SkyRoof User’s Guide


 The SkyRoof control program provides the user with an easy method to operate a roll-off observatory roof from the PC desktop. In addition to this, the system includes an ASCOM compliant driver to facilitate roof operation through any ASCOM enabled software. The program can read standard one-line weather data files (also known as “Clarity” or “Weather Data”) generated by most weather monitoring systems and control roof operation according to prevailing weather conditions.

SkyRoof features two optional safety interlock mechanisms to prevent a closing roof from colliding with an unparked telescope. The “Park Safety Switch” method relies on an optional microswitch or light beam switch connected to the SkyRoof board to sense the parked status of the mount. In addition, an ASCOM mount driver method can be used to detect a parked mount which will prevent roof closure until the ASCOM mount driver reports that the scope is parked. If you do not intend to use the “Park Safety Switch” method, then the safety switch pins on the roof control module will need to be jumped in order for the system to function correctly.

NOTE: Jumping is not recommended, except for initial testing or an observatory roof that is high enough to clear the telescope(s) in all altitude positions. Otherwise, it is advisable to use a safety switch to sense the "Scope Parked" position of the telescope(s) before any roof movements are made.


SkyRoof requires installation of the ASCOM platform and Microsoft .NET 4.0 or higher in order to function correctly. If these software packages are not installed on your machine, please install them before proceeding. Do not connect the USB cable to the roof control board until the software installation has been completed.

            Double click on the SkyRoof Setup icon and follow the on-screen prompts to begin installation.

In a few moments, the ASCOM driver installation setup program will appear. Continue the installation process by following the prompts.

After the ASCOM dome driver installation has completed, click the “Install Drivers” button on the SkyRoof Install program window to proceed to install the roof control board driver.

After the driver installation process has completed, click the “Exit” button to install the SkyRoof program and complete the installation process.

Continue the device driver installation by following the on-screen prompts.

Finish the installation by clicking on the “Install” button on the next window that appears.

For proper operation, the SkyRoof control program will need to be connected to the ASCOM driver. Click on the Roof: “Choose” button to continue. An ASCOM “Chooser” dialog will appear. Select the SkyAlertROR Dome from the drop down and then click the “Properties” button.

Program Operation:

Double click the SkyRoof icon on your desktop to run the program. See below for functions and operation. To begin, click on the “Tools” drop down menu and select “Settings”. This will open the Settings page.

Settings page

When the Properties dialog appears, select the Com port from the drop down selection that the roof control module is connected to. Click on the OK button to continue.

To complete the connection to the driver, click the “Connect” button on the Settings page.

Note: If you plan on connecting a telescope mount (optional) to the program, follow the above procedure for connecting to the mount driver. The ASCOM device drivers only need to be set up the first time the program is run. For subsequent sessions, simply tick the Auto connect checkbox(s) and the drivers will connect automatically when the program is started.

If you are planning on connecting the SkyRoof program to an optional weather station, click on the button adjacent to the “Path to Weather Data File”. This will open a windows file browser. Navigate to the location of the one-line “Weather Data” or “Clarity” file.

Set the temperature scale to the desired setting by selecting one of the “Temperature Scale” radio buttons.

If you would prefer to have the SkyRoof program window as the top-most program window, check “Always On Top”.


The action and alert settings will issue a “Roof Close” command if any of the criteria are met and the adjacent checkbox is checked. A setting of zero minutes will cause the roof close command to occur immediately when the condition is met or exceeded, otherwise the condition needs to occur constantly for the amount of time that the alert minutes setting is set to. Although the system will not allow the roof to close unless the park state of the telescope is “Parked”, if the ASCOM mount driver is connected to the program, SkyRoof will issue a “Park Telescope” command to the mount and then proceed to close the roof after the park state has been detected. This behavior will occur when using either of the “Park Check” settings methods.

 Regardless of whether any of the Action/Alert checkboxes are checked, the system will issue visual weather alerts on the control panel window based on the limit settings of the alerts. Green colored icons indicate the conditions are within the set limit while red icons indicate that the set limit has been exceeded. Marginal conditions will display the corresponding icon in yellow. Light clouds will cause the “Cloudy” indicator color to show yellow, while a very cloudy condition will be shown in red.

Park Check Settings:

Two separate methods are available to detect if the telescope is in a parked state.

When the “Park Safety Switch” method is used, the user must provide a means to detect that the telescope is in a safe “Parked” position. This can be done through the use of a micro-switch or a light beam system. The switch will need to be connected to the roof control board as shown in the wiring diagram. This is the preferred method of detecting a safely parked scope.

The ASCOM park detection method relies on the mount’s ASCOM driver to report when the telescope has been parked. The mount driver must be connected to the SkyRoof program in order for this method to function.

Regardless of which method is used, the system will not allow the roof to close unless it has detected a parked scope by means of one of these methods. The exception to this is if no detection method is chosen and the park safety connections on the roof control board are jumped. If no detection method is to be used, be sure that there is no possibility of the roll-off roof colliding with an un-parked scope.

When the mount is connected to SkyRoof through an ASCOM driver, the “Park Scope” button can also be used to park the telescope.

