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Equipment Discussions >> Observatories

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RGM
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 09/15/03

Loc: Burks Falls, Ontario, Canada
Best design for winter/snow
      #5549899 - 12/02/12 07:55 AM

I currently have a 8'x8' roll around roof observatory. The only winter issue is the hatch, which sometimes gets frozen shut. It is great in the summer, I have no dew problems, it provides good wind protection and I stay warmer.

I plan on building a larger observatory, something around 10'x16' that can house 2 telescopes. With winter in mind, what is the best design?

I am thinking about a ROR. Just roll and observe. I lose some of the summer benefits of a roll-around/dome, but likely gain for winter.

Another option is the flip top version. I built one before as an 8'x8', but my new one will be around 10'x16'. I do not think this design would work due to the size.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated, as well as experiences that did not work out that well.

Thanks


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Mirzam
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 04/01/08

Loc: Lovettsville, VA
Re: Best design for winter/snow new [Re: RGM]
      #5549967 - 12/02/12 09:09 AM

The time-tested design for getting rid of snow is to increase the roof pitch. I have a ~40 degree angle pitch on my roof (wish I could remember the name for this pitch). I use a snow rake (2x4 cross member at the end of a longer 2x4) to clear any snow over a few inches deep. This works quite easily with my roof pitch. One thing that could be helpful if you get occasional sunny days during the winter is to orient the roof axis N-S. This way the sun can strike both sides of the roof and facilitate melting. An E-W roof alignment means that the north side of the roof is continuously in shadow.

JimC


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roscoe
curmudgeon
*****

Reged: 02/04/09

Loc: NW Mass, inches from VT
Re: Best design for winter/snow new [Re: Mirzam]
      #5550017 - 12/02/12 09:37 AM

That'd be a 10/12 pitch ..... those roof measurements are a throwback to a much earlier time in the world of carpentry......12 units across, 10 units up. Even now, it makes marking the angle cuts at the ends of roof rafters fast and easy.

Here in snow country, my main house roof is 12/12 metal, it usually dumps, the ell is 10/12, it sometimes dumps.....
R


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*skyguy*
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 12/31/08

Loc: Western New York
Re: Best design for winter/snow new [Re: roscoe]
      #5550101 - 12/02/12 10:31 AM

Yes ... A ROR observatory with a steep roof pitch will work very well in high snow areas. I live in the Western New York snow belt area and heavy snow fall conditions have never been a problem with my 11 year old ROR observatory. It has standard roofing shingles ... but, it's constructed with a hip roof instead of the more common gable roof. The snow never sticks to the roof.

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jaddbd
professor emeritus


Reged: 05/18/05

Loc: Woodbine, MD
Re: Best design for winter/snow new [Re: RGM]
      #5550232 - 12/02/12 12:06 PM

Go with a metal roof if possible. 10x16 with shingles makes for a very heavy load to roll (without snow on top). I remember hearing someone mention waxing the metal a bit before the season to help the snow load slide off. Not sure if that works or not.

John D


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Mirzam
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 04/01/08

Loc: Lovettsville, VA
Re: Best design for winter/snow new [Re: jaddbd]
      #5550488 - 12/02/12 02:54 PM

That's probably a good idea to use metal roofing. They do shed snow nicely in our climate. I'm not as confident though about Canada, where days above freezing may be few and far between.

If you do plan on the roof shedding snow be sure the entrance door is on one of the sides without a lot of snow pile-up.

JimC


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Lorence
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 09/15/08

Re: Best design for winter/snow new [Re: RGM]
      #5550520 - 12/02/12 03:17 PM

We have snow at least six months of the year. My observatory has a metal roll of roof with a six twelve pitch. The snow never builds up more than an inch or two, it will slide off under it's own weight.

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csa/montana
Den Mama
*****

Reged: 05/14/05

Loc: montana
Re: Best design for winter/snow new [Re: Mirzam]
      #5550546 - 12/02/12 03:31 PM

Quote:

That's probably a good idea to use metal roofing. They do shed snow nicely in our climate. I'm not as confident though about Canada, where days above freezing may be few and far between.




Doesn't have to be above freezing for the snow on a metal roof to start melting enough it will slide off, as long as it's a clear sunshiny day. If it's a very heavy snow, I will also use a pushbroom to get the majority of the heavy snow off; then it doesn't take much sun for the rest to start sliding off. Now, I'm not talking about cold below 20F.


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RGM
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 09/15/03

Loc: Burks Falls, Ontario, Canada
Re: Best design for winter/snow new [Re: csa/montana]
      #5550964 - 12/02/12 08:14 PM

Thanks for the info. I was thinking about a metal roof, but was not putting much thought into the pitch. I do agree that a 10/12 or a 12/12 would work well.

Metal roofs are used all the time in Canada on home roofs. I used to have one on a previous home. The snow diffenitely comes off as the temp gets close to freezing, event on a 4/12 or 5/12 pitch. When the roof snow gets 3 feet deep, it comes off quick and you better not be under it!


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roscoe
curmudgeon
*****

Reged: 02/04/09

Loc: NW Mass, inches from VT
Re: Best design for winter/snow new [Re: RGM]
      #5551625 - 12/03/12 08:03 AM

New metal roofs come with some sort of silicone coating, that makes them nice and slippery, but it seems to wear off after a time. I've considered waxing mine with spray wax made for snowplows, but getting up there is a hassle, and not yet worth the effort...... though I'm sure it would help.
Russ


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JJK
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 04/28/08

Re: Best design for winter/snow new [Re: RGM]
      #5552793 - 12/03/12 08:45 PM

The best design for Winter/Snow is another observatory in a warm location.

