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A super mini observatory, made with electric window opener

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#1 hongming


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Posted 24 May 2021 - 10:05 AM

In recent months, I finished a mini observatory and named it '飞行船' (meaning a small boat flying in the night sky).
Its body consists of an aluminum profile, PC computer, microcontroller, control circuit board and two chain window openers. Normally I can access the PC via RDP remote desktop to control the opening and closing of the top cover on both sides.


I recorded a small video to demonstrate its opening and closing, feel free to visit this YouTube link: https://www.youtube....h?v=n1ZuI5vY5is

Starting from last October, the following work has been completed one after another

  • Designing the frame structure, including the way to open and close the "roof", and finally chose a simple shell type, using Openbuild's V-Slot accessories.
  • Purchase the circuit board, use Arduino to write code to control the forward and reverse rotation of the window opener motor, so as to control the opening and closing of the "roof".
  • Purchase customized equatorial columns, USB hub and other accessories.
  • Purchased aluminum profiles, aluminum insulation panels and some assembly accessories.
  • Assemble all the accessories and debug the electric part.


The first version was finished at the end of April, I put it in the yard (most of the time, the telescope was not put in), after a few weeks of rainy days, luckily, no leaks.


The OpenSCAD code for the frame structure, and the Arduino code for communicating with the motor controller, have previously been put into github(https://github.com/h...ng/feixingchuan ), they are all still in a very raw draft state and need a lot of modification before they can be used, but they already roughly express the overall idea.




Designing frame structures with OpenSCAD





Assemble all the accessories and debug the electric part


What it looks like after closing

What it looks like when fully opened



Top and side accessories to shield from rain



My next steps

  • Remake the frame, maybe make it a little bigger
  • Make an auxiliary circuit so I can use the remote to open it when the PC is down (once I had to cut open the side panel and take the PC back to restore Windows).
  • Add an AllSky all-day camera so you can always know what the weather is like outside.
  • Associated with N.I.N.A to automatically close the top cover, or when the equatorial mount returns to zero position.

Edited by hongming, 24 May 2021 - 10:08 AM.

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#2 ssagerian


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Posted 24 May 2021 - 10:14 AM

that is a great project, lots of work and its working! What mount and scope are you using?

The ultimate back yard accessory.

#3 guidoforrier



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Posted 24 May 2021 - 10:58 AM

you inspired me ! it is a bit to small for me but I suppose the design works also for a bigger "green house " . 


#4 rodney j johnson jr

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Posted 24 May 2021 - 11:03 AM

THAT is..... fantastic!!!!

the night film made it even more dramatic.



now all you need is the music 'thus spake zarathustra' from 2001: a space odyssey!!

Edited by rodney j johnson jr, 24 May 2021 - 11:06 AM.



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Posted 24 May 2021 - 11:15 AM

Hi, hongming - wow, that came out nice!


I especially like your use of the electric window opener. Hobby projects are all about repurposing existing materials and mechanisms to the new purpose. I also enjoy that you followed through and actually built the observatory. Lots of discussions never get past the qualitative conceptual stage; never to execution.


Here's my related "Roof-Cam" micro-mini observatory, where I used a surplus shredder motor to open and close the cap that keeps sunlight from getting in and snow and birds off the optical window.    Tom

Attached Thumbnails

  • 97.4 Tom's roof cam motorized environmental cap.jpg

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#6 alphatripleplus


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Posted 25 May 2021 - 11:55 AM

Sounds like a great idea. Good to know it has so far proven to be leak proof!

#7 H-Alfa


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Posted 27 May 2021 - 02:45 AM

I love it! :)
I'm curious about the mechanical aspects of the open/closing system. Do you have more info that you can share? The web of the supplier of this window opener for example?

Enviado desde mi Mi 9 Lite mediante Tapatalk

#8 555aaa


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Posted 04 June 2021 - 09:05 AM

This looks excellent. Are there counterweights for the roof halves?

#9 hongming


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Posted 08 June 2021 - 10:21 AM

 I'm happy to share my work in cloudynights, the code of the previous openscad is in another place, but now it's all merged together and can be downloaded from here-->https://github.com/h...ng/feixingchuan


The principle of selecting all materials and accessories is: I can buy directly from the Internet (for example, in China Taobao.com) and make as few custom-made as possible.


In the past two weeks, I am still modifying the previous design, including replacing the size of some components from 20*20cm to 20*40cm. some modifications from friends are also put in the code.


For a few key structures, please refer to the screenshots below.


Hope this helps.


Overall structure









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#10 Stevegeo



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Posted 09 June 2021 - 03:58 AM

Nice setup,  simple strut build, and very smart.


The mechanical movement is clever.  And looks easy to maintain.   Thank you for sharing.


And for those that are considering a small setup for their  house/garage or dormer this would be ideal.


To prevent lift from high winds a garage door type track could be substituted for vertical and horizontal movement.



#11 Raginar



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Posted 09 June 2021 - 09:04 AM

That is the cutest little setup. Ever.


Seriously though, nice job.  

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