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Equipment Discussions >> Observatories

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Post Laureate

Reged: 10/20/10

Loc: NC
Observing Decks new
      #5821862 - 04/25/13 11:38 AM

Hello, I was reading an Astronomy brochure that had a picture of someone who built an observing deck in his backyard and it really looked nice. The guy who built it is Kenneth Wheat and it was featured in the October 2005 Astronomy magazine. I cannot not find that old copy.

I am wondering if anyone knows who this fellow is as i would like to learn more about this solution.

I have a little clearing up on a small hill in my backyard and it overlooks the houses in my sub-division and most importantly is high enough to not get hit with backyard lights! I have cleared the area of trees and now is just dirt and small bushes that maybe I could build a small 10x10 deck over it? I want to keep the cost down as much as I can and don't want to so the dome thing.

Any ideas or links would be greatly appreciated.



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Reged: 04/26/08

Loc: Rhode Island, USA
Re: Observing Decks new [Re: REC]
      #5821937 - 04/25/13 12:14 PM

Hi Bob,
I read the article you cited.
It's pretty basic stuff.
Do you have any carpentry skills? If you do, you can certainly do something like this and probably improve on what was written.
All it is is three plastic pipes filled with concrete and situated where the tripod feet sit. The top level of dirt has been removed and replaced with gravel.
A simple 2 x 4 frame is built and decking boards go on top. Holes are cut for the concrete-filled pipes and the deck sits on the gravel.
You can improve on this by not using sheetrock screws. Decking screws are what you need.
The corner braces he embraces (<g>) are redundant and I would put an anti-weed fabric under the gravel.
Since the 2 x 4 frame sits on the gravel, you would probably want to use pressure-treated lumber for the frame.
If you use wood for the decking, I would treat both sides with a preservative before installation and treat the cut ends at some point.

dan k.

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Post Laureate

Reged: 10/20/10

Loc: NC
Re: Observing Decks new [Re: HunterofPhotons]
      #5827963 - 04/28/13 09:36 AM

Thanks Dan!

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Reged: 02/11/07

Loc: Nevada
Re: Observing Decks new [Re: REC]
      #5830211 - 04/29/13 01:24 PM

I would recommend doing a concrete pier first. Get an AstroGizmo 365 cover and put it over the mount and pier. You would not have to polar align each time you observe or image. To save costs you could just put down some barrier landscaping fabric and dump about 2-4 inches of decomposed granite or gravel on top as a simple pad.

When you have more funds, build a deck around it. I would recommend using concrete footers and using 2x6 as the minimum for beams and trusses. There are a bunch of websites with calculation tools that determine the number and size of footers, beams and trusses for the size of the deck. You may want to build the deck solidly enough to allow for a future roll away shelter or observatory structure at a later date.

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Reged: 06/25/10

Loc: Knoxville, TN
Re: Observing Decks [Re: JMW]
      #5834448 - 05/01/13 01:44 PM

You can see the build of my deck here:
Observadeck thread

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