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A clean poorly lit place

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#51 macdonjh

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Posted 29 April 2019 - 08:15 PM

Go figure, the soaking wet, pressure treated 4x4s I used for my gantry beams warped as they dried out in the Texas sun and heat.  I had a distinct downward bow in both beams.  Rolling my roof downhill, then back uphill was a pain.  Time to install a couple new columns to take the bow out.  

 

A good day to be in the country, playing in the sunshine.

Country sky.jpg

 

My car did not like carrying 400 lb of concrete in the trunk.  Good thing the hardware store is only ten miles from my club's dark sky site.

Plot 6 042019 concrete load.jpg

 

More below, file size limit, you know.



#52 macdonjh

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Posted 29 April 2019 - 08:18 PM

First order of business was to get the holes drilled with an auger and pour the concrete.  If you look hard you can see a couple of stubs of Sonotube sticking up near the edge of the cleared ground under my gantry.

 

Plot 6 042019.jpg

 

Got the Sonotube removed, too, so the concrete is clean and fresh looking.



#53 macdonjh

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Posted 29 April 2019 - 08:19 PM

And finally, new columns installed.  My gantry beams are back to being level and my roof is easier to open and close.

 

Plot 6 042719.jpg


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#54 macdonjh

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Posted 21 September 2019 - 01:06 PM

A small, but satisfying addition today:

 

Before:

Problem sm.jpg

 

After:

Better sm.jpg


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#55 jcj380

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Posted 23 September 2019 - 08:50 AM

Really nice build there.  Curious though - how much "oomph" does it take to roll off your roof?  It looks pretty substantial.



#56 macdonjh

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Posted 23 September 2019 - 10:03 AM

Getting it started requires some effort, but once it is rolling it's not too bad. It is a two-handed effort, though, I can't move it with one arm. It would have been much lighter if I had used metal roofing, but I like the look of shingles.

I am toying with the thought of installing a winch. I haven't because pushing the roof by hand is quick and not onerous. Even at 3:00 am.
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#57 macdonjh

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Posted 27 October 2019 - 10:36 AM

I found weather like this when I arrived at my observatory Friday to install my new-to-me mount:

 

191025 weather.JPG

 

This was my starting point:

 

191025 beginning.JPG

 

Time to get to work.



#58 macdonjh

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Posted 27 October 2019 - 10:43 AM

First, out with the old:

 

You can see a touch of rust on the cap screws holding my saddle on:

 

191025 bit of rust.JPG

 

My G11 is off and I am reminded how I installed the Losmandy MA adapter.  I'd forgotten how many small screws I'd used.  The 1/2" bolt is 6" long with a washer or two at the end to hold it in place.  The small screws are threaded into coupling nuts at the ends of longer screws.

 

191025 MA install.JPG

 

A few taps with a rubber mallet persuaded the concrete to let go of the MA.  I will recycle the MA for my portable pier which came with my MI-250.

 

191025 out w old.JPG

 

And...

 

191025 pier ready.JPG



#59 macdonjh

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Posted 27 October 2019 - 10:50 AM

My observatory looks a little empty with my scope on the floor and mount off.  You can see that piece of blue tape.  That's for marking north, as established by the installation of my G11.  It didn't work as well as I wanted, parallax between my plumb bob string and my pier caught me.

 

191025 empty.JPG

 

Setting the jig I made to ensure I drilled the anchor bolt holes plumb.  I was nervous I'd drill crookedly and come out the side of my pier.  You may be able to see in the photos there are three jack screws on top for leveling, and one on each side for securing the jig to my pier, making sure it didn't move as drilled the holes.  Checking for level here:

 

191025 level.JPG

 

Adjusting the jack screws to level the jig:

 

191025 jack screws.JPG

 

And "screwing my courage to the sticking place", I started drilling:

 

191025 drilling.JPG


Edited by macdonjh, 27 October 2019 - 10:52 AM.

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#60 macdonjh

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Posted 27 October 2019 - 11:02 AM

First to clear the holes of dust and junk.

