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Equipment Discussions >> Observatories

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tim53
Postmaster
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Reged: 12/17/04

Loc: Highland Park, CA
Cosmic Acres!
      #5852881 - 05/10/13 10:24 PM Attachment (214 downloads)

Hoping to close escrow on some rocks and sand near Joshua Tree NP next week! More details to come.

-Tim.


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tim53
Postmaster
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Reged: 12/17/04

Loc: Highland Park, CA
Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #5852889 - 05/10/13 10:27 PM

It's a 2 acre lot near the park entrance. In the pic above, I'm standing on top of a 50' high rock pile on the NE half of the lot, looking down at my van on a pad graded by the previous (well, current!) owner, who'd planned on putting a 3000 sq ft house on it. The pad is big enough for a cabin, a garage/workshop and a couple or 3 observatories. So, keep your digits crossed that we close without a hitch next week!

-Tim.


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tim53
Postmaster
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Reged: 12/17/04

Loc: Highland Park, CA
Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #5852901 - 05/10/13 10:35 PM

I already have an observatory of sorts in our LA historic home: Hatch Observatory

But it's in a white zone, so planetary mostly only.

I have also been hauling my scopes out to Milford, Utah a couple or 3 times a year for some REALLY dark skies (black zone!), but it's 500 miles one way, so I don't get out there much.

Milford site

At least Joshua Tree is just over 2 hours from our LA home, so I'm likely to go out there at least a couple weekends a month!

There is a light dome from Palm Springs/Indio to the south that's sort of a pain, but overhead is very dark. I was surprised that light from Yucca Valley wasn't bad. I could even see the zodiacal light that way when we went out there over new moon in January.

-Tim.


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1965healy
The Snarkster
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Reged: 06/23/07

Loc: San Antonio, TX
Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #5853036 - 05/10/13 11:45 PM

My grandparents owned a ranch in Juniper Hills 50 years ago, beautiful skies! My dad did a lot of work at Edwards AFB, my name is scrawled in the concrete on a few hangers and runways out there as well as some middle silos at Vandenberg AFB. Skies were so dark and clear 50 years ago, most kids will never see the milky way, sad.
Hope you close and get to start enjoying your land soon! I love Highland Park, a great old LA neighborhood that still has it's charm.


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tim53
Postmaster
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Reged: 12/17/04

Loc: Highland Park, CA
Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: 1965healy]
      #5853040 - 05/10/13 11:51 PM Attachment (104 downloads)

I have to say I am surprised at how dark it is out there still. Here's another pan, taken with the iphone before sunup on the lot. South is about the center of the pic, the hill in sunlight is west and the one in shadow on the left is east. So, morning and evening planets and comets will be obscured somewhat by the local horizon mask, but the south horizon is good.

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Calypte
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 03/20/07

Loc: Anza, California
Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #5853047 - 05/10/13 11:55 PM

We moved to Anza last year. I came out many times during the past 10 years to a friend's property, which happens to be within walking distance of our new digs. It's dark here compared to every previous place I've lived, but I'd swear it's not as dark as it was 10 years ago or even 5 years ago. I've put up an observatory, and at my age (68) it's probably the darkest place I'll ever have for regular observing. Our brightest & largest light dome is Temecula-Murrieta and everything west and northwest. We also have light domes from Palm Desert, San Diego and even El Centro (a minor light dome). Low clouds over San Diego really reduce the light dome in that direction. Clouds over the Inland Empire have the same effect, but they're far less frequent. We own a small piece of property near Show Low, AZ, that's very, very dark, but it's too far away for regular visits. I hope you can keep your dark sky! I was blindsided by a nearby casino development when we lived in Temecula.

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

Loc: montana
Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #5853081 - 05/11/13 12:21 AM

Wishing you the very best in closing on this property!

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tim53
Postmaster
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Reged: 12/17/04

Loc: Highland Park, CA
Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: csa/montana]
      #5853144 - 05/11/13 01:10 AM Attachment (65 downloads)

I used to go to the OCA site near Anza, but it's been several years since I was last there. According to the dark sky finder map, Joshua Tree is also in a green zone, but it seems darker than that, or the map isn't detailed enough to show darker "holes" that might be too small for it. I think having the hills in the direction of Yucca Valley, Joshua Tree (town) and Twentynine Palms helps "shade" the air above the lot from being lit, kind of like being at the bottom of a well or something? (referring to the suggestion that you can see bright stars in daytime from a well, though I've never tried!).

Plus, it can't hurt that the National Park is to the south and east of the site.


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Calypte
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 03/20/07

Loc: Anza, California
Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #5853161 - 05/11/13 01:44 AM

Quote:

I used to go to the OCA site near Anza, but it's been several years since I was last there.



Our place is 6.2 miles ENE of the OCA site. I haven't been to the OCA site at night since 1998, but I've been told by people who've observed both here and OCA that our area in Terwilliger Valley is a bit darker. I have no doubt that your new place will be significantly darker than Anza, but I would worry about seeing. A GMARS regular told me that poor seeing is a frequent problem there.


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tim53
Postmaster
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Reged: 12/17/04

Loc: Highland Park, CA
Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: Calypte]
      #5853165 - 05/11/13 01:52 AM

A local amateur astronomer across the street from this lot says it's better there because the mountains keep the wind down better than on the flats, but of course it is the desert.

I was at The Sky's The Limit in 29 palms a few weeks ago. They had some solar scopes set up, and I was surprised that the seeing was rather good that day.

But no huge worries. I do planets from LA mostly. But it doesn't really get dark here!

-Tim.


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CharlesW
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 11/02/12

Loc: Chula Vista & Indio, CA
Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #5853530 - 05/11/13 10:31 AM

I own a 3 1/2 season house on the other side of the hill in Indio. I've been drooling over some of the land prices around you for an obs. But, my fear is that one of the locals will borrow my stuff when I'm not there and forget to tell me.

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tim53
Postmaster
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Reged: 12/17/04

Loc: Highland Park, CA
Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: CharlesW]
      #5853577 - 05/11/13 11:07 AM

I had similar concerns, but the guy across the street from this lot is also an amateur astronomer and lives there full time. He's even offered to put a webcam up on his workshop pointed at the lot. Of course, there's nothing there to borrow - yet!

-Tim.


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cn register 5
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 12/26/12

Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #5853755 - 05/11/13 12:42 PM

Sorry to interrupt but what is a 3 1/2 season house?

Chris


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Calypte
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 03/20/07

Loc: Anza, California
Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: cn register 5]
      #5853860 - 05/11/13 01:57 PM

Quote:

Sorry to interrupt but what is a 3 1/2 season house?

Chris



Sounds like it's unoccupied during the heat of summer.


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CharlesW
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 11/02/12

Loc: Chula Vista & Indio, CA
Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: Calypte]
      #5855154 - 05/12/13 10:26 AM

We live most of the time in Chula Vista, a bedroom city in San Diego. Three years ago we were able to buy a getaway in Indio, about 20 miles east of Palm Springs. We go there as much as we can, Fall, Winter, and Spring. But it is common to see 115 degrees in July and August so we don't go as much. It's a few degrees cooler where Tim is buying but he will experience the wonders of the desert blast furnace, too.

