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Cold weather operation of equatorial mounts

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#1 thompeters65

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Posted 20 January 2019 - 02:16 PM

The night time temperatures are supposed to drop to -10 F. or colder tonight. Unfortunately it’s also supposed to be clear for the first time in nearly a month.

Has anyone imaged on such cold nights?? How well did your mount work. I’m using a Celestron AVX by the way.

Edited by thompeters65, 20 January 2019 - 02:18 PM.


#2 kbahey

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Posted 20 January 2019 - 02:34 PM

I did image when it was -10C outside (that is 14F), and the mount performed well. My mount is a Vixen SXD, with custom modifications to convert it to OnStep). As for -10F (that is -23.33C), I can only tell you my stance: which is, I would not go outside for more than 5 minutes or so, because frost bite is a real concern. I also would not subject the equipment to such extreme temperature since the lubricant may stiffen and cause the gears to seize, ...etc.
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#3 thompeters65

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Posted 20 January 2019 - 02:52 PM

I did image when it was -10C outside (that is 14F), and the mount performed well.My mount is a Vixen SXD, with custom modifications to convert it to OnStep).As for -10F (that is -23.33C), I can only tell you my stance: which is, I would not go outside for more than 5 minutes or so, because frost bite is a real concern. I also would not subject the equipment to such extreme temperature since the lubricant may stiffen and cause the gears to seize, ...etc.


Thanks that is certainly the kind of information I need, along with the reasons for your advise!! Thanks again!!

Edited by thompeters65, 20 January 2019 - 02:53 PM.


#4 EFT

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Posted 20 January 2019 - 02:54 PM

While you are going to have to test it out, it is fairly likely that the mount will get very stiff making it difficult to balance and hard for it to track.  It can put additional strain on the motor and electronics as the mount/lubricant stiffens up.  However, there is some variation from mount to mount.  If your mount balances easily to start with, it is likely to work better in the cold than one that is already stiff at normal temperatures.



#5 thompeters65

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Posted 20 January 2019 - 04:34 PM

While you are going to have to test it out, it is fairly likely that the mount will get very stiff making it difficult to balance and hard for it to track. It can put additional strain on the motor and electronics as the mount/lubricant stiffens up. However, there is some variation from mount to mount. If your mount balances easily to start with, it is likely to work better in the cold than one that is already stiff at normal temperatures.


It’s normally stiff to begin with anyway. Plus they have adjusted the low temp now to -14F.!!!

#6 gotak

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Posted 20 January 2019 - 07:39 PM

Try it out. I have done similar temps before the ieq45 lasts outside longer than my fingers can.

 

I dress in full mountaineering sort of kit before I go out in such temps for setup. Once i dress pretty much only the exposed skin that's the problem.

 

Likely you'll find the mount just fine. Don't forget gloves when toucjito metal.


Edited by gotak, 20 January 2019 - 07:40 PM.


#7 Wire

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Posted 23 January 2019 - 09:38 PM

I know a lot of you will disagree with me, but in very freezing weather, metal gets brittle, electronics don't work correctly. Things expand when freezing which may crack a surface mount board or two, or expand the rotor in your servo or stepper motors, causing them to fail. I personally will not and do not take my electronic scopes out in very cold weather, usually anything 32° and under. I take out my manual scopes, like my xt8 or 102mm. I wouldn't chance $4000-$5000 of equipment of getting ruined in one night because I wanted to get a shot of a nebula or galaxy. I'll just view it. That's just my 2 cents worth.


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#8 gotak

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Posted 23 January 2019 - 10:19 PM

When the surface mounted components are put on what temps do you think they experience? 200C plus is the typical solder reflow temps. If they can do that with PCBs then expect they'd work in typical commercial temp range. And in lots of cases industrial temp range. Really temperature isn't a major issue.

 

I once subjected micron's highest clock speed DDR3 DIMM to hot air rework tool at a former job cause we needed a DIMM with half the chips depopulated, and they don't make one we can order as a sample. It got so hot the DIMM PCB became as flexible as a fruit roll up. And because we were ham handing it for a prototype with engineers who aren't rework specialist the whole process took like 30 minutes. It survived just fine and we got our project done.

