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LX-200 GPS - remote and robotic?

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  • Tom
    I m looking into the possibility of making an LX-200 GPS a remote and robotic rig - and I know it will require some modifications. (It s easy to make an
    Message 1 of 29 , Jun 1, 2011
      I'm looking into the possibility of making an LX-200 GPS a remote and robotic rig - and I know it will require some modifications. (It's easy to make an LX-200 work in the back yard because you're there to fix it...but 1,000 miles away?)

      Yes, the rig will work just fine if the mount never has a run away slew to infinity, and the power is never interrupted, and the mount never loses position info.

      But that's what Murphy's Law is all about...

      What mods do I need for:

      - limit switches to stop mount motion if if tries to move past 'safe limits' (e.g. +/- 7 hours from the meridian, -45 Declination, and a few degrees beyond the north pole)

      - a way to allow the mount to find home after power up from a cold/dumb start (equatorially mounted, not alt-az)...or at least pointing 'assistance' to allow a remote user to get the mount to a known/reasonably accurate pointing state.

      - anything else that will provide safety/fail-safe features, and good pointing info


      As one example - it's easy to rig up limit switches to kill power and stop the mount...but now the mount is a dumb rock and it's lost position info. Are there connections/pins/jacks in the LX-200 wiring/circuitry that allow adding limit switches to disable mount motion, but keep mount power, and retain pointing info? (That sounds like a more elegant solution.)

      Thanks in advance.

      --
      -------------------------------------------
      Tom Krajci
      Cloudcroft, New Mexico
      http://picasaweb.google.com/tom.krajci

      Center for Backyard Astrophysics (CBA)
      http://cbastro.org/ CBA New Mexico

      American Association of Variable Star
      Observers (AAVSO): KTC http://www.aavso.org/
      -------------------------------------------
    • Andy Eskelson
      Forget trying to modify the telescope computer system. You first need a bomb-proof fully watch-dogged controller, and even then you may need to consider some
      Message 2 of 29 , Jun 1, 2011
        Forget trying to modify the telescope computer system.

        You first need a bomb-proof fully watch-dogged controller, and even then
        you may need to consider some way to reset that! (dial up control system
        perhaps)

        Once you have such a controller, you can the use that to do most if not
        all of the setup/control issues.

        Limit switches and such like are bits of metal bolted onto the mount at
        certain locations that will operate switches to which you need to
        respond.

        As a fail-safe you can use two switches, one to the controller, and a
        second that will cut the power to the mount is the controller does not
        respond. Obviously the controller needs to be able to reset the power.

        For position setting, another set of switches that are activated as the
        scope moves, prob. better to be opto-switches as you can set these to be
        more precise. That can get the scope pointing in roughly the right
        direction.

        If you have a network connection to the observatory then you could
        consider a webcam looking at a target on the wall somewhere, with a
        laser pointer bolted to the scope, so you could use that to centre the
        scope more precisely.

        If you intend to use any "standard" type computers at the remote site,
        they must all be coupled into the main controller and you need to be
        able to shut them down cleanly if possible, restart them, and also
        power cycle them. That includes stand alone computers, network modems,
        routers, hubs and switches as well as the telescope.


        True remote control is not easy, and it takes a huge amount of thought
        and effort to get right. As such it's not a cheap thing to do.
        I'v done some remote systems years ago, not telescopes, but remote TV
        outside broadcast reception points and that was not easy. The overseas
        shortwave transmitters were even harder, with many things duplicated.

        So take a lot more advice on this sort of thing, perhaps some of the
        existing remote observatories may have some technical descriptions of how
        they do things.

        If you can find someone fairly local to the remote site to provide some
        "helping hands" in times of dire emergency, that would be worth their
        weight in gold...


        Andy






        On Wed, 01 Jun 2011 15:37:17 -0000
        "Tom" <tom_krajci@...> wrote:

        > I'm looking into the possibility of making an LX-200 GPS a remote and robotic rig - and I know it will require some modifications. (It's easy to make an LX-200 work in the back yard because you're there to fix it...but 1,000 miles away?)
        >
        > Yes, the rig will work just fine if the mount never has a run away slew to infinity, and the power is never interrupted, and the mount never loses position info.
        >
        > But that's what Murphy's Law is all about...
        >
        > What mods do I need for:
        >
        > - limit switches to stop mount motion if if tries to move past 'safe limits' (e.g. +/- 7 hours from the meridian, -45 Declination, and a few degrees beyond the north pole)
        >
        > - a way to allow the mount to find home after power up from a cold/dumb start (equatorially mounted, not alt-az)...or at least pointing 'assistance' to allow a remote user to get the mount to a known/reasonably accurate pointing state.
        >
        > - anything else that will provide safety/fail-safe features, and good pointing info
        >
        >
        > As one example - it's easy to rig up limit switches to kill power and stop the mount...but now the mount is a dumb rock and it's lost position info. Are there connections/pins/jacks in the LX-200 wiring/circuitry that allow adding limit switches to disable mount motion, but keep mount power, and retain pointing info? (That sounds like a more elegant solution.)
        >
        > Thanks in advance.
        >
        > --
        > -------------------------------------------
        > Tom Krajci
        > Cloudcroft, New Mexico
        > http://picasaweb.google.com/tom.krajci
        >
        > Center for Backyard Astrophysics (CBA)
        > http://cbastro.org/ CBA New Mexico
        >
        > American Association of Variable Star
        > Observers (AAVSO): KTC http://www.aavso.org/
        > -------------------------------------------
        >
      • Jim S
        Has anybody mentioned a Non-Interruptable Power supply ? The heavier duty ones can provide power for a fair amount of time. Jim ... From: Andy Eskelson To:
        Message 3 of 29 , Jun 1, 2011
          Has anybody mentioned a "Non-Interruptable Power supply" ? The heavier duty ones can provide power for a fair amount of time.

          Jim


          ----- Original Message -----
          From: Andy Eskelson
          To: Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com
          Sent: Wednesday, June 01, 2011 12:40 PM
          Subject: Re: [MeadeUncensored] LX-200 GPS - remote and robotic?



          Forget trying to modify the telescope computer system.

          You first need a bomb-proof fully watch-dogged controller, and even then
          you may need to consider some way to reset that! (dial up control system
          perhaps)

          Once you have such a controller, you can the use that to do most if not
          all of the setup/control issues.

          Limit switches and such like are bits of metal bolted onto the mount at
          certain locations that will operate switches to which you need to
          respond.

          As a fail-safe you can use two switches, one to the controller, and a
          second that will cut the power to the mount is the controller does not
          respond. Obviously the controller needs to be able to reset the power.

          For position setting, another set of switches that are activated as the
          scope moves, prob. better to be opto-switches as you can set these to be
          more precise. That can get the scope pointing in roughly the right
          direction.

          If you have a network connection to the observatory then you could
          consider a webcam looking at a target on the wall somewhere, with a
          laser pointer bolted to the scope, so you could use that to centre the
          scope more precisely.

          If you intend to use any "standard" type computers at the remote site,
          they must all be coupled into the main controller and you need to be
          able to shut them down cleanly if possible, restart them, and also
          power cycle them. That includes stand alone computers, network modems,
          routers, hubs and switches as well as the telescope.

          True remote control is not easy, and it takes a huge amount of thought
          and effort to get right. As such it's not a cheap thing to do.
          I'v done some remote systems years ago, not telescopes, but remote TV
          outside broadcast reception points and that was not easy. The overseas
          shortwave transmitters were even harder, with many things duplicated.

          So take a lot more advice on this sort of thing, perhaps some of the
          existing remote observatories may have some technical descriptions of how
          they do things.

          If you can find someone fairly local to the remote site to provide some
          "helping hands" in times of dire emergency, that would be worth their
          weight in gold...

          Andy

          On Wed, 01 Jun 2011 15:37:17 -0000
          "Tom" <tom_krajci@...> wrote:

          > I'm looking into the possibility of making an LX-200 GPS a remote and robotic rig - and I know it will require some modifications. (It's easy to make an LX-200 work in the back yard because you're there to fix it...but 1,000 miles away?)
          >
          > Yes, the rig will work just fine if the mount never has a run away slew to infinity, and the power is never interrupted, and the mount never loses position info.
          >
          > But that's what Murphy's Law is all about...
          >
          > What mods do I need for:
          >
          > - limit switches to stop mount motion if if tries to move past 'safe limits' (e.g. +/- 7 hours from the meridian, -45 Declination, and a few degrees beyond the north pole)
          >
          > - a way to allow the mount to find home after power up from a cold/dumb start (equatorially mounted, not alt-az)...or at least pointing 'assistance' to allow a remote user to get the mount to a known/reasonably accurate pointing state.
          >
          > - anything else that will provide safety/fail-safe features, and good pointing info
          >
          >
          > As one example - it's easy to rig up limit switches to kill power and stop the mount...but now the mount is a dumb rock and it's lost position info. Are there connections/pins/jacks in the LX-200 wiring/circuitry that allow adding limit switches to disable mount motion, but keep mount power, and retain pointing info? (That sounds like a more elegant solution.)
          >
          > Thanks in advance.
          >
          > --
          > -------------------------------------------
          > Tom Krajci
          > Cloudcroft, New Mexico
          > http://picasaweb.google.com/tom.krajci
          >
          > Center for Backyard Astrophysics (CBA)
          > http://cbastro.org/ CBA New Mexico
          >
          > American Association of Variable Star
          > Observers (AAVSO): KTC http://www.aavso.org/
          > -------------------------------------------
          >







          =======
          Email scanned by PC Tools - No viruses or spyware found.
          (Email Guard: 7.0.0.21, Virus/Spyware Database: 6.17640)
          http://www.pctools.com
          =======



          =======
          Email scanned by PC Tools - No viruses or spyware found.
          (Email Guard: 7.0.0.21, Virus/Spyware Database: 6.17640)
          http://www.pctools.com/
          =======


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Tom
          ... Who makes such a controller? -- ... Tom Krajci Cloudcroft, New Mexico http://picasaweb.google.com/tom.krajci Center for Backyard Astrophysics (CBA)
          Message 4 of 29 , Jun 1, 2011
            --- In Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com, Andy Eskelson <andyyahoo@...> wrote:
            >
            > You first need a bomb-proof fully watch-dogged controller...

            Who makes such a controller?

            --
            -------------------------------------------
            Tom Krajci
            Cloudcroft, New Mexico
            http://picasaweb.google.com/tom.krajci

            Center for Backyard Astrophysics (CBA)
            http://cbastro.org/ CBA New Mexico

            American Association of Variable Star
            Observers (AAVSO): KTC http://www.aavso.org/
            -------------------------------------------
          • Andy Eskelson
            Well, at the time I was working on this sort of stuff 20 odd years ago, the short answer was no-one. It was all custom designed and built by ourselves. I would
            Message 5 of 29 , Jun 1, 2011
              Well, at the time I was working on this sort of stuff 20 odd years ago,
              the short answer was no-one. It was all custom designed and built by
              ourselves.

              I would think that this area is still VERY specialised.

              One starting point would be the remote monitoring of datacentre
              equipment, usually starting with a network and modem accessible switch
              unit.

              I have NEVER used and of this kit, just posting as an example:
              I did run a small datacentre, about 400 cabinets sized, and generally it
              was always 24H manned, but I did have some remote monitoring of the
              environment using equipment similar to the ambery kit. It worked, but ti
              was never intended for true fail-safe remote use.


              Remote power switching, works over TCP/IP WEB and modem.
              http://www.dcbnet.com/datasheet/aps1ds.html

              Another version
              http://www.nti1.co.uk/secure-power.html

              This is a more versatile system, not designed for power switching, but
              more for general purpose use:

              http://www.ambery.com/8reinseswweb.html


              This is NOT something that you will find a ready made solution for, and I
              have no doubt that it will end up needing a lot of engineering skill if
              you want to do the job well. If you are thinking more along the lines of
              an amateur setup that generally works, but will have the odd problem, then
              obviously you can cobble something together that will be a lot cheaper -
              maybe... It will depend on what you want to be able to do of course.


              Andy





              On Wed, 01 Jun 2011 21:31:25 -0000
              "Tom" <tom_krajci@...> wrote:

              >
              >
              > --- In Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com, Andy Eskelson <andyyahoo@...> wrote:
              > >
              > > You first need a bomb-proof fully watch-dogged controller...
              >
              > Who makes such a controller?
              >
              > --
              > -------------------------------------------
              > Tom Krajci
              > Cloudcroft, New Mexico
              > http://picasaweb.google.com/tom.krajci
              >
              > Center for Backyard Astrophysics (CBA)
              > http://cbastro.org/ CBA New Mexico
              >
              > American Association of Variable Star
              > Observers (AAVSO): KTC http://www.aavso.org/
              > -------------------------------------------
              >
            • Andy Eskelson
              A UPS would be one part of such a system, but it would not be the sort of thing that you pick up in a PC store... Note that this question is for controlling
              Message 6 of 29 , Jun 1, 2011
                A UPS would be one part of such a system, but it would not be the sort
                of thing that you pick up in a PC store... Note that this question is
                for controlling and monitoring something 1000 miles away. A very
                different kettle of fish.

                As an example, I have a small UPS here at home, when it goes flat, it
                switches off. The ONLY want to power it up is to press the button on the
                front panel. Not something that is easy to do from 1000 miles away.


                Yes I know we could use a R/C servo with a link arm and so on to
                operat the button ... :-))


                Likewise, if you have a computer, and you power cycle the mains
                remotely, some machines need the front panel switch to be pressed before
                they will start. Some you can set to start up on via the bios - yet
                another thing to check. You include anything with a power button into
                this list...

                The more you think about this sort of requirement, the more you will
                find that it is NOT simple. I don't envy anyone doing this who is
                starting from scratch.




                Andy




                On Wed, 1 Jun 2011 15:36:56 -0400
                "Jim S" <jimstan@...> wrote:

                > Has anybody mentioned a "Non-Interruptable Power supply" ? The heavier duty ones can provide power for a fair amount of time.
                >
                > Jim
                >
                >
                > ----- Original Message -----
                > From: Andy Eskelson
                > To: Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com
                > Sent: Wednesday, June 01, 2011 12:40 PM
                > Subject: Re: [MeadeUncensored] LX-200 GPS - remote and robotic?
                >
                >
                >
                > Forget trying to modify the telescope computer system.
                >
                > You first need a bomb-proof fully watch-dogged controller, and even then
                > you may need to consider some way to reset that! (dial up control system
                > perhaps)
                >
                > Once you have such a controller, you can the use that to do most if not
                > all of the setup/control issues.
                >
                > Limit switches and such like are bits of metal bolted onto the mount at
                > certain locations that will operate switches to which you need to
                > respond.
                >
                > As a fail-safe you can use two switches, one to the controller, and a
                > second that will cut the power to the mount is the controller does not
                > respond. Obviously the controller needs to be able to reset the power.
                >
                > For position setting, another set of switches that are activated as the
                > scope moves, prob. better to be opto-switches as you can set these to be
                > more precise. That can get the scope pointing in roughly the right
                > direction.
                >
                > If you have a network connection to the observatory then you could
                > consider a webcam looking at a target on the wall somewhere, with a
                > laser pointer bolted to the scope, so you could use that to centre the
                > scope more precisely.
                >
                > If you intend to use any "standard" type computers at the remote site,
                > they must all be coupled into the main controller and you need to be
                > able to shut them down cleanly if possible, restart them, and also
                > power cycle them. That includes stand alone computers, network modems,
                > routers, hubs and switches as well as the telescope.
                >
                > True remote control is not easy, and it takes a huge amount of thought
                > and effort to get right. As such it's not a cheap thing to do.
                > I'v done some remote systems years ago, not telescopes, but remote TV
                > outside broadcast reception points and that was not easy. The overseas
                > shortwave transmitters were even harder, with many things duplicated.
                >
                > So take a lot more advice on this sort of thing, perhaps some of the
                > existing remote observatories may have some technical descriptions of how
                > they do things.
                >
                > If you can find someone fairly local to the remote site to provide some
                > "helping hands" in times of dire emergency, that would be worth their
                > weight in gold...
                >
                > Andy
                >
                > On Wed, 01 Jun 2011 15:37:17 -0000
                > "Tom" <tom_krajci@...> wrote:
                >
                > > I'm looking into the possibility of making an LX-200 GPS a remote and robotic rig - and I know it will require some modifications. (It's easy to make an LX-200 work in the back yard because you're there to fix it...but 1,000 miles away?)
                > >
                > > Yes, the rig will work just fine if the mount never has a run away slew to infinity, and the power is never interrupted, and the mount never loses position info.
                > >
                > > But that's what Murphy's Law is all about...
                > >
                > > What mods do I need for:
                > >
                > > - limit switches to stop mount motion if if tries to move past 'safe limits' (e.g. +/- 7 hours from the meridian, -45 Declination, and a few degrees beyond the north pole)
                > >
                > > - a way to allow the mount to find home after power up from a cold/dumb start (equatorially mounted, not alt-az)...or at least pointing 'assistance' to allow a remote user to get the mount to a known/reasonably accurate pointing state.
                > >
                > > - anything else that will provide safety/fail-safe features, and good pointing info
                > >
                > >
                > > As one example - it's easy to rig up limit switches to kill power and stop the mount...but now the mount is a dumb rock and it's lost position info. Are there connections/pins/jacks in the LX-200 wiring/circuitry that allow adding limit switches to disable mount motion, but keep mount power, and retain pointing info? (That sounds like a more elegant solution.)
                > >
                > > Thanks in advance.
                > >
                > > --
                > > -------------------------------------------
                > > Tom Krajci
                > > Cloudcroft, New Mexico
                > > http://picasaweb.google.com/tom.krajci
                > >
                > > Center for Backyard Astrophysics (CBA)
                > > http://cbastro.org/ CBA New Mexico
                > >
                > > American Association of Variable Star
                > > Observers (AAVSO): KTC http://www.aavso.org/
                > > -------------------------------------------
                > >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                > =======
                > Email scanned by PC Tools - No viruses or spyware found.
                > (Email Guard: 7.0.0.21, Virus/Spyware Database: 6.17640)
                > http://www.pctools.com
                > =======
                >
                >
                >
                > =======
                > Email scanned by PC Tools - No viruses or spyware found.
                > (Email Guard: 7.0.0.21, Virus/Spyware Database: 6.17640)
                > http://www.pctools.com/
                > =======
                >
                >
                > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                >
              • Rod Mollise
                People have done this with the LX200. However, with the mount at a great an inaccessible distance away, I d want one designed for this. Like the Bisque mounts.
                Message 7 of 29 , Jun 2, 2011
                  People have done this with the LX200. However, with the mount at a great an
                  inaccessible distance away, I'd want one designed for this. Like the Bisque
                  mounts.


