#1  
Old 04-01-2021, 08:01 PM
BeardFace (Nial)
Registered User

BeardFace is offline
 
Join Date: Mar 2020
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 23
Remote Dome setup

Hey all, I thought a fun ongoing project this year might be to setup a remote observatory, at my family's farm, and wanted to get some advice on the dome and automation system. Ideally I'm trying to keep it within a 12v range as I hope to power everything off of solar. So far my idea is:

Dome shape and construction
I'm thinking about basing the construction off of this, as it looks approachable and sturdy http://astro.neutral.org/fibreglass-...ope-dome.shtml

Dome control unit
For Dome Control I'm thinking Velleman K8055N loaded with LesvedomeNet
http://www.dppobservatory.net/DomeAu...DomeDriver.php

Motor
As for the motor I'm not sure what kind of strength is required, so I've been investigating 12vdc motors and I think these are the two strongest I've found:
https://www.robotshop.com/en/12v-17a...per-motor.html

or

https://www.phidgets.com/?tier=3&cat...=16&prodid=295

The stronger the better, as if it's decent enough I can actually get my brothers to weld up a steel frame for extra durability.

Driving mechanics
I was actually thinking of copying the NexDome approach and using a gear attached to the motor, combined with some flexible gear racks like this https://www.smallparts.com.au/store/...acksflexible/?

Azimuth sensor
Similar to the motor I'm thinking of attaching a gear on to an encoder, like this one https://www.plcdirect.eu/products/en...t/trd-nh4-rzwd

And I'll probably need a magnetic switch for the home position

Shutter
This part I'm not too sure of and I'd be keen to hear people's thoughts. I was thinking of using the design above but maybe a single shutter sliding across horizontally? Or are there specific advantages to having two shutters meet in the middle? As far as I can tell it'll also need a battery unit that can be charged from the home position of the azimuth. Then two magnetic switches for open and closed position?

Controlling everything
For the last bit I'm thinking of using a 12vdc mini computer, like the Qotom http://www.qotom.net/product/78.html to run Voyager. This would hook into the Velleman K8055N for Dome/Shutter control, control some relays to turn off the equipment when not in use, maybe run some ventilation etc as well. Then I'd access the system remotely with a 4G router that takes a SIM, and control through the Voyager web portal.

Solar power
This part I'm not as worried about, as there are plenty of options out there and it will be the last component to go in.

So yeah, I'd love to hear people's feedback on my proposed setup. What's missing, concerns, things I've got entirely wrong in my research? I realise it'd be easier to just buy a NexDome but I like the idea of having a project for the year, and I don't have that kind of cash! I'm a programmer by trade and also don't mind getting my hands dirty with construction and electronics. I'm also considering a ROR setup, but want to explore all the dome options first.

Cheers!
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 05-01-2021, 06:46 AM
PKay's Avatar
PKay (Peter)
Registered User

PKay is offline
 
Join Date: May 2017
Location: DEPOT BEACH
Posts: 1,256
Hi Nial

What you are intending to do is not to be underestimated in its complexity.

Astro photography can get very complex even without adding another yet another layer
in remote control.

Good for you for being ambitious and the best of luck :-)

A few questions:

1: Can you reliably operate your equipment and produce quality images
from the safety of your backyard?

2: How are your processing skills? Time spent here is time spent wisely.

3: Are you still using a Canon 5D and how would you control it remotely?


I specialised in designing and building remotely operated processing plants.

My first plant was a miniture scaled down version built in the lab.
PLC controlled using small cheap motors, solenoids, relays and sensors.

It took 6 months of work and study to get it to work remotely (and reliably).

Then and only then did I build the real deal (at huge effort and cost).

Regards

Peter
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 05-01-2021, 09:37 AM
BeardFace (Nial)
Registered User

BeardFace is offline
 
Join Date: Mar 2020
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by PKay View Post
Hi Nial

What you are intending to do is not to be underestimated in its complexity.

Astro photography can get very complex even without adding another yet another layer
in remote control.

Good for you for being ambitious and the best of luck :-)

A few questions:

1: Can you reliably operate your equipment and produce quality images
from the safety of your backyard?

2: How are your processing skills? Time spent here is time spent wisely.

3: Are you still using a Canon 5D and how would you control it remotely?


