Astrophotography Cable Management Part 5 – Mounting A Telescope Computer

Astrophotography Cable Management Part 5 – Mounting A Telescope Computer

hi and welcome to the fifth video in my cable management series in the last video I showed you how I was able to fix a USB hub and a couple of my big accessories to the back of my telescope over here and route the power cables for them as well as a little bit of data cable management and in this video I’m going to show you the rest of the data cable management and a neat little solution I found to help make all of this possible and was actually the driving force behind starting the entire project so the first thing that I want you to understand is all of the cables will not be riding on top of this telescope we still need to have a power cable coming up to power everything from a battery somewhere and battery technology today as much as it has improved for me at least I don’t have a battery that can provide enough power for everything that is also lightweight enough to bolt on the top of this and not make the entire system unmanageable so I still have to have a large heavy deep-cycle battery on the ground and a power cable that comes up from that deep-cycle battery that plugs into my rig runner but that’s just one cable that I have hanging off the back of my telescope which is much better than a lot of us who have a large bundle of cables that might be hanging off the back of our telescope also we use a laptop or a computer of some sorts if you’re in observatories to manage all of our equipment and so you’ll have many USB cables running from the back of your telescope or wherever your equipment is on the mount into your laptop and some of us will have USB hubs some of us might have pcs with USB cards that allow us to plug many devices in but it’s still a large number of cables coming off the back of our telescope so I’ve installed a USB hub on the back of my equipment plate and that USB hub allows just a single data cable to transmit data from a computer to many different devices and so now I just contending with only two cables one power and one data but I can do better than that um see there’s been some people out there who have found a way to attach a computer on top of their mount and some of you have seen where I’ve been doing wireless communications from my cell phone into a laptop and then that laptop was feeding this USB hub commands and it was slewing the telescope around via a wireless antenna up here and so that wireless antenna eliminated the need for me to run a cable from the computer into the back of my mount but I still had to have a USB cable running from the laptop into my hub and I’ve did a lot of research and I’ve talked to a lot of different people online and it turns out that there are these mini pcs that exist that are somewhere in the neighborhood of about two pounds in total weight about the same amount as a very large eyepiece and we can deal with that that’s not a lot of weight to have on a back of a telescope we do that all the time with high quality eyepieces and that sort of stuff so two pounds is not much to contend with but I want to be able to run a guide scope on top here and the people who are using these mini pcs like a Gigabyte brix or an Intel NUC are mounting it up here and I don’t have a way to run a guide scope up here so let me introduce you to the Intel Compute Stick this thing is smaller than an iPhone it weighs about is about as much as a deck of playing cards and has a core m3 mobile processor in it two gigabytes of memory it’s 64-bit it has a SSD built into it with I believe 64 gigabytes of storage but then I’ve also expanded it to an additional 128 gigabytes with a microSD card this boy is basically a laptop in the palm of your hand and using this I can run all of my equipment through the USB hub with him securely velcroed to the front of my equipment plate so now that I’ve got the cables routed in a more managed way I took my USB cable and I just wrapped it around my standoffs a couple of times to take up all the slack i rerouted my ethernet cable here for the focuser and kind of move some things around just so I have a little bit more space in here and these cables aren’t just flaring out everywhere there’s still one more thing that I have to put on and all of my equipment will now be securely fastened inside of this space here and I won’t have loose cables dangling everywhere and that’s my dew heating strap and the temperature probes so my dew heating strap just goes right around the front of the telescope like this quite easily and because I’ve already got my cables bundled up from having them stored all I have to do is just take this bundle of cabling and just nestle it in like that now I can take my dew heater and I can plug the power supply into it I can take my probes and put one of them in here and the other one just hangs loose to sense the air temperature I can plan on tying this with a zip tie up to one of these eye holes here so it actually won’t come in contact with metal and throw a false reading so I take the the heat probe and I plug that in to the heat probe inlet my OTA probe goes into the sensor 1 and then the ambient probe goes here this just velcros on like this and now I have my dew control system with all of those cables that would be hanging off the front of my telescope bundled up nice and neat inside of this little space here and I’m actually still got quite a bit of room if I needed to run a second dew heater with additional probes I can still fit all of those cables in here so the everything that I have uh that would be hanging off the back my telescope is now riding on the telescope the only cable that I need to come up from the ground – here is my power supply cable and having one cable as opposed to half a dozen or a dozen cables is a much better solution it’s not quite cable free yet I don’t know that it could ever go cable free until they can make a battery that weighs as much as a cell phone power all of this equipment for many nights and I just don’t see physics allowing for such a battery to even exist so for now one power cable is all I need to come up and power everything and all of the data actually is routed through a little computer up here in the front and I connect to that computer through a remote session either windows remote desktop or TeamViewer and for a lot of us who do remote observing we’re very familiar with that technology so this is nothing new and many of you should have no problem transitioning a laptop that does remote connection into an astronomy computer and just putting all of that software on your your little computer however it is you want to store that computer on here the gigabyte bricks up here or the Intel compute stick like I did here thanks for taking the time today to watch my video I hope you’ve learned something new and I hope you’ve been inspired to get under the stars and take a look at something through a telescope if you like what I’ve been doing please take a moment to subscribe to my channel it’ll be a great way for you to show your appreciation and it’s the best way to be notified of when new videos get uploaded thank you and clear skies

