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Equipment Discussions >> Observatories

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corpusse
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 04/11/10

Loc: Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: JJK]
      #5690657 - 02/20/13 11:21 AM

Quote:

My note about expanding the attic was a concern that the scope might not be usable from certain angles.




A small addition to raise the dome would take care of that, see :



Something like this would offer 360 degree rotation.


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Raginar
Post Laureate
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Reged: 10/19/10

Loc: Rapid CIty, SD
Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: JJK]
      #5690906 - 02/20/13 01:31 PM

I'd have professionals look at this project if you're going to be using an Exploradome or what not. Perhaps getting BYO to come out and take a look at it isn't a bad idea if this is going to be your full-up observatory.

Again, I think 5-10k is probably what you're going to spend to make this project happen and that's just a wag on my part. By the time you get a dome, get the materials, include the labor (since you've stated you're not able to do it).. It's gonna be pricey. Throw on automation on top of it... I think you'll probably have 3G from that Canadian cell tower .

I think a 10x10 ROR is probably going to be easier to put together and even automate than modifying this structure. Perhaps you can convince your parents to put it in a clearing or clear an area for it too. If it's going to be robotic, you can make it small too.

Anyways, there was a thread from a guy who was trying to make this happen on his house a year or two ago. I'd suggest checking it out before you proceed.

Good luck, you've got some good advice from people who've 'been there, done that'.


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Midnight Dan
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Reged: 01/23/08

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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: Raginar]
      #5690947 - 02/20/13 01:46 PM

Contrary to some of the prior opinions, I think that your plan of a dome on top of the existing building is a good one. Yes, you'll need a tall cinder-block pier, but with a stand-along ROR you'll need to pour a foundation or pad. Either way there's some substantial concrete work.

And once the concrete work is done, the amount of work to add a small dome on top of an existing building is significantly less than building an entire ROR building. Plus you've got the advantages of height compared to the surrounding trees, and space for a warm room.

The picture you show of the interior shows the frame, and especially the roof structure, to be in good condition. You will want to put a few posts under the square dome-support "room" to transfer the weight down to the second floor, and possibly down to the first floor. You would not want that resting on just the roof rafters alone.

If you build a warm room on the second floor underneath the dome, be sure to insulate it very thoroughly. You don't want the heat from the room rising into the air near the dome and disturbing the local seeing. Keeping the roofing material light-colored will also be a good idea for the same reason. It will reflect heat instead of heating up and causing seeing problems.

-Dan


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JJK
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 04/28/08

Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5691515 - 02/20/13 06:43 PM

Quote:

Quote:

My note about expanding the attic was a concern that the scope might not be usable from certain angles.




A small addition to raise the dome would take care of that, see :

<image snipped>

Something like this would offer 360 degree rotation.





That might not solve the issue I raised. If the wall that splits the attic is close to where you'd need to be, it'll be there even if you raise the floor a bit. I can't tell from your photos if it'll be an issue, but take careful measurements before you cut one piece of wood.


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corpusse
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 04/11/10

Loc: Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: JJK]
      #5692406 - 02/21/13 09:35 AM

Quote:

Quote:

Quote:

My note about expanding the attic was a concern that the scope might not be usable from certain angles.




A small addition to raise the dome would take care of that, see :

<image snipped>

Something like this would offer 360 degree rotation.





That might not solve the issue I raised. If the wall that splits the attic is close to where you'd need to be, it'll be there even if you raise the floor a bit. I can't tell from your photos if it'll be an issue, but take careful measurements before you cut one piece of wood.




I'm not quite sure what you mean, but if this is an issue wouldn't going higher solve the problem?

Here is a high res pic

http://andrewastro.smugmug.com/Other/Equipment-Observatory/i-d6XzCrf/0/O/upst...

The weird shape is because of the outside upstairs which apparently is only accessible from outside unless there is some secret trap door I didn't see

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-JBWkhN5SVZk/UOGGB0-8ONI/AAAAAAAANh4/QkZ6OP...

