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How do you protect your mount electronics from dew?

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#1 dmilner

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Posted 19 August 2019 - 09:53 PM

Looks like I'm going to have to replace an $800 electronic board on my Paramount MX+ mount most likely due to dew shorting it out during an overnight automated session.  The sky was clear but humidity was high.  Does anyone do anything with their mounts that protects the electronic parts from dew while imaging or observing?  Just curious if this was a freak accident or if I should have been more careful with my equipment.



#2 guyroch

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Posted 19 August 2019 - 10:14 PM

I think it's a freak accident.  I have never done anything to protect the mount / camera / focuser out in the open on the mount or on top of the mount.  

 

Guylain


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#3 pgs/sdg

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Posted 19 August 2019 - 10:52 PM

Looks like I'm going to have to replace an $800 electronic board on my Paramount MX+ mount most likely due to dew shorting it out during an overnight automated session.  The sky was clear but humidity was high.  Does anyone do anything with their mounts that protects the electronic parts from dew while imaging or observing?  Just curious if this was a freak accident or if I should have been more careful with my equipment.

That stinks. So sorry it happened. 

I'm here in Arkansas too and I also worry about the summer high humidity levels and the dew. My pod helps some.

I spray all the electrical connections (that I can get to) with contact cleaner and treat things with Deoxit to help.prevent oxidation - but I also still worry about the electronics INSIDE my mount and other elec. equipment that stays outside. 

It has been a very sticky summer. I am about to buy a small dehumidifier unit for inside my Pod which I hope will help some.

Don't know of anything you could do during an imaging run - everything's exposed with nothing to do about it.

I suppose you could make some kind of custom shaped cover that would cover up some of the mount - but seems like even that would be hard to do given that the mount moves & you have cables, etc. etc.

I'll be interested to see what other responses you get..

again...sorry

Paul


Edited by pgs/sdg, 19 August 2019 - 10:59 PM.


#4 dmilner

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Posted 19 August 2019 - 11:14 PM

Thanks, Paul.  I've thought about wrapping my mount with plastic wrap of some kind which would not get in the way of any moving parts, but not sure if that would help or hurt.  A few weeks ago I had my telescope and mount covered with a Telegizmos cover while inside my closed up observatory (I have a roll away observatory).  Even then, when I took the cover off, the OTA, mount, computer, etc were all dripping with moisture.  So in this kind of weather currently, I'm not really sure what to do.  I know that when I get my mount working, I don't want to have to worry about this happening again...time lost and money obviously an issue.

 

Dennis



#5 Garthid

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Posted 19 August 2019 - 11:39 PM

Sorry for your troubles. That really sucks. Would a heating pad/blanket around the mount work?

 

Scott



#6 Nippon

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Posted 19 August 2019 - 11:59 PM

I keep the Starbook of my Sphinx in a pouch mounted to the tripod tray and it keeps it dry. The rest of the electronics are internal so they are pretty protected. I hang a face cloth over the electronics box of my GM8 non goto on very damp nights and the hand control sits in a triangle bag designed for tripods where the 120 to 12 volt converter that powers the dew heater is. It gets warm so it warms the hand control. But I find for the most part the electronics produce enough heat to keep themselves dew free. 

I read about your situation even covered with plastic but I have found that things can sweat under a cover. One thing that could help a lot is fans running creating a bit of a breeze on the equipment. I use a fan a lot in summer in Florida because it's hot even at night and it helps with the mosquitos. I have noticed with the fan I get far less dewing on the mount, tripod legs Etc. 


Edited by Nippon, 20 August 2019 - 12:05 AM.

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#7 pgs/sdg

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Posted 20 August 2019 - 12:29 AM

I keep the Starbook of my Sphinx in a pouch mounted to the tripod tray and it keeps it dry. The rest of the electronics are internal so they are pretty protected. I hang a face cloth over the electronics box of my GM8 non goto on very damp nights and the hand control sits in a triangle bag designed for tripods where the 120 to 12 volt converter that powers the dew heater is. It gets warm so it warms the hand control. But I find for the most part the electronics produce enough heat to keep themselves dew free. 

