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  1. #1
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    Default Power source when viewing away from home



    Hi,

    I'm not sure if this is the right forum, so mods please feel free to move if necessary.

    Since returning to the hobby after a 10-year absence, I've realized that the night sky at my home isn't really that dark. While I used to live in a somewhat rural area, commercial and residential development has exploded in the past 10 years, and a good portion of my eastern and southern horizons are pink for most of the night.

    I've always observed from home, but I've come to the realization that I may need to make some trips to darker areas in my state/county for better viewing opportunities.

    Does anyone have links to a site, or advice on what I would need to power my equipment: telescope, laptop, ccd imager, autoguider....

    I'm assuming car batteries, but am unsure about how to go about actually doing this.

    Thoughts/advice would be appreciated.

    Thanks.
    Mike

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  2. #2
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    Default

    I have several different batteries - deep cycle ones.
    I also have a small generator to keep them charged - or you could rung your car engine I suppose -
    Most stuff only uses a few amps so it's not much of a problem as far as I can see as long as you have the generator as back up.

    I expect it will soon become cheaper or more 'green' to use a solar charger or somesuch.
    Inverters are pretty cheap now too so you can even use your 12V deep cycle battery for running your curling tongs - or shaver....
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  4. #3
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    Default

    Actually, car batteries are not the same as they used to be either. Today's batteries don't particularly like deep discharge cycles and go north in a hurry. Meade, Celestron, etc. have power packs but these are premium priced. Many of us use automotive jump start batteries from the discount stores, others use wheel chair, golfcart, or electric outboard batteries. The telescope company and automotive jump start power packs have plugs making connection easy. For batteries, you will need to make your own connections.

    This works fine for equipment using 12VDC. Just be sure that you don't reverse polarity. Many folks don't care for the logistics problem of taking computers, etc. into the field and use digital SLR cameras and self-contained self guiders that directly control the scope without needing a computer. Some of Meade's stuff is 18 VDC which will require a different solution.
    SXINIAS

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    Default

    I use my car and a 400W inverter. I'm gonna get a used car battery at the junk yard and charge it up and bring it out too.
    -Nick

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    Default

    I use a power tank, only $68 shipped free. Its a 7amp hr model. Nice thing about them is your not tripping over cords plugged into the car in the dark park the power tank under the scope etc....If $68 is too much for a power supply for powering the scope & dew removal I think one is in the wrong hobby if you consider this:...............By the time one purchases a regular lead acid battery & does all the wiring necessary for cig plug ins, fuses, etc... its a waste of time that could have been used better.

    Dave
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    Default

    joe(sxsinias)
    has put you in the right direction,
    either the dedicated powertank from celestron or skywatcher,
    or,as i have on order,portable jumpstarter kit,which you can get
    for half the price and do the same job.
    clear skies,
    andy

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    Hi MadCrawdad,

    The mount, CCD imager and autoguider are fairly low power consumption items. A power tank as suggested above should get you somewhere from 3 to 6 hours or so of use. However I have found if you add a laptop to the mix the power tanks just don't get the job done. Enter the "deep cycle" marine battery. You would need to get an inverter to change 12 volt to 120 volt (probably 400 watt or so) for the laptop power supply, but this should power everything you mentioned for 4 to 6 hours with no problem. If you plan on being out longer then get a 2nd marine battery.

    It's a lot to lug around but is a much more reliable system.

    You could just hook a inverter to your car battery, but being stuck in the middle of no where because you drained your car battery dead using your telescope could be a little tough.
    Gordon
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ghswen View Post
    Hi MadCrawdad,

    The mount, CCD imager and autoguider are fairly low power consumption items. A power tank as suggested above should get you somewhere from 3 to 6 hours or so of use. However I have found if you add a laptop to the mix the power tanks just don't get the job done. Enter the "deep cycle" marine battery. You would need to get an inverter to change 12 volt to 120 volt (probably 400 watt or so) for the laptop power supply, but this should power everything you mentioned for 4 to 6 hours with no problem. If you plan on being out longer then get a 2nd marine battery.

    It's a lot to lug around but is a much more reliable system.

    You could just hook a inverter to your car battery, but being stuck in the middle of no where because you drained your car battery dead using your telescope could be a little tough.
    What kind of marine battery do you use, Gordon? Even the smallest Optima Blue Top I've seen has a 100Ah reserve capacity and 50Ah capacity at 5A discharge. Even with a laptop (baring some kind of crazy desktop replacement model) I'm surprised you don't get more than 6 hours.
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    Actually, I haven't used this setup in quite some time now as my mount is on a permanent pier and I have 110 wired to it.

    However my old Tosiba laptop is a power hog. With a 50Ah capacity battery, the inverter along with the DSI, SSAG, powered USB hub and mount would begin to have problems at about 6 hours of operation. I could have bought a second marine battery but went with the pier and haven't looked back.
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    Thanks, all. Not sure which route I'll go yet. I'll probably just wait until I observe off-site a few times to try and figure out what I really need, and what I equipment I want to be hauling.

    Sometimes I'll overspend on an item bigger than I really need, figuring that if I buy the biggest and best, I'll never run short...then I usually figure that I could've gotten away paying half the amount for something smaller (that actually better fits my needs). Hoping to avoid that here.
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