Open-ARO Introduction

Introduction 

Open-ARO is an open source Automated Robotic Observatory aimed for Roll Off Roof observatories (it can be easily modified for dome observatories) for up to 3 user per location. The firmware and hardware is designed to allow totally safe remote and unattended operation and the observatory can be shared be 3 users with total independence. The main concern is total equipment safety in case of bad weather conditions, power failure or any other circumstance that can put in danger the installed telescope, mount, camera and any other hardware.

The Open-ARO system is a totally independent unit that does not need an external PC ou Laptop to control de observatory and related users equipment, the system as its own MCU, RAM, SSD storage, IO ports, Ethernet PHY, etc, etc. It communicates with the outside world thru its Embedded Web Server so you can easily control the observatory and installed equipment from any place on Earth using only a regular Web Browser, there is also a USB connection to allow for a local PC interface via ASCOM if that is the case.

If you have a mount with Ethernet connection (10Micron, ASA, etc) and a CCD camera also with Ethernet interface (Moravian, SBIG, etc) you can even eliminate the overhead and complexity of using a "onsite" PC to control your hardware. Just plug the mount, camera and other devices to the local Ethernet Gateway/Switch and control them directly from your home computer running your preferred Image Capture and Planetarium software.

The basic hardware consists of a control unit equipped with a 32 bit MicroController that serves as the mais brains for all the system control, additionally there are several other modules like the integrated UPS control subsystem that guarantees interrupted system operation, the backup GSM link that allows communication in the event of power and/or Ethernet failure, temperature, humidity, clouds and rain sensors that monitor the weather conditions, etc.

Basic operation

The system controls the opening/closing of the roof and other observatory hardware/systems, monitors the weather conditions and acts according to the predefined parameters, allows the login of registered user and permits them to remotely connect and disconnect their assigned devices using local relays.

All this functions are interconnected and some actions generate other reactions, that make up the system features:

Open-ARO featutes

Feature

Description

 Uninterrupted operation

 - Integrated UPS with battery and charger
 - System work even in the event of external power fails
 - Roof closes even if there is no external power
 - Communication (Ethernet and GSM) powered from UPS system
 - External sensors (rain, temp., humidity, clouds, etc) can be powered from battery

 Weather monitoring  - External Rain, Cloud, Temperature, Humidity and Wind
 - Internal Temperature & Humidity
 System monitoring  - External mains power failure
 - Battery status and charge
 - Roof motor power consumption (detected stall conditions)
 - Observatory intrusion
 - Roof status (closed/opened) 
 - Ethernet connection status
 - Connected users ping (heart beat for auto logoff) 
 Users 

 - The firmware includes a embedded Web Server, user access using a Web Browser
 - Up to 3 user can share the observatory (other configurations possible) 
 - Up to 10 remote controlled (turn on or off) devices per user
 - Auto ping user for detecting dead connections and auto roof close
 - User devices configuration (device name, delays, etc) 
 - StartUp and ShutDown device sequence for each user with programmed delays
 - Cycle devices
 - Auto SMS on system fail our pertinent event with log
 - User can remotely open ou close roof (depending on predefined parameters)

 Safety 

 - Auto roof close on bad weather condition (predefined parameters)
 - Auto roof close on power failure 
 - Auto roof close on all users logged off
 - Auto roof close on Ethernet failure
 - Roof control using SMS mensagem/App 
 - Admin can force opening ou closing of the roof
 - Local battery backup allows emergency roof close even without external power
 - Auto battery charge control for 100% battery charge without user intervention 
 - Backup GSM link

 Observatory control

 - Local IP camera and All Sky camera feeds can be visualized on the embedded Web Server status page 
 - Local IP cameras can be turned off during exposures
 - Local lights can be remotely turn on or off
 - Router can be remotely rebooted
 - Up to 6 external sensores can be monitored

 

System implementation

The system implementation layout look like this (all the modules are assembled in the System Box)