Monday, April 3, 2017

Electronic Upgrades for PAN001

Since no one on the original PANOPTES core team was an electrical engineer the original electronics included in unit PAN001 were mostly cobbled together in a learn-as-you-go way. Unfortunately, this meant there were exposed wires, dangerous currents, and an overall smorgasbord of components.

The original, unsafe, and messy electronics of PAN001
Fortunately, Luc Boucher from Gemini Observatory found out about the project and set about designing us a new set of electronics that includes a power distribution board, a telemetry board, and an updated board for the camera box as well. The power distribution board in particular includes some features that PAN001 was desperately needing, namely the ability to power-cycle any of the individual components as well as current sensing for most of those components. Certain situations had led to the need to power-cycle the mount and the cameras and this previously required someone manually flipping the switches.

But no more! On a beautiful clear Tuesday afternoon some of the team made their way up to the Mauna Loa Observatory (MLO) with the express goal of gutting the electronics and giving PAN001 the much needed upgrade.

Better, cleaner, more powerful
electronics for PAN001! The two
new boards are now mounted to
the lid, making the box cleaner
and easier to work with.
 Overall the upgrades were a success. We did have a few issues with some faulty connections on the board and also accidentally blew out one of the solid state relays, meaning that we can't cycle one of the power distribution lines. This line was initially set for the fan control, so we changed around the fan and the weather since we haven't yet had a reason to power cycle the AAG CloudWatcher weather station but we do want to turn the fan on and off fairly regularly.

Ripped aluminum sheets that
were replaced from high-wind
We also took the opportunity to redo some of the weatherproofing on the mount. Some time in January/February there were sustained winds at MLO of over 100 MPH (!) for a couple of hours. This resulted in some tearing of the thin aluminium sheets that are used to protect against rain, which were improved and replaced.

Nem works on the power distribution board while
Wilfred stares down the cameras.

No comments:

Post a Comment