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#1 michael hester

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 01:39 PM

So i've started to build a small observatory on my apartment balcony secluded and discreet but I need to identify a good material to build the pier out of. I already built a prototype out of plywood but I was told by friends that the plywood would laminate and otherwise disintegrate fairly quickly. I am thus looking for an alternative to plywood and a way to source it. Basic parameters are that the pier is to be a 1ft cube.

I currently am trying slotted steel but I wonder what others have used to build a pier other than concrete or plywood. Obviously I would do a concrete pier if I owned the property I'm building on. The structure has to be light enough that I can move out but sturdy enough to hold a CGEM dx with a 20lb tube. I haven't figured out the top of the pier plate yet but that will probably be square aluminum tubes bolted to the steel frame. I'll post some pics when I figure that part out.

Basically the discussion here is what people use for pier material when concrete is not viable.

#2 D_talley

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 03:10 PM

I built my pier out of 4 6x6 posts that I put in my back yard. You can use one 6x6 and cut it into 4 pieces to fit your deck. Here is a link to my post about it.

Wood Pier


How do you plan on mounting it on your deck?

#3 michael hester

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 03:18 PM

The pier will be bolted to the floor of one of those resin outdoor boxes. I can't really bolt it directly to the apartment deck. The floor of the box is fairly stable though. My plywood prototype has very little vibration in it.

Your wood pier is very elegant. How has it stood up so far?

#4 D_talley

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 03:34 PM

It has not been in place that long. I hope that it lasts for several years without too much trouble.

You don't need to build one as big as the one I built and you could use smaller posts, say 4x4 or so.

#5 michael hester

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 03:42 PM

I hope it lasts too, its a nice concept. I'm seeing that I need to get a drill press and a steel plate for the top plate on my pier.

#6 Gastrol

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 04:35 PM

I take it the set up is strictly for visual use?

#7 Aquarist

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 04:47 PM

I take it the set up is strictly for visual use?


If not, there will likely be issues with AP.

#8 roscoe

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 05:59 PM

You could build a box from two pieces of 2x10 and 2 of 2x12, glued together with construction adhesive and screwed with long drywall screws, that would be quite sturdy. You could also fasten pieces of 2x12 to the top and bottom, also glued and screwed. and you could extend the bottom piece out the sides, and if you could get away with it, screw it to the deck with 4 or 6 drywall screws. The holes they leave are pretty small.....or if you bolt it into your resin box, you could fill the box with sand or stones or even concrete.
Russ

#9 BKBrown

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 06:13 PM

Hi Mike,

If you need steel and some light machining work done I can give you a line on that. I got my steel plates from Potomac Steel in Springfield and they referred me to a one-man shop in Lorton where all the drilling and edge dressing for both of my rather hefty plates was done for about $80...a good deal cheaper than buying a drill press you might not use again. If interested, you can PM me and I can fill you in on the details (always glad to help out a fellow NOVAC member). Since you are an AP guy, I am concerned about vibration in your set up. Nothing you build that can go on an apartment balcony will come close to the stability you have with the CGEM DX out-of-the-box set up on the ground...

Clear Skies,
Brian

#10 Mary B

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 07:04 PM

Plywood will hold up for several years if properly painted and kept painted. Have to paint once a year. Use a good sealer first and then an outdoor heavy duty paint.

#11 Raginar

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 12:27 PM

Wood works just fine for a pier. If it flexes over time, just adjust the top plate so it's level again. I like D-tally's pier; mine is a 6x6 and works just fine.

I think your plywood mount will work just fine if you take care of it.

#12 michael hester

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 12:12 PM

I've completed my current plan for the mount. It has a treated plywood plate but is otherwise all steel.

It is actually an Astrophotography pier. The steel version is the most stable one yet. It operates more like a tripod than a pier but is also bolted to the floor of the plastic shed. The prototype held well during polar alignment with no discernable vibration so I don't see any problem with this in the future. I will eventually upgrade the base plate to a steel plate for better lasting.

#13 opticsguy

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 03:36 PM

You can salvage your plywood pier easily.
Lightly sand and then two coats of OIL primer paint.
Then use a good quality exterior LATEX based paint.
Should last you for years.

Some primers work best if you overcoat within 2 hours, other primers allow a longer period of time. Read the label!!

#14 MDavid

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 04:51 PM

You can salvage your plywood pier easily.
Lightly sand and then two coats of OIL primer paint.
Then use a good quality exterior LATEX based paint.
Should last you for years.

Some primers work best if you overcoat within 2 hours, other primers allow a longer period of time. Read the label!!



Can an oil based primers be used under a latex exterior paint?

#15 stmguy

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 05:41 AM

yes , no problem with that
Norm






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