November 27, 2004: November has been a good month too, despite the many cloudy nights when compared to Sept/Oct. The advantage of automation is being able to take advantage of nearly every clear night. Now that the nights are longer, I'm able to image over 500 galaxies per night as part of our supernova search program. No discoveries yet, but some REAL-CLOSE-CALLS.
October 3, 2004: September was a very productive month with many clear nights. These clear nights allowed Paul and I to image thousands of galaxies in the supernova search program and for me to add more capabilities to my automation hardware/software and to work out most of the bugs.
August 18, 2004: A major milestone was reached last night with first light of my new home-built dome controller. The dome azimuth sensing is somewhat unique in that it uses 72 barcodes (spaced out every ~5 degrees around the dome) and a bar code scanner. It seems to work very well indeed. To stitch together everything I wrote a program called the ARO Dome Controller which allows both manual control of the dome and remote control using the ASCOM dome standard. When the ASCOM Dome Control Panel is used with it, the dome automatically follows the telescope position.
July 25, 2004: I've made great progress in the last couple of weeks on the dome automation project. I've built and programmed a dome controller which can open/close and rotate the dome both manually and via a PC. I've also worked out the details of the dome azimuth sensing system - more on that later. By end of this week, I should have all the hardware complete leaving just the software on the PC side to write.
January to May 2004: Activities during this period were mainly confined to the supernova search project that I am doing with Paul Gray. I did attempt to do a drift polar alignment which did improve things - I have to do more iterations though. Overall the dome survived the winter very well. The only problem that I had was the observatory door froze shut a few times.