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Did you build what you originally wanted...

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#1 stkoepke



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Posted 19 January 2013 - 03:57 AM

...or did you end up building something else? Either just for the time being or permanently.

Did you:
want a larger obs and end up building a smaller one,
wanted a dome but settled for a roll-off,
wanted a warm room but decided to just go with the scope room for now.

I would have built a couple of years ago but we all know that priorities sometimes change, either by will or by force or a combination of both. No regrets mind you, some things just had to be done and now I’m getting really close to beginning the journey.

As it draws nearer to the time to break ground for the build I am considering alternatives to the original plans. I am still going to build an observatory this year but it may start off quite different than what I originally planned on.

I have the entire $ amount for the build sitting in the bank now and can more or less start almost anytime I wish.

Only 2 more things to deal with...

1. There is an old metal shed in the exact spot that the obs is going to be – simple enough, just build another shed where we want it and transfer the contents to the new shed. Tear down the old shed and build.


2. Considering hindsight…..The past 3 years came at a large cost, we really were not prepared for it very well. The consideration here is to lean toward the side of caution. Build something for now and either modify it into what I really wanted later or tear it down and build what I really wanted later.

I do have several other options available. In fact I could build an obs for almost “free”. That is, I already have about 95% or more of everything that I need to modify/rebuild the “old” shed into a roll-off or split roll-off. This has become a very serious thought. I would have an obs and keep the money in the bank just in case something else happens that we were not planning on….

It may not be what I was wanting but I would finally have a fully functioning obs complete with warm room. Like I said, I can always rebuild later.

#2 rimcrazy


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Posted 19 January 2013 - 07:38 AM

I started with the intent of building a ROR observatory. Once the shell, sans the roof was up, an opportunity came up that essentially dictated I switch to a dome. The only thing that was expensive "extra" besides the obvious cost of a dome, was that my pier foundation now needs to be upgraded. When I put in the original pier I put in a block 3x3x3 in the ground with a 24" x 28" high round sonotube of concrete to the floor. That is fine for a 4' pier with a large (up to 20") telescope. Adding a dome now means that I need to lift the telescope 10' from the ground, 8' from the floor. The telescope I put in will be a 20" with a total combined weight of around 450lbs. That much weight on a 10' beam essentially to the ground will deflect fairly bad given my concrete block is not on bedrock. To fix this I am having my contractor dig a 1' hole around the existing 3x3x3 block and add concrete rebar'ed into the old block. This now essentially doubles the weight and makes the base 5x5x3. He is going to smooth top the base and my son, a mechanical engineer with his own fabrication shop, is making a 10' strutted pier with a 48" base which will bolt to the concrete base. This keeps the heat mass under the ground which I can insulate to the floor and provides a very wide base to give the proper support for a telescope lifted 10' into the air.

Bottom line on this lesson for me was plan for a bigger pier. Had I done so this would have gone a bit easier. I'm not sorry as the opportunity is great and it should be an outstanding observatory when all is done.

#3 MHamburg



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Posted 19 January 2013 - 09:51 AM

Even though global warming is changing the planet's climate, winters in New England don't want to go away. Therefore,I have finally realized that a warm-room is no longer a luxury but necessary for winter use of the observatory. Construction begins as soon as the ground thaws.
Michael :coldday:

#4 1965healy


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Posted 19 January 2013 - 11:34 AM

In my case it was a combination of factors.

Setting up, tearing down and travel were making this a chore rather than a joy.
At my age, 55+ at the time of the build, this was not a DIY project.
Also this is it for me as far as buying another house.
Figure out what you've got and work with that, be realistic but imaginative.
Work within your budget. I refused to go into debt for this. Save and then buy, NO credit cards, period!
Be patient. Don't be impulsive. A lesson brought home as I cleared the space for the build. Lots of stuff I wanted but never used had to be moved. Clean up the clutter.
Plan, plan, plan and then plan some more. I went thru CN, tons of sites on the web and every resource I could find. I drew sketches, built little models and taped off my patio into a floor plan.
Be willing to compromise. Don't pass up what you can have because it's not exactly what you want.

