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The most basic Qs about a pier

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#1 PolyWogg

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Posted 11 September 2019 - 12:24 AM

I was hoping some of the links in the pinned posts would give me good pointers, but didn't find anything for my area of question. And searching got me into much more detailed discussions of piers than I am ready for...so I thought I would post as a new topic with a more basic question.

 

I don't have an option for an observatory in my backyard (at least not one that is compatible with remaining married), put we are going to put in a 5'x5' slab that will double as steps to a deck and for my NexStar 8SE. So I was wondering if there was some sort of easily removed pier that I could install through or on the slab that I could attach my 8SE to, but here's the thing...I don't even know what form that kind of attachment looks like...do I just create a way to attach my basic fork mount, i.e. the pier just replaces the alt-az tripod, or do I need a whole new mount?

 

I guess I'm looking for a good overview of the different types of piers to consider, with (hopefully) some pros and cons of each.

 

P.


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#2 thesungazer

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Posted 11 September 2019 - 06:19 AM

I've enjoyed my SkyShed pier. It adapts to a variety of telescopes. Just a thought...

 

http://www.skyshedpod.com/piers.html


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#3 macdonjh

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Posted 11 September 2019 - 10:29 AM

PolyWogg,

 

Don't overthink this.  A pier or tripod is simply something to hold your mount above the ground.  So, you can attach any mount to any pier or tripod with the right adapter plate.  I've never owned a Celestron 8SE, but it sure looks like the mount attaches to the tripod with the single bolt which tightens the spreader/ eye piece holder plate against the tripod legs.  There are a couple of ways to attach that to a pier: 

  • If the pier has a hole in it you could thread a bolt through the top of the pier into the bottom of the mount using that hole for access
  • You could also make a dual plate adapter: one plate bolts to the bottom of your mount and also has three or four holes in it for bolts to attach that plate to the pier.  Then the pier top plate has matching bolt holes in it so when you place your mount (with its plate) on top you can use bolts to attach the two plates (like the second photo in thesungazer's link to SkyShed).

 

As for a removable pier for your new slab, the problem may be making the connection between the bottom of the pier and the concrete slab: if you use traditional anchor bolts they'll stick up when the pier isn't there and make a tripping hazard, if you use threaded inserts they'll fill with grit when the pier isn't there and make it hard to bolt your pier down when you want to observe (and/ or be a maintenance hassle).

 

One option is to get a portable pier and set it on your new slab when you want to observe.  But if you're happy with your current tripod this would just be an added expense. 

 

Another option I decided on...  For observing at home, I set up in my driveway.  One night I set up my mount and scope and did a decent drift alignment.  Once that was done I marked the locations of the tripod tips on my driveway.  The next day I used a masonry bit in my drill and made three dimples (3/8" diameter x 1/4"(?) deep) for the tripod tips to sit in.  I also marked my mount by using a utility knife to score witness marks on the RA axis, declination axis and on my scope's dovetail to make the previous night's set-up repeatable.  Now all I have to do is set my tripod down, mount my scope and I'm ready to observe and polar aligned in a couple of minutes.


Edited by macdonjh, 11 September 2019 - 10:30 AM.

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#4 PastorBillV

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Posted 11 September 2019 - 04:16 PM

I agree with madnojh.  Just use a tripod! If you want, get an expensive one that's super stable, has trays, etc.  Run power out to your slab. You could have an above-ground powerbox like an RV hookup box.   Also, run red or green lighting to the same area.  In other words, make the area as much like an observatory as possible so that you minimize setup (which is what drove me to an observatory).  

 

So, I'd focus on all that other stuff and do it in a wife-pleasing manner.  And, a tripod won't affect the ascetics of the slab.  

 

JMHO! :) 

 

Bill


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#5 Howard73

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Posted 11 September 2019 - 05:00 PM

Perhaps you need to point out more positive things to your wife. Honey I'm just outside if you need me. You always know where I'm at. I'm not sitting in a local beer joint. etc etc .

Like others have said a really really good tripod might be your solution at this time. Who knows mommie may just change her mind about a shed.


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#6 dmdouglass

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Posted 11 September 2019 - 05:42 PM

Google the term "  Telescope Portable Pier "

You will find what you are seeking.


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#7 Alex McConahay

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Posted 11 September 2019 - 06:33 PM

Here is a solution...….

 

First off, decide if this is for imaging or visual. If it is for imaging, you can dispense with the slab. If for visual, you will want a slab around your pier.

