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leaving a mount outside, cold weather

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#1 tommax

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 08:03 PM

Hi,

 

I have been pretty much leaving my mount outside because doing so I actually use it, if I have to setup every time with my back I rarely use it... so I set it up on patio bricks awhile back - I cover it with a clean dry cotton sheet or fleece blanket and then a heavy duty grill over and bundle that all down with stretch straps - this seems to have worked out but now I see some ice on the mount head and it can get pretty cold here, the last time I tried to use it - it struggled and I am sure it was the cold. I want to not only hopefully keep it operating in cold temps but also want a way to insure it stays dry so the electronics don't get harmed.

 

I have been thinking of trying some heating cable like you would use on water pipes

https://www.amazon.c...48204812&sr=8-9

to help keep in dry and hopefully operable during cold temps by just wrapping the non moving part of the mount with this, when done covering per described above.

 

Any thoughts on this method or do you have better idea's other than bringing it in?

 

Thanks.



#2 photoracer18

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 08:20 PM

Its not the cold you need to worry about in an outside mount its moisture. Every steel part that is non-stainless will rust, bare none. Especially screws, setscrews, and other small parts. What you need is one of those all-weather TeleGizmo reflective scope/mount covers you can seal up and put a container of desiccant inside with the mount.
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#3 tommax

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 08:27 PM

Its not the cold you need to worry about in an outside mount its moisture. Every steel part that is non-stainless will rust, bare none. Especially screws, setscrews, and other small parts. What you need is one of those all-weather TeleGizmo reflective scope/mount covers you can seal up and put a container of desiccant inside with the mount.

Thanks for the suggestion - I had a desiccant under this and there was still ice - I don't think they work much if the weather is below freezing - I am trying to keep it warm and dry - I thought about constructing some kind of box out of 3/4" Pink foam sheets that would be big enough to put a 60w light bulb under as well but being sure others are in my boat was just looking for idea's. I have a scope cover too, it's reflective on the inside and a tan army type material on the outside.


Edited by tommax, 22 January 2019 - 08:29 PM.


#4 TOMDEY

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 08:39 PM

Desiccant is great...  but poops out rather quickly, at which point it acts like a saturated sponge... actually exacerbating things. I would always say, "Well, I'll just keep an eye on the desiccant." Famous last words... A continuous few watts of heat in there would be beneficial.    Tom


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#5 Dynan

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 08:44 PM

Throw a 25 watt bulb in there. And throw in one of these if you're sealed from the moisture:

 

https://smile.amazon...1?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

Can't hurt. You'll be able to tell if you're sealed well by how quickly they need to be regenerated. An all you do is plug them in to regenerate.

 

As mentioned above, maybe take out all your available 'set screws, screws, etc.' and coat them with a never seize product. Then the possible corrosion will be cosmetic and not damaging.

 

No plan is foolproof. But if it helps you observe or image, then you are doing well. Remember, as Buddha once astutely said, "The only thing that lasts forever is NOTHING." Use it...don't abuse it...but use it for your enjoyment, science, outreach... it's only a thing.


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#6 tommax

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 08:49 PM

Thanks - I have the eva dry e500 - it's what I had under there before. Do you think the heat wrap tape could serve the purpose of a light bulb? If it could then no area big enough for a bulb to be on all the time will be needed...


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#7 msl615

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 09:12 PM

HI....I am from Fairbanks, Alaska and we have had a thread going here for about a week on leaving mounts, etc out in the cold. It is very dry here at low temps, but we still get some frost on the mounts and scopes. 

 

The cold will primarily freeze up the lubricant/grease and will put a large strain on the motors and gears. Plus, electronic drives and controllers don't work at our temps anyway, so I just drive manually. 

 

I cover my scopes each night with a newly dried, and warmed heavy cloth bag (actually game hunting bag, which you should have access to in WI), then a polar fleece blanket over that. My suggestion for your conditions is the 25 watt bulb.  DO NOT USE HEAT TAPE LIKE ON PIPES. They are meant only to be used on pipes that have fluid in them, to dissipate the heat they generate. They would get way too hot on the mount itself and could cause a lot of problems that you don't need. 