I read about your situation even covered with plastic but I have found that things can sweat under a cover. One thing that could help a lot is fans running creating a bit of a breeze on the equipment. I use a fan a lot in summer in Florida because it's hot even at night and it helps with the mosquitos. I have noticed with the fan I get far less dewing on the mount, tripod legs Etc. 

I don't know that I could prove it emperically....but I have a 12" oscillating fan going constantly inside my pod and it seems to help a lot. I know there is still residual moisture when the humidity is high - but it always stays dry inside the pod, the mount and the scopes are always dry. But I still worry about the electronics INSIDE the mount. You're probably right.. there's probably enough warmth built up inside the mount from the electronics to keep it pretty safe...but then you hear about something like the OP here and you wonder...


Edited by pgs/sdg, 20 August 2019 - 12:32 AM.

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#8 dmilner

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Posted 20 August 2019 - 08:00 AM

Thanks for advice/tips.  Those are all plausible suggestions.  The way my setup is, the oscillating fan idea seems to be the best solution so far.  The others would be harder for me to implement.  My only concern about the fan would be the air currents causing shaking of the OTA as well as distortion of the image from the air currents themselves.  But the air flow would almost certainly keep the dew from forming heavily on my mount.



#9 Arie

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Posted 20 August 2019 - 09:01 AM

IMG_1078.JPG

 

https://youtu.be/c8geeEcTQG4

 

Spray your boards and connectors with this.

 

"Waldemar Wonder Spray" wink.gif


Edited by Arie, 20 August 2019 - 09:05 AM.

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#10 dmilner

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Posted 20 August 2019 - 09:54 AM

Wow! If this Nano Protech really works, it looks amazing.  Does anyone have any experience with it?  Amazon indicates it has 5 stars on all of the reviews (but there are only 4 reviews).  Amazon also states "It restores moisture damaged electrical equipment to working condition."  Is this possible after a short circuit?

 

Dennis


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#11 DeanS

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Posted 20 August 2019 - 10:19 AM

Constant air movement will certainly help, I keep one on all the time in my roll off, even when imaging.  How about a dew strap or pad around the control box?  my AP mounts have the CP3 box face up which seems like it could be an issue but not so far.

 

And I would not cover your scopes in the dome as it would trap dew or condensation.

 

Dean


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#12 dmilner

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Posted 20 August 2019 - 10:37 AM

That sounds like an excellent solution, Dean, except with the Paramount MX+ the electronic box has wires connecting to it externally so that it would be almost impossible to wrap any kind of dew strap or similar close enough to the box to do any good.  That's why I previously said the fan would probably be the best solution for my set up.

 

And yes, you are absolutely correct...covering equipment inside the observatory only makes things worse as far as moisture is concerned.

 

Dennis



#13 pgs/sdg

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Posted 20 August 2019 - 05:14 PM

attachicon.gif IMG_1078.JPG

 

https://youtu.be/c8geeEcTQG4

 

Spray your boards and connectors with this.

 

"Waldemar Wonder Spray" wink.gif

The jury may still be out on the NanoProTech stuff ...but it has been about 13-14 months since I sprayed all of my electrical connections with it and they have shown no signs of oxidation. And it is often very damp/humid here. I also use Deoxit (also on Amazon) which also seems pretty effective.

I think both the Nano & Deoxit are good stuff. I put a light coating either by direct spray or by rubbing the contacts with a q-tip.

I use it on everything I can think of and get to that's going to be outside.

If I had used the stuff for 5 years and still had clean, working contacts...I'd feel better - but so far so good.


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#14 pgs/sdg

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Posted 20 August 2019 - 05:20 PM

Wow! If this Nano Protech really works, it looks amazing.  Does anyone have any experience with it?  Amazon indicates it has 5 stars on all of the reviews (but there are only 4 reviews).  Amazon also states "It restores moisture damaged electrical equipment to working condition."  Is this possible after a short circuit?

 

Dennis

I would doubt that it would be able to restore short circuit damage ...although I guess it would depend on how much the contact points or part was actually damaged. But it certainly does seem to protect stuff from moisture intrusion once its applied. It will remove deposits, rust, etc and clean up the surfaces...then it lays down a coating that repells moisture.