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Mirzam
Post Laureate
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Reged: 04/01/08

Loc: Lovettsville, VA
Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #5855235 - 05/12/13 11:15 AM

Congrats Tim!

I'm envious. The number of clear nights at our dark site is pretty low unfortunately.

Keep an eye out for those little pink rattlesnakes. They pack a nasty bite and they like rocks!

JimC


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tim53
Postmaster
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Reged: 12/17/04

Loc: Highland Park, CA
Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: Mirzam]
      #5855335 - 05/12/13 11:57 AM

One of the reasons for buying close to the park is the summer heat. When I was a teenager, my friends and I used to go to the park frequently. We discovered the best kept secret of JT, around the summer of 72, IIRC. We'd go up to Idyllwild on a full moon weekend and camp there Friday night. Saturday morning, we'd hike the trails until about 3pm. Then, we'd hop in the van and head to JT in the late afternoon. We'd be setting up camp an hour or so before sundown. At the time, it was just a National Monument with no entrance fees. The peak tourist season then was spring or fall. Summer, they closed all but the front loop of Jumbo Rocks campground, so we'd camp there and have it all to ourselves. At night, we'd hike around under the full moon when temperatures were in the 70s. Wildlife was everywhere.

So, unless things have changed and it's crowded even in the summertime, I figure there will still be things to do in August out there!

As an aside, along those lines, the neighbor said that the problem with escrow closing next week is that it's already getting too hot to work out there. I jokingly said "we'lll come over full moon weekends and build at night!"

Seriously, I think the first thing to do will be to put in a septic tank. Then, we'll look for a used travel trailer or motorhome that we can park on the lot for facilities while we build. There's a water meter and power is nearby, so we could probably hook up a trailer with power, water and septic for the mid term while we come up with plans for a small cabin and observatory or two.

We'll know more in a week!

-Tim.


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hm insulators
Post Laureate


Reged: 01/22/07

Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #5860279 - 05/14/13 04:00 PM

Good luck with your new property!

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tim53
Postmaster
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Reged: 12/17/04

Loc: Highland Park, CA
Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: hm insulators]
      #5860420 - 05/14/13 05:04 PM

It's paid for now, so we're just waiting for it to record. Still should happen before the weekend!

-Tim.


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gmartin02
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 04/11/05

Loc: Santa Clarita, CA
Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #5863267 - 05/15/13 09:49 PM

Congratulations Tim!

I am sooo envious (in a non-resentful way).

I have been fantasizing about having a scoping shack away from city lights (orange zone at my house) for many years.

Well - 3 kids later (the second just about through college) and it is time for me to start thinking about this again. I hope to get serious about it in about 3-4 more years.

I live in north Los Angeles County, so my areas of choice (within 2 hours driving distance) are either Cuyama Valley (blue zone) or Onyx - east of Lake Isabella (gray zone).

Continue to keep us posted on your new astro property. I can use you as inspiration until I can get one for myself.

Side note: With Southern California's huge population base and lots of relatively dark Mojave Desert, with so many clear, relatively warm nights per year, I always wonder why no-one has yet attempted to start a formal astronomy community in California? Perhaps someday.

Greg


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Calypte
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 03/20/07

Loc: Anza, California
Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: gmartin02]
      #5863637 - 05/16/13 01:08 AM

Quote:

I always wonder why no-one has yet attempted to start a formal astronomy community in California? Perhaps someday.



Probably because most of those with the money and interest know that it'll be even darker at remote sites in AZ and NM, or (apparently) in the Sierra Nevada, and there'll be less risk of losing the dark sky in those places. I'd think Onyx would be pretty good. I lost my dark sky in Temecula to a hotel and casino, built on land that I imagined (when we moved there in 1993) would be forever safe from development. You just never know what's going to come from left field to ruin things. Probably the least-threatened areas would be around the fringes of the Mojave National Preserve, but isn't that mostly BLM land? Greg, you might be interested to know that what is now Santa Clarita was once considered dark enough that LAAS had dark-sky star parties nearby (a place called Cassidy Ranch). I had a friend who moved to Lancaster in 1950, and I remember how Newhall and beyond along US Hwy 6 (now Hwy 14) was pitch black at night.


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tim53
Postmaster
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Reged: 12/17/04

Loc: Highland Park, CA
Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: Calypte]
      #5864334 - 05/16/13 11:59 AM

Greg

Precisely why now
Is because I wanted to get started before I am too old to build one. And too old to appreciate it once I do. I just turned 60 so I have several years before retiring, so if I build in Utah now I won't be using it more than 3 or 4 times a year. It's very dark out there though so I will probably go out there more often when I do retire, but unless we sell our house in LA, Joshua tree will still be our "main" retirement/vacation home.


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tim53
Postmaster
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Reged: 12/17/04

Loc: Highland Park, CA
Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #5864341 - 05/16/13 12:00 PM

Biggest problem with the outlying areas in the Mohave is that nobody is there to watch your stuff.

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tim53
Postmaster
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Reged: 12/17/04

Loc: Highland Park, CA
Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #5864356 - 05/16/13 12:08 PM

I thought about NM/AZ astro communities. But that's farther than Milford, Utah. I was also encouraged to consider Kanab, Utah, by some friends there. It's about as far as Milford though, and prices seem to be around $25k/acre. Milford is closer to $1k/acre for vacant land out of town. We have 48 acres there.

It is awesomely dark there though, so I'll use it when I can. They get very high windstorms though. I've been thinking if hanging an anvil on a chain for a windsock.

Tim


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Calypte
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 03/20/07

Loc: Anza, California
Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #5864575 - 05/16/13 01:30 PM

Quote:

Greg

Precisely why now
Is because I wanted to get started before I am too old to build one. And too old to appreciate it once I do. I just turned 60 so I have several years before retiring, so if I build in Utah now I won't be using it more than 3 or 4 times a year. It's very dark out there though so I will probably go out there more often when I do retire, but unless we sell our house in LA, Joshua tree will still be our "main" retirement/vacation home.



I'm 68 now. We did two things about this: move to Anza (not ultimate dark sky, but much better than Temecula) and build the observatory now. So I had BYO build it for me. I know there are guys who are really big on DIY, but I thought if I went that route, I'd be looking at a pile of lumber several years before I got started. I don't have a lot of years left. We went through Milford, UT, last year when returning from the annular eclipse. I didn't see much around there. Should be very dark. We have a small piece of property between Show Low & Concho AZ, and it's very, very dark there, and we thought about pulling up stakes and moving there. But we have family here in so. Calif., and we're natives. It's home.

Edited to add: Tim, 15 mos. ago I never expected we'd be here. When we listed our home in Temecula in Feb '12 I thought in the current market it'd never sell, certainly not without a lot of sprucing up. Our realtor convinced us that it didn't need much sprucing, so we listed the home, and it sold in 10 days. We had an offer before it was even on the MLS. Since we bought in 1993, even after the crash we had quite a bit of equity, and the home here in Anza was only $150K for a bigger home with 2.73 acres of property, mostly still in native vegetation. I don't know your situation WRT equity, but it may be easier to sell your current home than you think.

