Park Position based interlock for small roll off observatory


psparkman@...
 

Hi everyone,

I have an AP1100 running APCC Pro with a C14 mounted.  I live in suburban San Diego and have been using it on my back patio with a Telegizmo's cover.  I want to make the absolutely smallest rolloff box enclosure that I can do.  We have a small yard, and in order to keep the wife acceptance factor high enough, it needs to be as small and especially low as I can get away with.  I never do visual, and the weather and wind here are very mild, so I am thinking of building a small box that rolls off to one side on rails and making the pier as low as I can.  This will make it easy to get to everything on the mount and scope.  

To keep it as low as possible, I want to design it around the Park 5 position.  Of course that creates the problem that I need to solve.  I can put an optical interlock on the roll off enclosure to prevent it moving if the scope is not in Park 5 to prevent scope decapitation.  But I am looking for a good solution to prevent the mount from unparking and slewing out of Park 5 if the enclosure is closed.  It would be easy to do an interlock relay that would turn power off to the mount if the enclosure is over the scope, but that seems somewhat brute force and it would make automation a bit more challenging from a sequencing perspective.  Is there a more elegant solution using the APCC software solution that would prevent any movement of the mount if the enclosure is over the scope?

I know that most of you would say just make the box large enough to always clear to be safe.  But that is not an option as it would be too tall and fail the WAF test.  So I want to find the most robust solution possible to ensure that everything is protected.


jimwc@...
 

I was browsing the internet for roil off observatories. I saw one that was about the size of the old walk in close the door telephone booth.
it had room for his mount, Telescope, computer, etc.. open the door and roll it back on rails .
Google roll off observatories.
Jim  


Jerome A Yesavage
 

Hi,

I have a 6'x6'x6.5' PierTech.  I have it on my roof using a complex system to get pier stability.  This is the "industrial strength" solution used by big observatories... yet Bob Denny advised me never use ACP or APCC to close the roof if there is any chance of a crash.  Originally I always had the scope lower than the traverse of the roof as a fail safe solution... but this cuts down the ability to see low objects.  Finally I permanently moved the pier to a high position and use the Park 5 solution.  I open and close manually and have a web cam to watch the proceedings.

IMHO do not trust any software no matter how "good and expensive"... trust your eyes....

Now, regarding the "Wife Acceptance Factor" may I suggest a gander at what I did to camo the system and my wife is just ecstatic at the results:

https://www.astrobin.com/310660/E/

Best wishes and do not hesitate to be in contact if you have any questions...


Michael Hamburg
 

Be careful. Those vines get hungry. 


On Sat, Sep 11, 2021 at 5:34 PM, Jerome A Yesavage
<yesavage@...> wrote:
Hi,

I have a 6'x6'x6.5' PierTech.  I have it on my roof using a complex system to get pier stability.  This is the "industrial strength" solution used by big observatories... yet Bob Denny advised me never use ACP or APCC to close the roof if there is any chance of a crash.  Originally I always had the scope lower than the traverse of the roof as a fail safe solution... but this cuts down the ability to see low objects.  Finally I permanently moved the pier to a high position and use the Park 5 solution.  I open and close manually and have a web cam to watch the proceedings.

IMHO do not trust any software no matter how "good and expensive"... trust your eyes....

Now, regarding the "Wife Acceptance Factor" may I suggest a gander at what I did to camo the system and my wife is just ecstatic at the results:

https://www.astrobin.com/310660/E/

Best wishes and do not hesitate to be in contact if you have any questions...


psparkman@...
 

Thanks Jerome.  You have a nice setup there.  Funny how you got the wisteria to grow up on it.  That is part of my plans as well to get the plants to camouflage it some.  I still need to keep it lower though as we have a "view" I don't want to obscure.  I think that I can make fully analog switches and optical sensors to protect the scope while the box moves.  I can also do a simple contact switch to control the power to the mount so that it can't move while the box is closed.  Just wondering if there is a more elegant way to do this?


dcraft34@comcast.net
 

Hi Jim,
Please explain what you mean by "it would make automation a bit more challenging from an automation perspective".  I am missing something.  My naive mental image is: with the scope tucked away into a tiny box, no useful motion can occur, automated or otherwise.  I would establish a remote mechanical/electrical switch (thinking microswitch here)  that allowed power to reach the CP-4 controller but was only activated when the 'tiny box' was moved far from the scope.  Seems foolproof.  But I would like to understand what functionality I'm missing, because someday I may wish to do this myself.  So what am I overlooking? 

Dave


George LaBelle
 

You may try this:

https://interactiveastronomy.com/skyroof.html

I've used their equipment for total roof control and it has ASCOM drivers.
--
George
Prineville, Oregon


Mike Dodd
 

" It would be easy to do an interlock relay that would turn power off to the mount if the enclosure is over the scope, but that seems somewhat brute force and it would make automation a bit more challenging from a sequencing perspective."

Frankly, I think a brute-force approach is your best bet. All ROR controllers have provisions to detect when the mount is parked before moving the roof, but that doesn't solve the problem of moving the mount when the roof is closed.

