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Dew strap controller (PWM) done at last (waited ages for some kit from China). 4 x 10W channels, individually fused, switched & controlled, channel switch LED brightness indicates power output. 12V 5A DC input switched & fused. Compared to the cost of a 'bought' one, I'd need to value my time at less than youth minimum wage, but you can't put a price on smug self-satisfaction :-) Circuit idea shamelessly nicked from http://www.blackwaterskies.co.uk/2013/05/a-cheap-multi-channel-dew-heater.html
Hi, After having spent the last 2 evenings in the back garden in amazement I have realised that I need to invest in some sort of dew control equipment. I notice that there a 2 main sorts out there, those that run with controllers and those that say a controller is not required. HHEELLLPPPPPP !!!!!!!! My budget is busted but I know that if I just go for the cheapest option it will be wrong so a little advice would be gratefully appreciated. Graham
I visited the International Astronomy Show in Warwick the other week. Just inside the door there was a young chap selling dew control products. The gear was lightweight and relatively inexpensive, so I thought I'd give it a try. I picked up one heater band (for my Esprit 120) and one 4 channel controller. The controllers he had at the show all had a 2m power cable. I said I would have preferred another metre. Tim (the young chap) said it was not a problem. He would make one with a 3m cable and send it out to me. He obviously posted it first thing Monday morning because it arrived on the Tuesday. What I liked about the unit was how lightweight it was. It also had a belt-loop sort of thing attached to the back. This allowed the elasticated part of the heater tape to pass through, so that the controller could be fixed to the scope itself. Here is how I have done mine: The controller works off one button (the small red button just under the printed text 'Quad Channel Dew Controller' on the case). When you power up, Output 1 is illuminated. Press and release (less than 1 second) to cycle between 0, 20, 40, 60, 80 and 100 percent output. There are 4 lights: 0% power = no lights, then each light comes on singly for 20, 40, 60 and 80 percent. All four lights are illuminated at 100% power. To switch channels, hold the button down for a bit longer (more than a second) and release. It is remarkably simple to use. With my other dew controller there seems to be a bit of 'uncertainty' as to whether or not the phono plug is properly seated. With the Dewcontrol unit the seating is extremely positive. One possible downside (or upside depending on your point of view) is that, when you power down, the unit does not 'remember' your settings. You start from zero power in each channel at each power up. This has caught me out once, unfortunately, but I will soon get used to the new way of doing things. I am very pleased with the unit. It is lightweight, inexpensive and works well. It is good to have a range of alternatives and this one is from a UK manufacturer. The heater tape worked just fine too. It was made by the lady who co-worked the stall with Tim (her name was Barbara). It seemed to be high quality. It is hand sewn. It worked straight away (unlike a top-end brand I bought a couple of years back that I had to pick apart and fiddle with). I am not sure if these are the same tapes that Tim sells on his website. My wife recalls that the brand of heater tape was W&W Astro - and Barbara's website is here http://www.dewheater.com/. I have no connection with Tim whatsoever. When looking up some info (his name for example) for this review, I found that his website was a little difficult to locate - if you are interested it is http://www.dewcontrol.com/. I may get one of his two channel units for my more portable setup. Steve M
Hi Everyone. I'm almost finished building a new dome and I have installed 12 volt motors / gear boxes to drive the dome. Now I am wanting to control the dome from my computer, so that the opening on the dome is always in line with the telescope. At this stage, thats all I want - I don't need the computer to open / close the shutter or to install a weather station or anything like that. My question is, what would be the simplest / cheapest option to achieve syncronisation between the pointing of the dome and telescope? I was wondering about using a raspberry pi or something like that? I've never done anything like this before, so if anyone has an idea, I'd be really keen to hear it. Thanks very much! Ross
I was wondering if there is a need for a dew heater controller if you run with a 12v supply rather than a battery? Is there any downside of running the dew bands at 100% all the time? Lifespan? To much heat on the scope? /Daniel