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#26 stmguy

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 11:52 AM

The workshop sounds like a good idea for the reasons you list(I was going to go that route but decided against it , extra cost and difficulty ) , have you thought about how to get the snow off if on top of the workshop ?

I have a metal roof on my OBS and I still end up helping the snow off around the shutter
Norm

#27 Midnight Dan

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 03:08 PM

In that interior view of the attic, how far is it horizontally from the roof peak to the side wall on the left? It looks like that wall is load bearing and goes down to the ground (based on the outside picture), and could be used for supporting one side of the dome support structure above the roof. The other side, on the opposite side of the peak, would need a couple of posts to serve the same purpose.

I'm not sure why people think this would cost so much. If you're just talking about adding the dome and dome support structure, it looks pretty straightforward and inexpensive. The concrete pier would take some work, but you could do a lot of that yourself if you use cinder blocks for the lower part.

As for renovating the rest of the building, well that could add up, depending on how far you want to go with it. But I look at that as somewhat optional and something you could do as time and money allows. I think the reasons you mention, height, power, space, are all strong advantages to using this building. If I had a setup like that I'd definitely be using it, as opposed to starting from scratch with a stand-alone ROR. Just my 2 cents.

-Dan

#28 corpusse

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 09:51 PM

So it was a bit of a wasted weekend. Cloudy skies didn't even attempt to get the mount out 100% clouds. Still a bit of novelty that you can't see ANYTHING when it's cloudy. The workshop itself is hard to make out from the house. Where the trees end and where the sky begins no one knows...

The contractor was busy all weekend. The fact that this guy doesn't use a computer is getting annoying, with that in mind I emailed another contractor to see if he can give me an estimate. In the mean time I cleaned out the upstairs good.

The floor although a little gross is very stable. I jumped up and down all over and there was not much vibration. There was however tons of weird junk. Cross country skies with hornets nests growing out of them. Broken TV, broken electric fireplace, broken glass, lots of glass panes. weird old things, carpet ect. All cleared out except the fireplace. The stairs are very narrow and I was too scared to carry it down.

The no email contractor apparently will be coming by easter weekend which is when I make my next trip there. He has done a lot of work on the house and generally seems like a good guy, just hard to get a hold of. Here are some more pics of the building. The building is like 18x24 maybe bigger so if the bottom of the pier is a massive 6x6 block of chimney blocks or cinder blocks who cares. Given that these blocks are not super expensive and digging will be hard / impossible this seems the best way to go. I can break up the floor where the pier will go and then put foam around to isolate it. There is minimal insulation on the ground level but this can all be improved before next winter to prevent it from dropping below freezing. Heat can even be added. I believe they were using that electric fireplace to provide heat upstairs as there is an endless amount of firewood and an open firepit on the property.

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You can see some exposed areas in this picture I can seal these with foam. There are no leaks in the roof but there are plenty of gaps where hornets and other creatures got it. I must have vacuumed 25 nets. No bugs were seen. It looks like the previous owner sprayed them but didn't remove them. I did find a can of wasp spray.

a couple of interesting finds

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Yeah the building is a little gritty and it needs a lot of work, but it does not need a lot of work to be an operational or at least semi operational observatory. Just the roof and maybe the stairs need to be changed.

I can vacuum upstairs again already got most of the crud, then pain the floor then stick a new carpet over it. Downstairs can be worked on ongoing for as long as it takes to make it nice. If I were to build a new building it would all have to be done at once. If I were ground level it would always be obstructed. If this ends up costing a lot then maybe the inside isn't nice for a while, but the scope will be up.

Finally I'm 99% sure I will be naming the observatory "Screaming Tree Observatory". For the Trees, the dead erie silence, and one of my favorite bands The Screaming Trees.

#29 corpusse

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Posted 11 March 2013 - 11:04 PM

So I got an estimate from a contractor. 3k for the roof modifications and structure add on. This was not the guy I was originally planning on using but he is impossible to get a hold of (no email ect) and since I don't live there it's even harder. This other guy has already emailed me twice shown interest and mentioned he at one time had a 10" scope and seems confident. Does this estimate sound fair?

