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Equipment Discussions >> Observatories

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Raginar
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Reged: 10/19/10

Loc: Rapid CIty, SD
Re: The Bone Yard new [Re: Starman27]
      #5710912 - 03/03/13 04:09 PM

Thanks Herman It's good to see everything coming together!

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

Loc: montana
Re: The Bone Yard new [Re: Raginar]
      #5711088 - 03/03/13 05:45 PM

Congratulations Chris! You did a beautiful job on your new observatory! I really like the new stain on it; it really adds a lot to the overall appearance! A big plus for the awesome equipment you have, also! You will so enjoy being able to observe in minutes, without hauling all your equipment out, and then back in!

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Raginar
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Reged: 10/19/10

Loc: Rapid CIty, SD
Re: The Bone Yard new [Re: csa/montana]
      #5717161 - 03/06/13 07:58 PM

Thanks Starman and Carol. I finally installed a network connection and connection to make the extension cord work a little better. I also added a UPS and a laptop just for the shed. No more macbook sitting in the cold!

I'm still debating about making automating the roof. I don't have permanent power.. but it'd be neat when the WX is good to just click a button and wake it all up.

Carol, I am enjoying the complete lack of setup!


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bunyon
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Reged: 10/23/10

Loc: Winston-Salem, NC
Re: The Bone Yard new [Re: Raginar]
      #5717857 - 03/07/13 07:54 AM

What is the wood disk you have the mount sitting on?

It's a beautiful observatory.


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Raginar
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Reged: 10/19/10

Loc: Rapid CIty, SD
Re: The Bone Yard new [Re: bunyon]
      #5720092 - 03/08/13 09:21 AM

Paul, my wife's contribution. My new mount came with a top plate but no bottom plate. I mentioned that I was love a round think piece of wood... And she agreed me the prefab bed 12" bar stool seats at Menards!

Really cool


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celtictexan
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Reged: 04/02/13

Loc: Amarillo Texas
Re: The Bone Yard new [Re: Raginar]
      #5785309 - 04/08/13 06:01 AM

I like the way you have made it double for a kid play area with the swing.

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Raginar
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Reged: 10/19/10

Loc: Rapid CIty, SD
Re: The Bone Yard new [Re: celtictexan]
      #5785475 - 04/08/13 09:12 AM

Thanks CT, it was a pork barrel add-on from the CFO. I probably could've done without it .

I'm currently working to put a 'normal' door on it. Of note, the plans from Sky Shed are no kidding 1" too small for 'custom' exterior doors length wise. If anyone reads this, make your walls an inch higher!!!

Chris


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Raginar
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Reged: 10/19/10

Loc: Rapid CIty, SD
Re: The Bone Yard new [Re: Raginar]
      #5983579 - 07/21/13 08:11 PM

Update to the Bone Yard:

Recently been through a few projects to make it slightly more automated around my shed. The first thing I tackled was the addition of a garage door opener (Genie series 900, 1/2 hp, screw drive, required 1 extension kit to move a full 10').

Sky shed garage door Opener by mads0100, on Flickr

This took some modification to my original Sky Shed plans. I added a 4x4x10' to the end of the rail as a place to support it and I had to lower the 'center' rail that was always there by about 18" for the new garage door track to clear the track. This wasn't trivial as it required me to re-align the track as it had warped slightly over the last year. On the plus side, it's even 'more' stable than it was before .


Sky shed garage door Opener by mads0100, on Flickr

Here is a picture of my kids.. And, how I 'rigged' the end of it. This isn't flashy but it works for the time being. I think in the future I'll use a post end cap to tie it appropriately to the rail. I already have the end cap, just need the will to do it now. Of note, place this rail so that your 'screw' in the middle of it still has its end in the little holders that go up and down it. If it isn't, the drive will get out of wonky and you'll have issues.