                  Peace,
                  Rod Mollise
                  Rod's new book:
                  _Choosing and Using a New CAT_
                  Time to waste? Waste it with Uncle Rod's Astro Blog:

                  http://uncle-rods.blogspot.com/





                  -----Original Message-----
                  From: Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com
                  [mailto:Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Andy Eskelson
                  Sent: Wednesday, June 01, 2011 7:44 PM
                  To: Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com
                  Subject: Re: [MeadeUncensored] LX-200 GPS - remote and robotic?

                  A UPS would be one part of such a system, but it would not be the sort
                  of thing that you pick up in a PC store... Note that this question is
                  for controlling and monitoring something 1000 miles away. A very
                  different kettle of fish.

                  As an example, I have a small UPS here at home, when it goes flat, it
                  switches off. The ONLY want to power it up is to press the button on the
                  front panel. Not something that is easy to do from 1000 miles away.


                  Yes I know we could use a R/C servo with a link arm and so on to
                  operat the button ... :-))


                  Likewise, if you have a computer, and you power cycle the mains
                  remotely, some machines need the front panel switch to be pressed before
                  they will start. Some you can set to start up on via the bios - yet
                  another thing to check. You include anything with a power button into
                  this list...

                  The more you think about this sort of requirement, the more you will
                  find that it is NOT simple. I don't envy anyone doing this who is
                  starting from scratch.




                  Andy




                  On Wed, 1 Jun 2011 15:36:56 -0400
                  "Jim S" <jimstan@...> wrote:

                  > Has anybody mentioned a "Non-Interruptable Power supply" ? The heavier
                  duty ones can provide power for a fair amount of time.
                  >
                  > Jim
                  >
                  >
                  > ----- Original Message -----
                  > From: Andy Eskelson
                  > To: Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com
                  > Sent: Wednesday, June 01, 2011 12:40 PM
                  > Subject: Re: [MeadeUncensored] LX-200 GPS - remote and robotic?
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > Forget trying to modify the telescope computer system.
                  >
                  > You first need a bomb-proof fully watch-dogged controller, and even then
                  > you may need to consider some way to reset that! (dial up control system
                  > perhaps)
                  >
                  > Once you have such a controller, you can the use that to do most if not
                  > all of the setup/control issues.
                  >
                  > Limit switches and such like are bits of metal bolted onto the mount at
                  > certain locations that will operate switches to which you need to
                  > respond.
                  >
                  > As a fail-safe you can use two switches, one to the controller, and a
                  > second that will cut the power to the mount is the controller does not
                  > respond. Obviously the controller needs to be able to reset the power.
                  >
                  > For position setting, another set of switches that are activated as the
                  > scope moves, prob. better to be opto-switches as you can set these to be
                  > more precise. That can get the scope pointing in roughly the right
                  > direction.
                  >
                  > If you have a network connection to the observatory then you could
                  > consider a webcam looking at a target on the wall somewhere, with a
                  > laser pointer bolted to the scope, so you could use that to centre the
                  > scope more precisely.
                  >
                  > If you intend to use any "standard" type computers at the remote site,
                  > they must all be coupled into the main controller and you need to be
                  > able to shut them down cleanly if possible, restart them, and also
                  > power cycle them. That includes stand alone computers, network modems,
                  > routers, hubs and switches as well as the telescope.
                  >
                  > True remote control is not easy, and it takes a huge amount of thought
                  > and effort to get right. As such it's not a cheap thing to do.
                  > I'v done some remote systems years ago, not telescopes, but remote TV
                  > outside broadcast reception points and that was not easy. The overseas
                  > shortwave transmitters were even harder, with many things duplicated.
                  >
                  > So take a lot more advice on this sort of thing, perhaps some of the
                  > existing remote observatories may have some technical descriptions of
                  how
                  > they do things.
                  >
                  > If you can find someone fairly local to the remote site to provide some
                  > "helping hands" in times of dire emergency, that would be worth their
                  > weight in gold...
                  >
                  > Andy
                  >
                  > On Wed, 01 Jun 2011 15:37:17 -0000
                  > "Tom" <tom_krajci@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > > I'm looking into the possibility of making an LX-200 GPS a remote and
                  robotic rig - and I know it will require some modifications. (It's easy to
                  make an LX-200 work in the back yard because you're there to fix it...but
                  1,000 miles away?)
                  > >
                  > > Yes, the rig will work just fine if the mount never has a run away
                  slew to infinity, and the power is never interrupted, and the mount never
                  loses position info.
                  > >
                  > > But that's what Murphy's Law is all about...
                  > >
                  > > What mods do I need for:
                  > >
                  > > - limit switches to stop mount motion if if tries to move past 'safe
                  limits' (e.g. +/- 7 hours from the meridian, -45 Declination, and a few
                  degrees beyond the north pole)
                  > >
                  > > - a way to allow the mount to find home after power up from a
                  cold/dumb start (equatorially mounted, not alt-az)...or at least pointing
                  'assistance' to allow a remote user to get the mount to a known/reasonably
                  accurate pointing state.
                  > >
                  > > - anything else that will provide safety/fail-safe features, and good
                  pointing info
                  > >
                  > >
                  > > As one example - it's easy to rig up limit switches to kill power and
                  stop the mount...but now the mount is a dumb rock and it's lost position
                  info. Are there connections/pins/jacks in the LX-200 wiring/circuitry that
                  allow adding limit switches to disable mount motion, but keep mount power,
                  and retain pointing info? (That sounds like a more elegant solution.)
                  > >
                  > > Thanks in advance.
                  > >
                  > > --
                  > > -------------------------------------------
                  > > Tom Krajci
                  > > Cloudcroft, New Mexico
                  > > http://picasaweb.google.com/tom.krajci
                  > >
                  > > Center for Backyard Astrophysics (CBA)
                  > > http://cbastro.org/ CBA New Mexico
                  > >
                  > > American Association of Variable Star
                  > > Observers (AAVSO): KTC http://www.aavso.org/
                  > > -------------------------------------------
                  > >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > =======
                  > Email scanned by PC Tools - No viruses or spyware found.
                  > (Email Guard: 7.0.0.21, Virus/Spyware Database: 6.17640)
                  > http://www.pctools.com
                  > =======
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > =======
                  > Email scanned by PC Tools - No viruses or spyware found.
                  > (Email Guard: 7.0.0.21, Virus/Spyware Database: 6.17640)
                  > http://www.pctools.com/
                  > =======
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                  > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  >


                  ------------------------------------

                  Yahoo! Groups Links
                • Tom
                  ... Who? How? What results? What lessons learned? Specifics, please. -- ... Tom Krajci Cloudcroft, New Mexico http://picasaweb.google.com/tom.krajci Center
                  Message 8 of 29 , Jun 2, 2011
                    --- In Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com, "Rod Mollise" <rmollise@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > People have done this with the LX200.

                    Who? How? What results? What lessons learned?

                    Specifics, please.

                    --
                    -------------------------------------------
                    Tom Krajci
                    Cloudcroft, New Mexico
                    http://picasaweb.google.com/tom.krajci

                    Center for Backyard Astrophysics (CBA)
                    http://cbastro.org/ CBA New Mexico

                    American Association of Variable Star
                    Observers (AAVSO): KTC http://www.aavso.org/
                    -------------------------------------------
                  • gjwcac
                    The electronics and software are just one consideration in setting up a remote/robotic observatory. When I visited Rancho Hidalgo last February, the owner gave
                    Message 9 of 29 , Jun 2, 2011
                      The electronics and software are just one consideration in setting up a remote/robotic observatory. When I visited Rancho Hidalgo last February, the owner gave me a tour of the remote observatories operated by Celestron and Astronomy magazine. These are ROR buildings equipped with automated openers that roll back the roof panel, and they have the latest telescope mounts and equipment installed. What did I see when the door was opened? A thick layer of gritty dust covering everything, including the optics of some large and expensive telescopes!

                      IMO, a fully automated, remote, and unattended observatory is just a pipe dream. Absent a NASA budget, there is no practical way to run a complex installation like these without regular maintenance, and that requires on-site human interaction.

                      Jim M.

                      --- In Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com, Andy Eskelson <andyyahoo@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > Forget trying to modify the telescope computer system.
                      >
                      > You first need a bomb-proof fully watch-dogged controller, and even then
                      > you may need to consider some way to reset that! (dial up control system
                      > perhaps)
                      >
                      > Once you have such a controller, you can the use that to do most if not
                      > all of the setup/control issues.
                      >
                      > Limit switches and such like are bits of metal bolted onto the mount at
                      > certain locations that will operate switches to which you need to
                      > respond.
                      >
                      > As a fail-safe you can use two switches, one to the controller, and a
                      > second that will cut the power to the mount is the controller does not
                      > respond. Obviously the controller needs to be able to reset the power.
                      >
                      > For position setting, another set of switches that are activated as the
                      > scope moves, prob. better to be opto-switches as you can set these to be
                      > more precise. That can get the scope pointing in roughly the right
                      > direction.
                      >
                      > If you have a network connection to the observatory then you could
                      > consider a webcam looking at a target on the wall somewhere, with a
                      > laser pointer bolted to the scope, so you could use that to centre the
                      > scope more precisely.
                      >
                      > If you intend to use any "standard" type computers at the remote site,
                      > they must all be coupled into the main controller and you need to be
                      > able to shut them down cleanly if possible, restart them, and also
                      > power cycle them. That includes stand alone computers, network modems,
                      > routers, hubs and switches as well as the telescope.
                      >
                      >
                      > True remote control is not easy, and it takes a huge amount of thought
                      > and effort to get right. As such it's not a cheap thing to do.
                      > I'v done some remote systems years ago, not telescopes, but remote TV
                      > outside broadcast reception points and that was not easy. The overseas
                      > shortwave transmitters were even harder, with many things duplicated.
                      >
                      > So take a lot more advice on this sort of thing, perhaps some of the
                      > existing remote observatories may have some technical descriptions of how
                      > they do things.
                      >
                      > If you can find someone fairly local to the remote site to provide some
                      > "helping hands" in times of dire emergency, that would be worth their
                      > weight in gold...
                      >
                      >
                      > Andy
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      > On Wed, 01 Jun 2011 15:37:17 -0000
                      > "Tom" <tom_krajci@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > > I'm looking into the possibility of making an LX-200 GPS a remote and robotic rig - and I know it will require some modifications. (It's easy to make an LX-200 work in the back yard because you're there to fix it...but 1,000 miles away?)
                      > >
                      > > Yes, the rig will work just fine if the mount never has a run away slew to infinity, and the power is never interrupted, and the mount never loses position info.
                      > >
                      > > But that's what Murphy's Law is all about...
                      > >
                      > > What mods do I need for:
                      > >
                      > > - limit switches to stop mount motion if if tries to move past 'safe limits' (e.g. +/- 7 hours from the meridian, -45 Declination, and a few degrees beyond the north pole)
                      > >
                      > > - a way to allow the mount to find home after power up from a cold/dumb start (equatorially mounted, not alt-az)...or at least pointing 'assistance' to allow a remote user to get the mount to a known/reasonably accurate pointing state.
                      > >
                      > > - anything else that will provide safety/fail-safe features, and good pointing info
                      > >
                      > >
                      > > As one example - it's easy to rig up limit switches to kill power and stop the mount...but now the mount is a dumb rock and it's lost position info. Are there connections/pins/jacks in the LX-200 wiring/circuitry that allow adding limit switches to disable mount motion, but keep mount power, and retain pointing info? (That sounds like a more elegant solution.)
                      > >
                      > > Thanks in advance.
                      > >
                      > > --
                      > > -------------------------------------------
                      > > Tom Krajci
                      > > Cloudcroft, New Mexico
                      > > http://picasaweb.google.com/tom.krajci
                      > >
                      > > Center for Backyard Astrophysics (CBA)
                      > > http://cbastro.org/ CBA New Mexico
                      > >
                      > > American Association of Variable Star
                      > > Observers (AAVSO): KTC http://www.aavso.org/
                      > > -------------------------------------------
                      > >
                      >
                    • Christopher Erickson
                      Actually there are fully robotic observatories all over the world doing important science every night. There was even an international conference a few months
                      Message 10 of 29 , Jun 2, 2011
                        Actually there are fully robotic observatories all over the
                        world doing important science every night. There was even
                        an international conference a few months ago here in Hawaii
                        on the state of the art in robotic observatories, hosted by
                        the CFHT Observatory.

                        http://tfa.cfht.hawaii.edu/poc-loc.php

                        I am a consulting engineer currently supporting seven
                        robotic observatories, including two small robotic
                        observatories on the Big Island that do surveys of variable
                        young stellar objects.

                        http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/~reipurth/VYSOS/Home.html

                        One observatory uses a Software Bisque Paramount and the
                        other uses an Astro-Physics 3600 "el Capitan" mount. Of
                        the two, I greatly prefer AP's mounts.

                        Many professional observatories (of all sizes) are
                        working to migrate to full robotic operation as much as
                        possible in order to save on operating costs. The CFHT,
                        IRTF, UKIRT, UHH-36 and UH-88, all on Mauna Kea, are
                        all working to go fully robotic with weekly or monthly
                        visits for maintenance and routine procedures like
                        refilling some of the instruments with liquid nitrogen
                        (for cooling.)

                        It is certainly feasible to use an LX-200 telescope in
                        a fully robotic configuration, and without modifying the
                        scope itself. However, at any rate, the observatory
                        setup costs are not trivial and there are a lot of
                        details that must be addressed correctly before it can
                        be a success.

                        Remote control, remote monitoring, low light level web
                        cameras, remote power control, observatory open/close
                        operation, environmentals, off-grid power systems,
                        weather sensing, software/OS choices, backup systems,
                        failsafe modes, automated and manual failure recovery
                        scenarios, communications, out-of-band (OOB) backup
                        communications, periodic maintenance schedules, dark
                        frame panels, illuminated flat fields, disaster
                        recovery plans and security, to name some of the most
                        important ones that come to mind.

                        Of course back-yard and back-40 robotic observatories
                        don't have to be as elaborate but at least this
                        hopefully gives you an idea of the potential issues
                        involved.

                        If you are really serious about setting up a robotic
                        observatory I can talk to you further off-list, if you
                        wish.