I ended up with a great Obs 15 feet from my house. It's small but very comfortable for me plus a friend. It realistically meets my needs now and in the future. I won't be getting any younger or richer so looking forward I'm happy with my choice.

#5 Bob Griffiths

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 11:36 AM

LOL...The only regrets I have is the lack of more then one pier.. Size is fine...I

I find that heated motorcycle clothing works just as well as a warm room..

Original plan was for an inexpensive roll off like the one I had 30 years ago in my second home ..BUT the price and easy of construction I went with a dome this time...I like the dome better in the winter anyhow

Bob G.

#6 mikey cee

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 12:57 PM

I pretty much am satisfied except when the breeze blows. Also I never went into debt. Always pay cash for hobby related stuff. If you have to borrow you can't afford it. Also if you build it yourself you can easily cut the costs in half. I can't stress this point enough. Always err on the side of too big. Because saving a buck on a new build is a one time event. The misery and headaches of not enough room will last a lifetime. ;) Mike

#7 Greyhaven



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Posted 19 January 2013 - 03:12 PM

I did a lot of planning before building my 8'X10' ROR.
I'm a lone or rarely +1 observer. No pier, my scopes are small and a pier would be overkill given my equipment.
I have a 12" dob but have plenty of sturdy deck to use that on. The size allows me plenty of storage computer space.If I decided I must have a warm room everything is in place to set up remote control of scope and camera from my study.
I would still have to manually roll the roof on and back and do a quick alignment. A quick question did cross my mind while thinking over your plan. My town allows a home owner to erect up to a 100sq ft building not meant to be used for habitation and meeting set back requirements without any permit the thing most people miss is you are limited to only 1 such building per property lot. I had an inspector stop while I was working on my observatory and said that I had to stop building because there was already one storage shed on property and pointed to a 8'X8 building
near by. I said fine are you or me going to tell my neighbor he has to take his shed down? He smiled asked a few questions about how the ROR would work and I lead him back around the garage the way he had come and he never saw the 8'X12' plastic shed that has been on the opposite side of the garage for 10 years.
Keep it safe, keep it secret.
Be Well

#8 stkoepke



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Posted 20 January 2013 - 05:44 AM

Thanks for the replies.

Rimcrazy, I saw the thread you have on your obs, I can just barely imagine a mount base as big as that, OMG I’m sure glad I wasn’t the one doing the digging… looking forward to seeing more. Have you finished your build?

Michael, I can certainly understand wanting a warm room, I have done without a warm room before and don’t want to do that again if I can prevent it. Although I am normally a visual observer, I do have several cameras to choose from and will be remote from the desk in the next room if it becomes too cold. Too cold for me is when my toes get cold… I’m ok right up until that point, but if my toes get cold it’s all over.

Karen I’m in total agreement with you in setting up and tearing down. Let alone the traveling to get to use the scopes. At 49 and holding I want a place I can go and start observing right away with everything set up and ready to use. I have a couple of mounts, although I will only have one pier in the obs. One mount will be on standby for when I’m “out in the field”. There are bortle 2 to 3 skies in almost every direction around me with less than a 45 minute drive to the closest one, and bortle 3 to 4 is just 25 minutes away. (Lots of hills around Abilene to block the lights.) I can always load up one of the campers and go if I want to but nothing beats opening a door, flipping a couple of switches and away we go in 2 to 5 minutes.

Bob, I certainly like the benefits if having a dome especially in the cold but more importantly in blocking the lights outside. I have a city park about a block away from me complete with a tennis center, several baseball diamonds, a swimming center, a senior center, picnic areas, a skateboard area, and between me and the rest of all those overhead lights…I have to deal with a football field and it’s lighting too. The city used to leave all those lights on till about 2 or so in the morning but when the economy went to ____ in a handbasket they started getting smarter about the cost of electricity, now the lights are off within 30 minutes or so of the game ending.

