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Equipment Discussions >> Observatories

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corpusse
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 04/11/10

Loc: Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Brainstorming dream obs which will become real!
      #5597482 - 12/31/12 07:42 AM

First some background. I have a 6x8 roll off observatory I built myself via skyshed plans. It's not the greatest construction wise but certainly works and has for the past 2 years. I live in the suburban white zone. I have been imaging for a little over 3 years and in this time I've seen the milkyway just a handful of times and imaged for a dark site maybe 3 times.

Well my parents just purchased a second home on st joesph's island in northern ontario. About 100km away from sault ste marie, which itself only has a population of 75k. There are 2k on the island and 4k during the summer. According to the light pollution map the house is actually in the GREY zone! bordered by blue. I just came from visiting the island today and while it was clear during the day 100% cloud cover at night but it was the first time in forever I've seen dark clouds not orange ones like here. Getting back to the observatory there is a workshop on the property which is quite big and already has electricity. It's 2 stories tall which helps with tall trees, but it's also near a lot of trees. They have no intention of using it and have granted me permission to do what I want with it. It's probably not in the ideal location but the extra height might help. They are also not opposed to a small pod type observatory on the property if that works better.

I'm looking at either constructing it this summer or next summer depending on cost. I'm actually thinking I will take a second job as I'm currently working afternoons since I'm sure this is going to cost more then I think. 2 jobs one of which happens at night so I can image at night, I must be crazy..

Now the problems. This is a 7.5hr drive from my home. Only 1hr flight + 1hr drive which I can certainly do several times a year. My Dad will be basically going there every weekend so he can check on things and bring back any data. The only internet options are satellite internet which is a 1 megabit download and 128kbps up. Basically a little better then dial up. Would this work for automation? I'd have to have the sky cam send a picture every minute or so to minimize bandwidth. The alternative would be an AT&T 4g data stick. I'm not sure if they will sell to me in Canada but MI is just across the water and in the house we roam to AT&T. 2-3 bars so a data stick certainly would work it's just a matter of if they allow it to be used in Canada via US tower.

Alternatively faster internet by a Canadian ISP is tentatively available in august 2014. They are supposed to build another tower then. If remote is impossible before better internet I could just get everything ready for then and save up the funds.

Here is the "workshop" North is the direction of the trees behind it. The house itself faces south.



Somewhere in front of the house is where I could put a small pod. Facing the house from where the picture is taken is north. Where I'm standing when I took this pic is a cove that leads to lake huron. The house is on 3 acres! No street lights, no industry on the island nothing. Venus is probably the second greatest source of light pollution! From my current observatory I can read a newspaper without light.







So what do the experts think? I should be going back there in a month or 2 and hope to bring with me a mount to do some trial imaging. Earliest I expect to start on this is in the summer maybe june or july, I won't be digging my own pier again it was hell here, I can only imagine there where the houses don't even have basement because of the rocky ground. thanks and happy new year!


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Midnight Dan
Postmaster
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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]
      #5597621 - 12/31/12 09:51 AM

Wow! Looks like a fabulous site!

You don't specifically say, but with your talk of internet access, is your goal to have a remote controlled observatory so you don't have to travel there to do your observing and AP?

Also, you mention putting a pod in front of the house. Have you considered putting it on top of the workshop? You could build a small deck on the roof and put the pod on that. That would get you higher in relation to the tree-tops.

-Dan


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roscoe
curmudgeon
*****

Reged: 02/04/09

Loc: NW Mass, inches from VT
Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #5597724 - 12/31/12 10:57 AM

Nice spot, you're lucky!

I'd vote for a pod-type obs......with that open view, you've got plenty of sky available, and the logistics of putting in a pier, and keeping gear nearer the ground, are much simpler than building a 2-story pier in the workshop - though there is an old thread about a fella who did just that, and has a quite-nice opening roof in the top of his garage, and a concrete-block pier that holds his scope.

As far as internet access, if you can use a phone without a problem, then you might as well try data....if the powers that be don't like it, they'll let you know, but if you ask first, they might say no to start with. as long as you're paying for access, what side of the pond you're on shouldn't matter......
Russ


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csa/montana
Den Mama
*****

Reged: 05/14/05

Loc: montana
Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: roscoe]
      #5597731 - 12/31/12 11:02 AM

Quote:

I'd vote for a pod-type obs......with that open view, you've got plenty of sky available, and the logistics of putting in a pier, and keeping gear nearer the ground, are much simpler than building a 2-story pier in the workshop




+1. Hard to say what problems one would run into trying to renovate an old building into an observatory. Problems = money.


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1965healy
The Snarkster
*****

Reged: 06/23/07

Loc: San Antonio, TX
Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: csa/montana]
      #5597754 - 12/31/12 11:18 AM

BYO built my Woodlawn Lake Observatory by punching a hole in my garage and building me a 10x10 ROR. You can find the thread by clicking on my profile. They are pros at this so it went pretty quick, 3 days. Old building, nothing plumb or square was no problem for them. We designed the whole project via emails. CN posts and a couple of phone calls. While I appreciate the thought that a pro builder may mean a bit more money than going DIY in the long run the fact that it is done quickly, done correctly and they've been there and done that more than once more than makes up for the cost. They can set you up with everything from plans/parts to DIY or to a complete turn key remote controlled observatory.

You've got a GREAT site to work with BTW, lucky dog!


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StarWrangler
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 09/03/04

Loc: Three Rivers, MI U.S.A>
Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5597985 - 12/31/12 01:33 PM

Wow,

Whish I had a site like that,

Check out the link below my name for a
wide variety of designs, and soultions.

Alan O.


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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: StarWrangler]
      #5598444 - 12/31/12 05:43 PM

thanks for the initial ideas. As this is a long term project I will continue to update.

The workshop is near some tall trees and they may or may not obscure polaris. Hopefully not and it will remain an option. Further down the property there is plenty of open space for a mostly open sky.

If there was so much as a cashier job I'd move there myself. There really is no industry at all. Some seasonal maple syrup collection a few mom and pop restaurants and a general store. It's very scenic with wild turkeys and deer. Apparently there are bears but the real estate agent who lives on the island has seen 4 in 6 years and they were all from a distance.

He told me he just sold one house but it's conditional on the buyer getting to try the "high speed" internet for a day first. I do want to be able to do remote operation but in person use will be fine at first as long as it's easily upgradable in the future. I currently own a CGEM and a CGE. I know neither are exactly a high end robotic mount but I will bring one of them up there on my next trip, likely the CGEM since I don't have a tripod for my CGE. Eventually I can just do planetary imaging from here and everything else from there. I may even get into observing. I bust out my plossols for a view of Jupiter and Saturn about twice a year and maybe Uranus once. There really isn't much point observing here.

Another interesting fact is the war of 1812 started just a few km from the house! It's also the second largest freshwater island in the world.


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StarWrangler
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 09/03/04

Loc: Three Rivers, MI U.S.A>
Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5598636 - 12/31/12 07:41 PM

Wow " war of 1812 " that's really cool,


Alan O.


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1965healy
The Snarkster
*****

Reged: 06/23/07

Loc: San Antonio, TX
Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: StarWrangler]
      #5598711 - 12/31/12 08:33 PM

The great thing about Polaris is that it pretty much stays put. When we built my Obs I had a clear view of it for alignment of the CPC 800 scope/wedge on the pier. Since then the neighbors 75' pecan tree obscures it most of the year. I check the alignment when the leaves fall off it, nothings moved in over 5 years. The CG5-GT/refractor/newt/DSLR mount hasn't budged either. I read somewhere about a guy who mounted a "fake Polaris" on a pipe when a building was being constructed to the north of his Obs. Sounded silly but apparently it worked out for him.
You're at the dream/imagine phase so enjoy exploring all of your options. That workshop looks like it's handled the climate well for a number of years, if it has power it may just be a good place to start.


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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: 1965healy]
      #5688689 - 02/19/13 11:20 AM

I've now been to the site twice. Once during a new moon where I saw more stars then I ever have. Seeing M42 naked eye ect. Just a few clear hours but it was great.

This past weekend was 1st quarter moon and even with the moon it was darker then it ever gets here. M42 in binoculars was great. Did some imaging got alright pictures. It was -25c so didn't do too much adjusting as far as gain / offset and I think I had the offset too high. Still happy with results as it is a learning experience.

Anyway I have been setting up near the workshop for the simple reason there is about 2 feet of snow everywhere that wasn't plowed. There were some obstructions but overall it's a pretty good spot. Getting up to the second floor and then some in the workshop would eliminate a lot of those obstructions. I wouldn't have to drill into the ground for the pier too. Just make a large base on the concrete floor. It would be a super tall pier but I have seen others do them here.

A pod type building on the other side of the property may still be an option but just thinking about how hard it will be to get to in winter has me thinking this is the way to go. I probably will wait 1 year to begin construction but I want to plan this perfectly. Who knows maybe in the fall or summer I will end up starting.

Here are some pics of the building in it's current state. It needs some work obviously but anyone care to guestimate how much it would cost to cut a hole in the roof and put an exploradome type dome on top (excluding dome cost). I would like to try and figure out a ballpark number before I get contractors involved to avoid sticker shock. I'm thinking with the roof being triangular I'd have to build it up a few feet, which would then increase the height above the trees then place the dome on top.





The upstairs in it's current condition





uh oh



The stairs are very scary and likely need to be replaced going up and down is tricky...



downstairs



I could also setup my refractor and take telephoto pics of these guys



Sorry about the fish eye pics, I did not have a wide enough lens to take pictures of the inside other then the fish eye.

Here is one of the house with M42, Jupiter, M45, the 1st quarter moon among others over top



So what do you think it would cost to cut a hole in the roof and do something like this

http://www.cloudynights.com/ubbthreads/attachments/1282050-Gene-Tetzlaff%27s-...

Once the observatory is complete I could continue to renovate the building.


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JJK
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 04/28/08

Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5689017 - 02/19/13 02:38 PM

I'd suggest either doing a double ROR at the top of the workshop, or better yet, make a new freestanding ROR observatory (perhaps 10'x10') roughly near the workshop).

Is the electricity run to the workshop rated to handle the new load?


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csa/montana
Den Mama
*****

Reged: 05/14/05

Loc: montana
Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5689103 - 02/19/13 03:34 PM

Perhaps get some quotes from someone in the area?

BTW; that night photo would make a fantastic Christmas card!


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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: csa/montana]
      #5689172 - 02/19/13 04:07 PM

There is no one in the area I think there are one or 2 contractors on the island for example. The plumber we hired is also the electrican on the island and the fire chief!

The point of building onto this building is its higher then a new building. I have a 6x8 at home and it was hell to build but functional.

The workshop has its own circuit it should be more then fine for a camera mount and computer plus a few other minor things. After Allan's power tools plus a large stereo were previously used. Even if it has to be upgraded that's cheaper then starting from scratch.


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JJK
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 04/28/08

Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5689973 - 02/19/13 11:33 PM

Quote:

There is no one in the area I think there are one or 2 contractors on the island for example. The plumber we hired is also the electrican on the island and the fire chief!

The point of building onto this building is its higher then a new building. I have a 6x8 at home and it was hell to build but functional.

The workshop has its own circuit it should be more then fine for a camera mount and computer plus a few other minor things. After Allan's power tools plus a large stereo were previously used. Even if it has to be upgraded that's cheaper then starting from scratch.





I would guess that marrying new construction to old (and fixing the old construction) would take more skill (and more thought) than building a rectangular ROR building (I've done the latter). Also, a much shorter pier would be more stable.

Finally, if your folks ever sold the place, it'd likely be easier to do so with a simple outbuilding that could be construed as a shed, instead of a dome atop a workshop.

Just my 2 cents.


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csa/montana
Den Mama
*****

Reged: 05/14/05

Loc: montana
Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5689977 - 02/19/13 11:39 PM

Quote:

So what do you think it would cost to cut a hole in the roof and do something like this




Problem is, there's no way of knowing what a contractor would charge you, until they see the building, so it's almost impossible to even give a ballpark figure. Materials, etc., varies in pricing from location to location, also.


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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: csa/montana]
      #5690008 - 02/20/13 12:07 AM

I have built the skyshed. I have a 6x8 roll off now. I found it very difficult as I had no experience. I certainly would do a better job the next time, but the building at ground level would face a lot more obstructions and the cost of building a comfortably sized one say 10x10 or even bigger would likely be more then cutting a hole in the roof and adding that small addition. When factoring in the dome I think that would be the only thing that could push it over.

Not even a ballpark figure? $500? $5000? more? I do know labor there is cheap the plumber charged just $40 an hour for labor you'd never find one anywhere near that cheap here. I can do a lot of the other fixing up. I just want a professional to cut the roof and build the little add on. I probably will have to wait until spring / summer to get a quote. Most people there don't even use the internet so it's not like I can email them pics..

As far as worrying about resale factor that's not even a consideration. They will never sell the place and even if they did I would be first in line to make an offer. It also would not put a serious dent in the resale value. The waterfront property on 3 acres with a nice 3 bedroom house that needs relatively little work cost less then a 1 bedroom condo that you'd be lucky to get a 4x6 balcony of outdoor space would cost here.


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1965healy
The Snarkster
*****

Reged: 06/23/07

Loc: San Antonio, TX
Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5690071 - 02/20/13 12:58 AM

Having had a ROR roof top Obs built I can tell you that it's not as simple as just cutting a hole in the roof and putting on a dome or roll off, especially in your case where you have snow. I used BYO to build mine.

You can use your SkyShed ROR plans to generate a bill of materials and then figure out prices as far as lumber etc. The pier will be the number of 4 block courses you'll need to reach the finished floor height plus the cost of cement and the steel pier at the top. The cost of the dome and ring vary by size and mfg.

Contact BYO, they can steer you to what you need to do this properly. I'm pretty sure Scott has, or can modify, plans that will accomplish your goal.


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JJK
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 04/28/08

Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5690205 - 02/20/13 05:22 AM

Quote:

I have built the skyshed. I have a 6x8 roll off now. I found it very difficult as I had no experience. I certainly would do a better job the next time, but the building at ground level would face a lot more obstructions and the cost of building a comfortably sized one say 10x10 or even bigger would likely be more then cutting a hole in the roof and adding that small addition. When factoring in the dome I think that would be the only thing that could push it over.

Not even a ballpark figure? $500? $5000? more? I do know labor there is cheap the plumber charged just $40 an hour for labor you'd never find one anywhere near that cheap here. I can do a lot of the other fixing up. I just want a professional to cut the roof and build the little add on. I probably will have to wait until spring / summer to get a quote. Most people there don't even use the internet so it's not like I can email them pics..

As far as worrying about resale factor that's not even a consideration. They will never sell the place and even if they did I would be first in line to make an offer. It also would not put a serious dent in the resale value. The waterfront property on 3 acres with a nice 3 bedroom house that needs relatively little work cost less then a 1 bedroom condo that you'd be lucky to get a 4x6 balcony of outdoor space would cost here.





Given that you don't have sufficient design and carpentry skills to either build a new ROR observatory from scratch you likely aren't up to designing and constructing a modification to the existing workshop at your parents' place. Thus, you'll need to hire a professional for the job. As there are very few professional contractors in that part of the world, will they accept such a small job? Since we don't know the real cost of labor there, the cost of materials there, and the true scope of the work (fixing an old building takes longer than one imagines), it's hard to guess what the project would cost.

However, some of the real cost drivers include: the kind of pier you will use (can you get away with a tripod on the second level floor, do you need a 2-story concrete pier and if so, do you need a 4'+ deep foundation for it), how large an opening you need, whether a ROR or Dome will be added (a commercially made dome would likely be more expensive), whether the roof trusses can take the extra load of a dome, whether the opening provides the views you want (determined by the pitch of the existing roof; the height of the walls and the distance between them and the telescope/mount center), etc.

Part of the problem with putting the observatory in the workshop's 2nd floor is marrying new construction to old. That kind of carpentry takes time, which generally translates into money (at least near Washington, DC).

Without going too far out on a limb, I would guess that $500 would be insufficient. However, if you really want a quick and dirty solution, and can live with a very low tech modification to the existing structure that would be relatively inconvenient to use (and that might not be weathertight), you might get by with that cost. After having skimped on building a ROR observatory, I wouldn't recommend doing that.

If it were my project, I'd want make the entire second floor span the width and length of the building (it looks like that's currently not the case). I'd also refurbish part of the workshop to function as a warm room. Those would add to the cost of the project.

If you want it done right, it might take half a day to reframe/brace the roof trusses near where the cuts are to be made, a day to cut the metal roof, a day to frame/trim the opening, and several days to a week to make the ROR structure. Then there's the time to make a concrete block pier (about a week). Thus, my guesstimate for labor would be 2 to 3 weeks (80 to 120 hours). At $10/hour that's $800 to $1200. At $20/hour, well, you get the idea. Also, do the local contractors charge for the time they spend getting materials to the job site? Getting material up two flights adds time to the job.

Assuming no disasters are lurking in the workshop's attic (i.e., the existing construction is sound), the cost of lumber might be under $500, roof sheet metal might be a few hundred dollars. Miscellaneous screws and other hardware latches), perhaps $50. You can look up the cost of concrete in that area.

If I was up there, I'd help you. Please keep us informed of the cost estimates and the progress of the job!

Edited by JJK (02/20/13 05:40 AM)


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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]
      #5690500 - 02/20/13 09:52 AM

Thanks guys. Now I'm starting to get an idea, which was my initial hope. Since I am not on site and it is the dead of winter I can't really get real estimates but I'd like to have an idea of what I am getting into and don't want to rush into anything. The planning I'm doing now and suggestions I get here will go a long way to a successful observatory that will be in use for many decades to come.

I can't imagine concrete being much more there then here. There is actually about 4 or 5 bags left behind by the previous owners in the workshop already not that that would even make a dent in making a 2 story pier. The city of sault ste marie is about an hour to an hour and a half away and they have home depot and all the other hardware stores there. There is one lumber store on the island.

As far as a contractor not wanting to take on this job, I don't think it's that small also with a population of around 2,000 their job options are quite limited. Again the only example I have thus far is the work we had with plumber but he did quite a bit and only charged 4hrs labor and his parts charges were cheaper then when we priced out buying the items ourselves. It's well water there and we were having a problem with sulfur smell coming from the water..

Personally I really like the exploradome option. I know the dome and future automation will add several thousand dollars to the cost but imo this is nicer and perhaps more practical then roll off. It's too bad I can't find the build thread for the observatory pictured in the link above. Automation would likely be at least 2 years away due to the fact the only internet option right now is a signal booster to get 3g from nearby michigan. Eventually there will be a Canadian cell tower there but it's current estimated completion is august 2014. It's funny if I want to send a text in the house I type it first on airplane mode turn on the service and I get my carrier and 0 bars for about 10 seconds then it roams to AT&T at 3-4 bars.

I would imagine making the entire top floor a roll off which be a much larger expense and a much larger project. I don't have the exact floor size but it's larger then a standard 2 car garage. As nice as something of that size would be I'm not sure I require that. 1 Pier, computer and a few misc equipment. Of course with a larger roll off I could add more mounts even if they were on tripods but I can always bring out another mount if I am imaging on more then one setup anyway.

As far as the warm room and other things I am confident I can do at least some of that work myself even if I have to invite people up there and surprise them with a labor camp when they arrive Right now still planning but leaning very heavily to the dome in the roof just want to figure out what it's going to cost in the ballpark.

I will be going back for the march new moon and will hopefully pick up a shopvac and get rid of those yellow jacket nests before they come out of hibernation and clean up the misc junk up there. There is no garbage pickup at the house but instead you have to bring the garbage yourself to the dump. It's a completely different world. A perfect world for observing / imaging less the cold cold winters.


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JJK
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 04/28/08

Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5690647 - 02/20/13 11:12 AM

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

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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
*****

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
Postmaster
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Reged: 01/23/08

Loc: Hilton, NY, Yellow Zone (Bortl...
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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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

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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! new [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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Midnight Dan
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5786098 - 04/08/13 01:56 PM

Look to see if the cracks have separated much or if the level of the floor is different on either size of the crack. A reinforced slab will stick crack, but the cracks will be thin because the reinforcing mesh will not allow them to separate, and will keep the two sides at the same level.

As for digging, if the first floor room will be kept heated to above freezing, you shouldn't have to go below the frost line. You'd still want a decent size base to start with. For a pier that tall, I'd try to go a good 2 feet down, with a base about 3' by 3'. If you're going to let the base cure first, then embed some rebar in it sticking up where the pier will be. That will tie the pier pour to the base.

If the first floor room will not be heated, then you're back to evaluating the ground conditions. The problem with freezing ground is that the ice expands with enormous force and can move buildings, foundations ... and of course piers. The lay of the land is important. For example, if the building is on high ground, and the ground consistency is somewhat porous, then you have good drainage and there may not be enough moisture build up in the soil to be much of a problem. In that case, going down a couple of feet *might* be ok.

On the other hand, if its a low lying area and the ground gets pretty soppy in the spring, it could indicate that there's a higher danger of frost heaves, in which case the base should go below the frost line.

I'm going into all these details just to give you an idea of some of the factors at play here. Fact is, like I said before, there's a good chance that you could just pour on top of the existing floor and be fine. But it is a risk and there are a lot of variables that go into the decision. The only way to make a better decision would be to get a structural engineer out there to look at the building, it's foundation, the floor slab, and the soil & drainage conditions ... and even then he'll be making an educated estimate of the situation.

So what it boils down to is ... how much effort do you want to put into this, vs. just taking the risk and pouring on the slab? As Clint Eastwood said ... do ya feel lucky?

-Dan


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Mary B
Vendor - Echo Astronomy and Electronics
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Reged: 05/21/10

Loc: Minnesota
Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5786325 - 04/08/13 04:20 PM

Putting that much weight on a poured slab will result in cracking and sinking of the slab in that spot. You need a proper footing under the pier to support the weight.

