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Equipment Discussions >> Observatories

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Midnight Dan
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Reged: 01/23/08

Loc: Hilton, NY, Yellow Zone (Bortl...
Re: Dark Arts Observatory new [Re: audioaficionado]
      #5879650 - 05/23/13 07:21 AM

Quote:

Did you polar align the bolts?




Yes I did. A couple nights before this work I went out with my mount on it's tripod and polar aligned it. Then I drove two pins into the ground on either side of the construction site, with a string from one pin to the other, running under the mount and aligned with it's orientation. That way I could remove the string for construction, but put it back in place to check things if needed. I sprayed the pins with day-glo orange paint for visibility.

On the wooden bolt alignment plate, I drew a line from the North bolt to halfway between the other two bolts. When I placed it in the concrete, it was easy to sight along that line and aim it at the pin in the ground on the North side.

The bolt holes in the aluminum pier plate are over-sized so I can rotate it a small amount for adjustment. And of course, the mount head itself has it's own azimuth adjustment bolts so there's some room there to take up any error in alignment. Haven't tried it yet, but hopefully I got it right!

-Dan


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audioaficionado
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 05/24/12

Loc: Medford, Orygun, USA
Re: Dark Arts Observatory new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #5879975 - 05/23/13 10:53 AM

Thanx for the explanation. Seems very doable the way you did it.

BTW, can you tell by my clear sky chart that I have a telescope arriving at my house today


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Midnight Dan
Postmaster
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Reged: 01/23/08

Loc: Hilton, NY, Yellow Zone (Bortl...
Re: Dark Arts Observatory new [Re: audioaficionado]
      #5880307 - 05/23/13 01:54 PM

Yep, looks almost as bad as mine! I wonder how many days of clouds come with an observatory?

Actually, cloudy weather around these parts is par for the course. In fact, the weather around here is so bad so often that I initially thought it would not be worth getting an observatory. But over time I began to realize that when those brief windows of opportunity occurred, I couldn't take advantage of many of them because it took so long to set up ... especially for AP. With an observatory, I can hopefully be ready to go in 10 minutes or so and will be able to make use of it even on weeknights after work if the night is clear.

-Dan


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Skip
Starlifter Driver
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Reged: 01/23/08

Loc: Fort Worth, Texas, USA
Re: Dark Arts Observatory new [Re: audioaficionado]
      #5880318 - 05/23/13 01:57 PM

Way to go Dan! I like it!

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Midnight Dan
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Reged: 01/23/08

Loc: Hilton, NY, Yellow Zone (Bortl...
Re: Dark Arts Observatory new [Re: Skip]
      #5887776 - 05/27/13 07:53 PM

Made some progress this weekend, but not as much as I hoped. Lots of holiday activities got in the way. I think I made some decent headway though for a 61 year old working solo. Did have a little help from time to time from Mrs. Midnight when I had to lift some of the heavier pieces like the 12 foot 2x12s soaked with pressure treated juice. Thanks, Maureen!

Over the previous few days, I placed the 6x6 posts in the holes and backfilled them. That was LOT more work than expected. The dirt here is clay, and it had been spread around the site by the Bobcat, mashed thin by driving over it, and then rained on to make it a nice hard consistency when dry. Digging up a thin layer of compacted clay to fill in the holes was not easy!

Today, the first step was to cut the 6x6 posts to the right height. Also removed the sonotube from the pier:


Next up, cut the notches in the 6x6 posts to receive the doubled-up 2x12 beam:


... and here's the 2x12 beams installed and bolted to the posts:


Spent the rest of the day adding the 2x8 joists on top of the beams. Still have to add the last joist where the pier is. It will not extend all the way across so I need to add some cross-pieces for it to end at. Also need to add the stairs.


One thing I should mention - I had thought about perhaps using a 10" sonotube, but I'm VERY glad I went with the 12". The pier is sticking out of the ground about 5 1/2 feet, and you might think a 12" concrete pier of that length would be really solid. Well it is, but not quite as solid as I expected. If I put my left hand on the left side of the pier top and whack it on the other side with my right hand, I can feel a low frequency vibration for a short time. It's less than a half second, and it takes a good whack so I'm not too concerned, but I was surprised that it vibrated at all. Maybe the concrete needs to cure more or the ground needs to settle around it. We'll see.

-Dan


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audioaficionado
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 05/24/12

Loc: Medford, Orygun, USA
Re: Dark Arts Observatory new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #5887784 - 05/27/13 07:58 PM

Are you going to put some skirting around the deck? If so, consider a good ground vapor barrier. Floor insulation with critter and vapor barrier if left open.

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Midnight Dan
Postmaster
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Reged: 01/23/08

Loc: Hilton, NY, Yellow Zone (Bortl...
Re: Dark Arts Observatory new [Re: audioaficionado]
      #5887797 - 05/27/13 08:05 PM

Hi Steve:

Wasn't planning on skirting. I'm going to use composite decking (Trex or equivalent), and I was going to put some kind of screening under the observatory to keep critters out. In the observatory, I was thinking about putting those interlocking foam rubber tiles on top of the screening.

Sounds like maybe you've had some experience with this? Will the foam tile be enough of a vapor barrier or do you think I should add some plastic film under it? Also, what do you recommend for a critter barrier?