 

I also use the Telegizmo water and weather proof covers and rotate them sometimes with the cloth bags. I have not tried the 25 watt bulb, because I don't need the moisture control while covered.  

 

The ice forms after you have covered? It is not there while using the mount?  

 

Mike


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#8 tommax

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 09:24 PM

HI....I am from Fairbanks, Alaska and we have had a thread going here for about a week on leaving mounts, etc out in the cold. It is very dry here at low temps, but we still get some frost on the mounts and scopes. 

 

The cold will primarily freeze up the lubricant/grease and will put a large strain on the motors and gears. Plus, electronic drives and controllers don't work at our temps anyway, so I just drive manually. 

 

I cover my scopes each night with a newly dried, and warmed heavy cloth bag (actually game hunting bag, which you should have access to in WI), then a polar fleece blanket over that. My suggestion for your conditions is the 25 watt bulb.  DO NOT USE HEAT TAPE LIKE ON PIPES. They are meant only to be used on pipes that have fluid in them, to dissipate the heat they generate. They would get way too hot on the mount itself and could cause a lot of problems that you don't need. 

 

I also use the Telegizmo water and weather proof covers and rotate them sometimes with the cloth bags. I have not tried the 25 watt bulb, because I don't need the moisture control while covered.  

 

The ice forms after you have covered? It is not there while using the mount?  

 

Mike

HI Mike,

 

Thanks for the tips - from Alaska I would think you deal with worse than I do. I think the ice came from a rise in temp when we had a recent snow melting and things got warmed up but then cooled again - it got warm enough the grass around my mount on the patio bricks was getting a little squishy - I think we are now beyond all that - my mount is still outside but it looks like weather will be bad through the weekend so I plan on bringing it in, cleaning it up a bit (everything still looks great luckily and I want to keep it that way) and making sure it's dry and then have a decent plan when I set it back up with the plan to leave it out all winter, I don't think we are warming up for a few month's now and it ain't moving - it's a CGE Pro and the thing seems to way as much as a small car (at least my back thinks so).


Edited by tommax, 22 January 2019 - 09:25 PM.

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#9 Dynan

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 09:25 PM

You're correct Tominator. ANY heat source that can keep the internals above dew point will work. Come to think of it, many 'heat strips' for pipes have a self regulator on them. Might even be better than an incandescent light bulb!

 

EDIT: I stand corrected about the heat tape, as mentioned by MSL616. Stick with a bulb. Or if possible a small thermostatically controlled heater:

 

https://smile.amazon... heater plug in

 

And please let us know of your successes!


Edited by Dynan, 22 January 2019 - 09:31 PM.

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#10 tommax

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 09:29 PM

You're correct Tominator. ANY heat source that can keep the internals above dew point will work. Come to think of it, many 'heat strips' for pipes have a self regulator on them. Might even be better than an incandescent light bulb!

I bet your house is fun at breakfast time!



#11 Dynan

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 09:33 PM

I bet your house is fun at breakfast time!

Yep! Slingin' bacon and eggs as far as the eye can see!lol.gif



#12 gotak

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 10:03 PM

Eva dry works. You just have to seal it up with a moisture barrier and a bbq cover with lots of places where the air can get in isn't.

 

Right now I am just using a big trash bag and it's sucking the humidity at -15C down to 24%. 



#13 tommax

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 10:08 PM

Eva dry works. You just have to seal it up with a moisture barrier and a bbq cover with lots of places where the air can get in isn't.

 

Right now I am just using a big trash bag and it's sucking the humidity at -15C down to 24%. 

I am confused by this one where air can get in isn't? no air flow or some air flow?



#14 Dynan

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 10:31 PM

NO air flow. You need a thermos around your mount/scope. Zero air flow. Use Duct Tape (or a Red Green alternative) to seal the mount from the atmosphere. Then the heat and dehumidifier have a chance at keeping moisture off the scope/mount.



#15 tommax

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 10:52 PM

that will be a challenge getting it to seal while leaving room for a bulb that can freely hang under a bag without touching anything...

 

I got it inside, I am going to clean and lube it - what's a good grease than can take the cold super lube? white lith? or?



