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Equipment Discussions >> Observatories

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silverking
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Reged: 03/11/08

Loc: Canada
Another Arrow Shed Observatory
      #6226078 - 11/30/13 10:38 PM Attachment (167 downloads)

I took inspiration from previous posters here on CN who had constructed some fine looking observatories from Arrow metal sheds.

In this case (and rather late in the season for the Pacific Northwest), I happened to be at Home Depot and noticed a few 8X10 Arrow metal sheds on a clear-out for just a couple of hundred bucks.
On a whim, and with no prior planning to do so, I picked one up with the intention of turning it into an observatory similar to the ones I’d seen here on CN.

Now, over the years I’ve made about 500 different excuses to myself why I shouldn’t build an observatory in my back yard. Those excuses have ranged from the (true) fact that there’s too many trees blocking my Eastern and South Eastern view, that it rains too much here in the Pacific Northwest, that it would take up too much space in my yard (even though I don’t use the space for anything!), and a bunch of other excuses that, frankly, have prevented me from building an observatory since I moved into this house 12 years ago.

No longer. I had purchased the Arrow shed and was on my way.

Some parameters I’d established for myself ahead of time were:

1) I’d be working by myself, and couldn’t count on having a second pair of hands available.

2) I wanted the observatory to be practical, but also was painfully aware that I was definitely NOT an experienced carpenter.

3) I decided up front that I wasn’t going to play around endlessly with trying to waterproof the roll-off roof, so decided up front to put a secondary cover on it.

4) I also decided I wasn’t into concrete at all, and would build the platform for the shed from wood, and the pier from 4 pressure treated 4X4’s.

5) I realized that, because of how late in the fall it is, once I started I’d pretty much have to finish quickly if I wanted it to a “lock-up” stage before endless days and months of rain.

I'm writing this after the building is to “lock-up”, but before the telescope is mounted on the pier. There are many elements still to complete, and here in the Pacific Northwest, the endless rain of winter has definitely descended upon us. The bonus is that with my Mr. Heater in the observatory, I can continue to work inside in a warm and dry space.

I sunk the 8X8 pier in 7 bags of Post Haste concrete, let it set for a few days, and then began building a simple deck around the pier, on which would sit the Arrow shed.


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silverking
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Reged: 03/11/08

Loc: Canada
Re: Another Arrow Shed Observatory new [Re: silverking]
      #6226079 - 11/30/13 10:39 PM Attachment (116 downloads)

More pier, Arrow shed walls, sitting on deck with no roof.

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silverking
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Reged: 03/11/08

Loc: Canada
Re: Another Arrow Shed Observatory new [Re: silverking]
      #6226090 - 11/30/13 10:43 PM Attachment (82 downloads)

You'll notice that I "stick built" two 2X4 frames, one on top of the other, which I tagged temporarily together (in square) with a few screws.
I then built the roof framing on top of the pair of frames, but secured into the top on only.
The intent is to build the roof to completion, remove the tagging screws, and then lift and offset the roof slightly in order to attach the casters.


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silverking
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Reged: 03/11/08

Loc: Canada
Re: Another Arrow Shed Observatory new [Re: silverking]
      #6226094 - 11/30/13 10:47 PM Attachment (83 downloads)

The actual site in my back yard.

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silverking
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Reged: 03/11/08

Loc: Canada
Re: Another Arrow Shed Observatory new [Re: silverking]
      #6226096 - 11/30/13 10:48 PM Attachment (60 downloads)

a bit closer.

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silverking
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Reged: 03/11/08

Loc: Canada
Re: Another Arrow Shed Observatory new [Re: silverking]
      #6226105 - 11/30/13 10:51 PM Attachment (77 downloads)

Although the roof was unwieldy, it wasn't too heavy. Once I took the tagging screws out, it wasn't too difficult to offset the roof and attach the casters. I then (this was the unwieldily part) lifted the roof (with casters attached) back into place.

