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Portable Observing Tents Ideas.

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#1 vsteblina

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Posted 07 May 2020 - 10:42 AM

Years ago, I bought a Kendrick tent for $100 from the company.  The owner warned me that the tent poles would likely break and I would have to replace them and that is why he was selling the new tents at some cheap prices.

 

With the pandemic I spent a month and half at my vacation rental (county closed it during the pandemic).  I set up the Kendrick tent for the first time a decade after buying it!!!

 

Here is what I learned. 

 

The tent size is 8X14.  Perfect for imaging.  The telescope section is 8X8 and the warm room is 6X8.  Use of the tent as "storage" for everything was as important as the warm room for imaging.

 

Kendrick was right about the tent poles.  The tent was setup on a mountain meadow and really not subject to winds much over 20 miles per hour. All three support poles broke over time.  What Kendrick didn't mention, were mice living in the meadow.  They started chewing on the ground cloth and one mouse managed to chew through the ground cloth and the Kendrick floor!!!  Didn't expect that.

 

The tent size of 8 feet by 14 feet and 6 feet high is a "sail".  Lots of surface area for the wind to blow.

 

I was impressed with the Kendrick tent.  The wind issue gives me pause.

 

So ideas that I came up with include:

 

A small dome tent for the telescope.  Really you only need the telescope covered when it is not being used.  I am thinking about cutting a slit out the floor of a small dome tent and then simply lifting it up and over the telescope when using it.

 

A second larger dome tent for the warm room.  This is for storage as well as use as a warm room.  Dome tent "shed" wind better than other designs, except maybe for "tunnels".

 

The Kendrick tent has a separate fly which was unwieldly.  Really you only need a single wall tent for astronomy for the telescope.  For the warm room, it would probably be helpful to have a "mini" fly with netting on warm nights.  Not that we have warm nights in the mountains, but in other locales it would be helpful.  The single wall would reduce weight and cost and the general "problems" with rain flies.

 

I have some other ideas, but this is enough to get the discussion started.

 

It is, unfortunate, that Kendrick no longer makes observatory tents.  I really do think that with some design changes the concept is workable that prices could be cheap enough to have amateur's buy the tents. 

 

Given my experience with the Kendrick tent I would buy another one, particularly a tent that is quick to set up and take down.

 

 

 

 


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#2 pkrallis

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Posted 07 May 2020 - 11:08 AM

Check out Ice Fishing tents.


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#3 Jeff L

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Posted 07 May 2020 - 11:16 AM

Or hunting blinds


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#4 SarverSkyGuy

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Posted 07 May 2020 - 11:21 AM

This might be larger than what you were thinking but, depending on your setup....

 

size is 80" x 32" x 67" high



#5 SarverSkyGuy

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Posted 07 May 2020 - 11:22 AM

the pic:

Attached Thumbnails

  • TidyTent.jpg

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#6 S.Boerner

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Posted 07 May 2020 - 11:42 AM

Check Amazon for "pop up shower"  They are typically 4'x4'x78"  and collapse into a 2' diameter ring.  They stake into the ground at the corners.  You could use one to cover your scope when not in use.    Cheaper than a tent too.

A small dome tent for the telescope.  Really you only need the telescope covered when it is not being used. 


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#7 jcj380

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Posted 08 May 2020 - 08:04 AM

Somebody posted a link on CN awhile back to their blog about adapting a Walmart 3 or 4-person tent.  He slit the mesh in the roof and added a zipper or a couple of zippers to make a roll down observing window.  I think his cost  was under $50.

 

I've considered doing the same thing, but maybe cutting out the center of the floor so I could pick the tent up from the inside and rotate it if the "window" needs to be oriented in a different direction.

 

I guess the limiting factor would be the height, but I usually sit while observing and my mount is not set up very high.



#8 Peterson Engineering

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Posted 08 May 2020 - 10:06 AM

Pop up shower.  Wow!  What an interesting solution to a semi-permanent "outhouse type" lift-off or push-back observatory.  Love it.



#9 csa/montana

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Posted 08 May 2020 - 10:59 AM

Here's one that is for astronomy.


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#10 CCD-Freak

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Posted 08 May 2020 - 05:53 PM

Something like this???  This is my 8x12x6H SkyBox which has an 8x8 area for the scope and a 4x8 area for me and the computer.  I can also put a roof on it when rain looks likely and a divider tarp to enclose the computer area.

 

SB-8x12-01-sm.jpg

 

SkyBoxes at Okie-Tex-2.JPG

 

John Love

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Edited by CCD-Freak, 08 May 2020 - 07:55 PM.

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#11 vsteblina

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Posted 08 May 2020 - 06:37 PM

I did look into hunting blinds. I hunt and was looking for a blind that would double for waterfowl hunting and astronomy.  Most hunting blinds are very poorly made.  I don't think they would work well for astronomy or hunting!!!  However, I did find a "chair blind" that works great for hunting and wildlife photography.  Not even close in design for astronomy, but a great blind!!

