For a while now I have been controlling my astrophotography gear with a passively cooled Intel NUC computer, and powered them with a 110W 12V supply meant for a portable fridge. At first I kept both on the floor of our observatory, which isn’t a great long-term solution. Looking for a cheap enclosure, I bought a metal mailbox and attached it to the telescope mounting pier.

At first I thought it will be great, I can run all my cables through the mail slot in the mailbox. The mailbox turned out to be pretty small and cramped, and attaching anything to the inside of the box was hard.

Inspired by my friend Jari Saukkonen, who is part of our Komakallio observatory effort, I started making an enclosure for the PC and the power supply out of a 19" rack case meant for music gear. Jari had built something very similar in the past (but with a lot more content), and I actually bought the rack case from him second-hand.

I got an industrial 12V DIN-rail mountable power supply, which is actually specced for winter temperatures to replace the fridge power supply. I attached the NUC and the power supply onto a 2U rack shelf.

Photo of the rack shelf and contents
The 2U rack shelf with the Intel NUC and 12V power supply mounted on

I routed all the computer connectors to panel mounted connectors by Neutrik on the front of the rack case. Actual 230V input power comes through a rack mounted “extension cord”. It’s neat, since it has a Powercon connector and a power switch. I have configured the NUC to automatically turn on when the extension cord power switch is flicked.

Photo of the outside of the rack case
Rack case after assembly

Overall I am very happy with the result. The case is pretty bulky considering the contents, but I will only be transporting it the observatory and back 2 times a year or so, so that’s fine. I still need to install some bug netting onto the ventilation grid to prevent bugs from infesting the warm case.