Updated: Oct 20, 2019
The Pegasus Astro Pocket Powerbox is a small, lightweight product that serves as a hub linking multiple powered devices to one single power source. This is not only useful to manage cables, but also saves time for astrophotographers who, like us, need to install their entire setup far from home each time they want to image.
It has a total of four 12V outputs, one 8V DSLR camera port, two Dew Heater ports and a humidity/temperature sensor. Each of these can be controlled individually through ASCOM supported software (Sequence Generator Pro, MaximDL, or Pegasus' own software) by connecting to your laptop through the USB to PC port.
This little blue box is capable of directing power from your main battery to multiple accessories simultaneously.
And the best part? All the cables you need come in the box!
Since the day we bought our telescope, we have not needed to plug more than one cable to our battery: our Atlas EQ-G motorized mount. While out in the field, we have other equipment used to capture images, however, they have their own power sources. Our DSLR camera functions with its own batteries, as well as the intervalometer. We also have our laptop with, and it has no problem operating for 4-6 hours straight, since we are only running PHD2.
Packing after a long night of imaging. This is our "old" setup with one power cable
It was not until we received our ASI 1600MM CMOS camera that we realized we needed to find a way to plug two power cables at once. To add to the frustration, we needed a third port for the ASIAir to combat the low storage space on our laptop, otherwise we could not successfully store our images.
We were left with 3 options:
Modify our deep cycle battery, and possibly die electrocuted or blow up the apartment in the process (We're not familiar working with electricity…)
Buy 3 different batteries (our trunk is always a game of Tetris trying to fit all the bags…)
Find another way
We chose to "find another way".
During the research process, we heard about the Pegasus Astro Pocket Powerbox (and the other interesting products by Pegasus Astro) while browsing one of the Astrophotography groups we are part of on Facebook, and it seemed perfect for our needs!
Just like our other product reviews, this is going to be our honest and straight to the point review of the Pegasus Astro Pocket Powerbox. You can find our full video review at the bottom of this page to see it in action, as well as a few astrophotography images taken with the help of this accessory. You can purchase this device from our official partner, Oceanside Photo & Telescope.
The Pegasus Astro Pocket Powerbox fits perfectly in your hand!
WHAT'S IN THE BOX?
The Pegasus Astro Pocket Powerbox comes packaged in a small but well stocked box. As we stated earlier, this product includes all the cables you need to connect different devices.
In the box, we received:
The Pegasus Astro Pocket Powerbox
1 x External Temperature / Humidity Sensor
4 x Power DC 2.1 to 2.1 male cable (1m)
1 x DC Cable (2m) to Cigarette Lighter Adapter (8A fused)
1 x USB Cable Type B (3m)
Straps to attach the Powerbox to a telescope or mount tripod.
From all the items that came in the box, we only use the Pocket Powerbox (of course), 3 of the Power DC cables, and the DC to Cigarette Lighter Adapter cable.
We believe it was generous that Pegasus Astro included all the extra cables, as it would save us from having to go to the store to buy the ones we need separately. In practical terms, we most likely will never use the dew heater ports as the Nevada desert is very dry. Given the chance that someone may need it in their geographical area, it was smart to have it included in the box in any case.
The box that contains the Pegasus Astro Pocket Powerbox
Plugging in all the cables is easy thanks to the labels above each port. We received the Pegasus package unexpectedly, on a day when we were packing to go out imaging with our new camera for the first time. Because of that, we did not have time to plug it into the laptop and set it up with the software.
Thankfully, the Pegasus Pocket Powerbox works "out of the box" and controlling it through ASCOM is just extra! You can do many things through it, such as activate/deactivate each port individually, see the number of amps being drawn by your accessories, check the temperature and humidity, control the dew heater ports, etc.
Not only can the Pegasus Pocket Powerbox distribute your power supply to the mount, your camera, the filter wheel, and other accessories, it can also connect to a DSLR camera! Please note that you need to buy the adapter, depending on the brand of your camera, in order to do so.
Everything that comes in the box with the Pegasus Astro Pocket Powerbox
WHAT DO WE CONNECT TO THE POWERBOX?
In our current setup, the Pegasus Pocket Powerbox is connected to:
1) A battery, it is the only cable connecting to it
We use a deep cycle battery purchased from Amazon. It is very heavy and, truthfully, annoying to carry around. However, it lasts much longer than our previous power source (a basic jump starter, purchased from Walmart).
We are confident that one day, astrophotographers will be able to power all their equipment with a small and lightweight battery (similar to Celestron's Powerbank?).
2) The Orion Atlas EQ-G motorized mount
This is the mount we have been using since we bought our first telescope and is our only one to date!
It has helped us track the sky for hundreds of nights, and is very sturdy!
You can see us briefly talk about this mount in our full review blog post and video for our $479 telescope.
We enjoy it, but it is also unfair to compare it to other mounts as we haven't had the chance to try any other one yet.
We connect the Pegasus Astro Pocket Powerbox to the Atlas EQ-G through one of the four 12V cables, and never had any connectivity problem so far!
3) The ZWO ASI 1600MM PRO camera
The ZWO ASI 1600MM-Pro is our new main imaging camera as of January 2019!
Unfortunately, we have not had a good opportunity to image with it long-term, but so far, we like it!
The Pocket Powerbox connects directly to the camera, which turns the fan on inside the device to cool it down. This also indirectly powers the electric filter wheel.
4) The ZWO ASI AIR
We also power our ASI AIR, which is located next to our Pegasus Pocket Powerbox. We will most likely purchase 2 shorter cables in the future to replace the long ones we have for this one and the camera, as they are both very close to the Pocket Powerbox.
