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Skyshed POD floor ideas

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#1 Midnight Dan

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 09:31 AM

I'm in the "thinking about it" stage of getting a Skyshed POD. At this point I'm looking at sites on my property, saving up for it, and planning construction details.

In reading about peoples' experiences with the Skyshed, it seem like there are issues with leakage around the base. Since I'm planning on building a deck platform for it (maybe 2' high), which will be over ground that is frequently damp/wet, I'm also concerned about excessive humidity rising off the ground and migrating through the spaces in the deck planking into the POD.

To try to reduce these problems, I was thinking about the following as a possible design. Basically, the idea is to us a layer of plywood as a base on top of the deck planks. I would put a plastic sheet over that, which would extend out onto the deck planks around the edge, and then be covered by some vinyl cove moulding like this stuff: http://tinyurl.com/cqkhe9r I'm thinking the plastic would be a humidity barrier, and raising the whole thing by the plywood thickness would keep water from migrating under the bottom of the POD wall because it would have to go uphill to get in.

For people with experience with the POD, what are your thoughts about this design? Are there things I'm not considering that could cause problems? Thanks!

-Dan

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#2 Thomas Karpf

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 09:54 AM

Although I do not have an observatory (let alone a SkyShed specifically), I think you might want to perforate the floor in a number of spots to let water within the observatory to drain on those occasions when driven rain (or heavy condensation) end up inside.

There is, of course, no way to guarantee that humid air does not end up inside.

#3 John P

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 10:11 AM

Good thinking but you will find the vinyl base (cove base) tough to bend to the tight radius of the dome walls. Also you might consider not using plywood but incorporate insect screen somehow to allow for improved air circulation.

#4 SkyShed

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 05:23 PM

Thanks Dan,

As John P wrote, leave out the plywood.

Use Lexel sealant around the outside and inside at the wall base.

Staple down 8 X 8' of window screening ($20) under your decking, on top of your decking supports, so that air can circulate but bugs can't get in.

Use rubber tiling (very popular) so you can take a tile up in the summer to circulate air when it's real hot outside.

CS!
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#5 Starman27

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 05:48 PM

My POD is on a deck. I used pet proof screening under the deck to prevent insects. and use rubber floor tiles cut to shape. I was one of the first or second shipments, so I have had my POD a long time. I see some evidence of water, but no serious problems. Water coming under a POD on a deck would need to be driven over all of the spaces in the deck surface. If you are on concrete or a surface where water can puddle you may have a problem. Also if you have the POD bays (I have three) the floors prevent any water from getting in, so the only exposure would be the wall panels that are not part of the bay wall extensions.

#6 mistyridge

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 07:45 PM

My POD is set on a raised concrete pad. We recently had a series of strong Pacfic storms with winds in exceeding 50mph and rain events of 5 inches an hour. My POD came through with just a small amount of seepage around the base even though I only caulked part of it. It will dry as soon as dry weather returns.

#7 Midnight Dan

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 09:14 PM

Thanks for all the feedback! So it sounds like air circulation is more important that sealing the base, in terms of keeping humidity down? I suppose I can put a sheet of plastic on the ground itself and cover it with a layer of gravel to reduce humidity rising out of the damp ground.

One question - several people suggested bug screen *underneath* the floor decking to keep critters out. Since the decking usually has gaps between the boards for expansion and drainage, it would seem like bugs would just scoot down into those gaps, under the walls, and back up into the POD. Do you seal those gaps between the boards around the edge of the POD? Or would it be better to put bug screening on *top* of the boards, under the rubber tiles?

-Dan

#8 SkyShed

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 10:16 PM

BTW If you're nailing down your decking, screw at least one board which will run from your pier to a Bay or the wall, so that you can run wiring and swap it out when you need to.

If you don't go as far as running conduit, find foam pipe insulators. They're 3' long or 4', and cost less than a dollar each at the hardware store.

They're split down the center so that you can wrap them around household water pipes. They close naturally around the pipe when in place.

Run your wiring under the deck in one or two of these insulating foam "pipes".

