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Critique My Design

DIY observatory
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#1 Bluephoton

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Posted 13 February 2019 - 09:58 PM

I have been working on this design for about 6 months now. It is an observatory incorporated in the garage of a new house I am building in a dark sky area of the East Kootenay Mountains in BC, Canada. I will be around 2,800' elevation and the climate is semi-arid.

 

I am interested in opinions, criticism, suggestions etc. (try not to be too harsh). This is a life long dream of mine and I want to get it as close to "right" as I can.

 

The design is a rectangle with a roll off roof. The interior dimensions are 8'-9 1/2" by 12'. I have shown it with 2 piers to mount 2 telescopes. One scope will be a large Refractor 132-153mm. The second will be a smaller solar scope (Coronado Solarmax  60) or a visual scope (WO GTF-81) for guests.

 

The room under the observatory is intended to be the warm "Control Room" and will house the computers etc..

 

The roll of roof rail system is called out as being "steel". This is not accurate I plan on using pressure treated wood. I have already purchased the V-groove wheels and will have the steel track that mounts on the wood rails custom fabricated.

 

If anyone is really interested in having a closer look PM me your contact info and I can send more details.

Attached Thumbnails

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#2 Knasal

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Posted 13 February 2019 - 10:09 PM

I like it!

 

Question - how much of a concern is there for heat coming off the roof that you may have to look through?

 

Best,

Kevin



#3 Xeroid

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Posted 13 February 2019 - 10:17 PM

By no means a civil engineer but heat rises so why place the control room under the scope?

 

I would think the Control room would be off to the side AWAY from the scope.


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#4 Bluephoton

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Posted 13 February 2019 - 10:18 PM

I like it!

 

Question - how much of a concern is there for heat coming off the roof that you may have to look through?

 

Best,

Kevin

That's a great question Kevin and something I haven't put any thought into at all. It will be a standing seam metal roof so colour selection may be important.

 

I think at night it will cool rapidly but for solar observation it could be a real issue. I will have to put more thought into this - maybe a galvanized finish would be best?



#5 Knasal

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Posted 13 February 2019 - 10:23 PM

That's a great question Kevin and something I haven't put any thought into at all. It will be a standing seam metal roof so colour selection may be important.

 

I think at night it will cool rapidly but for solar observation it could be a real issue. I will have to put more thought into this - maybe a galvanized finish would be best?

I’m no expert... not sure. Someone on the forum can speak more about your design and construction materials than I can.  But I was just thinking about how you might need to look through some wavy air, given your roof top design.

 

 

By no means a civil engineer but heat rises so why place the control room under the scope?

 

I would think the Control room would be off to the side AWAY from the scope.

Yes, my thought also...

 

Kevin



#6 Bluephoton

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Posted 13 February 2019 - 10:31 PM

By no means a civil engineer but heat rises so why place the control room under the scope?

 

I would think the Control room would be off to the side AWAY from the scope.

I have heard that heat leakage from below can be a problem which is why I designed the floor separating the 2 spaces to have a vapour barrier and 8" of insulation. I do have some economic restrictions so I can't carve out any more space in the garage. If it really became a problem my contingency plan would be to locate the control room in an office area within the house. It will all be connected by hard wired LAN so I am not totally committed to the control room below.

 

Good feedback - thank you.


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#7 DmitriNet

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Posted 13 February 2019 - 10:40 PM

Why is it necessary for the observatory to be a part of a garage?  Why not a standalone?


Edited by DmitriNet, 13 February 2019 - 10:40 PM.


#8 Bluephoton

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Posted 13 February 2019 - 10:50 PM

Why is it necessary for the observatory to be a part of a garage?  Why not a standalone?

This is a retirement home, I am almost 60 so in part it's a convenience issue. I think I will get more use out of it if it is convenient to access.

 

It is not unusual to get a 2' dump of snow in the winter so not having to go outside would be a real advantage. It would also be in close proximity to my work room with all my tools.

 

The final reason is the development rules prohibit "Outbuildings" or buildings not attached to the main building. It seems silly as it is an 8 acre lot but those are the rules. The rules are intended to maintain property values which I am in favour of.

 

Edit: Also I am at the top of a hill and there is limited flat land available for building.

Edit 2: Locating it on the top of the house allows me to clear the tree line providing a greater field of view. With limited flat land the house would block a large section of the sky and the trees would limit the rest.


