I wanted to share my 8x12 80/20 observatory build so far. Back in the in November I began looking for a better solution than my Skyshed POD. The POD was fine but could not be automated, lost access to the zenith even with the PZT, only could fit one scope, and keeping the elements out was becoming more difficult. I wanted something that could fit two scopes, allowed unobstructed views of the zenith, and could be moved in the future. I'm particularly interested in setting up an iTelescope type business and have come close to purchasing a couple of dark sky sites (Coronavirus will delay this unfortunately because of workload and travel challenges). I researched and received quotes from Pier Tech, Aphelion (twin 7fts, or single larger), Astrohaven (twin 7fts, or single larger), and even considered going with multiple Nexdomes. Long story short Astrohaven is ridiculously overpriced, Aphelion was more reasonable but was very difficult to communicate with, and Pier Tech had a very long lead time and has become very expensive over-time. With those options, I reached out to 80/20 directly and was put in touch with Dan Fanolla who can only be described as an 80/20 expert. He has now done several observatories and was able to come up with the exact design I was looking for including AC and sensor platform. Dan also installed the unit in my backyard from the pieces which saves a considerable step vs. Pier Tech. I highly recommend Dan he has been fantastic to work with in every step of the process! I don't want to give exact pricing here but the lead time was significantly shorter, the design is better, and the pricing + installation was much better than a smaller pier tech unit before shipping. So far the observatory has held up through several rain storms with zero water egress.
The next steps are getting the piers installed (they arrived today) and getting the motor going. The design was originally setup for the interactive astronomy motor before they switched to Aleko. Dan has done some redesign work here and I hope to get that setup in the next few days as well. I'm definitely going to want to test the Aleko setup extensively before I install it in a remote site.
As always Tolga has been instrumental in helping me figure this stuff out!