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My observatory thread . . .

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#1 dawziecat

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 07:36 AM

October 25, 2013 . . . here in rural Nova Scotia, Canada

Well, it begins . . .
This project may never get “done.” It has been a frustrating one, trying to carve a large enough hole in the forest adjacent to my home to allow enough sky to make it worthwhile. Contractor and equipment problems made the tree clearing alone take all summer and this far into fall. It's been sadly destructive although my forest is "falling down" overmature. Still, some Methuselah trees likely had more life left than I and I hated to see them felled. But I had no sky. . . and I still have lots of trees.

Of course, now that clearing is completed, I hope progress will accelerate a bit. It's a race with winter and Mother Nature may well win.

The first image shows the raw site, while tree removal was still underway. Hard to believe anything can come of this unholy mess! :(

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#2 dawziecat

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 07:41 AM

Oct. 25, 2013 . . .

Yesterday the machine dug a hole for the pier. The rocky soil nearly killed it! It was VERY tough going for the first
several feet . . . than the excavator broke through to sand.
I need a machine operator and a concrete contractor to liase now. I hope it happens! Getting these guys to show up at all has been a battle. Now I need two different contractors simultaneously.
When I see it here, this picture just creeps me out. Like I'm exhuming Jimmy Hoffa! :twitch:

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#3 dawziecat

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 07:46 AM

October 25, 2013 . . .

My Dan's Piers top plate awaits the concrete contractor.

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#4 tim57064

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 07:58 AM

OMG Terry, Glad to see you have made some progress on the deforestation.
Very Happy to see that you have started a thread here.
It appears,the worst part is over though,correct?
What are your plans for the size of the OBS? Are you planning a warm room or just the Roll Off Roof OBS itself and remotely running it.
Hopefully you will be able to make it big enough for more than one pier as it is nice to have more than one scope set up at the same time.
I was not able to do so because of the added expense.
Good luck and keep us posted with plenty of pic's.

#5 dawziecat

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 08:50 AM

Hi Tim:

I hope the worst is over!

Concrete guy is a few minutes out. Equipment operator is here now.

I am building a 10X14 ft Skyshed roll-off. Or, at least, that is the plan. It is located about 60 feet from my house. No warm room. I have a shed-maker to do the structure. He builds very nice stuff but a roll-off roof is new to him. I showed him the Skyshed plans and he is game.
Plan is to build the sections separately in his shop and carry them in by hand or cart as, tracked vehicles excepted, there is not vehicle access immediate to the shed site.

Hoping for a pier by day's end. If that happens, my confidence in this whole project will soar immeasurably!

One pier is hard enough. And one AP1100 is expensive enough.
I will be satisfied with one of each!

There is some water that seeped into the hole overnight. :( I hope not enough to delay things.

#6 dawziecat

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 10:37 AM

October 25, 2013 . . .

Probably no concrete until Monday. But the tube is in place, backfilled and, at least, the site no longer looks like an open grave. :scared:
And I don't have to worry about creatures of the forest tumbling into it during the night. When I excavated an addition thirty years ago, every morning I would have to escort snakes and frogs to safety after they tumbled in during the night. Never knew there was so much wildlife active during the dark hours!

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#7 Mirzam

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 11:15 AM

Hopefully there is a footer under the tube? Some bracing on the sides of the tube would also be helpful if you want it to stay plumb. Don't think you can get away without it.

JimC

#8 dawziecat

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 11:29 AM

Thanks, Jim.

A footer? Well there is a BF-28 under there. ( Bigfoot Systems ). I'll discuss the bracing issue with the contractor. He's a neighbour and pretty experienced in working with concrete(more than 30 years!). This is far from his first "tube job" but he's never done a telescope pier before. There will be 4 pieces of rebar as well.

#9 csa/montana

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 11:31 AM

Wow! From what looked like an impossible astro site, it's certainly opened up now for great viewing!

Thanks for starting your thread, we love to follow along with builds of others; and definitely are looking forward to following yours!

#10 Mirzam

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 11:42 AM

The bigfoot looks like a good product. I'm not certain how it avoids the need for bracing except by providing some degree of side support to the tube base. Still, a tall tube filled with concrete has a mighty big tipping moment. A few 2x4 braces would provide cheap insurance.

I had a cabin built a couple years ago by a contractor who thought he could get away without bracing the 18 piers used for the foundation. He ended up having to remove three of them as they had tilted out of alignment and out of plumb. It was not an easy job to do in a confined space.

