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Mobile Observatory - Isolation Platform Ideas

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#1 jriastro

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Posted 23 June 2013 - 07:09 AM

I'm in need of the experts, engineers and brilliant people of cloudy nights for suggestions.

I'm looking at options for a mobile observatory. If I have a trailer that has a steel/aluminum rectangular area that is 8' X 10' how can I make an isolation platform in it? Forget what it costs to cut it apart, weld it, etc. Costs are not the issue.

1. Needs a portion of the floor that will hold the pier, mount, scopes, camera, etc. all setup.
2. When stopped there needs to be support legs from this platform that lower to the ground outside. Then the platform becomes independent from the floor of the trailer so walking around, wind on the trailer do nothing to the scope since they are not touching the trailer at this point.
3. Isolation plate needs to support 500 lb or so, be hydraulic?
4. Main idea now is the plate sits on the floor, then when you stop the legs drop down and lift the plate up some from the floor of the trailer.
5. Another idea is the isolation plate has to have two rods or bars on all four sides, so 8 total that extend into or above the floor to hold it in place while traveling. Then when you stop, there are legs that drop down to the ground below, and once in place the rods or bars holidng the plate to the floor of the trailer retract thus making it independent from the trailer floor and not getting support from the ground below.

Any thoughts? Again, let's say the money to get the work done is not an issue.

Thanks for the help and advice.

#2 csa/montana

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Posted 23 June 2013 - 08:10 AM

Here's one thread on a mobile observatory that might be of assistance.

Link

#3 Tim Gilliland

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Posted 23 June 2013 - 08:29 AM

What about simply having removable plates that allow a tripod to reach the ground through the floor of the trailer? Then it could be entirely independant of the trailer and wind would no longer be an issue. Of course the equipment would have to be set up each time but I would expect that anyway in a mobile Obs of any kind.

#4 jriastro

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Posted 23 June 2013 - 09:11 AM

Nice ideas. Removable plates is a very interesting idea! I'd like to keep the scope setup to eliminate the assembly each time.

Any other ideas about how to put in an isolation plate that can be made independent from the floor once you stop to setup the scope? I think the plate resting on the floor, then being raised slightly when you stop is probably the easiest one to implement. Would just need to add some shock absorption to it when traveling and make sure it didn't stick out or take up too much of the floor of the trailer.

#5 csa/montana

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Posted 23 June 2013 - 09:29 AM

I'd like to keep the scope setup to eliminate the assembly each time.



Don't know what scope you will be using; but my concern would be the vibration & jiggling around of the scope itself, leaving it setup while traveling. Small trailers are not the smoothest riders.

#6 Midnight Dan

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Posted 23 June 2013 - 11:06 AM

Well, if money's no object, you can just buy this one for $16K :grin:

Or ... watch the two videos in the links down the page and you should get some good ideas on how to build yours.
http://www.patgarland.com

Part II shows how the pier is isolated from the trailer during setup.

-Dan

#7 jriastro

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Posted 23 June 2013 - 12:59 PM

Thanks for the ideas and links. It's nice to see what he did with his mobile observatory. The pier looked a little shaky when he grabbed it in one video. I'm primarily after deep space imaging so a rock solid pier once it is isolated from the trailer is essential. He did a fantastic job building his! Very clever.

I have a trailer in mind. Just researching how to make the most effective and easy to use isolation system that will last a long time.

#8 Mary B

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Posted 23 June 2013 - 03:10 PM

have a section of flooring that you lock down during travel that the scope sits on. On each corner of that floor section use a trailer jack to raise and level that section after unlocking it from travel mode.

#9 Startraffic

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 01:21 PM

jriastro,
I've started a 7ftx16ft with this in mind. The trailer will need be parked & leveled first. Then a section of floor the opens up to allow a pier mounted on a plate to be lowered onto the ground & leveled. The floor is then put back in place with a "donut" cutout from the pier to come through without touching the floor.
If you haven't built a trailer from scratch before, get help, & build a frame jig. If you don't use a jig, the frame will warp & won't track down the road properly. VERY BAD. Think shimmy, shimmy, Shake, Shake, exponential oscillating sway, & crash. DAMIKT. Anti-sway bars are your friend, as are electric disc brakes. 2 lighter axles are a better ride 1 big axle.

