Return to the Cloudy Nights Telescope Reviews home pageAstronomics discounts for Cloudy Nights members
· Get a Cloudy Nights T-Shirt · Submit a Review / Article

Click here if you are having trouble logging into the forums

Privacy Policy | Please read our Terms of Service | Signup and Troubleshooting FAQ | Problems? PM a Red or a Green Gu… uh, User

Equipment Discussions >> Observatories

Pages: 1 | 2 | (show all)
Ron Walker
member


Reged: 01/07/06

Loc: Arizona
What wiring on the pier post?
      #5681699 - 02/15/13 02:45 PM

I am in the process of building an observatory and am now running conduit from the pier to a corner where I will have a computer set up. While this subject has been touched upon, I haven't found anything really definitive on the subject. Basically, what wiring and connections would you want at the pier. I have put in a 3/4 and 1 1/4 inch conduits to contain the required wires. I have found with other projects that once there are wires in a conduit it is next to impossible to shove more in. It is better to put them all in at once even though a use is not apparent at the time. I was planning on running 120vac through the 3/4 tube but then wonder if a hefty 12vdc might not be better. Or perhaps both. What other lines, USB for sure, but is one enough. Video, composite, S video. Cat5.

The basic question to those out there, what wiring is essential (and what is that) and what do you wish you had added? Is 120vac useful at the pier, or is it better to have the 12vdc power supply off to the side and out of the way? I'm hoping to be able to capture live video for projection in a planetarium I'm also building. The two domes will be connected with both cat5 and video lines. That should make it possible to control the observatory from the planetarium.

So basically, what is the wish list for wiring to the pier, both for now and for the future?


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
YetAnotherHobby
sage
*****

Reged: 09/02/09

Loc: Central CT
Re: What wiring on the pier post? new [Re: Ron Walker]
      #5681868 - 02/15/13 04:10 PM

I have four 120VAC outlets at my pier, and a 6 outlet strip plugged into that for a total of 9 outlets right at the pier.
I have a 12VDC supply at the pier to run my dew heater, and the a separate AC supply for the mount.
My only reservation on your plan to locate your DC source remotely is that 12V loads typically draw quite a bit of current, and long wire runs can result in voltage drop between the source and load.
I found that the assortment of plugs and "wall warts" quickly consumed the available outlets, but I have not run out, even with every electronic gadget up and connected.

HTH

Geoff


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Ron Walker
member


Reged: 01/07/06

Loc: Arizona
Re: What wiring on the pier post? new [Re: YetAnotherHobby]
      #5681957 - 02/15/13 04:54 PM

Thanks for the reply Geoff. The only reason I was thinking of 12vdc to the pier is it would keep it clear of the various individual power supplies. As I get older I notice that I knock into things more often then not. It would be fairly easy to add a small shelf to the pier on which to mount the various supplies. I also like the idea of a power strip for all of the wall warts. Thanks again for the input.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Mary B
Vendor - Echo Astronomy and Electronics
*****

Reged: 05/21/10

Loc: Minnesota
Re: What wiring on the pier post? new [Re: Ron Walker]
      #5682074 - 02/15/13 05:59 PM

I only ran 12 volts to my pier. I use a West Mountain Radio 5 outlet RigRunner to distribute the 12 volts on the pier.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Ron Walker
member


Reged: 01/07/06

Loc: Arizona
Re: What wiring on the pier post? new [Re: Mary B]
      #5682235 - 02/15/13 07:45 PM

Thanks for the reply Mary. This is a hard call. I'm actually thinking of running both 120vac as well as 12vdc to the pier. That way I can run the basic scope with basic accessories off of a large 12vdc supply. My OB will only be 8X8 feet so the wire run will be under 10 feet.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jeff in Austin
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 02/26/07

Loc: TEXAS
Re: What wiring on the pier post? new [Re: Ron Walker]
      #5682303 - 02/15/13 08:38 PM

I used something completely different. Looks like a speed bump from the pier to the wall. Bright yellow, low profile. Lots of ideas on this page -

Cable protectors


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Alex McConahay
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 08/11/08

Loc: Moreno Valley, CA
Re: What wiring on the pier post? new [Re: Ron Walker]
      #5682678 - 02/16/13 12:45 AM

Ron, be careful of the fact that wires no only have to go across, but they have to go down the pier (6-10 feet from camera on a focuser to the ground, at least. Then across (in an 8 x 8 this is only maybe 5.6 feet) then back up four or so feet into the back of the computer. So.....it may be more than ten feet.

Do not send the USB cords any further than fifteen feet if you can at all help it. (You can use repeaters, but......).