                        -Christopher Erickson
                        Consulting Engineer
                        Summit Kinetics
                        Waikoloa, Hawaii
                        www.summitkinetics.com



                        > -----Original Message-----
                        > From: Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com
                        > [mailto:Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of gjwcac
                        > Sent: Thursday, June 02, 2011 5:45 AM
                        > To: Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com
                        > Subject: Re: [MeadeUncensored] LX-200 GPS - remote and robotic?
                        >
                        > The electronics and software are just one consideration in
                        > setting up a remote/robotic observatory. When I visited
                        > Rancho Hidalgo last February, the owner gave me a tour of the
                        > remote observatories operated by Celestron and Astronomy
                        > magazine. These are ROR buildings equipped with automated
                        > openers that roll back the roof panel, and they have the
                        > latest telescope mounts and equipment installed. What did I
                        > see when the door was opened? A thick layer of gritty dust
                        > covering everything, including the optics of some large and
                        > expensive telescopes!
                        >
                        > IMO, a fully automated, remote, and unattended observatory is
                        > just a pipe dream. Absent a NASA budget, there is no
                        > practical way to run a complex installation like these
                        > without regular maintenance, and that requires on-site human
                        > interaction.
                        >
                        > Jim M.
                        >
                        > --- In Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com, Andy Eskelson
                        > <andyyahoo@...> wrote:
                        > >
                        > > Forget trying to modify the telescope computer system.
                        > >
                        > > You first need a bomb-proof fully watch-dogged controller,
                        > and even then
                        > > you may need to consider some way to reset that! (dial up
                        > control system
                        > > perhaps)
                        > >
                        > > Once you have such a controller, you can the use that to do
                        > most if not
                        > > all of the setup/control issues.
                        > >
                        > > Limit switches and such like are bits of metal bolted onto
                        > the mount at
                        > > certain locations that will operate switches to which you need to
                        > > respond.
                        > >
                        > > As a fail-safe you can use two switches, one to the
                        > controller, and a
                        > > second that will cut the power to the mount is the
                        > controller does not
                        > > respond. Obviously the controller needs to be able to reset
                        > the power.
                        > >
                        > > For position setting, another set of switches that are
                        > activated as the
                        > > scope moves, prob. better to be opto-switches as you can
                        > set these to be
                        > > more precise. That can get the scope pointing in roughly the right
                        > > direction.
                        > >
                        > > If you have a network connection to the observatory then you could
                        > > consider a webcam looking at a target on the wall somewhere, with a
                        > > laser pointer bolted to the scope, so you could use that to
                        > centre the
                        > > scope more precisely.
                        > >
                        > > If you intend to use any "standard" type computers at the
                        > remote site,
                        > > they must all be coupled into the main controller and you need to be
                        > > able to shut them down cleanly if possible, restart them, and also
                        > > power cycle them. That includes stand alone computers,
                        > network modems,
                        > > routers, hubs and switches as well as the telescope.
                        > >
                        > >
                        > > True remote control is not easy, and it takes a huge amount
                        > of thought
                        > > and effort to get right. As such it's not a cheap thing to do.
                        > > I'v done some remote systems years ago, not telescopes, but
                        > remote TV
                        > > outside broadcast reception points and that was not easy.
                        > The overseas
                        > > shortwave transmitters were even harder, with many things
                        > duplicated.
                        > >
                        > > So take a lot more advice on this sort of thing, perhaps some of the
                        > > existing remote observatories may have some technical
                        > descriptions of how
                        > > they do things.
                        > >
                        > > If you can find someone fairly local to the remote site to
                        > provide some
                        > > "helping hands" in times of dire emergency, that would be
                        > worth their
                        > > weight in gold...
                        > >
                        > >
                        > > Andy
                        > >
                        > >
                        > >
                        > >
                        > >
                        > >
                        > > On Wed, 01 Jun 2011 15:37:17 -0000
                        > > "Tom" <tom_krajci@...> wrote:
                        > >
                        > > > I'm looking into the possibility of making an LX-200 GPS
                        > a remote and robotic rig - and I know it will require some
                        > modifications. (It's easy to make an LX-200 work in the back
                        > yard because you're there to fix it...but 1,000 miles away?)
                        > > >
                        > > > Yes, the rig will work just fine if the mount never has a
                        > run away slew to infinity, and the power is never
                        > interrupted, and the mount never loses position info.
                        > > >
                        > > > But that's what Murphy's Law is all about...
                        > > >
                        > > > What mods do I need for:
                        > > >
                        > > > - limit switches to stop mount motion if if tries to move
                        > past 'safe limits' (e.g. +/- 7 hours from the meridian, -45
                        > Declination, and a few degrees beyond the north pole)
                        > > >
                        > > > - a way to allow the mount to find home after power up
                        > from a cold/dumb start (equatorially mounted, not
                        > alt-az)...or at least pointing 'assistance' to allow a remote
                        > user to get the mount to a known/reasonably accurate pointing state.
                        > > >
                        > > > - anything else that will provide safety/fail-safe
                        > features, and good pointing info
                        > > >
                        > > >
                        > > > As one example - it's easy to rig up limit switches to
                        > kill power and stop the mount...but now the mount is a dumb
                        > rock and it's lost position info. Are there
                        > connections/pins/jacks in the LX-200 wiring/circuitry that
                        > allow adding limit switches to disable mount motion, but keep
                        > mount power, and retain pointing info? (That sounds like a
                        > more elegant solution.)
                        > > >
                        > > > Thanks in advance.
                        > > >
                        > > > --
                        > > > -------------------------------------------
                        > > > Tom Krajci
                        > > > Cloudcroft, New Mexico
                        > > > http://picasaweb.google.com/tom.krajci
                        > > >
                        > > > Center for Backyard Astrophysics (CBA)
                        > > > http://cbastro.org/ CBA New Mexico
                        > > >
                        > > > American Association of Variable Star
                        > > > Observers (AAVSO): KTC http://www.aavso.org/
                        > > > -------------------------------------------
                        > > >
                        > >
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        > ------------------------------------
                        >
                        > Yahoo! Groups Links
                        >
                        >
                        >
                      • gjwcac
                        I m sure there are many professional robotic observatories operating satisfactorily. Does that mean it makes any sense for an average amateur to set up and
                        Message 11 of 29 , Jun 2, 2011
                          I'm sure there are many professional robotic observatories operating satisfactorily. Does that mean it makes any sense for an average amateur to set up and operate a remote system, unattended, especially one that is located hundreds or thousands of miles away from home? The key word here is unattended.

                          Jim M.


                          --- In Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com, "Christopher Erickson" <christopher.k.erickson@...> wrote:
                          >
                          > Actually there are fully robotic observatories all over the
                          > world doing important science every night. There was even
                          > an international conference a few months ago here in Hawaii
                          > on the state of the art in robotic observatories, hosted by
                          > the CFHT Observatory.
                          >
                          > http://tfa.cfht.hawaii.edu/poc-loc.php
                          >
                          > I am a consulting engineer currently supporting seven
                          > robotic observatories, including two small robotic
                          > observatories on the Big Island that do surveys of variable
                          > young stellar objects.
                          >
                          > http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/~reipurth/VYSOS/Home.html
                          >
                          > One observatory uses a Software Bisque Paramount and the
                          > other uses an Astro-Physics 3600 "el Capitan" mount. Of
                          > the two, I greatly prefer AP's mounts.
                          >
                          > Many professional observatories (of all sizes) are
                          > working to migrate to full robotic operation as much as
                          > possible in order to save on operating costs. The CFHT,
                          > IRTF, UKIRT, UHH-36 and UH-88, all on Mauna Kea, are
                          > all working to go fully robotic with weekly or monthly
                          > visits for maintenance and routine procedures like
                          > refilling some of the instruments with liquid nitrogen
                          > (for cooling.)
                          >
                          > It is certainly feasible to use an LX-200 telescope in
                          > a fully robotic configuration, and without modifying the
                          > scope itself. However, at any rate, the observatory
                          > setup costs are not trivial and there are a lot of
                          > details that must be addressed correctly before it can
                          > be a success.
                          >
                          > Remote control, remote monitoring, low light level web
                          > cameras, remote power control, observatory open/close
                          > operation, environmentals, off-grid power systems,
                          > weather sensing, software/OS choices, backup systems,
                          > failsafe modes, automated and manual failure recovery
                          > scenarios, communications, out-of-band (OOB) backup
                          > communications, periodic maintenance schedules, dark
                          > frame panels, illuminated flat fields, disaster
                          > recovery plans and security, to name some of the most
                          > important ones that come to mind.
                          >
                          > Of course back-yard and back-40 robotic observatories
                          > don't have to be as elaborate but at least this
                          > hopefully gives you an idea of the potential issues
                          > involved.
                          >
                          > If you are really serious about setting up a robotic
                          > observatory I can talk to you further off-list, if you
                          > wish.
                          >
                          > -Christopher Erickson
                          > Consulting Engineer
                          > Summit Kinetics
                          > Waikoloa, Hawaii
                          > www.summitkinetics.com
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          > > -----Original Message-----
                          > > From: Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com
                          > > [mailto:Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of gjwcac
                          > > Sent: Thursday, June 02, 2011 5:45 AM
                          > > To: Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com
                          > > Subject: Re: [MeadeUncensored] LX-200 GPS - remote and robotic?
                          > >
                          > > The electronics and software are just one consideration in
                          > > setting up a remote/robotic observatory. When I visited
                          > > Rancho Hidalgo last February, the owner gave me a tour of the
                          > > remote observatories operated by Celestron and Astronomy
                          > > magazine. These are ROR buildings equipped with automated
                          > > openers that roll back the roof panel, and they have the
                          > > latest telescope mounts and equipment installed. What did I
                          > > see when the door was opened? A thick layer of gritty dust
                          > > covering everything, including the optics of some large and
                          > > expensive telescopes!
                          > >
                          > > IMO, a fully automated, remote, and unattended observatory is
                          > > just a pipe dream. Absent a NASA budget, there is no
                          > > practical way to run a complex installation like these
                          > > without regular maintenance, and that requires on-site human
                          > > interaction.
                          > >
                          > > Jim M.
                          > >
                          > > --- In Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com, Andy Eskelson
                          > > <andyyahoo@> wrote:
                          > > >
                          > > > Forget trying to modify the telescope computer system.
                          > > >
                          > > > You first need a bomb-proof fully watch-dogged controller,
                          > > and even then
                          > > > you may need to consider some way to reset that! (dial up
                          > > control system
                          > > > perhaps)
                          > > >
                          > > > Once you have such a controller, you can the use that to do
                          > > most if not
                          > > > all of the setup/control issues.
                          > > >
                          > > > Limit switches and such like are bits of metal bolted onto
                          > > the mount at
                          > > > certain locations that will operate switches to which you need to
                          > > > respond.
                          > > >
                          > > > As a fail-safe you can use two switches, one to the
                          > > controller, and a
                          > > > second that will cut the power to the mount is the
                          > > controller does not
                          > > > respond. Obviously the controller needs to be able to reset
                          > > the power.
                          > > >
                          > > > For position setting, another set of switches that are
                          > > activated as the
                          > > > scope moves, prob. better to be opto-switches as you can
                          > > set these to be
                          > > > more precise. That can get the scope pointing in roughly the right
                          > > > direction.
                          > > >
                          > > > If you have a network connection to the observatory then you could
                          > > > consider a webcam looking at a target on the wall somewhere, with a
                          > > > laser pointer bolted to the scope, so you could use that to
                          > > centre the
                          > > > scope more precisely.
                          > > >
                          > > > If you intend to use any "standard" type computers at the
                          > > remote site,
                          > > > they must all be coupled into the main controller and you need to be
                          > > > able to shut them down cleanly if possible, restart them, and also
                          > > > power cycle them. That includes stand alone computers,
                          > > network modems,
                          > > > routers, hubs and switches as well as the telescope.
                          > > >
                          > > >
                          > > > True remote control is not easy, and it takes a huge amount
                          > > of thought
                          > > > and effort to get right. As such it's not a cheap thing to do.
                          > > > I'v done some remote systems years ago, not telescopes, but
                          > > remote TV
                          > > > outside broadcast reception points and that was not easy.
                          > > The overseas
                          > > > shortwave transmitters were even harder, with many things
                          > > duplicated.
                          > > >
                          > > > So take a lot more advice on this sort of thing, perhaps some of the
                          > > > existing remote observatories may have some technical
                          > > descriptions of how
                          > > > they do things.
                          > > >
                          > > > If you can find someone fairly local to the remote site to
                          > > provide some
                          > > > "helping hands" in times of dire emergency, that would be
                          > > worth their
                          > > > weight in gold...
                          > > >
                          > > >
                          > > > Andy
                          > > >
                          > > >
                          > > >
                          > > >
                          > > >
                          > > >
                          > > > On Wed, 01 Jun 2011 15:37:17 -0000
                          > > > "Tom" <tom_krajci@> wrote:
                          > > >
                          > > > > I'm looking into the possibility of making an LX-200 GPS
                          > > a remote and robotic rig - and I know it will require some
                          > > modifications. (It's easy to make an LX-200 work in the back
                          > > yard because you're there to fix it...but 1,000 miles away?)
                          > > > >
                          > > > > Yes, the rig will work just fine if the mount never has a
                          > > run away slew to infinity, and the power is never
                          > > interrupted, and the mount never loses position info.
                          > > > >
                          > > > > But that's what Murphy's Law is all about...
                          > > > >
                          > > > > What mods do I need for:
                          > > > >
                          > > > > - limit switches to stop mount motion if if tries to move
                          > > past 'safe limits' (e.g. +/- 7 hours from the meridian, -45
                          > > Declination, and a few degrees beyond the north pole)
                          > > > >
                          > > > > - a way to allow the mount to find home after power up
                          > > from a cold/dumb start (equatorially mounted, not
                          > > alt-az)...or at least pointing 'assistance' to allow a remote
                          > > user to get the mount to a known/reasonably accurate pointing state.
                          > > > >
                          > > > > - anything else that will provide safety/fail-safe
                          > > features, and good pointing info
                          > > > >
                          > > > >
                          > > > > As one example - it's easy to rig up limit switches to
                          > > kill power and stop the mount...but now the mount is a dumb
                          > > rock and it's lost position info. Are there
                          > > connections/pins/jacks in the LX-200 wiring/circuitry that
                          > > allow adding limit switches to disable mount motion, but keep
                          > > mount power, and retain pointing info? (That sounds like a
                          > > more elegant solution.)
                          > > > >
                          > > > > Thanks in advance.
                          > > > >
                          > > > > --
                          > > > > -------------------------------------------
                          > > > > Tom Krajci
                          > > > > Cloudcroft, New Mexico
                          > > > > http://picasaweb.google.com/tom.krajci
                          > > > >
                          > > > > Center for Backyard Astrophysics (CBA)
                          > > > > http://cbastro.org/ CBA New Mexico
                          > > > >
                          > > > > American Association of Variable Star
                          > > > > Observers (AAVSO): KTC http://www.aavso.org/
                          > > > > -------------------------------------------
                          > > > >
                          > > >
                          > >
                          > >
                          > >
                          > >
                          > > ------------------------------------
                          > >
                          > > Yahoo! Groups Links
                          > >
                          > >
                          > >
                          >
                        • Christopher Erickson
                          Amateurs are doing it too. http://www.global-rent-a-scope.com Of course each individual has to decide if the expense and trouble worth it to them. -Christopher
                          Message 12 of 29 , Jun 2, 2011
                            Amateurs are doing it too.

                            http://www.global-rent-a-scope.com

                            Of course each individual has to decide if the expense and
                            trouble worth it to them.