Adding all those up, we still have one 12V port available, and that is just in case we want to add another accessory in the future.
Of course, the other ports like the DSLR one or the two for the dew heaters are still free and will remain that way indefinitely.
SIZE, WEIGHT & MOUNTING
Our Pegasus Astro Pocket Powerbox is attached to our telescope with the extra hook and loop patch that came with the ASI AIR (review coming soon). The Pocket Powerbox comes with small straps to attach it to either a telescope or a mount leg, so do not worry about finding ways to attach it.
Although the straps seem to be the more secure option, we chose to use the extra hook and loop patch instead because the Powerbox is just so small (109mm x 74mm x25mm / 4.3in x 2.9in x 1in) and lightweight (250 grams / 8.82 ounces)!
We placed both the ASI AIR and the Pegasus Astro Pocket Powerbox near the middle of our optical tube, and we believe that they do not influence the balancing of our setup at all. Made of hard plastic, the box also seems quite sturdy and can probably take a few hits before breaking. Being so light, it also feels like it would not take much damage if it were to fall on concrete (not that we'd try that anyway, this is not a cellphone drop test!).
SPECS & PRICE
Below you will find the full specifications for this device, taken directly from the manufacturer's website. As you can see, the Pocket Powerbox is fitted with a reverse voltage polarity protection, meaning that it will protect itself and the accessories plugged into in if you accidentally connect your battery in reverse polarity.
Let's talk connectivity. Getting it attached to a computer, the software, and the ASCOM support. First, if you are like us and do not plan to use this feature, no problem! This is 100% optional, as this device works straight out of the box, meaning you can plug all your cables to it and it will work without having to change any settings.
As we mentioned, you can connect the Pegasus Astro Pocket Powerbox to a computer and control each port with your mouse and keyboard. All you must do is download the software and driver from Pegasus' website, plug in the box using the included USB 2 cable, and play around with the controls!
The included software is simple and easy to use. Here are a few of the things you can do with it, at a glance:
Turn ON/OFF any 12V outputs
Turn ON/OFF the DSLR output
Turn ON/OFF the dew heaters outputs
Check voltage used in real time
Check the temperature
Check the humidity levels
See a graph of the current being used
Thanks to the support of ASCOM, you can control the unit directly through your image acquisition software, such as Sequence Generator Pro. Once again, we prefer not to use this feature, as we are already happy with all the ports being ON by default and prefer not to have an extra cable dangling around.
As for the price, we genuinely believe that the $210 we paid (at the time of this review) was fair and worth it. We are also grateful that Pegasus was generous and included all the cables we may need in the box. We know, as well as you all know, that astronomy and astrophotography equipment can be expensive, but we understand that this product will be useful to us in the long term and is unlikely to break or become obsolete any time soon. There will always be trade-offs with equipment and when choosing new equipment, we must all weigh our options and cater to what we need.
OUR FULL VIDEO REVIEW
Just like our other product reviews (ex: Our $499 Orion f/3.9 Astrograph Telescope), we made a full video about this device so that you can see it in action and on the field! Do not hesitate to leave us a comment if you have any questions, concerns, or would just like to join the discussion! Let us know if there is a particular product you'd like us to review.
Would we recommend the Pegasus Astro Pocket Powerbox? Absolutely!
Before upgrading our equipment to a cooled camera, electronic filter wheel and ASI AIR, we would not have needed this product, because we only needed one cable to reach our battery for the motorized mount. Now, we can't think of any better way to connect all these devices at once, and let's face it, it is much simpler than having to modify a deep cycle battery. It also allows for a single cable to go drop towards the ground instead of three or four. This is very important because it means you are three or four times less likely to get a cable stuck around the mount or telescope, thus ruining your tracking and precious minutes or hours of imaging. Simply put, snagging cables are anyone’s worst nightmare during imaging and it is better to lower those odds!
If you are just starting out in astrophotography and plan to image with a DSLR camera for a long time, just as we did in the first 3 years of this hobby, then this product might not be useful for you. Yet. On the other hand, if you have recently upgraded your setup or are planning to do so soon, then we highly recommend the Pegasus Astro Pocket Powerbox for your imaging rig. If you already have all the power ports that you need on a single deep cycle marine battery, you may or may not want to spend another $210 to switch to this small hub; unless your current frustration with cables dangling everywhere at the moment is something you no longer desire.
In short, we are 100% satisfied with this purchase, and once we switch out two of the cables with shorter ones, our entire setup will be much neater and safer. We love how small and lightweight the Pocket Powerbox is, and how easy it is to stick it on our telescope when we set up in the dark. It is nice to have all the cables linking to one single device, and to just pull it out of our bag with everything already plugged in, then linking the other ends to our different accessories in seconds.
If you are interested in adding the Pegasus Astro Pocket Powerbox to your astrophotography setup, you can purchase one on our partner's website at Oceanside Photo & Telescope. We have not found any other online retailer that sells this device at a lower price.
EXAMPLE IMAGES OBTAINED WHILE USING THE PEGASUS ASTRO POCKET POWERBOX
Although this product is not a telescope or a camera, we decided to add a couple of astro images taken using the Pocket Powerbox in our setup. You can find our image of Thor's Helmet below, as well as M106. The Pegasus Astro Pocket Powerbox was used from the beginning to the end of both these captures, and we did not encounter any issues during the night!
Emission Nebula in Canis Major
Total Exposure Time: 3 hours
Intermediate Spiral Galaxy in the constellation of Canes Venatici
Total Exposure Time: 3 hours and 15 minutes
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