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silverking
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Reged: 03/11/08

Loc: Canada
Re: Another Arrow Shed Observatory new [Re: silverking]
      #6226114 - 11/30/13 10:57 PM Attachment (96 downloads)

I then built the roll-off assembly out of cedar 4X4's, with each post mounted on an adjustable jack for future trimming for level. Although the roll off assembly is attached to the building, it can be completely detached for a "from scratch" re-leveling if it should ever be required.

You'll note too that, as per my earlier post regarding an almost OCD concern with water ingress into the observatory, I also put a heavy tarp on the roof. It's been trimmed to fit, and attached on three sides.
I've built a few of these metal sheds before, and know up front that getting the standard roof watertight with sealants is almost impossible.

I've left the tarp loose at the back of the observatory, as this is the part that has to roll clear when the roof moves. The advantage is that the tarp (held in place with 4 bungee straps) completely waterproofs the most difficult area of any roll off roof observatory, the "back" opposite the roll-off rails. Some folks use hinged boards to execute a watertight seal, but I've chosen to bring the tarp right down over the entire opening created by the casters having raised the roof.
It poured today, and not a drop in the observatory.

However the major downside is that I've got to futz with the tarp when rolling the roof back into the closed position. This kind of ruins the dream of just rolling the roof closed and going to bed, but it really adds only 2 or 3 minutes to the process, and as I said..........gotta' be watertight or I worry about it endlessly.

A small price to pay in the Pacific Northwest, where we can get rain for weeks on end.


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silverking
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Reged: 03/11/08

Loc: Canada
Re: Another Arrow Shed Observatory new [Re: silverking]
      #6226119 - 11/30/13 10:59 PM Attachment (65 downloads)

Different angle.

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silverking
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Reged: 03/11/08

Loc: Canada
Re: Another Arrow Shed Observatory new [Re: silverking]
      #6226120 - 11/30/13 11:00 PM Attachment (44 downloads)

Another.

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silverking
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Reged: 03/11/08

Loc: Canada
Re: Another Arrow Shed Observatory new [Re: silverking]
      #6226123 - 11/30/13 11:03 PM Attachment (72 downloads)

I noted earlier that one of my never ending excuses as to why I shouldn't build an observatory was the tall trees around some compass points of my property.
My vista to the South isn't terribly bad though.

Edited by silverking (11/30/13 11:03 PM)


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silverking
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Reged: 03/11/08

Loc: Canada
Re: Another Arrow Shed Observatory new [Re: silverking]
      #6226125 - 11/30/13 11:04 PM Attachment (42 downloads)

West and North are OK too.

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silverking
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Reged: 03/11/08

Loc: Canada
Re: Another Arrow Shed Observatory new [Re: silverking]
      #6226132 - 11/30/13 11:08 PM Attachment (70 downloads)

I've decided I'm not going to go overboard with the interior finishing. I want it to be functional, but I'm not trying to make it look like the inside of my house.

Here's my desk, and the "service wall".
These Arrow sheds obviously can't have things screwed to their walls, so things like 12V power supply, dimmers, lights, etc will get attached to this chunk of plywood that's attached to the deck at the bottom, and the lower 2X4 roof frame at the top.

I hate messy cables, so note that this is just the very early stages of the interior construction. All cables and other "bits" will be tidied up completely prior to use.


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silverking
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Reged: 03/11/08

Loc: Canada
Re: Another Arrow Shed Observatory new [Re: silverking]
      #6226135 - 11/30/13 11:13 PM Attachment (64 downloads)

I headed out to my local (10 miles away) MetalMart today to pick up the plates to go on top of the pier - to which will attach my EQ-6 mount. Upon pulling up in the parking lot, I got quite excited as there were hardly any cars there. Normally it's an hour wait, and I myself would have to stand around while they ran the metal bandsaw through two 8" cuts for me.

This entire weekend was planned around getting the plates in place on the pier, and attaching the mount.

The reason there were no cars is because of the paper signs taped to all the windows and doors -----"CLOSED FOR INVENTORY-----.

