Topics

Equipment for an observatory


Eric Claeys
 

My new observatory in NM is almost ready and I hope to drive there in October with my equipment to set it up.  I have a mount (1100GTO-AEL) and telescope, plus a PC/monitor to control it remotely, and will have Internet access as well as a couple cameras to look at the inside of the observatory.  It has a rain sensor and THUM, and is next to NM Skies so I can use their all-sky camera.  It's a roll-off roof and at 7000 ft so doesn't need air conditioning or a fan.  I will have some plastic bins for empty boxes and other stuff (to keep it dry in case of dew or rain).  I have a power surge protector, UPS, and remote power switch.  I will likely only visit once or twice a year.  I will most likely keep the equipment on all the time.
I will connect to the mount via RS232 (the new PC actually has an RS232 port!) and Ethernet when possible, otherwise USB.

What are some things I should consider buying for the observatory?  Chair, broom, step stool, basic tools, other astronomy gear, etc.?


Benoit Schillings
 

Rat killing equipment and stainless braided hoses for the cables.

-- benoit

On Wed, Aug 19, 2020 at 5:16 PM Eric Claeys <AstroEric@eccssw.com> wrote:

My new observatory in NM is almost ready and I hope to drive there in October with my equipment to set it up. I have a mount (1100GTO-AEL) and telescope, plus a PC/monitor to control it remotely, and will have Internet access as well as a couple cameras to look at the inside of the observatory. It has a rain sensor and THUM, and is next to NM Skies so I can use their all-sky camera. It's a roll-off roof and at 7000 ft so doesn't need air conditioning or a fan. I will have some plastic bins for empty boxes and other stuff (to keep it dry in case of dew or rain). I have a power surge protector, UPS, and remote power switch. I will likely only visit once or twice a year. I will most likely keep the equipment on all the time.
I will connect to the mount via RS232 (the new PC actually has an RS232 port!) and Ethernet when possible, otherwise USB.

What are some things I should consider buying for the observatory? Chair, broom, step stool, basic tools, other astronomy gear, etc.?


Roland Christen
 


What are some things I should consider buying for the observatory?
Mouse traps. Lots of mouse traps. ;^)

Rolando


-----Original Message-----
From: Eric Claeys <AstroEric@...>
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Sent: Wed, Aug 19, 2020 7:16 pm
Subject: [ap-gto] Equipment for an observatory

My new observatory in NM is almost ready and I hope to drive there in October with my equipment to set it up.  I have a mount (1100GTO-AEL) and telescope, plus a PC/monitor to control it remotely, and will have Internet access as well as a couple cameras to look at the inside of the observatory.  It has a rain sensor and THUM, and is next to NM Skies so I can use their all-sky camera.  It's a roll-off roof and at 7000 ft so doesn't need air conditioning or a fan.  I will have some plastic bins for empty boxes and other stuff (to keep it dry in case of dew or rain).  I have a power surge protector, UPS, and remote power switch.  I will likely only visit once or twice a year.  I will most likely keep the equipment on all the time.
I will connect to the mount via RS232 (the new PC actually has an RS232 port!) and Ethernet when possible, otherwise USB.

What are some things I should consider buying for the observatory?  Chair, broom, step stool, basic tools, other astronomy gear, etc.?


dvjbaja
 

Will you have someone nearby to assist with troubleshooting and repairs?  No such thing as autonomous. If it can fail, it will.  Speaking from experience.  

jg 

On Wed, Aug 19, 2020 at 6:02 PM uncarollo2 <chris1011@...> via groups.io <chris1011=aol.com@groups.io> wrote:

What are some things I should consider buying for the observatory?
Mouse traps. Lots of mouse traps. ;^)

Rolando


-----Original Message-----
From: Eric Claeys <AstroEric@...>
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Sent: Wed, Aug 19, 2020 7:16 pm
Subject: [ap-gto] Equipment for an observatory

My new observatory in NM is almost ready and I hope to drive there in October with my equipment to set it up.  I have a mount (1100GTO-AEL) and telescope, plus a PC/monitor to control it remotely, and will have Internet access as well as a couple cameras to look at the inside of the observatory.  It has a rain sensor and THUM, and is next to NM Skies so I can use their all-sky camera.  It's a roll-off roof and at 7000 ft so doesn't need air conditioning or a fan.  I will have some plastic bins for empty boxes and other stuff (to keep it dry in case of dew or rain).  I have a power surge protector, UPS, and remote power switch.  I will likely only visit once or twice a year.  I will most likely keep the equipment on all the time.
I will connect to the mount via RS232 (the new PC actually has an RS232 port!) and Ethernet when possible, otherwise USB.