It looks really cramped but that's partly due to the fish eye lens, I can stand no problem and the dome would be even higher.

Obviously this is the route I want to go, but I didn't post this just to hear what I want to hear. I respect everyone's opinions and want to make the most informed decision possible.

It may end up being expensive to do this. If it is 10k or more which is probably realistic maybe I save for 1 year, maybe 2. I want it now, but I want the best possible solution. I can always lug the tripod and polar align each night I'm there for now. I do have my 6x8 roll off here although I think I will mostly be using that for planetary and solar at this point.

To clarify I could build another roll off. I did mine with virtually no help outside of the parts that needed physical help. It's not great quality wise but it functions and I'd do better the next time. Stuff like working on a warm room and other minor to moderate things I can do. I would just want a professional to cut the roof and make sure it is reinforced properly.

So far these factors lead me to the roof top :

Height. Will have little to know obstructions.
Power.
Lots of room, a nice "professional" feel.
Do not need to add another building to the property. This is not going to be used so it would just sit empty and be a place to store junk most likely. While the building does need work, I have seen quite a few decaying workshops and other structures on people's property and this could end up becoming one.

The only con I can see is this will take more time and cost more money. There may be the issue JJK is speaking of as far as full 360 rotation.

As far as a roll off. I could do it myself, I could start that when the snow melts.

It would have moderate obstructions with trees depending on where it was placed. I would likely need an electrician to wire it for me. That's not a major issue but it would involve digging up the property.

If it snows 2 feet and the building is 300 feet from the house that is a lot of snow to shovel to get there. I'd need snowshoes! While it may not dump 2 feet in one shot, if I'm not there for a month or longer it certainly could.

I would just have a tiny warm room if at all in a roll off building. Sure I could make it 12x14 or whatever. There are no size restrictions on buildings there but with increased size comes increased cost and the closer it runs to renovating the existing building the less practical it becomes.

So to sum up I have not entirely closed the door on the roll off. I have not even had a chance to observe from the snow covered lot but I am leaning very heavily towards using the workshop. I just think it will suit all my needs better. It can be a long term project with long term rewards.


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stmguy
sage


Reged: 10/11/12

Loc: Western NH
Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5692586 - 02/21/13 11:52 AM

The workshop sounds like a good idea for the reasons you list(I was going to go that route but decided against it , extra cost and difficulty ) , have you thought about how to get the snow off if on top of the workshop ?

I have a metal roof on my OBS and I still end up helping the snow off around the shutter
Norm


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Midnight Dan
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Reged: 01/23/08

Loc: Hilton, NY, Yellow Zone (Bortl...
Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: stmguy]
      #5692918 - 02/21/13 03:08 PM

In that interior view of the attic, how far is it horizontally from the roof peak to the side wall on the left? It looks like that wall is load bearing and goes down to the ground (based on the outside picture), and could be used for supporting one side of the dome support structure above the roof. The other side, on the opposite side of the peak, would need a couple of posts to serve the same purpose.

I'm not sure why people think this would cost so much. If you're just talking about adding the dome and dome support structure, it looks pretty straightforward and inexpensive. The concrete pier would take some work, but you could do a lot of that yourself if you use cinder blocks for the lower part.

As for renovating the rest of the building, well that could add up, depending on how far you want to go with it. But I look at that as somewhat optional and something you could do as time and money allows. I think the reasons you mention, height, power, space, are all strong advantages to using this building. If I had a setup like that I'd definitely be using it, as opposed to starting from scratch with a stand-alone ROR. Just my 2 cents.

-Dan


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corpusse
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 04/11/10

Loc: Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #5724882 - 03/10/13 10:51 PM

So it was a bit of a wasted weekend. Cloudy skies didn't even attempt to get the mount out 100% clouds. Still a bit of novelty that you can't see ANYTHING when it's cloudy. The workshop itself is hard to make out from the house. Where the trees end and where the sky begins no one knows...

The contractor was busy all weekend. The fact that this guy doesn't use a computer is getting annoying, with that in mind I emailed another contractor to see if he can give me an estimate. In the mean time I cleaned out the upstairs good.