Edited by Calypte (05/16/13 01:46 PM)


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tim53
Postmaster
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Reged: 12/17/04

Loc: Highland Park, CA
Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: Calypte]
      #5865215 - 05/16/13 05:10 PM

Yep, we're in good shape equity-wise. I usually don't believe zillow's estimates, but they were within 100K of the appraisal we got for our HELOC to buy the property in Josh. In the month since the appraisal, Zillow's estimate jumped another 100K. Our house is a LA City Monument and on the national register of historic places (built by Judge Hatch in 1887). We would like to hang onto it, maybe even let our kids have it after we're gone (if they can maintain it and want to), but it's nice to know that we've got enough equity in it to live large in a place like Joshua Tree or Milford, if we have to.

-Tim.
PS. I just got an email that escrow closed and we own the lot!


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tim53
Postmaster
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Reged: 12/17/04

Loc: Highland Park, CA
Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #5867296 - 05/17/13 02:56 PM Attachment (39 downloads)

Hokay, so now it's ours (along with the responsibilities!).

Here's the aerial view of the lot, screen grabbed from Zillow.

Does anybody here use sketchup or some other freeware application for designing their observatories? I'd like to get started!

-Tim


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tim53
Postmaster
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Reged: 12/17/04

Loc: Highland Park, CA
Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #5872298 - 05/19/13 07:38 PM Attachment (30 downloads)

So, outlines of a couple of 10x12 rolloff roof footprints. Gotta be cheaper if you build two, right?

We spent the night out there last night. The neighbor, Rick, brought over his C 9.25 Edge HD on a CGEM mount, and we gee-whizzed some of the brighter DSOs (since the moon is at first quarter).

-Tim.


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tim53
Postmaster
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Reged: 12/17/04

Loc: Highland Park, CA
Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #5872791 - 05/19/13 11:11 PM Attachment (29 downloads)

We've got a number of small Joshua Trees on our lot, but only a few that are very tall, and none that are really big. This is one of the bigger ones, on the coner.

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tim53
Postmaster
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Reged: 12/17/04

Loc: Highland Park, CA
Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #5872803 - 05/19/13 11:16 PM Attachment (34 downloads)

This is as "permanent" a setup I've had so far! A table and 2 chairs, on the actual ground outside the van! On the table is a pair of outstanding Selsi 7x50 wide field binoculars (my current favorites) and my Panasonic Lumix GF3 camera (in the case). I didn't bring a scope with, since it was first quarter moon. But our neighbor, Rick, brought over his C 9.25 (noted above).

-Tim.


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Skyshooter
professor emeritus


Reged: 04/07/08

Loc: S. Utah, U.S.A.
Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #5872996 - 05/20/13 02:02 AM

Hey Tim, really enjoyed your posts as they brought back a lot of memories. I live in Cedar City now but used to live in San Diego growing up. We would go to Joshua tree and I'd take my 10" Cave newtonian. It was in the mid 70's and we'd have the place all to ourselves. I'm glad to hear that JT is still a good bet for observing down there in CA. I'm happy to be here in Cedar though. It's a hop skip and a jump to some really dark skies for me. I've also got some property in Paragonah that I may use for an OB when I can hopefully retire someday! Best wishes for your new site... Enyoy while you can brother...

Ed


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csa/montana
Den Mama
*****

Reged: 05/14/05

Loc: montana
Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #5873364 - 05/20/13 10:01 AM

Quote:

on the actual ground




But it's your ground! How exciting for you to start realizing your dream!


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tim53
Postmaster
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Reged: 12/17/04

Loc: Highland Park, CA
Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: Skyshooter]
      #5873367 - 05/20/13 10:03 AM

Hi Ed:

I love Cedar City. We go through there on our way to our Milford property about 3 or 4 times a year. I was going to build an observatory outside Milford, but since I don't get there very often, I figured something within a couple hours would make more sense, at least until I'm fully retired. Milford skies are a lot darker than Joshua Tree's, but they're still pretty nice in Josh. One thing I noticed on this trip, though, is that the regional east-west airline routes do run across the sky to the south of the zenith, so astrophotography is probably going to include the not-so-infrequent "boeing meteor" trail. All the more reason for short subs, huh?

-Tim.


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tim53
Postmaster
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Reged: 12/17/04

Loc: Highland Park, CA
Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #5873383 - 05/20/13 10:12 AM

Quote:

We've got a number of small Joshua Trees on our lot, but only a few that are very tall, and none that are really big. This is one of the bigger ones, on the coner.




I forgot to mention: This picture was one of the first I've ever taken with my Panasonic Lumix GF3, with an adapter to fit my old Konica lenses, and a 50mm f/1.7 Hexanon lens on it. That's not a big deal to a lot of people, perhaps, but it is to me - since the early 1970s, I had accumulated a few interesting lenses for my Konica film SLR (Autoreflex TC), and I was really bummed when the winding mechanism stripped it's teeth in the early 1990s, because I loved those lenses. Now, I not only can use the Konica lenses again, but my Exakta lenses as well, since I bought an adapter for those too.

Anyway, this image was taken with the Konica 50mm lens, wide open, to narrow the depth of field around the Joshua Tree and throw the rest of the scene out of focus.

My only complaint about this camera (well, there are others, but this is the biggest), is that it doesn't have an electronic viewfinder, just the LCD screen. And so I have to hold the camera far from my 60 year old eyes to focus. I didn't pay a lot for the camera, though, so I may add one that does have an EVF.

I do have a Canon T1i as well, but I'm not impressed with the Canon zoom lenses, and the body is too deep to take an adapter.

-Tim.


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tim53
Postmaster
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Reged: 12/17/04

Loc: Highland Park, CA
Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #5873401 - 05/20/13 10:19 AM

Another cool thing about spending the night out there, including a few hours of observing:

We're on the NE corner of an intersection between two dirt roads, right? Well, we're near the north end of Larkspur (only two houses up the hill from us to the north, and one of them is currently vacant most of the year). While we were there, maybe 4 cars came and went. 1 of them was Rick's wife going out on an errand and then returning, and another was the neighbor to the east coming home. The other was the neighbor to the SE, and he drove with his parking lights on (I doubt he did it out of a courtesy, because he didn't know we were there and he's kind of an "unusual" sort, to be polite). Well, the edge of the dirt pad blocks headlights from a ways down the road, and especially while people are making the turn onto Wagon Wheel, even from the middle of the pad. So headlights were even less of an issue than I thought they'd be.

There are lights out in the valley, of course, but they're not obnoxious. At least I don't find them so. And when we do build a cabin, it'll be between the observatory(ies) and the valley, so will block the lights even more.

-Tim.


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tim53
Postmaster
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Reged: 12/17/04

Loc: Highland Park, CA
Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #5895902 - 06/01/13 11:52 AM

Okay, folks!

It's time for me to get started building something. It's getting hot out there in the desert, so I'm considering either building something in sections in my yard at home so I can dismantle it and haul it out in my pickup. Or, buy a shed and modify it or have an observatory built for me out there so I can start using the site while I line up the other necessities: Power and water hookups, septic system, and a garage/workshop. Cabin is down the list a ways, I think.

