After many attempts, I think I have found a decent solution to cable routing and snagging problems. It has really been a problem for me, inevitably ruining images as a cable dragged by something and moved the scope as it slipped loose.
My setup has seven cables up on the OTA and five on the mount:
- CCD Camera — Power, control, and guider
- Rotator — Power and control
- Focuser and OTA — Power and control
- Mount — Power, two control cables, guider, and hand paddle
The first three on this list ride on top of the mount and move; the final one is fixed but must connect to the computer like the others. The camera cables need enough room to rotate 180° in each direction. Each manufacturer has their own power plug size and power block, none provide a long power cable.
This has always been a mess.
I approached the problem with three ideas:
- Run the cables off of the counterweight end of the mount (From Mike Rice of New Mexico Skies, shared at the 2011 Advanced Imaging Conference)
- Enclose the cables in wire loom (From fellow LRE Astronomer Jerry K)
- Pass only AC power and a USB Cable to the mount (My own thought but confirmed from others at AIC)
Ideas one and two are confirmed. Idea three is disproven. I tried putting everything on the mount. This included a power strip, four power blocks, and a USB hub. There was no good place to mount everything that was both neat and balanced. Back to the drawing board.
I built a shelf that sits below the top of the pier. This carries hubs, power bricks, and a USB-Serial adapter relatively close to the mount. Starting from the camera, I started a careful tube of wires (idea #2) that travel down to the counterweight end of the mount. The cables run down the counterweight side of the mount so that they only move back and forth at the point they come off of the mount (idea #1).
This is shown in the following photograph (click on the picture for a full-size image, and apologies for the blurry image).
I have mounted the CCD Camera power supply on the counterweight shaft itself. SBIG really needs to provide longer cables on the DC end of their power supplies. At this point the power cables and control cables split and go to separate attachment points on the mount. This keeps the weight of the cables constant. This part of the set up is shown here.
There is no binding and no stress on the scope or the camera from movement of the mount. Nothing snags or tangles. Altogether a satisfactory solution.
Here is a wide shot of the full set-up.