#16 Dynan

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 11:27 PM

Super Lube boasts a working temp down to -45°F (-43°C). Might try that.


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#17 msl615

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Posted 23 January 2019 - 01:22 AM

Super lube is OK down to about -10F.....it will still work there, but tends to have a very high "breaking" point to get a set of gears/axes moving once the mount has been still and frozen. However, if you use the cover/light bulb trip, the Superlube will work great. 

 

I have had tremendous luck with Dow Molykote 33. It will handle -30F easily. There are some greases I am experimenting with that can go even lower than that...not that I want to be out at -40F, but they work great at anything warmer than -20F. 

 

Mike



#18 skycamper

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Posted 23 January 2019 - 02:23 AM

I set my mount under the telegizmos 365 cover with a fleece blanket under it and a $12 heating pad from Amazon set on medium in the eyepiece tray. Never saw any moisture under the cover ever and it rains here like a mother.  No mold either.   Weird. Didn't even bother with securing the bottom.   Telescope wore it like a dress.


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#19 tommax

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Posted 23 January 2019 - 08:10 AM

I set my mount under the telegizmos 365 cover with a fleece blanket under it and a $12 heating pad from Amazon set on medium in the eyepiece tray. Never saw any moisture under the cover ever and it rains here like a mother.  No mold either.   Weird. Didn't even bother with securing the bottom.   Telescope wore it like a dress.

I like the idea of the heating pad - I think I will try that - also think I will put one of these under there:

 

https://www.amazon.c...e monitor&psc=1

 

That will let me know the pad is working and the humidity level without having to uncover anything... at least I have a plan now.



#20 archer1960

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Posted 23 January 2019 - 12:01 PM

I set my mount under the telegizmos 365 cover with a fleece blanket under it and a $12 heating pad from Amazon set on medium in the eyepiece tray. Never saw any moisture under the cover ever and it rains here like a mother.  No mold either.   Weird. Didn't even bother with securing the bottom.   Telescope wore it like a dress.

 

I like the idea of the heating pad - I think I will try that - also think I will put one of these under there:

 

https://www.amazon.c...e monitor&psc=1

 

That will let me know the pad is working and the humidity level without having to uncover anything... at least I have a plan now.

Now that's a great idea. I'm in the same boat: telescope on the deck, under a TG 365 cover. No fleece blanket, though; I would think that would hold moisture.


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#21 skycamper

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Posted 23 January 2019 - 04:03 PM

It might but I think it holds the heat better and I've noticed the under side of the 365 cover stays instact better.  I bought a 2nd 365 cover used and noticed a bunch of scratches and tears on the inside. mine doesn't have that because I've been using the fleece blanket. And in the Pacific Northwest where it rains 40 or 50 inches a year I've not noticed the blanket being wet and that's with the telescope having the 365 cover just draped over it without securing the bottom.  You would think the cover would act like a parachute for capturing moisture on the inside but that doesn't seem to be having and I really have no idea why. Other than possibly the heating pad holding the dew point higher so moisture never does have a chance to form in the first place.


Edited by skycamper, 23 January 2019 - 04:05 PM.

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#22 tommax

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Posted 23 January 2019 - 05:03 PM

Now that's a great idea. I'm in the same boat: telescope on the deck, under a TG 365 cover. No fleece blanket, though; I would think that would hold moisture.

I am going to keep the cotton sheet or fleece blanket in my plan - if that monitor thing works good then I will know pretty quick if there is humidity under there and can do something about it. I just went and picked up all new stainless steel screws and bolts for the entire mount, giving it a fresh grease job and then back out it goes - hopefully without worries.



#23 StarBurger

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Posted 23 January 2019 - 05:58 PM

I really can't understand why anyone would wish to leave their equipment out under ANY circumstances no matter how well protected, except in an observatory setting and maybe not then.

Sheer idleness is maybe one reason and I would like to suffer from it, but I resist.

Manufacturers give us guide lines on storage, particularly of electronic components and if lucky will tell us what humidity and max and min temperatures to abide by.

I would not expect my computer to enjoy a life out on my balcony no matter how well protected and then bring it inside and hope it will perform well, in the winter at any rate!