Mice and other small animals don't seem to like the foam much and will nibble but not usually eat through the foam. This protects the wires running under the deck and allows to you swap them out quickly if needed.

CS!
Wayne
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#9 Midnight Dan

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 09:13 AM

Hi Wayne:

Great idea about leaving one board screwed in so it can be removed for access! I hadn't thought of that!

-Dan

#10 Midnight Dan

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 09:43 AM

My POD is set on a raised concrete pad. We recently had a series of strong Pacfic storms with winds in exceeding 50mph and rain events of 5 inches an hour. My POD came through with just a small amount of seepage around the base even though I only caulked part of it. It will dry as soon as dry weather returns.


Hi Mike:

Since yours is on raised concrete, it seems similar to my proposed design. The plywood in mine raises the floor, and the plastic seals it like the concrete does for you.

Since you obviously don't have any air circulation through the floor, do you have any problems with humidity?

-Dan

#11 Magellan

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 01:03 PM

Mine is sitting on grass on top of a Home Depot $6 blue Tarp thats water resistant. I am currently testing it and last night it was dry, but COLD, because of the ground temps and being winter. I also have two pieces of outdoor rubber mats that I will be setting in there so cold or heat doesn't radiate through footwear.

I just got my 2nd hand pod last weekend and I haven't even put my scope in it yet. making sure it doesn't leak first.

#12 Agatha

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 05:03 PM

Dan,

This thread is of interest to me because I am also planning on a POD in the next year or so. I've been thinking concrete pad because I don't plan on a pier. Instead, various tripods. Anyway, I am grateful to follow this topic of yours. Thanks, and I'm excited for you in your plans.

Best, Linda B.

#13 Midnight Dan

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 08:02 PM

Hi Linda:

I was also considering a concrete pad for the same reason - more flexibility in using various tripods, and the ability to move the tripod for a better view of the zenith.

But one problem I have is that the spot I want to put it in is a bit lower than other areas on my property and there is frequently a mist that settles there in the evening near the ground. So I decided to build a deck a 2-3 feet off the ground and use a pier in the center of the POD. That would help keep things above the mists (most of the time anyway) and humidity.

Another advantage to a permanent pier is that if you have a GEM and want precise polar alignment, if you do it once, you're set and don't have to do it each time you go out. One of the big advantages of an observatory is very little setup time a permanently aligned mount on a pier is a big help in that regard.

-Dan

#14 ahopp

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 08:38 AM

If you are going to use tripods on slab, consider the following:

Create isolated round pads within the slab that the tripod feet can rest on, This will prevent walking and movement from affecting your stability. Make the pads are at least 12" diameter to accommodate different tripod sizes, I would do 18".

Tony

#15 Magellan

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 09:26 AM

You should be able to keep alignment with a tripod too, right?

#16 Bob Griffiths

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 10:22 AM

Oh boy... Yes you can keep alignment with a tripod..

BUT baby Pods are small (and so is the inside of my 8' foot Exoploradome .. .a tripod takes up a heck of a lot of space (foot room room) ..

I'd put it on a slab..BUT I elevated my ED 8 foot off the ground (to be able to see Polaris over the trees to my North) ..just build a free standing 10x10 deck with solid flooring but used 2x12 joists placed 12 inches on center...

Bob G.

#17 Midnight Dan

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 10:55 AM

You can keep alignment with a tripod ... as long as you don't bump it. For a long term setup, you will certainly have to realign it from time to time, and you'll have to check it's alignment frequently.

-Dan

#18 mclewis1

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 12:57 PM

Another option for non permanent setups is a portable pier. Basically a steel column with 3 legs at the bottom. If sized correctly these can be very stable and offer more space to move around within the observatory.

#19 mistyridge

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 01:21 PM

Humidity has not been a problem as air circulates under the dome flange and the concrete drys out in a day or two.

#20 Bob Griffiths

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 04:41 PM

Another option for non permanent setups is a portable pier. Basically a steel column with 3 legs at the bottom. If sized correctly these can be very stable and offer more space to move around within the observatory.


