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Northern Limits Observatory

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#1 NorthwoodsBill

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 10:11 AM

I spent a few months hanging out in this forum deciding if or how to build an observatory. So glad I decided to move forward! I thought I would share a few exterior pictures of my completed observatory.  As you can see we are in the middle of winter!  Winter underscores even more the benefits of an observatory.  If I had to set up and tear down every time I wanted to image I don't think I would be getting much if any imaging done during the winter!  To give it some perspective the deck is approx 16" above grade during the summer. Turns out Northern Limits was a perfect name!

 

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Edited by NorthwoodsBill, 09 February 2018 - 10:11 AM.

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#2 Weiserone

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 10:27 AM

Fantastic Bill.   Looking forward to seeing a few shots with it opened up.   


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#3 Eric H

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 10:40 AM

Nice!


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#4 DaveB

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 12:20 PM

That's awesome, congrats Bill! And it looks like you have some dark skies there too.

 

In the six months that I've had my obs, I've already imaged more than 2x the total that I had done in the previous 10 years (when I started imaging). And you're right about the weather - I got a few hours in last night in between the clouds. I would never have remotely considered bringing out my old gear.


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#5 NorthwoodsBill

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 12:29 PM

It is awesome to be able to walk out the door and be under dark skies!

 

Weiserone - I notice you are also in NH - I am a couple of hours north of you.  As requested a few shots opened up.

 

 

 

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Notice the alarm sensors on the door and the motion unit.  Probably overkill for the part of the country I am in - but why not.  I use Simplisafe for a home alarm system.  I like the system because it is completely wireless and also because I can add water sensors to alert me in case of a leak in a critical area (basement utility, laundry, etc).  Anyway, because of the wireless nature of the system it was EASY to add sensors to the Obsy.

 

 

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Edited by NorthwoodsBill, 09 February 2018 - 12:31 PM.

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#6 NorthwoodsBill

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 12:31 PM

And a couple more including a peak in the electrical cabinet.  I use a NUC for my imaging computer that I remote into via a buried network cable.  Because of our climate the cabinet is heated (we were -18F this morning)

 

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#7 Weiserone

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 03:03 PM

Very nice Bill.  Yes, only a few hours south of you near the Capital, guess we get to share the same cloudcover these days.  

 

   I notice you have a Nitecrawler on your 80.  Are you going to install that unit on the TEC when it arrives?   Currently I am using a Starizona direct drive motor on the FTF on mine, but wanted to add a rotator.   With the current backfocus when using the AP QuadTCC just not enough backfocus for a separate rotator.    


Edited by Weiserone, 09 February 2018 - 03:40 PM.


#8 NorthwoodsBill

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 04:08 PM

Very nice Bill.  Yes, only a few hours south of you near the Capital, guess we get to share the same cloudcover these days.  

 

   I notice you have a Nitecrawler on your 80.  Are you going to install that unit on the TEC when it arrives?   Currently I am using a Starizona direct drive motor on the FTF on mine, but wanted to add a rotator.   With the current backfocus when using the AP QuadTCC just not enough backfocus for a separate rotator.    

Yes I am going to put a Nitecrawler on but it will be a separate one - the TEC requires a larger unit.  Anxiously awaiting the arrival of the scope  although in truth it needs to be warmer before I would be able to tackle setting it up anyway!



#9 Weiserone

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 04:27 PM

Oh, yep, makes sense.   I've been seriously considering one or the Optec Gemini.   Just a few more short months and we'll be in the spring thaw, then mud, blackfly,, wait..  what am I hoping for here?   Oh yeah,, clear skies..


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#10 roscoe

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 07:58 PM

Nice looking roll-off, Bill!  Likely you have already dealt with this, but I can see a possibility of water entering through the grooves in the T-111 behind the head casing on the door if you get a windy rain that blows in under your gable overhang.

 

The heated equipment cabinet is a nice touch on those cold nights!



#11 NorthwoodsBill

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Posted 12 February 2018 - 10:22 AM

Nice looking roll-off, Bill!  Likely you have already dealt with this, but I can see a possibility of water entering through the grooves in the T-111 behind the head casing on the door if you get a windy rain that blows in under your gable overhang.

 

The heated equipment cabinet is a nice touch on those cold nights!

Clear silicone smile.gif


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#12 SteveGR

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Posted 13 February 2018 - 03:03 PM

Very nice observatory, functional and to the point.  Hard to beat that!  I feel your pain on the temperature and snow, it's been pretty miserable here this winter.