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tim53
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: Mary B]
      #5786430 - 04/08/13 05:09 PM

How about a steel pipe for a pier?

-tim


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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: tim53]
      #5787780 - 04/09/13 10:38 AM

So the next time I go up I will test dig outside the building. If I can get deep relatively easy I will try and go for the frost line. If I hit large rocks then I will dig a wider less deep area. Maybe something like a 4 feet by 4 feet block can be the bottom as deep as I can go.

If I'm no where near the frost line, I will have to invest in some sort of heater to keep the ground level above freezing.

I think a steel pipe for the top of the pier will be great but it's way too tall to just make it out of steel.

I gotta find out if there is anywhere I can rent auger's and jackhammers anywhere near by. There is a home depot that is about an hour and a half away.


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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]
      #5829707 - 04/29/13 09:00 AM

So my dome will apparently FINALLY be delivered today. I could not be more upset how this went. I originally told exploradome way in advance I'd need the dome shipped for delivery within a 2 week window as no one lives at the house. They said it was fine I even offered to pay right away to ensure it would be delivered then but they insisted it would be no problem. I had just assumed it was on route and when I finally got a hold of them the last day of the 2 week window they informed me they "lost track of time" and didn't ship it out.

I know the product itself gets great reviews but the service is just terrible. Shipping was also 100$ more then quoted with no notification and when I emailed about this no reply. It is what it is, but they could have at least mentioned this to me.

Anyway the dome sat in a warehouse in the nearby city for a couple of days, they left a message on the house phone which of course no one got. They now inform me that I need to supply a forklift to get it off. You would think for $1250 they could get it off the truck but no deal. I asked if they could decrate it and blanket wrap it, they said no. Apparently it just barely fits on a 5 ton so it won't be possible to go in the truck and cut it out of the crate. Granted this is a unique situation with no one living at the house full time but they were informed of this long before I actually placed an order.

With this in mind my contractor has more wood being delivered today so we are trying to time it so that it can be delivered this afternoon at the same time and the lumber company will have a forklift. Something could still go wrong then who knows what. The good thing is these small town companies are not as anal about time constraints and whatnot. Here I would have already been hit with a storage fee, there the warehouse manager was fine with holding it until whenever at no charge. The thing is it's already way behind schedule after I informed the contractor it would be coming within that 2 week window and he has other jobs coming up so this has to get done asap. I'm sure all these delays and hassles will be reflected in my bill.

The new stairs are finished and they look great in the pics. My Dad who is the only one whos seen them says they were build well. I have no doubt in this guys skills as there are less then a handful of contractors on the island so anyone there who's been around a few years must be doing a good job.

All these problems have me somewhat regretting this build. Once it's done or at least the dome is there I will be happy but I could have got a new scope / mono camera and started narrowband imaging imaging from my observatory here in the white zone and had 1000s to spare.

I will be back on the island in 2 weeks to check out the dome and construction. Hopefully I will be able to start the pier too. I am thinking I will cut a 40x40 hole in the floor. I will go as deep as I can go and then on my next trip up I will pour the concrete, attach the rebar and order the chimney or cinder blocks depending on what's available.







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Midnight Dan
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5829859 - 04/29/13 10:28 AM

Stairs look great! Pain in the neck about the dome!

There will likely be more obstacles before you're done. But memories fade, and in a few years when this is all behind you, you'll be REALLY happy you did it!

-Dan


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stmguy
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Reged: 10/11/12

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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #5830164 - 04/29/13 01:11 PM

For the concrete blocks I'd highly recommend using surface bonding cement.It will bond those blocks together far better than mortar.

http://www.quikrete.com/PDFs/Projects/MortarlessBlockConstructionWithQuikwall...

or
http://www.sakrete.com/products/detail.cfm/prod_alias/Surface-Bonding-Cement


Norm


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Starhawk
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: stmguy]
      #5830494 - 04/29/13 03:18 PM

Here's a quick concern- is your dome going to be walled off from the rest of the building? You don't want the whole structure to chimney though your dome at night.

I think you'll be very happy when the build is complete.

-Rich


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corpusse
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Reged: 04/11/10

Loc: Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: Starhawk]
      #5831932 - 04/30/13 10:28 AM

Success! I am actually surprised I was able to get a forklift to the house. Thankfully there is the one lumbar yard on the island.

The dome is going in the middle of the roof a small square extension will be built as shown in the picture earlier. The contractor says everything will be done by the weekend. My Dad will be at the house then to check everything out. I'll be going up for a quick weekend trip may 11/12th for the new moon. Unfortunately I have other commitments or I'd go this week. The following week is a long weekend so I'll probably take an extra day and try and get some work done like the floor footing for the pier, order the blocks ect.

Not that it was a big surprise but when the old downstairs drywall was tore down there were a few mice inside. I know exactly how they are getting in so that will be sealed as well but it wouldn't be a surprise to still find them as I get them even in the house here from time to time.

I think realistically the building can probably be used by july or august with completion done in maybe 18 months or so. I'm going to paint the building that should be lots of fun...


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corpusse
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5834015 - 05/01/13 10:24 AM

I will get some of the surface bonding cement for sure. I am hoping the concrete is not that hard to breakup. I'll cut the square with a skillsaw and then hopefully break it up with a sledge (not afraid of the hard labor just hope its possible). If not I'll need a large hammer drill I think its still going to be small enough of a job I won't need a jackhammer.

That will hopefully be done the next time I'm there. Then I can dig assuming that goes well and I pour the pad, how should I plan on attaching the blocks to the pad? Will I need to either drill them or use cinder blocks on the bottom and attach rebar to the pad when it's poured or should I simply attach the bottom of the pier to the pad with the cement? The pier on the bottom level will be extra wide to provide more stability then the top level will just be a steel pipe or something similar so the floor joists won't need to be cut.

Here are a couple of pics contractor sent me yesterday :





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stmguy
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5834045 - 05/01/13 10:36 AM

I see you are making progress for sure. If it were me I'd place rebar in the concrete so it comes up through the first layer of blocks. Pour concrete in the first layer or two of the blocks and it shouldn't go anywhere

Norm


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Midnight Dan
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: stmguy]
      #5834716 - 05/01/13 04:10 PM

Looks good!

First, I'd consider renting a jackhammer to break up the concrete after you cut around the edge with a masonry blade in a skill saw. For a small job like that, an electric jackhammer should work fine.

How big will your cinder block base be? How many blocks on a side? If it's only one or two blocks, you can probably fill all the cavities. If it's more, you might want to only fill some and leave some empty. But at a minimum, fill the corner cavities.

Have a set of cinder blocks ready to go for the first course at the bottom. Once the concrete for the pad is poured and leveled, set the cinder blocks on the surface, buttering the ends with mortar. You want the cinder blocks to be resting on wet concrete so they adhere well, and you want it to still be wet enough to able to accept rebar. Once you've got the first course in place, jam a piece of rebar into the concrete in the cavities that you intend to fill later. Shove it down into the wet concrete so it sticks out of the cavity to the height of the finished base. If the base will be very tall, then only go up a few feet with the rebar, otherwise it will be hard to get the next layer of cinder blocks over them. You can wire on extra pieces of rebar as you go up.

Once the pad has set up, you can start adding courses of cinder block until you reach final height. Then fill the rebar-containing cavities with concrete.

-Dan


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corpusse
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #5837287 - 05/02/13 09:24 PM

The thing is the closest home depot is real far so renting is not really ideal. I'm not afraid of the manual labor. There are a few people on the island who have augers apparently. If I can pay one of them to do the hole I'll do that, otherwise I'd have to go to HD and rent it for 24hrs as it's too far to go back and forth. I mean I could but after using the auger I know I'll be beat.

The good news is the dome is going up tomorrow. They will use a forklift to raise it. Also everything is more or less on budget. Considering the extra hassles and delays I am very pleased. He originally was supposed to do this work earlier. The only additional charge is to add siding to the addition the same as the roof will be a couple hundred more.

My Dad will be at the house Saturday I'll get him to take some higher resolution photos and I will be there next weekend to inspect it myself.







It's really looking exactly like how I wanted it to. Of course I need to fix a lot of little things and I do hope to get around to paining the building as well but it seems like everything is going well.


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Midnight Dan
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5837318 - 05/02/13 09:47 PM

Nice! It's gonna be a beauty!

-Dan


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corpusse
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Reged: 04/11/10

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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #5837364 - 05/02/13 10:22 PM

If you look real close just over the house in the left hand corner you can see the water



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Midnight Dan
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5837461 - 05/02/13 11:32 PM

Wow! That is going to be soooo cool to have that height advantage!

-Dan


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ErikB
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5837479 - 05/02/13 11:44 PM

What are you going to use to isolate the new slab/pier mechanically from the old concrete floor? In my still unfinished project I used 1" neoprene foam from foambymail.com. They were considerably cheaper than the other vendor I looked at. The material itself seems ok, but I was surprised to find that it tears rather easily.

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corpusse
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: ErikB]
      #5838231 - 05/03/13 12:09 PM

I was planning on just using styrofoam. Either 1" or 2" Just buy a few pieces at HD and then put it around.

I'm still torn about the pier again the contractor is urging me to use a big sonotube. Maybe he had a bad experience with cinder / chimney blocks but he keeps telling me it will be hard to work with. He won't have anything to do with it so it's not like he's doing that work. Next week I'll go price out the blocks and go from there. Price will not be the deciding factor but if there is a big difference either way that may steer me.

I have been looking at this pier a lot
http://www.cloudynights.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php/Cat/0/Number/4664464/page...

Of course I could do the same thing with blocks. Once the dome is up I asked him to cut the largest possible hole in the floor without cutting the joists. The pier can be as big as I want up to that point and then it will shorten to fit through the floor. I will look into steel pipes in the area when I get to this point or I could even do a smaller sonotube on top. That would at least be a mixable amount of concrete. For the pad I'm going to have to bring in a truck in all likelyhood. Unless I open my own labor camp


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HunterofPhotons
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5838464 - 05/03/13 02:11 PM

Quote:

....I'm still torn about the pier again the contractor is urging me to use a big sonotube. Maybe he had a bad experience with cinder / chimney blocks but he keeps telling me it will be hard to work with......




To put it politely, your contractor doesn't know what he's talking about.
An astronomical pier needs a large footprint to be stable. A large sonotube isn't appropriate. The weight of a large sonotube filled with concrete is considerable. A properly-sized base is a must.
A tall sonotube filled with wet concrete is a nightmare if there is a blowout. You don't ever want to deal with that.
Has your contractor considered how to fill a tall sonotube? A pumper truck is what is called for. They're not cheap and rarely available in sparsely inhabited places.
Compare this with a block pier that is cheap, has a large footprint, and can easily be built by one person.
You might want to reconsider using this contractor, too. <g>

dan k.


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Starhawk
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: HunterofPhotons]
      #5838491 - 05/03/13 02:31 PM

What about a steel pier?

-Rich


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Midnight Dan
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: Starhawk]
      #5838588 - 05/03/13 03:14 PM

HunterofPhotons hit the nail on the head. Contractors are thinking about very different things when they look at building techniques.

I'm getting ready to have my pier built in the next month or so. I was showing the contractor the pier plate assembly with the 3/4" stainless J-bolts on the bottom to sink into the concrete. He was telling me there's no way I need bolts that big - he's built houses that attached with smaller bolts than that.

I explained that it didn't really matter how strongly the bolts were holding the pier plate to the concrete. The issue is that the the pier plate needs to be suspended above the pier so that there is room to adjust the height and level the plate. The bolts need to be thick and solid so that the suspended plate and attached scope/mount are held rigidly without vibrations. These are things a contractor has no experience with and could care less about.

Similarly, the design of the concrete part of an astronomical pier has to meet different requirements than normal structural concrete work. Your contractor won't be taking those requirements into consideration so take what he says with a grain of salt.

-Dan


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corpusse
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Reged: 04/11/10

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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #5838696 - 05/03/13 04:21 PM

First of all I know he doesn't know about piers for astrophotography. He knows about regular building stuff and is somewhere between 90 and 100% done. I have not inspected the site yet but from what I can tell he did an amazing job. He also was get accommodating as far as getting the dome off the truck for me, not charging extra for a forklift to put the dome on top when originally we didn't think it was needed ect.

I'm simply consulting him about the pier not using him to build it. I come here for the pier advice and everything I'm reading less considering using another guy I agree with. Cinder blocks and chimney blocks it will be. I am now thinking I will use cinder for the first few feet and below the floor so rebar can go through it with ease and then possibly switch to the chimney blocks as it gets higher. Unless its better to go cinder all the way. I will then switch to either a sonotube or steel pipe when I get to the second level. This part will be narrower to avoid having to resupport the floor.

I'm so excited to get there.


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stmguy
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5838712 - 05/03/13 04:32 PM

It's looking good. I'd go with the concrete blocks and top it off with a steel pier (I used 6" well casing and I'm very happy with it)
Norm


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HunterofPhotons
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Reged: 04/26/08

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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5838786 - 05/03/13 05:28 PM

Look at what Russ Croman did.

Go about halfway down and find the plans.
It will give you an idea of how to build a cinder block pier.
A mason and a helper could easily build something like this in a couple of days, maybe a bit less.
There's nothing wrong with a sonotube pier for lower heights, but they become problematic for high piers.

dan k.


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corpusse
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 04/11/10

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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: HunterofPhotons]
      #5839284 - 05/03/13 11:04 PM

Good news everyone, the dome is up. Everything is done as far as what the contractor was supposed to do. My Dad is at the house this weekend and said it looks great. He'll send me some pics tomorrow.

Thanks for the link Dan, I think I will be doing something similar, although that pier looks MASSIVE. I understand I want the pier to weigh somewhere between 25x and 50x maximum load on top, but is that about the only guideline I have to go by as to how big it should be? I was planning a 40x40 slab but that's not set in stone (yet). I can certainly go bigger, that number just seemed good to me but I will make sure it's good before I start..

Initially the load on the top will be less then 100lbs however as I am hoping to use this for the rest of my life there could one day be a paramount or ap mount and 14" HD or 16" RC, so I'd like to build this so it will be good for a 200-300 LB load just in case. I plan on living a while and doing imaging the rest of my life.

Edit some rough calculations :

If I do a 40x40x60" pad that will require 7380lbs of concrete. If I use the 16x6x8 blocks HD sell and make the pier 36x32 I would need 12 pier level. I don't have the ceiling height but I guess it's around 10 feet maybe slightly less I'd need a 180!! blocks x 40lbs per block that is 7200lbs + the 7380 for the pad puts me at 14380 + the rest of the pier should bring it past 15000 which would allow for a 300lbs load and still maintain the 50:1 ratio.

edit again, so the blocks apparently weigh 45lbs now.

http://www.homedepot.ca/product/10-inch-standard-concrete-block/981814

On the US home depot they are 28lbs. Either weight should work though.

Edited by corpusse (05/03/13 11:40 PM)


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Midnight Dan
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5839778 - 05/04/13 09:30 AM

Hi Andrew:

Not sure where the 25-50x came from, but seems reasonable as a guideline. I think it just highlights the fact that you want a big mass for the base. There are other things to consider.

If you have roughly 14K pounds in a pier, you want to be sure the soil underneath it will support it without it sinking or tilting to one side over time. Digging down to a reasonable depth helps because the soil is more stable and compacted. But still, you need to know what the load bearing capacity of the soil in your area is so you provide enough surface area for the pier.

For example, clay is rated at about 2K pounds per square foot. To support the load you'd need about 7 square feet. Your 40" x 40" base provides 11 square feet so you should be good to go if your soil is clay. Most soil types are at least 2K pounds per square foot or more, so you're probably fine, but you might want to check on the soil types in your area from your local building department.

-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]
      #5840959 - 05/05/13 12:00 AM

Just reading other threads on large piers it seems people are using that number, there was one in particular but I closed it otherwise I'd link. I`ve been reading about big piers as much as I can. I can always reduce the size if this ends up being too much weight. I highly doubt there is a "building department". We are talking about a place that has no police, garbage pickup ect. I remember reading the Mayor takes home a salary of $700 a year or something silly like that. All I can do is dig and find out. Unless I really want to get crazy and bring someone in from further away..

The dome is up and it looks exactly exactly how I wanted it to. Having something come together like this really is amazing. Obviously there is a lot to do still but it's going better then I could have hoped.



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stmguy
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5842127 - 05/05/13 05:42 PM

looks fantastic

Norm


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Midnight Dan
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: stmguy]
      #5842273 - 05/05/13 07:12 PM

Wow! Looks wonderful! Should have a great view of the sky at that height. Now for that last pesky detail - the pier!

-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]
      #5846974 - 05/08/13 12:46 AM

Quote:

Wow! Looks wonderful! Should have a great view of the sky at that height. Now for that last pesky detail - the pier!

-Dan




Yes the pesky pier.

Small bit of good news. I found a company who does excavation. I can likely get them to dig down to the frost line. Even better good news is its the same guy who plows the driveway so he already knows the house / my Dad. I'll give him a call friday and see if he can come by on the weekend. I still have to cut the concrete of course, at least this is someone who can do it whenever I won't have to be there. He's one of those island guys who doesn't have a computer. Such a different world there, no wonder there is no light pollution.


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csa/montana
Den Mama
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5847399 - 05/08/13 09:40 AM

Your dream observatory is really materializing beautifully! The dome looks great!

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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: csa/montana]
      #5855230 - 05/12/13 11:10 AM

Just catching my breath on my cell phone with barely a wifi signal but I wanted to share my findings. This weekend has been tough I forgot a bunch of stuff I needed. My camera lens and a part for my skill saw. I took the blade off and just bought a concrete blade here but it's too lose without the spacer.

I decided I'll break up the middle of the concerete anyway. The sledge hammer route is so hard! I consider myself pretty strong but this is wearing me out. I have abou an 8" round hole in the middle of my 40x40 area. The good news is under the building it's just sand. Sand and a lot of rocks. With my gloved hands and a pry bar I've been able to get about 18" deep. I should have no time digging down to the frost line. I was thinking breaking the concrete would be easier then digging. I do want to do some of the work myself. In part to save money in part because id like some of my own sweat but hopefully not blood to be put into the construction of this observatory. This is the one for life.

Also I bought 12 concrete blocks just to visualize my pier. They had 3 sizes I stuck with the 16x6x8 ones I assumed I was going to work with. They have 8" and 12" wide ones as well. Now for the 12" ones id use a lot less blocks but in concerned they will be too heavy to work with especially at higher heights. I can also put more rebar in more blocks. I'm not sure if I will fill them all the way but at the bottom for sure and probably the top.

Do you think I should stick with my 280 or so 6" wide blocks or drop the number and use bigger blocks? Just trying to make sure I do everything as right as I can.

Also it's amazing to be under the dome! It's actually snowing now despite the fact it was 25 degrees here earlier in the week. I saw a ton of turtles when I got here yesterday but now it's back to winter. I've never seen snow this late in the year in my life!


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Midnight Dan
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5855277 - 05/12/13 11:32 AM Attachment (18 downloads)

Quote:

Do you think I should stick with my 280 or so 6" wide blocks or drop the number and use bigger blocks?




Not sure I understand the question. Why would wider blocks reduce the number? Seems like wider blocks would just make the wall thicker.

The most commonly used size is the 8" wide block, mostly because it is half the length of the block which makes it easier to turn corners and have everything line up when the blocks are laid out in half-block overlapping layers. So, if you use 2.5 8-inch blocks per side, that would take up your 40 x 40 area as shown below. Was that your plan?

-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]
      #5855337 - 05/12/13 11:58 AM

Dan that makes a lot of sense. My original "plan" if you can call it that was a 36x32 on the 40x40 slab using 12 blocks per layer just continuously stacking them up. Obviously crossing them like you illustrated will further strengthen the pier. This is why I'm asking every step of the way I want to make sure it's done right.

I was also under the assumption I had to fill the middle with blocks is that not correct? This would mean I'd need a lot less blocks. This is why I thought wider blocks would mean I will need less.

The 8" wide now seems like the way to go.


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Gardner
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5855371 - 05/12/13 12:20 PM

Andrew,

Congrats on your observatory project! Looks like you're getting close and it's exciting to see it come together.

I helped a friend build an observatory that was high up like yours. Thankfully it was well documented here on CN. You might want to see how we did the pier before you start constructing yours.

Here is a the link to the archived observatory thread.

Good luck with your project!

Edited by Gardner (05/12/13 12:24 PM)


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Midnight Dan
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: Gardner]
      #5855664 - 05/12/13 02:56 PM Attachment (10 downloads)

Quote:

I was also under the assumption I had to fill the middle with blocks is that not correct?




Ah, that explains the issue with the number of blocks. No, I would not fill the middle with blocks. Usually that is just filled up with dirt, rocks, rubble, whatever.

The tricky part is dealing with the top and the transition to the next part of the pier, which is smaller. Since I haven't done this, I can only offer some ideas. One would be to make the top few layers a little smaller than the one below so you get a stair-step effect and fill the center with concrete. But that would require cutting blocks and I'm not sure how strong it would be.

I would probably criss-cross some rebar across the last layer, drilling some holes into the interior of the blocks, and then fill the top with concrete to make a flat surface on which to mount the top part. You'd probably want that top layer to be at least a foot thick. The drawing below shows this idea.

The top part would be a concrete cap about 4" thick that covers the entire top of the base including the blocks. The center of the base would be filled with concrete another 8-10" deep. You should be able to just pour on top of the rubble, which should be filled to maybe halfway up the block below the top course. The rebar should tie it all together. I'd use a piece of steel reinforcing mesh in that top 4" piece as well.

The concrete should be poured into the block cavities around the sides. If there are cavities that you have not filled all the way, you'll need to devise some kind of plug so the wet concrete doesn't just fall to the bottom. if the next part of the pier is intended to be concrete as well, you'll need to add some rebar sticking up from the middle of this cap so you can tie in the next pour. If it's going to be steel, then you'll want to put some carefully placed bolts in the cap to attach the steep pier.