Great.

So here are a couple of shots that I took when the sun came out briefly a day or so ago.

More later, when I get some more parts and pieces to keep things moving forward.


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silverking
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Reged: 03/11/08

Loc: Canada
Re: Another Arrow Shed Observatory new [Re: silverking]
      #6226137 - 11/30/13 11:14 PM Attachment (60 downloads)

Last pic for today.

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dandabson
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Reged: 10/15/08

Loc: Dover, DE
Re: Another Arrow Shed Observatory new [Re: silverking]
      #6226138 - 11/30/13 11:14 PM

Cool project, I am planning something similar next spring.

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mikey cee
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Reged: 01/18/07

Loc: bellevue ne.
Re: Another Arrow Shed Observatory new [Re: dandabson]
      #6226150 - 11/30/13 11:26 PM

Hi yo Silver....did your shed kit come with any metal floor "joists"? My Arrow garden shed did and because of snow loads I used them in the roof to narrow up those spaces betrween the three metal roof "beams". Also just curious but how can a person do this by themselves? I had to have my wife on the inside hold nuts in place for my screwed in bolts etc. Mike

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Galaxyhunter
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 01/02/06

Loc: Northern Illinois
Re: Another Arrow Shed Observatory new [Re: mikey cee]
      #6226173 - 11/30/13 11:39 PM

Quote:

Now, over the years I’ve made about 500 different excuses to myself why I shouldn’t build an observatory in my back yard. Those excuses have ranged from the (true) fact that there’s too many trees blocking my Eastern and South Eastern view, that it rains too much here in the Pacific Northwest, that it would take up too much space in my yard (even though I don’t use the space for anything!), and a bunch of other excuses that, frankly, have prevented me from building an observatory since I moved into this house 12 years ago.




All the MORE reason to build an Observatory. You can be ready in a moments notice. Setup time is gone.

Nice job on your Observatory.


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Galaxyhunter
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 01/02/06

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Re: Another Arrow Shed Observatory new [Re: mikey cee]
      #6226175 - 11/30/13 11:40 PM

Double Post

Edited by Galaxyhunter (11/30/13 11:41 PM)


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silverking
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Reged: 03/11/08

Loc: Canada
Re: Another Arrow Shed Observatory new [Re: mikey cee]
      #6226177 - 11/30/13 11:40 PM

Hi Mikey, Yes, it came with the complete floor kit, but I didn't install it as it was built on the deck.

One advantage to endless rain in the PNW, is that we can go for years in a row with no snow. Snows not impossible, and we do get some now and then, but it's always gone again in a few days.

BUT, now that you've told me what you used yours for, I'm going to have a look tomorrow to see if I can somehow use them to assist me in my efforts to build a secondary frame to support the foam board used to insulate the inside of the roof!
That's some good thinkin' taking them up off the floor to use to reinforce the roof.
To date I was thinking mine were just going to wind up going out to the dump.
It gives me something to do tomorrow in place of the metal pier plates that I couldn't pick up.

You really want to know how I got those bolts in??

.......I built as much of the shed as I could in a slightly revised order from he instructions so I could access as many fasteners as possible from both sides, and for those fasteners that you had your wife assist with (and I DO know the ones you mean!), I put the machine screw in the hole, and gaffer-taped the head to the metal shed, I then went into the shed and gingerly twisted the nut onto the protruding machine screw. Very carefully of course, because if I pushed even slightly - the tape doesn't hold and the machine screw pops out into the grass never to be found again!
Multiplied by the 40 or 50 machine screws used in building one of these sheds, I will admit it was a somewhat "un-fun" part of the build.

Once I got a bit of bite on the fastener, I again very carefully tightened it right up.
Honestly, it probably wouldn't hurt to get my daughter out with me, she on the inside and me on the outside for a final torquing.......but she's 15 and when asked if she wants to help me with the observatory.........well (thus the initial plan to ensure I could actually complete it solo).