JimC

#11 dawziecat

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 11:59 AM

I'll be sure to bring it up, Jim. I'll make sure I have 2X4s available for use too. I sure wouldn't want this to go wrong!

#12 tim57064

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Posted 26 October 2013 - 09:00 AM

Terry,A 10'x14' is what I had in my mind originally yet I had to opt for the 10'x12'. That extra 2 feet adds more exponentially over the entire build and is what kept me from doing it. I wanted to be able to set up 2 scopes at the same time. Water under the bridge now.

#13 Agatha

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Posted 26 October 2013 - 09:49 AM

Terry,

Your observatory build will be fun to watch. You definately have/had some obstacles. You have things well in hand and even some valuable advice from members here. Someday I hope to have some sort of observatory...most likely will be a POD.

Off topic...I enjoyed going on your website and loved the story of Ernie. And I always appreciate hearing of people who are concerned and will rescue even the smallest creatures. I once made ladders for the toads to be able to get out of the window wells around the house I grew up in. Thanks for your caring.

Back on topic, your pier plate is really nice looking. :) Can't wait to see it mounted. But don't rush anything because of all of us. :grin:
It will be fun to watch your build.

Best,

#14 dawziecat

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Posted 26 October 2013 - 12:41 PM

"Toad ladders?" :D
Well done! No, I don't allow any "suffering" I can possibly forestall. Even the guys whose image is attached here are "escorted to safety" when they seek shelter in my home in the forest. They belong here. I am just a visitor!

I admire the folks here who are building or have built their own observatories. That was my plan but I found it too daunting and have found people who can do this better and FAR faster than I could. Now that the heavy de-forestation equipment has finally left, I have a dependable contractor/neighbour to do the pier and a fellow who makes his living building garden sheds, playhouses and cabins to do the structure. He seems as eager as I am!

For the first time, I can confidently say, "It really IS gonn'a happen!" :jump:

I am surrounded by a depressing vista of bare earth that will soon turn to mud with winter rains. I hope to be able to turn it into a lupin meadow with the help of a landscaping contractor.

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#15 Aquarist

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Posted 26 October 2013 - 05:33 PM

Terry, I LOVE your photography. All of it, not just the night time images. Wish I knew half of what you know about shooting the night skies. Just wonderful!! Wonderful website!!

#16 LoveChina61

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Posted 26 October 2013 - 11:36 PM

He's kind of a cute little fella, isn't he? :)

#17 seryddwr

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 12:47 AM

I lived in the tropics for a while. I've had too many fire-ant attacks and other insect related misery to let any live that come within my house. I'll let them live if I see them outside, but inside, it's WAR!

#18 dawziecat

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 10:39 AM

Terry, I LOVE your photography. All of it, not just the night time images. Wish I knew half of what you know about shooting the night skies. Just wonderful!! Wonderful website!!


Many thanks, Steve. Hard to say what's tougher, astrophotography or hummingbirds!

#19 dawziecat

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 10:47 AM

He's kind of a cute little fella, isn't he? :)


Cute? Well, maybe. I only recently found out what they were.
They are pretty harmless . . . unless you're a coniferous tree. They don't seem to have bothered my trees over the years. They are these guys.

#20 Mary B

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 02:34 PM

Wish I had somewhere out in the woods like you, small town but I still have to contend with 2 annoying street lights.

#21 Hilmi

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 02:45 PM

Congrats on the new observatory! Just like you, I feel for those trees! You will love your observatory

#22 dawziecat

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 09:49 AM

Oct. 28, 2013 . . . Disaster Forestalled!

Rained heavily overnight Saturday night! I came down Sunday morning and was horrified to see the wind had completely blown the tarp off my sonotube. :foreheadslap: It was soaked! You're not supposed to use wet, cardboard sonotubes. I guess that's obvious. :(

So, what to do?

I slit another tube vertically, wrapped the wet one and strapped it with rebar tie wire and the two load straps I had on hand.

Also braced the tube as shown. There is some water in the footer. I will pump that out when the concrete contractor gets here.

None of this is what you would call "ideal!" :(

Sometime I envy our desert-dwellers! Heck, LOTS of times I envy them!

I really want to get this pier poured!

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#23 csa/montana

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 10:40 AM

I hope everything turns out ok for the soaked sonotube. Appreciate the rain, it's snowing here!

#24 Peter L.

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 02:02 PM

I hope everything turns out for you, Terry. I had to battle similar weather issues during my build two summers ago. I live in PEI, so I know your weather well. I have in-laws in NS. Where abouts are you?

Peter

#25 hm insulators

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 01:14 PM

Beautiful countryside!






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