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Split-Roof 8x8 Observatory Build

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#1 Travellingbears

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Posted 25 June 2020 - 09:45 PM

Since we relocated to our retirement home in Maryland two years ago I‘ve been using portable setup from deck for observing. I’ve been studying my options for best location for permanent pier with eventual goal to enclose and create small observatory. The ‘best’ overall viewing location would have placed pier/observatory (planning for remote operation/imaging duties) at SE corner of property where it was more visible to public (spot in our landscaping adjacent to the public boardwalk and stairwell to boardwalk). On reconsideration I went with second choice which is in protected area of backyard within our fence line and sits in raised position above street level view. Location 2 has less chance of experiencing vandalism and observatory is only 10-ft from back door of the house if I need to check something. Town approval was given and neighbors were happy. My DIY experience started with preparations (dig) for pier back in March and have continued with build of 8x8 observatory (exterior work should be finished shortly). I’ll be at least 30-45 more days getting all the ‘comforts’ in-place but expect to be able to use the observatory by end of July. 

 

The pier hole was 18”x24” @ 42” deep (frost line is 30”) with rebar cage. Had poured 24x 60# bags of concrete and used galvanized J-bolts. Purchased 48” Bisque MX 8” pier and later swapped to 42” Bisque ME 10” pier.

 

Pic below shows site at start of project with delivery of lumber in early April. I had already completed concrete pour in March and attached Bisque pier.

 

Dave

 

Lumber arrived for ROR observatory

 


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#2 Travellingbears

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Posted 25 June 2020 - 09:53 PM

Here’s a shot from Easter where I’m partially completed on base framing. It’s 2x6 perimeter with 2x4 elsewhere. Using 3/4” for floor/deck (glued & screwed). All wood is pressure-treated ground contact rated. 
 
Part of deck installed on ROR Observatory

 


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#3 Travellingbears

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Posted 25 June 2020 - 09:57 PM

Shot from April 14th with deck completed. I’ve swapped from MX to ME pier because my ME II/OAE for observatory has arrived from Bisque.

 

Deck finished around ME Pier
 
My ME II/OAE has arrived!

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#4 Travellingbears

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Posted 25 June 2020 - 10:04 PM

Walls are going up! Pic from end of April. Most walls are 6-ft. South wall was framed lower (4-ft) with plan to have drop-down panel option.

 

Four walls done for ROR observatory

Edited by Travellingbears, 26 June 2020 - 06:07 AM.


#5 Travellingbears

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Posted 25 June 2020 - 10:06 PM

Roof line is split A-frame on sliders. Pic from mid-May showing south segment extended.

 

Rear panel of ROR extended / mid-construction

Edited by Travellingbears, 26 June 2020 - 06:09 AM.


#6 Travellingbears

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Posted 25 June 2020 - 10:10 PM

Snapshot from May 21st looking East showing both roofline segments extended on 500-lb 36” slider sets. Roof segments move N and S respectively. The North clearance is sufficient for 30 degree or higher from pier. From my location I have adjacent house to North which obstructs below 30 degrees but I’ll be fine for unobstructed visual to Polaris from pier. The site location in backyard was carefully selected in combination with pier height/mount and planned height/slope and final opening position of my moving North roof segment (65” A-frame stops about 12” within framing of building) to avoid goofing up my Polaris view. South roof (50” A-frame moves fully out to end of building) and get 25 degrees or higher from pier. The tree line at 400-yards distance to South creates gradual increasing slope from 10 degrees up to 25 degrees anyway. 
 
Split roof observatory open (in-construction)

Edited by Travellingbears, 26 June 2020 - 06:26 AM.


#7 Travellingbears

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Posted 25 June 2020 - 10:13 PM

Roof is base of weatherguard then 30# felt with Onduvilla shingles system.

 

Split roof observatory (in construction)

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#8 Travellingbears

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Posted 25 June 2020 - 10:14 PM

Roof completed. The wider ridge cap is permanently attached to South segment of roof and when closed the wing ‘flap’ of ridge cap is wide enough to extend over the shingles on North segment (so water tight at seam). The side triangular pieces of framing on roof overlap when closed as well.

