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Saturday, February 26th, 2011
Hi All,
 
Neil was recently visiting my observatory and he thought I had a very cool set up and I had all kinds of automation in the observatory that it was worth to share in MOAJ, so here it's.
 
I'm recovering from an astrophotography accident that I had about 3 months ago now.  This is what happened:  "I finished reading my book at night, I put the book inside the drawer of the night table & turn off the light to go to sleep. What I did not know is that the book click the remote opener of my observatory roof and left the roof opened all night...and this is Oregon, so a storm came early in the morning and soaked all of my equipment, computers, everything for 90 min."
 
You can imagine my reaction when I saw the rain & the roof open.  I was ready to explode. Well, I let everything dry for 2 months and I turned it on recently and everything works.  The good news is that when I caught rain, everything was off, so nothing fried.
 
In the last 2-3 months, I've spend a lot of time with electronics, sensors, etc.  I've built a rain sensor that works independently of computers and it has a battery backup, so when it detects rain, it automatically closes the roof of observatory.  Also, I've installed a sensor to detect power outages and it'll shut down the roof when it happens, and all kinds of battery backups, and protections are build in.  For instance, you have to enable to digital gates to open the roof and the roof is lock with a low-tech locks when it's rain time, so like I said, it's much better protected.
 
Additionally, I have installed two motor-focusers for my wide-field telescope (WO Lomo Megrez FL=480 f6 with the TV-85 then the FL is 408 f5) and for my deep-field telescope (Maksutov FL=1800mm f12).  The wide filed has a QHY9 with a motorized filter wheel that I'm just starting to test and my Mak has Canon 40D from Hutech with astronomy filter and LPS filter.
 
Here you have some pictures of the whole thing:
 
- Electromagnetic switches to control the logic open/close of the roof
 
- The relays to actuate in case of rain, power outage, with the battery back up
 
- The roof motor with battery back up
 
- The rain sensor :)
 
- The computers with battery backup & layer of wood to protect from rain
 
- The equipment
 
Enjoy it!
 
M.


Image Gallery For This Session
computers equipment
magnetic switches rain sensor
relays roof eng
   

computers.JPG
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Comments:
On 03/09/11 at 08:30pm Miquel wrote:
Hi West,

I don't take it as an insult at all. All the opposite, it's a great compliment. I love tinkering with electronics.

Also, Neil (the owner of this site & my AP mentor) and I have a very similar phylosophy to equipment. We don't go for the most expensive but we try to get the maximum juice of the medium level equipment that we have. Honestly, I've seen pictures of Neil that are far superior to pictures I've seen from other AP amateurs with equipment that it's 10x more expensive. Neil & I have talked about it a few times, we feel secretly (not so secret now) and proud that we can do the work we do with the equipment we have. Obviously, he is years ahead of me, but I follow on his foot steps.

I believe you are going to have a great jouney with your telescope. As Carl Sagan said once, Astronomy is very humbling and character building experience, and I can tell you that Astrophotography (AP) has made me think a lot about my own existence in the universe and how small we are in the greater scheme of things.

And last, welcome to the forum. It's very nice to have people with your perspective joining this community.

Best regards,

Miquel Casas
Portland, OR

On 03/09/11 at 08:03am West McDonald wrote:
I think my favorite part of these pictures is the fact that it all LOOKS crummy. And before you think I'm insulting you, good sir, know that I'm not. I am new to astronomy *I just picked up a 10" Dobby last night and have yet to take it out*. I understand the concepts and terminology... and I've researched enough to consider myself "good to go".... but what I see in these photos is art. So many people think that because they have "the best stuff" that they are in a better position than anyone else. What I see in these photos is a man who knows what needs to be done and does it. I see it all the time with bowlers... A guy comes up with a bag with his own ball, wrist brace, towel, shoes... and so on. To me this tells me he needs his equipment to do the work for him. These pictures indicates otherwise.

Kudos to you, sir. Well played.

On 03/01/11 at 09:55pm Miquel wrote:
Thank you Jeff. I appreciate to get some feedback after all the pain & hard work. & I'll be happy to provide any help or ideas with your future project, so do not hesitate to contact me (mcbbcn@yahoo.com).

On 03/01/11 at 05:25pm Jeff W. wrote:
Awesome setup, I have to setup every time but this summer I think im going to put in a pier and then maybe an enclosure around it. Lots of very good ideas in your obs.

Jeff W.



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