What are some things I should consider buying for the observatory?  Chair, broom, step stool, basic tools, other astronomy gear, etc.?


Chris Carlton
 

As noted, rodents are a potential problem. But please don't use glue traps. They are horribly indiscriminate and will kill creatures that will happily eat mice, or a least won't bother your equipment. In addition to mice that might chew a wire every now and then, in that part of the country, pack rats (Neotoma sp.) are a very serious threat if they set up shop. They did $500 worth of damage to my newish car (not covered by warranty) last year in one night during a trip to Arizona. The mechanic said I was lucky. If a service is available, contract with a pest control operator about excluding rodents and periodical service checks....just no glue traps, which probably won't work on pack rats anyway. 


On Wed, Aug 19, 2020 at 8:02 PM uncarollo2 <chris1011@...> via groups.io <chris1011=aol.com@groups.io> wrote:

What are some things I should consider buying for the observatory?
Mouse traps. Lots of mouse traps. ;^)

Rolando


-----Original Message-----
From: Eric Claeys <AstroEric@...>
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Sent: Wed, Aug 19, 2020 7:16 pm
Subject: [ap-gto] Equipment for an observatory

My new observatory in NM is almost ready and I hope to drive there in October with my equipment to set it up.  I have a mount (1100GTO-AEL) and telescope, plus a PC/monitor to control it remotely, and will have Internet access as well as a couple cameras to look at the inside of the observatory.  It has a rain sensor and THUM, and is next to NM Skies so I can use their all-sky camera.  It's a roll-off roof and at 7000 ft so doesn't need air conditioning or a fan.  I will have some plastic bins for empty boxes and other stuff (to keep it dry in case of dew or rain).  I have a power surge protector, UPS, and remote power switch.  I will likely only visit once or twice a year.  I will most likely keep the equipment on all the time.
I will connect to the mount via RS232 (the new PC actually has an RS232 port!) and Ethernet when possible, otherwise USB.

What are some things I should consider buying for the observatory?  Chair, broom, step stool, basic tools, other astronomy gear, etc.?



--

Chris Carlton, Ph. D.

Director, Carlton Astronomy Campus

Professor of Entomology, Emeritus

Department of Entomology, Louisiana State University

Baton Rouge, LA USA 70808

<a href=http://www.cleardarksky.com/c/CrAstCmpMSkey.html>


Shane Ramotowski
 

Hi Eric,

Private message back to you.

Just wanted to let you know that you need to keep track of NM's COVID restrictions.  Currently all travelers entering the state are required to quarantine for 14 days.  We're doing really good at reducing the infection rates and I expect that restriction to lift within the next month, but you should be aware of it and check the governor's public health orders before you come.

- Shane

On 8/19/2020 6:16 PM, Eric Claeys wrote:
My new observatory in NM is almost ready and I hope to drive there in October with my equipment to set it up.  I have a mount (1100GTO-AEL) and telescope, plus a PC/monitor to control it remotely, and will have Internet access as well as a couple cameras to look at the inside of the observatory.  It has a rain sensor and THUM, and is next to NM Skies so I can use their all-sky camera.  It's a roll-off roof and at 7000 ft so doesn't need air conditioning or a fan.  I will have some plastic bins for empty boxes and other stuff (to keep it dry in case of dew or rain).  I have a power surge protector, UPS, and remote power switch.  I will likely only visit once or twice a year.  I will most likely keep the equipment on all the time.
I will connect to the mount via RS232 (the new PC actually has an RS232 port!) and Ethernet when possible, otherwise USB.

What are some things I should consider buying for the observatory?  Chair, broom, step stool, basic tools, other astronomy gear, etc.?
--
Shane Ramotowski
kor@cotse.net
https://www.kor-astro.net


Michael Hamburg
 

Some methods to deter and neutralize critters?
Michael 


On Wed, Aug 19, 2020 at 9:11 PM, dvjbaja
<jpgleasonid@...> wrote:
Will you have someone nearby to assist with troubleshooting and repairs?  No such thing as autonomous. If it can fail, it will.  Speaking from experience.  

jg 

On Wed, Aug 19, 2020 at 6:02 PM uncarollo2 <chris1011@...> via groups.io <chris1011=aol.com@groups.io> wrote:

What are some things I should consider buying for the observatory?
Mouse traps. Lots of mouse traps. ;^)

Rolando


-----Original Message-----
From: Eric Claeys <AstroEric@...>
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Sent: Wed, Aug 19, 2020 7:16 pm
Subject: [ap-gto] Equipment for an observatory

