We first took up astronomy as a hobby in early 2007 as visual observers. The only thing we owned at that time was a zoom eyepiece and a 8” reflector tube. After a couple of months, astrophotography became our main interest. We were overwhelmed by its magic! We still remember the first raw image of a nebula that our DSLR camera captured through the telescope. From that moment onwards, we knew what we had to do. We engaged ourselves into astrophotography with great excitement. Night after night, we were learning from our mistakes and this excitement was creating stunning deep sky images.
This was our typical astrophotography setup sitting beside us the whole night long!
The idea of initiating the manufacture of electronic devices for astronomy was triggered by the different problems we had to deal with in the field. (e.g. mountains and the countryside). Due to the fact that it is quite hard for someone to stay awake throughout the night, we though it would be useful to automate and consolidate every electronic device we had at our disposal (i.e. less weight to carry to the mountain, less time to setup our equipment). Power “spaghetti” cables, dew heater devices and multiple power supply units for the mount, as well as ccd, filter wheel etc had to be eliminated. The initial idea was to place all these power supplies inside a hard case and carry only one “universal” power source for our equipment.
The two pictures below show our first attempt to manufacture this “universal” power source. This “hard case” lasted for a month..
Our next attempt was to manufacture a real box with a PC Power Supply inside it, a couple of modules to provide PWM duty cycle for our dew heaters and all the required 12V and 5V outputs for our electronic equipment.
Soon enough, many friends were interested in this idea and asked if we could create a “Powerbox” for their needs too. These devices, although fully analog and a little bit bulky, were able to withstand the harsh mountain conditions (high humidity, low temperatures etc).
In just a few years time, “Powerbox” evolved from analog to a digital sophisticated device with plenty of features.
A crucial goal for us was to create a remote ON /OFF switch for our 12V outputs of our connected devices. Moreover it was important to know the humidity and temperature levels in order for us to automatically adjust our telescope’s dew heater strip power levels. We implemented all of these features in the first digital “Powerbox” which is shown in the picture bellow
This “Powerbox” was extensively tested for over a year and a half to prove that its electronics can withstand the test of time and software is “bug” free. (loosing power during the night is one of the worse thing can happen to an astrophotographer)
Eventually the evolution of the “Powerbox” brought the “intelli-powerbox” which was the actual production device for general availability.
Today we are very proud of our “Ultimate Powerbox“, fully digital, lightweight / compact device for our observations and astrophotography needs.