Again, I don't have any experience capping a block section like this so others may have better ideas to offer.

-Dan


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corpusse
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: Gardner]
      #5856041 - 05/12/13 06:16 PM

Hey Gardner it is indeed getting close just want to solve this pier issue so I can get onto other parts of construction. I kinda thought I'd be able to do this quicker so in a way I am taking a step back but as long as it's built right I don't mind.

I ended up getting about halfway done smashing up the floor. Once I finally hit the ground I found it much easier. The first several hours I could not even get one piece the size of a goofball to come out in one shot. By the end I was pulling out several pound pieces with just a few hits and a pry bar.

I am so surprised it is sand underneath. I can almost dig with my bare hands. An auger or worse is not going to be needed! I was expecting bedrock. There are quite a few rocks but again with a pry bar they are easy to pull out. I guess I should be saving this stuff as filler for the pier vs dumping it at the side of the building

I noticed the pier you made is only 24x24. Do you think 40x40 is overkill? Or crazy overkill I should say. I don't mind overkill so that one day it could handle the heaviest sized mount and scope the dome would support.

I can use either the 6" 8" or 12" wide blocks. If I do the 40x40 I will have to make the hole in the floor about 45x45 so I can put foam around it to isolate it and to give myself a little space around..

I want to order the blocks as soon as I figure this out incase they have to order them. I know they had the 6" ones there.

The little hardware store on the island is like going back in time. The guy infront of me paid with a check! I haven't seen someone pay with a check since I was a little kid. They like the other small shops on the island close on Sundays again something I haven't seen since I was a kid. They still use CRT monitors too. The good news is they will deliver the blocks to the house for about 25$ and it can be any amount they will break down skids ect.


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corpusse
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5856678 - 05/13/13 12:38 AM

Here are some pics. When I got there it was beautiful. A little cool, but down by the water I saw several turtles.



I opened up the dome but could not reach the lock on the bottom part of the shutter to fully open it up.

It was also neat to see the dome reflection on the house







I bought a spray gun to paint the outside of the building but tried it on the stairs first (not finished at this point)



It works okay but does create some splatter. Also a pain to clean.. For outside it will be good since it won't have to be perfect and will be very hard work with a roller but I don't really recommend these products.

I had a real hard time getting to the the bottom of the floor which was 6" thick. Once I did it became much easier to break up but still a very challenging job I could not complete.





I will be able to finish it next weekend. Getting to this point was hard and if my hands and arms weren't sore I probably could have finished today.

The weather took a drastic turn






at least i know the dome is snow proof!



I just gotta figure out what way to do the pier. I'll do another search and look at everyones tall / concrete block piers and come up with something. I want to order the blocks ASAP since I will be there for 3 days next weekend and then won't be back up for a couple of weeks.

This was the original plan, which now that I actually look at it didn't make much sense at all.



More to come. Thanks again to everyone for their help.

For the rest of the pictures please check out the gallery http://andrewastro.smugmug.com/Other/Island-Observatory/28704158_nc6MKQ#!i=24...

I'm spending way too much time trying to figure out which images are under 200k. I originally had linked a few other images but had to delete them.


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Midnight Dan
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5856804 - 05/13/13 03:09 AM

Nice photos! That floor doesn't look like anything a little dynamite couldn't handle.

-Dan


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Gardner
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #5856896 - 05/13/13 07:03 AM

Andrew,
We chose the one piece blocks to keep it simple and faster to construct. After the base was poured and cured for a couple days we did 5 blocks tall and let the mortar cure for a day so not to squeeze it out at the bottom. Then we filled the column from the top with hand mixed concrete and topped it off with the sonotube and placed the pier top plate on it. The pier was really sturdy and didn't vibrate unless a really large truck went by on the street, but I don't think you'll have that issue.


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corpusse
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: Gardner]
      #5857132 - 05/13/13 10:10 AM

Actually this trip was the first time I noticed a car driving down the street not headed to our house. There usually is one or 2 passing per day but the trees mostly obstruct them. The road is quite a ways away anyway

So getting back to this pier that's on the verge of causing my head to explode. Here are my thoughts.

doing 40x40 like Dan illustrated is looking like it may be the way to go but I have some concerns :

Looking around most examples of 2nd floor piers are 24x24 like Gardener's example and even ones with tubes are not that wide see :



this 20 foot pier is only 16" wide






Overkill is okay. My concerns with going 40x40 means I will have to cut a bigger hole in the floor. Not much bigger then I originally planned but at least 44x44 and maybe 48x48 to be safe. At what point do I have to worry about cutting too much of the slab? I don't really think this is a big deal given the slab is 6" thick and despite some cracking can take a sledge hammer blow like nothing.

Getting enough material to fill the center. Again my original plan was just stacking blocks upright like my picture. However as pointed out crossing them should make it stronger. I suppose if I do run out I could always buy sand or even concrete to pour down the middle.

Finally my plan was to start the blocks right at the frost line. I will then fill the ground with concrete. Should I pour on the frost line and build the blocks up from that (once it cures of course) or start the blocks right on the sand?

I would really like to decide this by today since I'm already committed to being there 3 days saturday - monday. Plus I want to order these blocks as early as today just to be sure they actually have them. I know they have those 6" wide ones but not sure about the other sizes how many they actually had.


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stmguy
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5857386 - 05/13/13 12:28 PM

At the very least I'd pour a 1 ft thick slab in the hole with some rebar in it with a bigger footprint than the blocks before you start stacking blocks. I would think 40x40 is overkill , 24x24 should be fine I would think. Again I'd be tempted to top it off with a metal pier so you don't have to cut the joists and it also allows for adjustment if you are off on your pier height or get a different scope later on
Norm


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corpusse
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: stmguy]
      #5857418 - 05/13/13 12:43 PM

Quote:

At the very least I'd pour a 1 ft thick slab in the hole with some rebar in it with a bigger footprint than the blocks before you start stacking blocks. I would think 40x40 is overkill , 24x24 should be fine I would think. Again I'd be tempted to top it off with a metal pier so you don't have to cut the joists and it also allows for adjustment if you are off on your pier height or get a different scope later on
Norm




The top will either be steel if available or concrete it won't be as big as the bottom.

I plan on going at least 4 feet below the ground level to get below the frost line. People in the hardware store seemed to think the frost line was only 3 feet but that can't be right as it's 40" here or at least was when winters were like how this past winter was every year. I am further south then this location. I would think 4-5 feet would be playing it safe. I have no idea how deep that sand goes but it's at least 2 feet probably more.


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corpusse
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5857590 - 05/13/13 01:53 PM

I'm sorry to continually post more of the same questions but what about 32x32. I think this is it. Using the 16x8 blocks I could still reverse the pattern for added strength. I could then stick with the original 40x40 slab and be bigger then the 24x24 that is probably be okay and smaller then 40x40 which is certainly overkill.

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stmguy
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5858251 - 05/13/13 06:24 PM

That should be fine. In NH we typically go 4 ft down to get past the frost, of course that may not be an issue inside the building
Norm


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Midnight Dan
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: stmguy]
      #5858483 - 05/13/13 08:23 PM

For the base, the part in the bottom of the the hole, I'd stick with 40x40, at least 1 foot thick, with rebar or steel mesh for reinforcing. If I understand your last post correctly, it sounds like that's what you planned? Especially since you say the soil is sandy, you need that spread-out base to hold the weight and not sink or drift off to one side.

From there up, I think you're right, that 40x40 would be great but is probably overkill. The tall 16" diameter sonotube piers that you show above from others' work seems way too thin to me. They'll be plenty of support, but I think they would resonate like a tuning fork - yes, even concrete will do that if it's long and thin. 24x24 is probably adequate, but the 32x32 should definitely do the job.

At the level of the bottom of the observatory, you'll want to transition to something like a 10-12" concrete column or steel pier.

So yes, I think your plan sounds good!
-Dan


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corpusse
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #5859658 - 05/14/13 11:31 AM

So I just ordered 144 blocks, I probably need 138 but got one extra layer, if I need a few more it's no problem to go to this store since it's local. Also 34 bags of concrete. I am going to make the slab 18" thick since you guys recommend 12" Slight overkill but nothing crazy. They didn't have the surface bonding cement so I will pick that up at home depot since I have to pass it to get to the house anyway. I'll get my rebar there too. I'm reading that I should place 1 rebar every 8" does that sound right for this or should I overkill this as well? then I need to tie them together too?

Free delivery, the guy will cover the concrete too. He asks where I want it, I say there is a building with a dome on it. He already knows it Apparently he helped my contractor get it up. I have a feeling everyone on this Island will know about the dome despite the fact you can't really see it from the road by the end of summer.

I'm also going to buy a concrete mixer. I found one for 300$ that got good reviews. The reason I'm doing it this way is getting a truck there will be difficult but I'm going to pour the pad, then I can use it for the contact cement as well + I will probably fill the rest of the ground with concrete again once the pad cures.

I should be able to finish breaking up the floor this weekend and pour the pad. I don't plan on going back up until june 7th so it will be long cured by then. I might go up the weekend before too. Depending on how things go.


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stmguy
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5859880 - 05/14/13 01:02 PM

If too much rebar is used it can actually weaken the concrete

Perhaps this helps


Read more: Concrete Slab Rebar Spacing Guideline | eHow http://www.ehow.com/way_5822929_concrete-slab-rebar-spacing-guideline.html#ix...

You will want to tie it together , elevate it so it isn't too close to the bottom (I used bricks) and leave some room at the edges

Norm


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Midnight Dan
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: stmguy]
      #5860320 - 05/14/13 04:25 PM

Quote:

So I just ordered 144 blocks, I probably need 138 but got one extra layer, if I need a few more it's no problem to go to this store since it's local. Also 34 bags of concrete. I am going to make the slab 18" thick since you guys recommend 12" Slight overkill but nothing crazy. They didn't have the surface bonding cement so I will pick that up at home depot since I have to pass it to get to the house anyway. I'll get my rebar there too. I'm reading that I should place 1 rebar every 8" does that sound right for this or should I overkill this as well? then I need to tie them together too?




Did you get mortar for between the blocks? Or is that what you were going to use the surface bonding cement for?

When you say rebar every 8", are you referring to in the slab or in the blocks? In the slab, I'd probably just wire 4 pieces in a grid configuration like a tic-tac-toe board. Like Norm said, leave some room at the edges, maybe about 2-3". You don't want it poking out the sides.

Vertically, I'd put it about 1/3 of the way up the slab from the bottom. So if you have an 18" thick slab, then you want the grid about 6" up from the bottom. Since the pressure of the column will be pushing down, the concrete will want to spread at the bottom (tension) and squeeze together at the top (compression). Concrete is very strong in compression and very weak in tension so you want the rebar to help hold the bottom together more than the top. Like Norm suggested, use some bricks or rocks to hold the rebar grid up from the bottom.

For rebar in the blocks, if you're talking about a 32 x32 size, I'd just put rebar vertically in each of the 4 corners and then fill those corners up with concrete. You can get a wire mesh that's designed to go in the mortar between block layers to help strengthen it horizontally. I'd put that on top of the 1st layer of block, and then every 3rd layer after that. You may not need it, but it's fairly cheap and gives you some extra strength in the areas where there is no rebar.

-Dan


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corpusse
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #5874430 - 05/20/13 06:51 PM

Just on my way back I will post some photos either tonight or tomorrow depending on how tired I am.

I had some moderate setbacks but real progress was still made.

First of all the concrete mixer I was going to buy was not in the store. It showed in stock they said they have one according to their computer almost an hour later I gave up.

I get to the house and find my skid of concrete is actually a skid of cement. Now this isn't their fault it's mine. I was asking about the surface bonding cement which they didn't have and I must have said just give me some regular cement instead of concrete. Another reason why I hate doing phone ordering but online orders are decades away here.. Now they would take it back however I took them off the skid so I don't want to deal with putting it back on to get it returned. I will just order some sand and gravel and mix it myself when I get that mixer. Any experience? I have mixed concrete by hand but never actually made concrete. I will not attempt this without the mixer but seeing as I will have this mixer I think it can be done. I will then have enough concrete for 3 pours. My initial slab. Filling up the slab so that its level with the floor, filling the corner blocks and doing a sonotube for the upstairs. Okay that's 4 pours and why I did not consider trying to get a truck to come way out there.

The steel pipe has its appeal but it would be very hard to find there. It's going to have to be about 12 feet so I'd need it delivered and I'd have to get it welded. I can buy the pier plates here and just bring them with me and drop them in the sonotube. I'm still a ways away from that but I will measure it to be low enough to fit a paramount mx or eq8 and 12-16" rc. I will just be using my cgem initially but the paramount is the dream mount and the eq8 is the realistic fallback option. Ill consider a cge pro too but I'm not going to just go with what is good for the equipment I currently have. I made that mistake with my current observatory. I had an 8" and designed it for that, right after the building was done I upgraded to a c11.

Speaking of my 6x8 roll off that thing took weeks of daily work. I'm not sure why I thought I could build this so fast... Of course I want it now but I'm starting to realize it will be a while...

So I did more or less finish the slab cut. I will need to chisel some pieces off but I got 95% of it done. I believe it's about 42x42 and not quite perfectly square. There was so much dust cutting I could not even see. Sledge hammering was tough. Before I deduced to do this I read about people taking out 10x10 slabs in a day. No way they were mortal men. I'm pretty fit and I had a hell of a time doing this 42x42 over 4 days and many hours of hammering. I also managed to dig down almost 3 feet. So I only have about a foot to go. First there was sand. Then soil then clay. Lots of rocks but they were mostly orange to grapefruit sized. When I'm done mixing my concrete I can polish them and put them in the garden . The sand will make free filler for the middle. I also will use all my crushed concrete.

It was beautiful weather after snowing last weekend. I saw a large garder snake a big snapping turtle maybe 20 different species of birds and more. Easy to get distracted when you are surrounded by the beauty. I wanted to spend some time outside but still work so I sanded one side of the building. Well most of one side. I got an off white color to paint it. My dad thinks I should just focus on the inside first and he may be right but I want it to look nice from the outside too. Really I want to take pictures with the dome in it and hopefully the milkyway above. With my spray painter I was able to do most of the wall in less then 30 minutes. I should be able to finish this side after I get my slab poured.

It was mostly cloudy but I wanted to take some pics inside the dome. I left it open all day Sunday and when I went in Sunday night I was horrified to find a bat upstairs! I got the hell out of there and closed the dome this morning. I will have to bring the contractor back to seal in all these numerous entry points. I can add some fan vents that are heavily screened it. I'm not really sure how I'm going to keep them from flying in when the dome is open. I will have to consult with locals.

I think I'm going to buy a sky tracker or polarie to do widefields. I figured I'd carry the cgem around the property but it's just too heavy and I need something small enough I can grab if I have to run . I saw a badger right in front of the house I had no idea what it was... There are so many animal calls at night it's scary. I eventually want to take some pictures down by the water.

Finally the few houses that are around don't seem to use any outdoor lighting at all. One or 2 dim solar lights. My own parents go out and buy like 12 solar lights and turn on the huge floodlight. Now they won't use the floodlight unless they are outside and the solar lights aren't really bright enough to effect telescope imaging, but they will effect my fisheye widefield shots. I just think its funny that they are adding all these lights when I'm putting so much effort into being able to image from a dark site.. Pictures to come, sorry this is so long.


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stmguy
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5875185 - 05/21/13 05:58 AM

You won't be sorry for the cement mixer. I bought one years ago and have mixed my entire cellar floor and garage floor over time. It will come with instructions for mixing good concrete. I used a sand, small stone mix that I had dropped off and if I remember right it was 5 to 1 (5 parts sand/stone mix to 1 cement) . Mix well , don't use too much water and clean the mixer real well when done as it is almost impossible to break loose after it hardens onto the paddles in the mixer (don't ask me how I know)
Norm


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Midnight Dan
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: stmguy]
      #5875243 - 05/21/13 07:15 AM

Quote:

First there was sand. Then soil then clay.




This is good! I was a bit concerned when you said the soil was sand. Sand's not the greatest base for a heavy weight. Clay is MUCH better!

I've never mixed concrete from scratch. There's always been an easy supply of ready-mix. But I wouldn't hesitate to do it. Seems pretty straightforward and there's plenty of info on the internet for 'recipes'.

Like Norm says, don't use too much water. Of course, that goes for ready-mix too! If you haven't mixed concrete before, you'll notice that as you add water, it seems like nothings changing too much and you'll need a lot more. But when you get near the point where the mixture is right, a small amount of water makes a BIG difference in consistency - so you have to be careful. On the other hand, the nice thing about mixing your own is that, if it gets too soupy you can just add some more of the dry materials.

-Dan


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corpusse
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #5875577 - 05/21/13 11:15 AM

I've never mixed concrete from scratch but I have done premixed by hand. So using the mixer it should be fine. I mean it's not rocket science it says right on the bags for 1 part cement 2 parts sand 2.5 parts gravel. I will order the bags from the store in the next couple of days and they'll leave the skids right there for me inside. I'm not going back up for a few weeks. This weekend is Canada's first astronomy trade show so I will be attending that and then a weekend of rest (it seems like I haven't had an off day in forever) followed by going back up for 3 days to work on this. I only have one foot of clay and rocks to remove. So I should be able to do that in one day, do the pour and then have a day to do misc stuff. I started many different things, painting the stairs, sanding and painting outside and digging the hole so I wouldn't spend 10hrs straight doing one thing. Also it allowed different parts of my arm to be sore at different times. I mixed things up and it made it easier to spend most of the day working. When I got really tired I walked down to the water checked out what creatures were stirring about then got back at it.

Some photos :







going to paint the floor, just one quick coat to clean it up a little then get some indoor outdoor carpet for the area around where the scope will be.









All that old drywall will be torn out. who knows what is living behind it.















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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5876146 - 05/21/13 03:07 PM

Nice photos! I especially like the one looking up at the clouds through the slot in the dome. The lighting makes it look kind of surreal.

-Dan


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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5876162 - 05/21/13 03:13 PM

I just spent the last hour and a half reading this from the beginning and I have to to tell you, you are doing it right!!! What you have so far is just beautiful and I am green with envy!!

Just a couple of thoughts after reading the whole thing. Your plan for the pier is fine but I would rethink the sonotube part for the top. When I built mine, I was going to go that route but decided to go with a steel pier for the last 5' at the top where the mount and scope go. The reason is you can make the connection for the steel pipe really beefy by using 3/4" bolts in the top of the concrete in the sonotube before the steel. I then filled my 6" D 1/4" thick steel pipe with play sand, put the mount on top and it is solid as anything you can imagine.

Also, you mentioned mice. Where the top portion enters the dome room use steel wool around the air gap. It will not transfer vibration and mice will not muck with it. My ROR sits at ground level but I have no issues with field mice. (I also have 7 cats, just saying lol).

Just my 2 cents!!

You are really going to have a fantastic OB there. Take your time and do it right and you will not regret it.

Kevin


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corpusse
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: scopefreak]
      #5877666 - 05/22/13 09:59 AM

Kevin are you saying attach a steel pipe to a sonotube? The reasons I am thinking going concrete are, I have an abundance of concrete or will have once I get the sand and gravel to mix with my accidental cement purchase. The upstairs part of the pier is still going to be a good 12 feet + If I were to make the entire thing out of steel I might have a hard time getting a cost effective delivery of one steel pipe. It would be coming from over 100km away.

However topping up the pier with a steel pipe certainly could be an option although I'm not sure if there is any benefit to that. If there is I certainly can explore it further.

As for the mice I put a bunch of mouse traps down and didn't get anything. The traps were still setup monday and my Dad will remove them friday. A few mice are not a huge deal it's the BATS that really scare me. I'm going to have to place a sonic repeler on top of the building to prevent them from coming in the open dome. My contractor will work on sealing all the areas they can get in, remove some of the old gross drywall that remains ect. I was hoping to do this kind of improvements next year as costs are understandably pretty high however seeing a bat fly by me and being unable to close the dome because I was scared has changed my mind I'll do what it takes to get everything upgraded.


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Midnight Dan
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5877714 - 05/22/13 10:37 AM

Like most things in astronomy, the steel pipe vs. concrete pier is a choice with pros and cons on each side. The concrete will be less vibration-prone, although the steel pipe can be good too, especially if filled with sand and properly gusseted. The big advantage of the concrete is that, in most cases, it is substantially less expensive than steel. An advantage of the steel pipe is future flexibility - if you get a different scope and need something taller or shorter, it's a lot easier to replace the steel pipe than modify a concrete pier.

-Dan


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scopefreak
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #5878153 - 05/22/13 02:18 PM

What I meant was to attach a steel pipe to the concrete at the top of the pier where it enters into the telescope room/dome. I understood that you were contemplating a sonotube at some point to get to the telescope room/dome. If you build the block pier all the way to the telescope room/dome (at floor level) then you could attach the steel pipe at that point using the 3/4" bolts. Like Dan says you then have a way of changing the pier top portion fairly easily should the need arise. Plus, using 3 or 4 bolts it makes it very easy to level the pier before attaching your scope. This is how I did mine and it works great. My pier was level and plumb before I even put the scope on it. I also filled the steel pipe with sand and tamped it down over a period of 2 days to make sure there were no air pockets in the pipe. It is extremely stable!! I have even kicked the pipe while observing and did not see any vibration at all in the EP.

The reason I mentioned the mice was because all my cables are run under the floor inside a piece of PVC pipe and I put steel wool around the cap to keep out mice from getting inside and chewing on cables. When I mentioned the top of your pier I had forgotten that it was as tall as it is. Mine sits about 2.5 feet above ground before it enters the OBS. This is where I put the steelwool as well to keep the little suckers from climbing in to the telescope room via the sonotube. I just filled in the gap between the floor and the side of the sonotube with 0000 steel wool. After almost 3 years I still have seen no evidence of mice ANYWHERE in my OB. But , like I said, I have 7 cats too.