I've been downloading pics of rolloffs (mostly) and a few domes (but I like the idea of seeing the whole sky from inside the observatory), but only just looking into costs.

I'd really like to be able to do this on the relative cheap, since there are other things that need my limited funds.

Thoughts on how much I should expect to pay to build a 10x12 myself (plans or modify a shed) versus other options?

-Tim


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Calypte
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 03/20/07

Loc: Anza, California
Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #5895939 - 06/01/13 12:10 PM

As I think I've mentioned, my roll-off was built by Backyard Observatories. I ordered the fold-down south wall, because I imagined that I'd like to see Canopus and Omega Centauri from inside the observatory. I used the fold-down wall very little during the winter (just step outside to see Canopus), but lately it's been useful for ventilation and air exchange, to speed the cool down early in the evening. I'd think this would be important in Joshua Tree.

Edited to add: Dome vs. roll-off is a tough call. A friend with a dome in Temecula is convinced he made the right choice. It's sheltered from wind & much less susceptible to dewing. Dewing may not be a problem in Joshua Tree, but here in Anza, when the "marine layer" gets deep, it can be a nuisance, especially when the other gear in the observatory dews up. If it doesn't actually turn to fog, such nights can be gorgeous. Wind hasn't been much of a problem. The walls are 6 ft, and that blocks the gusts. Very strong winds from the northeast bring terrible seeing.

Edited by Calypte (06/01/13 12:30 PM)


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Escher
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: Calypte]
      #5896195 - 06/01/13 02:56 PM

Tim,

This is your best and cheapest bet - even if you have to rent a truck and haul it..
http://www.cloudynights.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php/Cat/0/Number/5841764/page...

He's al but giving it away at that price. If I was within 5-6 hours Id buy it myself.


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tim53
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: Escher]
      #5896333 - 06/01/13 04:03 PM

Saw the ad, but it's TOO SMALL. I do have scopes I could put in a pod, but I was really hoping to move this scope out there:





-Tim.


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tim53
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #5896360 - 06/01/13 04:17 PM

I'll think about it, though. Maybe build the ROR for the Cave later.

-Tim


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Escher
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #5896410 - 06/01/13 04:47 PM

I wonder if you could just use a course of concrete blocks to raise it up enough to fit the big Cave in there?

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tim53
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: Escher]
      #5896488 - 06/01/13 05:41 PM

Trouble is that the cave tube is about 8 feet long, which is bigger than the ID of the pod.

Tim


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neotesla
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #5896634 - 06/01/13 07:28 PM

Skyshed has a 12.5' Pod Max that is in preproduction right now... It's listed on their website menu.

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roscoe
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: neotesla]
      #5896892 - 06/01/13 10:29 PM

Tim,
The one bad thing about a dome is that it 'looks' like a telescope lives there.....and in a remote place, I'd be concerned about that....
A roll-off just looks like a shed, and everybody in rural places has them, so they don't draw attention to themselves.
Russ


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tim53
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: roscoe]
      #5897024 - 06/01/13 11:33 PM

Yep. I'm still leaning toward some sort of rolloff roof building. 10x12 (or 11x11, I suppose, though that's a square foot too big!).

So, in So Cal, particularly on the Inland Empire Craigslist (that covers part of San Berdoo County, which contains Joshua Tree), there are a number of guys advertising sheds and "portable buildings" on skids. They look well built - like a Tuff Shed or something similar - and they're reasonably priced (about half a Tuff Shed or less at Home Despot). How hard would it be to modify something to a rolloff roof? Or is something like a BYO or Skyshed really worth about double the price due to the mods required?

-Tim.


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roscoe
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #5897142 - 06/02/13 01:03 AM

The folks around here who build those 'portable-shed' type buildings often build-to-order..... so if you could order one with a double top plate (the horizontal 2x4 that frames the top of the wall and provides a place to nail the roof rafters to) instead of the single that is often used in shed construction (houses use doubles around here) and ask them to screw them together from the bottom, you could unscrew the roof after the shed is set up and leveled, jack it up and add your rails and rollers, and there you'd be......

There's a guy down in the valley who specializes in 6x8 garden sheds and playhouses, delivers them on a trailer like landscapers use to move mowers, etc, and sells them for about 10% over what the materials would cost me.
I think he gets his stock from a sawmill, and planes it himself, and saves enough there to make a profit. I bet he sells 6 for every one Home Desperate sells.... So a guy like that might well be worth talking to, for your obs and your garage, too.
R


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Calypte
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Reged: 03/20/07

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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #5897167 - 06/02/13 01:17 AM

Quote:

Yep. I'm still leaning toward some sort of rolloff roof building. 10x12 (or 11x11, I suppose, though that's a square foot too big!).

So, in So Cal, particularly on the Inland Empire Craigslist (that covers part of San Berdoo County, which contains Joshua Tree), there are a number of guys advertising sheds and "portable buildings" on skids. They look well built - like a Tuff Shed or something similar - and they're reasonably priced (about half a Tuff Shed or less at Home Despot). How hard would it be to modify something to a rolloff roof? Or is something like a BYO or Skyshed really worth about double the price due to the mods required?

-Tim.



I know nothing about Tuff Sheds beyond what I see walking past them at Home Depot or whomever carries them. However, a neighbor's steel storage shed was lifted by a dust devil and dumped on our property, narrowly missing my observatory. Worse, it could've hit the house. Who knows what it would have done to a scope, if one had been inside. I'm betting you get some excellent dust devils in Joshua Tree. I'd be reluctant to choose something too light or flimsy, and "cheaper" implies both of these negative attributes to me. You're welcome to come and see my BYO and see if it's something you want to do. I could also probably get you a visit to see a genuine ExploraDome. Contact me privately if interested.


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tim53
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: Calypte]
      #5897639 - 06/02/13 11:12 AM

I share your trepidation with the light-duty steel sheds. My dad had one at his home in orange county. IT didn't get blown around, but corrosion and dents made it hard to get the doors open after a few years.

The ones I've been curious about are like this guy's ad in Hesperia: http://inlandempire.craigslist.org/grq/3810808695.html

Like Russ suggested, I'd want to ask the guy about doubling up the top plates so the roof could be removed and put on tracks. I'd also want to affix the foundation to concrete piers so it could be leveled and stay that way.

-Tim.


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roscoe
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #5897715 - 06/02/13 12:19 PM

I'm thinking that if you have the time available to put one together, that you can get the supplies to build one way cheaper than $2200.....and you could, as you mentioned above, pre-fab - or at least pre-cut, much of it at home....
maybe get the ply and roofing delivered, and work up the tricky frame parts, like the roof components, in the comfort of your driveway....
Also, if you're thinking of a garage, you could perhaps have the concrete for the floor pad, the scope pier, and the building piers, all delivered at the same time, saving both the hassle of hand-mixing, and the small-delivery surcharge of doing just the obs.....
R


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tim53
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: roscoe]
      #5897762 - 06/02/13 12:43 PM

One of the advantages I'll have with Joshua Tree is that there is a Home Despot in Yucca Valley about 15 minutes away. I could use them as a source for heavy stuff like concrete. My truck has a huge bed (5.5x8.5 ft), so bulky panels aren't a big problem. Weight is, since it's only powered by a 1.6 litre stock VW engine:


-Tim.