The floor although a little gross is very stable. I jumped up and down all over and there was not much vibration. There was however tons of weird junk. Cross country skies with hornets nests growing out of them. Broken TV, broken electric fireplace, broken glass, lots of glass panes. weird old things, carpet ect. All cleared out except the fireplace. The stairs are very narrow and I was too scared to carry it down.

The no email contractor apparently will be coming by easter weekend which is when I make my next trip there. He has done a lot of work on the house and generally seems like a good guy, just hard to get a hold of. Here are some more pics of the building. The building is like 18x24 maybe bigger so if the bottom of the pier is a massive 6x6 block of chimney blocks or cinder blocks who cares. Given that these blocks are not super expensive and digging will be hard / impossible this seems the best way to go. I can break up the floor where the pier will go and then put foam around to isolate it. There is minimal insulation on the ground level but this can all be improved before next winter to prevent it from dropping below freezing. Heat can even be added. I believe they were using that electric fireplace to provide heat upstairs as there is an endless amount of firewood and an open firepit on the property.













You can see some exposed areas in this picture I can seal these with foam. There are no leaks in the roof but there are plenty of gaps where hornets and other creatures got it. I must have vacuumed 25 nets. No bugs were seen. It looks like the previous owner sprayed them but didn't remove them. I did find a can of wasp spray.

a couple of interesting finds





Yeah the building is a little gritty and it needs a lot of work, but it does not need a lot of work to be an operational or at least semi operational observatory. Just the roof and maybe the stairs need to be changed.

I can vacuum upstairs again already got most of the crud, then pain the floor then stick a new carpet over it. Downstairs can be worked on ongoing for as long as it takes to make it nice. If I were to build a new building it would all have to be done at once. If I were ground level it would always be obstructed. If this ends up costing a lot then maybe the inside isn't nice for a while, but the scope will be up.

Finally I'm 99% sure I will be naming the observatory "Screaming Tree Observatory". For the Trees, the dead erie silence, and one of my favorite bands The Screaming Trees.


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corpusse
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 04/11/10

Loc: Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5727194 - 03/12/13 12:04 AM

So I got an estimate from a contractor. 3k for the roof modifications and structure add on. This was not the guy I was originally planning on using but he is impossible to get a hold of (no email ect) and since I don't live there it's even harder. This other guy has already emailed me twice shown interest and mentioned he at one time had a 10" scope and seems confident. Does this estimate sound fair?

I don't know if I should wait until I can get a hold of the other guy, or if they would consider it an insult there to get several estimates. Here that's normally what we would do, but there its just the 2 of them maybe one more general contractor and that's it.


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Midnight Dan
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Reged: 01/23/08

Loc: Hilton, NY, Yellow Zone (Bortl...
Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5727565 - 03/12/13 07:29 AM

I don't think it matters where you are. Getting more than one estimate is just good practice.

But I don't think the $3k is out of line, depending on what is included in that, how big the structure will be, etc. Will there be stairs, or a ladder, or something going up to it from the 2nd floor? Does his estimate include structural support for the extra weight on the roof?

-Dan


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corpusse
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 04/11/10

Loc: Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #5770416 - 04/01/13 10:08 AM

I met with the contractor over the weekend and we went through the building he took measurements and still stands by a 3k estimate and 400-600 for new safer stairs (the ones now are a true death trap). He is checking the prices of everything and will be getting back to me with a more complete estimate soon. The one thing he was concerned about was how the dome sits. He said if he has to cut something circular that would cost extra but I believe a hexagon will be fine. Looking at the exploradome website They have this for their 10x10 structure :



I'm going to send him that pic and hopefully things will be fine from there. He wants the dome to be there first which is not a problem as I have ordered it. Unfortunately I didn't realize I would need a controller as well in addition to the motor to get it to rotate at the correct speed so I will forgo automation for now. I am having them put the track in so that it will be easy to automate later. Just protecting myself from potential overhead costs as they will no doubt soar. This is a long term project but with a goal of having the dome usable asap.

