Re: New mount

Yves Laroche

Hi Doris,

The snow is our biggest problem here in Quebec. If someone can clear off
all the snow from the observatory after a snowstorm, before the snow can
melt down (is case of raising temperature) and change to ice just after (in
case of a sudden dropping temperature) so it could be possible for you to
operate without problem else watch out. Some melting snow may change to ice
over time and this can cause really bad behaviours. A friend of mine
already got this kind of problem. He wasn’t able to open his dome shutter
manually because of snow infiltration that was iced on the rails. Motors
could be burned because of this. Just remember that we have to clear the
snow from our roofs to be sure that it will prevent some water infiltration
in the house.




De : [] De la part de DO
Envoyé : 4 janvier 2010 13:38
À :
Objet : [ap-gto] Re: New mount

Ron thanks for the thourough answer.

From your answer I understand the an AP 900 if fine.

I have been operating a remote observatory for the last five years, but only
at 100 yards from the control room.
I realize I am going for a quite different ball game now.
I really enjoy having details from people who went through all imaginable
problems. Better be warned before...

I have friends that operate a telescope remotely from Arizona. I hope to
learn from the experience. However in my case the observatory will be
located in a place where heavy snow dumps are quite common in the Winter. I
will have to factor that in too, as well as freezing rain...

But like I said the site is home to 4 other observatories already and is
constantly monitored.
I give myself about 4 years to complete it satisfactorily. If I need more
time so be it. Astronomy is all about patience..



--- In ap-gto@yahoogroups. <> com, Wodaski -
Yahoo <yahoo@...> wrote:

There isn't any hardware that will fit that specification. <g> Even the
Hubble has problems, and I'm pretty sure they had a larger budget than any
of us do...

We operate a dozen remote telescopes at the Tzec Maun Foundation, some in
New Mexico, some in Australia. Unexpected things happen. Sometimes you get a
long period where everything is fine; sometimes things go wrong all at once.

* For any reasonable remote setup, the single largest factor in how well
things will work is the skill of the operator in setting it up and
maintaining it. It takes a while to learn all the lessons you'll need to
learn, but it's reasonable to expect to get things to the point where you
only need to visit, on average, ever few months.

* There will be emergencies, and response time is critical in determining
how much damage does or does not occur. You can add safety features, but
safety features also fail occasionally. <g> You really, really want to have
someone near the telescope available to assist you in an emergency. that
might be throwing a tarp over stuff when the roof won't close, dealing with
the consequences of a lightning strike, etc.

* Remote operation is deceptive. Several times I've seen remote users not
quite realize what's really happening with the hardware. For example, if the
roof isn't moving, simply clicking on the 'move roof' button in the software
may be a tragically bad idea. Maybe the roof really is moving, and now it's
going to be on the ground from moving too much (a sensor might be dead or
just wrong). But more subtle gotchas exist, like misreading the weather, or
just getting unlucky with the weather.

It's best to plan for this stuff, and to be able to drop everything,
probably once a year or so, to get to the observatory to do what needs to be
done (or pay to have it done for you).

We use several AP mounts for our remote telescopes. There is nothing
inherent in the mounts that will get in your way. But you will have to pay
attention to details like how you route cables (they had better not snag in
a remote setup!), making sure there's no risk of the clutches slipping, and
so on. But you have to do such things with any mount, they just vary from
one mount design to another, and with the quality of the mount's design and

So allow for a learning curve, and expect to make more visits to the
remote observatory in the first year of service as you learn how to tune it
for remote operation. Mounts, cameras, weather instruments, sensors, limit
switches - everything has failure modes. You'll need to learn what they are
for your specific situation, and deal with that. (For example, on one
observatory, the speed of movement of the dome shutters was high enough that
it could occasionally override the limit switch. It took me a long time to
figure out what kind of limit switch I could use to deal with that.)

Ron Wodaski

On Jan 4, 2010, at 10:01 AM, DO wrote:

Hi all! And a happy new year!

I am planning my budget for a new observatory. I am planning to install
a TOA 150 with my STL11 in it. The observatory will by far from my main
residence and will be operated completely remotely from a distance of 400
miles (600 km).

I will need a mount that can avoid me any problem in the future as
fixing any glitch will be difficult. The observation site is monitored all
the time but I want to call outside help only in case of emergency.

As far as the payload is concerned, an AP 900 should be sufficient. What
I am woundering is if an AP900 can be operated from such a distance and be
completely trouble free for extended periods. The other option would be to
go for a Paramount. However the $$$ involved would force me to cut budgets
from other items.



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