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9-DOF Sensor Instead of Absolute Encoders?

The PANOPTES baseline design uses an iOptron mount, an iEQ30 or an iEQ45. These do not have absolute encoders, so they can't always determine the position of the two axes. Normally they'll remember where they were when last used, but if the user has loosened the clutch to adjust things, the scope has collided with the mount, there was a failure to save state during power down, or some such, then the mount won't have accurate info, and needs to be manually homed: aimed at the celestial pole. This runs contrary to the goal of a robotic telescope: it should require as little human assistance as we can reasonably achieve.
We've experimented with including a 3-axis accelerometer in the camera box, a sensor that allows us to determine which way is down when the camera is not moving. This is pretty useful, but it can't distinguish, for example, between pointing down on the east side of the mount and on the west side of the mount. Basically, for each position on one side …

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