My new observatory in NM is almost ready and I hope to drive there in October with my equipment to set it up.  I have a mount (1100GTO-AEL) and telescope, plus a PC/monitor to control it remotely, and will have Internet access as well as a couple cameras to look at the inside of the observatory.  It has a rain sensor and THUM, and is next to NM Skies so I can use their all-sky camera.  It's a roll-off roof and at 7000 ft so doesn't need air conditioning or a fan.  I will have some plastic bins for empty boxes and other stuff (to keep it dry in case of dew or rain).  I have a power surge protector, UPS, and remote power switch.  I will likely only visit once or twice a year.  I will most likely keep the equipment on all the time.
I will connect to the mount via RS232 (the new PC actually has an RS232 port!) and Ethernet when possible, otherwise USB.

What are some things I should consider buying for the observatory?  Chair, broom, step stool, basic tools, other astronomy gear, etc.?


M Hambrick
 

I have heard that the ultrasonic varmint repellers work pretty well. You might also try mounting an owl decoy on the roof of your observatory.


Roland Christen
 


I have heard that the ultrasonic varmint repellers work pretty well.
We had some in our Illinois observatory. Didn't work, but regular mouse traps do. With peanut butter.
We also installed some ultrasonic repellers in our Hawaii observatory where mice are a real problem. They pooped all over them and chewed on them.

Rolando


-----Original Message-----
From: M Hambrick <mhambrick563@...>
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Sent: Thu, Aug 20, 2020 2:20 pm
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] Equipment for an observatory

I have heard that the ultrasonic varmint repellers work pretty well. You might also try mounting an owl decoy on the roof of your observatory.


Woody Schlom
 

Mice can get through any space larger than 3/8 inch!  Copper "Mouse-mesh" works well to fill small holes and gaps. They can chew through plastic and wood.

Barn cats work too.

Woody

On August 20, 2020 11:28:13 AM "Michael Hamburg via groups.io" <michael_hamburg44@...> wrote:

Some methods to deter and neutralize critters?
Michael 


On Wed, Aug 19, 2020 at 9:11 PM, dvjbaja
<jpgleasonid@...> wrote:
Will you have someone nearby to assist with troubleshooting and repairs?  No such thing as autonomous. If it can fail, it will.  Speaking from experience.  

jg 

On Wed, Aug 19, 2020 at 6:02 PM uncarollo2 <chris1011@...> via groups.io <chris1011=aol.com@groups.io> wrote:

What are some things I should consider buying for the observatory?
Mouse traps. Lots of mouse traps. ;^)

Rolando


-----Original Message-----
From: Eric Claeys <AstroEric@...>
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Sent: Wed, Aug 19, 2020 7:16 pm
Subject: [ap-gto] Equipment for an observatory

My new observatory in NM is almost ready and I hope to drive there in October with my equipment to set it up.  I have a mount (1100GTO-AEL) and telescope, plus a PC/monitor to control it remotely, and will have Internet access as well as a couple cameras to look at the inside of the observatory.  It has a rain sensor and THUM, and is next to NM Skies so I can use their all-sky camera.  It's a roll-off roof and at 7000 ft so doesn't need air conditioning or a fan.  I will have some plastic bins for empty boxes and other stuff (to keep it dry in case of dew or rain).  I have a power surge protector, UPS, and remote power switch.  I will likely only visit once or twice a year.  I will most likely keep the equipment on all the time.
I will connect to the mount via RS232 (the new PC actually has an RS232 port!) and Ethernet when possible, otherwise USB.

What are some things I should consider buying for the observatory?  Chair, broom, step stool, basic tools, other astronomy gear, etc.?



Christopher Erickson
 

A UPS big and powerful enough to close the roof, along with running all of your gear. Preferably one that supports standard, big, external, lead-acid batteries.

Check out the Monnit remote monitoring devices. It would be good if you can monitor the UPS battery voltage, temperatures, roof status and a few other things (like the front door!) via alternate connectivity.

An internet-accessible security cam that has IR illumination that can be remote-controlled.

Spare parts and tools in sealed, waterproof/ratproof/bugproof boxes

A periodic maintenance schedule.

Laminated emergency contact list.

Backup weather detection and roof closing function.

An observatory design that can close the roof regardless of the scope pointing position.

Buttonpad front door lock that supports multiple combinations.

There is so much more but that's a start.
 