You can also get a can of electrical contact cleaner at most auto parts stores like Oreilly, etc.and I think some of those also help protect from moisture.


Edited by pgs/sdg, 20 August 2019 - 05:24 PM.


#15 555aaa

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Posted 20 August 2019 - 06:11 PM

The "nano-glide" type stuff is new; it is very hydrophyllic. There are lots of conformal coatings used in industry to help prevent moisture from damaging electronics, ranging from acrylics to urethanes, silicones,  up to a CVD process called Parylene. It won't help however if you are getting moisture condensation inside a connector where you can't apply the coating. The coatings for electronics are clear but have a UV fluorescent dye to help you know when it's been applied properly. You can brush it on or you can get it in a spray can. The acrylics are the easiest to strip; they can be removed with alcohol.

 

 https://www.newark.c...68K7372?st=1B31 conformal coating

 

I've used the hydrophyllic nano-coatings on sails. You put it in a bucket and sponge it on. And when you are done you end up with a waterproof sponge. 



#16 dmilner

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Posted 20 August 2019 - 06:59 PM

Thanks for all the info, everyone. So (and I know I'm showing my ignorance here) would the Nano or the Acrylic Conformal Coating be alright to spray on the circuit board containing the chips and other components?  It looked like they could be sprayed on the PCB, but wasn't sure if they were alright to spray or brush on after the components were added (like when I get the new board from Software Bisque).  It looks like the Deoxit is for the external contacts rather than the circuit board...am I correct in that?  If so, the Deoxit would help prevent rust and corrosion of the USB ports, the power supply jacks, etc?

 

Dennis


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#17 pgs/sdg

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Posted 20 August 2019 - 08:00 PM

Thanks for all the info, everyone. So (and I know I'm showing my ignorance here) would the Nano or the Acrylic Conformal Coating be alright to spray on the circuit board containing the chips and other components?  It looked like they could be sprayed on the PCB, but wasn't sure if they were alright to spray or brush on after the components were added (like when I get the new board from Software Bisque).  It looks like the Deoxit is for the external contacts rather than the circuit board...am I correct in that?  If so, the Deoxit would help prevent rust and corrosion of the USB ports, the power supply jacks, etc?

 

Dennis

I don't have the knowledge or experience and would be afraid to recommend that you spray anything on a mother board/circuit board. I just don't know if that would be good, bad or neutral. I do think materials like deoxit, nanoprotech and generic elec contact cleaner are mostly meant for contacts: power plugs, ac and dc contacts, etc...and they do seem to help there.

I would defer to someone else who has more knowledge in this area when it comes to circuit boards or other parts INSIDE the mount. 

As Guylain said in post #2 - I suppose it is possible it was a "freak accident". On a Paramount - probably the last thing you would expext would be a loose wire or connection.

I assume you can't see ANY possible spot where water could have gotten in?



#18 dmilner

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Posted 21 August 2019 - 08:58 AM


I assume you can't see ANY possible spot where water could have gotten in?

I've learned that circuit boards are coated from the factory to prevent water on the circuits.  So, I guess, it is unlikely that dew was the culprit.  But, no, there was not any indication that externally that water could seep into any of the electronic components.

 

Dennis


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#19 Waldemar

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Posted 21 August 2019 - 09:36 AM

I am using Nano-Protech on all my electrical and electronic equipment that is used in humid conditions for years already.
Uptill now with 100 % succes. I repeat the treatment every year, costing me 1 spraycan of NanoProtech Electric, ± €15...
A lot cheaper than repairs or replacing expensive equipment.

Just spray everywhere, inside connectors, both sides of electronic prints, just everywhere where electric equipment is present.. I have no commercial link to the company or any reseller, I am just very happy with the results.

Instructions for use are on the can.


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#20 Night shift

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Posted 21 August 2019 - 09:52 AM

 Most PCB are coated with a Conformal or Parylene  to protect them from moisture and dust. This is done to prevent contamination and to stop tracking due to dust and moisture. The manufacturer will clean the boards after assembly and then coat the entire board except for the connections. If you are to repair the board, the coating must be removed before any repair is done. Otherwise you will end up with contamination of the solder joint. There are many companies that will identify the failed component(s) and repair as needed for a much lower coast than the price of a new board. This may be a case of a single component failure. It happens.


