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Equipment Discussions >> Observatories

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PWP
member
*****

Reged: 07/24/11

Loc: Moscow Mills, Missouri
Observatory for under $500
      #5697636 - 02/24/13 12:21 AM Attachment (539 downloads)

Hello all. Perry here who broadcasts on NSN as DFW Star Party. After a year of shopping and doing research I finally decided on a observatory style and type that not only would do the job but fit the budget as well.

I didn't really like the roll off roof design as the walls appeared a bit too tall for anything less than 30 degrees and as far as the dome my wife didn't want an igloo in the back yard let alone the price of one.

I found this shed on Amazon.com which is a Keter Apex 4X6 with a price currently at $489.98. It is a roll off design which I like because it leaves the observatory out in the open sky and the shed once rolled off can then be an observatory and warm room. I operate everything remotely...the scope, focuser, filter wheel and camera.

Total all in with construction of roll away decking and concrete slab is around $850.00. The shed is easy to put together and although rather light once put together it becomes rather rigid and not a bad looking either. I tried to detail everything while in construction so if anyone wanted to copy it or perhaps you have better idea's I am posting on CN to show how I did it anyway.

I am a big guy and I am quite comfortable in the shed once rolled away. This shed has already stood up to some good rainstorms and I haven't witnessed any water inside yet. If anyone wishes to copy and wants to ask a question feel free to write me and I will answer. Here is the link for photos of my build.

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.517407268290547.123019.100000638365...

Clear skies!

Perry


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skinnyonce
super member
*****

Reged: 03/23/11

Loc: ohio
Re: Observatory for under $500 new [Re: PWP]
      #5697813 - 02/24/13 05:49 AM

I like that people of questionable morals think its a tool shed, and doesnt house thousands of dollars worth of gear

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Jeff Smith
professor emeritus


Reged: 04/06/10

Loc: Chicago
Re: Observatory for under $500 new [Re: skinnyonce]
      #5697882 - 02/24/13 08:33 AM

Quote:

I like that people of questionable morals think its a tool shed, and doesnt house thousands of dollars worth of gear




Me to.


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Midnight Dan
Postmaster
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Reged: 01/23/08

Loc: Hilton, NY, Yellow Zone (Bortl...
Re: Observatory for under $500 new [Re: Jeff Smith]
      #5697990 - 02/24/13 10:15 AM

Looks nice! Just curious - why did you bother with two separate concrete tracks at the rear instead of one chunk? For a couple of extra bags of concrete you would eliminate a spot for weeds to grow or critters to make a home.

-Dan


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PWP
member
*****

Reged: 07/24/11

Loc: Moscow Mills, Missouri
Re: Observatory for under $500 new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #5698068 - 02/24/13 11:02 AM

Thank you Dan. In the planning stage I went back and forth on that. I know I wanted concrete in the front for a nice approach to the observatory and as well underneath because having it directly underneath also not only addresses the critter issue but it also serves as a continued concrete approach once the shed is rolled back. All that is really needed of course is two tracks the full length which would have saved a lot of extra digging and back braking concrete work. I guess in the end my thoughts were that sitting stored position (over the scope) it would have concrete under it most of the time which leaves the rear with the center area exposed unless observing. I didn't think critters would take refuge in an open piece of my lawn any more than they would the rest of my lawn.

I still have to fill dirt in around the concrete where the forms were and then install some sod which will include that patch in the rear. Since it is open with the observatory in the stored position it will be easy to keep it mowed/weeded. I guess in the end I just didn't see the need. Guess if it ever becomes an issue I can always fill that section in with concrete later since it is easily accessible sitting in the stored position.


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Smack
super member


Reged: 07/24/09

Re: Observatory for under $500 new [Re: PWP]
      #5698182 - 02/24/13 12:24 PM

Looks great Perry. I'm thinking about something similar for my very small back yard. You've given some great ideas.

Thanks,

Steve


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Canada_LX10
member


Reged: 09/18/12

Loc: Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, ...
Re: Observatory for under $500 new [Re: Smack]
      #5698195 - 02/24/13 12:35 PM

I know it was not what you wanted but for others that may be interested.

I am starting a 7' wooden dome observatory. The materials used are fairly reasonable and the construction methods seem fairly straight forward. I have the plans which I found on the net after lots of searching.

The original designer said about $500 in materials (back in 2003 in Canada which has higher costs). I am going to build this dome and will report back the actual costs.

Anyone wanting the dome plans...just PM me.


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Raginar
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 10/19/10

Loc: Rapid CIty, SD
Re: Observatory for under $500 new [Re: Canada_LX10]
      #5698704 - 02/24/13 05:50 PM

Perry,

I was on chatting with you about this the other night. Looks like a fantastic build! Congratulations!


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PWP
member
*****

Reged: 07/24/11

Loc: Moscow Mills, Missouri
Re: Observatory for under $500 new [Re: Raginar]
      #5698963 - 02/24/13 09:37 PM

Thanks Chris! Glad you got a chance to view it. Describing it and seeing are two different things.

