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APM Professional Telescopes

APM Professional Telescopes

1m F/8 Ritchey Chrétien with dual Nasmyth Foci, Cape Town (South Africa)

Another large telescope for the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO). An 1m F/8 Alt-Az mounted Ritchey Chrétien for robotic use. It has dual Nasmyth Foci. The main telescopes used for research are located at the SAAO observing station (32°22.795’S 20°48,657’E) near Sutherland in the Northern Cape, a 4-hour drive from Cape Town.

Astronomy is our job

Observatory Telescopes

Big prime focus telescopes for private or public observatories including installation and full service.

Robotic / Remote

Robotic instruments for automatic imaging or telescopes for remote observation.

ASA Telescopes

ASA600 with DDM200

ASA600 OTA is the perfect fit for the ASA direct drive mounts with absolute encoders. As all ASA telescopes the ASA600 is equipped with quartz glass optics from ASA.

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Sirius Domes

Dome Control

 

Telescope Dome/Enclosure Control & Automation

 

 Astrometric's DomeProU Controllers

The DomeProU is born from the experience of installing our DomePro (first in 2006) and DomePro2 products on hundreds of domes by Ash Manufacturing and others.

DomeProU provides fully automated control of all types of telescope enclosures including: classic domes, clamshell domes and roll-off roof enclosures.

DomeProU.pdf DomeProU user’s manual.
DomeProU-d_Install.pdf DomeProU-d installation manual -- for classic domes.
DomeProU-c_Install.pdf DomeProU-c installation manual -- for clamshell domes.

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DomeProU is specifically designed for remote observatory control:

Standards support: ASCOM and Bisque X2.

Email/text notification for fault conditions.

High reliability design and construction.

Robust time-tested performance.

Extended temperature operation.

Exclusive use of quality components.

Never lose position: RFID absolute & redundant encoder options.

Equipment protection (Redundant limits, over-current protections, timeouts, weather/power-fail closure, absolute shutter angle control).

 

Maestro4A

Integrated Systems for Dome Control

Astrometric specializes in integrated control systems for domes from Ash Manufacturing, Astro Haven, Technical Innovations, Explora Dome, Sirius and others. Our system will adapt to any dome that can be motorized for rotation and/or shutter control.

All of our dome control systems are complete packages and, in many cases, involve drop-in installation. Included is everything needed to provide reliable dome automation using existing (manufacturer installed) motors. For domes without existing motors, we can assist in adapting suitable motors. 

 

 

 

 

Astrometric's DomeProU Models

DomeProU-d for Classic Domes

DomeProU-d consists of two modules, one for controlling dome azimuth motors (for rotation) and a second module (linked by wireless or cabled interface to the azimuth module) for controlling dome shutter motors.

 

DomeProU-d Features List

(Single shutter, dual shutter and azimuth-only options available.)

Fully Enclosed Azimuth and Shutter Control Modules
  • DomeProU-d is not a board level product. Electronics are packaged in robust industrial metal enclosures which are sealed on all but the bottom panel and are impervious to dust and insects.
  • CNC machined connector panels – accurately fits external connectors.
Drop-in Low Hassle Installation
  • All cables are connected through removable connectors. There are no cables/wires that need to be connected inside the sealed modules.
  • Field installs and replacements are quick and easy. No active electronics are hard-wired to the dome.
Exclusive Use of High-Quality Components
  • Reliable industrial connectors and cables.
  • Extended temperature operation.
Features common to Azimuth and Shutter Controllers
  • Designed for reliable remote and unattended operation of all types of telescope domes.
  • Communications between the shutter and azimuth modules is provided by a robust high-gain international ISM-band radio.
  • Direct (i.e., no PC in the loop) weather “unsafe” dome closure with suitable weather station (e.g., Boltwood).
  • “Mains” (AC line) power fail detection… provides immediate power-safe dome closure from UPS/battery.
  • Motor current monitoring and overload protection on applicable models. Power supply voltage monitoring. Temperature monitoring.
  • Overvoltage/transient/surge protection, shielded cabling.
  • A rich set of timeouts protecting against motor or other system component failures. All timeouts are individually programmable and enablable.
  • Local/Remote keylock switch on front panel.
  • Easy upgrade of controller firmware and PC software.
Additional Azimuth Controller Features
  • Control of one or multiple rotation motors (typically two for 18’ and above domes). DomeProU-d’s azimuth controller can control DC motors, single-phase AC, 3ph AC (with soft-start capability) or stepper/servo motors. Motors are typically provided by the dome manufacturer however Astrometric can also provide complete motor solutions.
  • Quadrature encoder directly senses rotation direction. Does not rely upon the activated motor direction to determine direction of rotation.  Will read rotation even if the dome is rotated by hand.
  • Backlit displays shows status useful for in-observatory diagnostics without the need to refer to Maestro software running on a PC.
  • Never loose position: RFID (radio frequency identification) absolute position tags and redundant encoder options.
  • Home index switch
  • Azimuth position saved at power-off… position restored at power-up with no need to home (if dome has not moved).
  • Isolated USB interface to PC running our Maestro user interface software.
  • "Coast" compensation for motor acceleration/deceleration distances.
  • Manual override controls for azimuth left/right rotation and shutter open/close.
Additional Shutter Controller Features
  • Two models: Single or dual shutter domes. Supports arbitrary shutter sequencing and topology (e.g., drop-out lower shutter, Ash REA “ride along”, TI cascaded shutter, Palomar style, etc.).
  • Control of upper and lower shutter motors. DomeProU-d’s shutter controller can control DC motors, single-phase AC or 3ph AC (with soft-start capability) or stepper/servo motors.  Motors are typically provided by the dome manufacturer however Astrometric can also provide complete motor solutions.
  • Power is typically provided to the shutter module via slip rings on the interior of the dome or via battery (either solar or “at home” charged through contactors).
  • Failsafe shutter closure on PC link and shutter/azimuth RF-link timeouts.
  • Partial open feature to absolute percentage (with optional encoder) or by timed motor activation (i.e., "venting").
  • Failsafe backup limit switch support.
  • Manual override controls for shutter open/close.
Versatile PC-based User Interface Software (Maestro)
  • PC-access to all DomeProU-d features, settings and diagnoses.
  • Standards support: ASCOM and Bisque X2.
  • Chasing/matching of dome azimuth position to telescope position.
  • Full-featured geometry model that provides accurate azimuth chasing/matching to telescope pointing for arbitrary telescope location within the dome. Accommodates German equatorial mount flip.
  • Email/text notification for any fault condition (e.g., timeouts, weather unsafe, power fail, over-current, under-voltage, over-temp, failsafe shutter limits, etc.).
  • Maestro can ping an IP address and provide network-drop/timeout dome closure.
  • Protected access to all system settings.

DomeProU-d Systems Include

  • An azimuth module configured to control motors through relay contact closure, direct-drive of DC motors (18V 15A max) or external motor drivers (e.g., for 3ph AC or stepper/servo motors).
  • A shutter module configured to control one or two shutter motors. The module is configured to control through relay contact closure, direct-drive of DC motors (18V 15A max) or external motor drivers (e.g., for 3ph AC or stepper/servo motors).
  • An optical encoder sensing rotation in azimuth. This is a sealed encoder and is impervious to condensing moisture (dew).  Depending on the target system this encoder includes hardware to mount on the drive sprocket, on an “idler” sprocket or on a rotation sensing wheel.
  • Azimuth home index switch (sealed against moisture).
  • Shutter limit switches as needed.
  • All necessary system cabling to limit switches, power, azimuth encoder(s) and a USB cable (5m cable with longer options available) connecting to azimuth.
  • Controller power supplies. DC units require a power supply for motor power (see options below).
  • Maestro user interface software for Windows. Includes ASCOM Dome driver and Bisque X2 interface.
  • USB (2m, 5m or longer options available).
  • Weather-unsafe interface cable to Boltwood (or other) weather station.
  • “Mains” (AC line) power-good sensing and interface cable.
  • 2 year transferable warranty.
  • 1 year support contract: unlimited email and phone support.

DomeProU-d Options

  • Single phase AC motor drives for up to 8A.
  • 3ph AC “soft-start” motor drivers typically used on larger (>= 15’) domes. DomeProU-d can control multiple parallel drivers for the largest (>=18’) domes.
  • DC motor power supply options up to 15A.
  • Battery shutter power options using either “at home” or solar charging.
  • RFID-based azimuth absolute position sensor that calibrates azimuth by sensing unique RF identification (RFID) tags placed at known azimuth locations. DomeProU-d includes an RFID “discovery” feature which senses and saves the azimuth of each RFID.
  • 2nd optical encoder for redundant azimuth rotation sensing. Useful for detecting gearing slip or failure.
  • External/remote shutter open/close switch option. This is sometimes used to provide shutter open/close from outside the dome.
  • Shutter backup limits.
  • Shutter absolute position sensing provides indication of the percentage that each shutter is open.

 

 

DomeProU-dx for Explora Dome

The DomeProU-dx system is designed to control Explora Domes from Polydome of Litchfield, MN.  DomeProU-dx is a cost-optimized system that brings much of the “premium” capability of our DomeProU-d system into the affordable amateur market.  DomeProU-dx is designed for drop-in installation in Explora Dome 8’

 

Below is a features comparison between DomeProU-dx and DomeProU-d.  DomeProU-dx uses the same user interface software (Maestro) as DomeProU-d and retains most of DomeProU-d's functionality.

 

Note #1: Works with rotation motor kits provided by Polydome.  The Polydome kits that DO NOT include the “key bob” or azimuth controller are all that is needed.  Will also work with any DC motor operable from 12V consuming ≤ 10A.
Note #2: Limit switches included with shutter motor kits provided by Polydome.  The Polydome kits that DO NOT include the “key bob” or shutter controller are all that is needed.

Astrometric's DomeProU Models

DomeProU-c for Clamshell  Domes

 

DomeProU-c is one module that controls the two sides of the clamshell. Independent closure of either side to any angle is provided.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DomeProU-c Features List

Fully enclosed control module
  • DomePro2-c is not a board level product. Electronics are packaged in a robust industrial metal enclosure which is sealed on all but the bottom panel and is impervious to dust and insects.
  • CNC machined connector panels – accurately fits external connectors
Drop-in low hassle installation
  • All cables are connected through removable connectors. There are no cables/wires that need to be connected inside the sealed modules.
  • Field installs and replacements are quick and easy. No active electronics are hard-wired to the dome.
Exclusive use of high-quality components
  • Reliable industrial connectors and cables.
  • Extended temperature operation.
Versatile PC-based user interface software: Maestro
  • PC-access to all DomePro2 features, settings and diagnoses.
  • Standards support: ASCOM and Bisque X2.
  • Email/text notification for any fault condition (e.g., timeouts, weather unsafe, power fail, over-current, under-voltage, over-temp, failsafe shutter limits, etc.).
  • Maestro can ping an IP address and provide network-drop/timeout dome closure.
  • Protected access to all system settings.
Controller features
  • DomeProU-c can control DC motors, single-phase AC or 3ph AC (with soft-start capability) or stepper/servo motors. Motors are typically provided by the dome manufacturer however Astrometric can also provide complete motor solutions.
  • Designed for reliable remote and unattended operation.
  • Backlit displays shows status useful for in-observatory diagnostics without the need to refer to Maestro software running on a PC.
  • Capability to independently control both clamshell shutters and set each shutter to its own unique angle using optional absolute shutter angle sensors.
  • Direct (i.e., no PC in the loop) weather “unsafe” dome closure with suitable weather station (e.g., Boltwood).
  • “Mains” (AC line) power fail detection… provides immediate power-safe dome closure from UPS/battery.
  • Failsafe shutter closure on PC link timeout.
  • Motor current monitoring and overload protection. Power supply voltage monitoring.  Temperature monitoring.
  • Overvoltage/transient/surge protection, fully shielded cabling.
  • A rich set of timeouts protecting against motor or other system component failures. All timeouts are individually programmable and enablable.
  • Local/Remote keylock switch on front panel.
  • Easy upgrade of controller firmware and PC software.
  • Isolated USB interface to PC running our Maestro user interface software.
  • Manual override controls for separately opening or closing each shutter.

DomeProU-c systems include

  • A control module configured to control motors through relay contact closure, direct-drive of DC motors (18V 15A max) or external motor drivers (e.g., for 3ph AC or stepper/servo motors).
  • Controller power supply. DC units require 12V DC for motor power (see options below).
  • Maestro user interface software for Windows. Includes ASCOM Dome driver and Bisque X2 interface.
  • USB (2m, 5m or longer options available).
  • Weather-unsafe interface cable to Boltwood (or other) weather station.
  • “Mains” (AC line) power-good sensing and interface cable.
  • 2 year transferable warranty.
  • 1 year support contract: unlimited email and phone support.

DomeProU-c options

  • Shutter limit switches and wiring. Note: these are usually pre-installed by the manufacturer.
  • 3ph AC “soft-start” motor drivers.
  • Single phase AC motor drives for up to 8A.
  • DC motor power supply options up to 15A.
  • Dual shutter absolute angle sensor that provides for shutter “goto” a specific angle. Also, present shutter angle is displayed from Maestro.
  • External/remote shutter open/close switch option. This is sometimes used to provide shutter open/close from outside the dome in lieu of a door.
  • Shutter backup limits.

 

 

APM Professional Telescopes

1m F/8 Ritchey Chrétien with dual Nasmyth Foci, Cape Town (South Africa)

Another large telescope for the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO). An 1m F/8 Alt-Az mounted Ritchey Chrétien for robotic use. It has dual Nasmyth Foci. The main telescopes used for research are located at the SAAO observing station (32°22.795’S 20°48,657’E) near Sutherland in the Northern Cape, a 4-hour drive from Cape Town.

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