I specialised in designing and building remotely operated processing plants.

My first plant was a miniture scaled down version built in the lab.
PLC controlled using small cheap motors, solenoids, relays and sensors.

It took 6 months of work and study to get it to work remotely (and reliably).

Then and only then did I build the real deal (at huge effort and cost).

Regards

Peter
Hey Peter,

Oh don't worry, I'm expecting this to take a long time. My plan is to start with the dome motor control and azimuth sensor first. Run it all from a laptop, then work on integrating that with Voyager on the Qotom, and seeing if I can "remotely" control the motors etc. Then slowly start adding bits and pieces until the final build. I'm in no rush here

As for your questions:

1) Yup! The ES ED80 with a full zwo setup has been a breeze. My biggest mistake was buying a second hand RC8, although I finally got it dialled in last week and I'm keen to take some better images with it. But I've learnt a lot through the process.

2) Getting better each time. I moved from DSS to AstroPixelProcessor, which for me made a big improvement, and I've been working on my photoshop skills. Each time I process I aim to learn a new technique. I just don't post many photos here is all.

3) Nah, I was borrowing that from a friend to make sure I really wanted to get into this hobby. When I was sure I bought an asi2600.

Building a remote processing plant certainly sounds like a huge task, have you built your own observatory too? I'd be keen to see it
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 06-01-2021, 06:33 AM
appiice (Ed)
Registered User

appiice is offline
 
Join Date: Mar 2019
Location: BATHURST
Posts: 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by BeardFace View Post
Hey all, I thought a fun ongoing project this year might be to setup a remote observatory, at my family's farm, and wanted to get some advice on the dome and automation system. Ideally I'm trying to keep it within a 12v range as I hope to power everything off of solar. So far my idea is:

Dome shape and construction
I'm thinking about basing the construction off of this, as it looks approachable and sturdy http://astro.neutral.org/fibreglass-...ope-dome.shtml

Dome control unit
For Dome Control I'm thinking Velleman K8055N loaded with LesvedomeNet
http://www.dppobservatory.net/DomeAu...DomeDriver.php

Motor
As for the motor I'm not sure what kind of strength is required, so I've been investigating 12vdc motors and I think these are the two strongest I've found:
https://www.robotshop.com/en/12v-17a...per-motor.html

or

https://www.phidgets.com/?tier=3&cat...=16&prodid=295

The stronger the better, as if it's decent enough I can actually get my brothers to weld up a steel frame for extra durability.

Driving mechanics
I was actually thinking of copying the NexDome approach and using a gear attached to the motor, combined with some flexible gear racks like this https://www.smallparts.com.au/store/...acksflexible/?

Azimuth sensor
Similar to the motor I'm thinking of attaching a gear on to an encoder, like this one https://www.plcdirect.eu/products/en...t/trd-nh4-rzwd

And I'll probably need a magnetic switch for the home position

Shutter
This part I'm not too sure of and I'd be keen to hear people's thoughts. I was thinking of using the design above but maybe a single shutter sliding across horizontally? Or are there specific advantages to having two shutters meet in the middle? As far as I can tell it'll also need a battery unit that can be charged from the home position of the azimuth. Then two magnetic switches for open and closed position?

Controlling everything
For the last bit I'm thinking of using a 12vdc mini computer, like the Qotom http://www.qotom.net/product/78.html to run Voyager. This would hook into the Velleman K8055N for Dome/Shutter control, control some relays to turn off the equipment when not in use, maybe run some ventilation etc as well. Then I'd access the system remotely with a 4G router that takes a SIM, and control through the Voyager web portal.

Solar power
This part I'm not as worried about, as there are plenty of options out there and it will be the last component to go in.

So yeah, I'd love to hear people's feedback on my proposed setup. What's missing, concerns, things I've got entirely wrong in my research? I realise it'd be easier to just buy a NexDome but I like the idea of having a project for the year, and I don't have that kind of cash! I'm a programmer by trade and also don't mind getting my hands dirty with construction and electronics. I'm also considering a ROR setup, but want to explore all the dome options first.

Cheers!

Hello Nial

You are mixing the Levesdome hardware with a stepper motor, you need a DC motor - actually it is a servo motor, any DC motor can be made into a servo motor with an encoder added to it, I had a stepper setup like you describe and after 2 years I gave up on it and went the Levesdome route, was simple and it works!

