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Old 18-03-2018, 10:16 PM
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Final Commissioning of FitPC, NiteCrawler and RC12

It's been several months since I bought the NiteCrawler. The NiteCrawler, FitPC4 and better cable management were part of a planned upgrade of the RC12 system.

The system was using a lot of power on a regular basis, the computer was a large part of that problem, not to mention that the hard drive was starting to have issues. So I bit the bullet and bought another FitPC. I already had one on my Newtonian which got commissioned early last year, so it was an easy decision to make. The FitPC rides on the scope, this means only a few cables end up going through the mount, it only uses 7W of power, is quad core, 16gig of RAM and 500Gig SSD. Over kill really but worth future proofing.

The NiteCrawler was bought because of a focuser problem on the other scope. I had a heavy Moonlite Newtonian focuser on the Newtonian but it was having trouble holding the QSI in a stable position. So the Atlas I had on the RC system was placed on the Newtonian and I decided instead of buying another Atlas I wanted to try a focuser/rotator unit. I looked at the Gemini from Optec but knew I could not justify the cost, and Ron from Moonlite made me an offer I couldn't refuse.

I have to say this focuser is enormous. It is almost as large as the STXL which hangs off it. So far it appears to be very accurate and smooth in operation. Under the stars is going to be the final test but I have every confidence this will be worth the money I paid.

The final part of the commissioning process was awaiting the arrival of a new MCU for the Mount Hub Pro. The one I had was one of the original versions which was not able to be powered up at the same time as the computer. This meant I could not use the switchable power ports at all in a remote setting. With the new MCU I can power up the MHP which starts the computer and then I can turn on things like the focuser, or fans and control the heat setting on the secondary heater. The MCU arrived on Friday.

Of course with every system I have always wanted to have better cable management going on. Previously the cable management was not great. So last year whilst commissioning the Newtonian I bought some flexible sheathing which is great for remote work.

So now it is onto the final part of installing the system back onto a mount and into an observatory. I get back and let everyone know how that goes.
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Old 19-03-2018, 12:24 AM
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Hi Paul.
I'll be following the automation part of this with interest. What does MCU stand for?
Cheers Josh.
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Old 19-03-2018, 08:34 AM
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Josh I think it stands for micro circuit unit, but they are more commonly known as micro processing unit. It's the brains of the MHP. It was easy to change out.
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Old 19-03-2018, 12:58 PM
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Thanks for showing your work Paul. Facinating stuff.
Alex
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Old 19-03-2018, 01:38 PM
chromus (Phil)
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HI Paul, the fit-PC solution seems like a lot of cash to burn compared to a compute stick, is there a reason you went so hardcore? its not like you would be processing images on the unit?
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Old 19-03-2018, 01:58 PM
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Looks like a nice set up, Paul. You need to get it right if you're going to run unattended.
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Old 19-03-2018, 02:43 PM
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Thanks guys,

Quote:
Originally Posted by chromus View Post
HI Paul, the fit-PC solution seems like a lot of cash to burn compared to a compute stick, is there a reason you went so hardcore? its not like you would be processing images on the unit?
Hi Phil. Reason being I like bullet proof. Everything running at once uses about 4 gig of RAM comfortably, but its always good to have more for reserve and allows you to monitor and access easily whilst imaging is going on. The Israelis know how to make things sustain hard conditions. The FitPC is sort of the benchmark for remote systems from speaking with various people who do a lot of remote work. So far the embedded system on my Newtonian has worked well. The Intel Compute Stick would not last a week on site. It is a heavy dew area and with the holes in the casing of that computer I am sure moisture would get in to the circuit board. In a remote setup you cannot risk failure of the computer. Not to mention that I would need a external drive to store data etc. This way the computer is also another backup on site.

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Looks like a nice set up, Paul. You need to get it right if you're going to run unattended.
Definitely Rick. I had this system going before remotely as you might remember and it worked well other than the SBIG camera which I think now works after conformal coating of the SBIG boards. Making sure everything runs right takes quite some time. I wish I had another SB mount sitting out in my back yard to test bed stuff. It saves a drive for problem solving.
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Old 19-03-2018, 04:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Haese View Post
Josh I think it stands for micro circuit unit, but they are more commonly known as micro processing unit. It's the brains of the MHP. It was easy to change out.
Thanks Paul.
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