And just get the USB cables in partucular under the floor----no further down. They do not need to be buried 18 inches down like 110 volt. and that 18 extra inches is three feet more travel when all is said and done.

Alex


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Ron Walker
member


Reged: 01/07/06

Loc: Arizona
Re: What wiring on the pier post? new [Re: Alex McConahay]
      #5683290 - 02/16/13 11:27 AM

Thanks Alex, I actually did take that into consideration. The "control" conduit runs about nine feet from back of computer to plug box on pier. I'm guessing another three feet or so to whatever accessory it will be connected to. All in all, certainly well within the 15 foot safe limit.

I'm still looking for suggestions for how many of each type and what different types. I could put a USB hub on the pier but think it would be better to have individual lines. I'm trying to think of everything I might want eventually. If I eventually want a star guide with video capture, that would be two USB lines, but will I ever need more? An auto guider cat5 cable for the mount (Atlas EQ-G) and perhaps a line for the hand controller. Then at least one s-video and one composite video. Since I'm not at ll sure how far I will go with this project, I want to make sure I have enough of each kind of wire. Wire is basically cheap to put in at this stage and infinitely easier to put in all at once. I will want to control the scope (and perhaps the dome as well) from a second location, but from what I understand about computers (and that's not much) that kind of control is available via a cat5 cable and "simple" networking.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Ron Walker
member


Reged: 01/07/06

Loc: Arizona
Re: What wiring on the pier post? new [Re: Alex McConahay]
      #5683303 - 02/16/13 11:36 AM

Thanks Jeff, yes I know what your talking about. I have used those many times to protect cables before. I am actually using a conduit run under the floor. Your suggestion is something to think about if I need to run extra cables at a later time but I'm trying to think of all the possible cable requirements now so I won't need to run something across the floor. The older I get, the more I tend to trip on things on the floor, especially in the dark or under red lighting.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
wirenut
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 09/21/06

Loc: m'dale Pa
Re: What wiring on the pier post? new [Re: Alex McConahay]
      #5683354 - 02/16/13 11:59 AM

.

And just get the USB cables in partucular under the floor----no further down. They do not need to be buried 18 inches down like 110 volt. and that 18 extra inches is three feet more travel when all is said and done.

Alex


110volt doesn't need to be 18" down if it's in a building like a observatory, unless that is your local code.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Ron Walker
member


Reged: 01/07/06

Loc: Arizona
Re: What wiring on the pier post? new [Re: wirenut]
      #5683555 - 02/16/13 01:45 PM

Right on Alex. Since it is in or under a building in can be in the walls or under floors. Under a concrete slab, conduit only needs to be 10 inches down, but it can run within floor joists. If your using plastic conduit, it needs to be 18 inches down when run across open land. If in steel conduit it only needs to be 10 inches down. Or at least that is the code here.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Alex McConahay
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 08/11/08

Loc: Moreno Valley, CA
Re: What wiring on the pier post? new [Re: Ron Walker]
      #5683637 - 02/16/13 02:27 PM

You know. all things considered, put in an extra 1.5 inch piece of conduit from the control station to the floor just below the mount.......It will cost less than $10, and someday you will need it. If you never do, you are down $10.

(I think 1.5 inch conduit is the number you want to run 9 pin serial cables with the ends attached. ----but check before you sink it. )

And, by the way----I have actually not found it all that difficult to run an extra USB cable (actually three at one time) through an existing, already populated) conduit. Maybe I was lucky. I was surprised it was so easy.

If I ever get over my laziness, I will add a webpage to my site about what I found out about cabling when I built my two observatories.

Alex


Alex

Alex


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Midnight Dan
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 01/23/08

Loc: Hilton, NY, Yellow Zone (Bortl...
Re: What wiring on the pier post? new [Re: Alex McConahay]
      #5683671 - 02/16/13 02:47 PM

I personally like to minimize the cables going to/from the mount to avoid clutter. I currently have the following setup on a tripod, but will be getting an observatory & pier this summer and plan to duplicate it there.

I have a USB hub on my mount, and when I get my observatory I intend to put one on the pier. I have a 4-port hub and didn't think I'd use them all, but guess what - all full! There's the imaging camera, the auto guider, a USB-to-Serial adapter to control the mount via serial, and I also bought a "Temper-Hum" USB temperature/humidity sensor so that BackyardEOS can record the temperature as meta-data with the images.

