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General questions: lighting, heat, power, etc...

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#1 MRNUTTY

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Posted 04 November 2012 - 09:56 AM

More questions for the main forum. Now that I'm getting further down in the details, it didn't make sense to bury the answers in my clumsy build thread :-)

What do you use as a flooring in your Observatory, and/or your warm room?

A colleague of mine uses an anti-static outdoor carpeting, with additional ESD strapping to the Pier to eliminate ESD discharge to your expansive hand controller and other equipment.

Another example I've seen here is wood laminate. I need something with some give in it to reduce fatigue from standing for long periods of time. Concrete is terrible for this. I have wood and wood laminate in my entire house, except the basement which has a tile laminate. these laminates i've seen have a felt layer to increase comfort. What is the incidence of water getting inside Roll off Roofs? I seen bad damage to laminates when you get too much water on them; they bubble up. yuck. What do you use?

What do you do for internal lighting?

A great example here used an exterior-looking bubble fixture. Colored Red this would looks great; one on each of three or four walls. Carol, I found those cool lozenge shaped wall mounts you have at Lowes; I love them! What have the rest of you got?

Temperature control for warm/cold rooms and telescope room:

My warm room will be insulated top, bottom, internal and external walls. Most telescope room's, observatory, etc... I see are uninsulated, or have exhaust vents. I understand I need to equalize the temperature in the environment of the scope, but during those times when the roof is closed you don't have the heat to get to extremes; harder to cool down then, or course. But what is the general rule, rather than the example? What am I shooting for?

Power feeds to observatory

Should I run a main out to my observatory and install a sub-panel to distribute power for AC, space heater, roof motor, computers, and scope electronics. Or should I have individual lines for AC/Heater, motor, and everything else? Is motor noise a problem with anyone? Should I have a local ground reference for a sub-panel? I'm very close to the house mains.

#2 csa/montana

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Posted 04 November 2012 - 10:47 AM

What is the incidence of water getting inside Roll off Roofs?



I have yet to have any water inside my ROR. I took a little time to cover any places where it possibly could allow water in, using garage door weather strip.

My floor is plywood, covered with indoor/outdoor carpet. If you cannot use an observing chair for whatever reason, and have to stand, perhaps you might consider those rubber squares flooring that interlock; avail at Lowe's, Home Depot, etc.

Carol, I found those cool lozenge shaped wall mounts you have at Lowes; I love them!



Glad you were able to find them; I absolutely love mine, especially with the dimmer switch on the red one!

#3 MRNUTTY

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Posted 04 November 2012 - 11:18 AM

Thanks Carol! I had pictures of those interlocking floor panels I was going to post once my home Internet came back. Until then, it's text only on the iPad :-) they looked like the best think for as feet and backs to stand on. A chair may work as well, but my tailbone is as bad as my back. I really need an observing bed or hammock!

#4 csa/montana

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Posted 04 November 2012 - 11:54 AM

John, if you would go with a chair, perhaps a cushion such as some of these, would help.

Link

You could cut down the front & sides to fit an observing chair.

#5 Keith Howlett

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Posted 04 November 2012 - 12:14 PM

Hi John,

I have the interlocking foam tiles on the floor. They're much kinder on feet and dropped eyepieces than the painted concrete underneath, and they still look good four years on.

I also went with exterior bulkhead lights with red bulbs and I also have a couple of white strip-lamps which are very handy when I want to go and fiddle around with the scope or mount.

I tried to avoid running an armoured cable down to the observatory for quite a while, but I am very glad I eventually went with the mains supply. It's cold with short-ish days here in winter which is good for observing but bad for solar panel / battery solutions. I have a proper breaker box inside the dome, which is earthed back to the house.

Cheers,

Keith

#6 MRNUTTY

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Posted 04 November 2012 - 01:26 PM

@Carol, I actually have three of those coccyx cushions; one at work, one at home, and one in the truck of my car :-)

@keith, those foam/plastic floor panels, with jigsaw puzzle like edges, looked like an idea solution to me too. Do you get any moisture buildup underneath? I'll have painted plywood, so I don't want it to silently rot. It does look gentle on the feet!.

I was thinking a white light strip in an inverted soffit all the way around walls of the scope area like Carol has to illuminate the floor when you dont need Reds.Then 3-4 dimable Red lit lozenge lights, A la Carol, once again on the walls at waist to shoulder height for normal work conditions. Then perhaps a parallel set of whites plus floods for open roof well lit work conditions. Lastly a set of truss mount overheads when the roof is shut for general work.

I'm partial to the subpanel too. Just concerned about electromechanical generated conducted noise effecting other stuff. Normal houses are already protected from this by requiring all major appliances, heating and cooling to have separate individual circuits on the basis of branch circuit current requirements and their circuit breakers. This situation also protects households from crosstalk noise generated by high current ground returns go back to a central shared ground. In a subpanel, all branch circuits share the same ground from the subpanel back to the house mains. When this happens noise is induced on all circuits sharing the subpanel ground return.

