Controller Safety Cover


Steve Reilly
 

So it comes back to me that after having had a roof failure and rain on my system a few years ago I had decided I needed to find an alternative mounting location for the controller on my AP1200 to try an give a more protective environment. In fact I had thought that mounting the controller much like the AP3600 on the side with it in a vertical position would give it less chance of moisture getting in and then adding some type of roof over the controller itself similar to the plastic vented locking covers we use to use for thermostats in public areas but never got around to that little project. So rather then reinvent the wheel I thought that maybe I wasn’t the only person to pursue this and it might be prudent to see if anyone has done this already and what they came up with.

 

Of course I also realized the need to re-engineer the roof design and raise the roof and perhaps lower the pier so the telescope could be in any position and safe from a roof closure. The idea of using a elevating pier also came to mind but anything mechanical is subject to fail so….At least with the roof designed in such a  way as to have clearance at all times I could have a rain sensor designed just as an emergency backup to close regardless of any computer program. As long as the roof motor and controller has power, and my longest delay would be 60 seconds as we have a whole house generator and the observatory is covered by the generator, the roof could close at the first sign of rain although in practice the roof should already be closed from the cloud sensor. In my case the scope was safely parked, cloud sensor read very cloudy, and I believe it was in the process of a controlled shutdown but the computer had lost communication with the mount so it just sat there wide open.

 

I was on rescue squad duty as I always ran on Thursday nights for a number of years and thought nothing of letting it run as it has done so for a very long time with automation software. Shoulda, coulda checked on the status as I did have Team Viewer on the home network and on my smart phone but was on fire standby when it started to rain and I was otherwise occupied. Needless to say I haven’t let the system run again when I wasn’t home. Not until I find a reliable way to make sure this type of scenario can’t happen again at least. Of course I realize that everything mechanical is subject to fail I at least can cut down those odds by making certain changes.

 

Luckily for me the only real damage was the indoor/outdoor carpet and padding but worst of all the CP4 had some issue that Astro Physics was able to repair. I was able to check out the rest of the mount because I still had access to the old CP3. Fortunately my STL-11000, Pyxis 3” rotator, and such suffered no damage even though power was still on when I arrived home that morning at 0630 and saw the roof open. There was no sleep that morning to be had even though I’d been up running calls most of the night. Something about the unknown just doesn’t accommodate sleep well.

 

So if anyone has made modifications to their mount for the purpose of protecting the CP3/4 I’d really like to hear what you came up with. This is a bit late, like 2 years probably, but after a close call the other night it brought back all that experience and the urgency to make some changes. As my roof is now when the scope is parked the roof is 6” from the OTA. I have engineered trusses for the roof structure. What I need to do is determine the fullest height the ota gets and measure that so I know how high to raise the roof and how much I can lower the steel pier.

 

-Steve

 

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