 

191025 clearing.JPG

 

Even with the cup from my morning coffee, I still got mortar dust in my mouth and nose.  I'm sure the State of California would now refuse me health coverage because I'm a cancer risk.  smile.gif

 

It appears I missed a photo op or two.  No photo of my pier plate acting as a template to hold the anchors in place while the epoxy sets.  The directions said an hour or so (the De Walt epoxy is expensive, but it develops full strength fast).

 

And here is the form for the mortar:

 

191025 formed.JPG

 

And my pier with the mortar poured.  After screeding the mortar (and scooping out my anchors, should have put the screws in, duh), I set my pier plate and set it.  Then I used a trowel to remove the excess mortar.  The eye bolt and black hex head cap screws are jack bolts to help unseat my pier plate from the set mortar.

 

191025 poured.JPG

 

The mortar set much more quickly than I anticipated.  I was able to strip the forms Friday night, exposing the mortar to the air so speed up setting.  It was a good thing I had those jack screws: it took a couple full turns of all three to put enough up-force on the plate to get the mortar to let go.  There would have been no way to get the plate off without damaging the mortar without jack screws.

 

191025 forms stripped.JPG


Edited by macdonjh, 27 October 2019 - 11:06 AM.


#61 macdonjh

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Posted 27 October 2019 - 11:16 AM

After dark Friday night, I bolted my pier plate to the RA housing, so everything would be ready on Saturday morning.  After using a rubbing stone to smooth out the mortar, and remove some excess (and create a LOT of dust), I was ready to install the RA assembly.

 

191025 RA installed.JPG

 

Next was the declination assembly...

 

191025 Dec instlled.JPG

 

And...  done.

 

191025 finished 1 small.jpg

 

191025 finished.JPG


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#62 macdonjh

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Posted 27 October 2019 - 11:18 AM

Ready to go for the evening.  Polar alignment is off, so I need to work on that, but my MI-250 carries my scope better than my G11.

 

191025 ready.JPG


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#63 brave_ulysses

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Posted 29 October 2019 - 06:08 PM

beautiful mount and obs - well done



#64 macdonjh

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Posted 27 August 2020 - 10:10 AM

This past weekend I finally installed gutters on my observatory.  The gutter on the north side will hopefully slow the rot in my door.  I'll need to replace the door eventually.

Plot 6 20200822 NE small.jpg

 

The gutter on the south side was effective that same night in keeping dew from rolling off my roof onto the floor inside when I left the roof open.  I typically close my roof when I go to sleep exactly because one time when I left it open I had a pool of water on the north side of the floor the next morning.  It was nice to wake up and see the sky during the night.

Plot 6 20200822 NW small.jpg



#65 macdonjh

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Posted 07 March 2021 - 11:35 AM

It's been close to four years and four months since I broke ground.  It is time for some upgrades to the inside.  Before I started I took a couple of "before" photos.  The first is through the doorway:
 

210227 Before small.jpg

 

 



#66 macdonjh

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Posted 07 March 2021 - 11:36 AM

... and the second is looking over the west wall: 

 

210227 Before fr west small.jpg



#67 macdonjh

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Posted 07 March 2021 - 11:38 AM

From later February 27, after the work for the day was complete (through the doorway):

 

210227 Step 1 small.jpg

 

And viewing over the west wall: 

 

210227 Step 1 fr west small.jpg



#68 macdonjh

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Posted 07 March 2021 - 11:39 AM

A bonus photo, looking over the east wall: 

 

210227 Step 1 fr east small.jpg



#69 macdonjh

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Posted 07 March 2021 - 11:47 AM

From yesterday, March 6: 

 

210306 Step 2 small.jpg

 

As you can see from the previous photos I have condensation in my observatory.  I've almost never seen it, my gear is always dry when I arrive to observe.  I have seen a sheen from water on the floor once or twice, but that's all.  I was surprised when I removed the vinyl tile and found enough water to drip off the tiles.  Hopefully the water-proofing coating I've applied will stop that now.  The product I chose is supposed to be effective at water proofing basements from water under hydrostatic pressure; not just a sealer designed to keep rainwater from penetrating the top surface of a patio.  I hope it works.