I'd not want to re-do the actual Arrow shed construction anytime soon (wood is much easier), and as with all Arrow metal sheds......blood was shed during that part of construction!


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silverking
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Reged: 03/11/08

Loc: Canada
Re: Another Arrow Shed Observatory new [Re: silverking]
      #6226188 - 11/30/13 11:51 PM

You know how excuses go Carl, in this case the abundant rain manifested my excuse that I wouldn't get to open the roof often enough to warrant the cost and effort to build an observatory.

But of course, you're absolutely right!


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scopefreak
scholastic sledgehammer
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Reged: 04/14/04

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Re: Another Arrow Shed Observatory new [Re: silverking]
      #6226453 - 12/01/13 06:34 AM

Look at it this way, once you get all the gear installed in the OBS, it makes for a nice place to go and just look AT your telescope.

I find myself doing that quite often on those long cold winter cloudy days and nights.

Really like the construction of you OBS. I'm sure you will enjoy it.


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hm insulators
Post Laureate


Reged: 01/22/07

Re: Another Arrow Shed Observatory new [Re: silverking]
      #6233158 - 12/04/13 12:07 PM

Too bad you can't load your observatory onto a truck and drive it down to Arizona! The clouds and rain will follow you and we could sure use it, seeing as how we're in a major drought.

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silverking
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Reged: 03/11/08

Loc: Canada
Re: Another Arrow Shed Observatory new [Re: hm insulators]
      #6233399 - 12/04/13 01:39 PM

I spend an inordinate amount of time on Google Maps looking around Southern Arizona and dreaming of having some wide-open property down that way.

I know the grass is always greener.

It's intriguing how the dark-sky, sparsely populated corners of Southern Arizona are also the very nicely priced areas when looking at un-serviced 10 to 20 acre parcels.

I frequently look around to the far South and West of Gila Bend. Not really too far from city life, yet dark blue, grey or black zones.

......and a guy does need a winter get away spot

(meanwhile, I'll be content to enjoy my current location and new observatory!).


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silverking
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Reged: 03/11/08

Loc: Canada
Re: Another Arrow Shed Observatory new [Re: silverking]
      #6234391 - 12/04/13 10:46 PM

For anybody that might be interested, here's an FYI as to what it might cost to do something similar with an Arrow shed, these are some of the numbers I ran up:

2 X 4’s and 4 X 4’s and plywood as required - $354.83
Redi-rod, nuts and washers for mount cage - $111.37
Assorted sealants - $70.00
Stain and side trim boards, side roller weather boards - $94.94
Assorted wiping strips and other weather stripping - $114.38
12V power supply and wiring/distribution to pier - $120.57
Red LED rope light for interior - $27.99
Assorted screws for assembly - $47.99
Dimmer and LED task lighting - $29.58
Mr. Heater propane heater - $80.00
Heavy tarp for roof cover - $40.00
Interlocking 1/2” rubber floor tiles - 55.95

And the 8 X 10 Arrow shed was $240.00 on an end-of-season super sale price.

So I’m into it to date for:
TOTAL - $1387.60

There's probably another $150.00 or so in miscellaneous things, like the Post Haste cement for the pier, and other items I've lost the receipts for.

That's got it to lock-up with a pier, electricity, weather-proofed, and with a fully functional rolling roof.
There’s probably a couple hundred more bucks to completion.

Note that I have long owned all the actual telescope hardware and software, mount, scope, guiding scope and guide ccd, bunch of eyepieces dew control ,remote focuser, etc……as well as a couple of laptops and an iPad I’m planning on using out in the observatory………so none of those kinds of costs are going to be added to the project.

If the metal shed observatory happens to match your idea of what your observatory might look like, it’s still far and away the least expensive method of getting an actual fully enclosed observatory building into your back yard.