The problem with steppers is that despite the communities best intents, every dome is different so the hardware / software is an issue, the Nexdome route was stuffed up by Nexdome as the paid a bloke in the UK to re-write the code, in doing so they removed the ability to change the step/pulley size/belt pitch and length, so it works really well on a Nexdome not so much on any other.

Here is a link to my build, I did a 3m ally dome, the photos show you my answers to your questions, the only change I would do now is I would make the dome out of ally but in a flat trapazoidal ( sp?? ) shape, no compound curves but still no leaks. The good thing with ally is if you have wood working tools you can do it.
https://1drv.ms/u/s!AhXA8zZYfT5YjT_5...1hOMp?e=I7qaas

Best regards

Ed
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 06-01-2021, 11:14 AM
BeardFace (Nial)
Registered User

BeardFace is offline
 
Join Date: Mar 2020
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by appiice View Post
Hello Nial

You are mixing the Levesdome hardware with a stepper motor, you need a DC motor - actually it is a servo motor, any DC motor can be made into a servo motor with an encoder added to it, I had a stepper setup like you describe and after 2 years I gave up on it and went the Levesdome route, was simple and it works!

The problem with steppers is that despite the communities best intents, every dome is different so the hardware / software is an issue, the Nexdome route was stuffed up by Nexdome as the paid a bloke in the UK to re-write the code, in doing so they removed the ability to change the step/pulley size/belt pitch and length, so it works really well on a Nexdome not so much on any other.

Here is a link to my build, I did a 3m ally dome, the photos show you my answers to your questions, the only change I would do now is I would make the dome out of ally but in a flat trapazoidal ( sp?? ) shape, no compound curves but still no leaks. The good thing with ally is if you have wood working tools you can do it.
https://1drv.ms/u/s!AhXA8zZYfT5YjT_5...1hOMp?e=I7qaas

Best regards

Ed
Hey Ed,

Thanks for the advice, and the link, it's a huge help. After some research I'm actually thinking of using an ExploraDome track and gear set https://optcorp.com/products/explora...rotation-kit-1 and then using a 12vdc motor and encoder. I know they sell an encoder as part of their more complete packs but I'm wondering if I can find an equivalent as they don't seem to sell it separately.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 02-02-2021, 11:29 PM
Boozlefoot
I like to watch........

Boozlefoot is offline
 
Join Date: Nov 2016
Location: Devil's Hole Observatory, Windeyer,...
Posts: 254
There are quite a few Telstra solar panel tracking systems which rotate panels mounted on a circular ring on rollers. The ring is of flat steel, and the drive system is of commercial 6B British Standard chain, about $18.00 for a 10 foot length (box)with joiner. This is tack welded to the ring at spaces over the 10' length. The drive sprocket is about $5.50, depending on the dia you wish to use. And they use the good old 12v wiper motor for a drive unit, pivot mounted with a spring tensioner to swing into the chain which is fixed to the ring. It's cheap, effective and readily available at any bearing centre, and some of these units are still operating in remote areas after 22 years.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 03-02-2021, 09:12 AM
BeardFace (Nial)
Registered User

BeardFace is offline
 
Join Date: Mar 2020
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Boozlefoot View Post
There are quite a few Telstra solar panel tracking systems which rotate panels mounted on a circular ring on rollers. The ring is of flat steel, and the drive system is of commercial 6B British Standard chain, about $18.00 for a 10 foot length (box)with joiner. This is tack welded to the ring at spaces over the 10' length. The drive sprocket is about $5.50, depending on the dia you wish to use. And they use the good old 12v wiper motor for a drive unit, pivot mounted with a spring tensioner to swing into the chain which is fixed to the ring. It's cheap, effective and readily available at any bearing centre, and some of these units are still operating in remote areas after 22 years.
No kidding, that sounds almost too good to be true! I'll look them up now
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Tags
automation, dome, observatory

Thread Tools
Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT +10. The time is now 11:21 PM.

Powered by vBulletin Version 3.8.7 | Copyright ©2000 - 2021, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Advertisement
Limpet Controller
Advertisement
Bintel
Advertisement
NexDome Observatories
Advertisement
Testar
Advertisement
Astronomy and Electronics Centre
Advertisement