 

Most components have designed temp range. Take this stepper (really just a random search) https://www.digikey....cgaAsuIEALw_wcB

 

-20C to +50C. Sufficient for a lot of folks and way below your minimum temp.

 

It's a mount not a piece of tofu, use it.


Edited by gotak, 23 January 2019 - 10:24 PM.


#9 EFT

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Posted 23 January 2019 - 11:07 PM

Lubricant's, particularly in the mass-produced mounts, cause the majority of the problem when it comes to temperature, e.g., lubricants that solidify at low temperatures or separate at high temperatures.  That's why mounts specially prepared for consistently very-low temperature operations use different lubricants than the more standard versions. 

 

In very high precision equipment, the differential expansion/contraction of the various construction materials has to be taken into account during design and manufacture (e.g., a high precision worm can be deformed enough just through the heat developed during the machining process to render it useless).  In a mount like the AVX they most certainly are not worrying about those things to any significant degree.



#10 gotak

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Posted 23 January 2019 - 11:40 PM

I guess I don't have mass produced  iOptron mounts than. The factory grease in both the CEM25 and the IEQ45 pro worked from -25C to + 40C. And on the IEQ45 it's 0.5-0.38 RMS from -25C to +40C so that worm must have been from the special batch they had made at the Sholin temple by monks.


Edited by gotak, 23 January 2019 - 11:40 PM.


#11 EFT

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 12:29 AM

I can only speak from my vastly greater experience then yours and the OP was not asking about an iOptron mount.



#12 choward94002

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 12:59 AM

I've got a fair number of Celestron mounts in my collection ((sigh)) ... as well as a fair amount of "real world" experience with industrial control systems that need to operate in extreme environments ...

 

I'll double down with Ed's statements ... once you get below a fairly narrow range bad things start to happen to electronics, greases and materials.  I generally run the Celestrons at a slower than normal slew rate anyway (30'/sec) to save strain on the motor, and completely cease operations once it gets below 35F ... it's just not worth the loss of a mount motor ...

 

No idea about iOptrons, just talking about Celestrons ...

 

My car can also go 60mph on mountain roads in the winter, that doesn't mean it's a good idea to go 60mph on mountain roads in the winter just because I can do that in the summer ...


Edited by choward94002, 24 January 2019 - 01:02 AM.

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#13 Wire

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 06:57 AM

I've got a fair number of Celestron mounts in my collection ((sigh)) ... as well as a fair amount of "real world" experience with industrial control systems that need to operate in extreme environments ...

 

I'll double down with Ed's statements ... once you get below a fairly narrow range bad things start to happen to electronics, greases and materials.  I generally run the Celestrons at a slower than normal slew rate anyway (30'/sec) to save strain on the motor, and completely cease operations once it gets below 35F ... it's just not worth the loss of a mount motor ...

 

No idea about iOptrons, just talking about Celestrons ...

 

My car can also go 60mph on mountain roads in the winter, that doesn't mean it's a good idea to go 60mph on mountain roads in the winter just because I can do that in the summer ...

I work in an industrial field and I see a lot of failures in equipment when exposed to cold weather. I'll stick to my guns on this issue. Even though these scopes will work in cold weather, they will break down faster using them in extreme weather than using them in fair weather. And as far as surface mounts withstanding high temps, they're made that way. I've seen circuitry pull away from boards in extreme cold weather. It's probably why you see a lot of failures on equipment here, because of taking them out in extreme weather. No thank you. I want to get years out of my equipment. As I stated earlier, I take my manual scopes out for visual in cold weather. Even then I condition them slowly to changing temps.



#14 Raginar

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 07:30 AM

The night time temperatures are supposed to drop to -10 F. or colder tonight. Unfortunately it’s also supposed to be clear for the first time in nearly a month.

Has anyone imaged on such cold nights?? How well did your mount work. I’m using a Celestron AVX by the way.


My CGEM never minded it. The cold was -20F in SD. You’ll start seeing other mechanical issues (my Xagyl filter wheel stopped turning towards the end of the night). But you won’t have any negative effects from it.

Don’t stay out too long!

#15 GoFish

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 07:37 AM

Since so many here now use SuperLube in their mounts, I wonder if anyone can comment on how this grease performs in cold weather?


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