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I installed google remote desktop on my phone after this conversation and I'm amazed at how well it works, once i get the hang of setting up with guiding (not attempted yet) i can see me having 3 USB

I should add that I run a power cable out to my setup in the garden. I'm not sure I would trust the laptop battery to stay going all night, especially given the effect cold would have on it, and that

I've had trouble with the battery dying after about an hour in freezing temperatures and once it starts again it will say it has plenty(80%+). So yesterday I brought a bin and a blanket that I put the

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Indeed they can - see https://stargazerslounge.com/topic/350101-frozen-laptop-literally/?tab=comments#comment-3813012

After that experience, I now put my laptop in a box, with the power option set to never sleep. That way it happily keeps itself warm all night (confirmed by using the Speccy utility). Just went through a night at -5C with no probs.

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I've had trouble with the battery dying after about an hour in freezing temperatures and once it starts again it will say it has plenty(80%+). So yesterday I brought a bin and a blanket that I put the laptop in once everything was ready and capturing. I also turned off any power saving options and changed the settings so I could close the lid without turning anything off. It kept going just fine this time and instead the camera ran out of battery. I have an Asus Ultrabook so it's a complete metal body which certainly helps it get cold.

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I should add that I run a power cable out to my setup in the garden. I'm not sure I would trust the laptop battery to stay going all night, especially given the effect cold would have on it, and that would be very important for it staying warm.

Sorry, just realised you did say in the field, whereas mine's, well, in the garden!

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I left it out last night imaging the Heart nebula at -18°C, no issues. I guess the thing is to let it gently warm to room temperature with the lid open before powering it up inside.

Edited by Viktiste
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I've ordered a box from Amazon, hopefully will be ok to fit electrics in with Laptop for a bit of extra warmth.

Just so I'm clear are you putting lid on box and letting it chug through the plan once set up or leaving open ?

Andy 

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36 minutes ago, Newforestgimp said:

I've ordered a box from Amazon, hopefully will be ok to fit electrics in with Laptop for a bit of extra warmth.

Just so I'm clear are you putting lid on box and letting it chug through the plan once set up or leaving open ?

Andy 

I left the box open and just had a blanket around the laptop while it was closed. But this was just an initial test, I know some make holes in it so you can more easily place the laptop in the box and run the cables through the hole.

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7 hours ago, Newforestgimp said:

Just so I'm clear are you putting lid on box and letting it chug through the plan once set up or leaving open ?

Yes. I have a small hole drilled into the back, through which all the cables feed. I put the laptop in the box, together with the extension cable drum,  plug everything in, and when everything is set up (mainly focused and framed), I put the cover on. I also recently decided to put a 1KG bag of silica gel in there too after noticing some moisture, presumably from condensation, and that seems to be keeping everything nicely dry.

Edited by BrendanC
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I have had my laptop out in -4 degrees, but it's either inside my observatory (where my camera reads -4, or at a campsite where I put it inside a plastic box and I close the lid when not actually sitting at it as this also protects against dew which is probably the biggest killer.  There was a guy at the same camp as me without a box (it was his first time) and he nearly ruined his laptop with dew by not having it inside a box.

As someone else said above I have a few holes in the box through which to pass the cables.

Carole  

Edited by carastro
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A few degrees above 0 is probably a lot worse than  really cold temperatures as the air is really dry when it is this cold. This night is was -21c in the morning 🙂 I could not understand why the camera cooling set at -20 did not draw any power! I have left the PC out unprotected in a few degrees plus and humid air too, that has been ok so far but it is maybe a bit risky. A box with vent holes would be good for that.

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I had a box, perfectly designed to fit my PC inside it but that PC got stolen. The el cheapo replacement PC I bought does not fit in the box, which is why it now stays on top of the box, exposed to the elements.