Danny Hutson

17 thoughts on “Astrophotography Cable Management Part 5 – Mounting A Telescope Computer

  1. Thanks for the series. Some good thoughtful ideas. I'm also dealing with a tangle off cables; SBIG cables, guide scope, USB hub, focusser AND microfocusser, dew heater. Now put all that on a fork mount LX200 and take all the motion into account and you've got a good challenging problem in topography of cable management.
    I like the Intel stick computer idea and have been contemplating it.

  2. Hi Mitchell, excellent series! I got quite a few ideas from it which have been very helpful. Was wondering how the stick PC has been working. I hope to do something similar, but need to run SGP, PHD2, CDC, EQMOD, TeamViewer, and some version of Windows, then patch into it wirelessly with another PC or a tablet.

  3. With hindsight Mitchell, would you still choose the Intel Stick PC for this task, or would you choose something else? Thank you!

  4. I have come to the same conclusions on Cable Management, great to see confirmation from you Mitchell!
    I have watched the series and appreciate the professional manner in which you presented it!
    Keep up the good work.

  5. Food for thought to completely replace trailing cables. Many of us need to assemble the mount every session or travel to better observation sites. This all requires a lot of lifting and manual handling. Prime offenders in the dead weight department are the counterweights. My suggestion is to replace the counterweights with the battery. Less stuff to be carried and forgotten and the power cable rides with the mount. Here are some specs for SLA batteries to correlate mass and capacity. Seems like 20AH would make an ideal counterweight for typical scope/mount combinations.

  6. Quick question about the power cable for the Stick PC. What kind of cable was that? The one that came with the computer and you put Anderson plugs on to the end, then plugged into your rig runner? or something different? Thanks for the great video.

  7. Mitchell…..
    When out in field ….what do u use for wifi to connect in stick? I have a mini PC and was gonna try using hotspot off cell phone. What do u ?

  8. Cool rig. I’m going to try something similar with a Pegasus power box because I can remote power all the 12v and usbs and turn the on/off. But your setup looks pretty smooth too.

  9. Do u ever worry about dew. Or frost? I have my mini PC ic Tupperware box but would rather have on scope.

  10. One comment about battery power. You could use counterweight batteries. iOptron make a 7lb 8Ahr battery that is also a counterweight. Doing this would move the power source to the tripod/mount and then no cables.

  11. Hi Allen, great videos. I was wondering do you still use the intel compu stick. If yes I guess you considered reliable. How about storage and running all the AP software requires. Cheers

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