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Security at High School Observatory

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#1 pbealo


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Posted 09 February 2013 - 11:02 AM

My son is proposing to build an observatory at his high school as a boy scout eagle project. I have a 12X16' roll off in the back yard that he's using for a model.

He's getting some concern from HS admin over security. Presently the design is 2X6 construction with T-111 or equivalent and a plywood w/shingle roof.

Short of going to concrete block construction, what might he propose to enhance at least the perception of security??

Peter B.
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Posted 09 February 2013 - 12:34 PM

Don't underestimate the destructive abilities of teens compelled to do damage; big locks on the doors at a minimum; no windows; easy to repaint exterior surfaces. I'm surprised the school's admin doesn't have a list of requirements like this. I wish our school had an observatory. We had to go a local light polluted college observatory, and while the scope was a massive 21" cass, the large groups made enjoying the view impossible.

Good luck though, some kids are going to love it :-)

#3 roscoe



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Posted 09 February 2013 - 01:35 PM

Yep, T-111 perhaps over 1/2 ply, a commercial-duty metal door with a high-security lock (pins top and bottom), no windows, no vents large enough to be pried off and squirmed through. And have the mount and scope easily removable so they can be stored elsewhere.......
Aside from that, a very honorable Eagle project!

#4 roscoe



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Posted 09 February 2013 - 01:40 PM

PS what about contacting some of the dome manufacturers, and even the local lumber yard, and mention that it is an Eagle project? There are Eagle scouts everywhere, it might just get him a dollar off the price....

#5 *skyguy*



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Posted 09 February 2013 - 02:08 PM

Unless the school is in a very, very bad location ... installing flood lights with motion detectors and hanging up a couple of "Area under video surveillance" signs, will discourage all but the most determined criminal. A good building/equipment insurance policy will take care of those guys! ;)

#6 csa/montana


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Posted 09 February 2013 - 02:25 PM

installing flood lights with motion detectors

If no one's around, the lights wouldn't matter to them; besides we like to keep LP as low as possible. :)

Better would be a security camera where it could not be reached, that shoots IR, no flash; motion activated. Game cams are great, and relatively inexpensive. Mine reaches 40 ft.

#7 rimcrazy


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Posted 09 February 2013 - 03:39 PM

I have 12 security cameras at my residence where my observatory is located. A few note's I've found in running them for more that 5 years continuous.

1) Forget using motion detection at least for the cameras. Lights, yes, cameras, no. It's unreliable and disk drives are so cheap you can put weeks of continuous video on a drive and not worry about it. You catch everything.
2) Make them visible and for a high school, sorry to say, but I would put them high and in a bullet proof enclosure. At least your main one (see below) Never under estimate the tenacity of your adversary.
3) Legally you MUST have signs indicating you are video recording. Signs backed up with visible real cameras are a deterrent.
4) While cheap low res cam's may be fine for overall views, all of your $$ spent on the system are worthless if the resolution is so poor you can't identify who broke in. I would suggest that at a minimum, the camera that covers the door be of sufficient resolution that you can identify a face should the need arise.
5) If possible, do not locate the recording equipment within the same building. ie. Put the recorders in the school not the observatory. If they get in and then take your security DVR or PC, you have nothing.

Video recording I know has prevented theft and vandalism at my residence. That being said, there are idiots everywhere. The best you can do is have insurance and make what you have a very undesirable target.

#8 1965healy


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Posted 09 February 2013 - 05:06 PM

You could shoot the exterior with stucco, appears more formidable than siding. The inclination is going to be to put it far away from everything, it might be better to find a less remote spot on campus away from fences, gates and a quick getaway.

#9 steven40


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Posted 09 February 2013 - 05:35 PM

In 1980 I had a roll-off roof observatory built at the high school where I taught physics and astronomy. However, I did use cement block for security reasons. Steel door and padlock, never had a problem, although a couple times some idiots decided to peel up some shingles.

Once I did neglect locking the door, and a few days later went out and found clear evidence that someone had gotten in, but didn't touch the equipment. At least it was obvious they were practicing "safe ****". Sorry! ;>)

But seriously, I had great luck soliciting community members in the building trade---carpenters, etc. A local well driller donated pipe to make the pier, etc. Guys at the bus garage did some welding for me and erected the steel track for the roof.

Good luck!


#10 steven40


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Posted 09 February 2013 - 05:38 PM

Also, another thought. You might want to consider a metal roof (light color) over furring strips. Much lighter, and I think, possibly less prone to vandalism.


#11 Startraffic


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Posted 09 February 2013 - 05:59 PM

Any chance of putting it on the roof? That would make for a serious obstacle right there. You could also use brick mold siding instead of the T-111. If it looks like brick that would also lend itself to the security aspect.
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