Sunday, 3 November 2019

Observatory Progress - Still Raining

Observatory Progress - Still Raining

Not strictly true, it's rained most of the time but certainly far from being clear in the evenings.  The observatory has been in almost one week, and slowly, I've been moving things in.  The goal will be to put as much of my astro kit in there as possible, but also leave plenty of room for my imaging kit to be left up.  After all, that's was the primary reason for getting it in the first place!
The plan in the coming months will be to design and build a permanent steel pier for the scope.  This will leave me plenty of room to move around the imaging rig.  But, for the interim, I have to set up all my kit on the tripod and best use of the room available as possible.

What's happened since the day of the installation?

The LED lighting went in straight away.  Ultimately, I was to run the obsy off grid, meaning that it will run entirely on battery and solar power.  That's a way off, possibly another year or so into the future, so for the time being, power is supplied by mains supply run via an extension lead.
Knowing that for the interim period, I will be running off mains, I have adapted the LED lighting which was originally modified to run of battery, back to run off mains.  Then, I attached a PDU bar to the wall that provides the multiple sockets I will need to run all the equipment.  It also means that when I run the extension lead to the obsy, I just plug the PDU into it, and everything has power straight away.
The basics of electricity sorted, I unpacked some of the imaging kit and set it up.  I needed to find out how much room I have inside the obsy with the kit set up.

The basic kit put together, this was the first time the mount had been powered up since February!
With the tripod set up accordingly, and the mount set up, I was able to get the height of the mount correct, making sure the scope doesn't touch the roof when the roof is closed, but also, the height of the pier that I will need to design.
My next objective was to get things set up to the point where should clear skies present themselves anytime soon, was to get everything set up to the point where I can start to use it.  There's a difference now though.  Now I don't have to take everything down at the end of each evening, I could start making things a little more permanent.  Years ago, I saw a thread on a forum where someone was trying to set up some cable management around their rig.  They achieved this by attaching a board to the legs of their tripod.  My idea when I finally get the pier is to have all the cable managed in a box mounted on the pier, so to have everything on a board attached to the tripod isn't too different.

The board attached to the tripod, with some very messy cable management.
On the board, I have mounted the NUC computer, the USB hub and another 4 gang lead.  What this picture does show is how much cabling is involved with the imaging rig.  As well as the kit in the picture, I have also mounted a monitor on the wall of the obsy to connect the NUC to.  Something really needed doing with those cables though!

Still not the prettiest, but definitely more organised that it was!

Finally, all the cables brought together in a single wiring loom, with a loop big enough to allow the telescope a complete range of movement without snagging or putting stress on any of the connections.
The last part of the weekends work was to sort out remote connectivity.  What I want to be able to do is to switch everything on in the observatory, and then monitor everything from indoors.  Internet connectivity out to the observatory off the home router is not particularly brilliant, frequently dropping out.  However, last year, I bought another wireless router with the intention of setting it up purely for wireless networking.  This router is not configured to connect to the internet.  I had already configured the router when I first bought it, so it was just a question of linking it up and switching it on.

Weekend over.

I got some major boxes ticked this weekend.  I'm now in a position to start using my kit with the weather starts to cooperate.  There's still loads to do in the observatory with more things to set up, shelves to fit, storage to make and a ton of other things.  With a busy week ahead, I'm not going to be able to do too much in the evenings, but I will chip away where I can.  I expect it might well end up being one of these things that's never finished!

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