Kevin


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corpusse
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: scopefreak]
      #5878819 - 05/22/13 06:36 PM

How much ballpark wise would a 12 foot steel tube be? Steel piers seem very expensive for what they are but I really have no idea what the markup would be.

As mentioned the other problem is getting it delivered. I'll explore the possibility but I don't think it's likely ill just have to nail the pier height.


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scopefreak
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5878897 - 05/22/13 07:16 PM

Quote:

How much ballpark wise would a 12 foot steel tube be? Steel piers seem very expensive for what they are but I really have no idea what the markup would be.

As mentioned the other problem is getting it delivered. I'll explore the possibility but I don't think it's likely ill just have to nail the pier height.




I don't think you want to go with a 12' steel tube. I was just thinking of 4 to 6 feet at the top of the block collum you are building. I have to agree with Dan that that long of a steel pipe would be very vibration prone. I apologize if you misunderstood my meaning. I will post a pic later tonight or tomorrow of how my pier is setup and maybe that will help.

Kevin


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Midnight Dan
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: scopefreak]
      #5879139 - 05/22/13 09:47 PM

Just curious, where is the floor of the observatory going to be? Looks like the dome is pretty far up from the second story floor. Are you planning to build a platform up from the second story floor level?

-Dan


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corpusse
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #5880031 - 05/23/13 11:27 AM

I don't really have the option of making the block pier going up high enough to use a small steel pipe. It would require cutting many floor boards and lots of reinforcing. This is why I think a concrete sonotube is the best option for going up it just has to be sized properly. It will be pretty tall maybe 12 feet or so but there won't be any wind ever so I don't think there will be any vibrations.

As for the floor it is indeed pretty high up. I need an 8 foot ladder to reach the shutter. I am planning a platform maybe a half circle that could be rotated to the other side. Maybe all the way around. I will need something but I'm just not there yet. I won't be doing any visual observing so I just need to be able to reach up to put the equipment on and make adjustments. Eventually I will get a dob and try my hand at visual observations. I've never really observed anything through an eyepiece except the planets and m42, 57 and a couple other objects. Basically anything other then a star cluster is not visible from my home location.

Contractor + Bat guy is going by Saturday to access what can be done about them. They will leave by October so worst case I could wait until then and just have my contractor completely seal in the place. In fact the bat guy suggested I seal about 80% of the building now so its a smaller and less costly job later.

I really had no idea there were so many bats in the area. A sonic emitter will go on top of the dome to keep them away however he said its about a 50% success rate and recommends installation before they arrive. Still a long way to go. This is why I wanted to start right away since there were bound to be setbacks.


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Midnight Dan
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5880349 - 05/23/13 02:13 PM

Bats! Just build a belfry nearby and they'll all go there ... right?

So it sounds like you're going to build the block base up to a little below the second floor level, and then go up from there to the observatory with a sonotube - is that right? If so, I wouldn't recommend anything less than a 12" diameter sonotube.

Something to be aware of with sonotubes: the standard cheap ones you get from Home Depot or Lowe's (known as "builder's tube") are designed for in-ground use, extending out of the ground by a maximum of 3 feet. If you try to use them for for a tall out-of-ground situation, you'll get a nasty blowout at the bottom. That's a mess you don't want to deal with!

Be sure to get either the "Sonotube Round Concrete Forms" or the "Sonotube Commercial Concrete Forms". They're more expensive, but you only want to take one shot at this and get it right. I'd recommend the commercial one if you can get it.

Detailed specs and application notes for the different kinds of tubes are on their website:
http://www.sonotube.com/products/sonotubeconcreteforms/builderstube.aspx

Click on the type of tube under "Products" at the right and then look for the .pdf brochure link near the bottom of the product page.

Also, plan on putting up some good solid wood bracing up to hold the sonotube in place during the pour.
-Dan


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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #5882095 - 05/24/13 11:45 AM

I couldn't agree with Dan more about the sonotube blow-out probability. Ive seen this happen and it's not pretty!!

I'm not really sure what you mean by "It would require cutting many floor boards and lots of reinforcing. " You are going to have to cut and then box in the cut anyway. Size really only matters if it begins to approach a large percentage of the floor area. With a 12" sonotube you are looking at least a 12" hole and bigger (up to 14" to clear the tube all around). The decision is of course yours but if hole size is that important then the steel pipe IMHO is the way to go from the floor (upper floor) up.


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corpusse
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: scopefreak]
      #5883632 - 05/25/13 09:22 AM

a 14" hole will require only one floor board being cut. If I were to go 32x32 up it would be 3 or 4.

The problem with the steel pipe is getting it to the island. I'll see if the hardware store has any suggestions. There is no metal shop or anything like that anywhere near by. I'll also see if they can order the higher grade sonotubes which I'm assuming they can. I'm still a ways off but the good thing about the blocked bottom is I can build it up and still be able to modify the top.

I should hear from the bat guy later this weekend. Although the chimney in the house was just replaced as it no longer met current code and apparently my mom had him go up in the observatory and he said there were no bats, although I don't know if he just took a peak or what. I heard something up there and the one did fly by my head. He recommended setting up bat houses in the trees for them to go to. Maybe it's not as bad as I feared.


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stmguy
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5883800 - 05/25/13 11:17 AM

Is there anyone that drills wells? They would have well casing which is what I am using . Or perhaps chimney blocks might fit between your joists

Norm


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corpusse
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: stmguy]
      #5888867 - 05/28/13 12:27 PM

There are some well drilling places, I will look into that.

A new problem. Apparently my hole has flooded. It has been raining like crazy the last few weeks. While this will certainly make it easier to get down the last foot, I will be concerned when I pour the pad.

Do you think I should put some plastic or a tarp down around the hole and then pour the pad in case there is more flooding?


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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5888893 - 05/28/13 12:41 PM

I would assume it flooded by the water table being close to the surface as your hole is inside your building. I'd just pour the concrete in after the hole dries out and it should be fine

Norm


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corpusse
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: stmguy]
      #5888898 - 05/28/13 12:46 PM

Yes, the building itself is not flooded the water is coming from the ground. It basically rained a week straight. Overall that is a good thing. Water levels are at record lows, around the dock it's nothing but mud.

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1965healy
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5890116 - 05/29/13 01:20 AM

Not sure how much SonoTubes cost but if you fear a blow out put a 12" inside a 14" if it starts to blow you have something to contain it. You can just fill the gap with sand when you're done.

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corpusse
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: 1965healy]
      #5892267 - 05/30/13 12:06 PM

Some small updates. First I have reluctantly decided to call it "Whiskey Bay Observatory". After months of trying to come up with a cool name I will just go with what the bay is called. The house itself is on Sterling Bay dr, but it's across the street that faces Sterling Bay, we face Whiskey Bay. With that in mind I have created a simple website http://wbobservatory.com/ everything on it is pretty much contained in this thread but it will be nice to display future photos and completed construction eventually.

Next friday I will be at the house for 3 days, then the last week of June for a week. While it would have been better to come up next week for an entire week, I don't think I can handle imaging all night and working all day.

The store was unable to get the sand and gravel and was going to recommend I call some people however, we came to better solution. They'll take back the cement at no charge and give me ready mixed concrete instead. I'm sure I'm not the first person to mix up concrete and cement, I see it here all the time and I had that surface bonding cement on my mind..

So I have 63 bags coming next friday. That will be more then enough for the first pour. I'll reskid the cement and they will come back for it when I'm ready to take on more concrete. The mixer I was going to buy in Sault Ste Marie is still not in stock. Luckily I have found another. A bit more expensive, but I still feel this is better then having to arrange someone to come and do pours as people there can be tough to get a hold of and I'm only there a limited amount of time. I can always sell it later anyway.

So I'll pour the pad next week. Allow it to cure for 2 weeks then put up the blocks. The island hardware store also mentioned they can order the commercial grade sonotubes if I do decide to go that route. More to come..


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Midnight Dan
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5892541 - 05/30/13 02:08 PM

Quote:

First I have reluctantly decided to call it "Whiskey Bay Observatory".




Reluctantly? That is a very cool name! I love it!

-Dan


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corpusse
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #5908659 - 06/07/13 07:49 PM

There was still a couple of inches of water in the hole. I shop vaced it up and continued to dig. Interestingly enough when I stop digging a small amount of water returns. I am 46" deep from
The slab so really more like 44 or so from the ground level outside in the centre. Hopefully I can make it a few more inches and widen the hole so it's uniform with the cut in the slab. When I got here a skid of concrete was waiting for me and my mixer is being delivered tomorrow. This digging has been brutal. I have to stop for now but it looks like a clear night so I will have to take a break from digging to image but hopefully I only have 2-4 more hours of digging. The problem now with the hole so deep it's hard to remove the clay and there are tons of rocks it's hard to find a spot I can actually shovel.

More updates and photos to come...


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Midnight Dan
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5908668 - 06/07/13 07:56 PM

If water is coming back in, it means you're at or below the current water table level. The water table will rise and fall depending on the weather and time of year. Spring time is the absolute worst because snow melt and spring rains have saturated the ground and raised the water table about as high as it's going to get for the whole year.

It just means that it's good you're going down that deep to be below the frost line. Some years the water table could be even higher and you might have problems with frost heaves if you weren't below the level where it would freeze.

-Dan


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corpusse
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #5909076 - 06/08/13 12:39 AM

Dan you know everything!

So there for sure are bats in the building. I'm going to have to put up bat houses in the trees and get those sonic repellers. I am currently imaging a rather easy target m57. Was a real pain to setup from scratch which is the reason we build observatories in the first place.

The Milky Way is just rising above the building I took some pics with my fish eye lens on a tripod. I'm going to have to get a small camera tracking mount to take some widefields. I saw the ISS twice and several meteors.

In the summer it's a lot scarier here there are bugs bats and who knows what else. I saw a badger earlier and the reason I'm inside now is I heard some large animals approaching but no idea what they were. In the winter you see deer every 5 minutes and the odd turkey but all the weird creepy animals go into hiding. I would really like to stay up all night but I need to finish the hole before tomorrow afternoon.


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corpusse
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5912700 - 06/10/13 10:01 AM

I've since realized I left my ipad on the plane Turns out this was an expensive trip. I was just so tired I never noticed. I have called the airline they wanted all kinds of stupid information (the capacity of it ect) it will take them 5 business days to tell me if they have it or not.

As for the building, my hole and in turn slab ended up a little smaller then I originally wanted. It's probably more like 39x39 or so. It is at least a little deeper in the center. I believe the deepest point ended up around 53". I pulled out hundreds of rocks. 3 were actually bigger then the concrete blocks. Basically everything past the sand was dug with a pry bar and then I used a bucket or shovel to remove the soil and rocks. All the rocks and clay are still in the building and I will throw them back in the middle of the pier.

The slab will take a long time to cure which is fine since it will be at least 16 days before I start with the blocks. I used minimal water mixing the concrete since the ground was providing me tons. There was a tiny bit of water on top of the concrete the next day. Hopefully its level, I did my best to flatten it out but it was very hard to reach down in. I think it was at least 30 hours digging, maybe more. It took 3 trips when I originally thought I could do it in one. Mixing the concrete even with the mixer was hard, I used about 35 bags and just carrying them and dumping them was very tiring.

I need to decide once and for all the top of the pier. The hardware store is going to take back the cement, but I need to figure out what to have them replace it with.

I have 14" between floorboards. I could put a 12" sonotube. With the help of someone I can probably get the mixer upstairs and mix the concrete there. Of course I will have to climb a latter to pour the concrete which might be tricky.

Blocks will still need concrete poured, less but it too will be tough. I could use two of the 6" wide bocks and end up with a 16x12 pier and not cut the floor.

If I cut the floor I probably have to cut 2 floorboards. This is because the hole in the center lines up exactly with the middle of the slab. If I cut one it would be off center. Cutting the slab means 14" or larger sonotube or 8" wide blocks and a 16x16 square which would allow me to alternate them. Of course assuming I completely fill them with concrete will this really be that much stronger then side by side stacking? Do I really need it to be that much stronger?

While I do dream of a parmount and a 12" RC or C14HD for the forseeable future a 6" RC and cgem are whats going on. Of course I plan on this lasting a lifetime so I want it to be strong enough to hold a big RC and bigger mount. Something along the lines of a 14" will probably be as big as could comfortably fit in the dome.

Now as for the dome unfortunately it will not be useable until fall. There are at least 6-8 bats up there maybe more. Originally I was scared to go up at night, but now I'm scared all the time. They may or may not have babies which is why I can't drive them off now. I will be putting up bat houses which will hopefully drive them away but this will only work if the babies are not born or old enough to travel. The bats are migratory and will be gone by October so this is the time to completely seal in the building which I'm sure won't be cheap.

Here are a few pics :

Why did it have to be bats?


tail end of the milkway over observatory


me and the milky way



Reflection in water : I've always wanted to do that



These were taken with a non modified dslr on a tripod. I also stacked 9 30 second images and came up with this :



slightly out of focus m13 taken through the 6" RC and my QHY8



I also took a couple hours of images of the veil nebula but it doesn't really look any better then what I've taken at home which surprises me. I was also shocked that I found m8 and m20 in binoculars in maybe 10 seconds. I can't see them with my 11" telescope at home.

More to come. I have lots more interesting photos I need to sort through.


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Midnight Dan
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5912835 - 06/10/13 11:24 AM

Quote:

... was dug with a pry bar and then I used a bucket or shovel to remove the soil and rocks.




Been there, done that, didn't want the t-shirt. Not fun at all!

Quote:

Of course assuming I completely fill them with concrete will this really be that much stronger then side by side stacking?




The problem with not overalapping the layers is that you'll end up with vertical mortar joints running continuously the entire length of the pier. Mortar is not all that strong and any cracks from settling will telegraph through that joint with ease. It's a very weak design. If you don't want to overlap the layers, then you should definitely use some of the block reinforcing mesh every few layers.

For an example of this stuff, scroll down on this page to "11. Horizontal (Joint) CMU Wall Reinforcement":
http://faculty.delhi.edu/hultendc/A220-Week2-Lecture-Web.html

Your idea of going with a 12x16 block pier near the top is a good one since it avoids cutting more of the floor than you need to, but makes pouring concrete into it easier than with a sonotube. I still think I'd try to use a sonotube for the last foot and a half or so though. A 12" cylinder will allow the equipment on the mount to more easily avoid a pier strike. The corners of the 12x16 blocks will stick out quite a bit and if they're right below the mount it could create areas of interference that you'd need to watch out for.

Nice pics!

-Dan


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corpusse
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #5912880 - 06/10/13 11:48 AM

Never again. I realize the mortar itself isn't that strong but there will still be a decent amount of concrete going through the block holes and rebar in each hole, that in addition to the mortar won't be enough? Using the 8" wide and crossing them means cutting the floor, I could maybe cut 1 board and just have it slightly off center, but I'm really trying to avoid this.

The other option would be to just do a couple of layers at 12x16 then return to 16x16 but would that be worse as it would be more weight on the weak spot? Looking at the wall reinforcement it looks like I need to weld wire which unfortunately is beyond my skillset. There are no metal shops on the island, while I may be able to find someone who can do it that again is more $$$

I like the idea of the sonotube for the rounded look, although I'm not sure pier strikes will be much of a worry as I generally use shorter length tubes RC's SCT, or small refractors vs long refractors or newts.


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Midnight Dan
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5912900 - 06/10/13 11:57 AM

Quote:

Looking at the wall reinforcement it looks like I need to weld wire which unfortunately is beyond my skillset. There are no metal shops on the island, while I may be able to find someone who can do it that again is more $$$




That reinforcing mesh is an off the shelf item, and cheap. No custom work or welding required. It should be available at any place that sells the concrete blocks. As an alternative, you could get some of the reinforcing mesh that's used in concrete slabs and just cut strips the size you need to go between the blocks.

I personally would not leave it out. It's cheap and easy and does the job. Without it, you'll have essentially several individual "tubes" of concrete going down through the holes in the block. Each tube will be fairly strong due to the concrete and rebar, but they are not interconnected very well with just a long vertical mortar seam. Putting the mesh in should be an easy alternative to overlapping the blocks.

-Dan


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corpusse
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #5912937 - 06/10/13 12:14 PM

ah I was just going by what the link said. I will pick some up then or have them drop it off. I could even use this stuff on the bottom blocks to then.

Looks like I'm good to go. Again I can't thank you enough Dan. Now if you could just get rid of the bats...


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tim57064
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5912956 - 06/10/13 12:22 PM

Quote:

ah I was just going by what the link said. I will pick some up then or have them drop it off. I could even use this stuff on the bottom blocks to then.

Looks like I'm good to go. Again I can't thank you enough Dan. Now if you could just get rid of the bats...



(suggestion removed),then put up screening to block all the openings. Just a suggestion from a hunter.

Edited by csa/montana (06/11/13 09:26 AM)


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corpusse
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: tim57064]
      #5912960 - 06/10/13 12:25 PM

It's illegal to kill them and even if it wasn't I have no intention of killing them. I just want them out. The problem is I have no idea if there are babies inside or not. Sure I can scare the adults away but that would just doom the babies to die who knows where.

I should point out they are harmless tiny bats but I'm just terrified of them. I may just invest in a hazmat suit for when working upstairs and then once they migrate seal everything off.

I am really trying to get this done before winter.


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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5912993 - 06/10/13 12:40 PM

Sorry I didn't know it was illegal in Canada to get rid of pests,which I am sorry, that is what I consider them to be when they invade my domain.Guess you have to either put up with them til' winter or hire an exterminator/pest control to get rid them for you.

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corpusse
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: tim57064]
      #5913040 - 06/10/13 12:59 PM

In England you are not even allowed to remove them if they are in your home! so it could be worse, but like I said I don't want to kill them. They were probably there before me, I just had no idea they were since when the dome was put in they had not yet migrated back.

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tim57064
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5913045 - 06/10/13 01:02 PM

Okay,I apologize for even making the suggestion.

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corpusse
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: tim57064]
      #5913075 - 06/10/13 01:21 PM

No need to apologize. Frankly I'm surprised how protected they are. Like I said I hadn't planned on killing them but if it were say mice I would have.. They just really freak me out. They do apparently eat 1000 Mosquitos a night...

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eastwd
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5913984 - 06/10/13 08:44 PM

Andrew, I've really been enjoying this thread these past several months. Things are really coming along and looking great.

There've been some threads in the past where CN members wax poetic about how wonderful bats are, how many bugs they eat, etc. To each his own, I guess. My advice is not to let anyone coax you into rethinking your healthy caution toward those bats. In the summers, I have too many bats to count at my observing location. Having them wheeling around everywhere seemed like no big deal until one smacked into my wife one autumn night. It hit her in the face -- not particularly hard, but it made solid contact. She's awesome and was a good sport about it. But on advice from the head of epidemiology at Vanderbilt, she went and got rabies shots. His comment to her was that rabies is close to 100% fatal without timely treatment, and eminently treatable if early action is taken, so why risk it? As you can imagine, that one wacky incident was quite an astro buzzkill. It's had a chilling effect on my young daughters' interest in joining me for observing sessions. The whole thing has totally changed my perception of bats. I'm now planning a domed observatory and have abandoned the idea of one with a roll-off roof in hopes that a dome will improve the peace of mind of the folks I enjoy observing with most of all.

Edited by csa/montana (06/11/13 09:17 AM)


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lal_webname
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Reged: 07/18/10

Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5914019 - 06/10/13 08:58 PM

Quote:

They do apparently eat 1000 Mosquitos a night...



You really want to keep the bats around, maybe just not indoors. Also rodent eating snakes; both make good neighbors that will make your life better.

BTW, I'm surprised you don't have rats and mice. At my dark site home 6000ft in the Sierra the rats and mice all try to move indoors for comfort when the snow comes, made easy by my sporadic visitations. I probably need to catch a gopher snake (Pituophis catenifer catenifer) and set him in in residence.


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eastwd
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: lal_webname]
      #5914241 - 06/10/13 10:53 PM

Some say the effect bats have on controlling mosquito populations is negligible, at best.

Link to TX Mosquito Control *BLEEP*'n webpage - bats ineffective at mosquito control

Webpage from a county mosquito control board with citation to a published study


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tim53
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: eastwd]
      #5914587 - 06/11/13 07:18 AM

Interesting. Can you use some sort of low-frequency (or high frequency?) sound emitter to drive them away?

-Tim.


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corpusse
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Reged: 04/11/10

Loc: Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: tim53]
      #5914801 - 06/11/13 10:43 AM

Phew, I got my ipad back! It was actually very painless went to baggage claim told them my name showed Id the guy grabbed it in 2 seconds. I have never forgotten anything on a plane before this.

The sonic emitters have about a 50% success ratio according to various sources. Once I get them out I will put one in. One flying in is fine (somewhat) a colony living inside is not. Again it does not appear to be a massive infestation but still.

Hopefully the bat houses will help. Hoping getting the building sealed wont be too bad. There are a couple of pannels of drywall and insulation on the ceiling (why?) downstairs. There may be more in there I'm going to have to rip that out. Actually hoping my contractor will be willing to do it for a reasonable amount. It won't take long but that's going to be gross and like I said I'm really afraid of them.

Another idea I have is put a big window in the front. I'd like this anyway but it would allow more natural daylight upstairs. There is a small window in the back but not much sunlight gets in. This coupled with the dome open should really brighten it up and make it less appealing. I will need to add some more lighting as some of the ceiling lights upstairs had to be cut when the dome went in, but there are still several outlets upstairs.

