Friday, December 28, 2018

Surprisingly Easy

I wasn't expecting it to be easy.

Something always goes wrong with computer upgrades.  I'd better find some wood to knock on and ward off the jinx that will happen by even thinking that this upgrade was easy.

Some background first.  I purchased my astronomy laptop from Woot in December of 2015 shortly after buying my SkyWatcher Dobsonian.  It was on sale for less than $200.  I purchased it on a lark because it was so inexpensive and I had a little bit of budget remaining after my telescope related purchases.  I didn't really to expect it to be so useful as I gained skill with the telescope and imager.

It turns out that the laptop has been a real workhorse.  It has performed really well as my astronomy laptop.  With ASCOM drivers and Stellarium, it can control the telescope with ease over the Bluetooth link.  Also, not only has it helped me image planets and DSO's, it has done so under adverse seasonal conditions.  20 degrees (F) outside?  No problem.  Frost on the screen? No problem.  90% relative humidity?  It seems impervious to dew.

Why the upgrades?

Several times over the past year, the laptop has run out of disk space during an astronomy session.  This probably has something to do with my obsession with imaging Mars as it came into opposition.  😎 

There are few things worse than being outside with the telescope at 3am and having to make data culling decisions because the drive is full and there is more data that needs capturing . . .

And now, as I learn to use DeepSkyStacker, I need to keep the frames of data that I capture.  Usually, SharpCap deletes the raw data as it live stacks.  Frames of data from the ZWO ASI294MC imager are huge!

To do the upgrade, I purchased a solid state drive (SSD) from Amazon.


And since I was going to be opening up the laptop anyway, I thought that I might as well do the RAM upgrade, too.  The Crucial website has a utility that'll tell you exactly which sticks of RAM you should get!

An 8GB stick
Before opening the laptop, I attached the replacement SSD to the USB port with an external interface device and used Samsung's data migration utility to clone the existing drive.  It was painless.

Cloning has never been this easy!

Next, I needed to remove a bunch of screws.  Fortunately, they were captive screws, meaning that I wasn't in peril of dropping any of them on our dark wooden floor -- never to be seen again.

Simple Philips head screws, nothing fancy
Look at all of the stuff inside the laptop case!

Laptop guts
The RAM and SSD are in the lower left corner.  I tackled the RAM first, because the SSD and its connector were scarily hidden inside an RFI shield.

The connector latch opened easily, releasing the RAM
The new RAM went in with a not unpleasant firm "click."

With that success, I was emboldened to replace the SSD.  

First, I positioned the replacement SSD next to the old SSD to make sure that it was going to fit.

The SSD's are the same form factor

Then, after loosening it's screw and little bit of disconcerting tugging, the old SSD lifted out.

So far, so good
I wrangled with the SSD cable and managed to remove it without damage.  I also removed the RFI shielding and wrapped it around the replacement SSD.  With a little bit of finagling, the assembly fit nicely back into the drive bay.

With everything buttoned back up, I ran diagnostics on the laptop.  Looks great.

I can't wait to take it outside and try to fill all of the new storage space with astronomy images.


  1. Here's hoping for clear skies so you can use your new storage space!

  2. Nice that it went so smoothly - knock on wood! ;-)


Featured Post

More HyperStar Fun

Yes, more HyperStar fun! Thursday night, we finally had clear dark night. It was worthy of putting the HyperStar on the Cat. It was worthy o...

Popular Posts