Edited by tim53 (06/03/13 09:24 AM)


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vsteblina
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: gmartin02]
      #5897787 - 06/02/13 12:58 PM

Quote:


Side note: With Southern California's huge population base and lots of relatively dark Mojave Desert, with so many clear, relatively warm nights per year, I always wonder why no-one has yet attempted to start a formal astronomy community in California? Perhaps someday...




For retired folks moving TO California is a no go. So it would have to be cheap enough for people to maintain a residence outside of California. An RV park design coupled with homes might work, but can you get the price low enough given all of California's permitting requirements.

I would look in the coast range west of Redding. Some real dark skies there and pretty empty country,

AND just north of San Luis Obispo. Weather is better in winter and I suspect so would have some buffers from development with the Forest Service and military lands in the area.

Plus either location would probably get lots of use from California residents.

Having been back to the southwest deserts for the first time in 30 years....the skies are heading south at a rapid pace.

California might be better in the long run.


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roscoe
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: vsteblina]
      #5898128 - 06/02/13 04:16 PM

Either that's a really burly mount, or that's a very well-detailed vintage VW truck model.......

Do keep in mind, though, that if there's a Desperate nearby, there's also a 'local' lumber yard....who not only sells building materials at prices sometimes lower than HD, they're often higher quality, and they'll deliver, for a nominal fee or usually free if you're getting a larger order..... save that vintage vee-wee for nobler purposes than hauling sakrete......
R


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tim53
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: roscoe]
      #5898171 - 06/02/13 04:45 PM

It's a burly mount! Cave 12.5" f/7 on the 2 1/2" shaft "Observatory" mount. Thankfully, with big casters! At least at home where I can roll it in and out of my garage.

There's a great lumber yard with all kinds of interesting stock in Pasadena - Ganahl. I could make a really nice 2x8 T&G floor if I wanted to. Of course, I'd have to haul everything the 2.25 hour drive to Josh. Well, probably 3 1/2 hours in the VW. I used to drive my 67 bus out there, and that's about how long it took, especially climbing the grades toward Morongo and Yucca Valleys (3rd gear at 35mph).

-Tim.


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tim53
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #5898428 - 06/02/13 08:13 PM Attachment (26 downloads)

So I went out and had to measure the Cave. If I put the pier right in the middle of a 10x12 foot rolloff, it'll have about 5 or 6 inches of clearance IF that 10 feet is the inside dimension, not the footprint!

While I was at it, I got some turtle wax out and cleaned up the tube. It might not look different from when I got it, but it's cleaner. There are still a number of scratches in the gel coat in several places, but not enough to make me want to refinish it. Next time I work on this thing, I'll have to take that focuser off and repaint it (priming it this time!), and a bunch of other minor things. Overall, it's in pretty good shape considering it spent some time outdoors at the previous owner's house.


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tim53
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #5898429 - 06/02/13 08:14 PM Attachment (28 downloads)

Too

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Mirzam
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #5898481 - 06/02/13 08:57 PM

Hi Tim!

For now, why not go with a basic storage shed, which will be useful now and in the future when you have a residence at your dark site--just store the scope in the shed and roll it outside when you want to observe.

The permanent observatory should not be regarded as a low-buck, quick and simple build. You will end up doing it all over again.

JimC


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tim53
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: Mirzam]
      #5898506 - 06/02/13 09:08 PM

Hi Jim:

Good idea, actually. I started out thinking of doing that, but then I would say "but if I make the roof roll off, I won't have to build another shed for the telescope after the cabin/garage/whatever is done! "

For the near term, I could just haul my scope out with me and store it in the shed while we run around at the Park or the store or something.

Hm...

-Tim


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audioaficionado
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #5898687 - 06/02/13 11:11 PM

You could just do a roll off shed to store the Cave in the parked position on the pier.

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Calypte
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: audioaficionado]
      #5898736 - 06/02/13 11:34 PM

I have a Cave 12.5-inch f/5 that stays disassembled in the garage most of the time. There's no room for it in the observatory.

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tim53
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: Calypte]
      #5898775 - 06/02/13 11:56 PM Attachment (23 downloads)

Rodney wants a ROR!

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roscoe
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #5899133 - 06/03/13 07:57 AM

Quote:

Good idea, actually. I started out thinking of doing that, but then I would say "but if I make the roof roll off, I won't have to build another shed for the telescope after the cabin/garage/whatever is done! "




Yep, as an old boss used to say: "there's nothing as permanent as a temporary solution"


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tim53
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: roscoe]
      #6032042 - 08/18/13 12:16 AM

bumping for ideas, since it'll be cooling off out there soon and I'd like to get started.

I'm thinking along the lines of an observatory with a 'warm room' big enough to have a bathroom, kitchenette, and someplace to crash during the day. I sent the BYO folks an email just now asking about custom prices.

Since I don't have anything on the site yet, I'm worried about securing things while I'm not there during the week when I need to work. So, if I can afford to have it built for me, that might be the way to go.

I'll build a cabin and a workshop a few years from now. If the observatory's already there, I'll be able to secure things better when I'm not able to be around.

-Tim.


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stmguy
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #6032411 - 08/18/13 08:41 AM

I'd be tempted to go 12 x 12 with that big scope, I went 10x10 and it is just about right with my LXD55 10 inch F4 scope. You will kick yourself forever if it is too small, think about room for step stool etc not just the scope.


Norm


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Raginar
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: stmguy]
      #6032658 - 08/18/13 11:24 AM

Go big if you need it. It complicates only automation.

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Starman27
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: Raginar]
      #6033220 - 08/18/13 05:05 PM

+1 Build for the future.

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Nave
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: Starman27]
      #6042268 - 08/23/13 05:16 PM

Just noticed your updated sig file with the link here - congrats! That is a fantastic location - anywhere within a 1/4 mile radius of there is just out of this world. Right on the boundary of the park = wow.

The parcel I lived on 15 years ago for 6 months in Landers comes on the market in September and if I can hoodwink the missus, we will be distant "neighbors" of sorts.

Congratulations again - great, great site.


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tim53
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: Nave]
      #6042426 - 08/23/13 08:21 PM

The GMARS folks are in Landers. I just spoke with the contractor who builds their RORs. He was doing some concrete sidewalks and curbs for a historic apartment building in Eagle Rock this week, just a few miles from our house.

I'm hoping that I can buy plans from BYO and have him put in the pad, pier footing, septic, water and power and build the basic structure and rolloff, and my wife and I will finish off the interior over time, once it's secure and I have a place to store tools and building supplies - and telescopes!

I decided to build something big enough to house the 12.5" Cave (even if I don't put that particular scope in there, a whole lot of other scopes I could imagine would fit if that one will!) and have a small living area on the north half. And since anything bigger than 120sq ft needs a permit (or anything with power and plumbing) I might as well build something bigger, so long as I can afford it.

-Tim.


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tim53
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #6092049 - 09/20/13 04:07 PM Attachment (34 downloads)

It's finally starting to cool down out there, so tomorrow my wife and I are planning on meeting the contractor to talk about what to build, so we can get him started pulling permits and stuff.

