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JamesF

JamesF's observatory build

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Sounds like its coming along very nicely.

 

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Didn't have a lot of time this evening, but took a monitor, keyboard and mouse down to the warm room, connected them and one of the pier computers up to the KVM switch and powered everything on.

All the hardware seems to work fine, despite the length (5m, from memory) of the HDMI and USB cables.  I even managed to pick up a wifi signal from the house, but it wasn't stable enough to use for any length of time.  I think I was averaging about 10Mb/s over the wifi link, dropping down to 1Mb/s at times.  It was like being in the 1980s :D

The forecast for this evening has been showing as clear for a number of hours all day, but in the last ten minutes it's changed to overcast all night.  I didn't really believe it was going to be clear, especially as it has been increasingly overcast for the last few hours, but I was hoping I might find some time to actually play with the telescope control and suchlike if the unexpected happened.  Sadly that looks like it's got to wait for another time now, but I'll keep an eye out this evening in case things change.

I did also have a go at getting my ADSL/wifi router to act as a wifi bridge, but it just didn't want to play and there was no useful debugging information to help me try to work out why not .  As a result I've given up on that particular router.  I discovered that another wifi router matching the model of the one I want to connect to is very cheap, so I've ordered another of those to see if I can get a pair of them to work together.

I'm still pondering on what I can do tomorrow.  Western Power are supposed to be coming out to have another go at installing our new transformer and additional power phase, but the forecast isn't looking too clever right now.  Based on what the Met Office are telling me to expect tomorrow morning (thunder and lightning) I reckon there's less than 50% chance they'll actually be able to do the job.

James

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If it all worked perfectly from scratch you'd only get bored. Boredom leads to greater expenditure for more, instant gratification.
The delivery boy/girl becomes a family friend. They move in and you move out to the observatory.
Suddenly you need a much bigger observatory.

Having a much bigger observatory means you have to fill it with bigger, more expensive stuff.
Which means you absolutely must use it. Because it all cost you man years, a marriage and all your money.
Besides, you have nowhere else to go and the bailiffs are just waiting for you to go out busking.

Hope this helps? :D
 

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I believe I may have a temporary solution regarding network connectivity to the observatory.

I wasn't able to get the wifi bridging to work and got tired of fighting with it, so was half-considering running a thin steel cable from a house wall to an observatory wall and using it to support a cat5e cable with a UV-stable sheath which would, I have to admit, have been a pain to do (though still quicker than my long-term intention).  It was then I realised that I may be able to use the system I take when we go on holiday where there's wifi access.

What I have is an old Aspire One netbook running a lightweight version of Linux Mint, configured to route traffic between its wifi network interface and its wired network interface.  On holiday I plug a USB-powered mini wifi access point into the wired interface, which allows us to use as many phones/laptops/kindles etc. as we want connected to the local access point, with traffic routed over the single wifi link to wherever it happens to come from.

If I connect the wired interface up to a switch instead and plug the observatory kit into the switch, they should be able to use the netbook to route their network traffic over the wifi link.  I may need to configure up a DHCP server on the netbook as the mini access point usually does that bit as far as I recall, but that's hardly a big problem.

I shall try to find time to have a tinker with it this evening, though I actually have a fair bit of work to do later.  Tempting as it might be to work from the observatory, I'm not sure I can be bothered given that it's raining and predicted to get worse.  Which reminds me, I must make sure the roof is properly closed up.  We have gusts up to 50mph predicted for the next few days.  I will do that now...

James

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I went out earlier to make sure I had locked down my observatory roof and bolted the fold-down window.  All secure and ready for the storms.

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Looking at windy.com it seems that early on Saturday is going to be the worst of it.  I wouldn't fancy being on the Cork to Rosscoff ferry this weekend :)

A chap that works with us is on holiday for the next few days, planning to be in a 13m racing yacht sailing out of Falmouth.  Somehow I suspect they might decide that discretion is the better part of valour and sail to the nearest pub instead :D

James

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32 minutes ago, JamesF said:

I believe I may have a temporary solution regarding network connectivity to the observatory.