Mike, I believe there were a couple of ideas that I saw in pictures that you have posted that I want to incorporate in my obs. It may have been someone else’s obs so correct me if I’m wrong please, but do you have a “slanted corner desk” in the obs that you use for spreading out a map? If so, does it also have a magnifying glass/light mounted nearby on the desk too? I don’t know if I will make a corner desk but I do have a desk that I could use and it will also have one of these lamps but I will replace the included light fixture with red leds that have a dimmer control.

Grey, Abilene allows for sheds up to 199 sq ft. without a permit. That is unless you have electricity or any other utilities in them including a cable ran for internet. Then you need a permit. I can however do all the work myself if I follow the recommendations that the city makes. So far they have been very reasonable and cooperative. My obs will be either 160 or 180 sq. ft. 10x10 scope room and either an additional 6 or 8 feet x10 for the warm room.

I’m definitely against financing any part the obs. I have scrimped and saved here and there for a long time even buying small parts here and there with cash on the barrelhead every time, and then storing the prize carefully away, waiting for the build to start. The rest of the money needed to do the actual build has been in the bank for some time now.

I would have built about 3 years ago, however my wife had to have surgery, in fact 5 surgeries in 2 years. The observatory funds went to other more pressing matters immediately. Thank God for insurance or I don’t know what we would have done… She has only been back to work in the last couple of months time. As I said in my last post, "no regrets", and I would have sold off all the astro stuff in a heartbeat if that was needed…. We have rebuilt the funds back into that account after everything went back to normal. We also started a couple of other special accounts to do the things that we want to do too.

We currently have 2 sheds in the backyard, one is a 10x12 and the other is an 8x10. Both are the good ol’ metal garden sheds. The smaller one went from being a shed to being the obs and has now become a shed again but I store several scopes, ep’s and binocs for ease of use. (They are already at the right temp when I need them.) The rest of the stuff is taking up space in the den. The closet in there is STUFFED full of equip and scopes. I also have enough books to fill a couple of bookcases. And then comes the Décor…

We are in the process of remodeling the house and I need room in the house so....as part of the remodel, I get to have an obs.

I have enjoyed lurking in the obs section here on CN and aother sites that have an obs section or forum, including some of the yahoo groups. Over time I have been compiling a list of “best ideas” that people have come up with that will improve my obs when the time comes. I now have quite a list of ideas that will be incorporated into my obs and so many more that are on the “maybe later” list.

I must say… there have been quite a lot of truly great and innovative ideas all around. Everything from building design to storage of equipment, from lighting of the scope room to security systems and landscaping, from going off the grid for power to alternative paint colors (something other than black or dark blue) – don’t get me wrong there is something to be said for stopping the light scatter especially while imaging but there have been several people that did not go that usual route.

I have gone through a lot of paper, pencils and erasers, not to mention the other drawing supplies over the past couple of years doing sketches and plans alike for every type of obs that I could find. Motel o’Scope style, out houses, roll-offs in many sizes and shapes including double and triple roll-offs, domes, combo dome/roll-off, dobservatories, and the list goes on.

Can't wait to actually start the build.

#9 csa/montana


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Posted 20 January 2013 - 10:22 AM

Tim, first; congratulations on planning well in advance regarding the funds, as well as ideas for what you want! :bow:

Your question asking "did I build what I originally wanted", brings a resounding no, in my case. For me, to have an observatory built by BYO was a dream I never thought would come true for me. I had originally planned for an 8x8; but thankfully ended up with a 10x10, with 3' high walls (East wall a fold-down), for my dob. To also have a motorized roof was such a blessing for me! All in all, mine turned out to be byond what I could have dreamed of!

I don't have a warm room, and really don't need or want one, as I'm strictly a visual observer, and simply call it a night if I get too cold.

Congratulations on your dream, nearing reality; and we'd love the opportunity to follow your build right here!

#10 Starman27



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Posted 21 January 2013 - 10:05 AM


My current observatory was built in 1988. Since it was my second observatory I planned as well as I could. It's about 26 years old. I have not had to make any significant changes or major maintenance. Now 26 years later, I am also older. So I am looking at adding a warm room and perhaps motorizing the roll off roofs. The design of the split roofs (opens in two directions) allows an easy manual action, but I am older. So, even though it has met all of my requirements for all these years,I am starting to have new needs.

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