Edited by Bluephoton, 13 February 2019 - 11:06 PM.


#9 Spoonsize

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Posted 14 February 2019 - 06:49 AM

Consider white for the roof over the observatory.
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#10 starbob1

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Posted 14 February 2019 - 08:19 AM

If you get 2 ft of snow on a flat roof even angled that is allot of weight. Maybe a Dome roof would be better.



#11 Xeroid

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Posted 14 February 2019 - 08:33 AM

Food for thought:

 

If this will be your retirement home, you may wish to have access to a toilet on the first floor along with a spare "guest bedroom"

 

During our 40+ years in this community, we seen many of our neighbors having difficulty with "stairs" as they get older. So if stairs are needed:

- might be best to have the important "resources" on one level.

- Split the stairs with a landing in the middle with proper size thread and risers for "senior citizens".

 

Also not a bad idea to have propane powered electric generators ready....use the tanks during the summer for the barbecue smile.gif .  



#12 DeanS

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Posted 14 February 2019 - 08:54 AM

Everything is a compromise. 

 

Metal roofs cool pretty quickly. 

 

I understand the space restrictions for having the warm room underneath, and you will certainly get good exercise running back and forth/up/down :)

 

Roll off is nice as it allows multiple scopes, as long as you have enough room.

 

I like it overall.

 

Good luck with your dream home.

 

Dean


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#13 roscoe

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Posted 14 February 2019 - 09:51 AM

Which direction does your obs and surrounding roof face?  northerly will be considerably cooler than southerly, easterly cooler than westerly. A white/beige/tan/sand roof will be cooler than galvanized.  Extra thought to assuring air flow under the roof panels (in at the soffits and out at the ridge) will help keep the roof cool, but the heat plume coming out at the top could be fairly substantial. If your landing area could be kept near ambient temp, (will your garage be heated?) heat rising into the obs would be less of an issue, otherwise, a door at the bottom and top of the stairs will provide an 'air lock' and also minimize warm air rising. Openable windows in the obs could also help with evening pre-cooling - I'd avoid them on the upslope because of possible snow issues.  If you're planning serious astro-photo work, increasing the bottom half of your pier diameter would offer a little more stability.


Edited by roscoe, 14 February 2019 - 09:55 AM.


#14 DeanS

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Posted 14 February 2019 - 09:53 AM

I agree with the air lock for the stairs, good ideal



#15 CharlesW

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Posted 14 February 2019 - 10:49 AM

The slab in my house and garage can’t be bored into or cut. I’d make sure your contractor understands that your pier needs to penetrate the slab so they can make accommodations for that. 


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#16 roscoe

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Posted 14 February 2019 - 11:05 AM

...and be mechanically isolated from the slab - like with a closed-cell foam 'donut'


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#17 mikerepp

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Posted 14 February 2019 - 11:45 AM

Bluephoton, you might want to send a PM to *skyguy* he has an obs that is part of his house.   He might be able to shed some light on the thermal issues associated with the roof.  I believe he has had his setup for a few years now.


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#18 DmitriNet

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Posted 14 February 2019 - 11:58 AM

>>It is not unusual to get a 2' dump of snow in the winter so not having to go outside would be a real advantage. It would also be in close proximity to my work room with all my tools.

 

For this very reason standalone is better because it is easier to clean from the snow (I have the same issue) and easier to repair if needed using a short ladder instead of getting on the roof of main building.

 

>>The final reason is the development rules prohibit "Outbuildings" or buildings not attached to the main building.

A nice covered "breezeway" between main building and the observatory may be a solution to building codes.

 

>>Edit 2: Locating it on the top of the house allows me to clear the tree line providing a greater field of view. With limited flat land the house would block a large section of the sky and the trees would limit the rest.

 

It is nice to see the horizon, but observing or even photographing below 20 degrees of elevation is rarely useful.



#19 Bluephoton

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Posted 14 February 2019 - 03:24 PM

Food for thought:

 

If this will be your retirement home, you may wish to have access to a toilet on the first floor along with a spare "guest bedroom"

 

During our 40+ years in this community, we seen many of our neighbors having difficulty with "stairs" as they get older. So if stairs are needed:

- might be best to have the important "resources" on one level.

- Split the stairs with a landing in the middle with proper size thread and risers for "senior citizens".

 

Also not a bad idea to have propane powered electric generators ready....use the tanks during the summer for the barbecue smile.gif .  

Good suggestions.

