Re: Upgrading my equipment #iEXOS-100 #TECHNICAL #ASCOM #astrophotography

Jeff Snell

Hi Koen,
What follows as far as purchases assumes you are in the US.  If not, I'm sure you can find substitutes.  

I consider my setup portable.  I break it all down and pack it in three tool boxes I bought from Home Depot/Lowes.  Here's a pic:
The Stanley holds my 80mm APO nicely.  I bought some 3" thick soft foam padding and cut it to fit the box and that keeps the APO pretty secure.

One of the two Rigids holds the EXOS 2 Mount.  I used the original shipping pack that the mount came in and just cut it to fit the box.  It slides in just like it was sent from the factory.  Once that's in, I even have enough room for the tray that came with the tool box to fit on top of it.  I put lenses, the counter weight and bar, and whatever else I think I need in there.  The other Rigid carries the remainder of gear (cameras, lenses, eyepieces, adapters, red light flashlight, misc, etc...).  The biggest part is of course the tripod.  I just pack that wherever it fits in the back of the Jeep.

Now, to the question of "portability."  This set up makes it easy to move around but of course "some assembly required" every single time.  I used a Sharpie marker on every part that has to be lined up or at a certain point (mostly all about balance of the scope)...the counter weight position on the bar, the position of the scope on the mount, even how far the camera had to go in the extension tube of the APO (that was for focus).  I'm "practiced" pretty well now so in about 15 minutes I can have it all hooked up and ready to go.  The biggest portability issue for me though was power.  If there is AC power on site at the campground, great.  But most of the places I go to camp have everything but power.  I tried to run the gear on a celestron power tank but just too much juice needed for the mount, laptop, and USB strip/accessories.  There may be a "power tank like" solution out there but I couldn't find one.  I had some great advice from folks on this forum including parts lists and instructions to build my own.  But as previously stated, I am not technically savvy and opted out of burning my house down or electrocuting myself.  I did some online searches and found this article (see page 50 from this link: ).  This set me in the direction below. I ran the calculations from the article to determine what was needed then I built this:
Above:  A power pack consisting of a 114 Amp Hour Deep Cycle Marine Battery in the milk crate, and a 1500W power inverter mounted on the outside.  Bought it all at Walmart (~$300 for the battery, the inverter and the charger).  The inverter has all the outlets/USB charging I need.  I just use a single power strip to plug everything in, so I have ample outlets.  

Below:  A pic of the side of the inverter with two USB and three AC outlets.

Below: The top view of the setup on the charger since I'm taking it camping tomorrow:
Below: The inverter:

Most of the time I shoot from my backyard so all of my crap is kept assembled in a garage and I move it out when needed.  I have unobstructed southern facing sky.   I simply run a 50 foot extension cord to the gear so no battery necessary.  Easy peasy.  But, when I take this rig camping, the battery setup is the elephant in the room.  The deep cycle marine battery weighs in at around 70lbs.  I'm still in decent shape but time is catching up.  Don't know if you consider that portable or not, but I'm certainly questioning my logic on occasion :-)  I will say this though, this power pack is battle tested.  By the calculations, I should easily be able to image for about 6 hours each night for two nights in a row (maybe another if I'm lucky) without recharging.  I've tested the two night theory and it works.  I only imaged for about 4 hours each of those nights though.  Too lazy to stay up too late...

Hope this helps.  I'll let you know if it makes three nights.  My camping is a three nighter to Cedar Breaks National Monument in Utah.  10,000 feet altitude and dark sky new moon!  It'll probably rain...
Have a great one!  

PMC-Eight w/Explore Stars
Celestron 8" Edge HD
Canon Ti-5 w/ Spencer Camera Astro-mod

On Sat, Jul 18, 2020 at 3:16 PM Koen M. <koen.molemans@...> wrote:

Hi Jeff,

The setup you have is kind of what i am looking for.
How "portable" is it?
Thing is i cant use my backyard because of blocked views so i have to go on location every time i want to do something fun

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