I have not updated much on this thread, but there have been quite a few changes.
Here is the current imaging setup. I have a 12" concrete pier now (begging for a dome), and I have 3D printed custom holders for all the power bricks, focus controller, dew heater, etc. The scope comes in after a session, but the mount just gets covered, keeping the polar align spot on.
I started trying INDI about a year ago as I was transitioning from unguided to guided exposures. I recently finished putting together the setup shown in these pictures. Currently, it needs to be put together and moved to the balcony every time I want to do weather permits imaging.
I use Astroberry on a Raspberry Pi 4 to control everything remotely. There is a single cable going to the mount from the rest of the world: a 12V power cable, coming from a 12.5A source.
I wanted to have the least number of cables running across moving parts: the raspberry sits on the main telescope and so it moves with it, together with the cameras and the electric filter wheel that are connected to it (well, EFW is in fact connected to the ASI1600MM hub, the ASI120MM not, as I felt it worked better plugged in its own port at the raspberry). The raspberry connects to the mount via Bluetooth.
There is a power box (described in a
) attached to the RA arm of the mount. It sources power to the mount and the camera cooler (12V) and to the Raspberry Pi (5V). Power cables to the raspberry and camera cooler run through the declination arm.
It's been a long learning process, but here is the first HaRGB image I have done with this setup: www.astrobin.com/thmb4v/
I'm grateful to all the people in this forum. You all have been a source of invaluable help.
Some photos of my remotely controlled observatory, now operational (from our living room). The box is roughly 48 inches (1.2 meters) on a side and 60 inches (1.5 meters) high. As I do not have clear access to the north (very tall white pine trees), the hinged roof, that opens with linear actuators, does not need to open fully but I am considering modifying it so it open more like a roll-off roof.
Everything operates under a distributed KStars/Ekos/INDI system on ODroid computers running Ubuntu Mate.
Once the proverbial rainy days go away, I will be able to refine the orientation on the obsy and perform polar alignment and a few tests. Once I am satisfied with the operation and tests, I will likely move it to another area of our lot.
Thanks to the contributors for the KStars/Ekos/INDI environment and to Gonzothegreat for the initial design ideas!
I love these small setups. Both yours and Gonzo's. Can you give us a rundown of the equipment? I see you have some weather devices, and maybe a box or two I'm not familiar with. I'll be setting up a "micro" observatory myself in the coming days. I'm working on drawings and yard placement at the moment.
@G_Gagnon thanks, I saw your post on Facebook today, had no time to respond. It's a very nice box you've done there
Glad to see I've inspired a few out there. If you don't mind I'll give you a few tips that I learned from running my box.
tip #1 and already mentioned by @H__ is about ventilation.
It is VERY important that you add a passive system, take a look at my box, I have a hole at the bottom (well, multiple small holes) covered by a vent plate (and a mesh in between)
then at the top, I have a solar powered fan. If you do not add any ventilation, dew and general humidity will form on anything metallic.
I never had any humidity issues ever in my box with such passive system.
tip #2 limit switches, the ones you are using are very similar to the first ones I had, and they are garbage and tend to fail.
Find on eBay these ones instead.
tip #3 I highly recommend that you extend your "roof" over the main box, add an extra plank or half plank.
Believe me, the rain will make its way in...
And the most important part... what is your plan if something fails inside and you can't open the roof?
On my box, I can remove the side panel even with the roof closed, so in case of a total loss of everything I can still open it.
Thanks for your comments and suggestions, they are much appreciated.
As far as the 'boxes' and control in the observatory, I have a box with power distribution (Powerpole), a Raspi 3 B+ running the observatory (roof relays and limit switches, "Weather Radio" weather station and, once ready, a lightbox for flats). Power is controlled by a Digital Loggers web switch. A PoE network switch provides wired connectivity and monitoring camera connection.
