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SKB/Vixen Installation

Portable Deep-sky Astro-imaging System

Yesterday, we took a FirstLook at the waterproof case from SKB. Today, we will show how simple it was to create a custom-fit insert using the Pick-n-Pluck foam that came with the case, for the two pieces of Vixen equipment we want to protect.

We had to decide how best to layout the pieces inside the case. We removed two of the three foam layers so we could better understand how depth played in the layout. We worked through the various combinations to see what would work best. Things to consider are the space between the pieces and whether the items would bang against each other if the case was dropped.

After considering all the possibilities, we settled on a side-by-side arrangement. The setup allowed for a nice thick band of foam to surround each piece. The foam layers came pre-scored in 1/2″ blocks so they were easy to tear apart. We used a pair of scissors to cut instead of tearing, as it resulted in a neater separation.

Creating a custom fit for the rectangular Polarie mount was easier as both layers will be the same. We positioned the mount on the middle foam layer and snipped along the edge. The block removed from the middle layer served as a cutting template for the upper layer.

As the Axis Scope was disc-shaped, the two layers of foam protecting had to have different sized openings. The middle layer only required a small slit of foam removed (one-block wide, 5-blocks long) to accommodate the bottom of the disc. The top layer needed a longer slit in order to fit the full diameter of the disc. In addition,  a rectanglehad to be removed in order to fit the optical tube.

This layout for the Vixen gear should keep the Polarie and axis scope safe during transport. One future modification came to mind as we were putting this kit together: it would be really cool if we could hack a  rechargeable battery pack for driving the Polarie mount and then be able to add it to the case. This would involve drilling a hole in the case for a socket so we could run a thin 3V power cable from the case to power the Polarie when it is on a tripod. We will have to think about how to do that and still keep the case water-tight when the cable was not connected. One possible way would be to install some kind of a screw-down valve. Another way would be to just plug the opening with a small rubber stopper or cover it with a cap. We are pretty sure it can be done. We just want to do it so that it doesn’t look half-ass.

Well, we’ll do some research and see what we can come up with. Also, depending on the size of the rechargeable battery pack, we may have to get some new foam and rearrange the layout. Regardless, we are now ready to hit the road (literally) with the Polarie!

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