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It's been a while since I've been out in real cold (Devon's quite temperate) but when I have been out (and have access to AC power) I've used a pet heating pad in a box with the laptop on top. Has worked well at around the -8c to -10c mark. I tend to stay out with my kit so have also on occasion loaded an app or two that I know draw a lot of power and set the fans going which also nicely warms the laptop.

Of course, without unlimited power both of those are quite draining of any batteries I have :)

James

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If you run an app such as Speccy, you can keep tabs on your machine's temperatures. In - 5C, the core CPU on my laptop didn't drop below 50C, the main internal hard drive didn't go below 25, and the data drive, stored in a caddy where the CD used to be, didn't go below 15. So I think it's safe to say, as long as a laptop has power, and is actively running, and is protected in a confined space, it's going to be fine. I'd urge the earlier poster not to leave theirs out and unprotected having nearly killed mine by freezing it to death. 

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Generally electronics do well down to -40 without issue. The problem I think is with the battery where its chemistry changes and can't give the correct voltage at lower temperature. So being plugged to a power source should be okay assuming you otherwise protect it from humidity and water/melting frost.

Edited by Shimonu
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3 hours ago, Drifty_T said:

Since I ordered these https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/B011RCUMXY?psc=1&ref=ppx_pop_mob_b_asin_title I now do my imaging from in the house. It's absolute luxury 😌

I too was running from inside house but found the focusing, checking, app opening closing, framing, in and out of the house a pain. So i tried with laptop outside with my gear and it was far easier to use the game controller etc. might have to set something up from the shed so i don't freeze before the laptop 🙂

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I use USB cables into the house to my computer. (Don't have a laptop) It works well. I also use Google Remote Desktop on a tablet or phone to aid focusing while outside. The screen on the camera is OK but I've always found them a little too small even on the brightest stars to get really sharp focus. Live view on the computer is much better and I can use the Bahtinov aid in APT. No running in and out of the house.

This method is quick and easy, I'm set up and focused in minutes, back in the warm, plate solving and ready to image.

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I do it the other way around! Laptop outside, tablet inside.

The reason for this is that more often than not, I really do need to sort stuff out at the telescope end, even after focusing etc. At one point I considered getting a headless solution such as a mini PC, but then thought I'd probably need a keyboard too, then some sort of local display would be handy... which really means, a laptop! No substitute for being able to type, point, click etc with immediate results when you're trying to fix something.

I used to connect via long USB cables but had reliability problems. Same with using wifi extenders. So now I use a powerline which connects to the laptop's ethernet cable and uses the electric cable as a comms cable. It offers a very solid connection (it's never broken, to this day). Suddenly, you can control everything with no additional wires, very reliably, using Google Remote Desktop, from your phone, tablet, PC, other laptop, whatever, even over 4G if needs be. After much chopping and changing, this is by far the best arrangement I've used in terms of reliability, safety and convenience.

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The only thing I have to do at the telescope end is put the Bahtinov mask on and take it off. Remote Desktop to my PC inside gives me control over everything, mount, camera, guide cam. I could set it all up from my phone if needed.

I found using one active USB troublesome so I use two, one has a small unpowered hub on it for mount and guide cam. These are taped and coiled along with a 12v extension cable. That's all I need right now. Until I add a powered hub later down the line when I get a dedicated Astro camera. 

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I installed google remote desktop on my phone after this conversation and I'm amazed at how well it works, once i get the hang of setting up with guiding (not attempted yet) i can see me having 3 USB leads into the house between the laptop/mount/guidecam/dslr and tweek from phone outside 👍

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  • 2 weeks later...

I realized the cold is a bigger problem than I thought. When it starts to dip below -10 things aren't surviving very long. It's quite frustrating as we're having quite a few nights now with clear weather but the temperatures are also approaching -15 and below without wind chill. I can dress pretty warm but it's quite difficult keeping the rig running. My powertank(really a starter battery) shows half charge pretty quick and the laptop won't survive past polar alignment. :(

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