I wasn't keen on a temporary fix (we all know how these have a habit of becoming permanent) - and a "dream" of mine since we installed the paramount was to get as much of the cabling as we could to use "through mount" cabling to eliminate the risky "cable snake" that carried signal and power to the scope equipment.
Indeed when we rebuilt the mount, we were already supplied with the standard SoftwareBisque connector panel - this was prewired with USB, a multipole pass thorugh power connector 5v and 12v outputs (though low current - we weren't too comfortable trying to drive the heater with the 12v). We worked out this was almost enough for us to connect everything we needed bar a couple of items - one of which was the dew heater.
|Custom wiring box on the mount dovetail plate|
in theory therefore, all that was required was making up a few cable connectors and we'd be to enjoy a cable-snake-less future.... Step one though is that we hadn't quite worked out the best (ie tidiest) way to get power into our extra power cables. There were a number of spare "keystone" type connectors in the mount side panel we could have used - but unfortunately the locking connectors we used at the scope side were too big to fit. We were originally planning to use "Anderson Power Pole" connectors but they didn't have an elegant panel mount solution.
|The mount control panel showing our|
newly installed Anderson PowerPole
connectors (top centre)
|How many parts?|
|Making the cable connectors|
Whilst it was a little nerve wracking to plug the new connector into the camera (even after double checking the polarity and voltage of the 3 voltage line pins), happily everything worked as it should have done and the camera spun up nicely. The only remaining piece of equipment to handle was our Optec TCF Focuser.
As luck would have it, this one was probably the easiest. The focuser connects to the controller by way of a 9 pin "D" plug cables to a modular RJ45 socket. As a career geek, I've always got a handful of RJ-45s and a crimper at hand, so this was a 2 minute chop the wire smaller and connect on a new plug (which was even cabled as standard "T-568-B Spec"). Adding a small Cat5 patch cord at the control panel end and suddenly a long time dream was just about reality!
All that remained was to tidy and tie up the wring to keep it need and free from snagging on anything and to double check all our connections, and - importantly - to make sure everything still worked..
The process of moving from externally cabled equipment to using a "through mount" approach has taken a lot of planning - even at the early stages when we were tearing out the old control gear from the mount. We needed to have our dovetail plate machined to take extra cables, and even create custom connector boxes. Even with everything in place there was a bit of research required for the final cabling and it took a good few hours just to get everything built and plugged in.
The end result though is that now, as well as a much neater set up, we are free from the worry of the cables dragging on the floor or snagging on something - or of course one of us tripping on it. We've also reduced the risk of damage to the cables, or a connector.
|The end result - notice that all the cabling to the OTA now goes to the dovetail palte connector boxes.|