 

Pop-Up shower. I looked closely at those for of all things a pop-up shower!!  Passed on it for that use.  They are tall which once again raises the wind issue.

 

Tidy Tent.....looks interesting. Cheap and one review said it worked in a high wind area....I am skeptical given the dimensions, but has anybody seen one in real life??  For $50 your not out much money if it doesn't work.

 

Does anybody have links to useable ice fishing tents?


Edited by vsteblina, 08 May 2020 - 07:24 PM.


#12 vsteblina

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Posted 08 May 2020 - 06:45 PM

Here's one that is for astronomy.

That looks real interesting. 

 

I have a couple of issues with the velcro rain fly attachment.  But it might work better than I think.  The previous model appears to have been 10 foot in diameter.  The current model is 8 foot.  That actually makes it a better tent. I don't think you would sleep in it, but 8X8 is the exact diameter of the observing side of the Kendrick tent. 

 

Close, it might work.

 

Here is a video link to somebody putting it up.  You can fast forward through the part of putting the tent poles through the sleeves of the tent.

 

https://www.youtube....h?v=10Cs6DIvd4s

 

In my case, I would set up it next to my RV and use the RV as the warm room.  I would pile all the equipment into the sides of the tent!!!  For $300 bucks it might be worth a shot.  

 

Does anybody have a current model?  The reviews were not kind on the previous mode. PS...two doors in plenty, four doors is a waste of money.  No netting, but that is not an issue.  Bugs don't like telescopes anyway.  The reviewer suggests sleeping in the tent with the telescope, but there is no way that I would want to sleep with my telescope, just not sexy enough.


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#13 vsteblina

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Posted 08 May 2020 - 06:49 PM

Something like this???  This is my 8x12x6H SkyBox which has an 8x8 area for the scope and a 4x8 area for me and the computer.  I can also put a roof on it when rain looks likely.

 

attachicon.gifSB-8x12-01-sm.jpg

 

attachicon.gifSkyBoxes at Okie-Tex-2.JPG

 

John Love

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Ok, tell me more.

 

Price??  Time to assembly??  Staking on rocky ground??  Time to break down?? 

 

I don't have bugs, but how is that gap between floor and sidewall in the rain??  

 

It is a nice looking unit.  What are the materials??

 

Do you have a video showing assembly??


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#14 CCD-Freak

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Posted 08 May 2020 - 07:35 PM

Ok, tell me more.

 

Price??  Time to assembly??  Staking on rocky ground??  Time to break down?? 

 

I don't have bugs, but how is that gap between floor and sidewall in the rain??  

 

It is a nice looking unit.  What are the materials??

 

Do you have a video showing assembly??

OK....I built the first SkyBox back in 2008 after a couple very windy years at Okie-Tex.  My buddy Wes and I started working to figure out a solution for our "wind woes" and the SkyBox was the solution.  Every time I have one set up someone comes by and says "Cool !!! can you make me one???" 

 

Price....There are lots of sizes and options but the original 8x8x6H runs $395 including shipping in the conUS. and the local purchase of some EMT conduit locally since shipping those would be crazy expensive due to the lengths involved.

 

Assembly time is about 30 minutes working by myself and it goes faster with a  helper.  Disassembly is about the same.

 

The small gaps around the bottom don't have much impact when it rains and mine has been through a couple crazy downpours.  I just don't put anything next to the gaps if rain is likely.  I put an RV patio mat down as a floor and they allow any water to pass through so there are no puddles like with a tarp.

 

SkyBoxes come with custom made tie downs with tensioners that use 12" HD military stakes which will work in most types of soils.  Unless you are setting up on solid rock you should be fine.  I have imaged during winds up to 35 MPH when every one else had given up and gone to bed.

 

I haven't made a video yet (I need to) but I have a Power Point file that shows assembly.

 

John Love

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6x10x6H with enclosed computer area at Okie-Tex

 

6x10x6H SkyBox.JPG   


Edited by CCD-Freak, 08 May 2020 - 07:40 PM.

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#15 barrett_flansburg

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Posted 09 May 2020 - 10:51 AM

I have two Eskimo ice fishing shelters: the Quickfish 3I and the Quickfish 5I. The number is the size in number of people it accommodates, the I is for “insulated”, which I recommend. They are black on the inside and don’t leak any light out when the doors and windows are closed. I made two modifications to mine: Velcro screens for the windows and a black drape for the door that doesn’t require zipping and unzipping every time you enter or leave. The 3I has enough room for two people in chairs plus a small table for the monitor and keyboard. The 5I has enough room for a queen size inflatable bed for when you want to sleep. Highly recommended. They are sold directly or through outdoor stores. 

https://www.geteskimo.com/shelters



#16 astrohamp

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Posted 09 May 2020 - 09:50 PM

I went looking for a dark shed for me to use at star parties.  Found a forum on hunting blinds and added my idea (post #20).