-Dan


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audioaficionado
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 05/24/12

Loc: Medford, Orygun, USA
Re: Dark Arts Observatory new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #5887838 - 05/27/13 08:16 PM

Seeing that you're in NY, I'd definitely recommend a good R value insulation between the joists if you keep any part of the area warm. If you keep it at ambient then foam rubber tiles are good enough. Any kind of heavy wire cloth or mesh should keep mammals from burrowing in and nesting under the floor. Kept open then the only critters to bother with would be hornets or wasps in the summer.

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Agatha
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 06/04/12

Loc: Coulee Region, Wisconsin
Re: Dark Arts Observatory new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #5889102 - 05/28/13 02:41 PM

Dan,

Congratulations on the start of your new observatory. It looks like you have things well planned out. I look forward to following this thread. I'm hoping that a POD is in my future. Thanks for the great pictures.

Best,


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HunterofPhotons
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 04/26/08

Loc: Rhode Island, USA
Re: Dark Arts Observatory new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #5889254 - 05/28/13 03:52 PM

Quote:

.... I'm going to use composite decking (Trex or equivalent).....
-Dan




Plywood would be the first choice for a professional builder.
The joists on either side of the pier are traditionally doubled, as is the associated headers.
Most builders put these in before the other joists or leave out the adjoining joists so as to have room to swing a hammer when doubling, etc.

dan k.


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Midnight Dan
Postmaster
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Reged: 01/23/08

Loc: Hilton, NY, Yellow Zone (Bortl...
Re: Dark Arts Observatory new [Re: HunterofPhotons]
      #5889272 - 05/28/13 04:05 PM

Hi Hunter:

The joists on either side of the pier are already doubled. Hard to see in the photo above, but there are two 2x8's on either side.

Not sure what you mean about the plywood. I've never seen a deck with a plywood surface. They all use 5/4 x 6" wood or composite like Trex. Since the deck is exposed to the elements, you don't want water pooling on the surface. Can you explain further? Thanks!

-Dan


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HunterofPhotons
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 04/26/08

Loc: Rhode Island, USA
Re: Dark Arts Observatory new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #5889307 - 05/28/13 04:28 PM

Never mind. <g>
I went back to the start of this thread and I see that you are going to put a Pod on that deck. I thought you were doing a roll-off.

dan k.


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wormstar
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 11/23/09

Loc: Central Ct
Re: Dark Arts Observatory new [Re: HunterofPhotons]
      #5889558 - 05/28/13 07:01 PM

Dan- I suspect any movement of the pier when whacked is due to the disturbed dirt that you back filled the hole with.( it appears that this was done?) you could try compacting the dirt some more, or just dont wack the pier when imaging:)
We have a tendency to over think this stuff, think how much better off you are than using a tripod, and tons of people take great pics off a tripod.
Keith .


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Midnight Dan
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Reged: 01/23/08

Loc: Hilton, NY, Yellow Zone (Bortl...
Re: Dark Arts Observatory new [Re: wormstar]
      #5889739 - 05/28/13 09:07 PM

>> We have a tendency to over think this stuff, think how much better off you are than using a tripod ...

Absolutely! That's why I said I'm not too concerned about. It just surprised me that a concrete pier 12" in diameter is not "rock" solid.

>> ... or just dont wack the pier when imaging:)

Now that sounds like good advice!
-Dan


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audioaficionado
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 05/24/12

Loc: Medford, Orygun, USA
Re: Dark Arts Observatory new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #5889783 - 05/28/13 09:28 PM

It will cure for a month. Then it should be more rigid.

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hopskipson
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Reged: 06/24/10

Loc: Queens, New Yawk, Light pollut...
Re: Dark Arts Observatory new [Re: audioaficionado]
      #5895020 - 05/31/13 08:54 PM

Congrats on your project Dan and great choice of location! Good luck with the project. At least I can dream!

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Midnight Dan
Postmaster
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Reged: 01/23/08

Loc: Hilton, NY, Yellow Zone (Bortl...
Re: Dark Arts Observatory new [Re: hopskipson]
      #5898465 - 06/02/13 08:40 PM

Lots of rain over the last week put the brakes on construction. I was able to get some work in yesterday and finished up the framing. I added the last joist and headers around the pier. Also put blocking in between the joists to stiffen the floor.

Finally, added the stair stringers. Took a LONG time to measure and cut them all. Now I have to get an appointment for the inspector to check it out before adding the decking. That should be pretty straightforward and take less than a day. Then It's just a matter of waiting for the Pod to arrive.



-Dan


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ben2112
Cloud Magnet
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Reged: 07/12/12

Loc: North Charleston SC
Re: Dark Arts Observatory new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #5898480 - 06/02/13 08:55 PM

Looking good Dan.

The only place for an observatory for me would be my front yard, but I think my neighbors would have a problem with it. LOL


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Aquarist
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 08/27/12

Loc: Illinois
Re: Dark Arts Observatory new [Re: ben2112]
      #5900249 - 06/03/13 05:50 PM

Looks really good Dan! I will look forward to additional pictures.

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Midnight Dan
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Reged: 01/23/08

Loc: Hilton, NY, Yellow Zone (Bortl...
Re: Dark Arts Observatory new [Re: Aquarist]
      #5907551 - 06/07/13 09:24 AM

Nothing but torrential rains the last few days. But, the building inspector did come out yesterday in the middle of the rain and did the inspection. Thumbs up! Hopefully I'll get some more work done this weekend if the weather cooperates.
-Dan


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