Sky shed garage door Opener by mads0100, on Flickr

This is a picture of how I rigged up the outside of the shed to move. This needs to be very sturdy as you can imagine. I tried a 'minimalist' approach to start with and this failed... any slop in the system will make it 'more difficult' to open your room. So, these are 1" tubular steel with 1/4" holes all over them. It works great, and the 1/4" holes allowed me to install numerous 1/4" bolts. I started with lag bolts into the 2x4 on the end and followed that up with the bolts when I only had plywood sheathing to attach it to. They're tied into angle iron on the other side.

Also of note is the black piece. What I found was that when it opened it would pull the 'sled' into the c-channel track and it would jam up. That black piece, furnished with the Genie, allowed me to keep it out of the c-channel.

You'll also notice the safety cord. It's the only way to manually close the shed. This thing will NOT move on its own. The screw drive is impossible to move by hand.


Sky shed garage door Opener by mads0100, on Flickr

Here she is. Total dimensions are roughly 12" by 12" by 18". The picture makes it look worse than it really is. I thought about putting it outside the shed and just couldn't think of a good way to seal it up. Also of note, make sure you put the opener up and figure out exactly where you're gonna put her. I cut a rather big hole in my shed... and really needed a smaller one. On the plus side, I epoxied the piece back in but still... it was annoying. The 'shell' for the motor is the 'thickest' 'L' iron I could buy at Menards. I bought 3 total pieces of it. Otherwise, just a bunch of lag screws into the 2x4s and 1/4" bolts to hold it together. You need to do something like this... at first I didn't have the steel frame and flexing caused issues. I think it added about 30 bucks to the project.

Also of note, the sensors are setup to reflect the IR beam off of what we call 'glint' tape in the military. We use it to ID friendlies on the ground in our IR sensors. I snagged a few pieces of it and put it on my mount where it is visible to the sensors in the parked position. It allows me to ensure I don't 'open' the shed with scope in the incorrect position. Unfortunately, that safety doesn't work the other way.


Sky shed garage door Opener by mads0100, on Flickr

This just shows how it's mounted to the wall.


Sky shed garage door Opener by mads0100, on Flickr

This picture shows how I bolted the tubes on the outside to the inside of the shed. The more points the better! There are lag screws into the 2x4, but once I needed spots where there was only sheathing I came up with this. Just like the sky shed guys, it's not pretty but if you planned it out better.. it could be. The bolts are freakishly too big too .


Sky shed garage door Opener by mads0100, on Flickr

Finally, glint tape. This is what it looks like. The sensors are pointed right at it so it reflects back at them to keep the scope safe.

Next up, a full up Foster Systems weather station and ROR controller. I'm excited to see how it works and if it'll do what I want it to do. I had an 'incident' that involved a pop-up thunderstorm soaking my shed... the CFO approved emergency aid to make the shed close itself. I was lucky that nothing was wrecked in the few minutes of rain that fell on it (besides a laptop power supply). Anyways, I'll keep you updated.

Any questions, please send me a PM or post in here. If you need a particular picture, just ask and I'll get it for you.

Clear skies.


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Raginar
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 10/19/10

Loc: Rapid CIty, SD
Re: The Bone Yard new [Re: Raginar]
      #5983594 - 07/21/13 08:22 PM


Untitled by mads0100, on Flickr

Forgot to post a new picture of the rig. Things are cleaned up a bit; traded out the 8" newt for a 12" LX200. Moved the majority of the electronics to the top of the scope and changed out the power of the majority of the electronics to a 12v regulated power supply.

Things left to do to the equipment include adding an arduino-based stepper focuser to the LX200.

One other thing I 'discovered'. Gorilla Glue works great for securing electronics plugs. All of my USB cables are now 'gorilla glued' into their sockets. The benefit is no more disconnects due to the scope moving. And, the glue is removable and doesn't appear to do any harm to the electronics.



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Raginar
Post Laureate
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Reged: 10/19/10

Loc: Rapid CIty, SD
Re: The Bone Yard new [Re: Raginar]
      #5995645 - 07/28/13 10:19 PM


Untitled by mads0100, on Flickr

Finally got around to putting in electricity. We dug the trench with the help of the kids. I almost got a trencher/vibratory plow but I'm glad I didn't. My soil/fill is very rocky and it just wouldn't have paid off. The deciding factor was the installed sprinkler system being in 3 parts that I'd have to hand dig around. After that... it just wasn't worth it.

