Welcome to the Open Observatory Control System
 (OOCS) Project

This web site will provide you with an overview of the OOCS project.  This project began for me, about 3 years ago when I decided to make my roll-roof observatory full robotic and remotely controllable from my home in San Diego.  Having invested many thousands of dollars in my astrophotography equipment, I was determined to get more use that my periodic desert trips would allow!  I immediately ran into a major problem:  Commercially available observatory automation was going to cost me upwards of $10,000!  At that time cloud and weather sensing alone was costing well over $1000!  I decided that in order to continue learning and expanding my horizons, I would create my own control system. . .and thus the OOCS project was born!
I immediately recognized that there were several capabilities that the system needed to provide:
1) Safe and Reliable Roof Control - The ability to sense, and control the position of the roof on my garage door driven roll-roof observatory.  UPDATE: The OOCS can now directly drive DC and most AC motors up to 240v and no more than 16Amps start-up current, and also support split roof designs driven by two separate motors!  See the Advanced Relay Module for more information.
2) Cloud and Environment Sensing - Detecting inclement weather such as clouds, rain, heavy wind, are all critical for safely running a remote observatory.
3) Voltage Monitoring - My observatory runs via a battery bank that provides backup to the grid power at my site, a power outage knocking my systems offline is not tolerable.  Thus the system needed the capability to monitor the condition/charge of my batteries.
4) Scope Safety Monitoring - Since the roof of my observatory can potentially strike my telescope, it was imperative that the system monitor the position of the telescope and protect from accidental damage.
5) Power Control - Remotely controlling the power to delicate astronomy equipment such as mounts, focusers, cameras, is a must for a robotic observatory.
6) ASCOM Compliance Software - In order for the control system to integrate with the various automation packages, such as CCD Commander, CCD AutoPilot, and ACP Observatory Control Software, a fully functioning ASCOM compliant driver suite and control package was needed.

7) Advanced Relay Module - This is the first expansion board for the OOCS.  It is a plug & play circuit that provides up to 8 additional relays to the main OOCS, allowing for control of more complex roof designs, including directly driving AC/DC motors.  When used with typical motors, this module can control up to 4 motors simultaneously.
Most important of all, the project had to be 100% open source with all schemetics, bills of materials, build instructions, software, firmware totally free and available to anyone under the GNU General Public License.  Welcome to the OOCS project!  I hope you find the information here to be of value to you and don't hesitate to e-mail me with any questions/comments!

Project Files - Schematics, Source Code, etc.

These are the latest release files for the OOCS Project.  Here you can download the latest schematics, software, firmware, and guild instructions.  I will keep these documents as up to date as possible and the instructions will grow/improve with time.  Don't hesitate to submit your questions and comments!