Regarding automation sequencing.... For a small local observatory like yours (and mine), some manual tasks are always needed before you can begin the automation. For mine, this involves:
1. Turn on the observatory power
2. Turn on power to the roof motor (garage door opener) and ROR controller hardware
3. Turn on power to the computer.
4. After allowing time for the computer to boot-up, turn on power to the mount, USB 3.0 extender (powers cameras), rotator, and focuser
5. Launch MaxIm and FocusMax, and connect to the camera** and focuser
6. Launch ACP automation software, and connect to the mount, cameras, and rotator
7. Begin an ACP automated imaging plan.
8. If my plan has a shutdown directive at the end, ACP will park the mount, then close the roof.

** I use ASCOM Direct guiding, so when I connect the cameras in MaxIm, it automatically connects to the mount, which launches the ASCOM driver.

When I connect the mount in ACP (step 6) , it also connects to the ROR controller, then unparks the mount and opens the roof.

As you can see, there are many manual steps prior to initiating the automation. Step 5 (**) is key. If the mount is not powered-on, the driver window closes after it can't connect, and MaxIm says it can't connect to the guide camera. So it is impossible to continue until I power-on the mount. And in your scenario, that would be impossible until the enclosure is away from the mount.

Does this help?

--- Mike
http;//astronomy.mdodd.com/observatory.html
x (x)
 


Mike Dodd
 

I should have mentioned.... I use the APJog Utility to connect to the mount whenever I want to open and maintain a connection independently from MaxIm or any other application like SkyX. So if I wanted to confirm that the mount is powered up, I could add a manual step 4a to connect to the mount with APJog.

--- Mike
x (x)
 


Joe
 

I was born in the Hocking hills of southern Ohio so I may be a hillbilly, but in my book simplicity=elegance. 


Jerome A Yesavage
 

Hi,

I also have been using ACP with a PierTech ROR but Bob cautioned me at the start to always have the scope below the level of the roof to prevent any disasters (what could go wrong?).  This is fail safe BUT limits my horizon to a minimum of 40 DEG.  To get lower targets I have moved the pier up BUT I disengaged the roof on ACP and do all this by checklist manually. Just cannot trust electronics/software etc etc... I watch it open and close by camera... AND make sure the mount is powered off when the roof is closed.... a lot of stuff to watch... but even with ACP as you say you have a lot of manual operations.... as a pilot in a previous life I am used to checklists but I know pilots and others skip items... so you gotta be careful.

I live in California and it never rains in the summer... but winter is coming and I may lower the pier and start reusing the roof cloud sensor etc just in case of a crazy weather event.  In this case the mount will be in a fail safe position under the roof line.

Nothing is simple....

JY


John Robbins
 

I have a SkyRoof controller and gear driven gate opener to move my roof, and with a reflective sensor, there are provisions to keep the mount from moving until the roof is fully opened. However this is in conjunction with using Sequence Generator Pro to initiate the open command. 
I thought I was safe until recently, when I used the AP mount hand control to move the mount, and found the mount will move with the roof closed, so I basically have the same problem as you. I've looked through the settings in APCC and the V2 driver, but haven't found anything that might help.
Hopefully one of the guys here will have some ideas to fix this problem.
By the way, I'm here in San Diego as well.
John  

On Sat, Sep 11, 2021 at 11:32 AM psparkman via groups.io <psparkman=me.com@groups.io> wrote:
Hi everyone,

I have an AP1100 running APCC Pro with a C14 mounted.  I live in suburban San Diego and have been using it on my back patio with a Telegizmo's cover.  I want to make the absolutely smallest rolloff box enclosure that I can do.  We have a small yard, and in order to keep the wife acceptance factor high enough, it needs to be as small and especially low as I can get away with.  I never do visual, and the weather and wind here are very mild, so I am thinking of building a small box that rolls off to one side on rails and making the pier as low as I can.  This will make it easy to get to everything on the mount and scope.  

To keep it as low as possible, I want to design it around the Park 5 position.  Of course that creates the problem that I need to solve.  I can put an optical interlock on the roll off enclosure to prevent it moving if the scope is not in Park 5 to prevent scope decapitation.  But I am looking for a good solution to prevent the mount from unparking and slewing out of Park 5 if the enclosure is closed.  It would be easy to do an interlock relay that would turn power off to the mount if the enclosure is over the scope, but that seems somewhat brute force and it would make automation a bit more challenging from a sequencing perspective.  Is there a more elegant solution using the APCC software solution that would prevent any movement of the mount if the enclosure is over the scope?

I know that most of you would say just make the box large enough to always clear to be safe.  But that is not an option as it would be too tall and fail the WAF test.  So I want to find the most robust solution possible to ensure that everything is protected.


M Hambrick
 

Hi John

Someone can correct me if I am wrong, but I think I read in one of the manuals that commands to the mount through the keypad will override any other software (e.g. APCC) commands. Your interlock may work through the other control software but the keypad does not know that it exists.

Mike


Mike Dodd
 

On 9/13/2021 11:06 AM, M Hambrick wrote:
I think I read in one of the
manuals that commands to the mount through the keypad will override any
other software (e.g. APCC) commands. Your interlock may work through the
other control software but the keypad does not know that it exists.
That's why I think the brute-force cut-the mount-power interlock is the best approach. The mount won't slew if it has no power!

--- Mike