Total time to dig down to 12" for roughly 75' was 4 hours. Some direct burial Cat5E and 12-2 was about 100 bucks.

Electrician will be here on Tuesday to hook it all up. I wish I'd done this from the start! The amount of 'damage' to the yard was minimal (you can see that side of my lawn isn't doing so hot) and it's pretty simple.

CS,


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Raginar
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Reged: 10/19/10

Loc: Rapid CIty, SD
Re: The Bone Yard new [Re: Raginar]
      #5997479 - 07/29/13 11:09 PM

Ethernet works. Wired up the connectors and it's doing good . Now I just need to get the 'flat' cable to connect it to my router. Electrician comes to hook up 120V tomorrow.

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Raginar
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Reged: 10/19/10

Loc: Rapid CIty, SD
Re: The Bone Yard new [Re: Raginar]
      #5999782 - 07/31/13 10:13 AM

Electricity was installed today. Total cost was $250. I can't believe I waited so long considering the extension cord I was using cost nearly 65 bucks...

If I could do it again I would've done this when I first built the shed.


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Raginar
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Reged: 10/19/10

Loc: Rapid CIty, SD
Re: The Bone Yard new [Re: Raginar]
      #6001303 - 08/01/13 11:05 AM

First pictures were gathered last night. My ethernet switch was one spot too short so I had to go out there at one point to reboot something. Otherwise, I wouldn't have needed to get in the shed at all.

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budman1961
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 02/25/11

Loc: Springfield, MO
Re: The Bone Yard new [Re: Raginar]
      #6001699 - 08/01/13 04:59 PM

Thats fantastic Chris! Fully automated....how sweet is that. I can imagine in the winter time you will really enjoy your efforts!

Andy


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Raginar
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Reged: 10/19/10

Loc: Rapid CIty, SD
Re: The Bone Yard [Re: budman1961]
      #6002437 - 08/02/13 01:00 AM

Thanks Andy, it's slowly coming together. Hopefully it'll make deployments a tad more interesting.

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Raginar
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Reged: 10/19/10

Loc: Rapid CIty, SD
Re: The Bone Yard new [Re: Raginar]
      #6007573 - 08/05/13 12:48 PM

Foster Systems Astro Alert and Roof Controller are installed. This was kind of trivial once I found the 'issues' with the setup. Here is the 'writeup' from another request-for-help that I posted in the equipment forums. I'm posting it here in case people are following my progression.

As requested and good ettiquette, here's the deal. First off, the 429 error was due to ASCOM 6 SP2 not being installed. I had installed SP1 but didn't realize the roof controller relied on SP2 (nor is it documented on their site). So that really threw me into a tizzy.

Second, they're currently working through some bugs with a new roll out of software. The software linked on their website is 'bad' and doesn't work. So, I contacted a fellow on their forums who is the resident expert (Todd Benko) by clicking on his name and it happens to let you email a person. The unfortunate thing about their forums is you can't actually post until 'approved' and after a few weeks my account still hasn't been approved. Apparently Stan is on vacation and that is what is driving the delays.

So, received the 'working' copies of the software and it worked just fine. The other issue was the prolific usb to serial convert that Stan uses. It's finnicky as most of us are aware. I would suggest either getting your own (my tripp lite worked great) or plan on having the device directly connected to your computer (a tad ridiculous) as it won't work through a hub.

The real solution is an older desktop with a serial port or three .

BTW, this thing is awesome. Once i got the weather station up and running, it was easy to wire into my wall mount. Once that was complete it was completely capable of shutting the roof once I sprayed water at the sensor. I left it running all night and it even sent me a text when a thunderstorm was in the area to let me know that it was raining .

Now I just have to figure out how to get the data on weatherunderground or something similar.