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jaddbd
professor emeritus


Reged: 05/18/05

Loc: Woodbine, MD
Re: Best design for winter/snow new [Re: RGM]
      #5553713 - 12/04/12 10:34 AM

One other issue to consider - if you have a roof that slopes north/south and you open north, remember you will be forced to clear the south facing roof before you open it or risk a possible avalanche into your observatory ...


Also, in warmer times dew has a tendency to drip off the roof onto the floor with this config. I have a couple of dedicated old beach towels I toss up on the edge of the roof to rectifiy when conditions call for. It is not really an issue.

JD

Edited by jaddbd (12/04/12 10:37 AM)


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Dan G
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 06/27/06

Loc: Minisink, NY, USA
Re: Best design for winter/snow new [Re: jaddbd]
      #5554764 - 12/04/12 10:23 PM

I lived in Maine for a while and had an 8'x8' flip top with a metal roof. The snow would shed easily. Also the weight was much less than asphalt roofing.

A 10'x16' flip top would be very heavy regardless of construction materials used. I did play around with splitting a 10'x14' roof in half thus having two sections that could flip open on either side. The weight would be reduced and it would allow you to keep parts of the roof closed for wind/temp management. This is important when the temps drop to -20F. The middle section should seal well by overlapping the one section on top of the other. This is how the ends of the roof worked over the gables of my previous flip top and I never had an issue with weather getting into the observatory.

Dan in NY


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RGM
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 09/15/03

Loc: Burks Falls, Ontario, Canada
Re: Best design for winter/snow new [Re: Dan G]
      #5555185 - 12/05/12 06:51 AM

Dan G, A multiple flip top like you described is a design I have also been working on as an alternate to the ROR. The main reason is to keep some of the protection benefits of my roll-around.

A 10x14 or 10x16 multiple flip top certainly puts my engineering skills to the test.


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Mirzam
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 04/01/08

Loc: Lovettsville, VA
Re: Best design for winter/snow new [Re: RGM]
      #5555208 - 12/05/12 07:18 AM

I can tell you that in terms of warmth, a ROR does not offer much help, even when the roof is only partially retracted. I would build a separate warm room if that is the sort of protection you are referring to.

My warm room is a one-person space that is about the size of a tree-house I had as a kid (my first construction job).

JimC


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MHamburg
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 06/21/06

Loc: Brooklyn, NY/Berkshires, MA
Re: Best design for winter/snow new [Re: Mirzam]
      #5555630 - 12/05/12 12:52 PM

Hi Jim,
Could you post a photo of your warm room? Thanks.
Michael


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Mirzam
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 04/01/08

Loc: Lovettsville, VA
Re: Best design for winter/snow new [Re: MHamburg]
      #5555703 - 12/05/12 01:40 PM

Unfortunately I can't take a picture anytime soon. Well, not so unfortunately because I'm on my way to Chile for stargazing!

I enclosed an area that would be underneath of the ROR when the observatory is open. My observatory roof is split in the middle, so the enclosed area is 1/2 the obs area. At first, I was using this area as storage for my lawnmower, but when I got the hankering for a warmroom, I enclosed about 1/3 of it for the warm room. So the warm room is pretty tiny, about 1/6th the obs area, or 3 x 6 feet. More of a cubbyhole than a room (but warm!).

JimC


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Achernar
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 02/25/06

Loc: Mobile, Alabama, USA
Re: Best design for winter/snow new [Re: Mirzam]
      #5562162 - 12/09/12 10:37 AM

With a metal roof, it seems likely that a clever individual could create a de-icing system that would warm the roof to make snow and ice melt or otherwise slide off of it. A steep pitch and anti-icing heater strips would not only keep ice and snow from building up and possibly crushing the roof, but corrosion and other water damage would also be mitigated if water is forced to drain away. The system could be engaged only when snow is falling, and turned off when the weather clears or darkness falls. With one of those cloud sensors and the sort of automation one can incorporate into an observatory, it seems folks in snowy places can indeed build one that is worry free during the winter.

Taras


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Lorence
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 09/15/08

Re: Best design for winter/snow new [Re: Achernar]
      #5562631 - 12/09/12 03:17 PM

Quote:

With a metal roof, it seems likely that a clever individual could create a de-icing system that would warm the roof to make snow and ice melt or otherwise slide off of it.
Taras




Care to speculate why there is no snow on my observatory roof? We have had more snow than usual this year. Most has been the heavy wet variety that sticks to everything.

No heating system in the roof either.

If an observatory roof was to be crushed by a snowfall I would tend to blame the builder for that problem not the snow.

By the way how deep is the snow in Alabama this winter, got enough for snowmobiling yet


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mikey cee
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 01/18/07

Loc: bellevue ne.
Re: Best design for winter/snow new [Re: Lorence]
      #5562836 - 12/09/12 05:32 PM Attachment (16 downloads)

Here's a pic of my roofs with 8" of snow on them. That's my 8" refractor back then. A later heavier wet snow put a measured 12"-13" on it. I couldn't care less. Why you say? Because my nice and powerful Harbor Freight hoist motors open and close them for me...no more shoveling worries for me. Mike

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