July 2011

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New ASCOM Dome Driver

After speaking with Technical Inovations, I got a new (I think beta) version ofthe Digital Dome Works ASCOM Driver.  I'll be testing it in the hopes of finally ridding myself of the "Refresh Timer Exception Phase=5" issue.

Optimizing ADU Targets for Flat Frames

Did some experimenting with ADU targets for flat frames.  The full well of the KAF-1603 in the QSI 516 is 100,000e-. Gain is 2.6 e-/ADU. So, full well of a single pixel binned 1x1 will occur about 38,500 ADUs. It is best that ADUs reach about 80% of full well, which is a little over 30,000 ADUs. For higher binning values, full well will be close to 65,000 ADUs. A good target for flats there is about 50,000 ADUs.


I hooked up with Michael Poxon today who is leading a program to monitor Young Stellar Objects.  This looks like a very interesting program, and I hope my observations become useful.

AAVSO Mentor

Afer struggling with some photometry issues, I decided to leverage the AAVSO mentor program.  I connected with Mike Simonsen at the AAVSO and he connected me with a knowledgeable AAVSO member who has been a wonderful resource.  I'm looking forward to soaking up the knowledge.

Motor Covers

While the new motors are much more quiet to operate, I nonetheless decided to fabricate motor covers to make sure little fingers or anything else would not get caught in the motor drive rollers.  The cover frames are made from 13mm plywood. The same material that was used to panel the observatory walls was used for the covering. On the dome support ring (DSR) I placed a bit of closed-cell foam on the dome support ring (DSR) and some self-adhesive foam weatherstripping material around the plywood frame to further absorb sound.

Dome Ventilation

The first winter for the dome presented some interesting issues.  One of which was the build up of moisture on the inside surface of the dome, which froze.  Some of this moisture was coming from the house, even with double doors weather stripped to minimize air leakage from the house to the control room/observatory.  To me, it was an indication higher than desirable humidity as a result of poor air circulation.  This could spell trouble for fragile electronics and other equipment in the dome.

Second Observatory

My second observatory was featured in the December 1982 issue of the Sky & Telescope Magazine article "Five Amateur Observatories".  This image at right was featured in the article.  Below are images showing the interior.

First Observatory

My first observatory was an "open air" type. This image is from an article in the March 1975 Sky & Telescope Magazine.  The article describes the sack as made from canvas.  My design included six brass grommets around the opening.