Project PANOPTES


 

Mount Weatherproofing Instructions

Weatherproofing the Mount

Table of Contents

Introduction

The waterproofing is a process designed to shield the mount from the weather. As the unit sits outdoors, it is exposed to the conditions and the goal is prevent water entering the mount where it could damage the drive electronics and or the gear system. The following image shows one way to waterproof the mount. It consists of using thin aluminum sheets to protect various interfaces where water can enter the mount. The sheets are either screwed and/or silicon sealed to the mount as will be outlined.

These instructions represent one way to waterproof your mount and you’re welcome to experiment and find other ways and/or modifications. You must take into consideration the conditions at the site you will install your unit at and make modifications and adjustments accordingly. The solution we offer may not be ideal for you.

A side view of the mount showing some of the installed weatherproofing.
A side view of the mount showing some of the installed weatherproofing.

Tools

  • Screwn gun (cordless or powered)
  • 4 mm drill bit
  • Silicone gun
  • Silicone sealant
  • 1x 50cm long cable tie
  • Scissors
  • Box cutter
  • Rags

Five (5) aluminum sheet panels are needed along with three plastic tube rings to protect the joints of the mount and electronics. These instructions step through the process of installing each of these in turn. The following image shows a complete unit. The various panels and rings are labelled for reference.

A view labelling the various parts to be installed.
A view labelling the various parts to be installed.

Declination axis tube

  • The first step is to install the tube protectors around the joints for each of the bearings.
  • Unlock the mount and rotate the Right Ascension bearing until the mount is horizontal (i.e. the counter weight is horizontal) and the lock it.
  • Take the plastic tubing and wrap the tube around the declination bearing as shown in the image below.
  • Cut the tube so it is long enough to make one complete loop around the neck of the bearing. You can use scissors or a box cutter.
  • Use the silicone gun to dispense the silicone sealant in a continuous track around the neck of the bearing. Place the track on the head unit side of the bearing/joint and about 5 mm from the bearing as shown in the image below.
  • Carefully wrap the pre-cut tube around the neck and press it into the silicone. It is important that it is close to the bearing but that no silicon gets in the bearing, it is relatively straight and it is well pressed so the silicon holds the tube with the highest possible strength.
  • Wait for 30 minutes or longer until the silicone hardens to prevent damage.

Right Ascension axis tube

  • (Optional) If you like you can replace the locking screws for the right ascension axis with smaller cap head screws as shown in the image above. These are smaller and less likely to get in the way. These are M6x20 mm but double-check to make sure.
  • Take the plastic tubing and wrap the tube around the right ascension bearing as shown in the image below.
  • Cut the tube so it is long enough to make one complete loop around the neck of the bearing. You can use scissors or a box cutter.
  • Use the silicone gun to dispense the silicone sealant in a continuous track around the neck of the bearing. Place the track on the rotating side of the bearing/joint and about 5 mm from the bearing as shown in the image below. Note this is the side that moves as opposed to the side which is fixed.
  • Carefully wrap the pre-cut tube around the neck and press it into the silicone. It is important that it is close to the bearing but that no silicon gets in the bearing, it is relatively straight and it is well pressed so the silicon holds the tube with the highest possible strength.
  • Wait for 30 minutes or longer until the silicone hardens to prevent damage.

Counterweight tube

  • Take the plastic tubing and wrap the tube around the counter weight rod.
  • Cut the tube so it is long enough to make one complete loop around the neck of the bearing. You can use scissors or a box cutter.
  • Use the silicone gun to dispense the silicone sealant in a continuous track around the counter weight rod. Place the track about 5 mm from the body of the mount.
  • Carefully wrap the pre-cut tube around the rod and press it into the silicone. It is important that it is up against the body of the mount, it is relatively straight and it is well pressed so the silicon holds the tube with the highest possible strength.
  • Wait for 30 minutes or longer until the silicone hardens to prevent damage. Make sure the silicone does not go into the mount or the rod will not be removable.

Counterweight rod shield

The position of the shield can be seen in several images above. The unit will be parked with the headunit pointing down. This means the counter weight will be pointing a little upwards and so it is important to protect the joint where the counterweight is attached as water could enter the mount here.

  • Cut a strip from an aluminum sheet to a width of about 60 mm.
  • Wrap the sheet around the neck of the mount where the counter weight rod is attached (wider part of the mount with beige paint). Cut the sheet such that it overlaps by 30 mm or so.
  • Put a thick track of silicone around the neck of the mount adjacent to the location where the counterweight is secured.
  • Wrap the sheet around the silicone covered neck and press firmly to squeeze the silicone.
  • While holding the sheet to the neck, get a friend to secure a long cable tie to hold the sheet around the neck. Cut the excess cable tie off.
  • Put some silicone in between the overlapping region of the sheet. Gently squeeze the sheet together to get the best contact between the two sheets.
  • Leave to dry for 30-60 minutes.