#13 mikeyL

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 12:05 AM

Wow - looks fantastic. I am thinking of doing something very similar in my back yard here in CO, and would also want to be able to heat things also as it gets very cold some evenings in the winter, particularly on the clear nights when imaging might actually be possible.

 

I am absolutely not someone who would be able to build something like this myself though. I am an electrical engineer, and feel very confident when it comes to hooking it all up, computerizing it, and the like - but building anything mechanical is another story. I don't suppose you have any plans you would share, such that I could perhaps pass them on to someone else to build this for me? I completely understand if that is not something you want to make available, just thought I would ask.

 

In any case, looks like a great build, very well thought out and executed!

 

Let's see some images taken with your new setup soon!

 

ML



#14 roscoe

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Posted 16 February 2018 - 03:05 PM

Mikey - any real carpenter could look at those photos and build you one to your dimensions....

 

Bill  used standard framing practices to build his... and anyone with a few years experience in residential construction would be able to put one together.  Only caution is to be sure you have a very secure way to latch it to the deck or slab so a big wind doesn't put it - and your scope - in the neighbour's back yard.

 

Russ



#15 NorthwoodsBill

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Posted 16 February 2018 - 03:16 PM

Wow - looks fantastic. I am thinking of doing something very similar in my back yard here in CO, and would also want to be able to heat things also as it gets very cold some evenings in the winter, particularly on the clear nights when imaging might actually be possible.

 

I am absolutely not someone who would be able to build something like this myself though. I am an electrical engineer, and feel very confident when it comes to hooking it all up, computerizing it, and the like - but building anything mechanical is another story. I don't suppose you have any plans you would share, such that I could perhaps pass them on to someone else to build this for me? I completely understand if that is not something you want to make available, just thought I would ask.

 

In any case, looks like a great build, very well thought out and executed!

 

Let's see some images taken with your new setup soon!

 

ML

Mikey,

       Sorry - just noticed your response when I got an e-mail announcing Russ's post.  I had no plans for this - it was built entirely "seat of the pants"  If I did have plans I would be happy to share.  Russ's statement is entirely accurate there is nothing really special here from a build point of view.  A few thoughts:

 

I use a "V" track and V-groove casters to guide the shed as it travels.  After reading a few comments on the tracks being hard to line up perfectly parallel I decided to run track down one side only.  Only one side of the building needs to be "guided" the other can just follow along.  If you look at the pictures you can spot the track on one side and a board on the other side under the casters.  The only purpose of the board is to equalize height.

 

Regarding wind - I have the building set up with large screw eye hooks in each corner.  There are corresponding hooks wound into the deck by each corner of the building.  The building is held in place with ratchet straps.  I typically use one strap but will use the other three if they are calling for high winds.  Some form of fastening the building is definitely necessary - it is amazing how easily it rolls.

 

The pier - make sure there is a gap between the deck and the pier - they need to move independently of one another.  If frost causes the deck to move you don't want it to affect the pier.

 

Above all - don't think about building one, DO IT!!!! The change this has had on my astrophotography is amazing

 

Hope this helps at least some.


Edited by NorthwoodsBill, 16 February 2018 - 03:18 PM.

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#16 roscoe

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Posted 17 February 2018 - 07:28 PM

a small fastening-it-down thought.....  if you have a wood deck that's going to be your floor, if you poke around in the aisle in the big-box where all the rope and bungee cords and ratchet straps are, you'll find tie-downs for truck beds that are a recessed square plate with a hinged ring that folds out, that you can inset flush to the deck surface, and avoid trip hazards.  Bills, being an imaging station, is not so important, but for visual use, anything you can trip on in the dark....you will.

 

Russ



#17 mikeyL

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Posted 20 February 2018 - 04:38 PM

Russ - thanks for the reply. That sounds encouraging. Thanks to the excellent images posted by Bill, I can see that using those as a good starting point for someone who is good with this sort of construction could be feasible.

 

NorthwoodsBill - very good, appreciate the detailed feedback. I am very rapidly converging on this as being what I want to pursue for my yard. I still want to characterize my altitude limitations, but some preliminary worst case analysis seems to show that I would still be able to do some decent imaging with a set up like this.  The idea of having only one track instead of two is a nice innovation too.

 

Appreciate the help, and want to congratulate Bill for such a great set up, and thanks again for posting this for the rest of us to see.

 

ML


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