausts air from the
metal case, and a floor vent near the front to draw in cooler air.
Both vents will be grilled to stop rodents from getting in. This is
warmbox #3 and the best designed of the three but it too will have a few more mods
... specifically some slots cut down the back side to allow grouping of cables
and cords better than they are now.
20070418 Wednesday - another few hours working on the robodome system.
The USB device drivers seemd to disappear and had to be reloaded for the
SBIGST402ME camera to be seen again. Went through the routines to polar align
the scope and then park it in an optical tube horizontal way.
Camera coming up with receive timeout errors 8.
20070413 Friday - demo'd the internet access aspect of ACP to the
RASC-KC meeting. The entire ACP interface was simulator only.
20070401 - A weekend of working aligning the mount to polar and installing ACP
along with a lot of other ASCOM stuff.
20070121 Sunday - got comms up and running with the robodome and
weather sensors are now connected. Some rotation/movement issues.. -16 to -20C
may be the cause. Built a teflon-footed platform to move the 8" dobsonian
around the observatory carpet floor... much easier and less likely to tip
over. Still use the milk crate to raise up the 8"f6 dob for ease of use.
We will build something better than a milk crate to raise it up about 12" a little
More work on the robodome. Removed shutter using emergency screws,
plugged in the dome hand controller after running the cable through the floor.
The hand controller is stored inside a plastic bin under the platform,
for emergency access. It took an hour to get the (*@^%@ shutter back on again.
swapped serial cables for the lx200 and the ddw and no luck on
the software ddw side.. still can't see the hardware. Installed weather sensors
on dome but couldn't find out where they were supposed to plug in... have to find
the manual again and do some reading :) Removed the battery jumper cables
which we used previously to power the dome and the shutter.
2006 November 25- finished building the top plate with bolts countersunk
into the plate. Mounted top plate.
Mounted Meade Wedge roughly north (within
a few degrees). Installed RASC-KC Meade 20cm LX200GPS scope onto wedge.
Told telescope it was now polar mounted, not alt-az. Installed my
SBIG ST-402ME on the scope. Powered up the 110vac>12vdc power supply and
turn the switch ON. The shutter closed.
2006 November 18 - finished burying two 1.5" PVC conduits (one
for 110vac power and the other for data cables: 5m USB Active repeater Cable,
two cat5 ethernet cables, two serial cables) running from the starlightcascade
observatory to the robodome platform. Stained the platform,
put down a caulking bead
and remounted the robodome to the platform. Installed a $10 webcam inside
2006 November 04 - dug an 8" wide trench from the observatory
to the platform location, laid down the first PVC 1.5" conduit with a long
grounded extension cord inside. Built P3-733 workstation and donated to the
project. Winnt2000, a PCI USB2.0 adapter card and other software
necessary to run and control the roboscope.
2006 October 28 - built a platform for the robodome, 4'x4' based on
a 2"x6" supports sitting on 4 deck blocks. 1/2" plywood base to help keep critters
A donated robodome, my SBIG ST402ME CCD Camera, and the Centre's
Meade 20cm LX200GPS are going together in a systems development project
to get a remotely operable telescope up and running for Centre members.
The goals are to allow a member connected to the internet to control
the 20cm scope and take images with the CCD camera.