I'm going to figure out how much more concrete and blocks and rebar I need and order the stuff shortly. The small hardware store doesn't stock a lot but for stuff like this they are really good, deliver it on a skid at no additional charge. If they don't have the mesh I can get it at home depot on the way next time. I'll also start looking for somewhere here that can make me the pier plates. Worst case I work around the bats to get the pier up and don't use it until fall. It probably won't be completely ready until then anyway. I'm also looking at a small mount for widefield milkway shots. Maybe the smart eq pro since its a little more versatile then just a simple camera mount and when you factor in having to buy a tripod and ball head they're really the same price.

here are a few more pics :











ISS I just happened to notice flying by











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Midnight Dan
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5915124 - 06/11/13 01:59 PM

Nice shots! The Explore-a-dome just looks so cool on top of that building!

You mention brightening the place up to help with the bats. I wonder if shining some bright lights at their nesting locations and leaving them on all the time would make them want to move out?

-Dan


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Mary B
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #5917447 - 06/12/13 05:58 PM

To see if bats are still using the space sit out side at dusk and watch all 4 sides over the course of a week. You will see where they are getting in and can block it.

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corpusse
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: Mary B]
      #5918545 - 06/13/13 11:14 AM

I have a good idea where the bats are coming in from, my problem with sealing them now is I cannot be certain all the babies if any are out. In the fall I will have everything sealed off good, but for now I will try the bat houses and more lighting / natural light up there to discourage them out but not force them just in case. Besides being cruel it would be gross if the babies died up there. I will just have to build the pier around them.

Trying to figure out how much more concrete I need and I think it will be another skid.. I have about 30 bags left but will still have to fill the floor back to ground level, then 138-144 of the 16x8x8 blocks plus I will need to use some to fill some parts of the middle especially where it will shrink down on the second floor then 28-32 of the 16x6 blocks, and then a short sonotube! It really adds up quick.

One more skid of concrete. The reinforcing mesh, rebar for the top level, since I already have enough for the bottom and that should be it. I might need some more sand to fill the middle but I plan on using all the clay, sand rocks and broken up old concrete as filler. There is also some old cement that was left behind by the previous owners not sure if its still good but it would at least work as a few hundred more pounds of filler in the middle. Then a short 12" sonotube for the top and I think that's all the building supplies I need for now. At last!

As for the actual pier plate, I'm looking at BYO mounting plates and they are 3/8" thick. Is that thick enough? I was thinking I needed thicker plates. I will see what I can find locally here, just need to figure what is best. Round might look a little better on top of the sonotube but I don't really care if its square. I want something I can change easily. I will be using a CGEM for the first couple of years with an eventual upgrade to either first my CGE which I use here or straight to a real observatory class mount likely a paramount mx but that is years in the future. I just don't want to have trouble later changing mounts. Although I suppose worst case I can just change the top plate if new holes cannot be drilled in the right places to accept the new mount plate.

For the actual topper plate I will either use a semi local guy (tpiastro) who makes a universal plate that fits cgem,cge,cge pro, or an atlas extension pier which is what I originally used on my pier at home for the cgem when it was here. I just need to make sure I get the pier plates done right so the mount can be changed without issue in the future.

It's really getting there!


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HunterofPhotons
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5918561 - 06/13/13 11:27 AM

Quote:

... I might need some more sand to fill the middle but I plan on using all the clay, sand rocks and broken up old concrete as filler. There is also some old cement that was left behind by the previous owners not sure if its still good but it would at least work as a few hundred more pounds of filler in the middle.....




Why are you filling this pier?

dan k.


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corpusse
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Reged: 04/11/10

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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: HunterofPhotons]
      #5918643 - 06/13/13 12:18 PM

I have to fill it, otherwise how would I attach the second part of the pier that is going in the middle? Plus filled just seems more stable then hollow and I have all this rubble to get rid of as well.

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HunterofPhotons
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5918830 - 06/13/13 01:45 PM

Did you look at the plans in the link that I gave you for Russ Croman's pier in an earlier post?
They were prepared by a structural engineer and featured good masonry practice.
The pier is hollow and does not need to be filled. To the contrary, filling it only presents problems.
The hollow pier in those plans is capped by a concrete slab. It has embedded rebar and can either be precast or cast in place.
Concrete block construction is wonderful in compression, not so good in resisting horizontal forces. Filling a pier like this with tons of rubble further taxes your base and puts horizontal stress on your block wall.
You're doing block wall construction for the first time, so the final product will probably not be as good as what a mason with decades of experience could do. Keep it safe and simple.
This is a simple project for a mason. They could blow through it quickly. It might be worth your while to use their services.

dan k.


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Midnight Dan
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: HunterofPhotons]
      #5919543 - 06/13/13 09:01 PM

Hi Hunter:

You're certainly correct that filling it with rubble with put extra outward stress near the bottom. However, using the reinforcing mesh between block layers should hold it without a problem.

Whether the fill is really necessary or not ... well that's debatable. Russ's block structure is quite a bit larger than this one, so it will be inherently more stable. A thinner one like this one, will tend to resonate more, and filling it with rubble will deaden it. From a structural support standpoint (which is what structural engineers are concerned about), it certainly isn't necessary. But most piers are WAY overkill when it comes to supporting the load that they need to. The point of all the added mass, fill, base size, etc. is for stability - to minimize vibrations.

You're absolutely right that the fill isn't really needed. But if it was me, I'd probably fill it anyway for the added stability. 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]
      #5920232 - 06/14/13 09:30 AM

Dan K I did look at them, unfortunately the plans are very low resolution and I couldn't quite read them. That being said in my non experienced opinion it seems that it would be much harder to make it hollow. I would be afraid of it blowing. I also had the vibrations in mind but I think either way vibration is not going to be an issue.

It just seems less can go wrong filling the pier. Again I freely admit I don't know what I'm talking about. I'm just going by what I see in other piers and the advice of others and certainly value any and all opinions. I really want to get this done over the course of next week at least to the second floor. It's not going to be professional quality but I am confident it will hold my 100-300 lbs of telescope gear both now and in the future. As long as the project doesn't turn out like this I will be happy :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zm080jEt2hc

Also these are a little expensive, but perhaps safer then leaving lights on 24/7

http://www.homedepot.ca/product/rigid-sun-tunnel-10-inch-diameter/904025

A couple of these plus an added window would make it super bright upstairs.

Edited by corpusse (06/14/13 09:35 AM)


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csa/montana
Den Mama
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Reged: 05/14/05

Loc: montana
Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5920286 - 06/14/13 10:03 AM

You might contact your Fish & Game and ask what to do in removing the bats. I believe, but not sure; in cold climates they migrate, that would be the time to close up any entry places they can get into.

A neighbor here had a severe bat problem during the summers, and they waited until nightfall when the bats left, & then closed the area they came out of. They previously had closed up any small areas that they could possibly get into. However, as you mentioned; one would not want to close up the entry if babies were still inside. While bats are good for the enviroment, it's best to use caution around them. This same neighbor had to put her dog down, as she picked up a bat that tested positive for rabies. Sadly, this owner had never had the rabies shots for her beautiful dog.


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HunterofPhotons
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5920607 - 06/14/13 01:33 PM

Answers below.

Quote:

Dan K I did look at them, unfortunately the plans are very low resolution and I couldn't quite read them.




*** Go to this site. Look under 'observatory' and click on 'construction images'. On rows three and four you'll see images of what you want to build, a block pier with with a concrete pad at the top. It's the same thing that Russ Croman and countless others have built. Experienced imagers in consultation with structural engineers or architects have successfully used this technique for years.

_________

Quote:

That being said in my non experienced opinion it seems that it would be much harder to make it hollow.




*** To the contrary, it is easier to keep it hollow. Some one has to carry all that rubble up and into the pier. <g>

________

Quote:

I would be afraid of it blowing. I also had the vibrations in mind but I think either way vibration is not going to be an issue.




*** Blowing? Are you talking about being affected by wind? You realize that being built inside of a structure kind of protects it from the wind?
Also a properly constructed hollow block pier is not going to be subject to vibrations. Access the experiences of people like Russ and others (of whom there are many) to see if they have complained of vibrations in their hollow piers. I am unaware of any complaints.


________

Quote:

It just seems less can go wrong filling the pier.




*** As I pointed out, you're introducing unneeded stress into the pier.

________

Quote:

Again I freely admit I don't know what I'm talking about. I'm just going by what I see in other piers and the advice of others and certainly value any and all opinions....




*** I don't think that I would "certainly value any and all opinions.... ". One might suspect that with conflicting opinions, that one of those might be wrong. <g>
My observatory was not the first thing that I ever built.
I was mixing mortar for a professional mason when I was 10 years old. (They didn't really enforce child labor laws back then. <g>)
I've built several hundred houses and numerous hotels, condos, barns, etc. I've also done a bit of concrete work for pay.
Nevertheless, don't rely solely on what I've recommended. I would, however, put some stock into what architects and engineers have done.
I would counsel you to think about getting a professional to help you. Incorrect masonry jobs don't fail in a gentle way. It's easy and predictable to make an error in a first time project. As an example, there are three common mortar mixes. Which one should you choose? It kind of makes a difference in the outcome of your project.
I realize people get a lot of satisfaction in building their own observatory, and that with small projects like this it's hard to get into trouble, but things like masonry can bite you big time if they go wrong.
Good luck in your endeavor.

dan k.


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Mary B
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: csa/montana]
      #5920942 - 06/14/13 05:07 PM

In fall the bats will be getting ready to hibernate and will be indoors more than out.

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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: HunterofPhotons]
      #5921051 - 06/14/13 06:36 PM

A big reason why I went with these blocks is it was supposed to be an easy job I could do myself. You are right about conflicting opinions however you are probably more experienced then others judging by what you've said.

I was planning on filling the pier as I build. Right now the floor is covered in all the sand soil clay rocks and broken up concrete from digging and breaking up the slab. I really don have a way to get rid of this stuff outside of scattering it around the property or paying someone to take it away.

I'm not sure I can find someone or pay them for that matter. I would imagine the hourly rate of a professional is quite high not to mention the travel time might be extreme. Add to the fact it's not easy for me to get to the site when they work will make it extra difficult.

I'm really torn on what to do. I have to go up the week after next I booked my vacation based on being able to build the pier. When I said I was concerned about it blowing I mean blowing out being hollow.

I will spend this weekend doing more research.


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stmguy
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Reged: 10/11/12

Loc: Western NH
Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5921765 - 06/15/13 07:06 AM

This will take some work but if you have a low spot on the property just dig a shallow hole and use the rubble for fill and it can be done at anytime.

I would not fill the pier myself, for one thing it will make it harder to use the stack and bond cement on the inside of the blocks walls.

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]
      #5921851 - 06/15/13 09:04 AM

I still don't understand how the middle will be suportred with it being hollow.

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csa/montana
Den Mama
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: Mary B]
      #5921861 - 06/15/13 09:12 AM

Quote:

In fall the bats will be getting ready to hibernate and will be indoors more than out.




Some bat species migrate in the colder climates; this is why I suggested the OP contact his "Fish & Wildlife" department in his area.

In Mt. the 2 most common bat species do indeed migrate.


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Midnight Dan
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5921929 - 06/15/13 10:06 AM

Quote:

I still don't understand how the middle will be suportred with it being hollow.




If you decide to leave it hollow, it sounds like you're concerned about the middle being supported at the top where you want to add on the next piece, the smaller pier section, to go through the 2nd floor. Is that correct?

If so, there are a number of ways. You can get a precast concrete pad made to the size of the top, and hoist it into place, securing it with mortar. Another way is to create a form at the top and pour it in place. This would require some way to support the bottom of the pour, since it is in the middle of a hollow pier.

As I mentioned before, I've never tried to cap a hollow concrete pier so I can only guess at some ideas. I'd probably drill some holes on the inside of the blocks near the top before putting them in place. Then I could bolt some 2x4s onto them on the inside as support for a piece of 3/4" plywood. I'd build a frame around the outside of the top that goes above the top so that the pour would cap the blocks 4 to 6 inches thick. I'd also be sure that the cap has plenty of rebar or reinforcing mesh in it.

For my 2 cents, I think it's easier to fill it. As long as you use the reinforcing mesh between the layers of block, it should have no trouble holding the fill. Retaining walls are made like this all the time. Basement walls are commonly made of cinder block and also have to hold a substantial sideways load due to the soil on the outside. They have no problem as long as they are properly reinforced.

-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]
      #5921961 - 06/15/13 10:26 AM

Yes that is correct, It's still going to be a pretty solid amount of weight. My concern is indeed how to support the pour. I don't think I could hoist the pad up. I suppose I could ask the hardware store to put it up with a forklift but I think it would be very difficult to do getting the pad close to the ceiling. I'd have to go down a bit lower, not to mention the fact the entire floor is covered in rubble

I agree it certainly would be easier to fill, I'm just no longer sure it's the right call. I was thinking I could build a few layers at a time fill it up and then continue. I'm actually looking for some masonry forums for further advice.

As for the bats guys we have already established they do migrate! In October! Worst case they will be gone by then and the building will be a fortress when they return. Best case they move into a new bat house I am generously purchasing for them. All you can eat mosquito's too!


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csa/montana
Den Mama
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5922035 - 06/15/13 11:01 AM

Quote:

As for the bats guys we have already established they do migrate! In October! Worst case they will be gone by then and the building will be a fortress when they return. Best case they move into a new bat house I am generously purchasing for them. All you can eat mosquito's too!







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scopefreak
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: csa/montana]
      #5922696 - 06/15/13 06:55 PM

Again, I must agree with Dan on filling the pier. I just cannot imagine the loose fill you are talking about causing any sort of structural problem. Fill it loosely as you build it up and then use Dans idea about the transition plate at the top. IMHO, that just makes good sense to have the pier filled. Plus it also eliminates the possibility of any other critters making a home in your pier!!

Just a thought since this post is getting very long and by now I feel like I know you personally, what is your first name so we can address you properly?


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Mary B
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: scopefreak]
      #5923875 - 06/16/13 02:32 PM

Leave it hollow, at the top lay a few pieces of rebar across the center, run it between 2 courses of block. Add a piece of plywood in the center and pour your pad. Bring it up level with the top of the blocks.

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stmguy
sage


Reged: 10/11/12

Loc: Western NH
Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: Mary B]
      #5924077 - 06/16/13 04:47 PM

or drill the next to the last layer of blocks for rebar, insert rebar, but more rebar on top of other rebar at 90 degrees to first layer, tie to first layer, put metal screening on top of rebar and pour concrete, insert anchor bolts in pour and you are good to go


Norm

Edited by stmguy (06/16/13 04:48 PM)


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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]
      #5927472 - 06/18/13 12:47 PM

I think I'm just going to do the soft fill. It just doesn't seem to be a fatal move. I have all the rubble already around the pier and moving it out would take a great deal of time and effort. I also feel a lot more comfortable pouring over the soft fill.

Unfortunately they only have the block mesh for the 8" wide blocks not the 6" but I just ordered a couple of 4x8 sheets of mesh and will cut it myself. I got 10 foot rebar pieces for the 12x16 part of the pier which I think will be better then using small pieces like I am doing for the 32x32 part.

One more skid of concrete should hopefully cover me. I couldn't find a block estimator but used a calculation someone else for filling their wall and multiplied it so I should be close to what I need.

Going to start inquiring with local metal shops for plates and possibly the bolts for the pier, but with any luck by the end of summer the pier will be done. I want it for sure done by the time the bats leave so I can try it.

More updates in a week. I've also updated wbobservatory.com Again there really isn't anything there that you won't find in this thread but I think it looks pretty nice and will only be better once the building is done and I start producing nice images.


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corpusse
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 04/11/10

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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5951302 - 07/02/13 12:49 PM

I only have a few spare minutes but figured I should post an update so no one thinks I'm dead.

I only moderately worked on the pier. I ended up doing more relaxing things. Exploring the Island, went fishing, went to the ruins of the fort where the war of 1812 started (just a few km from the house).

Only managed to image one night. The weather was mostly nice only rained a couple of days but clouds seemed to come around night time after mostly sunny days. One night was perfect.

The pier is now a little taller then me. I filled it with clay and rubble as well as some concrete too. The bottom layer is completely filled with concrete to give it a really secure base. The slab ended up way thicker then originally planned. It wasn't perfectly level so the first day I poured a few inches more so the slab ended up 30" thick maybe more. I also stuck some reinforcing mesh in the new part and every few layers of the blocks.

The bottom layers are attached with mortar then I filled around it with concrete after the mortar dried. The rest is surface bonding cement quickwal. It really wasn't that quick and I had a bit of trouble getting a thick base to stick thus it's not perfectly flat. My mom will continue watering it for me every day and I will go back up next weekend to hopefully make it close to the second level. I will use skids and the extra blocks to build a platform so I can reach. I filled every block hole with concrete and rebar in every corner.

It's a little messy but more or less square and level a few blocks didn't fit quite perfect so I just used more surface bonding cement. Inside at the joints I used a bit of concrete then continued with the rubble.

I'm really not sure if I'm going to do the top level now or wait until fall. I really want to use the dome I've sunk all my savings and vacation time and effort into but the bats creep me out. There are only a few up there as no one went upstairs for a couple of weeks and there was very little bat *BLEEP*. I actually only saw one. Outside around the house you hear a lot less, I was seeing one or 2 at a time vs a swarm.

I will post some more photos tonight.



30 second exposure



10 stacked





glow is from the house lights, forgot to turn them off. There is also some airglow in the pictures but no sky glow in any direction



a crop from one of the photos. The picture is with an 8mm fisheye lens so the scale is massive.

I have tons more pics of the fort, the island, a few more of the building and I did manage to image the bubble nebula through my 6" as well.


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Midnight Dan
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5951355 - 07/02/13 01:27 PM

Beautiful Milky Way shots!

-Dan


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csa/montana
Den Mama
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5951357 - 07/02/13 01:29 PM

Looks like that pier will be capable of holding a tank!

What beautiful images,(my favorite is #1). Very nice skies!


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stmguy
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: csa/montana]
      #5952592 - 07/03/13 06:56 AM

looks great, great pics also of the milky way
Norm


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scopefreak
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: stmguy]
      #5952888 - 07/03/13 10:54 AM Attachment (14 downloads)

Andrew,

Great pics and the pier is looking great too. Just to muddy up the waters, I just replaced my too small pier in my obs with one made of plywood. It is massive and was really easy to build. look it up under the "Mounts" forum and the thread "A wooden pier?". It damps out very quick after a good thump (under 3 seconds) and I think it looks very nice. I have yet to image with it as all we have here in eastern KY is clouds and it looks like it is going to be that way for the next 5 days.


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corpusse
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: scopefreak]
      #5953059 - 07/03/13 12:44 PM

Kevin, that pier looks great! I will probably just stick it out with the blocks as it's going reasonably well and I have most of what I need, but I could always do the top top in wood as it would be very easy to make height adjustments if needed. I'm not going to worry about that just yet. First I gotta get it to the second floor and go from there. I would really like to paint the outside of the building too just for the widefield shots and to clean it up a little I just never have the time. Sanding takes forever.

Anyway here is the photo I took of the bubble nebula and me taking it.

It's just 13 eleven minute exposures as it doesn't get dark dark until after 11 and around 4 or earlier it starts to get too bright. I should have started earlier but I didn't get out to polar align right away and then wasted some time on m27 before I thought I should image the bubble as this is the object that first got me into astrophotography.. I think maybe NGC 7000 is in the widefield image but I'm not sure there is a pretty big red patch.



higher res - it's virtually impossible to get around the image size limitations and post something large enough you can actually see it.
http://andrewastro.smugmug.com/Other/Island-widefield-shots/i-XL8HbZk/0/X3/im...



http://andrewastro.smugmug.com/Category/Nebula/i-F2J5TgC/0/X2/bubbleislandrep...


The image is a bit noisy as I did crank the gain to 40% to compensate for my lack of time. I am really surprised the exposure time difference is not as great as I anticipated going from white zone to grey zone, however it certainly produces much cleaner images. No weird gradients and much better colours. The difference is much greater in the wide shots and visual. If I were to take a similar exposure with the fish eye here in 1/10th the exposure time it would be completely white.

Progress is being made, its slow, but it's steady. It's only a matter of time before I'm producing fantastic quality images.


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Midnight Dan
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5953421 - 07/03/13 04:36 PM

Man! Your skies up there are amazing! You're making me drool!

-Dan


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scopefreak
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #5954379 - 07/04/13 06:55 AM

Andrew,
Those are awesome pictures!!! I can just dream of skies like yours. Here in KY it is just clouds clouds and more clouds. Really looking forward to seeing what you can do after all is done. But, really, are we ever really finished building our observatories? Hey, that might be a great topic for a new thread!


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corpusse
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: scopefreak]
      #5960322 - 07/08/13 10:52 AM

Stage one of the pier is complete. It was brutally hot this weekend. So much for the northern climate. Around 30c but extremely humid however I still accomplished what I wanted to. I think it may have actually been hotter there then here which is considerably further south.



This ones a bit out of focus but shows the cgem for some scale



I think it will be okay to hold it If it was that big all the way up I could just stick the whole tripod on it!

I'm just below the floorboards. As you can see in the pictures I constructed a platform with blocks and skids and then piled more blocks to reach higher. Looking at it now it's hard to believe I did this entire thing on my own. It was a lot harder doing the top having to carefully climb up and down with the heavy blocks and buckets of concrete, cement and filler. I'm still left with a ton of rubble my wheel less wheel barrel and I will have to get rid of at a later point.

As I got close to the top I used more concrete in the middle along with the clay which basically forms to the inside anyway. On the second to last layer I put 2 layers of reenforcing mesh down that fit perfect to size and filled that entire layer with concrete. After it hardened somewhat I did the very top layer different. Instead of 6 blocks around I did 6 blocks across leaving the very end empty. I may add 3 more blocks there later, but I don't think I really need them and left it open to make it easier to work up there as I'm just below the ceiling. I again used a layer of mesh and filled it up completely with concrete (with surface bonding cement at the very bottom and between the blocks). I covered it right to the top so the top is basically a new slab again. By the time I build the top layer it will be completely cured.



