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Dream Project on the Gulf Coast

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#1 Bigdan

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Posted 20 March 2016 - 04:07 PM

On November 25 of last year, I was issued a county building permit to expand the existing back deck of my house on the north Florida Gulf coast.  The addition includes a 39 ft. 12 x 12 in. concrete house piling, to be used as telescope pier.  Here is a picture of the pier prior to install this last month (February):

 

PieronTrailerEnd.jpg

 

Here is a picture of my house while the crane was there installing pilings for deck and telescope pier.  The deck is at house level, about 20 ft. off the ground, so I'll be able to step out my back door to observatory at the same level:

 

CraneOverHouse-1-1.jpg


Edited by Bigdan, 21 March 2016 - 12:33 PM.

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#2 Bigdan

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Posted 21 March 2016 - 12:37 PM

This picture is what I call "Hammer Time"....... knocking that telescope pier home.  When the pile driver got through, he said his hammering machine weighs 15,000 lbs., and he said the piling was easily holding up that weight, and he wanted to know if my telescope weighed that much.  I like the contrast between pile driver and palm tree in this picture and the next:

 

HammerTime-1.jpg

 

PierInstall.jpg


Edited by Bigdan, 21 March 2016 - 01:14 PM.

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#3 Bigdan

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Posted 21 March 2016 - 12:40 PM

Here are the wood pilings for the deck and the concrete house piling / telescope pier installed:

 

BackYardPilings-1-1.jpg

 

BackYardPilingsPier.jpg


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#4 Bigdan

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Posted 21 March 2016 - 12:47 PM

So on March 16, I began framing for the deck.  The concept of this deck is that it is 20 x 20 ft. additional deck.  I will have the observatory (Skyshed Pod) in the corner of the deck.  The rest of the deck will be used as a normal deck..... wrought iron table & chairs for eating, a propane fire pit with fire glass for those cold nights, possibly a bar.  The decking is on now (March 21), here's a side shot of the deck:

 

Sideshot.jpg

 

Here's the telescope pier going up though the deck.  The deck will not touch the pier..... held off 2 inches:

Attached Thumbnails

  • Underneath1.jpg

Edited by Bigdan, 21 March 2016 - 12:47 PM.

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#5 Bigdan

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Posted 21 March 2016 - 12:55 PM

There will be a mid-level mezzanine for additional storage, so the project is not totally dominated by my astronomy.  Here's a closer shot of the pier going through the deck.  I have a friend who wanted to paint some genitalia on there...... I said, no:

 

Underneath2.jpg

 

Here is the pier above the deck.  I nailed the elevation spot on..... I wanted 25 in. above the deck, because two plates will be attached above the pier (1.25 in. galvanized rod installed 2 ft. down into the piling with 2-part anchoring epoxy, attached to lower 1/2 in. steel plate, with SS rods at corners going to second upper plate, which can be leveled using lock-nuts).  The MAL for my Titan will be attached to the upper plate:

 

PierTop.jpg

 

 


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#6 Bigdan

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Posted 21 March 2016 - 01:09 PM

Here are a couple of shots of the decking and the pier.  The pier looks like a chimney coming up:

 

DeckTop1-1-1.jpg

 

DeckTopLong-1-1.jpg

 

Right now we are waiting on Lumberock composite material for the guardrail.  It will be here in less than 2 weeks.  I am doing chocolate (dark) brown for the handrail, 2 x 6 on top, 2 x 4 on the side, with white spindle pickets, and the redwood decking boards.  I am also putting a chocolate brown Lumberock in a 1 x 10 to which the bottom of the pickets will attach.  No PT wood will be exposed to the sun. 

 

This has been a complex project, but I am persevering.  There used to be several pile driving companies in the area, but two of them got out of it.  There really was only one remaining in the area, and they skipped out on me.  They said they would do the job, then I did the engineering, got my building permit, and they would not answer the phone.  It took some time to find someone to do it.  As it turns out, he was right in the same town as the construction site.  Then finding a framer to build the deck took quite some time.  One framer passed on it, saying he was afraid of the height.

 

A white-colored POD would look the best, matching the pickets; however, I've heard some things about UV penetration for the white colored domes.

 

So this is my project.... I'll post some pictures once the guardrail is installed, and when the POD arrives.  I am close to ordering that.


Edited by Bigdan, 21 March 2016 - 01:18 PM.

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#7 WarmWeatherGuy

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Posted 21 March 2016 - 02:27 PM

This is looking good. I'm looking forward to seeing more pictures as the project progresses. Which side of the house is the platform on? Which parts of the sky (and how much) will be hidden by the house?


