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What does your cold weather set-up look like?

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9 replies to this topic

#1 Uncle Peter

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Posted 28 September 2020 - 08:40 PM

So I haven't done much winter/cold weather AP work, but am eager to give it a try this year. I'm curious how you all change your set-up for the cold temps.

 

I guess my biggest concern is bringing my laptop out in the cold weather. I usually use it to run Stellarium, connected to my mount, but do plan on adding some guiding as well (via PHD2 or what not) in the future. I use a Nikon 3200 mainly for imaging, at prime focus, but am less worried about that (I've had it out in cold temps before). I've heard of some people going fully remote, that seems like a cool (and warmer) option!

 

 

Clear Skies,

 

 

-Uncle Peter


Edited by Uncle Peter, 28 September 2020 - 08:42 PM.


#2 Kevin Thurman

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Posted 28 September 2020 - 08:51 PM

I think the biggest concern is condensation when you bring stuff back in. Seal everything in a bag before you pack up for the night to prevent this. I use ziplocs for my lenses and for my DSLR but I am going to have to figure out a different solution now with a telescope.


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#3 Arthur NY

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Posted 28 September 2020 - 09:05 PM

Nothing different really. Dew shields and heaters still running, but now for frost rather than just dew.

 

I don't go out when it's extremely cold, but do a lot of nights in the 30s and some in the 20s.
The gear all seems fine. Me? Not so much. Long johns, sweats, snow pants. Layers and layers.....


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#4 Jerry Lodriguss

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Posted 28 September 2020 - 09:07 PM

My scope and cameras and computer setup for the winter looks exactly the same as the one for the summer, except it has 2 big 12v batteries because the night is twice as long in the winter.

 

My BI (Biological Intelligence) that does top-level control and supervision, on the other hand, puts on lots of really warm clothes.

 

Your mount should have no trouble with the cold, likewise the camera (which generates enough heat to keep itself pretty dry), and the computer, which should be in a box anyway for light shielding. And the box will keep in enough heat from the laptop to stay plenty warm. 

 

The cold shouldn't affect anything else except focus, battery life, and BI comfort.

 

I don't worry about bringing equipment back in from the cold, I just pack it up in the trunk (except the BI of course) , and by the time the hour-long drive home is done, it's warmed up enough to be put in the unheated garage for sorting/cleaning the next day.

 

If you're using it in your driveway, same thing. Just take it into an unheated garage. Don't take it into anyplace warm and moist.

 

Jerry


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#5 Darrenlh

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Posted 29 September 2020 - 12:03 AM

I’ve imaged as low as -39C, at which point I went back in the house and let everything run remote. At -20C and below:

batteries on laptops will not charge, and may prevent powering on or usage.

Plastics and cables may only be rated for room temps. They can often become brittle and stiff, and should work ok, but any strain or reconnection may lead to a failure.

LED or LCD displays may become useless or difficult to read.

 

going remote is excellent overall, but unless you have an expensive mount with home sensors, etc. NEVER trust software to complete a slew without direct supervision, and a way to shut the mount down quick. I have had the mount wrap around and fail to travel back the other direction after slew commands and previous flawless performance. This is catastrophic in colder temps to cables and camera connections. I know this first hand. It was due to an issue with software while using my EQ6 with a wireless interface. The software update fixed it after $150 worth of cables parted. You live and learn!


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#6 otoien

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Posted 29 September 2020 - 06:36 AM

I got a simple setup as I mostly image at low temperatures, just a SkyTracker, no computer, powered together with the camera from a medium small power bank and controlled from an intervalometer. I have changed all cables with silicon insulated ones, including the one for the intervalometer, as they soon would crack in the cold. The only change when it gets really cold is a late addition of an electric handwarmer in the case with the battery bank. I have imaged down to -40°C without much problems. Air is pretty dry here so no need for dew heater on the lens.


Edited by otoien, 29 September 2020 - 08:00 AM.

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#7 DubbelDerp

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Posted 29 September 2020 - 07:52 AM

Same here, I have a simple setup so the only additions to my gear is a thicker coat and better gloves. I froze my fingertips to the metal tripod last winter. That wasn't fun. This winter the intervalometer will be replaced by a raspberry pi running astroberry server. Not sure if I'll be able to connect over wifi to it, but I should at least be able to set it up from my phone or tablet before ducking back inside.


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#8 Uncle Peter

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Posted 01 October 2020 - 09:25 AM

Thanks for the tips everyone, definitely some things here that I'll be implementing next time I'm out!



#9 MHamburg

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Posted 02 October 2020 - 08:30 AM

I could no longer deal with the cold and the damp so I built a warm room attached to my observatory.

Michael

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#10 the Elf

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Posted 02 October 2020 - 02:12 PM

Moon boots.

 

Oh, the rig? Nothing. Same setup all year round.




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