The reason I did it this way was the top layer is only going to be 2 blocks. This way it rests on 2 blocks completely instead of just the concrete. Also since the pattern on the blocks was reversed the end blocks are also touching the blocks on the ends of the previous level which I think should help balance the load throughout the pier more.

now for the second level I am considering a few options. They are :

Cut 1 floor board. I could then do 16x16 going up (2 blocks). Easy to reverse the pattern for added stability and the weight would be slightly more balanced on the bottom pier.

14x16 I can just barely squeeze an 8" block and a 6" wide block through without cutting a floor board. There is a little less then a finger space on each side. A few mm but it is not touching. While this is closer then I would like I would assume this is fine since it's not touching. It's not like I'm going to be bouncing off the floor while I am imaging. It could also be possible to trim the floorboard but not cut it completely. I believe they are 2x8's.

12x16 The 6" wide blocks fit with enough space between them and the floor board. I could then switch back to the 8" wide blocks once I pass the floorboards (i have extra 8" wides laying around). Or I could just get some more 6" wide and do them all the way up.





The blocks are upright for the purpose of showing how much space there is between the floor boards only.

It's hard to believe I've mixed about 6600 lbs of concrete + the surface bonding cement + the mortar on the bottom plus the 100+ blocks which weigh 40lbs I think, and all the water... Before this the only experience I had was my pier that's maybe 4 feet tall and 4 feet in the ground. Now when I close my eyes I see concrete mixing.

I left the door open overnight and watched bats go through the little hole in the floor and out the front door. It's impossible to tell how many there were or if it was just the same ones. There are so many bugs inside the building it seems a lot just hunt in there. I would guess there are no more then 10 though as I never saw a massive swarm just a couple at a time flying around.

I did some widefield imaging with my SLR but the pictures came out really really really noisy. On the screen I thought it was just a million stars but boy was I wrong. They aren't even post worthy. I guess the camera sensor overheated. Funny thing is I do have a QHY8 to canon adapter I just haven't had time to find the correct spacing. I worked on the pier until 10 then showered by then it's already dark and not much time to image. It ended up clouding over anyway.


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Midnight Dan
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5960711 - 07/08/13 03:14 PM

Looking good so far! How long with this next section be?

I'd be tempted to go with the 12x16 so as not to disturb the floor structure. But if it's more than about 6' long, I think it may not be quite large enough.

The 14x16 option seems like it may be too close to the joists, plus it doesn't offer a ton more support than the 12x16. If the building or the pier shifts at all over time, you might end up with the two in contact.

If this next section is going to be fairly long, I'd consider jumping right to the 16x16 option. You'll have to cut a joist, but you know it will be nice and solid and you'll have plenty of room between the pier and the floor joists. And with this option you can alternate the block direction with each layer which will add a lot of strength.

Keep in mind, that I'm just offering an off-the-cuff opinion here. I don't have any experience with piers like this and how solid they will be compared to their length. I'm just going by my pier which is 12" diameter and sticks out of the ground a little over 5 feet. It's pretty darned solid, but it does vibrate a little when you whack it hard. If I was going more than 6', I'd definitely want it to be larger. On the other hand, a 12x16 rectangular cross section is more mass than a 12" diameter one, so it may be fine for a bit longer.

-Dan


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mikey cee
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #5961031 - 07/08/13 06:30 PM

Heck I would build a truncated pyramid or square vertical form out of 5/8"-3/4" plywood...your choice. Whatever fits best. Very simple to construct. The way to get it above the floor level would be to screw it together one side at a time. Then set it right on top of your block pier. Easy to hold it in place because as you fill it it will become more stable. Remember to anchor it down so that it doesn't rise oozing out concrete near the bottom as it fills. Better looking and more stable than two blocks laid on end. Also bore some holes for a few rebar to anchor it to the block pier better. Should have done this first but you can't think of everything at once. I guess that's why we seek help and advice on CN. Mike

Edited by mikey cee (07/08/13 06:38 PM)


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scopefreak
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #5961039 - 07/08/13 06:39 PM

That pier is MASSIVE!!! Looking very good Andrew. You have definitely put in a lot work and it shows. Great job.

I agree with Dan on the size, not from experience but from just common sense I guess. I would cut the one floor board and then block it out with 2X8's around the pier. I really don't think that small of an opening in the grand scheme of things is going to make a structural difference. The pier will be much stronger keeping to the same construction principles you are already employing. And, like Dan said, there is little chance of the pier coming in contact with the floor if it should see any kind of shifting or settling.

As for the bats, well, they scare the living you know what out of me. I would be looking forward to fall and then giving them an eviction notice .

Keep on keeping on. You are doing a great job and will have something to be really proud of when you are done.


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corpusse
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: scopefreak]
      #6020577 - 08/12/13 11:27 AM

The bats win. For now.

I went up for the first time in a month. The trip was interesting and rocky. First I tried playing the radio very loud to scare them out. The babies are grown up. I ended up instead yelling at the one neighbor who's a few hundred feet away as she insisted I turn it down. I had to only because it's not my house otherwise I would have let her call the cops (there are no police on the island), the loud music was played on an old abandoned stereo that was in the building from who knows when. From outside her house it would be like someone listening to music in another room, from inside I doubt she could hear... Really frustrates me that she can't mind her own business. I even told her I was going to try this for less then an hour but she wouldn't have it. This is during the day on the weekend.. The time I went up in my friends car she was banging on the door trying to figure out who was in the house and so forth. When I came to the door she was like "oh your parents didn't tell me you were coming" like they needed permission from her. Just a bitter old lady who lives alone and will die alone.

Anyway I did very little work. Just cleaned up some of the rubble and removed the millions (dozens) of concrete bags. I tried to cut the floor board but it wouldn't work with a skill saw and my 18$ jigsaw was also not up to it.

What I did was put on a mask, safty glasses and headphones blasting music and went upstairs head down and sawed as fast as I could and got the hell out of there. I never sweat a lot but I'm not afraid to admit I was sweating bullets!

I will wait until October to finish the pier. I did however talk to another contractor who my parents were using to do some window replacements. He's going to put an old window upstairs for me at a later time which will make it much brighter in there. His ad is "no job too small, some too big" so I asked him how much he would charge me to remove all the old drywall and dispose of it and the rest of the garbage. He said a couple hundred bucks and as far as I'm concerned that's money well spent. 2 guys can probably do the job in 2-3hrs but it's going to be GROSS. Who knows what's behind the walls. Some of the drywall came out when my other contractor did the new stairs and he found mice living in it. Mice is one thing but I'm pretty sure there are bats in the ceiling drywall. I've mentioned this before I liked the idea of doing it myself since I did the pier all alone but I don't see how I can possibly get any personal satisfaction in clearing the building myself.

I also forgot many things including my dovetail. I had lugged my cgem down by the water which is completely across the 3 acre property. Got everything out my camera, counterweight scope the cables netbook, ran 2 extension cords 125 feet then i realized I don't have a vixen adapter!!! I searched around for something to use and eventually I taped the scope to a piece of wood as a make shift losmandy dovetail. Not super stable but okay. I wanted to do M8/M20 but by the time I got the scope setup and found them it was only 15 degrees up. Fine I'll take a few subs and move on. Well I forgot to plug in the netbook so I even lost some of those subs. I had trouble focusing my guidescope and other little annoying things. like the wood dovetail was not good for dec balance..

So I gave up and figured I'd do some viewing. I had never viewed from this site. I view planets here about once a year. I looked at m42 once through my 11" scope and it was nothing too special. M13 is basically invisible, M57 is the only other nebula I can see from here and for galaxies just the core of m31.

I had just a 20 or 25mm eyepiece it was only 20x magnification with the 66mm scope. Well just slewing around M16/17/8 and 20 were no problems. I actually found globs first that I initially thought were nebula but upon closer inspection with the camera they were globs. I'm guessing m2/m15 After this I decided to do a somewhat proper alignment. I am a child of goto and I did not even have a finder on the scope. Well after a 2+1 star align everything was in the fov. M13 looked like a real glob! faint but I could tell I was looking at it! M92 too. M27 really surprised me I could actually see the shape a bit. It's invisible from my 11" at home! Ironically M57 was the only target I could not see just being too small.

I would say this was the brightest it has ever been at night. It was dewy but the seeing was fantastic and very transparent. If I had turned off all the house lights I'm pretty sure I would see the milkway shadow on the ground.

With a 40mm lens on a tripod and 10 five second exposures look at all the messiers

Even the low res preview is too much to post here so below are the links.

http://andrewastro.smugmug.com/Other/Island-widefield-shots/i-zW6fbgr/0/L/40m...

full size

http://andrewastro.smugmug.com/Other/Island-widefield-shots/i-zW6fbgr/0/O/40m...

M8/m20 15 degrees up. 12 3 minute exposures

http://andrewastro.smugmug.com/Category/Nebula/i-RG4fb8L/0/L/m8m20wide-L.jpg

I was not polar aligned and shot at 47% gain just to get something. I will revisit this next year. The observatory should be high enough to reach them when they are at their peak.

New target for completion completion is next summer. The cell tower will be in and remote will be possible. Short term I will get this guy to do the gross cleanup for me, later in the fall I will also either get him or the other guy to put new siding under the roof where the bats get in and then seal off the upstairs. I'm not sure if I'm going to do drywall or just plywood which will be better for humidity. Some vents will be installed since it will be sealed off and no air exchange. I will finish the pier myself I have 18 bags of concrete left and that should be enough. I'm not sure if I have enough blocks but if I don't it will be less then 10 that I need. I remembered I have a pier plate for a cgem already at home! It's just the orion atlas extension thing but it's what I used to use here. What I am thinking is I'm just going to stick this in a concrete block and cement it in. I won't cement the entire pier together so this part can be removable. Or get a concrete drill bit and just drill the last few blocks in instead of attaching them permanently. The CGEM will only be used until I can afford a higher end mount which I estimate will be in 2 years maybe 3. Then it will be permanent. Whatever I get next will be it so I have to be sure it will be something I can be happy with for life. Long term I will be building about a 12x12 warm room downstairs where the computer(s) will go.

Finally speaking of being happy for life I am contemplating moving up to the Island myself. It may not be super realistic but the local paper is for sale as the people who run it are retiring. Yes yes newsprint is dying but not up there. They just write 2-3 local articles once a week and the rest is all adds. Going through 5 years of paper archives all the big players have the ran the same ads. The paper is delivered for free via Canadapost once a week. I'm just looking into it for now. Obviously it's a lot cheaper to live there. Also incidentally the house across the street is for sale. Walking distance to whiskey bay observatory! Houses there are generally for sale for 1year plus (most of the other ones my parents looked at are still for sale from last year). So we'll see, it doesn't hurt to look into it.


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Midnight Dan
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #6020793 - 08/12/13 01:21 PM

Wow! Moving up there would be way cool if you could swing it.

-Dan


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csa/montana
Den Mama
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #6020846 - 08/12/13 01:52 PM

Quote:

The time I went up in my friends car she was banging on the door trying to figure out who was in the house and so forth. When I came to the door she was like "oh your parents didn't tell me you were coming" like they needed permission from her. Just a bitter old lady who lives alone and will die alone.





Another way to look at it, is that she protects your parent's property, by watching over it. I do the same here for those that are not around during the winter, even going so far as calling them, when a stranger goes to their place. Rather than thinking of me as a bitter old lady, they are most appreciative someone is looking out for them, and show their appreciation by doing many things for me.

Back to topic, things are moving right along for you, the pier is certainly no light-weight contender!


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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: csa/montana]
      #6024078 - 08/13/13 10:17 PM

Carol, it's good to remind the young ones of their manners . Respect the person who calls the police if someone breaks into your Observatory.

Beautiful pier.

Chris


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tim57064
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: Raginar]
      #6162001 - 10/28/13 08:24 AM

Andrew,Hello.Just wondering if you have been able to get anything more done on your OBS build? I have been waiting to see how you are progressing. Would appreciate any and all progress reports with any pic's you may have.
Also since it is now well into fall,are the bats finally taken care of,gone for the season?


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corpusse
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: tim57064]
      #6162197 - 10/28/13 10:29 AM

Tim funny you bump this. I'm going up for 5 days on Saturday.

The Bats are now GONE! They have actually been gone for close to a month but I didn't want to get up there and find some stragglers. All the work needs to be done upstairs.

I'm not sure if the contractor has completed sealing in the building or not. I will speak to him next week but he may have already done it. I did have him add a window upstairs and replace the huge door with a standard garage door.



It's too bad it's too cold now (reaches freezing at night there now) otherwise I would try and get one side painted. In the spring I will paint.

As for the actual pier top I am thinking about not permanently attaching the top just yet. The reason being I could setup the cgem at an ideal height and get some time to test it out until I can afford to upgrade the mount. The mount will only be upgraded once then be permanent. I'm not sure if this will work or not but I would like to get some use out of the dome without everything being finalized. It will have to be heavy enough to support the mount but light enough it can be moved or smashed off. If only the pier was as big on the top as the bottom I could just stick my tripod on top

So the current plan includes finishing the pier hopefully next week, but leaving the possibility it won't be completely done (if they are clear nights I will be imaging from the ground). If not it shouldn't take more then one more additional trip. If it gets to the point its freezing freezing cold inside I will pick up a space heater so the concrete can still cure.

In the spring I hope to pick up the motors for the dome. They aren't really cheap actually more then the cost of the dome itself less shipping. Then it should be basically good to go, but I want to get a good mount in there within 1 year to 2 years depending on what I go with and how much it costs. There is actually a used Paramount MX for sale now in Ontario which I would love to buy since I wouldn't have to pay shipping tax I just don't have 8k laying around to get it

I will be considering everything from an EQ8 to a paramount / AP or ASA direct drive mount. I'm actually really fascinated with the idea of direct drive and not autoguiding but that is also the most expensive option. For now the building just has to be able to use an expensive mount before I can seriously purchase one.

There is still a long ways to go but this project has financially emotionally and physically drained me. As much as I hated to step away for a bit it was probably a good thing. All the objects that have risen and fallen in the sky that I wanted to get pictures of this year will be back next year, and the year after and the year after...


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Mary B
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #6162842 - 10/28/13 03:53 PM

An option with the floor joist is to cut one out and box the sides of the cut ends to the joists next to it. Done all the time.

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corpusse
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: Mary B]
      #6173540 - 11/03/13 11:20 AM

Quote:

An option with the floor joist is to cut one out and box the sides of the cut ends to the joists next to it. Done all the time.




The contractor did this. I didn't realize he was going to cut the hole so big but that's fine. You can tell he did a proper job. My dad had him do it while he was doing other stuff.

He's coming back this month at his convivnce to seal in the building. It's nice here you can just trust a contractor to come do a job right whenever and know he will do a good job and not over charge. You could never trust anyone completely unsupervised at home. He did a nice job on the window upstairs and the new garage door. My only slight concern is part of the door support is touching the pier. I don't think it will be a big deal and if it is I can always cut it its not like its bolted in.

Yesterday I cleaned up all the bat *BLEEP* with a shop vac and mask, looking a lot cleaner. I've started lugging my blocks upstairs now I'm just deciding if I should mix the concrete downstairs and lug it up a bucket at a time or bring everything upstairs. Either way it's labor intensive. Even bringing the blocks up is tiring.

The only animal inside was one dead mouse. No bats no bugs no live nice. With all the gross insulation gone they don't have many places to hide or nest. I'm removing as much of the *BLEEP* and decades of dust as I can and slowly getting my mound of rubble out and off to the side of the building

As for finishing the pier if I have enough blocks I am going to stick an atlas extension pier in the top one and then I will be able to use my cgem next time. When I'm ready for the final mount I will just take it off and sledge hammer the top block. I won't use any rebar or anything in the top to make it easier. This will allow me to make sure the height is good and use the dome I've worked so hard on while I save for the final mount.

It's nice to be back up here. In the day plus I've been here one truck has driven by on the road and the same atv twice. Only thing is I've never seen clear sky so wrong. Friday night it showed all day Saturday into Sunday completely clear but it's been 90-100% cloudy. It shows Monday as cloudy so I'm thinking that's when it will be clear. Even today it showed Sunday all day clear and it was still 100% cloudy although now as I look outside it is getting more and more blue.

I will post some news pictures later and at the very least I will get my fisheye lens up in the dome and take some sky shots tonight if its clear.

One more interesting thing. Last night with the lights on downstairs enough light went upstairs and shined out the window to cast a tiny rectangular glow on the trees. I couldn't believe this. At home I'd never notice something like that because its bright enough to read outside at all hours. Here with no stars I have a hard time seeing the house!

Edited by corpusse (11/03/13 11:29 AM)


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Midnight Dan
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #6173937 - 11/03/13 03:17 PM

Quote:

I'm just deciding if I should mix the concrete downstairs and lug it up a bucket at a time or bring everything upstairs.




Just my 2 cents, but I'd haul it up first and mix it as close to the point of use as possible. Once you start mixing, you want to keep going. If you're hauling buckets of concrete up, you'll tire out quickly and it may be hard to complete the pour before running out of steam. Plus you're likely to slop it around and get concrete splatter on everything. If you haul everything up first, you can do the mix/pour stage at a different time so you're starting out that job fresh.

Quote:

As for finishing the pier if I have enough blocks I am going to stick an atlas extension pier in the top one and then I will be able to use my cgem next time. When I'm ready for the final mount I will just take it off and sledge hammer the top block. I won't use any rebar or anything in the top to make it easier.




Not quite sure what you're describing here, but it sounds risky. Taking a sledge to part of a "finished" pier seems like it could cause cracks and damage to the rest of it. Maybe I'm not understanding what you're intending to do. Can you describe this in a bit more detail?

-Dan


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corpusse
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #6177088 - 11/05/13 10:17 AM

Dan I could not get the mixer up the stairs even with help. mixing at the bottom of the stairs was not that big of a deal. with the help of a friend we carried a bucket up at a time. No slop upstairs. I think its probably high enough with maybe one more. I used all the blocks I had less one.

As for the pier extension thing it fits inside the holes of the block. I can attach the last block with just a bit of cement and then smash it off later. Probably with just a chisel.

It's been really cloudy so I cant image tonight is the last night I am here. Hoping to do some more cleanup today but will probably take my friend around the island.

Stupid home depot, I went in on the way here and bought 3 bags of quickwall 5000 the surface bonding cement. I knew exactly where it was in the store and just grabbed them quick. Unfortunately home depot rearranged things and it was just regular concrete quickcrete 5000. i dont know why the bags also look identical but whatever. I had almost a full bag here and used it around the joints and will completely cover the top of the pier next time.

as for the final top of the pier I think I want to stay away from the cage type piers many have. Instead of having it held up by 4 long bolts I'd rather just make sure it's level and polar aligned and have everything fixed in perfect. With that in mind I would like to attach a pier plate adapter permanently with the mount still being removable. I plan on using the cgem for the trials but as mentioned above it will be removable. Once I get a high quality mount it will be the final mount for decades to come. My goal for the pier height is to allow up to a max 14-16" scope just in case. I want it to be high enough so a 6" will be able to look out through the shutter. Realistically I will be using a 6-10" with a small refactor piggy backed. If things go well eventually 12-14".

here are a couple of pics i took last night. i will take better ones before i leave. using a new laptop and really need an external mouse my hands keep hitting the touchpad its really annoying.

I am getting close






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corpusse
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #6177384 - 11/05/13 01:22 PM

It was barely above freezing during the day when I got here and well below at night.

Today on my last day its 15 and sunny
I can go out in a tshirt. In novemember, in the north!

I will need to repaint next year but I got the first coat on.

It's looking more and more like an observatory



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Midnight Dan
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #6177440 - 11/05/13 01:47 PM

Looking good! What are your plans for the open bay on the right? Close it in, use it for storage, leave it open? Just curious.

As for hauling the concrete up the stairs - sounds like you made it work! I was thinking more in terms of a "pour" where you'd want to work fast and continuously. I forgot that you were mortaring blocks which can be done at a more leisurely pace.

-Dan


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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #6178303 - 11/05/13 10:07 PM

Are you going to be build another "floor" up near the dome? That pier looks like its 10+ feet above the 2nd floor, correct? Or after you get it all aligned and set up, you would control it all remotely so it won't matter? Might be a pain to try and do the alignment, etc. on that long of a ladder!

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corpusse
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: KenK]
      #6179050 - 11/06/13 11:34 AM

Dan the side is just storage for wood, garbage that sort of things. Could also park a car there if there is crazy snow. Upstairs to the right there is outside storage too but it is currently not accessible.

This is what I meant for the temp pier top



The pier is still curing and I still need to cover it in surface bonding cement, but eventually I will rig something up unless I find a quicker way to buy the final mount. For the final pier I'm not sure if I need to do the typical cage type tops or just make sure its level and go with one plate attached to the concrete and attach the mount directly to that. My life is hopefully going to be long, but I'm going to get just one more mount and then it will be permanent.

Ken I plan on doing some sort of platforms to stand on. Either one or 2. I haven't really thought of a design yet but I am open to suggestions. Even Everything will be controlled from downstairs and once I have an "observatory class" mount I imagine there won't be very much adjusting.

I will probably cover the upstairs in indoor outdoor carpet. It's something like 364 square feet up there. Laminate would be nice but that's probably going too far. I might put up plywood or similar walls too. This will all happen after the building is completely sealed in which the contractor will be doing this winter. I may replace the back windows with a big fan that can be set on a timer or thermostat to control temp a bit and humidity.

Downstairs there eventually will be a fully finished and insulated warm room with a desk computer ect. I will run active USB cables from the mount downstairs to the warm room.

All the old disgusting insulation has been removed. I paid him 200$ to do that and that was money well spent. I didn't want to touch that at all.

The downstairs while still gross getting cleaned up. I moved some more rubble out and it will all be gone soon. I really should pick up those lose skids outside especially for these outdoor photos but I just cant be bothered.

