Hi all,

I've been running our observatory without ACP for some time, and am in the process of getting everything working with ACP. Our dome is an Ash Dome with dual shutters (top one is up and over, lower is a drop-out shutter). We can control these shutters manually, or remotely with the DDWCP (the standalone Windows software that Technical Innovations provides). However, the control of the lower shutter is somewhat clunky - it is implemented through DDW's "user pins", which are software-controllable relays that can be opened or closed by checkboxes in the DDWCP software. So to open the lower shutter, we check a box and the shutter opens; unchecking the box closes the shutter.

So my question is: can this be made to work with ACP? I already have the upper shutter and dome rotation working fine with ACP via the DDW ASCOM driver. As far as I can tell, though, there is no hook in the ASCOM driver for these "user pins". According to the DDW manual there is an ActiveX interface that can control them (via a call to "actUserPins") but as I understand it, that will start up the DDWCP software - probably not the best thing if ACP is also trying to control the dome.

It seems like my options may be the following - but I'd appreciate any thoughts or corrections that others have:

1. Don't open the lower shutter. (!) This would work fine for imaging above elevations of ~45 degrees or so, but is pretty limiting.
2. Manually open the lower shutter at the start of the night, and close it at the end of the night. This would sort of defeat the purpose of ACP, though - one of my goals is to be able to have unattended safe shutdown if bad weather comes. Having ACP close the upper shutter would keep most of the rain out of the observatory if it's not windy, but it's far from ideal.
3. A variant of the previous item would be to have ACP control the upper shutter, but also I could try to craft some sort of script to either (a) wake me if there's bad weather and/or (b) try to programmatically close the lower shutter through DDWCP and ActiveX.
4. Scrap the whole DDW installation I have and go with something like Maxdome that's truly designed for dual-shutter operation. That's what I'd do if I had it to do over again... But if possible I'd prefer not to throw a lot more money at this if I can help it.

Thanks for any thoughts -


P.S. Has anyone out there tried to interface with DDWCP via its scripting interface? Any example scripts to share?