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Raginar
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Reged: 10/19/10

Loc: Rapid CIty, SD
Re: The Bone Yard new [Re: Raginar]
      #6019464 - 08/11/13 06:25 PM


Untitled by mads0100, on Flickr
Continuing with the efforts to automate my roof and a few devices within the shed. First off, here is the Foster Systems AstroMC controller software.

Untitled by mads0100, on Flickr

It's configured to work with its weather station (astro alert) and I've hooked up a 'roof open', 'roof closed', and a 'at park' magnetic switches to it for closing the roof.

Untitled by mads0100, on Flickr
Roof Closed

Untitled by mads0100, on Flickr
Roof Open

Untitled by mads0100, on Flickr
Mount Parked. Yes, this is 'enough' as the declination can be at any position and still be safe. It's strictly that the RA axis needs to be 90 off from the CWD.


Untitled by mads0100, on Flickr
Flat Box 'on' via the PCA in the roof controller. I have it hooked up to AUX 1. I will also have my dew heater configured to trip at specific settings as well. Just haven't got it mounted yet.


Untitled by mads0100, on Flickr
Flatbox 'off'. If you can see on the screen it shows off.
The only weird thing is the delay from when you hit the button to when it actually does the command. I assume that there is some timing going on with the serial communications that is inherent in the delay. It happens when opening and closing the roof as well.


Untitled by mads0100, on Flickr
Power switch. This is a web enabled power switch that allows me to control each plug. It works great with just about everything you might want to control. The primary reason is my SBIG camera will just keep 'blowing' if I don't power it off at the end of the night. I also like to shut everything off but the computer and the roof.


Untitled by mads0100, on Flickr
The other big change I did was to add some Anderson powerpoles for DC distribution. That led me to get a Powerrig 4005H for distributing power from my regulated power supply to the rest of my gear. It wasn't cheap, but I really wanted to fuse out my equipment 'just in case'. In addition, I went with some 4 way splitters on the scope itself (USB, focusers, and secondary cooler on the SBIG). It also is used for several of the ancillary devices such as the flat box, etc.


Untitled by mads0100, on Flickr

Anyways, you'll see that I have GFCI outlets and ethernet in the shed too. That was definitely the best addition I've done in awhile. It's nice not dragging an extension cord and 150' of ethernet cable to get a connection .


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Raginar
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Reged: 10/19/10

Loc: Rapid CIty, SD
Re: The Bone Yard new [Re: Raginar]
      #6019603 - 08/11/13 07:55 PM


Untitled by mads0100, on Flickr

Forgot to add a picture of the weather station. I mounted it slightly above the roof line using a piece of 2x2. Everything is working except the anemometer; I'm not sure what the deal is as it's 'working' as it should but it doesn't seem that the weather station is registering it. Stan from Foster Systems is looking into it for me.

Chris


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Raginar
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Reged: 10/19/10

Loc: Rapid CIty, SD
Re: The Bone Yard new [Re: Raginar]
      #6024016 - 08/13/13 09:32 PM

Update on the weather station: I still don't have my anemometer working. But, I solved my weather station problem. I worked with Brian over at Weather Display to read the updated boltwood II format that the Astro Alert creates. His software will take the info as a stationless weather station and allows you to update WXUnderground among other websites. Pretty useful!

Check out: www.weather-display.com. You'll need the R70 or later version and include the even more updated .zip file a few files down to activate it. From there, you go to the Advanced Settings and you'll find Boltwood... turn it all on, point it at your OneLineData.txt and it'll do it's thing .

http://www.wunderground.com/weatherstation/WXDailyHistory.asp?ID=KSDRAPID20

Edited by Raginar (08/13/13 10:36 PM)


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Toml08
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Reged: 01/08/11

Loc: Evergeen, CO
Re: The Bone Yard new [Re: Raginar]
      #6072092 - 09/09/13 08:48 PM

Chris, how has the web power switch worked for you? Looking to add that into my setup.

Thanks,
Tom.


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