Dew Heater:

A dew heater system can be connected to the system as outlined in the wiring diagram. The dew heater relay can be manually controlled through the use of the “On/Off” button on the settings page. When the “Turn on dew heaters” checkbox is checked, the system will automatically energize the dew heater relay whenever a “Dew” condition is approaching.

Main Menu:

Click the “Open” button to proceed to open the roof. When the roof is opening, a message near the bottom of the window will indicate the roof position status. Similarly, clicking the “Close” button will operate in the same manner. Clicking the “Stop” button at any time will halt the current roof operation. Click “Open” or “Close” to begin the roof movement again. Along with the colored “Alert” icons, icons are displayed indicating current roof position and current telescope park state.

SkyAlert ASCOM Driver:

The SkyAlert ASCOM driver enables ASCOM compliant programs to access the SkyRoof controls through the ASCOM platform. The roof controls can be implemented through ASCOM even if the Skyroof program is not running. If you would prefer to have SkyRoof running while accessing the controls with a third party program through ASCOM, then connect the ASCOM generic hub to the SkyAlertROR driver and connect any other programs (including SkyRoof) to the ASCOM generic hub. Multiple programs can be connected to the driver concurrently in this fashion. Do not use the ASCOM POTH hub as this may cause a conflict.

In the “Generic Hub” dialog, click “Choose Dome”

Connecting the SkyRoof Control Board

Diagram #1 shows Cable runs for a typical Roll Off Roof Installation.

Diagram #2 shows the actual wiring connections to the SkyRoof Board.

Shown below are the cable runs and board wiring requirements for a roll off roof installation. Note that there are (4) pairs of wires to be connected to the SkyRoof Control Board.

The first pair from the relay control box to J4no and J4cm for roof open. Second pair from the relay control box to J3no and J3cm for roof close. Third pair from the Open Magnetic Sensor to SO and Cm. Fourth pair from the Closed Magnetic Sensor to SC and Cm.

Diagram #1

Diagram #2

Note: The roof will not close unless AP is jumped to Cm. Install jumper only if not using “At Park” safety switch.

In the “Generic Hub” chooser, select the SkyAlertROR driver. Connect all other ‘Dome” control programs to the “Generic Hub”.

Image Acquisition Software Specific Notes:

CCD AutoPilot:  From the Main setup page, select “ASCOM” in the “Dome” drop down box, tick the Change Driver checkbox. When linking to the software, choose SkyAlertROR or Generic Hub from ASCOM Dome chooser as outlined above.

CCD Commander: From the main menu tool bar, select the “Setup” drop down option. Next, click on the Control/Device tab. Select “ASCOM Driver” from the drop down box and click on the “Configure” button. Proceed to connect to the SkyAlertROR driver or Generic Hub as outlined above.

Astronomers Control Panel:  Click on the “ACP” drop down tool bar option and select “Preferences”. Click on the “Dome Control” tab and click the “Select Dome” button. Proceed to use the ASCOM chooser to connect to the SkyAlertROR dome driver or Generic Hub as desired.

Maxim DL: From the “View” tool bar drop down option, choose “Observatory” to open the Observatory control panel. Click on the “Setup” tab and click the “Options” button. Click “Setup” from the context menu that appears and proceed to connect to the SkyAlertROR driver or Generic Hub as outlined above.

Ticking the “Auto connect at launch” checkbox will cause the program to automatically connect to the drivers when it is launched. Do not check these boxes until you have successfully connected to the driver(s) at least once.

Scripting: The roof functions can be scripted through ASCOM. See the following example:

'SkyAlert ROR driver script

'This script will open the roof fully, wait ten seconds and then close the roof

Set roof=CreateObject("ASCOM.SkyAlertROR.Dome")         'Assign the variable "roof" to the ASCOM driver object

Set objShell = WScript.CreateObject("WScript.Shell")           'Shell for PopUp messages  

Const Timeout = 3                                                                        'Constant for PopUp message display time

Const PopUp_Title = "SkyAlertROR Script"                             'PopUp message title

roof.connected = true                                                                   'Connect to the driver

wscript.sleep(3000)                                                                     'Wait a few seconds for connection to driver

roof.openshutter                                                                            'Open the roof

objShell.Popup "Opening Roof...", Timeout, PopUp_Title    'Status message

while roof.shutterstatus <> 0                                                      'Loop until the driver reports the roof is open


objShell.Popup "Roof Open", Timeout, PopUp_Title            'Roof is open               

wscript.sleep 10000                                                                    'Wait ten seconds

objShell.Popup "Closing Roof...", Timeout, PopUp_Title    'Status message

roof.closeshutter                                                                          'Close the roof

while roof.shutterstatus <> 1                                                     'Loop until the driver reports the roof is closed


objShell.Popup "Roof Closed", Timeout, PopUp_Title        'Status message

roof.connected = false                                                                'Disconnect from driver

Set roof=Nothing                                                                          'Dispose object    

Substitute CreateObject(“ASCOM.SkyAlertROR.Dome”) with CreateObject(“Hub.Dome”) if you plan on connecting multiple programs to the driver.


Interactive Astronomy