                            -Christopher Erickson



                            > -----Original Message-----
                            > From: Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com
                            > [mailto:Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of gjwcac
                            > Sent: Thursday, June 02, 2011 9:15 AM
                            > To: Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com
                            > Subject: Re: [MeadeUncensored] LX-200 GPS - remote and robotic?
                            >
                            > I'm sure there are many professional robotic observatories
                            > operating satisfactorily. Does that mean it makes any sense
                            > for an average amateur to set up and operate a remote system,
                            > unattended, especially one that is located hundreds or
                            > thousands of miles away from home? The key word here is unattended.
                            >
                            > Jim M.
                            >
                            >
                            > --- In Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com, "Christopher
                            > Erickson" <christopher.k.erickson@...> wrote:
                            > >
                            > > Actually there are fully robotic observatories all over the
                            > > world doing important science every night. There was even
                            > > an international conference a few months ago here in Hawaii
                            > > on the state of the art in robotic observatories, hosted by
                            > > the CFHT Observatory.
                            > >
                            > > http://tfa.cfht.hawaii.edu/poc-loc.php
                            > >
                            > > I am a consulting engineer currently supporting seven
                            > > robotic observatories, including two small robotic
                            > > observatories on the Big Island that do surveys of variable
                            > > young stellar objects.
                            > >
                            > > http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/~reipurth/VYSOS/Home.html
                            > >
                            > > One observatory uses a Software Bisque Paramount and the
                            > > other uses an Astro-Physics 3600 "el Capitan" mount. Of
                            > > the two, I greatly prefer AP's mounts.
                            > >
                            > > Many professional observatories (of all sizes) are
                            > > working to migrate to full robotic operation as much as
                            > > possible in order to save on operating costs. The CFHT,
                            > > IRTF, UKIRT, UHH-36 and UH-88, all on Mauna Kea, are
                            > > all working to go fully robotic with weekly or monthly
                            > > visits for maintenance and routine procedures like
                            > > refilling some of the instruments with liquid nitrogen
                            > > (for cooling.)
                            > >
                            > > It is certainly feasible to use an LX-200 telescope in
                            > > a fully robotic configuration, and without modifying the
                            > > scope itself. However, at any rate, the observatory
                            > > setup costs are not trivial and there are a lot of
                            > > details that must be addressed correctly before it can
                            > > be a success.
                            > >
                            > > Remote control, remote monitoring, low light level web
                            > > cameras, remote power control, observatory open/close
                            > > operation, environmentals, off-grid power systems,
                            > > weather sensing, software/OS choices, backup systems,
                            > > failsafe modes, automated and manual failure recovery
                            > > scenarios, communications, out-of-band (OOB) backup
                            > > communications, periodic maintenance schedules, dark
                            > > frame panels, illuminated flat fields, disaster
                            > > recovery plans and security, to name some of the most
                            > > important ones that come to mind.
                            > >
                            > > Of course back-yard and back-40 robotic observatories
                            > > don't have to be as elaborate but at least this
                            > > hopefully gives you an idea of the potential issues
                            > > involved.
                            > >
                            > > If you are really serious about setting up a robotic
                            > > observatory I can talk to you further off-list, if you
                            > > wish.
                            > >
                            > > -Christopher Erickson
                            > > Consulting Engineer
                            > > Summit Kinetics
                            > > Waikoloa, Hawaii
                            > > www.summitkinetics.com
                            > >
                            > >
                            > >
                            > > > -----Original Message-----
                            > > > From: Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com
                            > > > [mailto:Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of gjwcac
                            > > > Sent: Thursday, June 02, 2011 5:45 AM
                            > > > To: Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com
                            > > > Subject: Re: [MeadeUncensored] LX-200 GPS - remote and robotic?
                            > > >
                            > > > The electronics and software are just one consideration in
                            > > > setting up a remote/robotic observatory. When I visited
                            > > > Rancho Hidalgo last February, the owner gave me a tour of the
                            > > > remote observatories operated by Celestron and Astronomy
                            > > > magazine. These are ROR buildings equipped with automated
                            > > > openers that roll back the roof panel, and they have the
                            > > > latest telescope mounts and equipment installed. What did I
                            > > > see when the door was opened? A thick layer of gritty dust
                            > > > covering everything, including the optics of some large and
                            > > > expensive telescopes!
                            > > >
                            > > > IMO, a fully automated, remote, and unattended observatory is
                            > > > just a pipe dream. Absent a NASA budget, there is no
                            > > > practical way to run a complex installation like these
                            > > > without regular maintenance, and that requires on-site human
                            > > > interaction.
                            > > >
                            > > > Jim M.
                            > > >
                            > > > --- In Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com, Andy Eskelson
                            > > > <andyyahoo@> wrote:
                            > > > >
                            > > > > Forget trying to modify the telescope computer system.
                            > > > >
                            > > > > You first need a bomb-proof fully watch-dogged controller,
                            > > > and even then
                            > > > > you may need to consider some way to reset that! (dial up
                            > > > control system
                            > > > > perhaps)
                            > > > >
                            > > > > Once you have such a controller, you can the use that to do
                            > > > most if not
                            > > > > all of the setup/control issues.
                            > > > >
                            > > > > Limit switches and such like are bits of metal bolted onto
                            > > > the mount at
                            > > > > certain locations that will operate switches to which
                            > you need to
                            > > > > respond.
                            > > > >
                            > > > > As a fail-safe you can use two switches, one to the
                            > > > controller, and a
                            > > > > second that will cut the power to the mount is the
                            > > > controller does not
                            > > > > respond. Obviously the controller needs to be able to reset
                            > > > the power.
                            > > > >
                            > > > > For position setting, another set of switches that are
                            > > > activated as the
                            > > > > scope moves, prob. better to be opto-switches as you can
                            > > > set these to be
                            > > > > more precise. That can get the scope pointing in
                            > roughly the right
                            > > > > direction.
                            > > > >
                            > > > > If you have a network connection to the observatory
                            > then you could
                            > > > > consider a webcam looking at a target on the wall
                            > somewhere, with a
                            > > > > laser pointer bolted to the scope, so you could use that to
                            > > > centre the
                            > > > > scope more precisely.
                            > > > >
                            > > > > If you intend to use any "standard" type computers at the
                            > > > remote site,
                            > > > > they must all be coupled into the main controller and
                            > you need to be
                            > > > > able to shut them down cleanly if possible, restart
                            > them, and also
                            > > > > power cycle them. That includes stand alone computers,
                            > > > network modems,
                            > > > > routers, hubs and switches as well as the telescope.
                            > > > >
                            > > > >
                            > > > > True remote control is not easy, and it takes a huge amount
                            > > > of thought
                            > > > > and effort to get right. As such it's not a cheap thing to do.
                            > > > > I'v done some remote systems years ago, not telescopes, but
                            > > > remote TV
                            > > > > outside broadcast reception points and that was not easy.
                            > > > The overseas
                            > > > > shortwave transmitters were even harder, with many things
                            > > > duplicated.
                            > > > >
                            > > > > So take a lot more advice on this sort of thing,
                            > perhaps some of the
                            > > > > existing remote observatories may have some technical
                            > > > descriptions of how
                            > > > > they do things.
                            > > > >
                            > > > > If you can find someone fairly local to the remote site to
                            > > > provide some
                            > > > > "helping hands" in times of dire emergency, that would be
                            > > > worth their
                            > > > > weight in gold...
                            > > > >
                            > > > >
                            > > > > Andy
                            > > > >
                            > > > >
                            > > > >
                            > > > >
                            > > > >
                            > > > >
                            > > > > On Wed, 01 Jun 2011 15:37:17 -0000
                            > > > > "Tom" <tom_krajci@> wrote:
                            > > > >
                            > > > > > I'm looking into the possibility of making an LX-200 GPS
                            > > > a remote and robotic rig - and I know it will require some
                            > > > modifications. (It's easy to make an LX-200 work in the back
                            > > > yard because you're there to fix it...but 1,000 miles away?)
                            > > > > >
                            > > > > > Yes, the rig will work just fine if the mount never has a
                            > > > run away slew to infinity, and the power is never
                            > > > interrupted, and the mount never loses position info.
                            > > > > >
                            > > > > > But that's what Murphy's Law is all about...
                            > > > > >
                            > > > > > What mods do I need for:
                            > > > > >
                            > > > > > - limit switches to stop mount motion if if tries to move
                            > > > past 'safe limits' (e.g. +/- 7 hours from the meridian, -45
                            > > > Declination, and a few degrees beyond the north pole)
                            > > > > >
                            > > > > > - a way to allow the mount to find home after power up
                            > > > from a cold/dumb start (equatorially mounted, not
                            > > > alt-az)...or at least pointing 'assistance' to allow a remote
                            > > > user to get the mount to a known/reasonably accurate
                            > pointing state.
                            > > > > >
                            > > > > > - anything else that will provide safety/fail-safe
                            > > > features, and good pointing info
                            > > > > >
                            > > > > >
                            > > > > > As one example - it's easy to rig up limit switches to
                            > > > kill power and stop the mount...but now the mount is a dumb
                            > > > rock and it's lost position info. Are there
                            > > > connections/pins/jacks in the LX-200 wiring/circuitry that
                            > > > allow adding limit switches to disable mount motion, but keep
                            > > > mount power, and retain pointing info? (That sounds like a
                            > > > more elegant solution.)
                            > > > > >
                            > > > > > Thanks in advance.
                            > > > > >
                            > > > > > --
                            > > > > > -------------------------------------------
                            > > > > > Tom Krajci
                            > > > > > Cloudcroft, New Mexico
                            > > > > > http://picasaweb.google.com/tom.krajci
                            > > > > >
                            > > > > > Center for Backyard Astrophysics (CBA)
                            > > > > > http://cbastro.org/ CBA New Mexico
                            > > > > >
                            > > > > > American Association of Variable Star
                            > > > > > Observers (AAVSO): KTC http://www.aavso.org/
                            > > > > > -------------------------------------------
                            > > > > >
                            > > > >
                            > > >
                            > > >
                            > > >
                            > > >
                            > > > ------------------------------------
                            > > >
                            > > > Yahoo! Groups Links
                            > > >
                            > > >
                            > > >
                            > >
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            > ------------------------------------
                            >
                            > Yahoo! Groups Links
                            >
                            >
                            >
                          • Christopher Erickson
                            I should have added that a fully robotic observatory can potentially cost twice as much as the scope inside of it. It all depends on the choices and options.
                            Message 13 of 29 , Jun 2, 2011
                              I should have added that a fully robotic observatory can
                              potentially cost twice as much as the scope inside of it.

                              It all depends on the choices and options.

                              -Christopher Erickson


                              > -----Original Message-----
                              > From: Christopher Erickson [mailto:christopher.k.erickson@...]
                              > Sent: Thursday, June 02, 2011 10:24 AM
                              > To: 'Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com'
                              > Subject: RE: [MeadeUncensored] LX-200 GPS - remote and robotic?
                              >
                              > Amateurs are doing it too.
                              >
                              > http://www.global-rent-a-scope.com
                              >
                              > Of course each individual has to decide if the expense and
                              > trouble is worth it to them.
                              >
                              > -Christopher Erickson
                              >
                              >
                              >
                              > > -----Original Message-----
                              > > From: Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com
                              > > [mailto:Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of gjwcac
                              > > Sent: Thursday, June 02, 2011 9:15 AM
                              > > To: Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com
                              > > Subject: Re: [MeadeUncensored] LX-200 GPS - remote and robotic?
                              > >
                              > > I'm sure there are many professional robotic observatories
                              > > operating satisfactorily. Does that mean it makes any sense
                              > > for an average amateur to set up and operate a remote system,
                              > > unattended, especially one that is located hundreds or
                              > > thousands of miles away from home? The key word here is unattended.
                              > >
                              > > Jim M.
                              > >
                              > >
                              > > --- In Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com, "Christopher
                              > > Erickson" <christopher.k.erickson@...> wrote:
                              > > >
                              > > > Actually there are fully robotic observatories all over the
                              > > > world doing important science every night. There was even
                              > > > an international conference a few months ago here in Hawaii
                              > > > on the state of the art in robotic observatories, hosted by
                              > > > the CFHT Observatory.
                              > > >
                              > > > http://tfa.cfht.hawaii.edu/poc-loc.php
                              > > >
                              > > > I am a consulting engineer currently supporting seven
                              > > > robotic observatories, including two small robotic
                              > > > observatories on the Big Island that do surveys of variable
                              > > > young stellar objects.
                              > > >
                              > > > http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/~reipurth/VYSOS/Home.html
                              > > >
                              > > > One observatory uses a Software Bisque Paramount and the
                              > > > other uses an Astro-Physics 3600 "el Capitan" mount. Of
                              > > > the two, I greatly prefer AP's mounts.
                              > > >
                              > > > Many professional observatories (of all sizes) are
                              > > > working to migrate to full robotic operation as much as
                              > > > possible in order to save on operating costs. The CFHT,
                              > > > IRTF, UKIRT, UHH-36 and UH-88, all on Mauna Kea, are
                              > > > all working to go fully robotic with weekly or monthly
                              > > > visits for maintenance and routine procedures like
                              > > > refilling some of the instruments with liquid nitrogen
                              > > > (for cooling.)
                              > > >
                              > > > It is certainly feasible to use an LX-200 telescope in
                              > > > a fully robotic configuration, and without modifying the
                              > > > scope itself. However, at any rate, the observatory
                              > > > setup costs are not trivial and there are a lot of
                              > > > details that must be addressed correctly before it can
                              > > > be a success.
                              > > >
                              > > > Remote control, remote monitoring, low light level web
                              > > > cameras, remote power control, observatory open/close
                              > > > operation, environmentals, off-grid power systems,
                              > > > weather sensing, software/OS choices, backup systems,
                              > > > failsafe modes, automated and manual failure recovery
                              > > > scenarios, communications, out-of-band (OOB) backup
                              > > > communications, periodic maintenance schedules, dark
                              > > > frame panels, illuminated flat fields, disaster
                              > > > recovery plans and security, to name some of the most
                              > > > important ones that come to mind.
                              > > >
                              > > > Of course back-yard and back-40 robotic observatories
                              > > > don't have to be as elaborate but at least this
                              > > > hopefully gives you an idea of the potential issues
                              > > > involved.
                              > > >
                              > > > If you are really serious about setting up a robotic
                              > > > observatory I can talk to you further off-list, if you
                              > > > wish.
                              > > >
                              > > > -Christopher Erickson
                              > > > Consulting Engineer
                              > > > Summit Kinetics
                              > > > Waikoloa, Hawaii
                              > > > www.summitkinetics.com
                              > > >
                              > > >
                              > > >
                              > > > > -----Original Message-----
                              > > > > From: Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com
                              > > > > [mailto:Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of gjwcac
                              > > > > Sent: Thursday, June 02, 2011 5:45 AM
                              > > > > To: Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com
                              > > > > Subject: Re: [MeadeUncensored] LX-200 GPS - remote and robotic?
                              > > > >
                              > > > > The electronics and software are just one consideration in
                              > > > > setting up a remote/robotic observatory. When I visited
                              > > > > Rancho Hidalgo last February, the owner gave me a tour of the
                              > > > > remote observatories operated by Celestron and Astronomy
                              > > > > magazine. These are ROR buildings equipped with automated
                              > > > > openers that roll back the roof panel, and they have the
                              > > > > latest telescope mounts and equipment installed. What did I
                              > > > > see when the door was opened? A thick layer of gritty dust
                              > > > > covering everything, including the optics of some large and
                              > > > > expensive telescopes!
                              > > > >
                              > > > > IMO, a fully automated, remote, and unattended observatory is
                              > > > > just a pipe dream. Absent a NASA budget, there is no
                              > > > > practical way to run a complex installation like these
                              > > > > without regular maintenance, and that requires on-site human
                              > > > > interaction.
                              > > > >
                              > > > > Jim M.
                              > > > >
                              > > > > --- In Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com, Andy Eskelson
                              > > > > <andyyahoo@> wrote:
                              > > > > >
                              > > > > > Forget trying to modify the telescope computer system.
                              > > > > >
                              > > > > > You first need a bomb-proof fully watch-dogged controller,
                              > > > > and even then
                              > > > > > you may need to consider some way to reset that! (dial up
                              > > > > control system
                              > > > > > perhaps)
                              > > > > >
                              > > > > > Once you have such a controller, you can the use that to do
                              > > > > most if not
                              > > > > > all of the setup/control issues.
                              > > > > >
                              > > > > > Limit switches and such like are bits of metal bolted onto
                              > > > > the mount at
                              > > > > > certain locations that will operate switches to which
                              > > you need to
                              > > > > > respond.
                              > > > > >
                              > > > > > As a fail-safe you can use two switches, one to the
                              > > > > controller, and a
                              > > > > > second that will cut the power to the mount is the
                              > > > > controller does not
                              > > > > > respond. Obviously the controller needs to be able to reset
                              > > > > the power.
                              > > > > >
                              > > > > > For position setting, another set of switches that are
                              > > > > activated as the
                              > > > > > scope moves, prob. better to be opto-switches as you can
                              > > > > set these to be
                              > > > > > more precise. That can get the scope pointing in
                              > > roughly the right
                              > > > > > direction.
                              > > > > >
                              > > > > > If you have a network connection to the observatory
                              > > then you could
                              > > > > > consider a webcam looking at a target on the wall
                              > > somewhere, with a
                              > > > > > laser pointer bolted to the scope, so you could use that to
                              > > > > centre the
                              > > > > > scope more precisely.
                              > > > > >
                              > > > > > If you intend to use any "standard" type computers at the
                              > > > > remote site,
                              > > > > > they must all be coupled into the main controller and
                              > > you need to be
                              > > > > > able to shut them down cleanly if possible, restart
                              > > them, and also
                              > > > > > power cycle them. That includes stand alone computers,
                              > > > > network modems,
                              > > > > > routers, hubs and switches as well as the telescope.
                              > > > > >
                              > > > > >
                              > > > > > True remote control is not easy, and it takes a huge amount
                              > > > > of thought
                              > > > > > and effort to get right. As such it's not a cheap
                              > thing to do.
                              > > > > > I'v done some remote systems years ago, not telescopes, but
                              > > > > remote TV
                              > > > > > outside broadcast reception points and that was not easy.
                              > > > > The overseas
                              > > > > > shortwave transmitters were even harder, with many things
                              > > > > duplicated.
                              > > > > >
                              > > > > > So take a lot more advice on this sort of thing,
                              > > perhaps some of the
                              > > > > > existing remote observatories may have some technical
                              > > > > descriptions of how
                              > > > > > they do things.
                              > > > > >
                              > > > > > If you can find someone fairly local to the remote site to
                              > > > > provide some
                              > > > > > "helping hands" in times of dire emergency, that would be
                              > > > > worth their
                              > > > > > weight in gold...
                              > > > > >
                              > > > > >
                              > > > > > Andy
                              > > > > >
                              > > > > >
                              > > > > >
                              > > > > >
                              > > > > >
                              > > > > >
                              > > > > > On Wed, 01 Jun 2011 15:37:17 -0000
                              > > > > > "Tom" <tom_krajci@> wrote:
                              > > > > >
                              > > > > > > I'm looking into the possibility of making an LX-200 GPS
                              > > > > a remote and robotic rig - and I know it will require some
                              > > > > modifications. (It's easy to make an LX-200 work in the back
                              > > > > yard because you're there to fix it...but 1,000 miles away?)
                              > > > > > >
                              > > > > > > Yes, the rig will work just fine if the mount never has a
                              > > > > run away slew to infinity, and the power is never
                              > > > > interrupted, and the mount never loses position info.
                              > > > > > >
                              > > > > > > But that's what Murphy's Law is all about...
                              > > > > > >
                              > > > > > > What mods do I need for:
                              > > > > > >
                              > > > > > > - limit switches to stop mount motion if if tries to move
                              > > > > past 'safe limits' (e.g. +/- 7 hours from the meridian, -45
                              > > > > Declination, and a few degrees beyond the north pole)
                              > > > > > >
                              > > > > > > - a way to allow the mount to find home after power up
                              > > > > from a cold/dumb start (equatorially mounted, not
                              > > > > alt-az)...or at least pointing 'assistance' to allow a remote
                              > > > > user to get the mount to a known/reasonably accurate
                              > > pointing state.
                              > > > > > >
                              > > > > > > - anything else that will provide safety/fail-safe
                              > > > > features, and good pointing info
                              > > > > > >
                              > > > > > >
                              > > > > > > As one example - it's easy to rig up limit switches to
                              > > > > kill power and stop the mount...but now the mount is a dumb
                              > > > > rock and it's lost position info. Are there
                              > > > > connections/pins/jacks in the LX-200 wiring/circuitry that
                              > > > > allow adding limit switches to disable mount motion, but keep
                              > > > > mount power, and retain pointing info? (That sounds like a
                              > > > > more elegant solution.)
                              > > > > > >
                              > > > > > > Thanks in advance.
                              > > > > > >
                              > > > > > > --
                              > > > > > > -------------------------------------------
                              > > > > > > Tom Krajci
                              > > > > > > Cloudcroft, New Mexico
                              > > > > > > http://picasaweb.google.com/tom.krajci
                              > > > > > >
                              > > > > > > Center for Backyard Astrophysics (CBA)
                              > > > > > > http://cbastro.org/ CBA New Mexico
                              > > > > > >
                              > > > > > > American Association of Variable Star
                              > > > > > > Observers (AAVSO): KTC http://www.aavso.org/
                              > > > > > > -------------------------------------------
                              > > > > > >
                              > > > > >
                              > > > >
                              > > > >
                              > > > >
                              > > > >
                              > > > > ------------------------------------
                              > > > >
                              > > > > Yahoo! Groups Links
                              > > > >
                              > > > >
                              > > > >
                              > > >
                              > >
                              > >
                              > >
                              > >
                              > > ------------------------------------
                              > >
                              > > Yahoo! Groups Links
                              > >
                              > >
                              > >
                              >
                            • gjwcac
                              That setup is the storefront of a business, one that sells time on telescopes. Are you claiming the facility is unattended with no one on site to check and
                              Message 14 of 29 , Jun 2, 2011
                                That setup is the storefront of a business, one that sells time on telescopes. Are you claiming the facility is unattended with no one on site to check and maintain the equipment?

