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Starting construction on my observatory!

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#26 jsmiller58

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Posted 06 November 2007 - 02:38 PM

Understand completely. Isolation of the pier and footer from the observatory floor was something that I agonized over, settling on an air gap around the pier (including having the floor "float" over the pier - no contact anywhere).

I assume that as long as someone is not doing calisthenics while you are looking through the eyepiece, you are probably going to be fine!!

James

#27 Paula E

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Posted 06 November 2007 - 03:20 PM

Thanks James. Yeah, this is another reason to put in some rubber flooring. The only other big source of vibration I can really think of would be the dome itself, which will be nicely anchored into the pad. I'm not really sure what to do about that, or how serious it will actually be.

#28 Bowmoreman

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Posted 06 November 2007 - 04:29 PM

Congratulations Scott, on this huge milestone! After all the details on your plans, I'm really looking forward to some vicarious enjoyment at your "expense" :roflmao:

Seriously, you are going to LOVE having an observatory... it just makes EVERYTHING so much easier in so many ways!

Can't wait for the pics!

clear skies and smooth construction!

#29 jsmiller58

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Posted 06 November 2007 - 04:34 PM

Don't worry - I am sure that it will be great! Even if the dome turning introduces any vibration, it will be isolated to when the dome itself is "slewing" to a new location... :-)

Let me know what kind of flooring you are going to use - reading what you have written, I am now realizing that standing on cold, hard concrete will significantly shorten my observing sessions...

James

#30 Paula E

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 03:46 AM

Congratulations Scott, on this huge milestone! After all the details on your plans, I'm really looking forward to some vicarious enjoyment at your "expense" :roflmao:


Thanks Dave. We'll see how well my plans work out. So far, they've been modified a bit by the realities of putting stuff together.

For all the planning I've done, there's still details I haven't worked out yet. Changing the scope and mounting at the last minute definitely threw me a curve or two. I still don't have:
- backup power worked out
- Have cabling / systems integration worked out for the paramount
- flooring purchased yet.
- probably a bunch of other stuff I'm forgetting at the moment. :foreheadslap:

#31 Paula E

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 03:47 AM

Let me know what kind of flooring you are going to use - reading what you have written, I am now realizing that standing on cold, hard concrete will significantly shorten my observing sessions...


I'll let you know James. I'm going to try to visit the farm store this weekend and find something fairly cheap, hopefully.

#32 astrotrf

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 08:55 AM

He also felt pretty strongly that my plae for isolating the footer from the rest of the foundation would make the footer less stable, so we agreed to pour the whole thing as one solid piece. (He did add some material around the pier-plate to isolate that from the foundation though.


I'll be interested to hear how this works out. Without knowing anything about the soils in your area, or how deep your frost line is, I would have thought that pouring the pier footer on undisturbed soil would have been more than adequate.

My pier footers did *not* get poured onto undisturbed soil, due to abject stupidity on my part. So we dug the holes deeper than necessary and built them back up with thin layers of wetted soil and a mechanical tamper. Then, after stripping the forms, we buried the footers by the same process. After 6 years, the footers (fortunately) haven't moved, judging by the lack of any compression on the 1" styrofoam that separates them (I have two) from the pad. But there's no frost heave problem here, either, and groundwater is at least 40 feet down - so my success may be more due to circumstance than to error recovery.

[N. B.: Oops; sorry. I posted this before reading the rest of your thread about the sandy soil.]


#33 Paula E

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 11:19 AM

I'll be interested to hear how this works out. Without knowing anything about the soils in your area, or how deep your frost line is, I would have thought that pouring the pier footer on undisturbed soil would have been more than adequate.


Me too! Well, we'll find out how much vibration approx. 11 tons of concrete can absorb before affecting visual observing / imaging I guess.

Vibration aside, what we did may have been the best solution anyway given my soil conditions. It's more or less beach sand type consistency. The frost line isn't deep - maybe 12" or so. But I've seen first hand out here what happens with good foundations and bad foundations. The foundation for my house was put in by someone who knew what they were doing, and has lasted 40 years. Every other foundation on this place (outbuildings and porches) was done by someone who didn't know what they were doing, and they are all bad. (I had the outbuildings torn down - they were a wreck anyway. When we knocked down the walls, the foundations literally shattered.)

Aside from the consistency of the soil, the other problem is that my yard isn't level at all! I am on the top of a hill - my house is apparently at the very apex - it's all downhill from there. There's at least 6' of differnce in slope from the side of my house to the easement. In fact, I've gotta get some more dirt in to fill in around the dome - the 3 truckloads wasn't really adequate.

Anyway, it made me listen to Keith, the guy who built this foundation. If he was worried, I figured I better listen.

#34 Bowmoreman

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 12:26 PM

Tell me all about BAD FOUNDATIONS...

I just finished sinking (literally) $20,000 into putting in 9 steel piers and re-raising my house/garage foundation... the house is only 14 years old, and when they built it originally, they didn't prepare properly...

we uncovered evidence the contractor (now dead unfortunately, or I'd sue him to death!) had experienced sinking (and cracking) before he even had backfilled!...

After they dug down, we found places where there was 6-12" of AIR under the footings, and then another 3" of air between the footings and the foundation...

to say I caught a big problem JUST in time is an understatement...

Foundations are ALL about the preparation...

I'd suggest rubberized flooring for all areas where you'll be walking, etc... with that much mass you should be mostly OK, I would think!

clear skies

#35 Paula E

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 12:27 PM

I still can't come up with a name for this place that I like! Doesn't seem like this should be difficult, but it is. :bawling:

#36 astrotrf

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 02:25 PM

I still can't come up with a name for this place that I like! Doesn't seem like this should be difficult, but it is. :bawling:


I had the same problem. I recommend letting it ride for a while; sometimes a name will find *you* instead of the other way around. That's what ultimately happened to me.