Since pretty much everything runs off 12V, I run a heavy gauge 12V line from a the power supply to the mount. On the mount, I have a power distribution box. For 12v, I use Anderson PowerPoles so in that sense it's similar to Mary's Rigrunner distribution box. But I also purchased a couple of cheap adjustable dc-to-dc voltage converter boards from an ebay electronics store (i.e. China). I have one set to 7.5volts and the other set to 5v and have jacks on the power distribution box. I use a 5v jack to power my USB hub, and a 7.5v jack to power my DSLR.

So bottom line, I have one USB cable and one 12V cable going to the mount. For the observatory, where the cable path will be longer than it is with the tripod, I'll probably go with 8 gauge wire to minimize any issues with voltage drop. I may also run an ethernet cable just in case, but don't currently have a need.

-Dan


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Ron Walker
member


Reged: 01/07/06

Loc: Arizona
Re: What wiring on the pier post? new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #5683695 - 02/16/13 02:59 PM

Thanks Dan, this is the kind of info I'm looking for.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Tom and Beth
Post Laureate


Reged: 01/08/07

Loc: Tucson, AZ
Re: What wiring on the pier post? new [Re: Ron Walker]
      #5683781 - 02/16/13 03:58 PM

Just some more food for thought. It might not be your bag, but...

There are very small computers that would fit on the side of the pier and handle remote access, imaging, telescope tracking...etc. Having Ethernet and an HDMI cable MIGHT be warranted. It's likely these will have a wireless module, but that is more heat and a slower connection.

I've been looking at the NUC, which essensially is a computer in a 4 by 4 by 2.5 inch case. The current crop isn't enough for me to part with the cash, but the next round of CPUs will run in the 20-35 watt range. That would imply being able to use your pier as a heat sink.

Anyway, it's food for thought.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Ron Walker
member


Reged: 01/07/06

Loc: Arizona
Re: What wiring on the pier post? new [Re: Tom and Beth]
      #5683876 - 02/16/13 04:55 PM

Love this kind of information. Thank you Tom & Beth, keep it coming.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
piaras
professor emeritus


Reged: 01/26/09

Loc: Niagara Region
Re: What wiring on the pier post? new [Re: Tom and Beth]
      #5683898 - 02/16/13 05:11 PM

Quote:

Just some more food for thought. It might not be your bag, but...

There are very small computers that would fit on the side of the pier and handle remote access, imaging, telescope tracking...etc. Having Ethernet and an HDMI cable MIGHT be warranted. It's likely these will have a wireless module, but that is more heat and a slower connection.

I've been looking at the NUC, which essensially is a computer in a 4 by 4 by 2.5 inch case. The current crop isn't enough for me to part with the cash, but the next round of CPUs will run in the 20-35 watt range. That would imply being able to use your pier as a heat sink.

Anyway, it's food for thought.




Yes the pico boards, Neo-itx APC-8750 or even the Raspberry might be the future for a local computer on a network mounted right on the pier or even on the mount itself. Then all you would need is the Ethernet, and power supply wires.
Pierre

Edited by piaras (02/16/13 05:18 PM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Alex McConahay
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 08/11/08

Loc: Moreno Valley, CA
Re: What wiring on the pier post? new [Re: Ron Walker]
      #5683965 - 02/16/13 05:55 PM Attachment (7 downloads)

Here is what mine looks like.....(forgive me if I have posted this before.) I'm writing it up to put on my website, but it will be a few hours, probably.

Alex


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Alex McConahay
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 08/11/08

Loc: Moreno Valley, CA
Re: What wiring on the pier post? new [Re: Alex McConahay]
      #5684120 - 02/16/13 07:36 PM

Okay, try this link. Can't say that the writeup is very good, but at least it is there.

http://alexastro.com/Alex%20Home%20Page/Equipment/Cabling/Cabling.html

Alex


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Tom and Beth
Post Laureate


Reged: 01/08/07

Loc: Tucson, AZ
Re: What wiring on the pier post? new [Re: Alex McConahay]
      #5684317 - 02/16/13 09:49 PM

Quote:

Okay, try this link. Can't say that the writeup is very good, but at least it is there.

http://alexastro.com/Alex%20Home%20Page/Equipment/Cabling/Cabling.html

Alex




Nice writeup, Alex. It does get the point across, especially the lessons learned.

One item I'm doing homework on now is how to get all the wires for the Camera and guider without them snagging or in any way interfering at any pointing position. Only in the last couple of weeks have I tried AP, but been visual for 5 decades. Best ones I've found so far are on Astro Physics Yahoo groups Page.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Tom and Beth
Post Laureate


Reged: 01/08/07

Loc: Tucson, AZ
Re: What wiring on the pier post? new [Re: piaras]
      #5684327 - 02/16/13 09:57 PM

Quote:

Quote:

Just some more food for thought. It might not be your bag, but...

