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Dew and Frost, how worried should we be?

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#1 Gipht

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 10:11 AM

Many of us are cautious when we start seeing dew and frost coating our equipment.  Are we just natural worriers,  or are there actually some really bad things that can happen?

 

Has anyone experienced any serious damage from dew or frost?  Of course if the glassware fogs up, then the images are ruined, but I am talking $$$.



#2 GrafikDihzahyn

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 10:33 AM

I actually have some liquid in my laptop screen from dew. It's not affecting anything yet, the touch screen still works, it's just unsightly and migrates around. On an extremely heavy dew night, I could definitely see it possibly causing water damage though. Now I keep it covered in a rubbermaid storage bin with holes for cables. 


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#3 Gipht

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 10:36 AM

I place a doubled up bath towel over the computer, both to block light and protect from dew and frost.


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#4 Huangdi

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 10:42 AM

I place a doubled up bath towel over the computer, both to block light and protect from dew and frost.


I've had my setup out quite a few times below -10°C...never had any issues.

And the towel works great for the laptop if the air is dry.. If it ain't the towel will freeze and that might cause issues haha. Thank God I'm using a 200€ Intel atom trashcan
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#5 SonnyE

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 11:39 AM

Water and electricity are not a good mix.

Dew is distilled water, but it can pick up any sundry of dust, dirt, or other contaminants. That's what gets bad.

 

My telescope has a nice long dew shield on it. So rarely do I see a dew problem.

I also have a tote (Plastic container) I set on it's side, then set my Laptop in it so it stays covered from dew, but easily accessible.

I can also drape a towel over the container, but usually my computer and mouse are safe enough.

 

If anything is wet when I come in for the night, I just let it set out to warm and dry on it's own.

Since I live on the edge of the desert anyway, my climate is pretty dry, generally.

 

If you want something fancier (I don't.) there is a Laptop Dome. Which is a cute and practical pop-up tent for your laptop.

Or simply a cardboard box on it's side.


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#6 RJF-Astro

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 11:43 AM

I had an issue with sparks from dew-moisture once. I had to reset my motor focus because it lost usb-connection and did not want to reconnect. So I unplugged both usb and power. I let the power cable hang because I wanted to reconnect usb first and I use two hands. Then it came into contact with the mount, which was covered in dew, and there was a nice burst of sparks. The stepper motors went silent and I feared damage, but after switching the mount off and on, it was fine (phew...)


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#7 Madratter

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 11:58 AM

I have a telescope that lives outside in my observatory. Over time, the tube has rusted somewhat. But you know what? I bought the thing to use, not look pretty, and I use it when it stays outside.

 

I had to overcome the same fear with some of my expensive camera lens. I was terrified they would get wet. Then I realized that I bought them to use them.


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#8 Stelios

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 02:01 PM

I love my LapDome. I have never had an issue with dew on the laptop while using it, even when everything else was totally drenched. Yeah, cardboard box works too--but this is *so* much cuter :). The LapDome also keeps the laptop warm-ish by partially trapping its own heat.

 

If you will be imaging all night, investing a dew heater system is a must. They are actually fairly inexpensive, probably under $200 for a controller and a couple of strips. You should definitely have a strip for the objective, and at times one for the camera would not be amiss. ZWO has an interesting dew heater for its cameras.



#9 Madratter

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 02:22 PM

In terms of the laptop, I overturn a plastic storage container over mine. Works like a charm even in (for this area) very cold conditions (down to about -10c) as well as during humid summer nights.



#10 RedLionNJ

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 02:51 PM

I expect frost to form on much of my equipment during winter nights (when the roof is actually open to do something!).

 

When I close up after a frosty session, I turn on a couple stand fans (on a timer) to blow over the equipment for an hour or so.

 

Only issues I have ever seen are rusting of some of the screws back when I had an older Meade SCT.  And that was just marginally unsightly, didn't affect performance.

 

As MadRatter says, we buy equipment to USE, not to have it sitting around looking pretty.



#11 Napp

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 03:05 PM

You can’t observe in Florida and be afraid of dew.  Dew is every night.  The only question is just how bad will it be.  Some nights the dew is so heavy that water drips from the scope and mount and everything uncovered is soaked.  Dew does not stop us from observing.  Dew shields and dew heaters are mandatory for refractors and SCT’s.  DOB’s need primary fans and secondary heaters.  What is absolutely necessary is allowing optics and equipment to dry completely before capping and casing.



#12 shawnhar

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 03:08 PM

I have never had an issue with my astrogear specifically, BUT, I have always wondered why manufactures don't put little rubber grommets/fittings on all the connection points, still think about it every time I see it all dripping wet or covered with ice.




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