Although (as noted in an earlier post) I’m absolutely not a carpenter, I’d rate the difficulty of constructing a metal shed with a roll off roof about 7 out of 10. You have to truly understand how to maintain square throughout a building project.
Adding the modifications for the roll off roof makes maintaining square even more important.
These Arrow sheds are hard enough to make all the screw holes line up, and losing square at any point in your project will result in either the Arrow shed itself not assembling properly, and/or the roll off roof assembly not running true.

Although the Arrow instructions don’t offer any solution if you should get out of square, the obvious solution would be that you would have to disassemble what you had built so far, and start from scratch…..this would be a somewhat painful thing to have to do.

Tools I had and used were a mitre saw, a table saw, a 3/8” corded drill, a Black and Decker Workmate (the Workmate being the best investment you can make for home projects) and assorted hand tools of the normal variety.

I started this all in mid-October, and did the majority of the work in three very long weekends, working a full 8 hours on each Saturday and Sunday. Add to that a few 4 to 6 hour days after those three grunt weekends, and you get roughly 55 hours or so put into getting the observatory as far as is shown in the previous pictures.


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ZeroID
sage


Reged: 04/21/10

Loc: Auckland, New Zealand
Re: Another Arrow Shed Observatory new [Re: silverking]
      #6236171 - 12/05/13 08:38 PM

Excellent work, I have a 'tin shed' solution for my Ob as well and have will try your roof idea with the tarp to solve my small leakage problems.

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silverking
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Reged: 03/11/08

Loc: Canada
Re: Another Arrow Shed Observatory new [Re: ZeroID]
      #6236400 - 12/05/13 11:19 PM

I figured I could spend the coming months chasing down leaks, or just put the tarp on and be done with it.

These tarps don't last forever, but I should get 2 or 3 years out of it at least, at which time I'll remove the barge boards, pull the old tarp off, and put a new one on.
They're only about $40.00 each, and you can hit $40.00 with just 4 or 5 tubes of good exterior silicone........and with silicone one never seems to get all the leaks.
These types of sheds always seem to leak at the screw or bolt holes, of which there's hundreds

The option is always there to spend a fair bit more money and get a piece of Sunbrella waterproof rubber/canvas cloth, commonly used for boat tops. That stuff can last 8 to 10 years out in the weather. I may do just that if I wind up using this observatory as much as I'm hoping to.


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Starhawk
Space Ranger
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Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Another Arrow Shed Observatory new [Re: silverking]
      #6236478 - 12/06/13 12:48 AM

Southwest of Gila Bend isn't the place to go. Try Sun Sites to the south of Willcox.

-Rich


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silverking
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Reged: 03/11/08

Loc: Canada
Re: Another Arrow Shed Observatory new [Re: Starhawk]
      #6236539 - 12/06/13 02:26 AM

That's my kind of country Rich, and the darkest of dark skies to boot. Thanks for the tip.

Lowest price dark sky lots I've seen to date.


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

Loc: montana
Re: Another Arrow Shed Observatory new [Re: silverking]
      #6237013 - 12/06/13 10:29 AM

I think the tarp is an excellent solution; and the way you have it installed, it looks like it came with the shed!

Congratulations on your new observatory!


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Starhawk
Space Ranger
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Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Another Arrow Shed Observatory new [Re: csa/montana]
      #6237044 - 12/06/13 10:42 AM

A group of us need to set up a "Ranch". We could lease out a large portion of the land to the actual cattle or farming folks nearby, but the most important thing is it gives complete freedom to put up out buildings as needed.

-Rich


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Starhawk
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Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Another Arrow Shed Observatory new [Re: Starhawk]
      #6237106 - 12/06/13 11:05 AM

I've been playing with a shipping container based transportable observatory. The idea is something which could be set up, and moved as a usable unit, and could be seriously locked up. I've finally found someone who does of heavy steel work, and I've started the discussion. I need to make a little model of it using an HO scale railway model shipping container. But I have found adequate wheels and track to make something rugged enough to survive a long service life and multiple moves.

And, of course, it's not the sort of unusual thing which attracts attention.