Virus-free. www.avg.com


On Wed, Aug 19, 2020 at 2:16 PM Eric Claeys <AstroEric@...> wrote:
My new observatory in NM is almost ready and I hope to drive there in October with my equipment to set it up.  I have a mount (1100GTO-AEL) and telescope, plus a PC/monitor to control it remotely, and will have Internet access as well as a couple cameras to look at the inside of the observatory.  It has a rain sensor and THUM, and is next to NM Skies so I can use their all-sky camera.  It's a roll-off roof and at 7000 ft so doesn't need air conditioning or a fan.  I will have some plastic bins for empty boxes and other stuff (to keep it dry in case of dew or rain).  I have a power surge protector, UPS, and remote power switch.  I will likely only visit once or twice a year.  I will most likely keep the equipment on all the time.
I will connect to the mount via RS232 (the new PC actually has an RS232 port!) and Ethernet when possible, otherwise USB.

What are some things I should consider buying for the observatory?  Chair, broom, step stool, basic tools, other astronomy gear, etc.?


SeismicGeo
 

In southeast Texas mud dauber wasps really like to build their nests in roll off roof observatories. Wasp spay is effective but messy on equipment. As they are exploring for a nest location, an indoor bug zapper (Amazon!) will attract and kill the wasps before they can get settled in. 


Eric Claeys
 

Thanks everyone for suggesting mice/rat equipment.  I'll check what critters are common where the observatory is (unfortunately, rattler snakes are one of them).

SeismicGeo,
Bees/wasps are also a problem where my observatory will be.  A bug zapper is a good idea.  Do you have one you particularly like?

Christopher, thanks for the suggestions.

I have two 1500 VA APC UPS (one for each PC/scope) and can remotely access them to determine health.  The roof motor has its own UPS.

I like the idea of something to monitor the front door.  I'll already be able to monitor the roof.

There will be two remote-controlled cameras.  I need to ask if they have IR.

Spare parts and tools are already on my list, as well as waterproof boxes.

Good idea on periodic maintenance schedule, and laminated emergency contact list.

There will be a couple rain sensors that can close the roof.  The guy that built the observatory doesn't like cloud sensors, but I'd feel more comfortable with one that can close the roof.

The roof can close regardless of where the scopes are pointed.

The door has a key and the guy that built the observatory will have a copy.

The observatory is in an astronomical village - New Mexico Skies Enclave, so there are several other observatories and people nearby that can help in an emergency.


Ron Kramer
 

Digital loggers SWITCH so you don't need to leave everything powered on all the time. 
I also love my CloudWatcher solo system. 
IP cameras if you don't already have them inside. 


On Fri, Aug 21, 2020 at 8:09 PM Eric Claeys <AstroEric@...> wrote:
Thanks everyone for suggesting mice/rat equipment.  I'll check what critters are common where the observatory is (unfortunately, rattler snakes are one of them).

SeismicGeo,
Bees/wasps are also a problem where my observatory will be.  A bug zapper is a good idea.  Do you have one you particularly like?

Christopher, thanks for the suggestions.

I have two 1500 VA APC UPS (one for each PC/scope) and can remotely access them to determine health.  The roof motor has its own UPS.

I like the idea of something to monitor the front door.  I'll already be able to monitor the roof.

There will be two remote-controlled cameras.  I need to ask if they have IR.

Spare parts and tools are already on my list, as well as waterproof boxes.

Good idea on periodic maintenance schedule, and laminated emergency contact list.

There will be a couple rain sensors that can close the roof.  The guy that built the observatory doesn't like cloud sensors, but I'd feel more comfortable with one that can close the roof.

The roof can close regardless of where the scopes are pointed.

The door has a key and the guy that built the observatory will have a copy.

The observatory is in an astronomical village - New Mexico Skies Enclave, so there are several other observatories and people nearby that can help in an emergency.




Rob Torrey
 

I use this bug zapper:
https://smile.amazon.com/Aspectek-Upgraded-Electronic-Zapper-Insect/dp/B07F3NH96Q
You can turn it on and off via a digital timer or remotely via a Digital Loggers switch. You can also use Visual Basic scripts to control the DL outlets. 

My DL switches control many devices, including a red LED spotlight aimed on the scope. Using USB cameras I can make sure the roof opens, the scope slews correctly, and everything is properly closed after imaging. (I tried a full time day/night security camera inside the observatory but the infrared tended to fog my images).
The astronomers at New Mexico Skies (just east  of Cloudcroft!) should be a wealth of good information. 

On Aug 21, 2020, at 7:22 PM, Ron Kramer <ronkramer1957@...> wrote:


Digital loggers SWITCH so you don't need to leave everything powered on all the time. 
I also love my CloudWatcher solo system. 
IP cameras if you don't already have them inside. 


On Fri, Aug 21, 2020 at 8:09 PM Eric Claeys <AstroEric@...> wrote:
Thanks everyone for suggesting mice/rat equipment.  I'll check what critters are common where the observatory is (unfortunately, rattler snakes are one of them).

