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Barker's Bluff Observatory Begins

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#76 JHGIII

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Posted 16 August 2014 - 09:12 AM

First light last night and all I can say is that all of you who say the observatory makes the hobby like new could not be more correct!

Construction is not quite complete. We still lack electrical and the roof redo is underway, but a temporal set-back.

However, the past two nights have been clear and the pre-dawn sky has just been beautiful as I have walked to the car. Since the construction project is in my prime observing site (duh), I have not been able to set my rig up in about two months. I have had to content myself with binoculars and with the grab and go from a patio adjacent to the house. It has been fun, but basically I just couldn't wait.

 

Yesterday the weather looked favorable so as soon as I could wrap up work, I planned to head home and work through setting up the pier adapter, lift column, column to mount adapter, transfer mount from tripod to pier, level and aim the whole deal toward the north and maybe end up getting close enough with polar alignment that I could poke around in the Milky Way for an hour or two. So, just as I was leaving work, one of my colleagues, familiar with my commute, texted me that I-65 Northbound was closed due to a truck fire.... I checked the online traffic and low and behold North and South bound were closed. Tanker truck burning on the North side. Ugh. Well I still needed to get a mechanical checked on my car so I headed South of town to do that. As I was getting the car back, I checked the traffic and Northbound was scheduled to be closed until 7PM. That was not going to work at all. This must be a big deal...   Oh it was!

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Edited by JHGIII, 16 August 2014 - 01:57 PM.


#77 JHGIII

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Posted 16 August 2014 - 09:41 AM

Luckily, according to news reports, the driver noticed the fire and was able to get clear. Guess when one drives a petroleum truck, one is sensitive to the smell of smoke. Good thing too.

 

Seeing this in the news makes it clear why GPS took me way around to the west and brought me home by a route that added about 20 minutes to the drive. Waiting for this to become safe and passable would have taken some time.

 

So I arrived home about an hour later than I planned and had about 45 minutes before sunset. Luckily, I have assembled all of these pieces in my head at least twenty times. I bolted all of the pieces together (O.K. I'll admit level was a tiny fraction of a bubble off), but in all, it really went smoothly. I attribute that to all of the design issues I have copied in the planning stages of this project. It is great to have multiple levels at which small adjustments in level, orientation etc. can still be made. I ran an extension cord and hooked up the Linak lifting column with the mount and scope aboard. SMOOTH as silk. And quiet. Dew heaters plugged in and dialed up. Ready to go, just at dark.

 

I went inside to catch up with my wife, eat dinner and allow the SCT to equilibrate (so cool that I'll be able to skip this step in the future). I went back out about ten PM and booted up the Go-To. I'm a tad rusty after not setting this up for a couple months and apparently hit a button out of sequence, terminating my modelling prematurely, but I figured I wouldn't even be close this first time anyway with all of the changes in location, dissassembly  and reassembly etc. So I chose to just give it a try.  I keyed in M13 and all I can say is WOW. It was like seeing it for the first time. I know some of that is new toy excitement and some is the jump from a 90 mm grab and go I've been enjoying for a few months to an 11 inch SCT, but WOW. The moon was not yet up. My North wall shields me from stray light from our property and the neighbor. It was just too cool. I kept popping from object to object, took  tour of the Messiers, looked at the Double Cluster, skittled along the Apennine range on the moon at about 300x. I did not trip over the tripod once. It was in storage. I had a shelf for my hand controller that lets me put it face down when not in use to shield the red light. There were very few adjustments to make in any of the Go-To's even after about five hours of looking. I can't wait until this set up is really permanent and I have time to drift align.

 

Alas, at about 0400 it was time to take it all down and pack up for the night. Construction crew is coming this AM and I needed to be out of their way.

 

Question is: Will it be clear enough to draw me out again tonight?

 

Serious thanks to all who have advised and inspired. Having had a small taste last night, I can see that this is a project I will love using and sharing with friends for many years.

 

Clear Skies !



#78 JHGIII

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 03:23 PM

Now we are back on track. Larry has got the tubular steel for the wheels finished. He cut perfect boxes for the wheels and has side braces in place. The frame is mocked up on a jig in his basement shop. He was pretty jazzed about it and asked if I wanted to drop by. Since he only lives about a mile away, of course the answer was yes. So here is the new and VASTLY improved frame for the roof.

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#79 JHGIII

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 03:25 PM

Now this is a BASEMENT shop. In his house!

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#80 JHGIII

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 03:31 PM

And I didn't take pics of his paintbooth (it has a boat in it), or his separate wood shop, or the three cars that are being restored. There were a bunch of other major machines like band saws etc. He built his whole house and it is extremely well done. I just wish I'd known he had all these talents...... would have had the right roof three weeks ago. Oh and there is a combination tornado shelter shooting range.