                                Jim M.


                                --- In Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com, "Christopher Erickson" <christopher.k.erickson@...> wrote:
                                >
                                > Amateurs are doing it too.
                                >
                                > http://www.global-rent-a-scope.com
                                >
                                > Of course each individual has to decide if the expense and
                                > trouble worth it to them.
                                >
                                > -Christopher Erickson
                                >
                                >
                                >
                                > > -----Original Message-----
                                > > From: Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com
                                > > [mailto:Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of gjwcac
                                > > Sent: Thursday, June 02, 2011 9:15 AM
                                > > To: Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com
                                > > Subject: Re: [MeadeUncensored] LX-200 GPS - remote and robotic?
                                > >
                                > > I'm sure there are many professional robotic observatories
                                > > operating satisfactorily. Does that mean it makes any sense
                                > > for an average amateur to set up and operate a remote system,
                                > > unattended, especially one that is located hundreds or
                                > > thousands of miles away from home? The key word here is unattended.
                                > >
                                > > Jim M.
                                > >
                                > >
                                > > --- In Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com, "Christopher
                                > > Erickson" <christopher.k.erickson@> wrote:
                                > > >
                                > > > Actually there are fully robotic observatories all over the
                                > > > world doing important science every night. There was even
                                > > > an international conference a few months ago here in Hawaii
                                > > > on the state of the art in robotic observatories, hosted by
                                > > > the CFHT Observatory.
                                > > >
                                > > > http://tfa.cfht.hawaii.edu/poc-loc.php
                                > > >
                                > > > I am a consulting engineer currently supporting seven
                                > > > robotic observatories, including two small robotic
                                > > > observatories on the Big Island that do surveys of variable
                                > > > young stellar objects.
                                > > >
                                > > > http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/~reipurth/VYSOS/Home.html
                                > > >
                                > > > One observatory uses a Software Bisque Paramount and the
                                > > > other uses an Astro-Physics 3600 "el Capitan" mount. Of
                                > > > the two, I greatly prefer AP's mounts.
                                > > >
                                > > > Many professional observatories (of all sizes) are
                                > > > working to migrate to full robotic operation as much as
                                > > > possible in order to save on operating costs. The CFHT,
                                > > > IRTF, UKIRT, UHH-36 and UH-88, all on Mauna Kea, are
                                > > > all working to go fully robotic with weekly or monthly
                                > > > visits for maintenance and routine procedures like
                                > > > refilling some of the instruments with liquid nitrogen
                                > > > (for cooling.)
                                > > >
                                > > > It is certainly feasible to use an LX-200 telescope in
                                > > > a fully robotic configuration, and without modifying the
                                > > > scope itself. However, at any rate, the observatory
                                > > > setup costs are not trivial and there are a lot of
                                > > > details that must be addressed correctly before it can
                                > > > be a success.
                                > > >
                                > > > Remote control, remote monitoring, low light level web
                                > > > cameras, remote power control, observatory open/close
                                > > > operation, environmentals, off-grid power systems,
                                > > > weather sensing, software/OS choices, backup systems,
                                > > > failsafe modes, automated and manual failure recovery
                                > > > scenarios, communications, out-of-band (OOB) backup
                                > > > communications, periodic maintenance schedules, dark
                                > > > frame panels, illuminated flat fields, disaster
                                > > > recovery plans and security, to name some of the most
                                > > > important ones that come to mind.
                                > > >
                                > > > Of course back-yard and back-40 robotic observatories
                                > > > don't have to be as elaborate but at least this
                                > > > hopefully gives you an idea of the potential issues
                                > > > involved.
                                > > >
                                > > > If you are really serious about setting up a robotic
                                > > > observatory I can talk to you further off-list, if you
                                > > > wish.
                                > > >
                                > > > -Christopher Erickson
                                > > > Consulting Engineer
                                > > > Summit Kinetics
                                > > > Waikoloa, Hawaii
                                > > > www.summitkinetics.com
                                > > >
                                > > >
                                > > >
                                > > > > -----Original Message-----
                                > > > > From: Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com
                                > > > > [mailto:Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of gjwcac
                                > > > > Sent: Thursday, June 02, 2011 5:45 AM
                                > > > > To: Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com
                                > > > > Subject: Re: [MeadeUncensored] LX-200 GPS - remote and robotic?
                                > > > >
                                > > > > The electronics and software are just one consideration in
                                > > > > setting up a remote/robotic observatory. When I visited
                                > > > > Rancho Hidalgo last February, the owner gave me a tour of the
                                > > > > remote observatories operated by Celestron and Astronomy
                                > > > > magazine. These are ROR buildings equipped with automated
                                > > > > openers that roll back the roof panel, and they have the
                                > > > > latest telescope mounts and equipment installed. What did I
                                > > > > see when the door was opened? A thick layer of gritty dust
                                > > > > covering everything, including the optics of some large and
                                > > > > expensive telescopes!
                                > > > >
                                > > > > IMO, a fully automated, remote, and unattended observatory is
                                > > > > just a pipe dream. Absent a NASA budget, there is no
                                > > > > practical way to run a complex installation like these
                                > > > > without regular maintenance, and that requires on-site human
                                > > > > interaction.
                                > > > >
                                > > > > Jim M.
                                > > > >
                                > > > > --- In Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com, Andy Eskelson
                                > > > > <andyyahoo@> wrote:
                                > > > > >
                                > > > > > Forget trying to modify the telescope computer system.
                                > > > > >
                                > > > > > You first need a bomb-proof fully watch-dogged controller,
                                > > > > and even then
                                > > > > > you may need to consider some way to reset that! (dial up
                                > > > > control system
                                > > > > > perhaps)
                                > > > > >
                                > > > > > Once you have such a controller, you can the use that to do
                                > > > > most if not
                                > > > > > all of the setup/control issues.
                                > > > > >
                                > > > > > Limit switches and such like are bits of metal bolted onto
                                > > > > the mount at
                                > > > > > certain locations that will operate switches to which
                                > > you need to
                                > > > > > respond.
                                > > > > >
                                > > > > > As a fail-safe you can use two switches, one to the
                                > > > > controller, and a
                                > > > > > second that will cut the power to the mount is the
                                > > > > controller does not
                                > > > > > respond. Obviously the controller needs to be able to reset
                                > > > > the power.
                                > > > > >
                                > > > > > For position setting, another set of switches that are
                                > > > > activated as the
                                > > > > > scope moves, prob. better to be opto-switches as you can
                                > > > > set these to be
                                > > > > > more precise. That can get the scope pointing in
                                > > roughly the right
                                > > > > > direction.
                                > > > > >
                                > > > > > If you have a network connection to the observatory
                                > > then you could
                                > > > > > consider a webcam looking at a target on the wall
                                > > somewhere, with a
                                > > > > > laser pointer bolted to the scope, so you could use that to
                                > > > > centre the
                                > > > > > scope more precisely.
                                > > > > >
                                > > > > > If you intend to use any "standard" type computers at the
                                > > > > remote site,
                                > > > > > they must all be coupled into the main controller and
                                > > you need to be
                                > > > > > able to shut them down cleanly if possible, restart
                                > > them, and also
                                > > > > > power cycle them. That includes stand alone computers,
                                > > > > network modems,
                                > > > > > routers, hubs and switches as well as the telescope.
                                > > > > >
                                > > > > >
                                > > > > > True remote control is not easy, and it takes a huge amount
                                > > > > of thought
                                > > > > > and effort to get right. As such it's not a cheap thing to do.
                                > > > > > I'v done some remote systems years ago, not telescopes, but
                                > > > > remote TV
                                > > > > > outside broadcast reception points and that was not easy.
                                > > > > The overseas
                                > > > > > shortwave transmitters were even harder, with many things
                                > > > > duplicated.
                                > > > > >
                                > > > > > So take a lot more advice on this sort of thing,
                                > > perhaps some of the
                                > > > > > existing remote observatories may have some technical
                                > > > > descriptions of how
                                > > > > > they do things.
                                > > > > >
                                > > > > > If you can find someone fairly local to the remote site to
                                > > > > provide some
                                > > > > > "helping hands" in times of dire emergency, that would be
                                > > > > worth their
                                > > > > > weight in gold...
                                > > > > >
                                > > > > >
                                > > > > > Andy
                                > > > > >
                                > > > > >
                                > > > > >
                                > > > > >
                                > > > > >
                                > > > > >
                                > > > > > On Wed, 01 Jun 2011 15:37:17 -0000
                                > > > > > "Tom" <tom_krajci@> wrote:
                                > > > > >
                                > > > > > > I'm looking into the possibility of making an LX-200 GPS
                                > > > > a remote and robotic rig - and I know it will require some
                                > > > > modifications. (It's easy to make an LX-200 work in the back
                                > > > > yard because you're there to fix it...but 1,000 miles away?)
                                > > > > > >
                                > > > > > > Yes, the rig will work just fine if the mount never has a
                                > > > > run away slew to infinity, and the power is never
                                > > > > interrupted, and the mount never loses position info.
                                > > > > > >
                                > > > > > > But that's what Murphy's Law is all about...
                                > > > > > >
                                > > > > > > What mods do I need for:
                                > > > > > >
                                > > > > > > - limit switches to stop mount motion if if tries to move
                                > > > > past 'safe limits' (e.g. +/- 7 hours from the meridian, -45
                                > > > > Declination, and a few degrees beyond the north pole)
                                > > > > > >
                                > > > > > > - a way to allow the mount to find home after power up
                                > > > > from a cold/dumb start (equatorially mounted, not
                                > > > > alt-az)...or at least pointing 'assistance' to allow a remote
                                > > > > user to get the mount to a known/reasonably accurate
                                > > pointing state.
                                > > > > > >
                                > > > > > > - anything else that will provide safety/fail-safe
                                > > > > features, and good pointing info
                                > > > > > >
                                > > > > > >
                                > > > > > > As one example - it's easy to rig up limit switches to
                                > > > > kill power and stop the mount...but now the mount is a dumb
                                > > > > rock and it's lost position info. Are there
                                > > > > connections/pins/jacks in the LX-200 wiring/circuitry that
                                > > > > allow adding limit switches to disable mount motion, but keep
                                > > > > mount power, and retain pointing info? (That sounds like a
                                > > > > more elegant solution.)
                                > > > > > >
                                > > > > > > Thanks in advance.
                                > > > > > >
                                > > > > > > --
                                > > > > > > -------------------------------------------
                                > > > > > > Tom Krajci
                                > > > > > > Cloudcroft, New Mexico
                                > > > > > > http://picasaweb.google.com/tom.krajci
                                > > > > > >
                                > > > > > > Center for Backyard Astrophysics (CBA)
                                > > > > > > http://cbastro.org/ CBA New Mexico
                                > > > > > >
                                > > > > > > American Association of Variable Star
                                > > > > > > Observers (AAVSO): KTC http://www.aavso.org/
                                > > > > > > -------------------------------------------
                                > > > > > >
                                > > > > >
                                > > > >
                                > > > >
                                > > > >
                                > > > >
                                > > > > ------------------------------------
                                > > > >
                                > > > > Yahoo! Groups Links
                                > > > >
                                > > > >
                                > > > >
                                > > >
                                > >
                                > >
                                > >
                                > >
                                > > ------------------------------------
                                > >
                                > > Yahoo! Groups Links
                                > >
                                > >
                                > >
                                >
                              • Christopher Erickson
                                I am claiming that although there is staff at the general facility, some of the telescopes and associated observatories are fully robotic and and are run
                                Message 15 of 29 , Jun 2, 2011
                                  I am "claiming" that although there is staff at the general facility, some of the telescopes and associated observatories are fully robotic and and are run fully remotely without intervention by facility staff.

                                  That meets the generally-accepted definition of a robotic observatory.

                                  It is perfectly acceptable if you have a different personal definition.

                                  -Sent wirelessly via Palm Treo-680 Smartphone (and a teeny tiny keyboard!)

                                  -Christopher Erickson


                                  -----Original Message-----

                                  From: "gjwcac" <trimil@...>
                                  Subj: Re: [MeadeUncensored] LX-200 GPS - remote and robotic?
                                  Date: Thu Jun 2, 2011 11:54 am
                                  Size: 2K
                                  To: Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com

                                  That setup is the storefront of a business, one that sells time on telescopes. Are you claiming the facility is unattended with no one on site to check and maintain the equipment?

                                  Jim M.


                                  --- In Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com, "Christopher Erickson" <christopher.k.erickson@...> wrote:
                                  >
                                  > Amateurs are doing it too.
                                  >
                                  > http://www.global-rent-a-scope.com
                                  >
                                  > Of course each individual has to decide if the expense and
                                  > trouble worth it to them.
                                  >
                                  > -Christopher Erickson
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >
                                  > > -----Original Message-----
                                  > > From: Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com
                                  > > [mailto:Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of gjwcac
                                  > > Sent: Thursday, June 02, 2011 9:15 AM
                                  > > To: Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com
                                  > > Subject: Re: [MeadeUncensored] LX-200 GPS - remote and robotic?
                                  > >
                                  > > I'm sure there are many professional robotic observatories
                                  > > operating satisfactorily. Does that mean it makes any sense
                                  > > for an average amateur to set up and operate a remote system,
                                  > > unattended, especially one that is located hundreds or
                                  > > thousands of miles away from home? The key word here is unattended.
                                  > >
                                  > > Jim M.
                                  > >
                                  > >
                                  > > --- In Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com, "Christopher
                                  > > Erickson" <christopher.k.erickson@> wrote:
                                  > > >
                                  > > > Actually there are fully robotic observatories all over the
                                  > > > world doing important science every night. There was even
                                  > > > an international conference a few months ago here in Hawaii
                                  > > > on the state of the art in robotic observatories, hosted by
                                  > > > the CFHT Observatory.
                                  > > >
                                  > > > http://tfa.cfht.hawaii.edu/poc-loc.php
                                  > > >
                                  > > > I am a consulting engineer currently supporting seven
                                  > > > robotic observatories, including two small robotic
                                  > > > observatories on the Big Island that do surveys of variable
                                  > > > young stellar objects.
                                  > > >
                                  > > > http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/~reipurth/VYSOS/Home.html
                                  > > >
                                  > > > One observatory uses a Software Bisque Paramount and the
                                  > > > other uses an Astro-Physics 3600 "el Capitan" mount. Of
                                  > > > the two, I greatly prefer AP's mounts.
                                  > > >
                                  > > > Many professional observatories (of all sizes) are
                                  > > > working to migrate to full robotic operation as much as
                                  > > > possible in order to save on operating costs. The CFHT,
                                  > > > IRTF, UKIRT, UHH-36 and UH-88, all on Mauna Kea, are
                                  > > > all working to go fully robotic with weekly or monthly
                                  > > > visits for maintenance and routine procedures like
                                  > > > refilling some of the instruments with liquid nitrogen
                                  > > > (for cooling.)
                                  > > >
                                  > > > It is certainly feasible to use an LX-200 telescope in
                                  > > > a fully robotic configuration, and without modifying the
                                  > > > scope itself. However, at any rate, the observatory
                                  > > > setup costs are not trivial and there are a lot of
                                  > > > details that must be addressed correctly before it can
                                  > > > be a success.
                                  > > >
                                  > > > Remote control, remote monitoring, low light level web
                                  > > > cameras, remote power control, observatory open/close
                                  > > > operation, environmentals,
                                  --- message truncated ---
                                • John Mahony
                                  Details for the new south location specify that it will have on-site support. And the N America site is at New Mexico Skies, so they would also have on-site
                                  Message 16 of 29 , Jun 2, 2011
                                    Details for the new south location specify that it will have on-site support.
                                    And the N America site is at New Mexico Skies, so they would also have on-site
                                    support there, or at least someone who could close the roof if a thunderstorm
                                    was approaching and automated systems failed.


