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Figuring Out Distance Between Two Piers in ROR.

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#1 PaulEK

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 12:15 AM

I'm working on getting approval to build a roll-off roof observatory on school district property, for outreach and education. I've used Building a Roll-Off Roof Observatory by John Hicks as a guide. His detailed plans are for a building with one pier, 12 x 14 feet in size. I'd like to have two piers, one to hold my G-ll with a Newt, and the other to hold my Atlas with a refractor. Both scopes are a bit over five feet long. The peak of the roof (also the long axis) will point north-south. The floor will be on concrete posts, not a slab. Any suggestions as to how far apart to place the piers? I want room to move around, but I also want to keep the roof as light as possible.

I'm making a presentation to the school board soon, so if anyone has photos of a similar structure, and wouldn't mind posting (or including a link) and letting me make copies, I'd be grateful.

Thanks!

#2 JJK

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 08:29 AM

Paul,

The inter-pier distance will minimally depend on where the scopes need to balance on the mounts, and whether both instruments will be used visually at the same time (or will one be used with cameras).

Best,
John

#3 Starman27

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 09:09 AM

I have a similar layout with a split ROR design. I based my pier placement on two factors. The first was the type of scope. One pier is dedicated to fork mounted SCTs. It has carried a C11, Meade LX200 12 inch and now a Meade 14 inch LX200 GPS. The second pier is dedicated to refractors. I has been used to carry a Meade 7 inch F9 and now carries a TAK FSNSV 128. The second factor was walk around space. The observing space is 10' by 8' for each instrument. The overlap is the center space. I have not had any serious issues using both for visual work.

#4 Starman27

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 09:14 AM

A picture.

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#5 Starman27

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 09:15 AM

Refractor side.

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#6 PaulEK

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 09:59 AM

Thanks for the replies! The ideal would be to have the choice of using both for visual at the same time.

Starman27, that's a great-looking set-up!

#7 DeanS

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 10:51 AM

My room is 11.5 x 11.5' and way too small for using both at the same time for visual. I would think you would want at least the 14' wide if possible, 16' would be better.

Dean

#8 PaulEK

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 12:20 PM

The plan in the book, for one pier, is for a structure 12 x 14 feet. I'm wondering if 12 x 20 feet would be a workable size. That way, I could locate the piers, say, 6.5 feet from the walls on either end, which would leave 7 feet between them. I don't think I'd be able to have both scopes working at the same time with their viewing ends facing toward each other, but it seems like anywhere else would be workable. Or am I squeezing things too tightly?

And would a roof that big be light enough to move by hand, without a motor or other assistance? I would probably have a metal roof, or possibly another lightweight material. If a fairly large roof can still be moved by hand, then I'd rather plan for as much space as really makes sense. There's plenty of room at the site, and the extra materials won't add too much to the cost.

#9 iandodd

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 12:27 PM

Using the Hicks book as a guide, I've been toying with a design similar to yours. In Google Sketch Up, I laid out a 12'X18' design with each pier centered 6' from the walls on either side and 6' from each other. So, I would guess your 12'X20' should work just fine.

As far as the roof, if you don't want to motorize it, a hand-cranked winch should offer enough mechanical advantage to make it easy to move.

#10 PaulEK

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 01:25 PM

I've considered a winch. It's another learning curve to climb.

#11 Alex McConahay

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 03:17 PM

If this is for a public institution, be prepared for ADA compliance, whcih radically changes what you otherwise might have planned.

Alex

#12 PaulEK

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 03:52 PM

Alex,

That's a good point. Do you have any specifics? I'll bring it up at the school board meeting.

#13 Alex McConahay

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 07:09 PM

ADA is a big ball of wax. I support it, don't get me wrong. And, with proper planning, it is not as hard as we could imagine. YOur best source of information may be the school district's business manager or facilities manager.

I have to say, I am not familiar with the organization of every school district. However, generally, get the district office on board before going to the Board.

I cannot get you specifics. But there are general rules. Everything must be accessible to wheelchair students. This may mean lower eyepieces than you thought. It may mean also, no steps, but ramps. All of these things are easy to engineer when incorporated from the start. Just give it a thought.