(Of course, you're building your observatory as a month-long project. Mine took over 2 years. :ooo:)

#37 JohnG

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 02:31 PM

Scott,

It looks like you'll have a first class observatory before long, and looks like you have chosen a great location, too.

Since I have owned an 8 foot home-built dome in the past I know how much you'll appreciate the space in a 15 foot dome. Our local junior college has a dome at the college farm outside of town about that size containing a 14 inch Celestron SCT, but if I remember correctly, you're planning a much larger telescope.

These two are the only domes I've ever seen except in pictures. So, you're going to have a facilty that is equal to that of many colleges. Wonderful!

I was just looking at the thead in this forum posted by Wayne at Southwestern Oklahoma State University asking about how to automate their dome. Will your observatory look something like it?

Congratulations on bringing an astronomer's dream to life! Please post as many pictures as you can to show us the progress, and may you have many happy nights under the heavens!

JohnG

#38 Paula E

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 03:39 PM

I had the same problem. I recommend letting it ride for a while; sometimes a name will find *you* instead of the other way around. That's what ultimately happened to me.


Good advice, thanks. I'd originally thought of naming it in spanish, but that doesn't fit well in that area. A Native American name would fit better, but I don't know much about that.

(Of course, you're building your observatory as a month-long project. Mine took over 2 years. :ooo:)



Maybe I'm really in a two year project and just don't know it yet! :tonofbricks:

Thanks again - I'll keep mulling over it. :)

#39 Paula E

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 03:59 PM

It looks like you'll have a first class observatory before long, and looks like you have chosen a great location, too.


Thanks John!

Our local junior college has a dome at the college farm outside of town about that size containing a 14 inch Celestron SCT, but if I remember correctly, you're planning a much larger telescope.


Yes, a 20". It didn't start out this way, I swear...

I was just looking at the thead in this forum posted by Wayne at Southwestern Oklahoma State University asking about how to automate their dome. Will your observatory look something like it?


Sort of - it will be lower though, because the walls are only 3' tall. I didn't really need the height since I'm not putting in a big refractor. The dome is 11' at the zenith - I should have plenty of room even for a somewhat bigger scope than I'd planned. (Fortunately the 20" is f6.8, so it's fairly compact for what it is.)

So I guess it will look something like a really big igloo.

Thanks again for the kind words, John!

#40 Chris Schroeder

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 08:03 PM

I live in Wisconsin with a minimum frost depth of 48”. I once had a house that had sandy soil for a depth of 20’ before it hit clay. I never had a frost heave problem because the sand never held and moisture, all I had to do was scrap a couple of inches of top soil off and the ground beneath stayed stable.

#41 csa/montana

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 11:53 PM

I still can't come up with a name for this place that I like! Doesn't seem like this should be difficult, but it is. :bawling:


Scott: for almost a year I had another name picked out for mine: Deer Park Observatory; one day, not even thinking about it, the name DreamCatcher popped into my mind, & that was it! Don't know why I thought of the name, but instantly loved it.

The same thing will happen, something will pop into your head, & it will feel right.

Carol

#42 Paula E

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Posted 08 November 2007 - 03:22 AM

Thanks Carol! Dreamcatcher is just a superb name, by the way.

#43 Paula E

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Posted 10 November 2007 - 11:18 PM

Let me know what kind of flooring you are going to use - reading what you have written, I am now realizing that standing on cold, hard concrete will significantly shorten my observing sessions...


I'm trying to get some of the humane loktuf 3/4" flooring. It's proving to be a little tricky to get this lined up - I'll post more details when I really get it worked out.

I talked to a rep on Friday who told me that given accurate plans, the company could cut a set of mats (they are antifatigue mats used in factory floors) that exactly fit my dome, including the pier, floor conduits, etc. This will be pricey, but exceedingly nice. If I can, I'll post details when I have them, so that others who might want a similar type of flooring can just order it.

If for some reason that doesn't work out, my fallback is to use stall mats from RB Rubber. The nearby feedstore has them. They aren't as nice, and won't be nearly as tidy or easy to install because I'll have to cut them to shape, but they'll get'r done...

#44 Paula E

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Posted 10 November 2007 - 11:22 PM

Tell me all about BAD FOUNDATIONS...

I just finished sinking (literally) $20,000 into putting in 9 steel piers and re-raising my house/garage foundation... the house is only 14 years old, and when they built it originally, they didn't prepare properly...


Wow Dave, that's horrible! :(

#45 Paula E

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Posted 16 November 2007 - 05:35 PM

I'm going to be assembling the pro-dome this weekend - wish me luck! (If anyone has any last minute suggestions, I'm all ears!)

#46 Snaproll

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Posted 16 November 2007 - 07:04 PM

Good luck, hope you have good weather.

Suggestions? Measure twice, cut once ;)

#47 Paula E

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Posted 16 November 2007 - 07:19 PM

Thanks Snaproll - I always get that backwards! :foreheadslap:

Fortunately my friends who'll help me out are more competent than I am!

#48 astrotrf

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Posted 16 November 2007 - 08:22 PM

Righty-tighty, lefty-loosey. :)

#49 jsmiller58

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Posted 16 November 2007 - 08:59 PM

Scott,

Oh, man, can't help since mine has not arrived yet... But tell me that you chose the pre-build option where all of the drilling was already done and some parts are actually already shipped assembled...!

Please take pictures of the unpacking and building - I really want to know what I am going to get into in a few weeks...!

#50 Chris Schroeder

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Posted 16 November 2007 - 09:45 PM

Good luck, we'll keep a look out for questions :grin:


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