SeismicGeo,
Bees/wasps are also a problem where my observatory will be.  A bug zapper is a good idea.  Do you have one you particularly like?

Christopher, thanks for the suggestions.

I have two 1500 VA APC UPS (one for each PC/scope) and can remotely access them to determine health.  The roof motor has its own UPS.

I like the idea of something to monitor the front door.  I'll already be able to monitor the roof.

There will be two remote-controlled cameras.  I need to ask if they have IR.

Spare parts and tools are already on my list, as well as waterproof boxes.

Good idea on periodic maintenance schedule, and laminated emergency contact list.

There will be a couple rain sensors that can close the roof.  The guy that built the observatory doesn't like cloud sensors, but I'd feel more comfortable with one that can close the roof.

The roof can close regardless of where the scopes are pointed.

The door has a key and the guy that built the observatory will have a copy.

The observatory is in an astronomical village - New Mexico Skies Enclave, so there are several other observatories and people nearby that can help in an emergency.



--


Eric Claeys
 

Ron 
I have a couple Digital Loggers - one for each scope.
Thanks for the tip on the CloudWatcher.  Do you find it to be accurate with respect to clouds?

Eric


Greg Salyer
 

I also have a Cloud Watcher but I’ve found it to reliable - instead I use an AllSky camera

On Aug 22, 2020, at 1:53 PM, Eric Claeys <AstroEric@...> wrote:


Ron 
I have a couple Digital Loggers - one for each scope.
Thanks for the tip on the CloudWatcher.  Do you find it to be accurate with respect to clouds?

Eric


Worsel
 

CW works by measuring the temperature upwards via an IR sensor.  Clouds will be 'warmer' than clear sky.  The CW can also measure relative humidity, ambinet temp, presence of rain, and sky brightness, but it is not nearly as sensitive as an SQM.  You can only fit so much on a small package.

Mine has been reliable at measurement; whether or not its predictions of clouds, etc are reliable as a different issue.  Not been a problem so far.

Greg:  What brand all-sky are you using?  Thanks!

Bryan


Greg Salyer
 

I'm using an Oculus All Sky camera by Starlight Xpress. It’s been active 24/7 for several years now without any problem.


Gre


On Aug 22, 2020, at 5:47 PM, Worsel via groups.io <bryancashion@...> wrote:

CW works by measuring the temperature upwards via an IR sensor.  Clouds will be 'warmer' than clear sky.  The CW can also measure relative humidity, ambinet temp, presence of rain, and sky brightness, but it is not nearly as sensitive as an SQM.  You can only fit so much on a small package.

Mine has been reliable at measurement; whether or not its predictions of clouds, etc are reliable as a different issue.  Not been a problem so far.

Greg:  What brand all-sky are you using?  Thanks!

Bryan


Dale Ghent
 

I'm currently building my own all-sky camera that incorporates a camera that uses the IMX462 color sensor (1920x1080, 2.9um pixels) and uses the same 1.55mm CS-mount lens made by Arecont Vision that the Oculus has. Inside the same housing will be a SQM from Unihedron, internal and ambient temperature, air pressure, and humidity sensors.

It's all wired into a single Rapsberry Pi 3 - USB for the camera (QHY5-III-462C) and Unihedron, and the GPIO pins for the various sensors. The software stack is a combination of Thomas Jacquin's all-sky management software (https://github.com/thomasjacquin/allsky/blob/master/README.md) and stuff that I'm writing in Python. The sensor data will be exposed via ASCOM ObservingConditions Alpaca driver over the RPi's wireless network connection. I'm debating adding a GPS/GNSS receiver so that the RPi can also act as a stratum 0 time server.

I figure around $600 in bits and parts by the time I'm done, with the bulk of the cost being the camera and SQM.

/dale

On Aug 22, 2020, at 5:56 PM, Greg Salyer <astronutcase@gmail.com> wrote:

I'm using an Oculus All Sky camera by Starlight Xpress. It’s been active 24/7 for several years now without any problem.

Gre

On Aug 22, 2020, at 5:47 PM, Worsel via groups.io <bryancashion=yahoo.com@groups.io> wrote:

CW works by measuring the temperature upwards via an IR sensor. Clouds will be 'warmer' than clear sky. The CW can also measure relative humidity, ambinet temp, presence of rain, and sky brightness, but it is not nearly as sensitive as an SQM. You can only fit so much on a small package.

Mine has been reliable at measurement; whether or not its predictions of clouds, etc are reliable as a different issue. Not been a problem so far.

Greg: What brand all-sky are you using? Thanks!

Bryan