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Dome Observatory Control System

Full Automtion Control System with Wifi Connectivity to Shutter

ScopeDome Australia - USB 2.0 Controller with options
Above image shows main controller plus optional items

The ScopeDome Wireless USB2 controller is designed to extensively control and monitor your observatory. It consists of four basic elements:

  • The main controller - mounted normally at the telescope [for reasons explained further below], which directly controls the rotary motion of the dome
  • The shutter controller - mounted on the dome side wall, which controls the shutter  movement at any rotation
  • A wireless remote for convenient control of the movement of the dome when not following the movement of the telescope. This also allows control of the dome whilst outside the dome.
  • The control software for Windows (ScopeDome driver) that allows for extensive and intuitive set up and control of the dome behaviour and for the control of power to various other devices.

In addition to the function of controlling the dome, the main controller has eight (8) built-in relays that allows for the control of powering of the observatory's equipment such as the telescope, camera, lighting, ventilation, etc. Having the main conroller placed at the pier allows for easy wiring to the telescope, or under the floor to devices located around the dome, or even outside the dome. The card is equipped with the necessary inputs to indicate the current status of the dome and the input for encoders which measure the azimuth (to within 1cm of movement) and absolute position of the shutter (so you can open partially the shutter for ventilation).

The shutter communicates with the main controller via Wifi transmission, using the RS 485 interface. As power is continuously supplied to the shutter at any rotation through the structure of the dome, the shutter can be immediately closed at any rotation. There is no requirement to return to home position to connect to the power source for closing the shutter. Furthermore, there is not cord / umbilical hanging down from the shutter to the main controller. This leaves the observatory floor free for placing a table, chair or equipment throughout for your convenience.

Communication with the ScopeDome USB 2.0 controller with the telescope is achieved via ASCOM or TheSkyX (via the X2 Dome Plug In Driver).

ScopeDome Australia - ASCOM Compliant ScopeDome Australia -  X2 Dome Plug In Driver

The ScopeDome controller is designed to work with selected weather stations and cloud sensors:

Basic card hardware functions

  • Control of rotary movement and measuring the azimuth angle of the dome via encoders.
  • Control of the shutter motor, providing information about its current mode. The shutter is equipped with an encoder that measures its position.
  • Power control up to eight devices of the observatory equipment.
  • Emergency shutdown of the shutter in the case of power failure in the grid.
  • Emergency shutdown of the shutter in the case of battery power failure.
  • Emergency shutdown of the shutter in the case of bad weather conditions.
  • Emergency shutdown of the shutter in the case of loosing the connection with the control computer.
  • FindHome – searching for HomeSensor position.
  • Remembering the position of the dome after power off.
  • Supporting a range of rain/ cloud sensors.
  • Safe Observatory input to hardware blocking the action of motors.
  • ScopeAtHome input.
  • Displays basic information about the status of the observatory's sensors.
  • Optional measurement of internal and external temperature, measurement of humidity and atmospheric pressure.
  • Measurement of current/ voltage of batteries, which supply the dome.
  • Firmware revision procedures allow for the updating of the controller without being physically present at the observatory.

With optional components for temperature and humidity monitoring, you can either on site, or remotely, monitor the internal and external temperatures and the humidity within the dome.  With that knowledge, you can then activate ventilation or dehumidifying systems via the control functions of the ScopeDome USB 2.0 controller.

Software Interfaces

The software interface for the ScopeDome USB2 control system provides very flexible and feature rich list of functions. The small window size of these interfaces do not clutter up your main screen, whilst providing excellent data at a glance.

ScopeDome Australia - Software Interface Examples 

MapPoint

The ScopeDome controller also provides for a reconciliation solution to ensure the best relationship between your dome aperture and your telescopes pointing path, and this is called: MapPoint.

ScopeDome Australia - MapPoint

 The MapPoint solution allows the user to insert manually selected positions of the telescope relative to the dome position that the controlling software will incorporate in selecting the best position of the dome in accordance to the pointing position of the telescope. This concept allows for users to correct for offset piers or unusual throws in mount movements that place the viewing angle of the telescope at an unanticipated angle by the normal calculations of the dome movement software.

Click here for more information on MapPoint...