I don't know if I should wait until I can get a hold of the other guy, or if they would consider it an insult there to get several estimates. Here that's normally what we would do, but there its just the 2 of them maybe one more general contractor and that's it.

#30 Midnight Dan

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Posted 12 March 2013 - 06:29 AM

I don't think it matters where you are. Getting more than one estimate is just good practice.

But I don't think the $3k is out of line, depending on what is included in that, how big the structure will be, etc. Will there be stairs, or a ladder, or something going up to it from the 2nd floor? Does his estimate include structural support for the extra weight on the roof?

-Dan

#31 corpusse

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 09:08 AM

I met with the contractor over the weekend and we went through the building he took measurements and still stands by a 3k estimate and 400-600 for new safer stairs (the ones now are a true death trap). He is checking the prices of everything and will be getting back to me with a more complete estimate soon. The one thing he was concerned about was how the dome sits. He said if he has to cut something circular that would cost extra but I believe a hexagon will be fine. Looking at the exploradome website They have this for their 10x10 structure :

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I'm going to send him that pic and hopefully things will be fine from there. He wants the dome to be there first which is not a problem as I have ordered it. Unfortunately I didn't realize I would need a controller as well in addition to the motor to get it to rotate at the correct speed so I will forgo automation for now. I am having them put the track in so that it will be easy to automate later. Just protecting myself from potential overhead costs as they will no doubt soar. This is a long term project but with a goal of having the dome usable asap.

He warned me there are bats in the area so I started sealing all the small holes with foam. As mentioned previously there was a past bee / hornet problem but the nests were sprayed however not removed so I have been removing them with a shop vac.

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After explaining my pier options he heavily suggested I should go the sonotube route instead of the chimney block route. Apparently you can get a truck out to this remote location so having them pour it down would be possible, or even mixing myself for an all day hell job. Given the pier's height what size diameter will I need? If it's very large the floor may have to be resupported but I have about 14" to work with if I only cut 1 floor board. He suggested a 10" diameter but I'm not sure that is wide enough. I would have to measure my pier here which is around 10" but is only 40" or so high.

The other concern I have is digging to the frost line. The ground may be very rocky. I will be digging to the side of the building as a test but if it is impossible to auger how bad will the pier be if it sits above the frost line? Could I use a large base at the bottom to support it? If I have to make minor adjustments each spring winter that is no problem. If its unusable that's a real problem. This is still a ways in the future but what kind of top should I put on the pier. At home I just have a plate stuck into the concrete. I would like to maintain maximum flexibility.

Originally I plan on using a CGEM. However that will certainly not be the final mount. I have a CGE I could move there however I'd probably like to keep that here since it works well here and is probably the smallest mount I could one day use a 14" on (have 11" now which cgem can handle for planetary). The reason I moved the cgem there for now is because I don't have a tripod for the cge.. Since I plan on using this building for many decades to come I figure somewhere along the line I will scrape together enough for a higher end mount..

Anyway getting back to the building ground should break soon. The pier can be figured out after the dome. I am leaning towards having the pier at the front of the building. I like the idea of the dome at the front. When the building is painted it would look cool and the future warm room could be towards the back where there is a window.

Hopefully more updates soon.

#32 stmguy

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 11:37 AM

I'd go as with a 14" sonotube if you go that route. I have a 12" sonotube and it didn't give me as much space from the edges as I would have liked for the anchor bolts that bolt to a pipe flange for 6" well casing for the top part of my pier
Norm

#33 Mike E.

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 02:18 PM

Have a look at this design, for an idea of possible modifications to your workshop.

www.desdelpatio.org

#34 Midnight Dan

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 05:25 PM

Having a 10" diameter pier that tall would be more too much like a tuning fork. I think vibrations would be a problem.

Keep in mind that contractors are concerned with strength, not vibrations. Concrete is incredibly strong in compression and a tall, 10" pier will support more weight than you can imagine. But if you whack it, it will likely reverberate for a while.