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#8 macdonjh

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Posted 21 March 2016 - 02:48 PM

I've never looked into this, but I wonder if someone makes a paint that will stick to the Skyshed PODS?  I think the PODS are made of HDPE, which is hard to get anything to stick to.  But if you could paint the inside of a white POD black, then you might get exactly what you're after.  Perhaps a call to Skyshed and another to Sherwin Williams?



#9 Bigdan

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Posted 21 March 2016 - 02:53 PM

Good questions, Steve.  The lots in my neighborhood, mine included, are quite small, and my house is quite high up.  I have been imaging with my CGEM/8 in. SCT at ground level, at the NE corner of my house, giving me the entire northern and eastern skies, and part of the west.  With the new observatory, I will basically have only a little of the SW sky obstructed by the second level of my house.  I had to stay high up and get away from the house..... that I did.  Before the POD gets here, I'll be using my CGEM/8 in. SCT on the eastern side of the deck.  Once I install the POD, I'll permanently install the Titan/C14 on the pier.  I received the Titan and C14 only within the last 2 months.  I set them up on my old Meade standard tripod in my living room.  This was a tremendous help in getting my elevation of the pier above the deck to be spot on, taking into account enough height to clear POD side wall (which is low), be comfortably above the deck for visual use, and clearance of equipment from POD ceiling and walls.

 

The lot to my south had some tall trees blocking my southern view.  From the new deck, they would not have blocked my view nearly as much as from the ground.  That lot was recently purchased, and the new owner totally cleared the lot.... all trees gone.  I don't think he has any plan to build, I've checked.  Even if he does, it wouldn't block me.  Those trees would have nailed my house in a hurricane.... they were growing under my eave.... glad they're gone. 


Edited by Bigdan, 21 March 2016 - 03:13 PM.


#10 Bigdan

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Posted 21 March 2016 - 03:05 PM

I've never looked into this, but I wonder if someone makes a paint that will stick to the Skyshed PODS?  I think the PODS are made of HDPE, which is hard to get anything to stick to.  But if you could paint the inside of a white POD black, then you might get exactly what you're after.  Perhaps a call to Skyshed and another to Sherwin Williams?

 

Yes.... I had thought about painting the inside of the POD.  I haven't gotten to the point of having to make a call on that.  Respecting the rules of this site, I can not quote an EM without the sender's permission.  Let's just say that I have from a reliable source that currently, you can get insulation injected into the walls and door, but not the dome.  They used to offer insulation in the dome, but stopped doing that. 

 

Painting the inside is well-worth looking into.  I know that you can walk into Lowe's or Home Depot, and buy spray paint made to spray onto plastic, in a myriad of colors.  You're probably right that the dark color would cut more UV; however, I was hoping that white would get the job done.  I don't know.

 

My thoughts about painting the inside of a POD:  A.  You shouldn't have to do that on new equipment.  B.  If the paint started peeling off down the road, and falling down on equipment, that would be upsetting  C.  It would be possible to place some short of cover, like a sheet, over the telescope inside the POD, but if the paint worked, I shouldn't have to cover the equipment.... that's what the dome is for. 

 

Painting the inside, and what color, are definitely worth checking out.


Edited by Bigdan, 21 March 2016 - 03:15 PM.


#11 siriusarcher

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Posted 21 March 2016 - 05:07 PM

You'll have to anchor that sky shed pod securely. They are pretty light and you get some big winds down there. Any concerns about wind-induced movement causing the deck to make contact with the pier?



#12 Bigdan

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Posted 21 March 2016 - 06:08 PM

Good point, Sirius.  Here's the plan (literally):  My current deck has 6 in. pilings.  The new deck has 8 in. square pilings... actually they are 8.5 inch.  Concrete footers are to be poured, going down 5 feet, and there is rebar tapped through each piling, 4 feet down.  The county inspector has already indicated he will be looking to see there are holes going down below the rebar before we pour.  The concrete piling could have a tornado hit it without moving..... we pounded it down in sand.   

 

So the deck will not move..... for sure won't be moving two inches to hit the piling..... impossible.  There are many nights where the wind shuts off once the sun goes down.  However, there are also nights where some kind of front came through, and there can be some real wind.  I'm hoping on those nights I could position the POD dome to block the wind.

 

When the crane installed the wood pilings for deck, we did not immediately pour concrete, we just backfilled.  We had some high wind nights, where those wood pilings were moving all over the place.  Now the framer has installed most of the deck framing up top, and he still has to install mezzanine half way up.  The wood pilings were augured 8 ft. down, then we just backfilled.  That was done in February.  We backfilled to make the framer's life easier, so he could pull and twist the pilings to square things up.  I already talked to a kid in the neighborhood who wants to dig out around the pilings at $ 10 per hour, then I just need a concrete guy to pour the concrete (labor only, I'll buy the concrete). 