He warned me there are bats in the area so I started sealing all the small holes with foam. As mentioned previously there was a past bee / hornet problem but the nests were sprayed however not removed so I have been removing them with a shop vac.



After explaining my pier options he heavily suggested I should go the sonotube route instead of the chimney block route. Apparently you can get a truck out to this remote location so having them pour it down would be possible, or even mixing myself for an all day hell job. Given the pier's height what size diameter will I need? If it's very large the floor may have to be resupported but I have about 14" to work with if I only cut 1 floor board. He suggested a 10" diameter but I'm not sure that is wide enough. I would have to measure my pier here which is around 10" but is only 40" or so high.

The other concern I have is digging to the frost line. The ground may be very rocky. I will be digging to the side of the building as a test but if it is impossible to auger how bad will the pier be if it sits above the frost line? Could I use a large base at the bottom to support it? If I have to make minor adjustments each spring winter that is no problem. If its unusable that's a real problem. This is still a ways in the future but what kind of top should I put on the pier. At home I just have a plate stuck into the concrete. I would like to maintain maximum flexibility.

Originally I plan on using a CGEM. However that will certainly not be the final mount. I have a CGE I could move there however I'd probably like to keep that here since it works well here and is probably the smallest mount I could one day use a 14" on (have 11" now which cgem can handle for planetary). The reason I moved the cgem there for now is because I don't have a tripod for the cge.. Since I plan on using this building for many decades to come I figure somewhere along the line I will scrape together enough for a higher end mount..

Anyway getting back to the building ground should break soon. The pier can be figured out after the dome. I am leaning towards having the pier at the front of the building. I like the idea of the dome at the front. When the building is painted it would look cool and the future warm room could be towards the back where there is a window.

Hopefully more updates soon.


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stmguy
sage


Reged: 10/11/12

Loc: Western NH
Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5772837 - 04/02/13 12:37 PM

I'd go as with a 14" sonotube if you go that route. I have a 12" sonotube and it didn't give me as much space from the edges as I would have liked for the anchor bolts that bolt to a pipe flange for 6" well casing for the top part of my pier
Norm


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Mike E.
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/26/10

Loc: Moonstone Observatory
Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: JJK]
      #5773125 - 04/02/13 03:18 PM

Have a look at this design, for an idea of possible modifications to your workshop.

www.desdelpatio.org


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Midnight Dan
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: Mike E.]
      #5776135 - 04/03/13 06:25 PM

Having a 10" diameter pier that tall would be more too much like a tuning fork. I think vibrations would be a problem.

Keep in mind that contractors are concerned with strength, not vibrations. Concrete is incredibly strong in compression and a tall, 10" pier will support more weight than you can imagine. But if you whack it, it will likely reverberate for a while.

That's why the cinder block base makes more sense. It's a lot larger and provides the mass you'll need. Another option is to go with a larger sonotube, like the 14" (or more) that smtguy suggests, up to the floor of the observatory. Then go with 10" from there up to the scope, or you could use a steel pier at that point. You want the part of the pier that is just below the mount to be relatively small to minimize the chances of a pier strike when the scope is moving.

-Dan


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corpusse
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 04/11/10

Loc: Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #5777344 - 04/04/13 10:45 AM

Quote:

Having a 10" diameter pier that tall would be more too much like a tuning fork. I think vibrations would be a problem.

Keep in mind that contractors are concerned with strength, not vibrations. Concrete is incredibly strong in compression and a tall, 10" pier will support more weight than you can imagine. But if you whack it, it will likely reverberate for a while.

That's why the cinder block base makes more sense. It's a lot larger and provides the mass you'll need. Another option is to go with a larger sonotube, like the 14" (or more) that smtguy suggests, up to the floor of the observatory. Then go with 10" from there up to the scope, or you could use a steel pier at that point. You want the part of the pier that is just below the mount to be relatively small to minimize the chances of a pier strike when the scope is moving.