Alex

#14 Lord Beowulf

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 07:31 PM

I set my piers 10' apart, center to center, which gives 9' of space for visual, etc. I'd originally planned on 7' space to the exterior walls, which would have given 14'x24' or 6' of internal clearance. I went ahead and boosted that to 16'x26' to give me room for a desk/bench if needed.

Posted Image
Visit the corresponding Orion Ranch Observatory web page.

Granted this is going to be overkill for most, but...

Beo

#15 PaulEK

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 08:11 PM

I've actually already met with the District Facilities manager, and I'm a member of the school board (a recent addition). But for this, I'll present to the board, and won't act as a member.

I'm meeting first with the buildings and grounds committee of the board, tomorrow night.

Lord Beowulf, that's some observatory!

#16 Alex McConahay

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 09:18 PM

Then you know what I mean about where and how to present. Some people don't.
(I was a high school principal for nine years before moving into district administration.)
Alex

#17 Alex McConahay

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 09:18 PM

Then you know what I mean about where and how to present. Some people don't.
(I was a high school principal for nine years before moving into district administration.)
Alex

#18 Alex McConahay

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 09:18 PM

Then you know what I mean about where and how to present. Some people don't.
(I was a high school principal for nine years before moving into district administration.)
Alex

#19 JJK

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 09:49 AM

You might address ADA compliance by planning to have a smaller scope on one of the rigs with a CCD camera on it. That will allow disabled folks to see the objects of interest in real time on a monitor and allow you to build a system that doesn't have elevator lifts to get folks up to the eyepiece.

You might have to make sure that the walkways and doors are ADA compliant, which should be relatively easy to do.

#20 PaulEK

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 10:33 AM

One of the issues will have to do with the location. The property is the school forest, a large rural area with ungroomed trails, used for nature study. There is already a 'classroom' there: a pretty rustic building, though not very old. It will be possible to drive up fairly close to the observatory site, but wheelchair accessability could be an issue.

I had thought about the doorway, which I would want wide anyway, for equipment to get through. There will be plenty of opportunity for using a variety of equipment at many levels, not just for disabled folks, but for little kids (like four years old and younger).

These are all good things to have in mind!

I'd still be interested in any other opinions on the distance between the piers.

#21 Starhawk

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 11:43 AM

I suggest another approach- look at a "Usage radius" for each telescope. This is equivalent to if you were to put it into a POD or other observatory, how big a circle is needed to use the scope?

Now, make a scale paper disk for putting them on a piece of graph paper. It is tempting to try this on a computer, but that is a mistake. You'll be taken with reusing a single rectangle even if your result is failing. With the paper disks, you'll be able to get to an answer very quickly.

Now, move them around and pay attention to space on their north and south sides. Since a lot of the interesting stuff is to the south, I suggest you may find putting the piers diagonally where the pier with the Newtonian is slightly north in the shed and the refractor is slightly south. The reason is where the observer has to stand . Thus, there is less competition between observers for position (e.g. the inter-pier distance would only be challenged if the refractor was pointed low to the northwest and the Newtonian was pointed to the southeast of the zenith at the same time, which there probably won't be a reason to do (or, if your observatory has the other handedness, reverse east and west in my example).

-Rich

#22 PaulEK

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 01:30 PM

Rich:

Excellent points, and this gives me some insight into how to go about doing the actual planning! For tonight's meeting, I don't need final plans, just an overall proposal with examples. I have the mounts and scopes (at least scopes close to what I'll use) in my garage. When the weather allows (it's April already, time for the snow to melt!), I'll set things up in my driveway and just get out the tape measure, keeping your points in mind.

#23 Starhawk

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 09:02 AM

I look forward to hearing how this goes.

-Rich

#24 PaulEK

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 11:13 AM

So far, everything is going fine. Everyone on the committee was quite supportive. Their biggest concern was not whether to do it, but how to go about funding it. There are science grants to look into (the superintendent brought those up, and the facilities director said he was already in touch with teachers who were already on that). Folks were also concerned about insurance, but that was cleared up (the classroom out there has never suffered from any vandalism, the biggest concern; and our insurance will cover this, if we do it right).

So step one went well!






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