Spoke with Scott Horstman last night about some of the larger custom jobs he's done, to get an idea of prices. One floor plan I kind of like, I scaled and pasted onto an aerial view of the pad, to see how it fits. I wanted to leave room for a garage/workshop on the east side of the pad, and a small house on the southwest side of the pad in the few years ahead. Wonder where the septic will fit?


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roscoe
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #6092669 - 09/20/13 11:29 PM

Tim,

What about building something 2-story, perhaps even with a dome on the roof? Your living space could be downstairs, with the scope room above? For not a lot more money than your one-story structure, you could have twice as much space..... Kitchen, living, bath downstairs, bedroom half the upstairs, scope room the other half......
Russ


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tim53
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: roscoe]
      #6092782 - 09/21/13 01:57 AM

Well, the previous owner was going to build this there:

School House

But she ran out of money. I'm not into modern, except for some very cool "modern" home near us that we were docents in on a house tour several years ago (glass walls, built in the 50s, I think).

But a 2-storey would block the view for observers on the ground, unless they were south of it. ...and I don't think it'd be in my budget.

-Tim.


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Mirzam
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #6093008 - 09/21/13 09:01 AM Attachment (25 downloads)

Hi Tim,

The floor plan you show looks alot like the observatory that BYO built for a neighbor of mine in WV. The observing room is 24' square with another 16' or so of warm room/living sleeping area. My neighbor uses the obs with a 25" obsession.

One nice thing is the patio (extended concrete pad), which is covered when the roof is open. Nice for BarBQing.

All I have handy at the moment is a construction picture. Other pictures can be arranged.

JimC


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tim53
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: Mirzam]
      #6093131 - 09/21/13 10:27 AM

Hi Jim:

That's the size of it. I was thinking of dividing the space in half, though, and making the observatory 20x24. I could probably fit at least 2 piers in there, maybe 3.

Still not sure I can afford that size building, though, unless I do a lot of the work myself. We'll see. Meeting with the contractor in a few hours, if I can get myself up and awake (only 2 sips of coffee down so far).

-Tim.


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roscoe
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #6093298 - 09/21/13 12:07 PM

Jus' sayin......aside from the height blocking part of the view issue, the cost difference between one-story and 1-1/2 or two - with the inside of the roof as the ceiling, is not all that much, especially because you could then shrink the overall footprint some and still get the same - or more - square footage inside. (and if you did 1-1/2, you could have oh-so-desirable 5' walls in the obs, and it'd only be 5' taller than a one-story.......... and you would have a cool peaked ceiling in the upstairs room.....

and, like I said above, there's nothing as permanent as a temporary solution, and you might as well (if you can sort-of afford it) build your cabin now, it'll be way lots cheaper than a whole separate structure (and another sewerage system, yes??) later.... Build a couple of nice brick or stone piers to the second floor maybe, or just hide concrete ones in the walls in the closet-zone or something......
Might be the best $20K you ever spent......
jus' sayin......
Russ


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Mirzam
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #6093312 - 09/21/13 12:12 PM

I think a little more inside space along the lines you are thinking would be helpful. My friends observatory has everything needed for a living space (kitchen, bath, bedroom, utility room), plus space for a control station. It is all a bit tight though. In contrast there is some wasted space in the telescope area. Maybe he will go bigger than 25" sometime in the future and put that space to use.

One thing to consider is that the roof peak may obscure Polaris and quite a bit of the northern sky assuming the obs is oriented NS. A solution would be to have the roof roll off a bit further than the minimum amount necessary.

BYO has a brilliant system for motorizing the roof using a motor+gear and long rack. There are no pulleys or cables involved.

JimC


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tim53
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: Mirzam]
      #6094899 - 09/22/13 11:36 AM

Got back home late last night after a good conversation with the contractor about what he can do and when, followed by an invite to the Sky's the Limit's fundraiser in 29 Palms.

First thing we found when we got there is that the scale bar was WAY off on my graphic above. I haven't reopened the file since I got up this morning, yet, but it's so far off that the graphic is worthless as I've got it drawn! I localize the rovers on Mars after every drive, so I "live" image scale daily, and this is embarrassing! At least I haven't spent money on the observatory yet!

Looks like we might be able to build something like the BYO 24x48 above using their plans and maybe roof hardware around the top end of our hoped-for budget limit, though. We all did pretty much conclude that we should build as much of what we want long-term now, rather than doing things piecemeal - temporary solutions and all being what they tend to be. So, let me get back to that plot!

-Tim.


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tim53
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #6095179 - 09/22/13 02:43 PM

Ha!!

I use Global Mapper for some of my work tasks, so I downloaded some online global imagery of the lot at 1m/pixel with a 200ft scale bar added, and I get a somewhat different, but still WRONG result. I can tell because I can make a 660ft square box in Canvas 14 and it is NOT 4x bigger than the lot (2.5 acres with easements, so 2.05 acres).

So I'm going to go from the blueprints we have from the previous owner's building plans, and start over.

Tim


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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: roscoe]
      #6095622 - 09/22/13 07:28 PM

Quote:

Jus' sayin......aside from the height blocking part of the view issue, the cost difference between one-story and 1-1/2 or two - with the inside of the roof as the ceiling, is not all that much, especially because you could then shrink the overall footprint some and still get the same - or more - square footage inside. (and if you did 1-1/2, you could have oh-so-desirable 5' walls in the obs, and it'd only be 5' taller than a one-story.......... and you would have a cool peaked ceiling in the upstairs room.....

and, like I said above, there's nothing as permanent as a temporary solution, and you might as well (if you can sort-of afford it) build your cabin now, it'll be way lots cheaper than a whole separate structure (and another sewerage system, yes??) later.... Build a couple of nice brick or stone piers to the second floor maybe, or just hide concrete ones in the walls in the closet-zone or something......
Might be the best $20K you ever spent......
jus' sayin......
Russ




I'm having a hard time visualizing this 1 1/2 storey thingy. Can you post a sketch?

-Tim.


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Mirzam
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #6095672 - 09/22/13 08:04 PM

I think he means living quarters below and observatory above. Sounds kind of like a good idea.

JimC


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tim53
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: Mirzam]
      #6095839 - 09/22/13 09:42 PM

Yeah, I get that. I just can't figure out which way the roof goes if the upstairs room has a peaked ceiling and the observatory has a 5' south wall?

-Tim.

Edited by tim53 (09/22/13 09:42 PM)


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roscoe
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #6096774 - 09/23/13 12:55 PM

Tim.....home for lunch.....will sketch my idea tonight
R


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tim53
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: roscoe]
      #6096876 - 09/23/13 01:50 PM

Thanks! That'd be cool.

In discussions with the spousal unit, I think I'm leaning more toward building something smaller, but big enough to have a bathroom and small kitchenette, and putting it at the north end of the pad and saving the cabin build for a few years from now.

All pending the contractor's estimate for the various options we talked about on Saturday.

-Tim.


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Boot
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #6100770 - 09/25/13 04:18 PM

Quote:

... Wonder where the septic will fit?