-Rich


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silverking
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Reged: 03/11/08

Loc: Canada
Re: Another Arrow Shed Observatory new [Re: Starhawk]
      #6269562 - 12/23/13 09:56 PM Attachment (28 downloads)

Although Christmas time (and short, dark days) tend to slow down observatory construction, it also happens to be a great time for big sales. In this case I found a bunch of those rubber interlocking floor tiles in a nice blue for the observatory floor. They were less than half what they usually cost so I took all the blue ones they had.

I also picked up everything I need to make the pier to mount adaptor. I choose 1/2" aluminum because its easy to work with, but still extremely rigid.
I'll keep the distance between the plates to just enough to get my hand in to tighten the mount down, and still offer up enough adjustment room.

The rest of the mount/pier adaptor is just 1/2" redi-rod cut to length, and 4 coach screws to bolt the whole assembly down to the top of the wooden pier.


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silverking
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Reged: 03/11/08

Loc: Canada
Re: Another Arrow Shed Observatory new [Re: silverking]
      #6322414 - 01/19/14 03:13 PM Attachment (16 downloads)

Finally got the pier to EQ6 plates made up, and the scope into the observatory. Got the rubber floor in place as well.

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silverking
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Reged: 03/11/08

Loc: Canada
Re: Another Arrow Shed Observatory new [Re: silverking]
      #6322421 - 01/19/14 03:15 PM Attachment (15 downloads)

Run-off supports haven't settled too much in the wet weather, and roof runs nice and smooth.

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silverking
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Reged: 03/11/08

Loc: Canada
Re: Another Arrow Shed Observatory new [Re: silverking]
      #6322423 - 01/19/14 03:17 PM Attachment (13 downloads)

Scope fits quite nicely in this size building. I don't think I'd really want to go any smaller than this though.

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silverking
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Reged: 03/11/08

Loc: Canada
Re: Another Arrow Shed Observatory new [Re: silverking]
      #6322426 - 01/19/14 03:18 PM Attachment (13 downloads)

.....another angle.

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silverking
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Reged: 03/11/08

Loc: Canada
Re: Another Arrow Shed Observatory new [Re: silverking]
      #6322434 - 01/19/14 03:22 PM Attachment (18 downloads)

The overall "site" (my backyard) with the roof open and scope.

Next on the agenda is to figure out some sort of storage for eyepieces and such. I've pretty much decided I want to keep everything in the observatory, and won't really be moving stuff around that much.

I've got a completely different kit for outreach, so I'm thinking something like the drawer type mechanics metal toolbox.

Weather has been pretty cloudy, and I've only really had one clear night - which I had to use to polar align the mount.

I'm pretty happy with the observatory so far, and it would be an understatement to say that there's no comparing just rolling the roof off to humping all this stuff outside and having to set it all up (and down again when done).

I'm glad I'm doing it now, in the winter....I'll be ready to go when the skies start to clear up more permanently in early Spring.


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tim57064
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 08/23/12

Loc: Southeast South Dakota,USA
Re: Another Arrow Shed Observatory new [Re: silverking]
      #6322447 - 01/19/14 03:29 PM

silverking ,first off ,great to hear things are working well for you. What's up,you are in Canada and yet no snow?
Thinking that these images must be from the Fall and not recent huh?


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silverking
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Reged: 03/11/08

Loc: Canada
Re: Another Arrow Shed Observatory new [Re: tim57064]
      #6322468 - 01/19/14 03:38 PM

These pix are from today Tim!

I live in "Lotusland", in the Southwest corner of B.C., weather is like San Francisco here - but about 5 degrees F cooler.

We often go an entire Winter without a spec of snow.....but rain and clouds are plentiful.


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tim57064
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 08/23/12

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Re: Another Arrow Shed Observatory new [Re: silverking]
      #6322485 - 01/19/14 03:46 PM

What the frack,even Canada has better weather than South Dakota. Wife and I need to move to better climate,very sick of the winters here. Just went thru a blizzard this past week ,now 45 today.

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