As my two youngest kids are now teenagers, the back yard play set has been dismantled and hauled off. I now have some empty space to do something with, and two teenage boys to keep busy. For various reasons the swimming pool idea didn't pan out.
So, the idea is a simple 'shed' type observatory with roll off roof. This would be for casual observing. Our current telescope is a Nexstar 4SE, which is great for dragging out into the yard, or to take on vacation. With someplace permanent to put it, we would probably upgrade to something like an 8 or 10 inch scope with computerized mount and imager for remote use.
Bldg. Size: 10x10 or 8x10 seems optimal. I am concerned with too-big of a roof, since this will be moved with muscle power alone. I'm planning on a standard shingled roof to match another 8x10 garden shed on the property. The buildings don't need to match, but I do want the final product to be attractive. We are in northern Utah, so there is a frost line, and I intend to put 'sonotube' footings at the corners of the shed. Otherwise I expect simple shed construction with rails for rolling the roof off.
Power: I could run an AC line to the site, but would rather not. I will not be running a lot of computers and power hungry equipment, so my hope was to have a 12 volt solar powered system. For cold nights I would like to be able to run things remotely (except the roof). Is this reasonable or not?
Pier: I'm thinking 8 inch concrete. It would end up about 4-5 feet above the ground. From looking around, it seems fairly standard to place three stainless still bolts into the concrete with one of the bolts aligned to north (from the center of the pier). Is there a standard configuration that would give me some options? Or do I really need a better idea of what is going on it before I start? In general, lets say it will be an 8 to 10 inch short tube that can be run remotely and hold accessories such as an imager etc. But none of that exists yet. I may be doing things backwards, which is why I'm here asking questions.
There are really two goals for this project; One is to provide a place where it is more convenient to for us to go out and observe, which is something our family enjoys, and secondly to provide a project to keep two teenage boys busy. They will do the bulk of the work, and the thought of building an observatory has captured their imaginations. Reality may set in later, but for now they are motivated to get their hands dirty.
Experience: I've built several decks and have done framing, sheet rock, electrical (inspected) so I'm comfortable with the construction.
Side note: I remember Cloudy Nights from years ago, and I'm happy to see it is still a thriving active community.