                                    -John




                                    ----- Original Message ----
                                    > From: gjwcac <trimil@...>
                                    > To: Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com
                                    > Sent: Thu, June 2, 2011 5:54:54 PM
                                    > Subject: Re: [MeadeUncensored] LX-200 GPS - remote and robotic?
                                    >
                                    > That setup is the storefront of a business, one that sells time on telescopes.
                                    >Are you claiming the facility is unattended with no one on site to check and
                                    >maintain the equipment?
                                    >
                                    > Jim M.
                                    >
                                    >
                                    > --- In Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com, "Christopher Erickson"
                                    ><christopher.k.erickson@...> wrote:
                                    > >
                                    > > Amateurs are doing it too.
                                    > >
                                    > > http://www.global-rent-a-scope.com
                                    > >
                                    > > Of course each individual has to decide if the expense and
                                    > > trouble worth it to them.
                                    > >
                                    > > -Christopher Erickson
                                    > >
                                    > >
                                    > >
                                    > > > -----Original Message-----
                                    > > > From: Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com
                                    > > > [mailto:Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of gjwcac
                                    > > > Sent: Thursday, June 02, 2011 9:15 AM
                                    > > > To: Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com
                                    > > > Subject: Re: [MeadeUncensored] LX-200 GPS - remote and robotic?
                                    > > >
                                    > > > I'm sure there are many professional robotic observatories
                                    > > > operating satisfactorily. Does that mean it makes any sense
                                    > > > for an average amateur to set up and operate a remote system,
                                    > > > unattended, especially one that is located hundreds or
                                    > > > thousands of miles away from home? The key word here is unattended.
                                    > > >
                                    > > > Jim M.
                                    > > >
                                    > > >
                                    > > > --- In Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com, "Christopher
                                    > > > Erickson" <christopher.k.erickson@> wrote:
                                    > > > >
                                    > > > > Actually there are fully robotic observatories all over the
                                    > > > > world doing important science every night. There was even
                                    > > > > an international conference a few months ago here in Hawaii
                                    > > > > on the state of the art in robotic observatories, hosted by
                                    > > > > the CFHT Observatory.
                                    > > > >
                                    > > > > http://tfa.cfht.hawaii.edu/poc-loc.php
                                    > > > >
                                    > > > > I am a consulting engineer currently supporting seven
                                    > > > > robotic observatories, including two small robotic
                                    > > > > observatories on the Big Island that do surveys of variable
                                    > > > > young stellar objects.
                                    > > > >
                                    > > > > http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/~reipurth/VYSOS/Home.html
                                    > > > >
                                    > > > > One observatory uses a Software Bisque Paramount and the
                                    > > > > other uses an Astro-Physics 3600 "el Capitan" mount. Of
                                    > > > > the two, I greatly prefer AP's mounts.
                                    > > > >
                                    > > > > Many professional observatories (of all sizes) are
                                    > > > > working to migrate to full robotic operation as much as
                                    > > > > possible in order to save on operating costs. The CFHT,
                                    > > > > IRTF, UKIRT, UHH-36 and UH-88, all on Mauna Kea, are
                                    > > > > all working to go fully robotic with weekly or monthly
                                    > > > > visits for maintenance and routine procedures like
                                    > > > > refilling some of the instruments with liquid nitrogen
                                    > > > > (for cooling.)
                                    > > > >
                                    > > > > It is certainly feasible to use an LX-200 telescope in
                                    > > > > a fully robotic configuration, and without modifying the
                                    > > > > scope itself. However, at any rate, the observatory
                                    > > > > setup costs are not trivial and there are a lot of
                                    > > > > details that must be addressed correctly before it can
                                    > > > > be a success.
                                    > > > >
                                    > > > > Remote control, remote monitoring, low light level web
                                    > > > > cameras, remote power control, observatory open/close
                                    > > > > operation, environmentals, off-grid power systems,
                                    > > > > weather sensing, software/OS choices, backup systems,
                                    > > > > failsafe modes, automated and manual failure recovery
                                    > > > > scenarios, communications, out-of-band (OOB) backup
                                    > > > > communications, periodic maintenance schedules, dark
                                    > > > > frame panels, illuminated flat fields, disaster
                                    > > > > recovery plans and security, to name some of the most
                                    > > > > important ones that come to mind.
                                    > > > >
                                    > > > > Of course back-yard and back-40 robotic observatories
                                    > > > > don't have to be as elaborate but at least this
                                    > > > > hopefully gives you an idea of the potential issues
                                    > > > > involved.
                                    > > > >
                                    > > > > If you are really serious about setting up a robotic
                                    > > > > observatory I can talk to you further off-list, if you
                                    > > > > wish.
                                    > > > >
                                    > > > > -Christopher Erickson
                                    > > > > Consulting Engineer
                                    > > > > Summit Kinetics
                                    > > > > Waikoloa, Hawaii
                                    > > > > www.summitkinetics.com
                                    > > > >
                                    > > > >
                                    > > > >
                                    > > > > > -----Original Message-----
                                    > > > > > From: Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com
                                    > > > > > [mailto:Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of gjwcac
                                    > > > > > Sent: Thursday, June 02, 2011 5:45 AM
                                    > > > > > To: Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com
                                    > > > > > Subject: Re: [MeadeUncensored] LX-200 GPS - remote and robotic?
                                    > > > > >
                                    > > > > > The electronics and software are just one consideration in
                                    > > > > > setting up a remote/robotic observatory. When I visited
                                    > > > > > Rancho Hidalgo last February, the owner gave me a tour of the
                                    > > > > > remote observatories operated by Celestron and Astronomy
                                    > > > > > magazine. These are ROR buildings equipped with automated
                                    > > > > > openers that roll back the roof panel, and they have the
                                    > > > > > latest telescope mounts and equipment installed. What did I
                                    > > > > > see when the door was opened? A thick layer of gritty dust
                                    > > > > > covering everything, including the optics of some large and
                                    > > > > > expensive telescopes!
                                    > > > > >
                                    > > > > > IMO, a fully automated, remote, and unattended observatory is
                                    > > > > > just a pipe dream. Absent a NASA budget, there is no
                                    > > > > > practical way to run a complex installation like these
                                    > > > > > without regular maintenance, and that requires on-site human
                                    > > > > > interaction.
                                    > > > > >
                                    > > > > > Jim M.
                                    > > > > >
                                    > > > > > --- In Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com, Andy Eskelson
                                    > > > > > <andyyahoo@> wrote:
                                    > > > > > >
                                    > > > > > > Forget trying to modify the telescope computer system.
                                    > > > > > >
                                    > > > > > > You first need a bomb-proof fully watch-dogged controller,
                                    > > > > > and even then
                                    > > > > > > you may need to consider some way to reset that! (dial up
                                    > > > > > control system
                                    > > > > > > perhaps)
                                    > > > > > >
                                    > > > > > > Once you have such a controller, you can the use that to do
                                    > > > > > most if not
                                    > > > > > > all of the setup/control issues.
                                    > > > > > >
                                    > > > > > > Limit switches and such like are bits of metal bolted onto
                                    > > > > > the mount at
                                    > > > > > > certain locations that will operate switches to which
                                    > > > you need to
                                    > > > > > > respond.
                                    > > > > > >
                                    > > > > > > As a fail-safe you can use two switches, one to the
                                    > > > > > controller, and a
                                    > > > > > > second that will cut the power to the mount is the
                                    > > > > > controller does not
                                    > > > > > > respond. Obviously the controller needs to be able to reset
                                    > > > > > the power.
                                    > > > > > >
                                    > > > > > > For position setting, another set of switches that are
                                    > > > > > activated as the
                                    > > > > > > scope moves, prob. better to be opto-switches as you can
                                    > > > > > set these to be
                                    > > > > > > more precise. That can get the scope pointing in
                                    > > > roughly the right
                                    > > > > > > direction.
                                    > > > > > >
                                    > > > > > > If you have a network connection to the observatory
                                    > > > then you could
                                    > > > > > > consider a webcam looking at a target on the wall
                                    > > > somewhere, with a
                                    > > > > > > laser pointer bolted to the scope, so you could use that to
                                    > > > > > centre the
                                    > > > > > > scope more precisely.
                                    > > > > > >
                                    > > > > > > If you intend to use any "standard" type computers at the
                                    > > > > > remote site,
                                    > > > > > > they must all be coupled into the main controller and
                                    > > > you need to be
                                    > > > > > > able to shut them down cleanly if possible, restart
                                    > > > them, and also
                                    > > > > > > power cycle them. That includes stand alone computers,
                                    > > > > > network modems,
                                    > > > > > > routers, hubs and switches as well as the telescope.
                                    > > > > > >
                                    > > > > > >
                                    > > > > > > True remote control is not easy, and it takes a huge amount
                                    > > > > > of thought
                                    > > > > > > and effort to get right. As such it's not a cheap thing to do.
                                    > > > > > > I'v done some remote systems years ago, not telescopes, but
                                    > > > > > remote TV
                                    > > > > > > outside broadcast reception points and that was not easy.
                                    > > > > > The overseas
                                    > > > > > > shortwave transmitters were even harder, with many things
                                    > > > > > duplicated.
                                    > > > > > >
                                    > > > > > > So take a lot more advice on this sort of thing,
                                    > > > perhaps some of the
                                    > > > > > > existing remote observatories may have some technical
                                    > > > > > descriptions of how
                                    > > > > > > they do things.
                                    > > > > > >
                                    > > > > > > If you can find someone fairly local to the remote site to
                                    > > > > > provide some
                                    > > > > > > "helping hands" in times of dire emergency, that would be
                                    > > > > > worth their
                                    > > > > > > weight in gold...
                                    > > > > > >
                                    > > > > > >
                                    > > > > > > Andy
                                    > > > > > >
                                    > > > > > >
                                    > > > > > >
                                    > > > > > >
                                    > > > > > >
                                    > > > > > >
                                    > > > > > > On Wed, 01 Jun 2011 15:37:17 -0000
                                    > > > > > > "Tom" <tom_krajci@> wrote:
                                    > > > > > >
                                    > > > > > > > I'm looking into the possibility of making an LX-200 GPS
                                    > > > > > a remote and robotic rig - and I know it will require some
                                    > > > > > modifications. (It's easy to make an LX-200 work in the back
                                    > > > > > yard because you're there to fix it...but 1,000 miles away?)
                                    > > > > > > >
                                    > > > > > > > Yes, the rig will work just fine if the mount never has a
                                    > > > > > run away slew to infinity, and the power is never
                                    > > > > > interrupted, and the mount never loses position info.
                                    > > > > > > >
                                    > > > > > > > But that's what Murphy's Law is all about...
                                    > > > > > > >
                                    > > > > > > > What mods do I need for:
                                    > > > > > > >
                                    > > > > > > > - limit switches to stop mount motion if if tries to move
                                    > > > > > past 'safe limits' (e.g. +/- 7 hours from the meridian, -45
                                    > > > > > Declination, and a few degrees beyond the north pole)
                                    > > > > > > >
                                    > > > > > > > - a way to allow the mount to find home after power up
                                    > > > > > from a cold/dumb start (equatorially mounted, not
                                    > > > > > alt-az)...or at least pointing 'assistance' to allow a remote
                                    > > > > > user to get the mount to a known/reasonably accurate
                                    > > > pointing state.
                                    > > > > > > >
                                    > > > > > > > - anything else that will provide safety/fail-safe
                                    > > > > > features, and good pointing info
                                    > > > > > > >
                                    > > > > > > >
                                    > > > > > > > As one example - it's easy to rig up limit switches to
                                    > > > > > kill power and stop the mount...but now the mount is a dumb
                                    > > > > > rock and it's lost position info. Are there
                                    > > > > > connections/pins/jacks in the LX-200 wiring/circuitry that
                                    > > > > > allow adding limit switches to disable mount motion, but keep
                                    > > > > > mount power, and retain pointing info? (That sounds like a
                                    > > > > > more elegant solution.)
                                    > > > > > > >
                                    > > > > > > > Thanks in advance.
                                    > > > > > > >
                                    > > > > > > > --
                                    > > > > > > > -------------------------------------------
                                    > > > > > > > Tom Krajci
                                    > > > > > > > Cloudcroft, New Mexico
                                    > > > > > > > http://picasaweb.google.com/tom.krajci
                                    > > > > > > >
                                    > > > > > > > Center for Backyard Astrophysics (CBA)
                                    > > > > > > > http://cbastro.org/ CBA New Mexico
                                    > > > > > > >
                                    > > > > > > > American Association of Variable Star
                                    > > > > > > > Observers (AAVSO): KTC http://www.aavso.org/
                                    > > > > > > > -------------------------------------------
                                    > > > > > > >
                                    > > > > > >
                                    > > > > >
                                    > > > > >
                                    > > > > >
                                    > > > > >
                                    > > > > > ------------------------------------
                                    > > > > >
                                    > > > > > Yahoo! Groups Links
                                    > > > > >
                                    > > > > >
                                    > > > > >
                                    > > > >
                                    > > >
                                    > > >
                                    > > >
                                    > > >
                                    > > > ------------------------------------
                                    > > >
                                    > > > Yahoo! Groups Links
                                    > > >
                                    > > >
                                    > > >
                                    > >
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >
                                    > ------------------------------------
                                    >
                                    > Yahoo! Groups Links
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >
                                  • gjwcac
                                    That arrangement makes sense, but I doubt the local help has any liability if something is damaged or stolen from an observatory they don t manage. For that
                                    Message 17 of 29 , Jun 2, 2011
                                      That arrangement makes sense, but I doubt the local "help" has any liability if something is damaged or stolen from an observatory they don't manage. For that matter, what are the chances of getting insurance coverage for an unattended observatory located far away?

                                      When i bought insurance for the observatory located on my property, the underwriter wanted specific information on the doors and locks and told me I'd need to add a monitored alarm if the equipment value exceeded $50K. Would they even write a policy for a robotic observatory located off of some dirt road in Bumdiddle, NM?

                                      Jim M.


                                      --- In Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com, John Mahony <jmmahony@...> wrote:
                                      >
                                      > Details for the new south location specify that it will have on-site support.
                                      > And the N America site is at New Mexico Skies, so they would also have on-site
                                      > support there, or at least someone who could close the roof if a thunderstorm
                                      > was approaching and automated systems failed.
                                      >
                                      >
                                      > -John
                                    • Christopher Erickson
                                      Tom Krajci, I replied to your off-list email message and got some kind of automated nasty reply that told me to never email you again. I assume that is not
                                      Message 18 of 29 , Jun 3, 2011
                                        Tom Krajci,

                                        I replied to your off-list email message and got some kind
                                        of automated nasty reply that told me to never email you
                                        again.

                                        I assume that is not what you intended?

                                        -Christopher Erickson



                                        > -----Original Message-----
                                        > From: Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com
                                        > [mailto:Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Tom
                                        > Sent: Wednesday, June 01, 2011 11:31 AM
                                        > To: Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com
                                        > Subject: Re: [MeadeUncensored] LX-200 GPS - remote and robotic?
                                        >
                                        >
                                        >
                                        > --- In Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com, Andy Eskelson
                                        > <andyyahoo@...> wrote:
                                        > >
                                        > > You first need a bomb-proof fully watch-dogged controller...
                                        >
                                        > Who makes such a controller?
                                        >
                                        > --
                                        > -------------------------------------------
                                        > Tom Krajci
                                        > Cloudcroft, New Mexico
                                        > http://picasaweb.google.com/tom.krajci
                                        >
                                        > Center for Backyard Astrophysics (CBA)
                                        > http://cbastro.org/ CBA New Mexico
                                        >
                                        > American Association of Variable Star
                                        > Observers (AAVSO): KTC http://www.aavso.org/
                                        > -------------------------------------------
                                        >
                                        >
                                        >
                                        > ------------------------------------
                                        >
                                        > Yahoo! Groups Links
                                        >
                                        >
                                        >
                                      • starryskyn
                                        Software Bisque has made robotic observatories for years. How unattended they can operate, is a question to put to Tom or Daniel.
                                        Message 19 of 29 , Jun 7, 2011
                                          Software Bisque has made "robotic" observatories for years. How unattended they can operate, is a question to put to Tom or Daniel.
                                          http://www.bisque.com/sc/forums/
                                          The SDAA and NASA jointly operate a small "robotic" observatory in California. You might contact club officers about that one. Also, you might be able to join them and put up a "robotic" installation in the astronomy club's desert compound.
                                          http://sdaa.org
                                          Gregg, half owner of "Observatory D"


                                          --- In Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com, "Tom" <tom_krajci@...> wrote:
                                          >
                                          > --- In Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com, "Rod Mollise" <rmollise@> wrote:
                                          > >
                                          > > People have done this with the LX200.
                                          >
                                          > Who? How? What results? What lessons learned?
                                          >
                                          > Specifics, please.
                                          >
                                          > --
                                          > -------------------------------------------
                                          > Tom Krajci
                                          > Cloudcroft, New Mexico
                                          > http://picasaweb.google.com/tom.krajci
                                          >
                                          > Center for Backyard Astrophysics (CBA)
                                          > http://cbastro.org/ CBA New Mexico
                                          >
                                          > American Association of Variable Star
                                          > Observers (AAVSO): KTC http://www.aavso.org/
                                          > -------------------------------------------
                                          >
                                        • starryskyn
                                          Here are a few Google search results: http://www.orionobservatory.org/Robotic%20Obs.html http://www.mtco.com/~jgunn/build_your_own.htm
                                          Message 20 of 29 , Jun 7, 2011
                                          • gjwcac
                                            In almost all of the robotic systems described in those links, physical security is maintained by the presence of people in the nearby facilities. I suspect
                                            Message 21 of 29 , Jun 7, 2011
                                              In almost all of the "robotic" systems described in those links, physical security is maintained by the presence of people in the nearby facilities. I suspect that none of them could operate for more than a few days without human intervention at some level.