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#21 AhBok

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Posted 21 August 2019 - 12:14 PM

I live in the sultry south and when I turn my scope off, I turn my portable dehumidifier on. I maintain 30-35% humidity when not using my scope so that any residual moisture disappears quickly. My dehumidifier is now 13 years old and still working perfectly.
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#22 555aaa

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Posted 21 August 2019 - 01:03 PM

For a board in a box where the power is on, it's pretty unusual to get condensation right on the board because it tends to be several degrees warmer than ambient. The worse condition is when the board is off all night, then you get condensation, and then you turn it on. In that situation, I think you want to raise the temperature of those parts before you turn them on. 

 

So the thing with condensation really isn't the condensation itself, because that is pure water, but it's the contaminants on the board because of poor cleaning (solder flux that wasn't removed, because most factories use a no-clean process) and also the tendency to grow tin whiskers in the presence of moisture. Once people started switching to lead free solders which are mostly tin, they ran into this problem with dendrite (whisker) growth on solder joints. Tin wants to form these long skinny crystals but lead/tin alloy doesn't.  These whiskers grow in air but at an accelerated rate in the presence of moisture (and electrical current), and eventually they can get long enough to short stuff out. So the conformal coating helps that by (maybe) sealing off the moisture and forming somewhat of a mechanical barrier to the dendrites. So for these reasons the condensing moisture is quite detrimental. If you wrap anything to prevent condensation I don't think it will be effective unless you provide a heat source or you include a dessicant and a means to collect the moisture that the dessicant collects (e.g. "dry-z-air"). Dessicant + heat or even better the powered dehumidifier approach above. I think the spray coatings mentioned above are interesting but I guess I'd check with the manufacturer if it might impact the warranty. It could be detrimental for repairability; I don't know if you can re-solder on the board after you spray on the nano-coating (how strippable is it), but they should be effective and the ones I've seen are kind of like the rain-x stuff where any water that condenses immediately beads up and runs off. The acrylic is actually a little hygroscopic so it actually absorbs some moisture. I think you have to think of a layered approach using the good ideas above and you should be okay. 



#23 pgs/sdg

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Posted 21 August 2019 - 04:09 PM

I live in the sultry south and when I turn my scope off, I turn my portable dehumidifier on. I maintain 30-35% humidity when not using my scope so that any residual moisture disappears quickly. My dehumidifier is now 13 years old and still working perfectly.

The dehumidifier is just a step I'm going to have take real soon.

I haven't noticed any bad effects (yet) - and I have protected all of my connections as best I can - but my mount has only been in the pod about year or so and I figure eventually there will be some problems - it just gets too warm and sticky in the Pod.

Are you permanently mounted in an observatory structure?

 

Is your dehumidifier the type that drains through a hose or with a collection tank that you have to empty?



#24 AhBok

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Posted 21 August 2019 - 05:14 PM

I have a custom balcony observatory that leads out of a small garage type building where I keep my scopes set up on wooden dollies. The observing platform sets about 50 ft high over a lake. When I image, I open a double door and push my scope out onto the platform. When finished, I push it back into the room I use as a warm room. I keep the humidity 30-35% so it is dry enough to keep everything nice and dry, but not so dry as to dry out any lubricants in my gear. The dehumidifier is not very large and I drain it outside with a small hose. One that does not drain is ok, as long as you empty the bucket every couple of days depending on your humidity. I highly recommend a dehumidifier. Also, it keeps your gear from getting too cold in the winter since it works on evaporative cooling to condense water. This means it outputs warm (not hot) air. Finally, the fan can be running constantly which gives just enough air movement in a small, enclosed area.

 

 

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Edited by AhBok, 21 August 2019 - 05:20 PM.

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#25 Dan Crowson

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Posted 21 August 2019 - 08:07 PM

I'm with Guylain about this being a freak incident and maybe not even related to dew. I've imaged a lot of nights near Saint Louis (not uncommon for me to image when the humidity is 90%+) and never had an issue. I've setup my Atlas well over 1,000 times for imaging. I used my MX+ for a few months until moving it to an observatory.

Dan


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