Because of an early mishap, and on my wife's suggestion, I have installed a manual roof control for when I need to work on the obsy as well as a panic button, just in case .
Unless the roof opening system totally fails, I have a battery backup mechanism that feeds the linear actuators in the eventuality of a power failure, controlled by a small wireless remote. I haven't devised a way to get inside yet in case of total failure but I can have access to the linear actuators holding brackets with minimal 'damage' to the roof. I have a nicer solution in mind but I haven't found the hardware for that yet.
I haven't implemented the ventilation yet as I am not sure on how I want to do it. I have thought of something like the following with a fan controlled by an Arduino monitoring temperature and humidity but I'm still juggling with the idea. I also have to consider snow possibly blocking air inlet, in the equation.
Thanks for the tip on the limit switches. I will look into better ones but an alternate solution I thought of is adding redundancy through magnetic sensors such as door open/close sensors, connected in parallel with the switches. The switches are used to confirm full closure or full opening states, not as actuator limits per say.
As far as the extra plank is concerned, there may not be enough space to install one as the gap between roof and wall is rather small I could probably use the same rubber membrane I uses to protect the hinges side of the roof. Not as elegant but this is not a beauty contest.
As far as my equipment, it consists of a William Optics GTF81 scope, mounted on an OnStep modified Astro-Physics AP400 mount, all controlled with an ODroid N2 computer and Pegasus Astro UPB. Cameras are ZWO.
Gonzothegreat, as you suggested, I have partially implemented the suggestions you gave me.
1) Replaced one of the limit switch with those you suggested. I will replace the second one when the weather is more comfortable (ground has started to freeze here )
2) Installed an Arduino and dual DHT22 based ventilation system that measures inside and outside temperature and humidity and activate the fan if the difference between inside and outside is greater that a threshold but does not bring outside humidity inside if the obsy is dryer. Seems to work fine for now. I have set the threshold arbitrarily at 10C temp and 10%RH, there may be more appropriate values.
3) As I had already installed a 12mm thick x 38mm wide (2 strips) weather sealing strip I haven't had any water or snow infiltration inside the obsy (yet), even in heavy rain and wind. Winter with is snow flurries and wind may be another issue but time will tell.
4) For safety sake, I also have a blinking red LED strip that activates 10 seconds before the roof opens or closes and while it is in motion. It may attract attention but better be safe that injuring someone. I also thought of having a beeper but I don't want to make my neighbor angry in the middle of the night
5) As I use 2 actuators, maybe I should install a system to detect actuator failure so that the roof and equipment do not get damage if an actuator tries to open/close the roof when the other is defective. Any clues on this?
It took to me several months, but my scrollable setup is nearly finish.
I got the inspiration from @G_Gagnon pictures. This allows me to move easily the telescope from my bedroom to the terrace.
I designed and selected the materials in order to be as stable and manageable as posible.
The wheels had to respect the parquet floor (my partner would not accept anything else), it should be able to be leveled with minimal effort regardless of weight and, once fixed at the observation spot, it had to be stable for astrophotography.
The setup includes a RasPi 4 4GB running Stellarmate from a Samsung T5 SSD 250 GB. I use two HUBs for all USB connections, the Pegasus PPBA Advance and a small 3-port USB3 Hub. There is also an external USB3 dual frequency wifi device.
Everything is mounted on a wood support. From top to bottom: RasPi, PPBA and wifi device (at its left), T5 SSD and USB3 Hub.
The SSD The is housed in a pocket of the wood holder with an aluminum closure that can be easily opened to remove the disc when required.
The focuser is the Sesto Senso. In the dovetail rail I fixed a lead plate of those that are used in diving (in red). It can be moved to help balance the weight of the camera. The KMTronic relay for the camera is also fixed under the plate.
I still have to shorten some connections (It is difficult to find some USB cables shorter than 50 cm...) and add a small case/receptacle in the base for a second Raspi I have with a surveillance camera and a GPS, but the hard work is done.