Tim - 'not sure if that was a flippant question or not, but if it is a serious concern...

Ecoflo units have a very small footprint (way less than a conventional 'field') and are eco-friendly. We put one in at our dark sky cottage location on the Bruce Peninsula in Canada, and it's been trouble-free and stinky-free. I highly recommend.


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tim53
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: Boot]
      #6107382 - 09/29/13 12:24 PM

I've never had to deal with septic systems before. I'll have to look into those!

-Tim.


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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #6118246 - 10/05/13 12:12 AM Attachment (26 downloads)

So here's what I've been thinking...

I used the previous owner's building plan blueprints to get the scale right in Canvas. Google maps is off by something like 50%!

So my desirement for a 24x40 that would fit in that alcove in the north corner of the pad won't work, because with the outriggers for the roof, the building would protrude into the area where we'd like to build a cabin one day. So, I got the 16x24 plans from BYO and figure I'll change them to 24x24, and split the space in half for a little living space on the north half and a 12x24 observatory space with a couple piers on the south half:


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Mirzam
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #6118568 - 10/05/13 07:23 AM

Won't the cabin block the southern horizon?

JimC


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tim53
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: Mirzam]
      #6118700 - 10/05/13 09:43 AM

Some, but the Palm Spring/Indio light dome lives there, too. And it'll be a single-story with a low peak to the roof.

Only other configuration I can think of is putting the observatory in the space between where I have it drawn now and the garage, and then putting the cabin along the west side. We didn't want to block the view of the rock pile with a building there, though.

Another idea I just thought of would be to put the observatory on the east side instead of the garage, and put both the cabin and garage on the west side. Hm...

I'll have to fiddle with the drawing and see what works.

-Tim.


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csa/montana
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #6118803 - 10/05/13 10:50 AM

Quote:

Another idea I just thought of would be to put the observatory on the east side instead of the garage, and put both the cabin and garage on the west side. Hm...




Looks like that might be a better choice.


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Mirzam
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: csa/montana]
      #6118857 - 10/05/13 11:20 AM

Why not flip the cabin and obs?

JimC


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tim53
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: Mirzam]
      #6118972 - 10/05/13 12:33 PM

I like the SW corner for the cabin, and my wife doesn't want the observatory in front of the view of the valley and mountains to the south-southwest.

This is why the observatory and cabin aren't one piece - there's no easy way to put both the observatory and the view on the southwest corner. So, one Idea we considered before we realized it was too big was a 24x40 oriented east west along the southwest side of the pad, with the roof rolling off to the east. But then, the building extends to the driveway, and the observatory is next to the road. ...and I think it'll cost more to build the cabin/observatory combination now, than I have to spend.

I'm going to look at this more, though, and draw up some other ideas - maybe including putting Morbius' Altair IV home on the pad!

-Tim.


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tim53
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #6118979 - 10/05/13 12:35 PM

Should note... with the 24x40 east-west, the roof would be split so the observatory was on the east end and the view was on the west.

-Tim.


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tim53
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #6118980 - 10/05/13 12:36 PM

I'm also intrigued by the MAD Observatory design, and have been cogitating about how I might place something like that on the pad, possibly as part of the cabin, but also as a stand-alone.

-Tim.


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tim53
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #6119137 - 10/05/13 02:48 PM

Ack! Don't much like this one either.

16x32 observatory, made the garage smaller too and the cabin bigger.


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tim53
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #6119139 - 10/05/13 02:48 PM

pic didn't post. I've got to work on a fence, so later.

-Tim.


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tim53
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #6119202 - 10/05/13 03:34 PM Attachment (19 downloads)

One more time, only this time we moved everything:

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tim53
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #6142101 - 10/17/13 12:06 AM

Gonna draw some more lines in the dirt this Sunday!

Wish everybody wasn't so busy... ...like me, for instance! Been hard to coordinate the little free time we each have, but meeting with the contractor to talk over the BYO plans and the electrician about running power.

Question: Given the nearest power pole is right next to that Toyota on the lower right corner of the lot (actually, just outside the lot), which would be cheaper? 110AC or solar? Remember, I'm only going to have the observatory to feed for the next few years. Cooking would be a problem, though. They use propane or electric stoves out there. I have an old electric stove that I was going to use in my garage to cure paint, but haven't yet. I could move it out to Cosmic.

-Tim.


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tim57064
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #6142119 - 10/17/13 12:19 AM

In my opinion,My opinion mind you,the cost of AC would be cheaper than Solar especially if you want 220v for running an electric stove. Of course,I do not know what they charge in your area for electrical service to be run to your property.
You may be able to save a little by digging in the line to where it could be hooked up and then having the electric company and electrician do all the hookups. Where I live, The homeowner can do much of the work yet still needs inspections.


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rimcrazy
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim57064]
      #6142483 - 10/17/13 09:08 AM

At my location in Overgaard Az where my observatory is located, I needed an additional line to my garage/studio. I do glass art when I'm not looking at stars. My local power company put in the additional transformer that was required on their dime. I had to pay for the trench they needed which went from the existing transformer to the new one. All power in my area is below ground not above. The power company then rebated back to me 50% of my expense on the trench over the next 5 years. Sounds like you are above ground so running the line would be cheaper. It is worth it to at least call the local power company and find out what the cost is to run the line and if their are any rebates, etc.

I had an electrician run the main from the transformer to my garage. That's not something a layman should do and in fact you can't hook directly to the power company's transformer unless you are an electrician.


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Mirzam
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: rimcrazy]
      #6143338 - 10/17/13 05:11 PM

Sooner or later you will want grid power, although you might be able to get by in the nearterm for the OBS using solar. You are, after all, in primo solar country.

What you would probably do is run the lines in to the immediate proximity of the OBS/cabin using poles and overhead wires. Make sure the wires do not interfere with your views! Then the part close to the structure(s) can be buried for safety and convenience.

JimC


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audioaficionado
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: Mirzam]
      #6143944 - 10/17/13 11:08 PM

Going underground the whole way is much better in the long run. The sky views aren't the only consideration at your site. The day views are important too.

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tim53
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: audioaficionado]
      #6145164 - 10/18/13 04:16 PM

Yes, the day views are important. Only remaining concern is that on the east side of the lot, bedrock is pretty close to the surface. That whitish patch under the word "observatory" in the map view is an exposure of the rock that was bulldozed from a rock pile and now lives along the west edge of the pad. Some of those rocks are pretty big, too. I'm hoping I can use them when building the cabin in a few years.

-Tim.


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roscoe
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #6145889 - 10/19/13 12:18 AM

Tim, I just re-read the last couple of pages, and realized I never sent you my obs/cabin idea, I'll try to find the sketch and re-scan it for you..... As far as power goes, you could put a pole of some sort at the edge of your property with a meter and a weatherproof breaker panel on it, then run whatever's sensible from there to your building sites. I'd also vote for underground power, plastic conduit is cheap to run. If you hit ledge, you could just cover the conduit with a few inches of rubble to protect it. Talk to a couple of electricians to see what the local customs/methods are......
R


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tim53
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: roscoe]
      #6146112 - 10/19/13 06:41 AM

Hi roscoe, and happy birthday!