There are very small computers that would fit on the side of the pier and handle remote access, imaging, telescope tracking...etc. Having Ethernet and an HDMI cable MIGHT be warranted. It's likely these will have a wireless module, but that is more heat and a slower connection.

I've been looking at the NUC, which essensially is a computer in a 4 by 4 by 2.5 inch case. The current crop isn't enough for me to part with the cash, but the next round of CPUs will run in the 20-35 watt range. That would imply being able to use your pier as a heat sink.

Anyway, it's food for thought.




Yes the pico boards, Neo-itx APC-8750 or even the Raspberry might be the future for a local computer on a network mounted right on the pier or even on the mount itself. Then all you would need is the Ethernet, and power supply wires.
Pierre




It was the Rasberry PI that got me thinking on this, then found these "Pico ITX" systems that can be mounted right to the back of a LCD moniter (I also dabble in HTPC). HAving 4-6 USB outlets, HDMI and Ethernet would be perfect for me. Not sure what the Haswell designations will be, but a duel core CPU with anything over 2.4GHz is what I'm thinking.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Christopher EricksonModerator
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 05/08/06

Loc: Waikoloa Village, Hawaii
Re: What wiring on the pier post? new [Re: Tom and Beth]
      #5684583 - 02/17/13 02:25 AM

I generally-prefer metallic conduit for a fourplex electrical outlet in a waterproof electrical box and a raceway that can be opened-up and re-closed for data cables.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Ron Walker
member


Reged: 01/07/06

Loc: Arizona
Re: What wiring on the pier post? new [Re: Alex McConahay]
      #5685004 - 02/17/13 11:27 AM

Quote:

Okay, try this link. Can't say that the writeup is very good, but at least it is there.

http://alexastro.com/Alex%20Home%20Page/Equipment/Cabling/Cabling.html

Alex




I agree. Alex this is just what the Doctor ordered. A great and informative write up. Also good info on the Keystone jacks. Thank you again!


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
piaras
professor emeritus


Reged: 01/26/09

Loc: Niagara Region
Re: What wiring on the pier post? new [Re: Tom and Beth]
      #5685368 - 02/17/13 02:50 PM

Quote:

It was the Rasberry PI that got me thinking on this, then found these "Pico ITX" systems that can be mounted right to the back of a LCD moniter (I also dabble in HTPC). HAving 4-6 USB outlets, HDMI and Ethernet would be perfect for me. Not sure what the Haswell designations will be, but a duel core CPU with anything over 2.4GHz is what I'm thinking.




I have been looking at the Zotac Zbox ID80 based systems. I have been running Mythtv for HT for at least 6 yrs. Started with the mini itx Epia boards but the new stuff has me thinking about pier mounted unit to handle scope and camera via network. Cables are our downfall currently and I hate it.
Pierre


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Ron Walker
member


Reged: 01/07/06

Loc: Arizona
Re: What wiring on the pier post? new [Re: Tom and Beth]
      #5685818 - 02/17/13 07:42 PM

Quote:

Just some more food for thought. It might not be your bag, but...

There are very small computers that would fit on the side of the pier and handle remote access, imaging, telescope tracking...etc. Having Ethernet and an HDMI cable MIGHT be warranted. It's likely these will have a wireless module, but that is more heat and a slower connection.

I've been looking at the NUC, which essensially is a computer in a 4 by 4 by 2.5 inch case. The current crop isn't enough for me to part with the cash, but the next round of CPUs will run in the 20-35 watt range. That would imply being able to use your pier as a heat sink.

Anyway, it's food for thought.




Interesting. My problem is that with my retirement cash flow I can't experiment the way I used to. I have a couple of older computers which will have to do me for now.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
MHamburg
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 06/21/06

Loc: Brooklyn, NY/Berkshires, MA
Re: What wiring on the pier post? new [Re: Ron Walker]
      #5685944 - 02/17/13 08:55 PM

Maybe slightly better prices.
Michael
http://www.cableorganizer.com/cord-cover-elasco/#prices


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Lord Beowulf
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 10/13/08

Loc: Cedar Park, TX
Re: What wiring on the pier post? new [Re: MHamburg]
      #5688752 - 02/19/13 11:59 AM

Thanks to Alex for his article. That generally matches everything I've planned for on my observatory. I poured my piers with three different conduits, one for 120 VAC, one for 12 VDC with possible regulators for lower voltages (e.g. 3V) for running lasers, etc., and one for communication.