The new house is a bungalow with everything we need on the main floor including master bedroom, laundry room and a guest room. There is a walkout basement with a media room and 2 additional guest rooms.

When I can't do stairs anymore I will have to give up the astronomy hobby. Hopefully I will get 20 years of use.

Edit: It's a rural location so heating will be a propane fired forced air furnace and I will have a large bullet tank for propane storage (1000-2000 liters). It will have a propane fired Cummins 17kw back up generator for power failures.


Edited by Bluephoton, 14 February 2019 - 03:38 PM.


#20 Bluephoton

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Posted 14 February 2019 - 03:42 PM

Which direction does your obs and surrounding roof face?  northerly will be considerably cooler than southerly, easterly cooler than westerly. A white/beige/tan/sand roof will be cooler than galvanized.  Extra thought to assuring air flow under the roof panels (in at the soffits and out at the ridge) will help keep the roof cool, but the heat plume coming out at the top could be fairly substantial. If your landing area could be kept near ambient temp, (will your garage be heated?) heat rising into the obs would be less of an issue, otherwise, a door at the bottom and top of the stairs will provide an 'air lock' and also minimize warm air rising. Openable windows in the obs could also help with evening pre-cooling - I'd avoid them on the upslope because of possible snow issues.  If you're planning serious astro-photo work, increasing the bottom half of your pier diameter would offer a little more stability.

The low end of the slope on the roll off roof faces north east. The garage will have a heater which I can turn off when not required.

It's easy to make the base larger at this stage so I will look into how much I can practically increase it.

A window is a good suggestion.


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#21 roscoe

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Posted 14 February 2019 - 04:14 PM

making the base of your pier maybe 18"  would add a lot of rigidity, or you could go from 18 to 15 to 12, or something like that.... Consider putting a couple of runs of conduit in your pier for power and internet connections...

 

Northeast is a good direction for minimal roof deck heating.


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#22 nmoushon

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Posted 15 February 2019 - 12:32 PM

First thing that came to my mind was why are you insulating the observatory and the control room? If you do this then you will have to open the roof and let everything come to equilibrium and that will take a long time. If you leave the observatory room uninsulated this will help dramatically and basically let you get observing with in a couple minutes instead of over an hour or more. Obviously you will want to insulate the walls that have conditioned space on the other side and the floor since your warm room or control room is underneath it. Just the roof and exterior walls I would not put insulation in.



#23 Bluephoton

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Posted 15 February 2019 - 03:09 PM

First thing that came to my mind was why are you insulating the observatory and the control room? If you do this then you will have to open the roof and let everything come to equilibrium and that will take a long time. If you leave the observatory room uninsulated this will help dramatically and basically let you get observing with in a couple minutes instead of over an hour or more. Obviously you will want to insulate the walls that have conditioned space on the other side and the floor since your warm room or control room is underneath it. Just the roof and exterior walls I would not put insulation in.

I was thinking the insulation would help.

In the winter when temperatures will be normally below zero the unheated observatory room would stay cold.

In the summer the insulation in the ceiling would help to keep the heat from the sun out.

If I need to work for extended periods in the observatory I could heat it temporarily and have a comfortable insulated working environment.



#24 nmoushon

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Posted 15 February 2019 - 04:59 PM

I was thinking the insulation would help.

In the winter when temperatures will be normally below zero the unheated observatory room would stay cold.

In the summer the insulation in the ceiling would help to keep the heat from the sun out.

If I need to work for extended periods in the observatory I could heat it temporarily and have a comfortable insulated working environment.

Think of all the other observatories here on the forum. It would be very hard to find any that are insulated. 

 

Not that its wrong, you will just have to plan accordingly to allowing your equipment to meet the outside temp. Be that hot or cold. Just because its unheated does not mean the temperature inside would be the same as outside. The temp difference could a couple dozen degrees in the extremes.


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#25 roscoe

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Posted 15 February 2019 - 06:14 PM

I'll respectfully disagree..... I believe a fair portion do have some insulation in them...  During the summer days, the design attached to a garage would stay closer to mid-level temps than hot in the afternoon, and on really cold nights, when possibly not so much chance of observing, it would keep the equipment from having to deal with extreme temps... and there's always opening a window or two, and/or opening the roof.   This gent is in the 'frozen north'..... that's a far different climate than much of the US.


Edited by roscoe, 15 February 2019 - 06:17 PM.

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