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#81 hm insulators

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 11:52 AM

Glad to see you've gotten your roof issues resolved and first light was good!



#82 JHGIII

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 06:20 PM

Just a little longer

 

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#83 JHGIII

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Posted 23 August 2014 - 03:42 PM

Boxed frame with wheels and track painted today. Delivery tomorrow. Installation Monday!

Way to go Larry!!!

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#84 JHGIII

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Posted 27 August 2014 - 07:34 AM

Roof frame arrives!

Four inch tubular steel frames with cut-out wheel boxes.

Tabs on top are 16 inches on center to allow rafters to attach.

End caps allow fine tuning at time of installation to be sure wheels are plumb to track despite 11 degree roof pitch.

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#85 JHGIII

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Posted 27 August 2014 - 07:37 AM

And it all goes together like this:

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#86 JHGIII

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Posted 27 August 2014 - 07:39 AM

Mounted frame is a sweet sight.

Oh, and it rolls super easy!!

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#87 JHGIII

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Posted 27 August 2014 - 07:44 AM

Inside the observatory is coming along as well.

There is a bench seat along the North wall that will have a storage cupboard under the center third.

The other two thirds will have ventilation holes cut in the floor with standard grill vents at the interface with the observatory. Each of these will hold air filters.

The South wall has an attic exhaust fan that is thermostatically controlled.

I'm hoping that pulling air from under the shaded region below the observatory at 1600 CFM will keep temperatures moderated in the Summer and allow me to avoid the need for air conditioning.

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#88 JHGIII

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Posted 27 August 2014 - 07:48 AM

All conduit for data and AC power have been run to observatory walls (only power to the piers is lacking)

All turns in the data conduit have LNB's to facilitate initial and subsequent cable runs.

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#89 JHGIII

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Posted 27 August 2014 - 07:50 AM

And lastly, the covered room is moving along.

Exterior fascia boards and interior rough cut pine are progressing.

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#90 JHGIII

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Posted 27 August 2014 - 07:52 AM

Oh, and just for kicks, here is a picture of my old observatory.

Much less functional, but significantly cheaper :grin:

 

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#91 MAURITS

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Posted 02 September 2014 - 01:19 PM

Great  job done, very nice workmanship   :waytogo:



#92 iwannabswiss

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Posted 02 September 2014 - 11:01 PM

Your house is equally as beautiful, what a great looking build.  I enjoy watching this thread in anticipation for the big unveiling party.



#93 hbastro

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Posted 03 September 2014 - 10:16 AM

Very nicely done!



#94 JHGIII

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Posted 03 September 2014 - 10:53 AM

Thanks for the compliments. I agree it is turning out very nicely. I wish I could take credit for the work itself, but unlike many here, that is not where my skills lie. I am actively engaged in the design and planning. So far, I think I have avoided driving the guys crazy. Progress has been slow, but we have not had to redo anything. Perhaps an accomplishment since none of us has built one before.

 

Hope to post more pics soon.



#95 JHGIII

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Posted 16 September 2014 - 06:16 PM

So after a few fits and starts (oh and perhaps one fit by me) it appears that the ROR is FINALLY taking form. Here are a few images featuring roof retention system that will keep the roof captive at all times.

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#96 JHGIII

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Posted 16 September 2014 - 06:22 PM

Bench and storage closet nearly done.

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#97 JHGIII

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Posted 16 September 2014 - 06:25 PM

Interior of "outreach center" is a few boards short of complete. Windows ordered.

LOVE this wood!!

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#98 JHGIII

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Posted Yesterday, 07:03 PM

After a slow start and a resultant long day, the observatory finally has a roof. And it rolls nicely. All we lack is the metal cover.

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#99 JHGIII

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Posted Yesterday, 07:07 PM

Pico says he can't believe it !

Oh, and when is dinner ?

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#100 JHGIII

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Posted Today, 11:13 AM

Metal sheeting applied.

Heavy roof, but rolls very well. Can push it with three fingers :)

 

Now there is interior finish work to do:

   1. Bringing the floors in to fit the pier

   2. Rain gutter to take condensation from closet out

   3. Box in the ventilation system below the bench

   4. Trim out the corner desks

   5. Put shelf in closet

   6. Finish flashing around "Outreach Room"

 

 

Then I finally get to have a great time running cables, hanging TV and speakers, hooking up stereo and installing and aligning the scope so that I never again have to set-up then tear down due to either clouds or fatigue. I hope to get on it soon.

 

This project has taken way longer that I ever thought it would. It was beginning to feel like the old sitcom "Murphy Brown" where Elden the painter just lived in the house. Can't wait until we no longer live in a construction zone.

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