For mechanical items it's not so severe. The worst we might experience is some rust or corrosion but you will still have to deal with it!

Electronic boards are a different matter. 

We have no idea how well the boards in our mounts have been treated with conformal coating (if at all!) against moisture.

Just the same; why risk it?

Maybe it's OK if your climate, Tommax (Benny Hill) is fairly benign but I guess WI is pretty harsh.

Upstate NY is equally tough for me on for the occasions that the weather allows me to get out in the winter (very few). I am very happy to tote out my equipment from a warm dry apartment knowing that the elements have not been a worry to my equipment.



#24 tommax

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Posted 23 January 2019 - 06:27 PM

I really can't understand why anyone would wish to leave their equipment out under ANY circumstances no matter how well protected, except in an observatory setting and maybe not then.

Sheer idleness is maybe one reason and I would like to suffer from it, but I resist.

Manufacturers give us guide lines on storage, particularly of electronic components and if lucky will tell us what humidity and max and min temperatures to abide by.

I would not expect my computer to enjoy a life out on my balcony no matter how well protected and then bring it inside and hope it will perform well, in the winter at any rate!

For mechanical items it's not so severe. The worst we might experience is some rust or corrosion but you will still have to deal with it!

Electronic boards are a different matter. 

We have no idea how well the boards in our mounts have been treated with conformal coating (if at all!) against moisture.

Just the same; why risk it?

Maybe it's OK if your climate, Tommax (Benny Hill) is fairly benign but I guess WI is pretty harsh.

Upstate NY is equally tough for me on for the occasions that the weather allows me to get out in the winter (very few). I am very happy to tote out my equipment from a warm dry apartment knowing that the elements have not been a worry to my equipment.

Well I suppose with the back surgery I had I could find another hobby but I would rather figure out a way to leave my mount outside with as good of protection I can come up with. When I had my AVX and was using my Astrotech AT65EDQ it was not so bad and I would bring that in - but the mount I am talking about here is a Celestron CGE Pro and I highly doubt there would be many if any occasions you would want to drag that out of your apartment in the winter to set it up and these mounts should be designed to take outdoor use, I don't know what you would see indoors with them, they get exposed to dew just about everytime they are outside so if one can find a way to combat moisture during storage I see little difference since they are going to get some degree of exposure just from normal use... but lastly - if I am afraid to use my stuff then I don't see a point in owning it - I used to feel like I had to walk on eggshells with this stuff and I did not enjoy the hobby at all - but since I changed my attitude and look for ways that make me WANT to use my equipment (like in this case) I find the hobby very enjoyable... now all that said I bring my scope in each session with camera's and everything attached.


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#25 gotak

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Posted 23 January 2019 - 07:58 PM

I really can't understand why anyone would wish to leave their equipment out under ANY circumstances no matter how well protected, except in an observatory setting and maybe not then.
Sheer idleness is maybe one reason and I would like to suffer from it, but I resist.
Manufacturers give us guide lines on storage, particularly of electronic components and if lucky will tell us what humidity and max and min temperatures to abide by.
I would not expect my computer to enjoy a life out on my balcony no matter how well protected and then bring it inside and hope it will perform well, in the winter at any rate!
For mechanical items it's not so severe. The worst we might experience is some rust or corrosion but you will still have to deal with it!
Electronic boards are a different matter.
We have no idea how well the boards in our mounts have been treated with conformal coating (if at all!) against moisture.
Just the same; why risk it?
Maybe it's OK if your climate, Tommax (Benny Hill) is fairly benign but I guess WI is pretty harsh.
Upstate NY is equally tough for me on for the occasions that the weather allows me to get out in the winter (very few). I am very happy to tote out my equipment from a warm dry apartment knowing that the elements have not been a worry to my equipment.

That's sort of the same sentiment as people who use the most expensive wax and hand wash their cars. There is a point to it but gets in the way of the practical side. And when people ding those folks doors they of course get very upset.

Equipment is meant to be used. There will be wear and tear. If someone is willing to accept that they may have earlier need to replace parts or entire mount. I see no reason why they can't just leave it outside.

Edited by gotak, 23 January 2019 - 07:59 PM.

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