 

But, do not build a pier. Instead, build a bird feeder, or a plant holder, or a...…..it does not matter. Build anything that sits up on top of a piece of pipe that sticks up three to five feet above the ground. Give it a firm base. This means, to do it really right, digging down deep and plopping in a bunch of concrete. Put some anchor bolts in it. At the top, make a plate that can hold the bird feeder, etc, but, with a little unbolting and rebolting, can hold your mount mechanics and a telescope. 

 

Alex


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#8 OldManSky

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Posted 11 September 2019 - 07:21 PM

Something like I have below is actually very stable, very solid, and very cheap.

Mine is bolted to a concrete footer about 2" deep, but for a "temporary" setup you could put 2 bolts protruding from the slab when you pour it, bolt the 2 blocks together, and bolt them to the slab.

Make an adapter for the top to mount your base, and you're all set.

 

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#9 dmdouglass

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Posted 11 September 2019 - 07:29 PM

Something like I have below is actually very stable, very solid, and very cheap.

Mine is bolted to a concrete footer about 2" deep, but for a "temporary" setup you could put 2 bolts protruding from the slab when you pour it, bolt the 2 blocks together, and bolt them to the slab.

Make an adapter for the top to mount your base, and you're all set.

I love that view !   Amazing skies.


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#10 nikulsuthar

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Posted 12 September 2019 - 12:50 AM

Something like I have below is actually very stable, very solid, and very cheap.

Mine is bolted to a concrete footer about 2" deep, but for a "temporary" setup you could put 2 bolts protruding from the slab when you pour it, bolt the 2 blocks together, and bolt them to the slab.

Make an adapter for the top to mount your base, and you're all set.

The concrete slab is only 2 inches deep and is very stable... Amazing...


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#11 PolyWogg

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Posted 12 September 2019 - 08:17 AM

All excellent suggestions, thank you.

I was hoping for a pier that would be easily removed (maybe threaded itself?) but the bolts that would remain would indeed be a tripping hazard.

​I really like the idea of the birdfeeder config, but alas, my limited area means I need to remove it completely when not in use, not just put a birdfeeder or table back on it. Cool thought though.

Interesting thought about going with better mount rather than paying to put in a pier...I see the sky shed ones would set me back $600+$200 shipping, at least, and if I was doing that, there are a lot of good mounts I could choose instead to upgrade my existing tripod. Part of my interest was that I could leave it set up most of the time for the pier, and remove it when desired (i.e. if we had people over, playing soccer in the backyard, etc.) rather than setting up each time. But if I have to attach a mount, I'm setting up anyway. Interesting thoughts.

​Going with the google search for portable telescope pier does get me pretty close to what I was thinking. Of course, it also makes me want the iOptron AZ Pro Mount with Tri-pier! :) Auto levelling, auto alignment, auto everything, just "confirm" something is centred? Sign me up! :)

​And I **really** like the idea of scoring the pad for the location of the tripod legs, etc. I'm only in Alt-Az mode at the moment, but if I did upgrade to an EQ mount, that would be pretty sweet solution to doing a fast but reliable polar alignment.

 

Thanks to all, this was exactly the kind of more basic advice that I needed!

​Paul

aka PolyWogg



#12 spacemunkee

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Posted 12 September 2019 - 09:46 AM

Just one thought about what was mentioned about installing threaded inserts and worrying about debris getting in there.
You could sink them in the thickness of a bolt head and run some short bolts into the holes when not in use that would sit flush to avoid a tripping hazard. Just vacuum or blow any debris that may have accumulated away before removing them to install pier.

#13 Alex McConahay

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Posted 12 September 2019 - 10:30 AM

>>>>> You could sink them in the thickness of a bolt head and run some short bolts into the holes when not in use that would sit flush to avoid a tripping hazard. Just vacuum or blow any debris that may have accumulated away before removing them to install pier.

 

There are plugs made to do just that.

 

Alex



#14 spacemunkee

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Posted 12 September 2019 - 10:45 AM

Yes, I know there are. But how long before that little peice of plastic wears out letting rain wash fine debris past it into the hole. And though not extravagant cost, they probably cost more than a short bolt. Ridiculous what they charge for some little peices of plastic sometimes!

#15 macdonjh

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Posted 12 September 2019 - 12:03 PM

>>>>> You could sink them in the thickness of a bolt head and run some short bolts into the holes when not in use that would sit flush to avoid a tripping hazard. Just vacuum or blow any debris that may have accumulated away before removing them to install pier.

 

There are plugs made to do just that.