I wasn't able to get the wifi bridging to work and got tired of fighting with it, so was half-considering running a thin steel cable from a house wall to an observatory wall and using it to support a cat5e cable with a UV-stable sheath which would, I have to admit, have been a pain to do (though still quicker than my long-term intention).  It was then I realised that I may be able to use the system I take when we go on holiday where there's wifi access.

What I have is an old Aspire One netbook running a lightweight version of Linux Mint, configured to route traffic between its wifi network interface and its wired network interface.  On holiday I plug a USB-powered mini wifi access point into the wired interface, which allows us to use as many phones/laptops/kindles etc. as we want connected to the local access point, with traffic routed over the single wifi link to wherever it happens to come from.

If I connect the wired interface up to a switch instead and plug the observatory kit into the switch, they should be able to use the netbook to route their network traffic over the wifi link.  I may need to configure up a DHCP server on the netbook as the mini access point usually does that bit as far as I recall, but that's hardly a big problem.

I shall try to find time to have a tinker with it this evening, though I actually have a fair bit of work to do later.  Tempting as it might be to work from the observatory, I'm not sure I can be bothered given that it's raining and predicted to get worse.  Which reminds me, I must make sure the roof is properly closed up.  We have gusts up to 50mph predicted for the next few days.  I will do that now...

James

If you have 240v in obsy, then use network plugs, they are superb for this type of thing.. :)

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2 minutes ago, StarDodger said:

If you have 240v in obsy, then use network plugs, they are superb for this type of thing.. :)

Sadly I've already tried and failed in that respect.  They just don't seem to work very well here.  I am continuing to experiment with them as they'd be useful in another couple of cases too, but I think our mains wiring might just be a bit too far outside the design parameters of the powerline units.

James

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I didn't have any joy with those either.

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You may often find that in more rural areas, the local distributor will have better filtering in the lines, to ensure that their signalling\monitoring systems are as reliable as possible.

This filtering tends to preclude the use of additional network\signalling systems.

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6 minutes ago, Dr_Ju_ju said:

You may often find that in more rural areas, the local distributor will have better filtering in the lines, to ensure that their signalling\monitoring systems are as reliable as possible.

Surely the DNO wouldn't go anywhere near stuff on our side of the meter, and the powerline units only need to distribute the signal around what's on the consumer side of the meter?  In fact, in general it doesn't even matter if the signal doesn't make it as far as the meter tails, as long as it can reach all the socket rings connected to the consumer unit?

Could be that modern MCBs interfere with the signal though, meaning that it won't transfer from one ring main to another.

In our case it would be useful if the signal went back up the tails supplying the consumer unit, at least as far as the junction boxes that feed our other consumer units (we have at least six CUs that I can think of).  I suspect that's just not going to happen though.

James

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Ah yes, I can see what you problem is.

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1 hour ago, JamesF said:

Surely the DNO wouldn't go anywhere near stuff on our side of the meter, and the powerline units only need to distribute the signal around what's on the consumer side of the meter?  In fact, in general it doesn't even matter if the signal doesn't make it as far as the meter tails, as long as it can reach all the socket rings connected to the consumer unit?

Could be that modern MCBs interfere with the signal though, meaning that it won't transfer from one ring main to another.

In our case it would be useful if the signal went back up the tails supplying the consumer unit, at least as far as the junction boxes that feed our other consumer units (we have at least six CUs that I can think of).  I suspect that's just not going to happen though.

James

You are correct, it only matters what’s on the consumer unit side, I have a brand new consumer unit with all RCBO’s so each MCB has its own built in RCD, it’s the most up to date way, and mine all work a treat, BUT they won’t work on plug adapters with built in surge suppressors, so something to check.. :)

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Quick update on the powerline situation:

I've managed to get them to work, but beyond mains cabling lengths of (I'd guess) about 20m, they seem to become less reliable.  From the house to the observatory is probably getting close to 40m as the cable runs and the idiot lights on the powerline unit show no signal at all when plugged into the observatory circuits.