                                              Jim M.

                                              --- In Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com, "starryskyn" <starryskyn@...> wrote:
                                              >
                                              > Here are a few Google search results:
                                              > http://www.orionobservatory.org/Robotic%20Obs.html
                                              > http://www.mtco.com/~jgunn/build_your_own.htm
                                              > http://www.mtco.com/~jgunn/
                                              > http://www.observingstars.com/robotic_observatory_project.htm is a unit similar to the SDAA robotic scope.
                                              > http://clientes.netvisao.pt/jcanela/about.htm
                                              > http://www.robosky.com/
                                              > http://astro.physics.uiowa.edu/rigel/
                                              > http://impossiblekisses.blogspot.com/2009/03/robot-observatories.html
                                              > glast.sonoma.edu/multimedia/presentations/ssuo-robo3.ppt
                                              >
                                              > Gregg
                                              >
                                            • Jim S
                                              I cannot speak for observatories, but having been in the broadcast business for years, and attending to remote transmitter sites, I can tell you that the large
                                              Message 22 of 29 , Jun 7, 2011
                                                I cannot speak for observatories, but having been in the broadcast business for years, and attending to remote transmitter sites, I can tell you that the large sites were "maintained" on a weekly basis, and the smaller sites that were specifically designed for remote locations were visited no less than once a month.

                                                Since a remote observatory would not only have all the electronics and mechanics needed control the scope dome windows, etc. etc. AND need to be quite clean ( dust is a real enemy of optics ! ) I would recommend that the site be visited no less than weekly !

                                                A good maintenance schedule ( indicating what work is to be done on each visit ) and log ( indicating what IS done, and any specific problems addressed ) is also a real plus !

                                                Just the humble opinion of an retired Chief Broadcast Engineer

                                                Jim S.

                                                ----- Original Message -----
                                                From: starryskyn
                                                To: Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com
                                                Sent: Tuesday, June 07, 2011 3:03 AM
                                                Subject: Re: [MeadeUncensored] LX-200 GPS - remote and robotic?



                                                Software Bisque has made "robotic" observatories for years. How unattended they can operate, is a question to put to Tom or Daniel.
                                                http://www.bisque.com/sc/forums/
                                                The SDAA and NASA jointly operate a small "robotic" observatory in California. You might contact club officers about that one. Also, you might be able to join them and put up a "robotic" installation in the astronomy club's desert compound.
                                                http://sdaa.org
                                                Gregg, half owner of "Observatory D"

                                                --- In Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com, "Tom" <tom_krajci@...> wrote:
                                                >
                                                > --- In Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com, "Rod Mollise" <rmollise@> wrote:
                                                > >
                                                > > People have done this with the LX200.
                                                >
                                                > Who? How? What results? What lessons learned?
                                                >
                                                > Specifics, please.
                                                >
                                                > --
                                                > -------------------------------------------
                                                > Tom Krajci
                                                > Cloudcroft, New Mexico
                                                > http://picasaweb.google.com/tom.krajci
                                                >
                                                > Center for Backyard Astrophysics (CBA)
                                                > http://cbastro.org/ CBA New Mexico
                                                >
                                                > American Association of Variable Star
                                                > Observers (AAVSO): KTC http://www.aavso.org/
                                                > -------------------------------------------
                                                >








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                                                http://www.pctools.com/
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                                                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                              • starryskyn
                                                Here is a list of robotic observatories or projects for them. http://www.astro.physik.uni-goettingen.de/~hessman/MONET/links.html
                                                Message 23 of 29 , Jun 7, 2011
                                                  Here is a list of robotic observatories or projects for them.
                                                  http://www.astro.physik.uni-goettingen.de/~hessman/MONET/links.html
                                                  http://www.hindawi.com/journals/aa/2010/183016/ discusses the design and construction of The OAdM Robotic Observatory. Particular attention is given to a single point of failure of the dome shutter closing and redundant control.
                                                  Robotic control software by DC-3 Dreams Software is at http://acp.dc3.com/index2.html
                                                  Gregg


                                                  --- In Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com, "Jim S" <jimstan@...> wrote:
                                                  >
                                                  > I cannot speak for observatories, but having been in the broadcast business for years, and attending to remote transmitter sites, I can tell you that the large sites were "maintained" on a weekly basis, and the smaller sites that were specifically designed for remote locations were visited no less than once a month.
                                                  >
                                                  > Since a remote observatory would not only have all the electronics and mechanics needed control the scope dome windows, etc. etc. AND need to be quite clean ( dust is a real enemy of optics ! ) I would recommend that the site be visited no less than weekly !
                                                  >
                                                  > A good maintenance schedule ( indicating what work is to be done on each visit ) and log ( indicating what IS done, and any specific problems addressed ) is also a real plus !
                                                  >
                                                  > Just the humble opinion of an retired Chief Broadcast Engineer
                                                  >
                                                  > Jim S.
                                                  >
                                                  > ----- Original Message -----
                                                  > From: starryskyn
                                                  > To: Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com
                                                  > Sent: Tuesday, June 07, 2011 3:03 AM
                                                  > Subject: Re: [MeadeUncensored] LX-200 GPS - remote and robotic?
                                                  >
                                                  >
                                                  >
                                                  > Software Bisque has made "robotic" observatories for years. How unattended they can operate, is a question to put to Tom or Daniel.
                                                  > http://www.bisque.com/sc/forums/
                                                  > The SDAA and NASA jointly operate a small "robotic" observatory in California. You might contact club officers about that one. Also, you might be able to join them and put up a "robotic" installation in the astronomy club's desert compound.
                                                  > http://sdaa.org
                                                  > Gregg, half owner of "Observatory D"
                                                  >
                                                  > --- In Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com, "Tom" <tom_krajci@> wrote:
                                                  > >
                                                  > > --- In Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com, "Rod Mollise" <rmollise@> wrote:
                                                  > > >
                                                  > > > People have done this with the LX200.
                                                  > >
                                                  > > Who? How? What results? What lessons learned?
                                                  > >
                                                  > > Specifics, please.
                                                  > >
                                                  > > --
                                                  > > -------------------------------------------
                                                  > > Tom Krajci
                                                  > > Cloudcroft, New Mexico
                                                  > > http://picasaweb.google.com/tom.krajci
                                                  > >
                                                  > > Center for Backyard Astrophysics (CBA)
                                                  > > http://cbastro.org/ CBA New Mexico
                                                  > >
                                                  > > American Association of Variable Star
                                                  > > Observers (AAVSO): KTC http://www.aavso.org/
                                                  > > -------------------------------------------
                                                  > >
                                                  >
                                                  >
                                                  >
                                                  >
                                                  >
                                                  >
                                                  >
                                                  >
                                                  > =======
                                                  > Email scanned by PC Tools - No viruses or spyware found.
                                                  > (Email Guard: 7.0.0.21, Virus/Spyware Database: 6.17670)
                                                  > http://www.pctools.com
                                                  > =======
                                                  >
                                                  >
                                                  >
                                                  > =======
                                                  > Email scanned by PC Tools - No viruses or spyware found.
                                                  > (Email Guard: 7.0.0.21, Virus/Spyware Database: 6.17670)
                                                  > http://www.pctools.com/
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                                                  >
                                                  >
                                                  > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                                  >
                                                • starryskyn
                                                  I found this to be rather interesting, as I have seen the same situation in my own desert observatory s equipment. The mouse-proofing was one of the most
                                                  Message 24 of 29 , Jun 7, 2011
                                                    I found this to be rather interesting, as I have seen the same situation in my own desert observatory's equipment.

                                                    "The mouse-proofing was one of the most difficult of the challenges.
                                                    The observatory is located at the edge of a large open field and in
                                                    spite of the efforts of a specially-installed security cat, the
                                                    field mice were persistent in building nests in the computer and
                                                    shorting it out with conductive liquids. The problem was solved by
                                                    installing tight-fitting sheet metal over all openings."
                                                    http://www.nfo.edu/poster.htm
                                                    Gregg


                                                    --- In Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com, "starryskyn" <starryskyn@...> wrote:
                                                    >
                                                    > Here is a list of robotic observatories or projects for them.
                                                    > http://www.astro.physik.uni-goettingen.de/~hessman/MONET/links.html
                                                    > http://www.hindawi.com/journals/aa/2010/183016/ discusses the design and construction of The OAdM Robotic Observatory. Particular attention is given to a single point of failure of the dome shutter closing and redundant control.
                                                    > Robotic control software by DC-3 Dreams Software is at http://acp.dc3.com/index2.html
                                                    > Gregg
                                                    >
                                                    >
                                                    > --- In Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com, "Jim S" <jimstan@> wrote:
                                                    > >
                                                    > > I cannot speak for observatories, but having been in the broadcast business for years, and attending to remote transmitter sites, I can tell you that the large sites were "maintained" on a weekly basis, and the smaller sites that were specifically designed for remote locations were visited no less than once a month.
                                                    > >
                                                    > > Since a remote observatory would not only have all the electronics and mechanics needed control the scope dome windows, etc. etc. AND need to be quite clean ( dust is a real enemy of optics ! ) I would recommend that the site be visited no less than weekly !
                                                    > >
                                                    > > A good maintenance schedule ( indicating what work is to be done on each visit ) and log ( indicating what IS done, and any specific problems addressed ) is also a real plus !
                                                    > >
                                                    > > Just the humble opinion of an retired Chief Broadcast Engineer
                                                    > >
                                                    > > Jim S.
                                                    > >
                                                    > > ----- Original Message -----
                                                    > > From: starryskyn
                                                    > > To: Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com
                                                    > > Sent: Tuesday, June 07, 2011 3:03 AM
                                                    > > Subject: Re: [MeadeUncensored] LX-200 GPS - remote and robotic?
                                                    > >
                                                    > >
                                                    > >
                                                    > > Software Bisque has made "robotic" observatories for years. How unattended they can operate, is a question to put to Tom or Daniel.
                                                    > > http://www.bisque.com/sc/forums/
                                                    > > The SDAA and NASA jointly operate a small "robotic" observatory in California. You might contact club officers about that one. Also, you might be able to join them and put up a "robotic" installation in the astronomy club's desert compound.
                                                    > > http://sdaa.org
                                                    > > Gregg, half owner of "Observatory D"
                                                    > >
                                                    > > --- In Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com, "Tom" <tom_krajci@> wrote:
                                                    > > >
                                                    > > > --- In Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com, "Rod Mollise" <rmollise@> wrote:
                                                    > > > >
                                                    > > > > People have done this with the LX200.
                                                    > > >
                                                    > > > Who? How? What results? What lessons learned?
                                                    > > >
                                                    > > > Specifics, please.
                                                    > > >
                                                    > > > --
                                                    > > > -------------------------------------------
                                                    > > > Tom Krajci
                                                    > > > Cloudcroft, New Mexico
                                                    > > > http://picasaweb.google.com/tom.krajci
                                                    > > >
                                                    > > > Center for Backyard Astrophysics (CBA)
                                                    > > > http://cbastro.org/ CBA New Mexico
                                                    > > >
                                                    > > > American Association of Variable Star
                                                    > > > Observers (AAVSO): KTC http://www.aavso.org/
                                                    > > > -------------------------------------------
                                                    > > >
                                                    > >
                                                    > >
                                                    > >
                                                    > >
                                                    > >
                                                    > >
                                                    > >
                                                    > >
                                                    > > =======
                                                    > > Email scanned by PC Tools - No viruses or spyware found.
                                                    > > (Email Guard: 7.0.0.21, Virus/Spyware Database: 6.17670)
                                                    > > http://www.pctools.com
                                                    > > =======
                                                    > >
                                                    > >
                                                    > >
                                                    > > =======
                                                    > > Email scanned by PC Tools - No viruses or spyware found.
                                                    > > (Email Guard: 7.0.0.21, Virus/Spyware Database: 6.17670)
                                                    > > http://www.pctools.com/
                                                    > > =======
                                                    > >
                                                    > >
                                                    > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                                    > >
                                                    >
                                                  • Steve Baker
                                                    a specially-installed security cat Love that reference!!!! From: Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com [mailto:Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of
                                                    Message 25 of 29 , Jun 7, 2011
                                                      "a specially-installed security cat"



                                                      Love that reference!!!!



                                                      From: Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com
                                                      [mailto:Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of starryskyn
                                                      Sent: Tuesday, June 07, 2011 10:10 AM
                                                      To: Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com
                                                      Subject: Re: [MeadeUncensored] LX-200 GPS - remote and robotic?





                                                      I found this to be rather interesting, as I have seen the same situation in
                                                      my own desert observatory's equipment.

                                                      "The mouse-proofing was one of the most difficult of the challenges.
                                                      The observatory is located at the edge of a large open field and in
                                                      spite of the efforts of a specially-installed security cat, the
                                                      field mice were persistent in building nests in the computer and
                                                      shorting it out with conductive liquids. The problem was solved by
                                                      installing tight-fitting sheet metal over all openings."
                                                      http://www.nfo.edu/poster.htm
                                                      Gregg

                                                      --- In Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com
                                                      <mailto:Meade-Uncensored%40yahoogroups.com> , "starryskyn" <starryskyn@...>
                                                      wrote:
                                                      >
                                                      > Here is a list of robotic observatories or projects for them.
                                                      > http://www.astro.physik.uni-goettingen.de/~hessman/MONET/links.html
                                                      > http://www.hindawi.com/journals/aa/2010/183016/ discusses the design and
                                                      construction of The OAdM Robotic Observatory. Particular attention is given
                                                      to a single point of failure of the dome shutter closing and redundant
                                                      control.
                                                      > Robotic control software by DC-3 Dreams Software is at
                                                      http://acp.dc3.com/index2.html
                                                      > Gregg
                                                      >
                                                      >
                                                      > --- In Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com
                                                      <mailto:Meade-Uncensored%40yahoogroups.com> , "Jim S" <jimstan@> wrote:
                                                      > >
                                                      > > I cannot speak for observatories, but having been in the broadcast
                                                      business for years, and attending to remote transmitter sites, I can tell
                                                      you that the large sites were "maintained" on a weekly basis, and the
                                                      smaller sites that were specifically designed for remote locations were
                                                      visited no less than once a month.
                                                      > >
                                                      > > Since a remote observatory would not only have all the electronics and
                                                      mechanics needed control the scope dome windows, etc. etc. AND need to be
                                                      quite clean ( dust is a real enemy of optics ! ) I would recommend that the
                                                      site be visited no less than weekly !
                                                      > >
                                                      > > A good maintenance schedule ( indicating what work is to be done on each
                                                      visit ) and log ( indicating what IS done, and any specific problems
                                                      addressed ) is also a real plus !
                                                      > >
                                                      > > Just the humble opinion of an retired Chief Broadcast Engineer
                                                      > >
                                                      > > Jim S.
                                                      > >
                                                      > > ----- Original Message -----
                                                      > > From: starryskyn
                                                      > > To: Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com
                                                      <mailto:Meade-Uncensored%40yahoogroups.com>
                                                      > > Sent: Tuesday, June 07, 2011 3:03 AM
                                                      > > Subject: Re: [MeadeUncensored] LX-200 GPS - remote and robotic?
                                                      > >
                                                      > >
                                                      > >
                                                      > > Software Bisque has made "robotic" observatories for years. How
                                                      unattended they can operate, is a question to put to Tom or Daniel.
                                                      > > http://www.bisque.com/sc/forums/
                                                      > > The SDAA and NASA jointly operate a small "robotic" observatory in
                                                      California. You might contact club officers about that one. Also, you might
                                                      be able to join them and put up a "robotic" installation in the astronomy
                                                      club's desert compound.
                                                      > > http://sdaa.org
                                                      > > Gregg, half owner of "Observatory D"
                                                      > >
                                                      > > --- In Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com
                                                      <mailto:Meade-Uncensored%40yahoogroups.com> , "Tom" <tom_krajci@> wrote:
                                                      > > >
                                                      > > > --- In Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com
                                                      <mailto:Meade-Uncensored%40yahoogroups.com> , "Rod Mollise" <rmollise@>
                                                      wrote:
                                                      > > > >
                                                      > > > > People have done this with the LX200.
                                                      > > >
                                                      > > > Who? How? What results? What lessons learned?
                                                      > > >
                                                      > > > Specifics, please.
                                                      > > >
                                                      > > > --
                                                      > > > -------------------------------------------
                                                      > > > Tom Krajci
                                                      > > > Cloudcroft, New Mexico
                                                      > > > http://picasaweb.google.com/tom.krajci
                                                      > > >
                                                      > > > Center for Backyard Astrophysics (CBA)
                                                      > > > http://cbastro.org/ CBA New Mexico
                                                      > > >
                                                      > > > American Association of Variable Star
                                                      > > > Observers (AAVSO): KTC http://www.aavso.org/
                                                      > > > -------------------------------------------
                                                      > > >
                                                      > >
                                                      > >
                                                      > >
                                                      > >
                                                      > >
                                                      > >
                                                      > >
                                                      > >
                                                      > > =======
                                                      > > Email scanned by PC Tools - No viruses or spyware found.
                                                      > > (Email Guard: 7.0.0.21, Virus/Spyware Database: 6.17670)
                                                      > > http://www.pctools.com
                                                      > > =======
                                                      > >
                                                      > >
                                                      > >
                                                      > > =======
                                                      > > Email scanned by PC Tools - No viruses or spyware found.
                                                      > > (Email Guard: 7.0.0.21, Virus/Spyware Database: 6.17670)
                                                      > > http://www.pctools.com/
                                                      > > =======
                                                      > >
                                                      > >
                                                      > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                                      > >
                                                      >





                                                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                                    • Christopher Erickson
                                                      In Alaska, we visited most of our mountaintop telecom sites once a year. The problematic sites might be visited about once every month or two. A helicopter
                                                      Message 26 of 29 , Jun 7, 2011
                                                        In Alaska, we visited most of our mountaintop telecom sites
                                                        once a year. The problematic sites might be visited about
                                                        once every month or two.

