SpaceCat Update: Bench Testing

With the SpaceCat still on the bench, I've started testing the various component systems of the build. The goal here is to make sure all the new hardware and software play nicely together. Normally, I use SharpCap as my image capture and control software. But for this build, I'll be switching to NINA.

First up is testing the power distribution system of the Pegasus Astro PPBAdvance, and evaluating voltage and current draw under load. The Pegasus Astro 12V10A power supply provides a steady 12.7V DC power output regardless of current drawn. However, when using the GoLabs R300 299Wh LiFePO4 power station, 12V DC voltage varies with battery charge and current due to DC power output being unregulated. At 99% charge, DC power output was supplied at 12.6V under minimal load, but dropped to 12.4V at around 80% charge with ~2A of current. Voltage dropped as low as 12.1V when the main camera's TEC system reached about 70% power while attempting to achieve the camera sensor's target set point temperature of 0°C from 20°C ambient, but would stabilize again around 12.4V with the TEC running at 40% power to remain at the target set point temperature.

There is concern that the GoLabs R300 may not be a suitable power supply option. Because the DC power output is unregulated, there is the potential for it to provide under-voltage power with higher loads, or when the battery charge drops below a certain percentage. This is concerning because under-powering devices subjects them to undue wear and tear, and can ultimately lead to the device's failure.

Also checked the environmental sensor readings for the Pegasus Astro PPBAdvance. I found the humidity sensor needed calibration. When compared against two Acurite digital thermometers with hygrometers, the environmental sensor reported the temperature value within range, but the humidity value was out of range by 6% more than average. To calibrate the hygrometer, I set the humidity offset value to -6 and rebooted the PPBAdvance for the offset to take effect.

As for the Deep Sky Dad FR1 Field Rotator, the rotator needed its position value reset to zero with first use. This can be done using the ASCOM DSD FR1 Field Rotator driver by following steps similar to setting the zero position of the DSD AF3 Autofocuser. Settings are applied after reconnecting to the driver.

With the DSD FR1 Field Rotator configured, I checked to make sure the main camera was able to rotate freely between 0 and 270 degrees with enough cable slack to avoid snags or have any cables come loose. Due to the stiffness of the USB 3.0 cable though, there is still some pull on the camera. Which may be enough to introduce flexure and field tilt.