 

The engineer who designed my deck I've used previously to build three different buildings..... he way, way overbuilds.  It really runs the cost up.

 

I have imaged in the past on my current deck, with 6 inch pilings, no concrete.  I never knew I had movement until I tried using my Skyris video camera, looking at the moon in live mode.  Once I saw that, I knew if I wanted to do some imaging 20 ft. up in the air, I had better figure going with an isolated concrete house piling.

 

I have been told that the POD has a bunch of screw-down holes that take 1/2 in. bolts.  So I will put 1/2 in. bolts through the decking boards, and through some 2 x 10 blocking under the decking boards, blocked off to the 2 x 10 joists.  I'll attach the blocking with hurricane clips or aluminum angle iron with screws to the joists.

 

Wind is another reason I'm going with a dome, instead of a roll-off shed.  I think the dome would be more streamlined in time of hurricane..... and I liked their famous "Redneck Wind Test" on top of the pickup.  I also think that in my case, a dome would look better than a square shed.


Edited by Bigdan, 21 March 2016 - 07:56 PM.

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#13 Bigdan

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Posted 13 April 2016 - 01:56 PM

The guardrail is finally finished.  The guardrail and the decking boards are all Lumberock synthetic lumber..... really set me back.  Here is how the project looks now (I'll be able to push my gas grill onto the new deck and enjoy it this weekend..... April 16):

 

Guard1.jpg

 

Guard2.jpg


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#14 Bigdan

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Posted 13 April 2016 - 02:22 PM

Guard.jpg

 

The thing on the deck is the piling/pier..... covering it with a garbage bag to keep rain out of the big hole in the middle.  Next on the agenda is to pour concrete footers for the pilings, have the county inspect for framing and footers, and order POD.

The plan is to do some visual and AP with my CGEM/8 in. SCT while the POD is on order.  If I pour good footers, I think I'll be able to do some AP fine, as long as I don't walk around while imaging.

I plan to order a white POD to match the spindles, and paint the inside a dark color to inhibit UV penetration.  I would have considered a dark brown to match the handrail, but POD does not have that color.  They have a tan color, but I don't like it.


Edited by Bigdan, 14 April 2016 - 09:35 AM.

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#15 hm insulators

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Posted 14 April 2016 - 11:15 AM

Coming along beautifully!


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#16 dr.who

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Posted 14 April 2016 - 12:16 PM

Hey mate. A couple of thoughts. You may want to skip the Pod. A 14" SCT in there will be a bit tight. You may want to think about a shed type structure that can be rolled off.



#17 Bigdan

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Posted 14 April 2016 - 01:47 PM

Hey mate. A couple of thoughts. You may want to skip the Pod. A 14" SCT in there will be a bit tight. You may want to think about a shed type structure that can be rolled off.

 

Yes.... I've considered a roll-off.  If I were to do a roll-off, it would probably be a roll-off shed, not just roll-off roof. 

Part of the reason for going with a POD is aesthetics..... the white dome would look great.  I am aware of things being tight with a C14; however, in my estimation, the measurements say it will work.  Keep in mind that I won't have to be in the main dome area while I'm imaging..... I'll have two bays, and I'm hoping I could kind of sit in one of them while imaging, or not even be in the dome, as I am going to run Ethernet cable to the desktop in my bedroom.  For my purposes, I think the POD will work.

One other thing about dome vs. shed:  I have pretty much determined that I think a dome tends to be more streamlined for wind resistance.  Tropical storms or hurricanes are not unusual in my area..... it is literally right on the Gulf.  I can personally attest from Hurricane Dennis in 2005 that the wind speeds were much higher 20 ft. off the ground, than at ground level.


Edited by Bigdan, 14 April 2016 - 02:03 PM.


#18 macdonjh

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Posted 14 April 2016 - 03:28 PM

I've never looked into this, but I wonder if someone makes a paint that will stick to the Skyshed PODS?  I think the PODS are made of HDPE, which is hard to get anything to stick to.  But if you could paint the inside of a white POD black, then you might get exactly what you're after.  Perhaps a call to Skyshed and another to Sherwin Williams?

 

It feels funny quoting my own post, but...  Keep an eye on this thread.  Another CN member is asking about getting paint to stick to a plastic dome.  Maybe someone will come up with the answer.  There's already one suggestion.

 

http://www.cloudynig...uv-penetration/



#19 dr.who

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Posted 14 April 2016 - 04:02 PM

I have an 8' exploreadome round building and its tight with my 11". I mean really tight. I am building a 10' shed because the dome is too small.



