ALMIRA OBSERVATORY
 

     A suburban observatory in Worcestershire, UK based on a metal garden shed

           
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  Construction 13 - Internal Electrics

 

The electrics inside the observatory are supplied by three switched plug boards, one mounted underneath the desk , one above it, and the other on the pier.  I had great difficulty finding plug boards that were not festooned with lights.

 
The electrical feed enters the observatory through the  floor.  From here it goes to a splitter box, one flex going to a six gang switched plug board mounted on the wall underneath the desk.  This serves the computer, computer speakers, a 2kw fan heater (not used whilst observing) and two dimmable lights - one desk task light and one red rope light.

 

The picture above shows the original set up for two plug boards, one below the desk, the other on the pier.  A third, four-gang socket was later added above the desk.
 
The desk light is a 40 watt tungsten strip lamp mounted above the desk underneath a shelf.  It is served by  a dimmer switch and is shrouded with a piece of wood screwed to the underside of the shelf to prevent glare.

 

The red light is the observatory was originally a second hand darkroom safelight served by a dimmer.  After a few weeks of use this was replaced with a dimmable red rope light that went right around the observatory.  This allowed for much greater red light illumination.

 

   
The second flex leaving the splitter box passes through electrical conduit running under the floor and up to the   pier.  A third flex was later added to feed a gang socket. mounted above the desk. The plug board on the pier is a four-gang board with high level surge protection.  This was used in order to protect the electronics in the LX200.  The items regularly plugged into this board are: the LX200;  a 12v power transformer to power a Kendrick dew heater controller; a powered USB hub; and a homemade telescope cooling fan.

 

   
Four control/data cables pass between the computer and the pier.  One is a 5 metre (15 feet) long active USB lead for the Meade Deep Sky Imager and for the Phillips Toucam Pro II webcam used for imaging.  The second is an RS232 lead used for computer control of the LX200.  Because the end of the active USB cable was too wide to pass through conduit, these cables were run through some square section surface conduit which was recessed into a slot in the floor.  The other two leads are 5 metre long headphone extension cables with mini-jack fittings. The electric focussers for the LX200 and 80ED can each be plugged into one end of these with their respective control boxes at the other end on the desk next to the computer.  When imaging, this gives me the option of controlling focus whilst looking at the computer screen without having to have cables trailing across the observatory.

 

 
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Last updated -  27th April 2013

Copyrightę 2006-2013 Michael Morris