Even after that I realized that USB was likely to be a problem and I might not have enough room in the 3/4" conduit for communication stuff, so I did a catch-all in the slab, running a 4" PVC pipe from the pier to near the wall.





A couple of other things on the 12V supply. Definitely a large gauge wire is a requirement (planning on using good speaker wire for minimal inductance and loss) but I think regulation/surge suppression at the load is important too if you're using multiple devices on the same supply. Otherwise, steps in the current draw along that long supply line will cause surges at the various loads. My plan is to actually use multiple supply lines so that the power is split back at the source rather than at the load, which will help minimize that problem. I've also planned to add some regulation in the box for 5V/3V supplies for USB hubs, lasers, etc. that would reduce the need for wall warts out at the pier.

My other thought on the UPS is that while it makes sense to have any AC components supported by a UPS, in some respects using the UPS to run a 12V power supply is a bit backwards. Basically you're taking a 12V battery, up converting to 120V and down-converting back to 12V! My thought is to have a couple of deep cycle batteries tied to my DC supplies in such a way that the battery takes over if the power supply goes down. I'll have to look into diode protection, etc. on this scheme to make sure it works, but that seems like a slightly more efficient and longer lasting solution. Heck, hacking a UPS or two to run off the larger battery has also crossed my mind. That should keep things going for a long time!

Beo


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Alex McConahay
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 08/11/08

Loc: Moreno Valley, CA
Re: What wiring on the pier post? new [Re: Lord Beowulf]
      #5688799 - 02/19/13 12:25 PM

>>>>you're taking a 12V battery, up converting to 120V and down-converting back to 12V!

I see what you are saying. But, really, the UPS is there mostly for power regulation, and for cleanup. I cannot imagine running for a long time without line power. And while it may seem like I am upconverting and then down converting, in fact, unless I am running off the UPS backup supply (i.e., the line power has failed), I am not upconverting at all, but just running off the regulated 110 volt.

>>>>>My thought is to have a couple of deep cycle batteries tied to my DC supplies in such a way that the battery takes over if the power supply goes down

Worrying about the needs of a couple of deep cycle batteries, with a float charger to keep them happy, is something I need not deal with.

But, to each his own. No doubt, your solution would work for you.

Alex


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Mary B
Vendor - Echo Astronomy and Electronics
*****

Reged: 05/21/10

Loc: Minnesota
Re: What wiring on the pier post? new [Re: Alex McConahay]
      #5689309 - 02/19/13 05:14 PM

Automatic DC switchover + float charging for your battery http://www.westmountainradio.com/product_info.php?products_id=pg40s

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Lord Beowulf
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 10/13/08

Loc: Cedar Park, TX
Re: What wiring on the pier post? new [Re: Alex McConahay]
      #5693444 - 02/21/13 08:02 PM

Quote:

>>>>you're taking a 12V battery, up converting to 120V and down-converting back to 12V!

I see what you are saying. But, really, the UPS is there mostly for power regulation, and for cleanup. I cannot imagine running for a long time without line power. And while it may seem like I am upconverting and then down converting, in fact, unless I am running off the UPS backup supply (i.e., the line power has failed), I am not upconverting at all, but just running off the regulated 110 volt.

>>>>>My thought is to have a couple of deep cycle batteries tied to my DC supplies in such a way that the battery takes over if the power supply goes down

Worrying about the needs of a couple of deep cycle batteries, with a float charger to keep them happy, is something I need not deal with.

But, to each his own. No doubt, your solution would work for you.

Alex




Hey Alex,

I wasn't criticizing your solution. That's actually the way I ran for a year or so after pouring my piers. I had an intermittent power failure problem that I originally attributed to poor country power service, but it turned out to be a bad breaker contact in the old breaker box that I replaced.



At any rate, as I've been considering the finished design for the observatory, it just struck me that using UPS for all the 12V stuff was less efficient than running straight from the battery. It also increases the size of inverter you need on the UPS to handle all the load. While we generally aren't talking about major loads, it's still a consideration. Of course the one thing I'm considering now is whether or not to actually put the AC outlets on the piers on a UPS that's wired back in somewhere. I wouldn't want to have to put a big UPS underfoot at the pier! Something to think about...

Beo


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Pages: 1 | 2 | (show all)


Extra information
0 registered and 8 anonymous users are browsing this forum.

Moderator:  Christopher Erickson, Mitchell Duke 

Print Thread

Forum Permissions
      You cannot start new topics
      You cannot reply to topics
      HTML is disabled
      UBBCode is enabled


Thread views: 1863

Jump to

CN Forums Home


Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics