The Dome


The Solar Observatory 10ft Automatic Dome


PRO-DOME diameters are 10 feet. The base ring of these models includes a door; matching fiberglass wall rings are available to make a wall of suitable height.

All other domes are shipped in large sections and use bolt-together construction. Assembly bolts are stainless steel. All hardware for assembly is provided, except foundation bolts. Assembly requires alignment of parts, measuring and drilling bolt holes, and use of common hand and power tools. Larger holes, for rollers and latches, are cut and finished at the factory. Typically, domes are assembled in place by two or three persons, without cranes or special equipment. Motors and automation require addition time but no special equipment. We offer factory pre-assembly as an add-on service.

Observatory Automation

Digital Dome Works (DDW) is a computer based automation system which allows you to open and close the shutter, and control the dome azimuth so that it matches the telescope position. While the basic DDW is designed primarily for situations where the control room and the observatory are located no more than 400 feet apart, we offer options that allows you to operate an observatory many miles away, even across the Internet. You choose the components you need to fit your situation.

Digital Dome Works includes PC based software that presents all control and operating data to the user. DDW includes dozens of services for the user, both inside the observatory or at a remote location. For example, a "smart" hand control allows the user to in the observatory to turn dome slaving off and on, or return the dome to home with a single button push. Built-in interlocks automatically close the dome if the communication link is broken, or if you go off and forget to close the dome. In fact, DDW will even shut off the drive on many telescopes when the dome closes, thus protecting against "wire wrapping". We provide for remote operation of auxiliary equipment and remote voltage measurement.

DDW is the automation system supplied with ROBO-DOME.

The DDW control unit in the observatory contains two microprocessors which control the observatory motors, sensors and other devices. The control unit connects via an RS232 communication line to the controlling computer which runs the DDW Control Program (included with DDW). The Control Program provides the “human” interface: buttons allow commands to sent to DDW (e.g., OPEN dome), data returned from DDW is displayed (e.g., diagram of dome rotation and shutter positions), and configurations may be set (e.g., set the telescope mount parameters). Go to our page of Photos/Automation to see a sample of the main computer screen.



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