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Gonzo

a remote unmanned pico observatory

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Fantastic thread and thanks for sharing.
I am hoping to start work on something along these lines of the next month so thanks for taking the time to document everything.

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Version 2 of the box is up and running now.

21103692_340279003080278_1393185295_o.jpg.a9a4f17ecdaeaf3c032ef505ba19361e.jpg

 

21076791_340279006413611_827929338_n.jpg.3cf47080b56dd0ad4f0b03ee3ff3b917.jpg

 

21146381_340279043080274_1342118178_o.jpg.d5699e89521c57abd0d301eb5c6c5112.jpg

 

Everything is working, apart from the polar alignment which is not done due to bad weather this Christmas holidays :(

I have a plan to polar align remotely... I am only going to need ultimate patience... as I'm going to get "remote hands"....

 

One issue to note, due to a heavy snow fall, the fan was covered and when it melted down... guess what ;)

But, I do have a cunning plan for this, I'll be changing this for a mushroom style vent style.

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What a great looking setup. I remember seeing the original post and version one. Looks like it has moved on quite a bit!

Good luck with remote polar alignment!

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Forgot to mention that the fan is located slightly above the front limit switch, obviously with the water leak, it somehow went into the switch despite being IP66. I guess I must have forgot to check the gasket when I did the wiring.

The good thing is that such limit switch I got is fully rebuildable. And as I purchased two pairs, it was easy to fix. Do a search on eBay for "limit switch IP66" and you'll see the style I'm talking about, not cheap well worth the money and highly recommended.

 

The new box was setup summer 2017, it could have gone live then but I had a major issue with the rain sensor and the weather station so I left it off-line until I resolved the issues. Fast forward Christmas and it's all installed.

Remember that the box is in Germany..... not like I can go for walk in the back garden and check what's wrong with the observatory.

 

The all lot has been a journey and learnt a lot, and I do mean a LOT.

I also have a v3 design which I almost picked...

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15 minutes ago, Stu said:

What a great looking setup. I remember seeing the original post and version one. Looks like it has moved on quite a bit!

Good luck with remote polar alignment!

 

Within Ekos there is now a great polar alignment tool, I can run it and will be able to see how far out the mount is. I have done my best to "visually" align it as much as I could....

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Sadly, the weather has been quite bad since I came back from holidays, I'm checking my weather station every day and there is not enough time between clouds... to remote polar align. And I doubt they would be happy to do it at 1am... which is usually when it's mostly clear... lol

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On 17/10/2016 at 21:34, Gonzo said:

a sneak peek of the new box... (still a work in progress...)

The pier has been shorten by 10 cm, the box has a foot print of 90cm by 95cm (about the same as the previous box), the height has yet to be set but it should not be more than 70cm (give or take a cm or two, was about 90cm or so before).

It's going to be a roll on roof, mounted on telescoping rails. Outside walls will be ACM panels, then a breathable membrane then the inside walls of the box will be 5 mm plywood.

My tried and tested simple ventilation system will be put back, with some improvements. I did notice that the solar powered fan vent wasn't running at all on overcast days despite having a battery (I will sort this out).

IMG_7454.JPG

@Gonzo or anyone else, where are those pillar legs from and would they work with the HEQ5 extension such as this:

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/sky-watcher-mount-accessories/skywatcher-eq5heq5-extension-tube.html

Thanks

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Long time since I've updated this post... it hasn't been plain sailing, a remote observatory like this one is not an easy task to manage.

This is what I've been able to achieve last night, single frames on M31 to test my polar alignment and guiding.

HEQ5 pro + William Optics Megrez 72 with with an OVL Field Flattener and a Zwo OAG + QHY5L-II-M guide camera.

 

120s exposure:

M31_120s.thumb.png.8c6f3313800480e442a3d451daf02d6f.png

240s exposure:

M31_240s.thumb.png.cd017bc479c16b15f1b5489a30cfefaa.png

480s exposure:

M31_480s.thumb.png.3ff57e1df40456675fda07e73a83468a.png

960s exposure:

M31_960s.thumb.png.b9e3a9cbd9de82ce035fbbec29452c31.png

1920s exposure (that's right 32 min)

yes it is over exposed but that's no big deal as I was testing my guiding and PA.

M31_1920s.thumb.png.abd0e683f7dea901f48b85b5b1b02f9a.png

1920s exposure, bottom left corner

M31_1920s_CornerBottomLeft.png.8214c07e110ab28b6480a8d6f2708e28.png

 

 

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Nice going @Gonzo

I have never tried a 32min exposiure on my obsy, but I would say you nailed it. :)

Yesterday I got really nice guiding with the internal guider in ekos and my ssag, on the Elephant nebula, when it was almost at the zenith. I have allways had issues guiding with the scope at that rotation, but now it worked. 

 

I do However have a crash situation with kstars, so I only get two images, and have to reboot my server to continue. As the orion ssag is in the obsolete folder now, I have taken the hint and otdered a new guidescope 😊

 

Anyway, nice to see you are still going strong with your obsy! 

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I've taken a 10min frame of NGC281 on Sunday, and thought how far can I push this thing... I wanted to see how long of an exposure even with guiding would the star trails appear but none even in the 32 min exposure. I'm gob smacked with this setup. I'll be able to enjoy it more often than ever now. The observatory has been dormant for too long now.

