Saturday, August 2, 2014

Powering my scope in the field

I recently registered for the Oregon Star Party. One of the restrictions is that we can't use generators - especially at night. So, I have to figure out how to power my scope entirely from batteries. I need two batteries - as the Mach1 mount doesn't like to share power but needs its own battery. Plus the FLI camera requires very stable supply and shouldn't be powered by the 12V batteries who don't deliver straight 12V. I checked on the FLI mailing list and received the advice to use a DC-DC converter. I ordered one of these (plus an enclosure).

I also ordered a second solar panel to make sure that I can recharge both batteries easily (plus I like to have a backup for all of my equipment). Finally, I ordered an MPPT charge controller plus a digital readout.

The plan is to power the mount with my slightly weaker 100Ah battery and with the 120Ah battery the rest. I ordered a pigtail cable from FLI to figure out how to connect the camera to a 12V outlet.

I spent some time to put Anderson Power connectors on all elements.

Wired everything up and powered the entire setup (inclusive laptop) for an entire night. Worked flawlessly! In the morning the batteries were at 50% and 40% charge. I then connected everything to the solar panels:

By 2pm both batteries were at 100% charge!