Control buttons

  • On/OFF – power on/off button that switches the card into StandBy mode Telescope – power on/off the telescope
  • CCD – power on/off CCD camera
  • Light – power on/off the upper lightning inside the dome • Fan – power on/off the fan
  • Shift – function button, when you push it:
    • Telescope, CCD, LIGHT, Fan buttons control and indicate the current state of Rel1, Rel2, Rel3, Rel4 relays
    • OPEN, CLOSE buttons control the movement of the second shutter (in the case when the card is configured for double shutter system – default setting is for single shutter system)
    • Information of the LCD screen changes
    • Pushing this button lasting a few seconds in the StandBy mode (it is indicated by green LED diode placed close to this button) - turn the card into radio transmission programming mode
  • TelescopeSync – when the card cooperates with PC it allows to turn on the telescope - dome synchronization mode manually
  • WindSync – when the card cooperates with PC it allows to turn on the dome - wind direction synchronization mode manually
  • Weather Protect – when the card cooperates with PC it allows to turn on WeatherProtect mode manually which closes the dome in the case of bad weather conditions (raining, snowing, strong wind, cloudiness)
  • Display - it is used to switch the information displayed on the LCD screen
  • CW, CCW, OPEN, CLOSE, STOP – the dome's main control buttons used to rotate it, stop it and open/close the shutter

LEDs

Every control button has its own LED that indicates its current state:

  • NoPower – indicates the power failure on 230VAC power input sensor
  • Rain – indicates Rain Sensor input
  • Cloud – indicates Cloud Sensor input
  • Shutter 1
    • Open – indicates the shutter Open 1 Sensor
    • Close – indicates the shutter Close 1 Sensor
    • Encoder – indicates the current state of the shutter no. 1 encoder (blinking during the shutter movement means that the encoder works properly)
  • Shutter 2
    • Open – indicates the shutter Open 2 Sensor
    • Close – indicates the shutter Close 2 Sensor
    • Encoder – indicates the current state of the shutter no. 2 encoder (blinking during the shutter movement means that the encoder works properly)
  • Dome AtHome – indicates the current state of the dome's Home sensor
  • Scope AtHome – indicates the current state of the telescope AtHome sensor
  • Free Input – indicates the current state of FreeInput sensor
  • Shutter Link – indicates the correct radio connection with the moving part of the card
  • Observatory Unsafe – indicates the current state of Observatory Safe input
  • Low Battery – indicates that the voltage of battery that powers the card is too low

LEDs of LCD screen (Shift button is turned off)

  • Dome Azimuth – displays the dome's current azimuth
  • Battery – displays the voltage of the battery connected to analog input in the main part of the card
  • Temp. – displays the temperature inside the dome
  • Hum. – displays the humidity

 LEDs of LCD screen (Shift button is turned on)

  • Dome Azimuth – displays the temperature from humidity sensor
  • Battery – displays the voltage of the battery connected to analog input in the moving part of the card
  • Temp. – displays the temperature outside the dome
  • Hum. – displays the atmospheric pressure (Hp)

ScopeDome Australia - USB 2.0 Controller

ScopeDome Australia - USB 2.0 Controller

Plug N Play Wiring

The ScopeDome fully automated solution is also inclusive of a Plug N Play wiring harness. It provides you the typical wire loom to make the connection of the various devices simply and for those without any previous electrical knowledge. The overall wiring layout can be seen below for the 3m full automated dome product [click on diagrame below for larger version]. When examining the below, in regard to the 3m dome, the connection between the main controller and the shutter controller is by wireless connectivity.

ScopeDome Australia - USB 2.0 Controller - Plug N Play Wiring Loom

Click on the above for large version

Technical information

Along with the card, depending on the order, we provide the following components:

Dimensions [main unit]:                                                     200x120x75 mm (LxWxH)
Weight:                                                                                    1 kg
Power consumption                                                            12VDC:600 mA (~ 10W)
Power consumption 230VAC:                                                 50 mA (~ 10W)

Current efficiency of AC outputs:
- 12V out:                                                                             200 mA

- 5V out:                                                                               150 mA

Power consumption of the inverter set with the engine with the power of 90W:
- standby mode (engine does not rotate) :                            25 mA
- engine without load :                                                         300 mA
- engine with load:                                                               860 mA
- overload engine:                                                                   1 A

Maximum relay load :
- Scope, CCD, LIGHT, FAN:                                                                4A
- Rel1, Rel2, Rel3, Rel4:                                                                     2A
- CW, CCW, OPEN, CLOSE relays and inverter control outputs:        2A



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