Yeah, the electrician will be there tomorrow with the contractor, so hopefullly we'll come up with a reasonable plan. A pole east of the pad might work. Sky blockage from the mountain to the east is probably taller than a pole wold be anyway. Still, I'm hopeful that there's enough loose soil over the bedrock that they can figure out a way to hide it all.

It's weird. I had a couple hot dogs for dinner last night, and stayed up pretty late, but woke up at 3am anyway. If I wasn't so tired, I'd get a scope out! Haven't seen Mars or Jupiter in MONTHS.


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tim57064
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: roscoe]
      #6146223 - 10/19/13 08:47 AM

Good morning,I've been following and contributing to this thread and I hope that it is okay if I take the time to say "Happy Birthday roscoe! "

Tim I cannot wait 'till you begin construction on your OBS. I hope that you are able to get started soon and are able to take so many images that we will be spending a lot of time viewing/replying on what you have coming.


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audioaficionado
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim57064]
      #6146300 - 10/19/13 09:50 AM

I read the comet ISON is very close to Mars right now. I'll try and see it next week when I'm up in the mountains under dark skies.

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tim53
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: audioaficionado]
      #6148671 - 10/20/13 04:30 PM Attachment (38 downloads)

So here I am standing on the east side if the pad. This is a 180 deg plus panorama looking west across the pad. I've marked the 24' square floor plan in the dirt with my right converse all star. Don't know if you can see it in this reduced size pan. Found that the setback is 25 feet from the property line, but that's across the street. I've drawn the floor plan so it's more than 25 feet from the road, so as to a kid any problems.

Whadaya think? When I get home, I'll plot the observatory location carefully. I can see small bushes in the aerial image, so I'm going to measure some distances on the ground before heading home.


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tim53
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #6148697 - 10/20/13 04:41 PM

So I left the plans with the contractor so he could give me some mre precise estimates of costs. The neighbors have overhead wires from the poles for power, and where we're putting the obs is a lot less than the distance they're running, so we shouldn't have a problem. Hey suggested I put a sign out with the address so the power company will know where we are for when they do come out to book us up. And I have a number to call.

Only thing I don't like much is that the pad on the east is cut into the slope a few feet, so the road on that side is maybe about the height of a short pier. So I probably don't want a fold down south wall.

Tim


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tim53
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #6149072 - 10/20/13 08:54 PM Attachment (28 downloads)

Yeah, that sure didn't work!

Here's a bigger version of just the area where the observatory would go:


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tim53
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #6149079 - 10/20/13 08:57 PM

Notice that the pad is cut into the slope here. The observatory footprint is mapped out fainly in this frame in the middle and just past the rock in the center foreground.

But this won't work. The observatory floor will be about 3 feet below the road, so the GEM will be at about headlight height, though cars would be going left or right, not pointing into the observatory. Worse, someone in a car would be looking over the wall and into the observatory, from just 25 feet away.

So, no go.

-Tim.


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Mirzam
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #6149093 - 10/20/13 09:11 PM

Somehow my computer ate my somewhat longer post. What I wanted to suggest would be to build an elevated observatory with a wood floor (like a deck). Then your piers just need to be a bit higher to reach up through the floor. Wood floors have good thermal properties and are easy to build. Just make sure the piers are well-isolated. You could also make the roof roll-off towards the road to provide some additional light screening.

JimC


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tim53
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: Mirzam]
      #6149112 - 10/20/13 09:20 PM

I'm going to put it back in that northwest alcove where I had it before. I measured angles and the mountains across the valley at about 10 degrees or a bit more high. I'm going to build a single storey cabin eventually. It will have a low angle on the roof, so I shouldn't have trouble seeing the Palm Springs light dome over it. It will also put the observatory about 100 ft from the road and 6' or so above it.

There are also a few almost level spots along the north sice of the lot among the rocks. I might put something small in one of those places at a later date.

Tim


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tim53
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #6193111 - 11/13/13 05:27 PM

ACK!

So I took the day off work and came out here to meet with the contractor at the local building and safety office, show them our plans and order a pre-inspection. She said we can't build a secondary structure before the primary structure, and that any living space needs to be at least 750 square feet. She referred me to the planning department office in Hesperia, about an hour away. I called the guy and he was very helpful. He said that my 12x24 ft observatory space should qualify as living space because it's part of the same structure as the rest of the liveable space. He asked me to email copies of the plans and a plot map, and he'd see if he could get me approval to go forward and order the pre-inspection.

So, I'm sitting in my van hoping that he'll get back to me soon enough that I can call the contractor back and go back to the b&s office before they close and before traffic driving home gets too heavy (which will likely be within the next hour or so).

I'll probably head home in the next half hour if I don't get a reply by then. Then, it'll be at least next Wednesday before we can order a pre-inspection. And the following week is BirdDay, and the contractor won't be in town. So, realistically, likely early December before we can get started.

I suppose, if worse comes to worst and we have to build the cabin first, I can just do that and build a smaller observatory (not requiring a permit) after the cabin is done. But I'm hoping we'll be good to go in short order here.

-Tim.


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tim53
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #6199806 - 11/17/13 12:10 PM

I've been given the go-ahead! ...I think!

I still need some clarification as to how many "primary structures" we can have on a lot. But since my observatory is 2/3rds apartment and 1/3 telescope room (still considered living space, since they're attached and under the same roof), and is over 750 square feet, it qualifies. Next thing we need to do is get the "pre-inspection" of the property done. Hopefully this week. Then, our contractor is out of town for Bird Day week (I'll be working on a gate and arbor at home that week anyway), so we'll likely start first week of Dectober.

-Tim.


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tim53
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #6225180 - 11/30/13 01:11 PM

I took my Tak Epsilon 130 on its EM-1 mount to Cosmic Acres Wednesday night for some astrophotogrpahy. I used the Nikon Coolpix with the fisheye converter lens to take a few all-sky shots during the night, to show where the light domes for Palm Springs and Yucca Valley live to the south and west. In this pic, there's a cloud to the southwest that makes the sky look brighter in that direction than it really is.

Since the Coolpix can't take bulb exposures unless you hold the shutter button the whole time, the stars are squiggles. It can shoot up to 5 minutes that way, but my hand got tired before then so I let go, probably 3 or so minutes in.



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tim53
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Re: Cosmic Acres! new [Re: tim53]
      #6334998 - 01/25/14 02:25 PM

Progress at "The Cos" is glacial, I'm afraid.

We've had a pre-inspection, where the inspector says he wants us to install an erosion-control wall on the northwest side of the pad, since there's a stream there that might flood during in heavy rainstorms. It sounds like this might not need to be the size of a retaining wall, which could get really expensive. It might even be possible to bury it under the slope at the edge of the pad, in fact.

The inspector also wants us to move the observatory about 15 feet south, even with the wall.

So, I've asked our contractor if there's any distance we can move the observatory and NOT need the wall. Also, if we have to build the wall, how much do we need to be prepared to spend? If it's only a K or two, that we can probably do. If more, then we probably want to avoid having to build it if we can.

Itchin' to get started before it get's too hot out there!

-Tim.


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