That's why the cinder block base makes more sense. It's a lot larger and provides the mass you'll need. Another option is to go with a larger sonotube, like the 14" (or more) that smtguy suggests, up to the floor of the observatory. Then go with 10" from there up to the scope, or you could use a steel pier at that point. You want the part of the pier that is just below the mount to be relatively small to minimize the chances of a pier strike when the scope is moving.

-Dan

#35 corpusse

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Posted 04 April 2013 - 09:45 AM

Having a 10" diameter pier that tall would be more too much like a tuning fork. I think vibrations would be a problem.

Keep in mind that contractors are concerned with strength, not vibrations. Concrete is incredibly strong in compression and a tall, 10" pier will support more weight than you can imagine. But if you whack it, it will likely reverberate for a while.

That's why the cinder block base makes more sense. It's a lot larger and provides the mass you'll need. Another option is to go with a larger sonotube, like the 14" (or more) that smtguy suggests, up to the floor of the observatory. Then go with 10" from there up to the scope, or you could use a steel pier at that point. You want the part of the pier that is just below the mount to be relatively small to minimize the chances of a pier strike when the scope is moving.

-Dan


Dan you make some very good points, I could make it 14,16 or 18" or even bigger up to the second floor and then 10" from there. I believe I the floor boards are 14" and he recommended only cutting one if possible. More can be cut, but it's possible the floor would need to be reinforced.

He seemed to think the cinder blocks would be a lot harder to work with, but that is probably okay for me. I plan on doing the pier myself, if I need help I will get him to assist me, or better yet bring a friend up for a few days for what they think will be a relaxing time with a waterfront view when in reality it will be a labor camp :)

My exploradome should be shipping anytime. It won't be long before things are in motion.

#36 jrcrilly

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Posted 04 April 2013 - 09:54 AM

He seemed to think the cinder blocks would be a lot harder to work with, but that is probably okay for me. I plan on doing the pier myself,


I believe that you will find the chimney block approach to be much easier, It definitely will require less concrete mixing! I was amazed at how quickly mine went up. There are complications involved in filling a Sonotube that large and long, Ensuring that the mix is consistent throughout the length of the tube, gaps in the concrete, and failure of the form when filled vertically are concerns. I've seen at least one horror story. Shorter Sonotube piers are easy and inexpensive but they just don't seem to scale up very well.

#37 stmguy

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Posted 04 April 2013 - 11:27 AM

If you are doing this yourself I would recommend the chimney block or alternating concrete bock over the sonotube for the reasons mentioned above. I'd personally top it off with a steel pier through the floor so you won't have to cut your joists
Norm

#38 corpusse

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 07:15 PM

I believe you guys are right. The building itself is on a concrete slab. Again I do NOT want to dig deep down. In fact I would love to not dig at all. What if any complications will I face if I simply do a large base to support the pier so it's secure and then cut the floor and stick 1" foam around it to block vibrations.

It may be better to dig down a bit as far as I can go without using an auger and concrete that if you think security will be an issue, but I believe the ground to be very rocky there. I will try digging outside later just to see how hard it is.

If I have to do minor polar alignment adjustments throughout the seasons that's fine. If it's unsafe or unusable that's not. This is one thing the contractor can't really help with since he doesn't see it from an imaging perspective.

The good news is he is going to start rebuilding the stairs as early as this week. Hopefully I will get a delivery date for the dome soon and he can already be working on that so he won't have to go out of his way to receive the dome for me.

#39 Midnight Dan

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 09:18 PM

Hard to say if putting a large concrete mass on top of the existing slab would present any problems or not. It depends on how the slab is made, and what the ground underneath it is like. If everything is stable, the ground well drained, and the slab reinforced with rebar or steel mesh, you will be ok. But unfortunately there's no way to tell.

If the ground is not solid enough, and/or the slab not reinforced, the slab could end up cracking and the pier tilting if the added weight causes the ground to subside and shift. This would be most likely to occur in spring when the ground thaws and becomes mushy. If you have a hole in the second story floor, a tilting pier could end up leaning against the side of the hole and put added stress on the building structure. This, of course is a worst case scenario.

