• 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 down ok.
  • 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 borrowed. 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. etc.etc. Saturday morning we were up and at it again installing the 20cm LX200 Classic scope. 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 later.
  • 20070114 Sunday 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.
  • 20061125-23.jpg 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.
  • 20061118-08.jpg 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 robodome "webcam2"
  • 20061118-11 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.
  • 20061118-01 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 out.
  • 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.

    file: log-robo.htm