#7 Tom and Beth

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Posted 04 November 2012 - 02:39 PM

Power feeds to observatory

I had a licensed Electrician run a sub panel. I was going to originally run a single 20A service, but the Electrician showed me that by paying another 10 bucks for wire I could have up to 50A of 220V, which would come in handy IF I ever put in a pool, decided to add a woodworking building, etc.

#8 MRNUTTY

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Posted 04 November 2012 - 02:57 PM

Hi T&B, The subpanel does make sense. This will be my third one! :-) The first one is that is outside. The grounding really has me puzzled though...

#9 Mary B

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Posted 04 November 2012 - 06:38 PM

Indoor outdoor carpeting for the floor. I ran a separate 240 volt subpanel out to the observatory. Split it into 2 circuits, one side feeds the computer, scope, accessories etc the other is heating, roof power and lights. For lights I use 12 volt led strip lights I found surplus for $1 each. I bought all they had!

#10 Keith Howlett

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Posted 04 November 2012 - 08:48 PM

@keith, those foam/plastic floor panels, with jigsaw puzzle like edges, looked like an idea solution to me too. Do you get any moisture buildup underneath? I'll have painted plywood, so I don't want it to silently rot. It does look gentle on the feet!


I peeked under the foam tiles recently and it was all clean and dry. I don't know about a wood floor instead of my concrete but I think the foam would always be fine - mine was sold for use in horse stables, so a little moisture shouldn't bother it too much.

I tend to get any condensation much higher up on the dome roof - I have a couple of sealed tubular heaters on a hygrostat to take care of that when the obs isn't in use.

Cheers,

Keith

#11 johne

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Posted 05 November 2012 - 07:17 AM

When I had my Home Dome in N.E. Indiana, I used the interlocking foam/rubberized panels from Lowes. They were placed over a wood floor. I did not have any moisture buildup between the wood and the foam panels.

#12 MRNUTTY

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 07:35 AM

@mary_b two phase sounds like the right thing! I have two runs of conduit, one for electrical, and the other is for Ethernet and sundry :-)

@keith and john, thanks for the vote of confidence on the foam flooring. Sounds perfect! I'm sold!

#13 SkipW

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Posted 08 November 2012 - 08:50 PM

Power feeds to observatory

Should I run a main out to my observatory and install a sub-panel to distribute power for AC, space heater, roof motor, computers, and scope electronics. Or should I have individual lines for AC/Heater, motor, and everything else? Is motor noise a problem with anyone? Should I have a local ground reference for a sub-panel? I'm very close to the house mains.

Check with your local building department about this, but, most of all, hire an electrician. There will be specific rules how to do this. I believe most codes allow only a single circuit to outbuildings and all circuits must be grounded at the same point, at the main panel (but it's been a while since I've looked at this stuff). You want to be legal and, even more important, safe.

As a starting point point, assuming it's a fractional-horsepower roof motor, plug-in heater and AC window unit, I'd suggest that a 220V 30A circuit to a small sub panel would probably be ideal; the materials for this are are very common, and should be more than adequate. Going smaller won't save much, if anything. From the sub you'll want at least four 110V 20A branch circuits. Dedicate one to the heater and AC (you won't be using both at once), one for the roof motor, and two more on the other 110V leg for computers, electronics, lights, and general purpose receptacles. Ask your electrician about this arrangement. As mentioned earlier, larger service may be a pittance more, but this is a good place to start.

#14 OJS

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 05:46 PM

I'll number your questions 1. thru 4.

1. 3/4" treated plywood for floor (about a foot off the ground). I am in the process of installing a moisture barrier on top of the plywood, and then some indoor\outdoor carpet on top of that.

2. I have three porcelain light socket fixtures around the perimeter of the inside. One has a standard bulb for normal lighting (on its separate switch) and two with red bulbs and a separate dimmer switch for those.

3. I have no warm room; just the dome and walls. I have a 220 V in-wall heater (the type you see in bathrooms). I use it if I am going out the the observatory for awhile, but not to observe; and have it on low to keep himidity low inside (this I am still experimenting with, but so far it seems to work; books, scope and notebooks are nice and dry).
I am going to use one of those portable AC units for Summer (vented to the outside thru the wall).

4. I ran a 10 gauge underground wire (UT?) from the box in the house out to the observatory. My son did the wiring inside the obs. (breaker box with separate breakers for heater/lights/dedicated line for AC) and an electrician hooked it up to the house (on a 30 amp breaker).

Hope this helps some.

