Most of my friends know it's my dream to have a remote observatory. As it turns out, a friend that I had lost touch with years ago popped back into my life with the following offer: "I've moved to a very rural place in California, on the Oregon border, and would be thrilled if you would build a remote observatory on my property. I've got a hilltop 360 degree unobstructed view at ~5000 feet altitude and I live here full time. I'd be happy to do remote hands for you if you needed it. This is my forever home, I do not intend to move." She has excellent cell service (LTE) and sat backup. We used to live together and she has done this type of stuff for me before so I have no doubt she can do it. I've also done hundreds of hours of work with remote hands in data centers, so I have experience telling folks how to fix things over the phone. Working with remote hands is well within my comfort zone.
I live in the SF Bay Area, and I have been working on my "robotic" setup for years. It currently sits on my balcony, and besides covering/uncovering it, and taking it inside when it rains I rarely physically touch it. So I know I'm pretty close if not there on operating it "remotely" but while I am knowledgeable I have zero experience with an actual observatory.
I had always imagined myself moving back to Denver, where I still own a house, and buying property near Westcliffe CO, an area with good skies and dark sky ordinances, and building a remote observatory there, or perhaps in my fantasies going farther south to New Mexico. When my friend volunteered to let me build something on her property, well... Let's just say I'm entertaining the possibility. It's not as far south as I'd like but the price of the property and remote hands is worth the compromise I think.
Here's the thing- Things happen, friendships change, people change, people move, and I feel that if I do take her up on her offer my observatory has to be something I can move. My initial thought is to take my 16x8 foot enclosed cargo trailer and put a roll off roof on top, or better still a dome. I could then weld together a frame inside to support the roof and provide stability for the pier. If push comes to shove (she moves, or there's a wildfire in the area) and I need to take it away in a hurry, I can simply drive up with my one ton pickup, hook it up, and drive it away. Park it in a storage lot, and figure out what's next.
The advantage of the trailer is that I also don't have to have a slab poured, and I can just run an extension cable out to it, and use wifi for access.
Does anyone know of any plans for doing such a thing? Or does anyone have any good examples of how to do this? I've seen some examples on the web of various builds where someone has bolted a dome to a trailer roof, but I'd like to actually see how things are constructed with plans and such. I've seen the pier-tech products/trailers, and they are an option I am open to considering.
I'm not adverse to throwing a little $$ at the problem, I'm not rich but I don't have to pinch pennies on this. Then again, the pier-tech stuff is quite pricey, and I don't know how well it would stand up to snow, etc. I don't know if I'd be able to afford the pier-tech.
Thanks for your thoughts!
Edited by Lightpath, 26 January 2020 - 07:01 PM.