#20 siriusarcher

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Posted 14 April 2016 - 04:22 PM

I'd second the comment on trying to shoehorn a C14 into a sky shed pod. A friend has this combo and it is really tight in there. His EQ wedge raises the scope so that there is insufficient clearance between it and the top of the dome if there's a guide scope or dew shield up there, or if running in alt/az mode (its a fork-mounted Meade 14" RCX), he's constantly worried about head crashes. A bigger dome or a ROR would be better for your C14. I think a white dome would indeed look great and might offer better wind protection than a ROR.



#21 Bigdan

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Posted 14 April 2016 - 05:15 PM

You guys are scaring me!!!!  I can tell you, I have the C14 and Titan mount on a tripod, in my living room, and the bottom of the mount, the MAL, is the exact height from the floor I want to be.  I have downloaded several dimensional diagrams of the 8 ft. pod.  It looks to me as though it will work.  Don't forget..... if I have to, I can add the PZT kit, which converts it into a ROR.

 

Something else I'd like to mention is that this is a very expensive deck, and I wanted to get maximum utilitarian value out of it..... propane fire pit, large dining table with chairs, stainless gas grill, possibly even a patio sofa (I could lay on and look up at the stars while I'm imaging).  If the equipment will fit into the dome, and I think it will, I wanted to cram the dome into the corner of the deck.  From the center of my telescope pier, I have about 50 inches to the guardrail/edge of deck on the north and east side.  It is too late to move the pier.  I believe the POD or a small shed would fit there. 

 

I felt that the northeast corner of this deck was the best spot to place a telescope, as the eastern edge of the deck is away from the house, and the north side of the deck would give me view of the northern and western skies, as there is a second story observation room above my house.


Edited by Bigdan, 14 April 2016 - 08:23 PM.


#22 Ladyhawke

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Posted 15 April 2016 - 11:45 AM

Your deck is looking great, I've been following you from the Yahoo group where you first asked about the dimensions software. I think you will be okay with the C14 and the POD, I don't see that being a huge problem and I heard of other people putting even bigger TOAs in there. I am also just finishing my POD project, now in the phase of installing the electrical and data and then all will be done. Having a little issue with using a ES 127 refractor AND maintaining access to Zenith but that's just because the refractor is real long and with cameras, adaptors etc it becomes excessively long but that's okay because I will have a PZT anyway. The POD is actually roomier than it looks on the pictures. Good luck and you're doing great on your project, it is NOT easy to try to make all the plans and calculations ahead of time, I certainly gained a few gray hairs when planning mine and I am still struggling in trying to think ahead of time and getting everything the way I want the first time! Please keep us posted and have a great weekend.



#23 Bigdan

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Posted 15 April 2016 - 12:02 PM

Thanks for that, Sam.  Your deck is certainly a beauty.... the guardrail is gorgeous.  I was going to PM you on this, but I would like to open this up if anyone else wants to chime in.  Initially, I will not attach the POD to the floor, because I have heard it is possible to offset the POD from the pier by around 6 inches to access zenith, thereby not requiring the PZT. Once I am satisfied with offset, I will secure to the floor.  Did you explore the offset possibility?



#24 Ladyhawke

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Posted 15 April 2016 - 12:10 PM

Thanks for that, Sam.  Your deck is certainly a beauty.... the guardrail is gorgeous.  I was going to PM you on this, but I would like to open this up if anyone else wants to chime in.  Initially, I will not attach the POD to the floor, because I have heard it is possible to offset the POD from the pier by around 6 inches to access zenith, thereby not requiring the PZT. Once I am satisfied with offset, I will secure to the floor.  Did you explore the offset possibility?

Dan,

 

Thank you. That's exactly where I am on the project right now. I did offset my pier as well and it would work fine to access Zenith with an offset pier if it wasn't for the refractor being so long, the camera side is hitting the wall. I've moved my dome a few times already trying to reach the perfect location but because of this refractor I will have to place my pier more towards centered. I will lose Zenith with the dome half open but I already bought a PZT so that won't be a problem. If I was to use just my SCT and smaller refractor that wouldn't be a problem at all. I want to PZT regardless because I image and the idea is to go to bed and let the whole setup doing its thing. I will have to make this decision today and this weekend my electricians will have to have a final position of the POD in order to wire everything inside it. I will keep the group updated when all is done. If all goes well I don't see why the electricians would need more than this weekend to wrap everything up.



#25 Raginar

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Posted 16 April 2016 - 01:42 PM

I have an 8' exploreadome round building and its tight with my 11". I mean really tight. I am building a 10' shed because the dome is too small.


Nah, he did the measurements. He's good! 😂
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