#15 YetAnotherHobby

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 01:42 PM

An electrician is your best source of info, but your sub-panel(s) neutral bus should only be connected (bonded) to earth ground at one location in your home - at the main panel (aka service entrance), and all of the sub panels should have a separate ground conductor linking them to the main's ground bus. That ensures that should something in your electrical system suffer a fault to ground, the fault will see a very low resistance path back to the power company's transformer. This means that the fault will quickly draw a LOT of current, which will trip your circuit breaker and protect you and your stuff. Electricity isn't necessarily seeking a path to ground. It's really seeking the shortest route back to its source. A metallic conductor will have a much lower resistance than the earth in your backyard between your cold water pipe and the copper rod you drove into the earth by the obs.
Again, an electrician is your best source of info, but a Ground Fault circuit interrupter is either required or highly recommended for any outlets you are operating out in the obs. It can be damp out there!

#16 MRNUTTY

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 11:04 AM

@OJS, Geoff: Thanks for the recommendations guys! I don't have an electrician. I never do that stuff myself unless its temporary. Good electricians are just too easy to find :-) .

He said that since I already have two sub-panels hanging off my main panel, another one, in a shed, would probably cause a lot of questions. It's not as if the town has electrical code for Observatory's :-) someone might get creative... As it happens the inspector also installs generators as a business. And I just happen to need a generator. So we'll upgrade to a sub-panel after the inspection and hope for the best :-)

GFI is a great idea. I'll bring it with him. Likely it's in the plan already.

#17 Achernar

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 02:05 AM

As far as electrical matters go, in general you would run a feed from the house's main panel to a sub-panel in your observatory, which will be protected by it's own circuit breaker or fuse in the main panel. A ground will be run from the sub panel to the main panel, with the neutral and ground buses isolated from each other. In general, only at the main panel are the neutral and grounding bus bars are tied together, but at sub-panels they must be isolated from each other. A grounding rod or grounding system is then connected to the ground bus bar in the main panel. You may be also allowed to run another ground wire to a ground rod at the observatory. You should consult with a local electrician, the national electric code is not always the same locally because there are local conditions that affect grounding and other considerations too. At the very least, if you do the work yourself, a master electrician must be called in to inspect it to ensure no fire or electrical shock hazards exist. Noise from motors can be a problem, that is why proper grounding and wiring will minimize the problem. Consider running computers on circuitry with an isolated ground wire, that is a ground wire that does not serve anything else. If you plan to run conduit between the house and the observatory, do not run data or communication in the same conduit as the wiring that carries electrical power. Run them in separate conduits 6 inches or more apart to suppress noise that otherwise can get into your computer network. Also, use GFCI outlets, they are required in most if not all areas for outdoor use or damp places. Even when working on a jobsite on power tools, their use is required.
You should use them for any sort of electrical tools you use in the yard too.

Taras

#18 Danno2006

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 08:06 PM

White light is 3 x 60 watt standard incandescents mounted in nautical style fixtures on a dimmer, red rope light is on north side of obs. hidden by drywall channel so that it is 100% indirect.

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#19 MRNUTTY

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 09:53 AM

Nice Danno! Just what I'm looking for!

@Taras, thanks for the extra tips!

#20 csa/montana

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 12:37 PM

I did something similar, using red rope lighting. I simply used outside corner trim to direct the light to the floor, rather than glaring upward. Mine is also on a dimmer.

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#21 MRNUTTY

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 02:01 PM

Hi Carol, you're who I got the idea from :-) I also love those lozenge wall mount lamp from lowes you have. My scope space is roughly 12x12, I was considering running the rope light clear around three sides, and mounting both a red and a white set of lamps on three walls. How do you have yours setup?

I also got about 8 feet of that programmable tri-led stripes where you can program any color and brightness you want; with only 4 brightness / LED though... Not much. But I haven't really a feel for anything more useful than just red and white :-) maybe I'll just put it in my studio where there's a bazillion LED already to keep them company.

#22 csa/montana

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 02:23 PM

I have the rope light on two walls. This is ample for me. On the wall by the door are the lozenge wall mount lamps. The red one is on a dimmer. My dobservatory is 10x10. This lighting system has worked out very well for me. :)

#23 MRNUTTY

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 02:52 PM

Swell, thanks Carol :-)

#24 csa/montana

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 05:11 PM

You're welcome, John! :)

#25 MRNUTTY

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 08:52 AM

Here's a couple of new questions I've been mulling over:
1) storing equipment in the observatory. For the EP's I was thinking of building a cabinet with a built in dehumidifier and either heating the cabinet or the cases the EP's are stored in. This way the boxes could be moved to the telescope and still maintain heat with a built-in heater inside the EP cases. Each case would contain enough room to hold a nights worth of EP's. Not a new idea, of course, but I haven't seen anyone implement it yet. For OTA's I only need to keep moisture down, but they also take up a lot of space. I envisioned them being stowed on a rack on the wall of the scope room. It's pretty tough to dehumidify a space that size. Thoughts?

2) my back isn't what it used to be and lifting my largest scope up over my shoulders isn't fun. I was thinking of installing a lightweight winch and track to get the scope from the rack to the mount. All the electric whiches I've seen are in the +1,000 lb range. Way above what I need. However, an inexpensive model like this Handheld hoist would fit the bill nicely. Any other solutions to this common ailment? :D






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