Since the building has been there a while, if the floor is still flat and level (some minor cracks are ok), you're probably ok. But there's no guarantees. That pier will be putting a LOT of extra weight on the floor. The only way to be absolutely sure you won't have problems is to jackhammer through the slab, and dig a suitable foundation under the pier. You're the only one who can decide how big a risk you think it is to pour on the existing slab.

-Dan

#40 corpusse

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 09:28 AM

Dan you're making me want to dig.. There is some cracking in the floor but it's not too major. I will check if its level next time I'm there.

Let's say I can't get to the frost line due to rocks. Do you think it would be better to just pour from as deep as I can get, or make a flat solid reinforced base allow it to cure then start the pier?

You've really been a great help. I am grateful for your help. This is a massive project for me to under take.

#41 Midnight Dan

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 12:56 PM

Look to see if the cracks have separated much or if the level of the floor is different on either size of the crack. A reinforced slab will stick crack, but the cracks will be thin because the reinforcing mesh will not allow them to separate, and will keep the two sides at the same level.

As for digging, if the first floor room will be kept heated to above freezing, you shouldn't have to go below the frost line. You'd still want a decent size base to start with. For a pier that tall, I'd try to go a good 2 feet down, with a base about 3' by 3'. If you're going to let the base cure first, then embed some rebar in it sticking up where the pier will be. That will tie the pier pour to the base.

If the first floor room will not be heated, then you're back to evaluating the ground conditions. The problem with freezing ground is that the ice expands with enormous force and can move buildings, foundations ... and of course piers. The lay of the land is important. For example, if the building is on high ground, and the ground consistency is somewhat porous, then you have good drainage and there may not be enough moisture build up in the soil to be much of a problem. In that case, going down a couple of feet *might* be ok.

On the other hand, if its a low lying area and the ground gets pretty soppy in the spring, it could indicate that there's a higher danger of frost heaves, in which case the base should go below the frost line.

I'm going into all these details just to give you an idea of some of the factors at play here. Fact is, like I said before, there's a good chance that you could just pour on top of the existing floor and be fine. But it is a risk and there are a lot of variables that go into the decision. The only way to make a better decision would be to get a structural engineer out there to look at the building, it's foundation, the floor slab, and the soil & drainage conditions ... and even then he'll be making an educated estimate of the situation.

So what it boils down to is ... how much effort do you want to put into this, vs. just taking the risk and pouring on the slab? As Clint Eastwood said ... do ya feel lucky? ;)

-Dan

#42 Mary B

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 03:20 PM

Putting that much weight on a poured slab will result in cracking and sinking of the slab in that spot. You need a proper footing under the pier to support the weight.

#43 tim53

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 04:09 PM

How about a steel pipe for a pier?

-tim

#44 corpusse

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 09:38 AM

So the next time I go up I will test dig outside the building. If I can get deep relatively easy I will try and go for the frost line. If I hit large rocks then I will dig a wider less deep area. Maybe something like a 4 feet by 4 feet block can be the bottom as deep as I can go.

If I'm no where near the frost line, I will have to invest in some sort of heater to keep the ground level above freezing.

I think a steel pipe for the top of the pier will be great but it's way too tall to just make it out of steel.

I gotta find out if there is anywhere I can rent auger's and jackhammers anywhere near by. There is a home depot that is about an hour and a half away.

#45 corpusse

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 08:00 AM

So my dome will apparently FINALLY be delivered today. I could not be more upset how this went. I originally told exploradome way in advance I'd need the dome shipped for delivery within a 2 week window as no one lives at the house. They said it was fine I even offered to pay right away to ensure it would be delivered then but they insisted it would be no problem. I had just assumed it was on route and when I finally got a hold of them the last day of the 2 week window they informed me they "lost track of time" and didn't ship it out.

I know the product itself gets great reviews but the service is just terrible. Shipping was also 100$ more then quoted with no notification and when I emailed about this no reply. It is what it is, but they could have at least mentioned this to me.