                                                        A helicopter flight to most of our telecom sites cost about
                                                        $10,000 a pop, so we really worked on making them as
                                                        reliable as possible.

                                                        Reliability through resiliency, redundancy and diversity.
                                                        "five-nines" (99.999% uptime) was our mantra.

                                                        Here in Hawaii, the goal of the VYSOS robotic observatories
                                                        is to be able to operate them with only quarterly PM visits.

                                                        We aren't there yet but hopefully we will be soon.

                                                        -Christopher Erickson
                                                        Consulting Engineer
                                                        Summit Kinetics
                                                        Waikoloa, HI 96738
                                                        www.summitkinetics.com



                                                        > -----Original Message-----
                                                        > From: Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com
                                                        > [mailto:Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Jim S
                                                        > Sent: Tuesday, June 07, 2011 5:40 AM
                                                        > To: Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com
                                                        > Subject: Re: [MeadeUncensored] LX-200 GPS - remote and robotic?
                                                        >
                                                        > I cannot speak for observatories, but having been in the
                                                        > broadcast business for years, and attending to remote
                                                        > transmitter sites, I can tell you that the large sites were
                                                        > "maintained" on a weekly basis, and the smaller sites that
                                                        > were specifically designed for remote locations were visited
                                                        > no less than once a month.
                                                        >
                                                        > Since a remote observatory would not only have all the
                                                        > electronics and mechanics needed control the scope dome
                                                        > windows, etc. etc. AND need to be quite clean ( dust is a
                                                        > real enemy of optics ! ) I would recommend that the site be
                                                        > visited no less than weekly !
                                                        >
                                                        > A good maintenance schedule ( indicating what work is to be
                                                        > done on each visit ) and log ( indicating what IS done, and
                                                        > any specific problems addressed ) is also a real plus !
                                                        >
                                                        > Just the humble opinion of an retired Chief Broadcast Engineer
                                                        >
                                                        > Jim S.
                                                        >
                                                        > ----- Original Message -----
                                                        > From: starryskyn
                                                        > To: Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com
                                                        > Sent: Tuesday, June 07, 2011 3:03 AM
                                                        > Subject: Re: [MeadeUncensored] LX-200 GPS - remote and robotic?
                                                        >
                                                        >
                                                        >
                                                        > Software Bisque has made "robotic" observatories for years.
                                                        > How unattended they can operate, is a question to put to Tom
                                                        > or Daniel.
                                                        > http://www.bisque.com/sc/forums/
                                                        > The SDAA and NASA jointly operate a small "robotic"
                                                        > observatory in California. You might contact club officers
                                                        > about that one. Also, you might be able to join them and put
                                                        > up a "robotic" installation in the astronomy club's desert compound.
                                                        > http://sdaa.org
                                                        > Gregg, half owner of "Observatory D"
                                                        >
                                                        > --- In Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com, "Tom"
                                                        > <tom_krajci@...> wrote:
                                                        > >
                                                        > > --- In Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com, "Rod Mollise"
                                                        > <rmollise@> wrote:
                                                        > > >
                                                        > > > People have done this with the LX200.
                                                        > >
                                                        > > Who? How? What results? What lessons learned?
                                                        > >
                                                        > > Specifics, please.
                                                        > >
                                                        > > --
                                                        > > -------------------------------------------
                                                        > > Tom Krajci
                                                        > > Cloudcroft, New Mexico
                                                        > > http://picasaweb.google.com/tom.krajci
                                                        > >
                                                        > > Center for Backyard Astrophysics (CBA)
                                                        > > http://cbastro.org/ CBA New Mexico
                                                        > >
                                                        > > American Association of Variable Star
                                                        > > Observers (AAVSO): KTC http://www.aavso.org/
                                                        > > -------------------------------------------
                                                        > >
                                                        >
                                                        >
                                                        >
                                                        >
                                                        >
                                                        >
                                                        >
                                                        >
                                                        > =======
                                                        > Email scanned by PC Tools - No viruses or spyware found.
                                                        > (Email Guard: 7.0.0.21, Virus/Spyware Database: 6.17670)
                                                        > http://www.pctools.com
                                                        > =======
                                                        >
                                                        >
                                                        >
                                                        > =======
                                                        > Email scanned by PC Tools - No viruses or spyware found.
                                                        > (Email Guard: 7.0.0.21, Virus/Spyware Database: 6.17670)
                                                        > http://www.pctools.com/
                                                        > =======
                                                        >
                                                        >
                                                        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                                        >
                                                        >
                                                        >
                                                        > ------------------------------------
                                                        >
                                                        > Yahoo! Groups Links
                                                        >
                                                        >
                                                        >
                                                      • Christopher Erickson
                                                        I am working on upgrades to several robotic observatories right now that normally only get monthly visits. Hopefully the upgrades will get them to down to
                                                        Message 27 of 29 , Jun 7, 2011
                                                          I am working on upgrades to several robotic observatories right
                                                          now that normally only get monthly visits. Hopefully the
                                                          upgrades will get them to down to quarterly visits.

                                                          -Christopher Erickson
                                                          Consulting Engineer
                                                          Summit Kinetics
                                                          Waikoloa, HI 96738
                                                          www.summitkinetics.com


                                                          > -----Original Message-----
                                                          > From: Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com
                                                          > [mailto:Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of gjwcac
                                                          > Sent: Tuesday, June 07, 2011 4:39 AM
                                                          > To: Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com
                                                          > Subject: [MeadeUncensored] Re: LX-200 GPS - remote and robotic?
                                                          >
                                                          > In almost all of the "robotic" systems described in those
                                                          > links, physical security is maintained by the presence of
                                                          > people in the nearby facilities. I suspect that none of them
                                                          > could operate for more than a few days without human
                                                          > intervention at some level.
                                                          >
                                                          > Jim M.
                                                          >
                                                          > --- In Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com, "starryskyn"
                                                          > <starryskyn@...> wrote:
                                                          > >
                                                          > > Here are a few Google search results:
                                                          > > http://www.orionobservatory.org/Robotic%20Obs.html
                                                          > > http://www.mtco.com/~jgunn/build_your_own.htm
                                                          > > http://www.mtco.com/~jgunn/
                                                          > >
                                                          > http://www.observingstars.com/robotic_observatory_project.htm
                                                          > is a unit similar to the SDAA robotic scope.
                                                          > > http://clientes.netvisao.pt/jcanela/about.htm
                                                          > > http://www.robosky.com/
                                                          > > http://astro.physics.uiowa.edu/rigel/
                                                          > >
                                                          > http://impossiblekisses.blogspot.com/2009/03/robot-observatories.html
                                                          > > glast.sonoma.edu/multimedia/presentations/ssuo-robo3.ppt
                                                          > >
                                                          > > Gregg
                                                          > >
                                                          >
                                                          >
                                                          >
                                                          >
                                                          > ------------------------------------
                                                          >
                                                          > Yahoo! Groups Links
                                                          >
                                                          >
                                                          >
                                                        • starryskyn
                                                          I have always been quite wary of a robotic scope. If it has only one set magnification at the camera, that seems to limit the usefulness. However, a company
                                                          Message 28 of 29 , Jun 7, 2011
                                                            I have always been quite wary of a robotic scope. If it has only one set magnification at the camera, that seems to limit the usefulness.
                                                            However, a company where I once worked has a patented viewfinder power switch. It can be employed between most any objective imager and any eye lens (or camera).
                                                            If one brings the objective imager to a focal point, and then lets the beam continue, it can be collimated by a precision achromat. Then it can be brought to a final focal plane by an identical achromat in a mirrored position. Between the two lenses in the collimated beam can be placed a small Galilean telescope. It is composed of a medium diameter weak positive lens like a meniscus, and a smaller strong negative lens like a barlow. This will act as a magnification changer, giving 1/3X, 1X, and 3X changes from the usual optical system. How this is done is by rotating the two Galilean lenses on a shaft that is at right angles to the optical path. These rotating elements have three positions in 90 degree steps. At first, the Galilean pair is in the normal position, meniscus positive in front, for 3X magnification change. After 90 degrees rotation, neither lens is in the path. That is for 1X (no change). Another 90 degrees, and the negative lens leads, and there is 1/3X power change.
                                                            This is illustrated in US Patents 3813172 and 3799680, viewable on line at Google Patent Search website.
                                                            While in the past, the light lost by so many lens elements has made adapting this idea for visual astronomy rather impractical. But the use of multi-coated precision achromats has made a world of difference. And modern cameras can be used with slightly longer exposures to compensate for the light loss. Proper design of the system using computer optics design and standard lenses could lead to acceptable image quality and affordable expense.
                                                            Something to think about in the overall design of a robotic system.
                                                            Gregg

                                                            --- In Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com, "Tom" <tom_krajci@...> wrote:
                                                            >
                                                            > I'm looking into the possibility of making an LX-200 GPS a remote and robotic rig - and I know it will require some modifications. (It's easy to make an LX-200 work in the back yard because you're there to fix it...but 1,000 miles away?)
                                                            >
                                                            > Yes, the rig will work just fine if the mount never has a run away slew to infinity, and the power is never interrupted, and the mount never loses position info.
                                                            >
                                                            > But that's what Murphy's Law is all about...
                                                            >
                                                            > What mods do I need for:
                                                            >
                                                            > - limit switches to stop mount motion if if tries to move past 'safe limits' (e.g. +/- 7 hours from the meridian, -45 Declination, and a few degrees beyond the north pole)
                                                            >
                                                            > - a way to allow the mount to find home after power up from a cold/dumb start (equatorially mounted, not alt-az)...or at least pointing 'assistance' to allow a remote user to get the mount to a known/reasonably accurate pointing state.
                                                            >
                                                            > - anything else that will provide safety/fail-safe features, and good pointing info
                                                            >
                                                            >
                                                            > As one example - it's easy to rig up limit switches to kill power and stop the mount...but now the mount is a dumb rock and it's lost position info. Are there connections/pins/jacks in the LX-200 wiring/circuitry that allow adding limit switches to disable mount motion, but keep mount power, and retain pointing info? (That sounds like a more elegant solution.)
                                                            >
                                                            > Thanks in advance.
                                                            >
                                                            > --
                                                            > -------------------------------------------
                                                            > Tom Krajci
                                                            > Cloudcroft, New Mexico
                                                            > http://picasaweb.google.com/tom.krajci
                                                            >
                                                            > Center for Backyard Astrophysics (CBA)
                                                            > http://cbastro.org/ CBA New Mexico
                                                            >
                                                            > American Association of Variable Star
                                                            > Observers (AAVSO): KTC http://www.aavso.org/
                                                            > -------------------------------------------
                                                            >
                                                          • gjwcac
                                                            Your post highlights another issue with amateur robotic observatories. It is difficult and/or expensive to operate them for more than one purpose. A rig set up
                                                            Message 29 of 29 , Jun 8, 2011
                                                              Your post highlights another issue with amateur robotic observatories. It is difficult and/or expensive to operate them for more than one purpose. A rig set up for AP with the typical CCD camera/guider/filters would be tough to use for any other purpose without swapping equipment and connections in the observatory itself. Of course it's possible to have multiple OTAs each set up for a different purpose, but that is way beyond the scope (no pun intended) of the OP which asked about using a lowly LX200 in a remote setting.

                                                              Jim M.

                                                              --- In Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com, "starryskyn" <starryskyn@...> wrote:
                                                              >
                                                              > I have always been quite wary of a robotic scope. If it has only one set magnification at the camera, that seems to limit the usefulness.
                                                              > However, a company where I once worked has a patented viewfinder power switch. It can be employed between most any objective imager and any eye lens (or camera).
                                                              > If one brings the objective imager to a focal point, and then lets the beam continue, it can be collimated by a precision achromat. Then it can be brought to a final focal plane by an identical achromat in a mirrored position. Between the two lenses in the collimated beam can be placed a small Galilean telescope. It is composed of a medium diameter weak positive lens like a meniscus, and a smaller strong negative lens like a barlow. This will act as a magnification changer, giving 1/3X, 1X, and 3X changes from the usual optical system. How this is done is by rotating the two Galilean lenses on a shaft that is at right angles to the optical path. These rotating elements have three positions in 90 degree steps. At first, the Galilean pair is in the normal position, meniscus positive in front, for 3X magnification change. After 90 degrees rotation, neither lens is in the path. That is for 1X (no change). Another 90 degrees, and the negative lens leads, and there is 1/3X power change.
                                                              > This is illustrated in US Patents 3813172 and 3799680, viewable on line at Google Patent Search website.
                                                              > While in the past, the light lost by so many lens elements has made adapting this idea for visual astronomy rather impractical. But the use of multi-coated precision achromats has made a world of difference. And modern cameras can be used with slightly longer exposures to compensate for the light loss. Proper design of the system using computer optics design and standard lenses could lead to acceptable image quality and affordable expense.
                                                              > Something to think about in the overall design of a robotic system.
                                                              > Gregg
                                                              >
                                                              > --- In Meade-Uncensored@yahoogroups.com, "Tom" <tom_krajci@> wrote:
                                                              > >
                                                              > > I'm looking into the possibility of making an LX-200 GPS a remote and robotic rig - and I know it will require some modifications. (It's easy to make an LX-200 work in the back yard because you're there to fix it...but 1,000 miles away?)
                                                              > >
                                                              > > Yes, the rig will work just fine if the mount never has a run away slew to infinity, and the power is never interrupted, and the mount never loses position info.
                                                              > >
                                                              > > But that's what Murphy's Law is all about...
                                                              > >
                                                              > > What mods do I need for:
                                                              > >
                                                              > > - limit switches to stop mount motion if if tries to move past 'safe limits' (e.g. +/- 7 hours from the meridian, -45 Declination, and a few degrees beyond the north pole)
                                                              > >
                                                              > > - a way to allow the mount to find home after power up from a cold/dumb start (equatorially mounted, not alt-az)...or at least pointing 'assistance' to allow a remote user to get the mount to a known/reasonably accurate pointing state.
                                                              > >
                                                              > > - anything else that will provide safety/fail-safe features, and good pointing info
                                                              > >
                                                              > >
                                                              > > As one example - it's easy to rig up limit switches to kill power and stop the mount...but now the mount is a dumb rock and it's lost position info. Are there connections/pins/jacks in the LX-200 wiring/circuitry that allow adding limit switches to disable mount motion, but keep mount power, and retain pointing info? (That sounds like a more elegant solution.)
                                                              > >
                                                              > > Thanks in advance.
                                                              > >
                                                              > > --
                                                              > > -------------------------------------------
                                                              > > Tom Krajci
                                                              > > Cloudcroft, New Mexico
                                                              > > http://picasaweb.google.com/tom.krajci
                                                              > >
                                                              > > Center for Backyard Astrophysics (CBA)
                                                              > > http://cbastro.org/ CBA New Mexico
                                                              > >
                                                              > > American Association of Variable Star
                                                              > > Observers (AAVSO): KTC http://www.aavso.org/
                                                              > > -------------------------------------------
                                                              > >
                                                              >
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