Here are some pics :













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tim57064
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #6180113 - 11/06/13 10:30 PM

Andrew,I do not know what the span is between the walls for your dome support,yet it appears you could easily add some floor trusses or joists to where you could have a floor closer to the scope.
Also at the far end it appears you would be able to place a set of stairs there for entry up to it.I think it would be definitely worth considering. Great job on that massive pier.

Edited by tim57064 (11/06/13 10:46 PM)


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Midnight Dan
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: tim57064]
      #6180441 - 11/07/13 07:25 AM

Hi Andrew:

Gorgeous photos, as usual!

I think you'll find yourself fiddling with equipment more than you suspect. I agree with Tim ... seems like it would be easy to add a floor or platform at the point where the dome walls meet the original roof. That would make it a lot more comfortable and safe when working on your gear.

-Dan


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csa/montana
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #6180702 - 11/07/13 10:19 AM

I love the night sky scene, with your observatory! (If the pallets were moved, it would be even better! )

You've certainly come a long way, since you first thought of an observatory in the building!


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corpusse
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: csa/montana]
      #6180974 - 11/07/13 12:42 PM

Thanks Carol, you're right every time I look at the pictures I wish I moved them. Never got around to it. I'll probably just burn them one day, or maybe use them in platform construction... Even though I am really busy up there it's also really relaxing and little things like picking up the skids tend to get neglected.

You can just see in the corner my scope and netbook. They were imaging M31. Unfortunately it wasn't clear all night but I did get 2hrs 10 minutes data after a quick and rough polar alignment. The 66mm is obviously more forgiving with its short focal length. 10 minute exposures are not bad.



You guys are right. I will build a platform or mini 3rd floor. There actually is a lot of wood laying around on site already too. It's not going to have to support anything long term (just me and equipment going up but not staying on it).

Getting there. The work is extreme but the rewards will be endless.


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corpusse
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #6201352 - 11/18/13 10:02 AM

Looking at the place on google maps the satellite image has been updated and you can now see the dome on it!

This also shows the one close house, the house on the other side is about 3x further and obstructed by trees.



You can even see the skids that I have to pick up

In other news Exploradome is having a 15% off sale until January on all items. I am hoping to order the full dome automation kit just before the sale ends. It's actually more expensive then the dome itself but obviously a needed expensive if I hope to have it remote controlled.

I'm also reluctantly thinking about buying TheSkyX professional. I say reluctantly because I do think I will eventually be putting in a paramount MX, but that is not something I can afford to buy at this time. Of course it comes with the software so this would be an extra $350 cost but I could learn the software first at home and even try some remote widefield imaging or possible cgem imaging. Since it's a dome and there will be no chance of striking the dome unlike a roll off roof I could try and do some imaging with it and worst case still be able to close the dome if the alignment is off.

Getting closer but at the same time still so far away.

Edited by corpusse (11/18/13 10:10 AM)


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seryddwr
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #6201514 - 11/18/13 11:36 AM

That looks great, Andrew!

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PeteStorm
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: tim57064]
      #6203921 - 11/19/13 02:51 PM

This thread is amazing! As a guy who just happens to have an old dairy building on the little hobby farm my wife and I have been renovating this is THE thing I wanna accomplish! I've spent almost 3 years now working on the farmhouse and barely anytime on the outbuildings. Been dreaming and dreaming and now I may actually be able to start it this year.

Thank for keeping this thread going and I appreciate all the input from everyone. You're helping a lot more people than you can even know.


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Starman27
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: PeteStorm]
      #6204796 - 11/19/13 10:31 PM

+1 an inspiration.

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corpusse
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: Starman27]
      #6240404 - 12/08/13 09:06 AM

So I'm up for the weekend which was a bit of a last minute trip. Just 2 days but its been productive.

The skids have finally been picked up! They were frozen to the ground but I got them up. Next time a google satellite flies over they will get a cleaner pic

I have a ton of 2x6's here. I cut a few and put them up as the start of a platform. While it is now safe for me to walk on one side I will need to either double up and then cross them or just cross them potentially with other wood. Just trying to use some of what I have here to keep some costs down and getting rid of wood that would otherwise sit here until the end of time.

The top of the pier is rock rock solid. There was a tiny bit of movement when I last left but its long since cured. I will be covering it in surface bonding cement today for added strength but as of now I can sit on top of it and it won't budge at all.

Trying to get rid of more debris inside but it's a long process.. This time of year it gets dark so early too. Which incidentally was nice. My qhy8 frosted over so I used my dslr to image m45 while it dried out and then went to work on the horse head with the CCD. Have to check that data but m45 there is more then 3 hrs of subs. Since it was so cold -11c the dslr stayed at -4c.

For the first time here and in my life I have seen the northern lights! They were not that noticeable at first but just a slight red and green glow. Amost a sky glow but the camera sure picked them up nice! I will post lots of photos later. Must get some work done today. This is my final visit for the year. Next year the motors go in. The pier will be finished and the dome will be usable. I could have used it yesterday actually but despite the fact it's relatively comfortable inside despite the cold temps I don't really have interest in turning the dome manually all night long. It was however nice to open it up sit on the pier and stare out at Orion and the winter sky naked eye through the shutter

More to come!


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Midnight Dan
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #6240473 - 12/08/13 10:03 AM

Quote:

The top of the pier is rock rock solid.




Excellent! All your hard work paid off!

-Dan


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corpusse
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #6242216 - 12/09/13 09:10 AM

It's hard to believe eventually this thing will be going every single clear night.

The sky is just so fantastic there. Northern lights an added bonus. I enjoyed sitting on top of the pier for about 5 minutes looking out through the shutter.





At this point it's almost certainly unnecessary to cover the rest in surface bonding cement, but I will continue the tradition of overbuilding the pier by a factor of 1000. This side is basically done. When everything is done I will try my best to smooth it out, but I am no master mason. I could always cover it in a thin sheet of plywood or something but I will worry about the cosmetics later. Like I said I can push and push and it won't wobble in the slightest and stand on it and the same thing.



As for the platform, I just have the 2x6's screwed in now. I feel completely safe walking on it as is, but it needs to be stronger. Do you think I should double them up then cross, or just cross them now? Either is probably fine but I'd like to hear someones thoughts on it. I had originally planned on using the brown wood which is already the perfect size and was just sitting on the side of the building but the paint makes it a little slippery and that's probably not a good idea. That and the plywood is just up there for test walking. Again nothing is going to stay on this platform. It will strictly be for going up adjusting and replacing equipment ect. I could have got the contractor to do this, but I figure I can handle this. Originally I was leaning towards just a big ladder but now I'm thinking maybe some stairs leading up. Or I could get real crazy and do a pulley. Again I plan on using the CGEM i have there now only until I can afford a high end mount. Once that mount goes up it's never going to come down, at least not until I'm gone.



Still a mess but this looks MUCH better then before. I've got most of the rubble out. Just a small pile of sand and clay. Hopefully a lot of it washes away next year. I've just been throwing it on the side of the building There is some junk that needs to go to the dump eventually or the fire pit. Once the motors are in I can start work on the warm room which I am still planning on going at the back of the first floor which is far from the telescope. Way in the future I could put up walls upstairs and have it like a little photo gallery with prints of all my images. The building is so big there are a lot of possibilities.

I was surprised about the lack of snow, but it was really really cold



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corpusse
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #6242225 - 12/09/13 09:15 AM

This was taken through the shutter while I sat on the pier.



First time in my life I have seen the Northern Lights! They were not anywhere near this bright visually. Almost like red and green skyglow. The summer milkway is much brighter but very exciting to finally experience it.



ISO 6400
.

ISO 1600







and one in the morning



Still got a few more photos to post once I finish editing my horsehead photo.


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corpusse
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #6242413 - 12/09/13 11:06 AM

Okay last reply to my own post for today :

I had some issues setting up imaging. First my hand controller froze. For some reason I've always had to press a little harder on the cgem pad then my cge at home. It was completely non responsive in the -11c which was cold but not that cold. I brought it inside for 20 minutes and then it was good for the night. I've since decided to store it inside.

Second my QHY8 frosted. This happens sometimes I forget the desicator at home so I had to let it dry out for a bit. Not wanting to waste anytime I took my unmodified DSLR to M45.

It was just clearing the trees but still relatively high up. At home it's very difficult to get the blue. Light pollution filters as good as they are for OSC are death to blue. I recall doing 20 minute subs and only getting a hint of nebulosity.

Here is a quick 30 second test shot while I was setting up :



Here is the real photo, just under 3hrs exposure time of 5 minute subs. No dark frames but according to backyard eos the sensor was at -4 then -6 so they weren't really needed.

Now it is slightly slightly out of focus. Since I was only imaging one night I did not bring my moonlite focuser with me. Also with the dslr it was harder to focus then with frame and focus of CCD. I know there is an option for it in bye however I'm not overly familiar with the program.



By the time the CCD had dried off it was time for the horsehead region. One of my absolute favorites and one I wanted to do for a Christmas print to give as gifts. This is what it's all about. Again just under 3hrs total exposure with 8minute subs. The tracking is not completely perfect which is a little surprising because the PHD graph was good and my polar alignment was pretty good, but it's good enough and doesn't detract from the image much unless you are viewing at full resolution. Probably a combination of wind and flexture both of which will be eliminated when I am in the dome with a 100% perfect permanent polar alignment.

This is why I dug deep into the ground with a pry bar removing rock after rock after rock. Why I moved 1000s and 1000s of lbs of concrete material almost exclusively by myself and spent much of my time on this beautiful island in the bat infested building.

When it's done I will be able to image every clear night and get lots of photos of this quality and better. It's all coming together.



tighter crop :


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csa/montana
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #6242438 - 12/09/13 11:24 AM

Wow! That first image of the night sky with the Northern Lights is absolutely stunning! That would make a beautiful enlargement for your wall!

The horsehead is another beauty! Very well done on your imaging!


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Midnight Dan
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: csa/montana]
      #6242637 - 12/09/13 01:15 PM

Gorgeous photos!

Once again, your skies are making me drool!

-Dan


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Mary B
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #6242961 - 12/09/13 03:48 PM

I may borrow the aurora over the trees as a new screen background on my computer!

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scopefreak
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: Mary B]
      #6244268 - 12/10/13 08:55 AM

Andrew, that is simply amazing. All of it. I've been following your build from the beginning and all of your efforts are paying off in spades!!!

Great job!!! Can't wait to see pictures from the inside when it's finished.


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corpusse
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: Mary B]
      #6244525 - 12/10/13 11:13 AM

Quote:

I may borrow the aurora over the trees as a new screen background on my computer!




Here is the full resolution image

http://andrewastro.smugmug.com/Other/Island-widefield-shots/i-NxDf32S/0/O/aur...

It's in 8.5x11 format mostly so I could print it with 8.5x11 paper but also to crop the dome out of the picture.


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Mary B
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #6245336 - 12/10/13 05:37 PM

Thanks! I had a different aurora picture up and windows managed to trash the file so I have been looking for a replacement

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tim57064
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #6246082 - 12/10/13 11:38 PM

Quote:

It's hard to believe eventually this thing will be going every single clear night.

The sky is just so fantastic there. Northern lights an added bonus. I enjoyed sitting on top of the pier for about 5 minutes looking out through the shutter.





At this point it's almost certainly unnecessary to cover the rest in surface bonding cement, but I will continue the tradition of overbuilding the pier by a factor of 1000. This side is basically done. When everything is done I will try my best to smooth it out, but I am no master mason. I could always cover it in a thin sheet of plywood or something but I will worry about the cosmetics later. Like I said I can push and push and it won't wobble in the slightest and stand on it and the same thing.



As for the platform, I just have the 2x6's screwed in now. I feel completely safe walking on it as is, but it needs to be stronger. Do you think I should double them up then cross, or just cross them now? Either is probably fine but I'd like to hear someones thoughts on it. I had originally planned on using the brown wood which is already the perfect size and was just sitting on the side of the building but the paint makes it a little slippery and that's probably not a good idea. That and the plywood is just up there for test walking. Again nothing is going to stay on this platform. It will strictly be for going up adjusting and replacing equipment ect. I could have got the contractor to do this, but I figure I can handle this. Originally I was leaning towards just a big ladder but now I'm thinking maybe some stairs leading up. Or I could get real crazy and do a pulley. Again I plan on using the CGEM i have there now only until I can afford a high end mount. Once that mount goes up it's never going to come down, at least not until I'm gone.



Still a mess but this looks MUCH better then before. I've got most of the rubble out. Just a small pile of sand and clay. Hopefully a lot of it washes away next year. I've just been throwing it on the side of the building There is some junk that needs to go to the dump eventually or the fire pit. Once the motors are in I can start work on the warm room which I am still planning on going at the back of the first floor which is far from the telescope. Way in the future I could put up walls upstairs and have it like a little photo gallery with prints of all my images. The building is so big there are a lot of possibilities.

I was surprised about the lack of snow, but it was really really cold





Andrew,What I would do if I were you,would be to turn those 2x6's on edge like you would floor joists and double them up if you have enough of them and place them 16" on center spacings.
Then at that point,I would feel safe enough to add plywood to the top of them to use as a floor.
Make sure that you attach them to your sidewalls with 3" decking screws.
This would be much safer than laying them flat and much less of a chance of falling thru if more than one person should be up there.

I am sure you are causing them to bow slightly when you are up there.
Even if you do not notice it they are not as near as strong the way you have them now and no where near safe that way. Just my opinion here yet soooo much safer being set up like normal floor joists,doubled up.

It will not take much to do it the right way and as long as you are not spending a lot to do it,be safe.
Just make sure when and if you chose to do it the way I described that you make sure that the crown of the board is up.

If you look down the board from one end when it is laying flat,you will see it curve to the right or left.
The crown is the direction the board is curving to.Put the crown side up. Hope this helps. Tim


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corpusse
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: tim57064]
      #6246165 - 12/11/13 12:36 AM

That is probably a good call Tim. I should have enough, but I can always buy more wood, I simply have these 2x6's for free so I might as well use what I've got. The reason I put them that way was simply because I did not have any brackets so I could not put them vertically. I just wanted something to stand on so I could take those photos. I only invested a few minutes in this so it will be no problem to turn them around next time.

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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #6246701 - 12/11/13 10:14 AM

Just nail them to your wall studs

Norm


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corpusse
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Loc: Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: stmguy]
      #6263766 - 12/20/13 01:36 PM

So I'm trying to decide if I should install the automation kit now and try and take some wide field images now remotely and actually use the dome when I'm there or wait until I have more money saved. I would need a rain sensor, I want an all sky cam. I need a good mount but that's a ways away cost wise.

A big reason I want to do it now is admittedly because I'd like to go up for a week and get some more winter sky imaging done this winter and not have to wait another year. I don't have enough time to go up and just "waste" a week screwing around as fun as it would be.

Alternatively I could swap out the Cgem for a cge not ideal but at least it can't get lost. Of course there is no danger of a roof strike in a dome so worst case I close up until I get back up to realign. For now dreams exceed reality and I knew from the start I couldn't afford to do everything at once. It's happening just not super fast.


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Raginar
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #6263917 - 12/20/13 03:00 PM

Foster systems.

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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: Raginar]
      #6268431 - 12/23/13 12:05 PM

Quote:

Foster systems.




Yes I did it.

I ordered the full automation kit. The reason I was struggling with this is it's currently 15% off. Still this is going to end up costing about 4k when it's said and done and that pretty much maxes me for now. The cell tower is going up in august and I'd like to have everything ready for then, but I won't have a high end mount by then.

I really wanted to do this now not just to take advantage of the 15% off but because I want another shot at imaging the winter sky this winter. So I will go up at the end of January and hope for a few clear nights and install and test the dome motors. I have an i5 laptop that will stay in the observatory.

I think I can try some remote imaging with the cgem. Sure it's not ideal but because its a dome it's not like it can crash into the roof. Worst thing that happens is I lose contact and call my parents and get them to close the dome manually. Even if I get lost I can still take widefields and that would be something. Something for my labor and costs now, with an eye toward the future. After all this time and money a taste of the future action would be great.

I am going to try and get a cheaper all sky cam, or weather station. I know you can get a rain sensor for about $100 and that's probably enough for now.

I am researching software and looking at ACP as the final software however it's not in the budget to purchase now. I am open to any suggestions.

I also need to find a way to extend the internet to the observatory. The cell tower is going up in august and once that happens it won't be an issue, but for now I need to see if it's possible to cheaply extend the internet from the house.

It's a verizon hotspot 3g wireless device. I can't just move it closer to the observatory because it's for in house internet and the house itself has a small signal booster on the roof to increase performance since the signal is coming from across the water in MI. With the dome open I seem to get a decent signal but closed I don't get anything. I have to find out if it's possible to connect either a signal booster, or a router and a router to a signal booster.

Other then the mount which will have to wait until 2015 most likely this is the last big purchase I need to make. I will probably get another cheap desktop to control the dome and telescope. I do have an i5 laptop I can leave there. A battery backup unit or small generator is also on the to buy list. If the cgem proves impossible for even wide field I have a CGE i can bring up that at least does have homing capability so it won't get lost..

I am getting to the point where not only time but money will slow things down, but I will continue to move forward and the goal of having it completely operational is within sight.


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averen
Vendor Main Sequence Software
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #6272969 - 12/26/13 12:50 AM

Quote:


It's a verizon hotspot 3g wireless device. I can't just move it closer to the observatory because it's for in house internet and the house itself has a small signal booster on the roof to increase performance since the signal is coming from across the water in MI. With the dome open I seem to get a decent signal but closed I don't get anything. I have to find out if it's possible to connect either a signal booster, or a router and a router to a signal booster.





How far is the obs from the house?

I use a couple of Powerline adapters to relay my home network out to the obs. Then inside the obs I have a router (acting as an access point and switch). On some nights the Powerline connects at 140mbps but most nights I get around 70mbps, which is better than my wireless does out there. My Powerline adapters are rated at 200mbps.

Everything in the obs is on a wired connection but I often use my phone to control the PC while I'm out there so it's nice to have that AP for the phone to connect to.

Jared


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Midnight Dan
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: averen]
      #6273363 - 12/26/13 10:16 AM

I use this outdoor wifi antenna to get internet to my observatory:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=&sku=837371&Q=&...

It seems to reach about 1000 feet on my property, even going through trees and bushes. I'm really impressed with what it can do for such an inexpensive device. It is somewhat directional so you have to aim it at the observatory.

This is an 802.11G version. They also sell an 'N' version but reviewers indicate that the 'G' version has better range and reliability under adverse conditions.

In you're within 400 feet of the house or so, you probably only need one of these at the house to provide wifi to the observatory. But, if the signal is weak, or you want higher throughput, a second unit at the observatory will provide not only a hi bandwidth bridge to the house, but also a local wifi network at the observatory, as well as a wired ethernet connection.

-Dan


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corpusse
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Reged: 04/11/10

Loc: Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #6282857 - 12/31/13 07:30 AM

Looks like my automation kit is about to ship It's a good thing I did order when I did as they are now on back order.

Also I picked up a couple of IP cameras Foscam FI89010W I hooked one up to my network at home and works great. Both in daylight and no light (IR). I really only needed one but on sale I got 2 and will find a use for the second one.

Happy New Year everyone! I believe it was the 30th of December last year when I went up to the house for the first time, it was still being purchased then. In 9-10 months I got most of the heavy lifting done and there is no reason at all to think things will not be in operation come august when the cell tower is installed and possibly earlier if the current internet connection is sufficient.


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averen
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #6284622 - 12/31/13 11:39 PM

Quote:

Also I picked up a couple of IP cameras Foscam FI89010W I hooked one up to my network at home and works great. Both in daylight and no light (IR). I really only needed one but on sale I got 2 and will find a use for the second one.




Glad you like them! I've been really pleased with mine. I've been using an app called Camerakaze on my windows 8 laptop. this isn't the dome PC. I use it to connect to the dome.

Anyways I can snap the dome cam to the left and have my remote desktop session on the other screen...it's awesome!

Looks like this in operation:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/averen1/11633890234/

You'll need the Windows 8 metro version of Remote Desktop to get this to work.

Also those Foscams have a built in dynamic ip service so that you can get to your camera remotely without having to know your IP. It's in the camera options.

Good luck and Happy New Year!
Jared


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Midnight Dan
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: averen]
      #6285084 - 01/01/14 09:21 AM

Quote:

Also I picked up a couple of IP cameras Foscam FI89010W I hooked one up to my network at home and works great.




Is that a wired or wireless model? I have 3 of the wireless ones, and I love them ... with one caveat. If you run software that monitors and records them, they burn up a LOT of bandwidth on the wifi channel.

Here's what appears to be the issue. If you run the cameras stand-alone, they don't stream any frames over the net until something connects to them. So, if you run them in the mode where they aren't doing anything except when you're actually looking at them, they work fine and don't take up any bandwidth until you do look at them.

But, I wanted to record what happens when I'm not around. So I have an app on my computer that connects to them, monitors them, and records a frame every 5 seconds that gets appended to a movie. Once a day, it saves the movie so I have a time-lapse movie for each day.

Problem is, once you connect with your computer browser, computer app, or iPhone/Android app, then the cameras will start streaming as fast as they and the host can manage. For me, with 3 cameras running at the same time, that turns out to be maybe 4 or 5 frames a second. That's a pretty healthy video stream and takes up pretty much all of my wifi bandwidth. If I try to use the wifi for other purposes, like surfing the web, it bogs down to a crawl and usually times out. If I shut off the camera monitoring software, the cameras stop streaming and I can then use the wifi for other purposes. But if I do that, I can't record what's happening.

I've started posting on some forums looking for a work-around, but nothing yet.