James

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Posted (edited)

thing with powerline is they work best if you aren't crossing the consumer unit, i.e., both on the same piece of ring/wire. They used to recommend bridging methods if crossing between rings esp in larger houses but not sure if the later MIMO types need that any more. For what is effectively a long-line with potential for loss in both voltage and signal and perhaps potential drop on the earth wire too, might be a struggle to get it to stay in sync or attain stable speed if it does make the link.

Should add too - any electrical noise will knock the signal down to v poor levels and that can be something as simple as an LED lightbulb, cheaper ones tend to be quite noisy and you see drops or speed drop of 50% or more. Motors too (washer etc) if they induce any noise can be a problem as will heavy current draw on the cable.

 

Edited by DaveL59

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Posted (edited)

Seems the only really reliable connection method in difficult conditions is Ethernet (CAT5 or CAT6) :BangHead:

Edited by Gina

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nope - fibre would be the way to go. Then volt differentials across earth etc ain't a problem 🙂

One office I worked in years ago had to use fibre between the sections and each had its own power feed and earth and regular ethernet just couldn't handle the couple volt differentials

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Good point - hadn't thought of that (even though I have a fibre internet connection).

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Posted (edited)

plus you'd have immunity to any spikes from lightening which you need to put filters in for cabled connections 😉

Downside tho of course, cost and getting pre-made lengths of the fibre to run unless you fancy learning how to DIY all that and chance getting it right.

For my place the shed isn't far so I just ran some cat5s in trunking along the base of the fence, with suppressors each end. The mains in there doesn't look too clever  (previously done before I rented this place) so I didn't even try powerline. Besides which of course my network is segmented with vLAN's and I didn't want my main server/internet etc exposed outside the house itself so this kept it simpler.

I've supressors now on any external cable feed into the house, phone, satellite etc. After storms a year or so back with lots of low sheet lightening etc when my desk phone just died all of a sudden just around a big burst of bright flashes in the sky. I figure a few £ is worth reducing the chance of more major damage in the future 🙂

 

Edited by DaveL59

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another option might be laser link devices tho how they fair in rainy days I can't say, likely expensive tho.

Have you tried high gain aerials on the wifi gear to improve the link, or directional wi-max types, might get you hooked up without having to run cables in?

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I've not dropped by since near the beginning so it's nice to see what amazing progress you've made. I also didn't realise you were building multiple piers, very flash! Like the lighting too.

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9 minutes ago, Lockie said:

I've not dropped by since near the beginning so it's nice to see what amazing progress you've made. I also didn't realise you were building multiple piers, very flash! Like the lighting too.

Thank you, Chris :)  I'm very pleased with how the lighting works.  I've discovered that it somehow "remembers" what state it was in when the power was disconnected, which means I can set the scope room to, say, mid-brightness red, and it restarts that way even if I switch the lights off at the mains and switch them on again the next night.

James

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Regarding the network connection, I shall stick with the wifi connection I have now for the moment I think.  I know that eventually I'm going to dig a trench to take a new armoured cable out for the mains power and at that time I shall also run a physical network connection.  That's a fair bit of work though, and I'm going to try to time it to coincide with the installation of the foul waste processing system for our holiday cottage barn conversion as that will require cabling and multiple trenches in the same general area.

James

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For when I go to Star Parties, especially Galloway, I bought one of these Wavlink Extenders (https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Wavlink-AC600-High-Power-Outdoor-WIFI-Extender-AP-Repeater-WIFI-Booster-2-4G-5G/233276592443?hash=item36505e513b:g:oDwAAOSwN7BdGxO5)

I use to pickup the local WiFi (80-90 meters away) and provide a gateway for a local network I build for all the pc's etc. It works a treat & I help it to receive a good signal, by fixing it to a 2M pole....

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