Clear Dark Skies
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39.138274 -77.168898

#10 *skyguy*

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 07:14 AM

Pier-Tech sells a complete mobile observatory called the "Star Traveler". Their website is:

Pier-Tech

Also, fill out the request form for additional information:

Pier-Tech Request Form

#11 jriastro

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 06:37 PM

Been talking with Pier Tech and researching their products. It's a great option. Just not sure it will do what I want it to do. I want to be inside the mobile observatory, protected from the elements, bugs and still be able to see and run the scope setup. I'm hearing from others it's a little tight if you plan on being in the trailer with it. That and not a lot of room for equipment, charts, books, computers, supplies, etc.

After making this initial post I reached out to my brother who is a senior Engineer at GM. He's pretty high up and has a bunch of engineers, designers, drafters reporting to him. After explaining what I needed help with he is going to concept it for me and take care of it. He's got some engineers from Alcoa in on it too. These are all automotive types. They thought it would be a pretty easy project designing an isolation platform that is rock solid and a removable roof that are both totally automated.

Anyway, I'm planning a large project that should be very unique when done. If it continues along like it is now I'm hoping to get started on it in the next few weeks. Cost isn't an issue, I'm much more concerned with getting a professional/scientific quality vehicle out of it that does some unique things.

#12 Midnight Dan

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 06:57 PM

Sounds like you've got the right team working on it! :waytogo:

With such a unique project, be SURE to post pictures and keep us updated! :cool:

-Dan

#13 Alex McConahay

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Posted 29 June 2013 - 11:36 PM

I'd look into the leveling jacks one finds on RVs.

One extra thought is pier built with lots of adjustment so you can polar align independent of how trailer is parked.

Alex

#14 jriastro

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 08:51 AM

Thanks for the continued input everyone. I really appreciate it.

This morning I finally started unpacking and piecing together my equipment. Got the pier and mount attached. I'm going to use this mount in the mobile observatory. It will be set on an isolation pier.

It only took me 5 years to unpack lol! Have the bug now and can't wait to get it all setup.

Mobile observatory is still moving forward. If it actually starts to happen I'll start posting pics. It's going to be a lot of fun if it works out the way I'm planning.

My brother and a few others have started to concept the project. We're taking it step by step to make sure it can be done the way we want from traveling, to automated setup, rock solid isolation, shock/vibration absorption, etc.

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#15 tim53

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 10:13 AM

Been talking with Pier Tech and researching their products. It's a great option. Just not sure it will do what I want it to do. I want to be inside the mobile observatory, protected from the elements, bugs and still be able to see and run the scope setup. I'm hearing from others it's a little tight if you plan on being in the trailer with it. That and not a lot of room for equipment, charts, books, computers, supplies, etc.

After making this initial post I reached out to my brother who is a senior Engineer at GM. He's pretty high up and has a bunch of engineers, designers, drafters reporting to him. After explaining what I needed help with he is going to concept it for me and take care of it. He's got some engineers from Alcoa in on it too. These are all automotive types. They thought it would be a pretty easy project designing an isolation platform that is rock solid and a removable roof that are both totally automated.

Anyway, I'm planning a large project that should be very unique when done. If it continues along like it is now I'm hoping to get started on it in the next few weeks. Cost isn't an issue, I'm much more concerned with getting a professional/scientific quality vehicle out of it that does some unique things.


with that kind of talent, I would seriously consider marketing the results!

-Tim.

#16 tim53

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 10:21 AM

About a quarter century ago, I thought about building a mobile observatory using a 6" f/10 Jaegers and a 1967 VW sunroof microbus. The scope would be mounted just inside the roof, so when it was swung into use, it would be above the roof of the van. Since the VW was rear-engine, RWD, the pier would only need to be split around the linkages in the center and the whole thing could be jacked up off the floor and supported on the ground without modifying the basic van other than making a hole in the floor.

Thankfully, I never built it. Not just because the van couldn't keep up with today's freeway traffic. More because I know what a 1967 sunroof microbus is worth today!

-Tim.

#17 StarmanDan

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 12:00 PM

I've thought about a mobile obs myself and have contemplated how I was going to go about building the pier as well. I might go with a tripod pier using hydraulic jacks for the legs to provide an easy way to level the mount. The pier would be mounted to a plate that could be bolted to the floor for travel and the plate would cover up the holes in the floor when the legs are retracted. Here's a very crude drawing of what I've come up with:

Attached Files








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