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Raginar
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 10/19/10

Loc: Rapid CIty, SD
Re: Observatory for under $500 new [Re: PWP]
      #5698984 - 02/24/13 09:54 PM

Definitely! It's a wonderful shed. Now, you need to post one of your setup broadcasting.

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RobertED
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 07/11/03

Loc: Smithfield, RI
Re: Observatory for under $500 new [Re: Raginar]
      #5706959 - 03/01/13 10:39 AM

Awesome project!!...Clear Skies!!

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LoveChina61
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 06/20/09

Re: Observatory for under $500 new [Re: RobertED]
      #5707896 - 03/01/13 10:17 PM

Now there we go. The best of all ideas combined. Good job!

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Starhawk
Space Ranger
*****

Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Observatory for under $500 new [Re: LoveChina61]
      #5712108 - 03/04/13 08:52 AM

Actually, if I may be so bold, it makes me think of disguising a telescope cover as an outhouse. Sure to limit break-in attempts.

-Rich


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Midnight Dan
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 01/23/08

Loc: Hilton, NY, Yellow Zone (Bortl...
Re: Observatory for under $500 new [Re: Starhawk]
      #5712124 - 03/04/13 09:07 AM

Quote:

Actually, if I may be so bold, it makes me think of disguising a telescope cover as an outhouse. Sure to limit break-in attempts.

-Rich





... and a Crescent Moon emblem on the door would be appropriate for either use!
-Dan


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Starhawk
Space Ranger
*****

Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Observatory for under $500 new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #5714037 - 03/05/13 09:30 AM

And I hate to say it, but a portapotty is the right size. Just saying.

-Rich


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droid
rocketman
*****

Reged: 08/29/04

Loc: Conneaut, Ohio
Re: Observatory for under $500 new [Re: Starhawk]
      #5714144 - 03/05/13 10:35 AM

I see two possible issues with the mini observatory....

The first is the concrete pad....that puppy will radiate heat for a while createing localized seeing issues, of course as soon it cools down itll be fine.Maybe spray it with cool water out of a hose to minimize this???

The second is it is taller than it is wide, making it inherently top heavy.I know you said the parts have been wind tested , but Id suggest some sort of tie downs ,when its in the stored position.Ive seen several observatorys with larger foot prints be destroyed by straight line winds.

Other wise I love the design and idea


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PWP
member
*****

Reged: 07/24/11

Loc: Moscow Mills, Missouri
Re: Observatory for under $500 new [Re: droid]
      #5714326 - 03/05/13 12:11 PM

There is no need for tie downs. Pictures in the link of my build show how I have addressed this by securing it to the ground with heavy duty steel C channel tracks anchored to the concrete and the steel dogs that extend out the side of the machine skates ride in the C channel on all sides. The shed itself is lag bolted to the base. I pray this should keep this shed on the ground in strong thunderstorms unless winds hit over 50+ mph, all should be good. To that thought I doubt any structure would survive unscaved in very high winds but for local thunderstorms I pray I am good. If not, I have insurance for detached structures. Be sure to disclose your use to your agent. Even a small increase in your yearly premium is worth your peace of mind.

As far as heat concerns go currently since it is winter there isn't any issue. For summer, I have sprinkler heads from my lawn sprinkler system on each side of the observatory and behind it. Simply setting the timer to come on at sundown should greatly reduce the heat build up by the time I am ready for my viewing session come nightfall.


Quote:

I see two possible issues with the mini observatory....

The first is the concrete pad....that puppy will radiate heat for a while createing localized seeing issues, of course as soon it cools down itll be fine.Maybe spray it with cool water out of a hose to minimize this???

The second is it is taller than it is wide, making it inherently top heavy.I know you said the parts have been wind tested , but Id suggest some sort of tie downs ,when its in the stored position.Ive seen several observatorys with larger foot prints be destroyed by straight line winds.

Other wise I love the design and idea




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Starhawk
Space Ranger
*****

Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Observatory for under $500 new [Re: PWP]
      #5714349 - 03/05/13 12:21 PM

So, all you really need to do is get busy on automation!

-Rich


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PWP
member
*****

Reged: 07/24/11

Loc: Moscow Mills, Missouri
Re: Observatory for under $500 new [Re: Starhawk]
      #5714362 - 03/05/13 12:30 PM

Although not neccessary, it would be nice to have it roll forwards and backwards without my assistance. Thought about a garage door opener but I am limited on room inside and really not enough underneath. I thought of mounting it at the rear at ground level in a weatherproof box. Probably pros and cons to that.

Quote:

So, all you really need to do is get busy on automation!

-Rich




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gastargazer01
super member


Reged: 12/21/12

Loc: Flowery Branch GA
Re: Observatory for under $500 new [Re: PWP]
      #5714825 - 03/05/13 04:30 PM

Nice, I may do something similar shed wise with my deck OBS that I am planning.
http://bufordexchange.com/members/mikesastro/CameraOBSplacement.html
Do you lock it down when closed up any way to the foundation or is the shed heavy enough with it also tight on the pier?


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