 

The gray goop on my pier: when I was building my observatory I had planned to apply a skim coat of mortar to my pier to cover all the honeycomb and the spiral mark from the Sonotube.  I got impatient and painted it before I smoothed it.  Last year I called around and asked a few companies if they made a concrete patching product which would adhere to concrete coated with latex paint.  Everyone said no, I needed bare concrete.  My son and I had a brainstorm early last week, and I tried some Bondo yesterday.  It appears to work well.  I'll need to do a lot of sanding, though.  



#70 macdonjh

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Posted 13 March 2021 - 11:31 PM

Today was a long day, but the heavy lifting is done.  I went out Friday after work and got a few hours' in before dark.  I got the sheet rock trimmed away from the sole plate to make room for my new floor.  Then I installed the furring strips I cut last week.  Early to bed. 

210312 doorway small.jpg

 

I was up and at it by 6:30 Saturday.  first step was to break into several boxes of my flooring and start sorting for length and color (actually, just two colors: "blonde" and "not-blonde").  That took a surprisingly long time.

 

First mishap: I had planned to glue the floor boards together at their ends and then push them together, leaving the floor floating.   However, I wasn't able to keep the boards together.  Off to the hardware store for a nail gun.  I was back to work after a bit more than an hour.  But...

 

Second mishap: I bought nails which were too short.  I tried to make them work, but no luck.  Back to the hardware store.  I tried getting a larger nail gun, but they didn't have the nails I needed for it.  I got longer nails for the nail gun I had (for all of two hours...) and got back to work.  Another hour gone.

 

The first couple of courses were problematic, but I got them in.  Installation went a bit faster after that.  Not as fast as I thought it would, though.  Lots of time spent bringing materials in; I couldn't bring too much in at a time or I didn't have room to work.  Lots of time spent finding the right length board then cutting it exactly right.  Anyway, not a bad day:

 

From the doorway: 

210313 doorway small.jpg

 

While peeking over the west wall:

210313 fr west small.jpg

 

Not the glamour shots, everything cleaned and polished, yet.  I have some more mess to make before I spend time doing thorough cleaning.


Edited by macdonjh, 13 March 2021 - 11:40 PM.

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#71 JMW

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Posted 13 March 2021 - 11:40 PM

The observatory looks great. I am envious of your wide open skies. I am impacted by my neighbors very tall trees at his property line.



#72 macdonjh

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Posted 13 March 2021 - 11:43 PM

I almost forgot: thanks to my friend for his allowing me to use his observatory as a warehouse.  I wouldn't have been able to make this work without the extra floor space.

210312 stock small.jpg



#73 macdonjh

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Posted 13 March 2021 - 11:47 PM

The observatory looks great. I am envious of your wide open skies. I am impacted by my neighbors very tall trees at his property line.

Thank you for your kind words.  My observatory is approximately ninety miles west of my house in the middle of a pretty big field.  We're surrounded by trees which act as a "light shield" from the homes and ranches around us.  Our "horizon" is something like 15o, so the trees are far enough away from where we set up our scopes to not block much sky.

 

Next month will be the sixth anniversary of my installing my scope and starting to use it.  The inside was a little ratty, so I now have a project to freshen it up some.  I think it may kill me.  Not a bad way to go, though.


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#74 macdonjh

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Posted 20 March 2021 - 09:52 PM

Worked on my pier today: finished applying Bondo and sanded, sanded, sanded.  It isn't perfect, but it's much better.  Boy was there a lot of dust!  Here's a view through the doorway: 

210320 doorway small.jpg

 

 

And the view over my west wall:

210320 fr west small.jpg



#75 macdonjh

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Posted 03 April 2021 - 09:21 PM

Work for today was installing an air conditioner to protect my floor from humidity variations.  Getting the A/C was an adventure.  Two separate orders from HomeDepot.com (air conditioners weren't in stock locally when I started this) were delivered damaged.  When I returned the second unit I found some air conditioners in stock.  I ended up buying three A/C in two weeks and returning two.  Sheesh.  

 

210403 doorway small.jpg

 

I didn't think I had a patch for the missing sheet rock under the air conditioner, but I found one.  I'll install that next time I go out (hopefully next week).  Work from here on is less taxing so I hope to observe in the evening as well.




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