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Connections, connections, connections...

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#1 TXDigiSLR

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 07:23 AM

First, I am still very new to this wonderful, and expensive, Astrophotography hobby.   That being said, I am always looking toward the future and planning.  I know I have so many things to learn, but I'm always thinking about what's next and either saving money for it, or planning on how it might work.

 

My question now...   What kind of hubs, power stations, and cable management systems do you serious AP people use?  To be more specific, I currently have a DSLR, a ZWO Guide camera, and my mount.  All three are USB to my laptop.  the laptop and the mount (while in my back yard) are plugged into an extension cord.   In the future, I can see adding a ZWO EAF which will require a USB cable and a power cable.  How about a filter wheel?  Another connection to the laptop for control... does it require power also, or are they powered via USB?  What if I switch to a cooled CMOS camera instead of my DSLR?  That still will require a USB to the laptop, and now another power cable.  Hold on, Dew Heaters?  Those need power too!  Do they connect to the laptop also?     (I seriously think my breaker for my patio outlet is only 15 AMPS)

 

I'm smart enough to know that you can buy a simply USB Hub, but I've heard that some things don't like to run through a hub.  Oh wait, should I get a powered hub?  more power cables!!!

 

Somehow, somwehere there has to be a powered USB hub, with multiple 12 Volt DC Outputs to just plug everything into.

 

Will someone please enlighten me?

 

Thank you very much!

 



#2 ChrisWhite

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 08:07 AM

This really depends on your equipment and how many devices you want to run.  If you get a ZWO cooled camera someday there are two USB 2.0 ports built into it, which simplifies things.  You can run both the guidecam and filterwheel through this, which means only a single USB cable to the computer for all three devices.  Then a second cable for the mount and a third for the focuser.  I have a setup like this and my computer has 3 USB ports.  I run the camera and it's two devices directly to one of the ports, and I have a $20 USB hub that I run the other two devices to and that plugs into the second USB port.  The third USB port I keep free so I can plug a mini SSD hard drive into it to download data from the PC.  All of my stuff is mounted in an obsy.  I have two power cables running up to the gear which is for the cooled camera and focus motor.  All said, it's a pretty simple setup and cable management is pretty easy.  I have a mini PC zip-tied to the tripod and run these 4 cables (two power and two USB) along with a dew cable through the mount and to the PC.  The mount USB just dangles from the mount to the hub. 

 

On my other mount, it's a cem60 which has a built in USB and Power Hub on the saddle.  This certainly simplifies everything, and I only have a two USB cables in all running to that computer (from the mount hub and from the mount itself).   For power there is just a single power adapter running to the power hub on the mount... and of course a power adapter for the mount itself. 

 

Keep your cable management as simple as possible, and your cables as short as possible.  If you do need a hub get a decent powered hub.  Some people overthink this and have these crazy setups on the OTA with a nest of cables and power.  Personally, I don't like these solutions, and try to keep as much off the OTA as possible. 


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#3 D_talley

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 08:23 AM

"Somehow, somewhere there has to be a powered USB hub, with multiple 12 Volt DC Outputs to just plug everything into."

 

There are, but how much are you willing to pay.  

Here is a link to one:

 

https://www.highpoin...werbox-v2-upbv2


Edited by D_talley, 10 April 2020 - 08:24 AM.


#4 TXDigiSLR

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 08:26 AM

"Somehow, somewhere there has to be a powered USB hub, with multiple 12 Volt DC Outputs to just plug everything into."

 

There are, but how much are you willing to pay.  

Here is a link to one:

 

https://www.highpoin...werbox-v2-upbv2

 

 

Well, OK then...  I'll deal with plenty of cords and use that $600+ for other accessories...    At least I know there is a "solution"



#5 kathyastro

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 09:04 AM

Cable management is a challenge.  Mount a powered USB hub on the OTA, so there is only one USB cable running to the mount.  Similarly, install a power distribution box, such as a RigRunner, on the OTA, so there is only one power cable.  You may need an extra USB cable for a video camera that doesn’t work with a hub, but minimizing the number of cables that span the movable parts of the mount should be a goal.

 

I use the built-in hub in the saddle if my CEM60.  It is unpowered, but I power it from a powered hub on the pier.  And I added a small PowerPole distribution block (smaller than a RigRunner) on the saddle, fed by the mount’s built-in power cable.  The focuser also uses an internal cable.  So I only have three cables for most of my gear, and they run inside the mount.  The exception is my guide camera, which has its own cable direct to the PC.



#6 Radcliffe

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 09:45 AM

Or build and install an RPi4 running IndigoSky and go wireless. First check your preferred imaging programme is compatible such as APT or NINA (both are). I plug my EQ8 mount into the RPi using an EQDIR USB cable and it works just fine.



#7 TelescopeGreg

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 12:44 PM

I found a USB3 powered hub (RSHTECH through Amazon) that has 4 high speed ports plus a 2.5 amp charging port.  I put it on the eyepiece tray next to the 4GB Raspberry Pi-4B that runs the telescope.  The charging port powers the Pi, and I can use the a combination of the Pi's own ports plus the ones from the Hub for connectivity, and everything is nice and compact.

 

The key features of the hub is that it's powered by 12v, same as the rest of the equipment, and the USB and charging ports have individual switches so that I can select items to be turned on/off without unplugging anything.

 

For now, I decided to not mount it on the telescope OTA in order to keep the total moving weight to a minimum.  I only have the guide scope camera plugged in, so the cable management situation is trivial.  At some point when I upgrade the imaging DSLR to something computer controlled and cooled, add an electronic focuser, perhaps a set of dew straps, etc. etc., I may have to revisit this and go with Kathy's approach.  You don't want a heavy, stiff wad of cables pushing or pulling on your OTA as it tries to track the sky.




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