-Dan


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corpusse
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Reged: 04/11/10

Loc: Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #6318378 - 01/17/14 11:18 AM

I'm a bit intimidated about installing the automation kit. Hopefully it will go smooth. I've already hit a couple of minor snags, the latest being I will not be able to take the last week of the month off. Debating the first week of feb instead. I would have rather been up during a moonless week or at least moonless at the start of the night rather then end for Orion and all the other fun objects that will soon be gone for another year. That being said there will still be 5 hrs+ of darkness the first week of feb.

I have something going on the end of feb, March is my real busy time at work so if I want to wait until the end of april for a new moon week that means the insanity of $4000 sitting on my floor for months on end waiting for me to install. I really scraped to have enough to buy the kit while they were doing the 15% off sale, most of my savings was then lost to the sudden decline of the Canadian dollar..

I'm still looking at 3rd party options for the foscam cameras. Any more recommendations? I do NOT want to stream live views. I just want to be able to see whenever I want WITHOUT a constant upload. Bandwidth limitations are pretty severe so the less used the better. I suppose I can always just have the cameras open on the computer and then when I use teamviewer or whatever program to connect to the PC I will see the cameras on the screen.

My next question is about internet in the observatory.

The building is a few hundred feet from the house, the modem is also on the far side of the house. As mentioned before when the dome is open I do get a so so signal, but closed it's basically non existent. I know I need a range extender. However I'm not sure what to get that will allow me to convert the wireless signal to wired. I will need this for the ethernet powerbar.

Also I will have the computer, 2 cameras, and the powerbar, that's already 4 connections. The verizon modem allows a max of 5 wireless connections. Will I be able to get around this? I would like to only take up 1 of the wireless connections with the range extender, up to a max of 2 if whatever I use to convert from wireless to wired counts as one as well.

There are so many different products out there with a price range equally as vast. Any recommendations? Since the internet there is only 3g I will never be passing a lot of bandwidth. My images will eventually be stored on external hard drives which will be swapped and physically moved. Only commands and low res IP/all sky cam images will be sent online.

Once the construction and assembly is done then actually getting the thing to work begins. I have a feeling that may end up being even harder.


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averen
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #6318430 - 01/17/14 11:37 AM

Quote:

I'm still looking at 3rd party options for the foscam cameras. Any more recommendations? I do NOT want to stream live views. I just want to be able to see whenever I want WITHOUT a constant upload. Bandwidth limitations are pretty severe so the less used the better. I suppose I can always just have the cameras open on the computer and then when I use teamviewer or whatever program to connect to the PC I will see the cameras on the screen.




The Foscams only stream when you connect to them. If you're not connected they use no bandwidth. This is the behavior of most IP based camera systems.

Quote:

The building is a few hundred feet from the house, the modem is also on the far side of the house. As mentioned before when the dome is open I do get a so so signal, but closed it's basically non existent. I know I need a range extender. However I'm not sure what to get that will allow me to convert the wireless signal to wired. I will need this for the ethernet powerbar.




You have a couple of options here.
1 - use a PowerLine ethernet adapter (this assumes that your obs and home are on the same circuit) Then have a switch in your obs.
2 - use a wifi range extender and a WiFi to Ethernet adapter to get internet to your powerbar:
http://www.amazon.com/NETGEAR-Universal-Ethernet-Adapter-WNCE2001/dp/B003KPBRRW

Do you have a mix of wireless and wired devices in your obs or will they all be wired? I would recommend getting a wireless access point with a built in switch and using that in your obs. Most APs will act as range extenders or repeaters and the wired ports can be used to connect wired devices.

I get internet to my obs through a set of PowerLine adapters. Then there is an AP that provides WiFi and wired connections inside of the obs. This works well but is not ideal.

IDEALLY you would bury some Cat6 or even better fiber. Fiber isn't all that expensive these days. If you have conduit for your power you can pull the fiber through the same conduit. You wouldn't want to do this with Cat6.

Jared


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corpusse
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Reged: 04/11/10

Loc: Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: averen]
      #6318451 - 01/17/14 11:52 AM

The observatory has its own fuse box independent from the house.

I need to be able to connect the following items

Computer - I have a laptop for now one day maybe I will swap for desktop but seeing as I already have an unused I5 laptop

Ethernet powerbar - for turning everything on and off remotely. I don't actually have it yet but this is what it is : http://www.digital-loggers.com/lpc.html

2 Foscam IP cameras. they are wireless but I have no problem running them wired. One will go right beside the scope and the other will probably face outside, I really only need the 1 but bought 2 just in case. I could use the second for security as well.

I do not care if these devices are connected wireless or wired. The powerbar is the only thing that has to be wired. However as mentioned the limitation of the modem is 5 devices, of those 5 I can only take up 2 for this project, 3 if I absolutely must but I'd like to avoid that at all costs. In August the internet will be "upgraded" but it will likely be a similar 3g modem with similar device limitations.


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averen
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #6318475 - 01/17/14 12:03 PM

Quote:

The powerbar is the only thing that has to be wired. However as mentioned the limitation of the modem is 5 devices, of those 5 I can only take up 2 for this project, 3 if I absolutely must but I'd like to avoid that at all costs. In August the internet will be "upgraded" but it will likely be a similar 3g modem with similar device limitations.




Ah, I see. So the modem can only have 5 wifi devices physically connected? If it can assign more than 5 IPs then you should be ok. You could setup a WiFi extender towards the back of the house and then setup an access point operating in bridge mode inside the observatory. This would require a single wifi connection from the modem(just the connection from the extender).

Then in the obs everything would probably need to be wired unless your bridge can operate as an access point simultaneously (some can).

It would go something like this:
Modem -> Extender -> Obs Bridge ->
-PC
-Cam 1
-Cam 2
-PowerBar
-etc...

If the modem can't supply multiple IP addresses you could always use the Obs Bridge as a router. The downside is that you'd have to punch holes in 2 places to get access to the equipment from outside.

Jared


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corpusse
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Reged: 04/11/10

Loc: Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: averen]
      #6318518 - 01/17/14 12:19 PM

Yes it's a Verizon jetpack only 5 devices can connect wirelessly via 3g. There is no 4g there, and even this 3g technically isn't there, we use a signal booster antenna on the house to get this signal from nearby Michigan. As of August 2014 there will be a "local" cell phone tower at which time we will have to switch providers as the Verizon will be roaming. However the local option will offer the same type of service, it will just be a stronger signal since the tower will be closer.

As a last resort I would buy a second device and use it strictly for the observatory however I don't think that will be needed, it's simply a fall back plan in case there is no way to make this work which it doesn't appear to be the case.

The NETGEAR WNCE2001 wireless to wired link you provided me is a bridge, but only has one port, can I use a network hub to expand this to 4 ports? I know my Dad probably still has one of these somewhere from the days when you had to use one and a router because they only came with one port.

For my final network dummy question, a bridge can act as a router, but a router can't act as a bridge? I (my dad) probably has some old routers too I could likely use if he never threw them out. I don't think it will matter if its a G instead of N since we are talking about low bandwidth anyway.


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averen
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #6318774 - 01/17/14 02:16 PM

Quote:

The NETGEAR WNCE2001 wireless to wired link you provided me is a bridge, but only has one port, can I use a network hub to expand this to 4 ports? I know my Dad probably still has one of these somewhere from the days when you had to use one and a router because they only came with one port.




I am unsure. How soon do you need to know? I have one of these and can test to see if I can lease multiple addresses off of it. But we're headed out of town this weekend and I won't be able to check until Sunday evening at the earliest (probably monday).

Quote:

For my final network dummy question, a bridge can act as a router, but a router can't act as a bridge? I (my dad) probably has some old routers too I could likely use if he never threw them out. I don't think it will matter if its a G instead of N since we are talking about low bandwidth anyway.




Some can. It really depends on the router. I have 3 routers. 1 can act as a bridge (it's an Asus). Also I have a linksys that i changed the firmware on it it can act as a bridge as well, but it couldn't do so with the stock firmware. The Asus is fairly new, the others are at least 3 years old. The box should tell you if it can. Or you can check out the spare routers you have laying around. You can also check into alternative firmware which can unlock some nice features...but you're voiding any warranty and taking things in your own hands here. You may end up with a brick, or a functional router/bridge. http://www.dd-wrt.com/site/index I actually did the firmware trick on mine so I could turn down the wifi power. It was causing my Linksys router to freeze under high loads as it would get too hot. Since the new firmware and lower wifi power I haven't had a single issue.

Jared


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Midnight Dan
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: averen]
      #6318852 - 01/17/14 02:49 PM

For wireless connectivity between the house & observatory, I'd highly recommend these:
http://tinyurl.com/pgsftfc

I'm only using one, but it gets from my house to my observatory about 350 feet away with no problem. If you put one at each end to act as a bridge, you'll get even better throughput and the one on the observatory end will establish it's own local wifi network, as well as allowing you to tie into an ethernet hub or router to get wired ethernet inside the observatory.

I haven't used the Netgear one linked above, but a friend of mine had one and was very disappointed with it.

Like averen said, the Foscam cameras only stream when you connect to them. BUT ... you can connect to them using additional cgi information on the end of the URL and you can control the refresh rate. Generally, once every second or two is plenty, but the default is for it to stream as fast it can and it will abosorb all the available bandwidth. I've had this problem with IP cameras before so it's good to throttle them back.

Also, be sure and get the 98xxx series cameras, not the 89xxx cameras. The 98 series is newer and uses H.264 compression which does a better job of making the images smaller and again uses less bandwidth.

And finally, be sure and check the low-temperature rating on the camera. Some of the Foscams are rated for 0C and others are rated for -20C. Obviously, you want the -20C model. One that I think should meet your needs is the FI9821P. Note that the exact same model, but with a 'W' at the end instead of a 'P' is the 0C model.

-Dan


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corpusse
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Reged: 04/11/10

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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #6319045 - 01/17/14 04:25 PM

Jared I don't need to know for a couple of weeks. I will try and find the answer online but if not when you get back if its not too much trouble that would be great if you can check.

This weekend I will try and do some more research.

As for turning the old routers into bricks that's what they are already. I realize a new router isn't exactly expensive in the gran scheme of things but if any of these bricks can be used better then spending additional money and better then throwing these things away.


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corpusse
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Reged: 04/11/10

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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #6320592 - 01/18/14 01:58 PM

In related news I just found out construction of all 4 cell towers on the island has started and they may be ready as early as April (they were scheduled for august). Maybe one day 4g will be possible but I believe they will just be 3g initially. It's going to be weird to be able to use my cell phone there.

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corpusse
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #6326046 - 01/21/14 12:31 PM

In a surprising twist, I ended up getting next week off. Very surprised but also pleased. I mean I know I will have this building for many decades to come, but at the same time after sinking my heart soul and wallet into it I'd like to see some results. Assuming I can get the automation kit installed without issue I will at the very least be able to try out the dome. I will be there for 8 nights so odds are at least a couple will be clear. I'd love it if most were but 2-3 and I will be happy anything more thrilled. After speaking with netgear tech support I can use the WNCE2001 to connect to a router. I also have not one but 2 linksys routers. I'll bring both in case one doesn't work. With that in mind I have ordered it. I'm thinking of ordering that wireless outdoor wifi extension you linked Dan. I actually have an indoor wifi extender that might work, but of course only way to know would be to try. It's not super expensive but budget is pretty stretched. I'm not sure I will get the ethernet powerbar in time, but if not that's fine. Everything else can be tested.

I downloaded the trial version of maxium DL 5. If I'm going to spend $600+ on software I should at least try it first. I basically just need something that will control the telescope and the dome at the same time. I'm fine using nebulosity / phd for now but if I do end up buying maxium of course I will switch everything over.

I'm reluctantly thinking in the spring or the summer I'll bring my CGE up and take the CGEM home. The CGE can be used for remote and does have homing ability in case it gets lost. I really only want to change mounts once, but may have to do it twice. Just can't get a good mount now with still needing to buy software, weather sensor, all sky cam ect.

Here's a picture my Dad took last weekend. Should be in the -20s next week, but it has been as cold as -30s so it could be worse.



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Midnight Dan
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #6326192 - 01/21/14 01:32 PM

Looks like you could use a dew heater strap around the base of that dome!

-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]
      #6330584 - 01/23/14 12:39 PM

Quote:

Looks like you could use a dew heater strap around the base of that dome!

-Dan




I could get a roof de-icer. Not sure if it's really needed or not. Probably not we'll see what happens when the dome rotates a few times all the show on it should come off. I just got the web power switch. I have the netgear wireless to wired adapter and the range extender Dan recommended. Everything is carefully packed and eagerly awaiting the weekend. I just have to survive 2 more days work, then survive this install. It won't be long now..


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corpusse
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Reged: 04/11/10

Loc: Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #6335390 - 01/25/14 06:02 PM

So I got here late this afternoon. I will begin the install tomorrow. There was quite a bit of snow on the dome. More then the previous photo. The dome would not rotate. I had to go out on the roof and shovel it off. I don't think it was so much the snow but the inch or thicker layer of ice around the bottom of the dome that was stopping it from rotating. Also surprising was there was not a single flake of snow inside. Nothing. That is until I opened the shutter and got a snow shower. I was unable to open the bottom shutter. It's locked and the rubber has contracted a bit in cold. Hopefully tomorrow I can get them off or I'll have to cut them a bit to get it open. They were already really tough in the summer.

The snowbanks around the observatory are huge! I was not scared to go up on the roof since if I were to fall I'd have a huge snow pillow. Of course I would have had to tunnel out but thankfully it didn't come to that. Saw a few large deer checking me out too.

More updates to come.


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stmguy
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #6336134 - 01/26/14 07:16 AM

try putting a propane heater (just make sure you have fresh air)inside the dome for a few hrs, that might loosen things up for you
Norm


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Midnight Dan
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: stmguy]
      #6336247 - 01/26/14 09:38 AM

I have a propane heater I use in my observatory from time to time if I'm working on something but not observing. Problem is, one of the combustion products of propane is water vapor! So you get nice warm humid air hitting your cold equipment and condensing - everything gets wet!

Plus, if you're going to want to run that dome remotely, you're going to need to get rid of that snow remotely. I'd look into roof de-icing cables. Just Google them. There's lots available and they don't cost a lot.

-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]
      #6336260 - 01/26/14 09:46 AM

I will be getting the de icing cables soon. Well after I get this automation kit installed which seems like it will take the entire week.

After clearing the snow and ice it rotates and opens fine.

Last night was very strange it was clear but still snowing so i could not image. today its snowing like crazy.


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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: corpusse]
      #6336627 - 01/26/14 12:49 PM

As I'm thinking about de-icing cables, I'm wondering how you'd use them to get rid of the snow around the shutter. It would be hard to get electricity to that location and still allow the dome full rotation.

Something you might want to try is an inexpensive electric heater. Any old 1000 watt or so heater with a fan would do. Just set it to the side of the dome area a bit and aim it up towards the center. The warmth would melt the snow on the dome as well as around the edge. For probably less than $50 it would be a cheap thing to try.

If it works well, it would be easy to use remotely. You could de-ice the dome for a few hours earlier in the day, and leave a couple of hours for everything to cool back down before imaging.

Just a thought.
-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]
      #6341123 - 01/28/14 02:14 PM

The problem with the ice was around the square part under the dome. I could run a deicing cable there. For the shutter that is a good idea. Of course the dome had not been rotated at all this winter so the snow just built up. A few times around would probably knock a lot of it off.

It FINALLY cleared up around midnight last night. Problem is its so damn cold. -20 but the winds make it far worse. There were some very faint auroras towards the north. I have high hopes for imaging tonight. It was just too cold to balance polar align and all that last night. I did take some short subs of the rosette nebula but havent had time to look at them.

I am glad I waited to mount the scope. I have been standing on the pier for much of the automation install and the scope really would have been in the way. I'm going real slow since I have all week to complete this and want no mistakes or frost bite. I've had a nice warm fire going inside and even with dressing in layers try to stay out for no more then an hour at a time.

I'm at the point where I need to cut a hole in the dome. This scares me. I'm 99% sure that I need to cut a hole just large enough for the white pulley on the opposite side of the motor to go through and stick out on the back of the shutter.

Really there is no other way I can see to do this as the motor cannot be attached otherwise. Since this is a one time only thing I did email the photos to Dan and posted on the exploradome group but if anyone is reading this and wants to say yes this is what you need to do please do.

Given I plan on using this building for many decades I a trying to be careful, vs the earlier roll off I use at home which I got up as fast as possible so I could stop lugging the scope out in the middle of the night.

Will post some more pictures later.

where the old pulley was

http://andrewastro.smugmug.com/Other/Island-Observatory/i-CBnzmxd/0/L/image%2...

the new pulley with motor attached

http://andrewastro.smugmug.com/Other/Island-Observatory/i-h4KbF3B/0/L/image%2...


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averen
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Reged: 01/20/09

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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #6341148 - 01/28/14 02:23 PM

While looking for some pictures of the install I found this nice video about the exploradome:
http://www.waidobservatory.com/exploradome/

Looks like it has some info on setting up the shutter motors. Hope that helps.

Jared


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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: averen]
      #6341322 - 01/28/14 03:47 PM

Thanks I have watched that video. I'm really surprised how different the parts provided are vs what is listed online.

It's going slow but its going.


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averen
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Reged: 01/20/09

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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #6341375 - 01/28/14 04:13 PM

So here are my 2 guesses:

1 - In that video it looks like the plate is mounted up against the lip. So the roller would go inside in the up position.

2 - The roller goes outside of the dome to prevent the cable from chewing into the fiberglass. This seems more reasonable to me. But requires a largish hole.

I don't have an Exploradome...those are just guesses. I would call them if you're unsure.

Thanks,
Jared


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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: averen]
      #6347202 - 01/31/14 01:02 PM

So I'm finally getting close. I can get the dome to rotate both east and west via pc. Can't get it to do anything else but I've yet to install the home sensor.

Does anyone have a completed picture with the home sensor. I want to be sure I mount it correctly. Basically I need to know if the eye should be right up against the track or slightly back.

The other thing I have not yet done is string the cable through the pulleys it's very very difficult to fish the cable through all the tight spots and I want to make sure I do it correct. Does anyone have any completed photos they can show me so I make sure I do this right.

I have posted this in the yahoo group and did get an updated set of instructions from Dan but I figured I'd post here too. I am a bit surprised how much I've struggled with the install but no one ever said an observatory is easy.


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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]
      #6350842 - 02/02/14 10:12 AM

By now you'd think I'd be used to things not going according to plan. I suffered some setbacks this week but in the end I'm still further ahead then I was prior.

I was up here for 8 nights, and not a single one was clear. Only a couple will completely cloudy but there was always some tease partial clearings. I'd lug everything out it would cloud over ect. A couple of times when it appeared its clearest there was blowing snow everywhere. The first 3-4 nights were extremely cold in the -20s with -30s windchill. While this type of weather is okay for me at home to go out to my roll off a few feet away from my house spend 30 minutes are so capturing planetary data and coming in, its a completely different thing when you have to bring everything out, balance, polar align, plug everything in ect. I lost another USB port on my laptop due to something freezing in it. I have to remember to NEVER unplug things in the cold. I really found it tough to determine if it was clear or not. Lack of light pollution really does make a difference. I did see one really low meteor which to me almost looked like it would touch the trees and some very mild auroras. I did get a little bit of data but no nice photos this time.

Installing the automation kit was a lot harder then I thought it would be. The problems I found were that many of the parts supplied were different then the parts shown in the instructions. I ended up getting 3 different versions of the instructions from them. One clear set probably would have been a help. Yes they are available for phone support, but all I was really looking for photos to follow during install. Maybe I should have just used my phone roaming in the observatory but I much prefer visual aids vs phone support.

That being said I did get almost everything installed. The only parts not attached are the eye for the rotation and the cables for the pulleys. I'm not sure why I had so much trouble with the pulleys but I found it very very hard to figure out which way I should feed them through and attach them. I poked myself many times with the sharp ends and unfortunately I ended up chewing one of the cables when I was testing it. I don't think it will be too troublesome to replace. I either forgot some cables at home or they forgot to include the cables to attach the eye and shutter box to the rotation box. I did get fosters systems to somewhat work. By somewhat I mean I was able to get the dome to rotate both east and west but that's it. It would not stop unless I closed the program. As long as I can get it to synch with a mount I should be okay.

I expected a whole lot more done and to come home with 3-4 good images and some real trials with the dome. It's a good thing I have not attached the scope to the pier yet as I would have had to take it done as I use the pier to stand on.

There have been several times where I thought I'm way over my head, which is why I have posted so many things in this thread. I'm not afraid to admit I am in way over my head, sure it would have been easier to just buy a paramount ME or AP mount a monochrome camera and do narrowband from home, but that was not the approach I took and there is no turning back. I do wish I had polydome install the automation kit for me, but I will get it done soon. There is still no reliable internet here for a few more months and I still need a weather sensor, all sky camera and other things.

Maybe it will be another year before it's operational, hopefully not. It will eventually be operational.


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Midnight Dan
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Re: Brainstorming dream obs which will become real! new [Re: corpusse]
      #6350956 - 02/02/14 10:58 AM

Hi Andrew:

I'm surprised you haven't put the mount on the pier yet so you don't have to haul everything in/out. Couldn't you use a step-stool or small step-ladder instead of standing on the pier? If everything was mounted and aligned, it would make using the observatory a lot easier.

Don't get discouraged about the size of the task. Just take it one step at a time. When it's all done and you're enjoying the fruits of your labor, you'll have forgotten all about the effort and frustration.

But if you get your scope set up so you can use it whenever you want, you'll be able to take a break from the installation and enjoy the observatory right now. I think that would take some of the pressure off and reduce the frustration level.

-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]
      #6428271 - 03/25/14 11:15 AM

Haven't even been thinking about this place to be honest. Super busy month of 11-12hr days, weekends for sleep not long distance travel, however I have been informed my contractor has completed sealing in the building and there should be no more bats this year.

I got all the missing parts for my dome shipped to me I will probably once again try and complete the dome automation install in april. The cell tower will be up in a few months hopefully it will come together by then.


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