YOU bet...especially if the observatories floor is 2 o 3 foot off the ground...on a deck.. The portable pier sits on a small concrete pad on the ground..and comes up thru the floor completely isolated...and NO LEGS inside an observatory or above the deck ...

I used an Antares 4 inch Portable (I think 60 inches tall) with my 8i on my low level deck off my rear patio (deck was in 2 sections one 9 inches off the ground the upper level was 18 inches off the ground.. worked great for visual and I could do jumping jacks on the deck and the scope never felt a thing..

Bob G./

#21 awaitsclearskies

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 12:47 PM

Hi Dan, I have had a Pod since March this year. I used interlocking foam tiles from Home Depot, they were placed directly on my deck. You can't have to much protection when it comes to expensive optics. A Pod is a tight environment and having a tendency towards mishaps, it has proven it's utility to me. The floor proper has never been wet, some dampness can be detected in the gaps at the wall base but nothing of significance I figure some gaps would help it breathe in the summer. I would recommend a fitted cover, I have the insulated model and while it works great the Mylar on the inside can tear quite easily. But it eliminates water infiltration completely so perhaps the cheaper one might be better especially if used often.

#22 Startraffic

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 01:59 PM

I have an XL3 on the ground. I leveled the ground before putting a vegetation barrier down & a fitting a 1/2" thick foam interlocking pads for cold, Dropped stuff protection, & to keep anything dropped from disappearing into the ground in the dark. I had a Losmandy G11 on a HD tripod sitting on a set of anti-vibration pads on top of the foam pads. The tripod does take up a lot of floor space, but since the G11 is so heavy & the pads acquried an imprint, even when bumped, the tripod itself didn't move. I've lost more gearboxes by catching them with my elbow as I walked around the mount & always the RA. I've since retired the G11, for a HGM-200 (the Losmandy Titan's older brother) on a tripod. Surprisingly the feet don't take up any additional space, but they are still "in the way". I haven't had any problem at all with the HGM moving, but it weighs 85# plus optics. You bump it, you know it, & it doesn't give. I'm spending this winter finding the optimum spot inside the POD for a pier offset. This upcoming spring I'll be pouring a base for the Pier & footers for an 18" raised deck.
If you're set on a using a a tripod on a slab, then putting a set anti-vibe pads down is a very good idea. I would recommend using a floor pads as well. EP's don't like being bounced off concrete, they get grumpy. Also the the pads will soften the concrete on your feet and back. Definitely worth the $15-20 investment. Cut them to fit inside the dome with a utility knife. Setup your tripod & do your polar alignment, then mark where the pads belong so if they get knocked out of place, it's easy to put them back. HTH

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#23 Magellan

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 12:20 PM

Yup, I agree, I use a CGEM and 45lbs on it with a custom side by side plate here is a few pictures and some lessons learned:

Here is my Flooring and the way its mounted to the ground:

Posted Image
20121202_131554 by AstroJeff, on Flickr

As you can see it's on Grass with a tarp for flooring and outdoor rubber backed carpets, one for scope and one for feet and chair.

Here are a few things I have learned:

1.) Grass and Tarp, not good
2.) Rain, hill, grass, tarp, really not good. 300mm of rain in the last two week has washed some of the ground beneath the tarp away.
3.) It being not perfectly level, causes gaps in the wall and water runoff the dome sits where domes separate, causes some leaking.

With saying all of this I must admit it keeps alignment and hibernated for 2 weeks through the odd weather. I only had to turn the scope on, start guiding and take shots!

Here is a picture with my scope:
Posted Image
Tracking the Horsehead by AstroJeff, on Flickr

I plan on doing a deck construction with a 12" pier and 8" Dan's pier plate. I will be using a BigFoot footing buried 4' under and maybe 3' above ground. I will be using interlocking foam tiles like the ones you use for kids, which are gray on the bottom side :).


Thanks for reading my blurb,

#24 1965healy

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 11:08 PM

The grey foam tiles work well. Keep the floor warm and help cushion anything that falls. A little hard to roll a chair on if youre sitting on it but easy if you stand up to move it. I got mine from Harbor Freight, check their site, they usually have better prices than the Big Box stores.






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