 

Alex

 

 

Yes, I know there are. But how long before that little peice of plastic wears out letting rain wash fine debris past it into the hole. And though not extravagant cost, they probably cost more than a short bolt. Ridiculous what they charge for some little peices of plastic sometimes!

I hadn't thought of that, duh.  Another alternative is to leave the threaded inserts flush with the top-of-concrete and use set screws to serve as the "caps".  Metal, and would be flush with the concrete.

 

https://www.grainger...concrete anchor

https://www.grainger...tainless-159Z12

 

Grainger's quantities are ridiculous (I mean, really, who needs 3250 set screws?), but I'll bet somebody somewhere sells something similar in "retail consumer" quantities.



#16 spacemunkee

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Posted 12 September 2019 - 12:09 PM

 

 

Grainger's quantities are ridiculous (I mean, really, who needs 3250 set screws?), but I'll bet somebody somewhere sells something similar in "retail consumer" quantities.

But if you need them, you'll have them. They'll just be at the bottom of the bucket filled with misc. nuts and bolts! lol.gif



#17 rlsten

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Posted 12 September 2019 - 12:17 PM

I hadn't thought of that, duh.  Another alternative is to leave the threaded inserts flush with the top-of-concrete and use set screws to serve as the "caps".  Metal, and would be flush with the concrete.

 

https://www.grainger...concrete anchor

https://www.grainger...tainless-159Z12

 

Grainger's quantities are ridiculous (I mean, really, who needs 3250 set screws?), but I'll bet somebody somewhere sells something similar in "retail consumer" quantities.

I don't know if they have exactly what you are looking for, but Bolt Depot sells in small quantities, and they ship fast. https://www.boltdepo...g_products.aspx



#18 OldManSky

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Posted 12 September 2019 - 03:55 PM

The concrete slab is only 2 inches deep and is very stable... Amazing...

Oops.

2'.  As in 2 feet.  

:(


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#19 John Fitzgerald

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Posted 12 September 2019 - 04:07 PM

I would get a piece of 4 inch nominal steel pipe and weld it to a compatible 8 hole flange and bolt it to the concrete. Those concrete blocks are stable, but they are easy to break with sideways pressure or a tap from something hard. A flat plate can be welded to the top of a steel pier and a “rat cage” attached to that.

#20 Alex McConahay

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Posted 12 September 2019 - 04:37 PM

>>>>> But how long before that little peice of plastic wears out letting rain wash fine debris past it into the hole. 

 

I don't know what you are thinking of, but these are stainless, galvanized steel, or even PVC and Nylon, plugs with regular nuts and bolt threads, usually a hex head. Not some little plastic cap.

 

 

 

Alex


Edited by Alex McConahay, 12 September 2019 - 04:37 PM.

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#21 spacemunkee

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Posted 12 September 2019 - 04:47 PM


I don't know what you are thinking of, but these are stainless, galvanized steel, or even PVC and Nylon, plugs with regular nuts and bolt threads, usually a hex head. Not some little plastic cap.



Alex


Ahh, gotcha. Thought you may have been talking about just some kind of little plastic push in plugs. But those would do the trick and could keep things flush.

#22 John Fitzgerald

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Posted 12 September 2019 - 06:11 PM

>>>>> You could sink them in the thickness of a bolt head and run some short bolts into the holes when not in use that would sit flush to avoid a tripping hazard. Just vacuum or blow any debris that may have accumulated away before removing them to install pier.

 

There are plugs made to do just that.

 

Alex

Allen head set screws.  Screw them in flush with the concrete.



#23 Alex McConahay

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Posted 12 September 2019 - 06:21 PM

>>>> Allen head set screws.

 

Yeah, that is what we use at GMARS when we have "conmvertible" pier bases in pads. I said "Hex head" earlier. I meant Allen Head. 

 

I think ours are 5/8 or 3/4. they were easily obtainable in town at our local Nut house. (place where one buys nuts, bolts, and other fasteners)

 

Alex



#24 John Fitzgerald

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Posted 12 September 2019 - 06:26 PM

>>>> Allen head set screws.

 

I think ours are 5/8 or 3/4. they were easily obtainable in town at our local Nut house. (place where one buys nuts, bolts, and other fasteners)

 

Alex

lol.gif Thanks for that term.



#25 Tom K

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Posted 13 September 2019 - 12:01 AM

Oops.

2'.  As in 2 feet.  

frown.gif

And that is Palomar Mountain in the background at Paul's house - somewhere up there is a 200" telescope (among others).




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