 

The Vivosun is darn light proof as I am inside with a 32" 4k monitor blazing away in 4-color.  The many iterations come in huge sizes if need be and I have thought of getting a 10''x10 or so and cut open the top and bottom, then making my own rain cover which would let me put the scope inside.

 

It is self supported and easy to move and place until tied down.  Screens and fans keep bugs at bay during the summer season (on me) and I'm working on an indirect gas fired space heater for the cold nights because it will condense moister inside from respiration and hot cocoa if not vented.



#17 vsteblina

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Posted 11 May 2020 - 04:45 PM

I am impressed. I was hoping for one or two solutions and got four or more!!! Thanks. I really like the ice fishing shelter, but I winter in Arizona these days. Still impressed, and considering it. I am impressed with the Vivosun as a warm room. I could use it as a "winter" greenhouse, etc. etc. Is it fairly "stout" with wind, etc. etc.???

#18 Cotts

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Posted 12 May 2020 - 10:09 AM

Count my vote for the Sky Box system.  Hi, John!!

 

I have two, a 10'x10' by 7' and a 7'x7'x6'.    As a wind and stray light shelter for observing or imaging it is perfect.... 

 

It is not a tent in the camping sense.  Although with the roof  and a couple of minor tarp additions (where the two tarps meet there is a vertical gap which would admit rain)  and the use of a cot you could sleep in one in any weather... 

 

There is no reason one couldn't be left in the field for months - the limiting factor would be the eventual deterioration of the tarp by UV and weather...

 

As for tying it down in rocky terrain,  get a few of these and, insttead of sand, put a couple of 10-pound barbell weights in them. 

 

Dave 


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#19 CCD-Freak

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Posted 12 May 2020 - 10:43 AM

Hi Dave

 

Look familiar?   Your 10x10x7H and Ed's 8x8x6H at TSP 2016  (^8

 

Ed at TSP 2016.jpg

 

John Love

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Edited by CCD-Freak, 12 May 2020 - 10:44 AM.

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#20 vsteblina

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Posted 12 May 2020 - 12:28 PM

Count my vote for the Sky Box system.  Hi, John!!

 

I have two, a 10'x10' by 7' and a 7'x7'x6'.    As a wind and stray light shelter for observing or imaging it is perfect.... 

 

So John, how much for a 8X8X5 and also a 6X8X5??  Including the roof.

 

That gap between the floor and side still bothers me.  But for my vacation cabin site I was thinking about building a floor for the tent to set on.  I think I can use the floor to seal the gap.



#21 CCD-Freak

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Posted 12 May 2020 - 01:51 PM

So John, how much for a 8X8X5 and also a 6X8X5??  Including the roof.

 

That gap between the floor and side still bothers me.  But for my vacation cabin site I was thinking about building a floor for the tent to set on.  I think I can use the floor to seal the gap.

I sent you a private message.

 

 

John

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#22 astrohamp

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Posted 16 May 2020 - 06:57 PM

  My 4'x4' 'shed' survived two separate micro-burst storms at the same star party last year.  First one uprooted a canopy up field which sent it hurtling at (up and over) and colliding with the Vivosun leaving a mark, with no other effect.   I was so busy during the second one holding on to other gear during the blow I can only say it survived.  Six guy lines staked to ground held in place.

Others there suffered badly with broken dobs, collapsed dome, tents down the field and major leakage for some fabric shelters.

 

With out ventilation humidity will condense inside due to delta T changes.  Seam sealing is good and flat roofs will pond water.


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#23 Sarkikos

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Posted 28 May 2020 - 07:28 AM

One possible disadvantage I see to these observing tents or blinds is that they would limit your observing horizons.   How low can you go when you observe from these things?

 

Mike



#24 CCD-Freak

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Posted 28 May 2020 - 08:18 AM

One possible disadvantage I see to these observing tents or blinds is that they would limit your observing horizons.   How low can you go when you observe from these things?

 

Mike

It depends on how tall your scope is.  With my equipment it is typically about 20° above the horizon,  I rarely image that low anyway since the seeing suffers.  If I want to image a comet or something near the horizon I temporarily roll down one side and remove the cross-bar to get a clear view. 

 

Problem solved... grin.gif

 

John

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Edited by CCD-Freak, 28 May 2020 - 08:32 AM.

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#25 jcj380

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Posted 29 May 2020 - 06:55 AM

I have my mount on a Manfrotto tripod with an elevator column.  I don't observe super low to the horizon, but if I need to, I can crank up the height of the scope and rotate the diagonal to horizontal.

 

But that doesn't necessarily work for all scope / mount types.


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