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Surviving the cold

Started by brucesdad13, 01/11/2015 11:10AM
Posted 01/11/2015 11:10AM Opening Post
It's been fairly chilly here lately with one night somewhere around -10F. Last night it was in the low teens. My Celestron mount, gps, and hand controller all stop functioning properly once they get that cold. When I bought my scope it came with an 8" dew heater strap but no controller. I rigged a controller out of an old 12v electric car heater that had a fan. I connected a piece from an old 24v audio distribution amp to match the dew heater plug. When the switch is toggled to Fan only the dew heater receives current. When I toggle to Heat both the dew heater and the heating element from the original heater kick on. The heating element gets way too hot so probably need some sort of knob to control how much juice it's getting. I had initially thought the troubles were the hand controller and GPS so last night I had the heater band wrapped around the hand controller long ways so my hand could slide in and run the controls. That solved the problem with the hand controller crapping out. The heating element I zip tied to the GPS and would turn it on and off in spurts. But then my RA and DEC motor controllers (16 & 17) stopped sending a signal. Is there some sort of component that's easily susceptible to cold like a capacitor or such? Do I need to have heat for each of the motor controllers too?

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brucesdad13's attachment for post 59006

~ Charlie Stevenson

8" f/5.7 String Telescope - 1st Scope Build; 2nd Place Stellafane 2016 Optical Award for Newtonians 12.5" and Smaller
10" f/4.5 Newtonian (June 2015) mirror refigured by Optic Wave Labs P-V WaveFront 1/14.24, Strehl Ratio 0.993 (Aug '15)
Criterion RV-6 seems to be circa 1973 (June 2015) [For Sale]
Celestron C8-A XLT (January 2015) [For Sale]
Celestron PowerSeeker 70AZ (Christmas 2014)
Aldrich Astronomical Society member since 2015
http://astro.charleskelleystevenson.com/
Posted 01/11/2015 12:44PM #1
No great wisdom here but related anecdote: I used to observe with my wonderful old 12.5-in Cave Astrola in a dome at ambient temp...at times as cold as you mention. The only electronics were a Byers drive (120VAC synchronous), a freq controller to that, Edmunds +/-12VDC on the dec tangent arm, SBIG ST-4 CCD auto-guider system, FLI CCD camera and my laptop. The ONLY things I heated were the laptop (on a small heating pad set on LOW) and a blow-dryer shoved down my jacket. Everything worked fine cept skin flaked off my fingertips...and I set my jacket on fire once. Good luck! Tom Dey

29-inch Dob in a dome
36-inch upgrade soon
LUNT 80/80 solar scope
FLI 6803 cam
APM 100mm APO Binos
JMI RB-16 Night Vision Binos
Zeiss 20x60 IS binos
Posted 01/12/2015 08:35AM #2
16 and 17 errors were likely NOT because the motor controller "stopped sending a signal," but because your power was too low. Cold affects batteries badly and can make AC power connections dicey.

Make it easy on yourself vis-à-vis the HC: just rubberband a chemical hand warmer pack to your hand control. The only component affected by cold is the LCD display.

No, capacitors are not overly affected by cold. Your GPS likely suffers a problem with cable/connectors in the cold.

wink

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