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I now what you mean. 2018 and 2019 did not produce anything other than a short Ha heart nebula, an a shorter unguided Ha test of the orion nebula. After managing to burn the motordrivers of my avx. 

2020 is looking better :)

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And this is my guiding, I think it's quite good.

663254840_Screenshot2020-09-15at21_02_39.thumb.png.3658af389a68f0d15b1afbbeab54dcff.png

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Thats very nice. 

I think I had a DE RMS of 0.65 and a RA RMS of ~1.65, so  not as good a yours. This was however with the scope pointing almost at the zenit, and the obsolete orion ssag.

I just ordered the ZWO ASI 120mm-s usb3 camera for guiding, so I have big hopes :)

Going to do a full 'computing' upgrade to the obsy too. No more network or raspi / odroid in the obsy, just a embedded ryzen mini pc in the 'house' and a usb3 hub in the obsy.....

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I am very happy with that QHY5L-II-M camera via the OAG, at the present time (as in right now) I'm imaging NGC_281 180s exposure (no need to do 10+min...) 

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Are you using the Atik 314L+ as imaging camera? It's a CCD? Does it do well with shorter exposures?

I'm using the ZWO ASI 1600MM-cool with a cmos. When I had everything up and running I was doing 5 min subs.

I have just 'fa few days ago' imaged the Crescent nebula with it. Now I sticked to 120 - 180s subs at higher gain, both works well, but I guess more total data is king, so keep at it :)

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Yes I am using an ancient CCD Atik 314L+ and it can do short exposures.

Minimum exposure time:     1/1000 second
Maximum exposure time:     10,000 seconds

source: http://www.dangl.at/ausruest/atik_314/atik_314_e.htm

 

I do have in the planning (on paper...) an ultra sub compact tiny observatory in the making. If I can nail the opening of the lead as I want, it is going to be so sweet !!!

But, it's only at the very early stages of the design.

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NGC 281 right now... (39 more frames to go)

180s single frame:

91868135_Screenshot2020-09-15at21_35_01.png.aefc09536fa21783b79e0ecac8d2ddf4.png

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Sweet :)

Ultra sub also sounds nice. I'm still on v1 of the observatory 'building'. I guess mine is more a Mini, than a pico or ultra micro.

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When you compare my V1 to V2 you can see the huge improvement in design, V3 will be an even bigger step...

I certainly do enjoy building stuff like this, it really challenges the mind :) 

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Weird thing happened, there was a network issue and the guiding went all crazy ... lol

Well that's the end of tonight session, 42 good frames capture :) 

443664444_Screenshot2020-09-15at23_57_00.thumb.png.22f62118470406e4ed025d3c55daebe6.png

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Quite an interesting project, I have to admit.

It could be an interesting basis for a mountaintop remote observatory, provided that there's power and internet available.

N.F.

 

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Final picture, stacked and auto stretched in Siril.

44x180s

r_NGC_281_light_stacked.thumb.jpg.1c888fc72d9d54546078d82e6815e1c8.jpg

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I've only just seen this and it's made me realise I don't actually need to make a walk-in structure to achieve my ambitions of unattended imaging. My day job involves (amongst other bits and pieces) designing equipment cabinets for telecoms stuff, so I'm quite happy working in that smaller form factor.

Only snag for me is that my scope is a 200PDS, which is a little larger, but actually could still work just fine mounted lower to the ground and in a short-height enclosure. I think I'll work out what the envelope would have to look like, but it'd definitely be a lot cheaper and easier to build something at that sort of scale, maybe around a very basic/small-scale concrete pier. That or swap the 200PDS for a smaller frac 🙂 

What're your plans for v3? What has and hasn't worked well?

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You can do a similar box with a 200PDS scope if you want, I think I have in this thread a picture showing just a wood frame to visualise the size.

It's one thing on paper but another when you actually see it...

 

V1: it was big, too big. All made of wood with too many design flaws and my knowledge of wood working was quite limited.

V2: this is a much more compact version, super light wood frame with strict minimum amount of screws used (youTube videos have helped me a lot in getting ideas for the wood working part), the panels are Dibond (aluminium composite sheet). I did upgrade the two linear actuators for a single one, a much beefier one and ultra quiet. This allows me to open the "roof" at any time of the night without waking up the in-laws (bedroom is right behind).

pros: everything has worked fine (the box that is), great passive ventilation system with 0 dew or humidity in V2 ever (I do not count the huge snow fall once that managed to make its way through the top solar fan...)

cons: you do need to trust your mount when it parks, any issues with that and you could say goodbye to your equipment, good thing is that this issue has recently been sorted out in Indilib (I was the main driver for this to be fixed).

The scope alignment within the box, I did align the mount towards Polaris (the scope is as an angle within the box).

 

So now V3... ultra top secret design... :D 

only kidding, depending on which scope I'm going to get it will decide the overall size of the box, it will still be as compact as this one or potentially way smaller.

The lead will have a very different design which allows a full 100% opening, I've found a very inspiring video on youTube for it and it was a Eureka moment.

The new mount is a CEM25P, the scope will be aligned to the sides of the new box, the polar alignment will be a combination between orienting the box and the mount altitude.

The frame itself will be extruded aluminium (2020 I think it's called) and still use Dibond panels as they are super strong and super light.

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Maybe an academic question, but today's Raspberry pi 4 isn't powerful enough for the required tasks?

Since I have a HEQ5 mount, it was quite interesting to see it being used in such a compact implementation.

N.F.

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