Mount electronics shield

The position of the shield can be seen in several images above. This shield is designed to protect the mount electronics box, and cover the open hole from which cables can be routed through the mount. Currently there are no specific dimensions for this plate.

An image of the shield in question is shown in the below. The idea is that the shield is bonded to the electronics box with silicone and screws and has tabs that hang out to the side and the bottom to cover the electronics and the open cable port on the mount. Cut a sheet that could look like this and meet these requirements.

  • Cut all sharp corners to prevent injury.
  • Open the electronics lid. Lock for locations that screws could be inserted to hold the sheet down without touching the electronics board.
  • Use tape to temporarily hold the sheet to the lid.
  • Once the location of the screws has been determined, drill 2-3 holes about 4 mm in diameter carefully through the lid and sheet. Clean the edge so there are no burrs or pushed up regions.
  • Take the sheet off the lid. Push short M4 screws (maybe 6-8 mm in length) through the lid from the bottom. Use tape to hold them to the lid. Resecure lid to the mount.
  • Cover electronics lid surface with silicone.
  • Press sheet onto the lid. Make sure the screws pass through the holes. Squeeze sheet so that silicone is firmly pressed and gives maximum hold.
  • Place a washer and a nut on each of the screws. Lock each one down.
  • Use the silicone to cover the washer and nut so water does not enter the electronics enclosure.
  • Make sure to wipe off any excess silicone.
  • Make sure the flaps on the sides and the end are folded down to minimize the electronics box and cable port on the mount getting wet.
  • Leave to dry for 30-60 minutes.

Right Ascension bearing shield

The position of the shield can be seen in the image below. This shield is designed to protect the mount electronics box, and cover the right ascension bearing joint to prevent water getting in. Currently there are no specific dimensions for this plate.

  • An image of the shield in question is shown in the below. The idea is that the shield is bonded to the curved surface of the mount with silicone, covers the joint of the right ascension bearing and also creates a cover for the top of the electronics box. Cut a sheet that could look like this and meet these requirements.
  • Fold the lid to the appropriate shape to overlap with the electronics box, but be about 5-10 mm above it.
  • Cut all sharp corners off to prevent injury.
  • Cover the curved surface with silicone.
  • Press sheet onto the curved surface. Squeeze out the excess silicone for the best possible hold.
  • Make sure to wipe off any excess silicone.
  • Make sure the flaps on the sides and the end are folded down to minimize the electronics box and mount joint getting wet.
  • Leave to dry for 30-60 minutes.

Declination bearing shield

The position of the shield can be seen in the image above and below. This shield is designed to protect the second mount electronics box, and cover the declination bearing joint to prevent water getting in. Currently there are no specific dimensions for this plate.

  • An image of the shield in question is shown in the below. The idea is that the shield is bonded to the black electronics box from the top and the side with silicone, covers the joint of the declination bearing and also creates a cover for the top of the electronics box. Cut a sheet that could look like this and meet these requirements. This may take several iterations.
  • Fold the lid to the appropriate shape to overlap with the electronics box and the joint. Note the sheet must overlap the joint by 10-15 mm to prevent water getting access to the joint.
  • Cut all sharp corners off to prevent injury.
  • Cover the appropriate surfaces with silicone.
  • Press the sheet onto the surfaces. Squeeze out the excess silicone for the best possible hold.
  • Make sure to wipe off any excess silicone.
  • Apply silicone to all cracks and crevices on the electronics box to stop water getting in.
  • Leave to dry for 30-60 minutes.

Cable port shield

The position of the shield can be seen in the image below only. This shield is designed to protect the port for the mount. Currently there are no specific dimensions for this plate.

  • Take the lid off the cable port hole.
  • An image of the shield in question is shown in the below. The idea is that the shield is bonded to the curved part of the mount from the top and the side with silicone, and prevents water getting into the mount when a cable is routed through this port. Cut a sheet that could look like this and meet these requirements. This may take several iterations.
  • Fold the lid to the appropriate shape to conform to the curved surface of the mount and butt up against the electronics box.
  • Cut all sharp corners off to prevent injury.
  • Cover the curved surface of the mount with silicone.
  • Press the sheet onto the surface. Squeeze out the excess silicone for the best possible hold.
  • Make sure to wipe off any excess silicone.
  • Apply silicone to edge against the electronics box to ensure water can not get through here.
  • Leave to dry for 30-60 minutes.