Automation Phase 2 - Power
Timeline of Activities
I spent the weekend of 3rd/4th December installing Visual Studio 2015 Community edition, and learning some very basic VB .Net! I managed to write a simple application that enables the digital output channels on the VM110N - it's by no means elegant code but it's perfectly functional and allows me to take the next step of combining it with the VM129 to activate the relays.
The VM129 has eight output channels, so I will be using:
- Ch 1 :- Main 12v supply
- Ch 2 :- Mount
- Ch 3 :- Camera
- Ch 4 :- USB Hub
- Ch 5 :- Dew controller
Eventually, there will be one channel for the flats panel, which will leave two spare. One of these will be for the roof control at least - but I don't know yet if only one channel is needed (roof open or close) or both (roof open, roof close). I'm still quite away from having the roof sorted (see Phase 3 page)
Still, this is very exciting stuff as it means I can now start planning how this is going to fit into the observatory and try and think through some of the other questions that I've detailed before...
Thoughts given to the automatic flat field process. There are a couple of options here:
- Create a custom script that switches the right relay on, when CCD Commander is ready to take the flats. It will park the scope at the right place before taking the flats, and then fire the script to turn on the power - and off once the flats are taken
- Have the power to the flat field light box on, but the circuit is interrupted by a couple of magnetic switches on the mount. The circuit is therefore not completed until the mount is parked in the correct position
The scripting option is, essentially, zero cost but makes the assumption that I can actually write a suitable script to operate the switch. The second option is more straight-forward but will have a small cost attached... I think, once I have the switching boards in my hands, and the ASCOM drivers installed, I will make a decision then - both options are appealing at the moment!
So far, I have looked at the switching circuits needed for the various power elements. Again, a huge thanks to Steve Richards at The Chanctonbury Observatory for his unwavering patience in the face of relentless questions!
I know which components I need and have identified a suitable 15amp 13.8v regulated power supply. I now need to start planning the cabling runs in the observatory, and in particular where the switch box will be situated.