Anyway the dome sat in a warehouse in the nearby city for a couple of days, they left a message on the house phone which of course no one got. They now inform me that I need to supply a forklift to get it off. You would think for $1250 they could get it off the truck but no deal. I asked if they could decrate it and blanket wrap it, they said no. Apparently it just barely fits on a 5 ton so it won't be possible to go in the truck and cut it out of the crate. Granted this is a unique situation with no one living at the house full time but they were informed of this long before I actually placed an order.

With this in mind my contractor has more wood being delivered today so we are trying to time it so that it can be delivered this afternoon at the same time and the lumber company will have a forklift. Something could still go wrong then who knows what. The good thing is these small town companies are not as anal about time constraints and whatnot. Here I would have already been hit with a storage fee, there the warehouse manager was fine with holding it until whenever at no charge. The thing is it's already way behind schedule after I informed the contractor it would be coming within that 2 week window and he has other jobs coming up so this has to get done asap. I'm sure all these delays and hassles will be reflected in my bill.

The new stairs are finished and they look great in the pics. My Dad who is the only one whos seen them says they were build well. I have no doubt in this guys skills as there are less then a handful of contractors on the island so anyone there who's been around a few years must be doing a good job.

All these problems have me somewhat regretting this build. Once it's done or at least the dome is there I will be happy but I could have got a new scope / mono camera and started narrowband imaging imaging from my observatory here in the white zone and had 1000s to spare.

I will be back on the island in 2 weeks to check out the dome and construction. Hopefully I will be able to start the pier too. I am thinking I will cut a 40x40 hole in the floor. I will go as deep as I can go and then on my next trip up I will pour the concrete, attach the rebar and order the chimney or cinder blocks depending on what's available.

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#46 Midnight Dan

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 09:28 AM

Stairs look great! Pain in the neck about the dome!

There will likely be more obstacles before you're done. But memories fade, and in a few years when this is all behind you, you'll be REALLY happy you did it!

-Dan

#47 stmguy

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 12:11 PM

For the concrete blocks I'd highly recommend using surface bonding cement.It will bond those blocks together far better than mortar.

http://www.quikrete....WithQuikwall...

or
http://www.sakrete.c...-Bonding-Cement


Norm

#48 Starhawk

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 02:18 PM

Here's a quick concern- is your dome going to be walled off from the rest of the building? You don't want the whole structure to chimney though your dome at night.

I think you'll be very happy when the build is complete.

-Rich

#49 corpusse

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 09:28 AM

Success! I am actually surprised I was able to get a forklift to the house. Thankfully there is the one lumbar yard on the island.

The dome is going in the middle of the roof a small square extension will be built as shown in the picture earlier. The contractor says everything will be done by the weekend. My Dad will be at the house then to check everything out. I'll be going up for a quick weekend trip may 11/12th for the new moon. Unfortunately I have other commitments or I'd go this week. The following week is a long weekend so I'll probably take an extra day and try and get some work done like the floor footing for the pier, order the blocks ect.

Not that it was a big surprise but when the old downstairs drywall was tore down there were a few mice inside. I know exactly how they are getting in so that will be sealed as well but it wouldn't be a surprise to still find them as I get them even in the house here from time to time.

I think realistically the building can probably be used by july or august with completion done in maybe 18 months or so. I'm going to paint the building that should be lots of fun...

#50 corpusse

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 09:24 AM

I will get some of the surface bonding cement for sure. I am hoping the concrete is not that hard to breakup. I'll cut the square with a skillsaw and then hopefully break it up with a sledge (not afraid of the hard labor just hope its possible). If not I'll need a large hammer drill I think its still going to be small enough of a job I won't need a jackhammer.

That will hopefully be done the next time I'm there. Then I can dig assuming that goes well and I pour the pad, how should I plan on attaching the blocks to the pad? Will I need to either drill them or use cinder blocks on the bottom and attach rebar to the pad when it's poured or should I simply attach the bottom of the pier to the pad with the cement? The pier on the bottom level will be extra wide to provide more stability then the top level will just be a steel pipe or something similar so the floor joists won't need to be cut.

Here are a couple of pics contractor sent me yesterday :

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