-Dan




Dan you make some very good points, I could make it 14,16 or 18" or even bigger up to the second floor and then 10" from there. I believe I the floor boards are 14" and he recommended only cutting one if possible. More can be cut, but it's possible the floor would need to be reinforced.

He seemed to think the cinder blocks would be a lot harder to work with, but that is probably okay for me. I plan on doing the pier myself, if I need help I will get him to assist me, or better yet bring a friend up for a few days for what they think will be a relaxing time with a waterfront view when in reality it will be a labor camp

My exploradome should be shipping anytime. It won't be long before things are in motion.


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jrcrillyAdministrator
Refractor wienie no more
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Reged: 04/30/03

Loc: NE Ohio
Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5777371 - 04/04/13 10:54 AM

Quote:

He seemed to think the cinder blocks would be a lot harder to work with, but that is probably okay for me. I plan on doing the pier myself,




I believe that you will find the chimney block approach to be much easier, It definitely will require less concrete mixing! I was amazed at how quickly mine went up. There are complications involved in filling a Sonotube that large and long, Ensuring that the mix is consistent throughout the length of the tube, gaps in the concrete, and failure of the form when filled vertically are concerns. I've seen at least one horror story. Shorter Sonotube piers are easy and inexpensive but they just don't seem to scale up very well.


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stmguy
sage


Reged: 10/11/12

Loc: Western NH
Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: jrcrilly]
      #5777569 - 04/04/13 12:27 PM

If you are doing this yourself I would recommend the chimney block or alternating concrete bock over the sonotube for the reasons mentioned above. I'd personally top it off with a steel pier through the floor so you won't have to cut your joists
Norm


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corpusse
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 04/11/10

Loc: Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: stmguy]
      #5784687 - 04/07/13 08:15 PM

I believe you guys are right. The building itself is on a concrete slab. Again I do NOT want to dig deep down. In fact I would love to not dig at all. What if any complications will I face if I simply do a large base to support the pier so it's secure and then cut the floor and stick 1" foam around it to block vibrations.

It may be better to dig down a bit as far as I can go without using an auger and concrete that if you think security will be an issue, but I believe the ground to be very rocky there. I will try digging outside later just to see how hard it is.

If I have to do minor polar alignment adjustments throughout the seasons that's fine. If it's unsafe or unusable that's not. This is one thing the contractor can't really help with since he doesn't see it from an imaging perspective.

The good news is he is going to start rebuilding the stairs as early as this week. Hopefully I will get a delivery date for the dome soon and he can already be working on that so he won't have to go out of his way to receive the dome for me.


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Midnight Dan
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5784920 - 04/07/13 10:18 PM

Hard to say if putting a large concrete mass on top of the existing slab would present any problems or not. It depends on how the slab is made, and what the ground underneath it is like. If everything is stable, the ground well drained, and the slab reinforced with rebar or steel mesh, you will be ok. But unfortunately there's no way to tell.

If the ground is not solid enough, and/or the slab not reinforced, the slab could end up cracking and the pier tilting if the added weight causes the ground to subside and shift. This would be most likely to occur in spring when the ground thaws and becomes mushy. If you have a hole in the second story floor, a tilting pier could end up leaning against the side of the hole and put added stress on the building structure. This, of course is a worst case scenario.

Since the building has been there a while, if the floor is still flat and level (some minor cracks are ok), you're probably ok. But there's no guarantees. That pier will be putting a LOT of extra weight on the floor. The only way to be absolutely sure you won't have problems is to jackhammer through the slab, and dig a suitable foundation under the pier. You're the only one who can decide how big a risk you think it is to pour on the existing slab.

-Dan


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corpusse
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 04/11/10

Loc: Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #5785586 - 04/08/13 10:28 AM

Dan you're making me want to dig.. There is some cracking in the floor but it's not too major. I will check if its level next time I'm there.

Let's say I can't get to the frost line due to rocks. Do you think it would be better to just pour from as deep as I can get, or make a flat solid reinforced base allow it to cure then start the pier?

You've really been a great help. I am grateful for your help. This is a massive project for me to under take.


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