 

Split Roof observatory (in construction)

Edited by Travellingbears, 26 June 2020 - 06:32 AM.

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#9 Travellingbears

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Posted 25 June 2020 - 10:16 PM

XPS rigid foam insulation going on. I’m putting rigid foam over the pressure-treated walls, and will then wrap with tyvek house wrap and tyvek tape as pre-requisite to doing the 4x8 Hardie panel exterior. The XPS foam insulation will only add minor R-value under siding but has reasonable moisture resistance.

 

I’ve got more XPS rigid foam panels which are planned for inside/underside of roof panels and under floor between joists and then will staple on Reflectix or similar product at surface of 2x4 joists. 

 

Observatory (in construction)

Edited by Travellingbears, 26 June 2020 - 08:04 AM.


#10 Travellingbears

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Posted 25 June 2020 - 10:18 PM

Tyvek over XPS foam and taped. Ready for Hardie panel.

 

Observatory (in construction)


#11 Travellingbears

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Posted 25 June 2020 - 10:19 PM

Hardie panel Sierra 8 with pvc trim. Used copper flashing under the moving roof segments as ‘drip edge’ and extending over top of Hardie panel. Copper was used because of contact with pressure-treated framing.

 

Split-Roof (closed) observatory in construction

Edited by Travellingbears, 26 June 2020 - 06:52 AM.


#12 Travellingbears

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Posted 25 June 2020 - 10:23 PM

Current phase pics taken June 25th. This is probably about 7-10 days from completion of essential exterior work (at my pace). Still need to make 6’ high 30” wide entrance door, finish some Hardie Panel work (triangular side cuts for East roofline) and put on some pvc trim and caulk up some seams.

 

Still need to decide final color scheme vs leaving alone for a while with the ‘primed’ Hardie look. My wife has ‘offered’ her opinion. She’d like to see it painted ‘pearl gray‘ to match Hardie plank on our house. 

 

Dave
 

Split Roof Observatory Open
 
Split Roof Observatory (in construction)

Edited by Travellingbears, 26 June 2020 - 07:03 AM.

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#13 Travellingbears

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Posted 26 June 2020 - 07:42 AM

Was split-roof in my original plans because I like ‘complicated’ designs? No (I don’t seek unnecessary challenges). Already had purchased wheels, v-rails and Aleko motor to use for standard configuration setup. Plan had been been rolling 8x8 shed roof to West.

 

I received guidance (translation: my ‘change order’) from conventional roll-off (8x8 shed with roof onto rails supported by posts). It seems that utilizing extended supported rail/roof structure was considered to double my square footage on the ground and I would be ’encumbered’ with more site/planning review falling under different category (64-200 sq-ft). Having prior experience with Town (and similar procedural snafu issues) I thought of other ways to accomplish my goal. I built to 63 sq-ft without external supports. My wife is also happier that she doesn’t have support posts embedded in her garden/landscaping. 

 

Biggest challenge for me with redesign was working on framing of roofline areas which became integral/permanently attached and then accessing to do shingling. From South side I have no clearance due to fence line and 6-ft drop from our retaining wall to street level (so would have needed 20-ft ladder from ground). I ended up skipping extension ladder (safety harness is necessary for fall prevention) and worked from shorter ladder at exterior West/East sides or from inside on 8-ft ladder to reach. I’m 6’2” with long arms and it was a challenge to reach some areas on roof. If doing conventional one piece 8x8 roll-off, I might have tried out more convenient solution and framed thru completion of shingling while on the ground (full roof was lightweight/under 500-lb) before getting extra help and man-handling/lifting onto rails. Hated working from ladder for those roofing tasks and stretching/reaching over to place shingles.
 

Dave


Edited by Travellingbears, 26 June 2020 - 09:20 AM.

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#14 FerrariMX5

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Posted 26 June 2020 - 10:05 AM

Impressive overall package..

Excited to see the finished product.

The ME II/OAE is a beast.

Thank you for sharing..

 

Tony



#15 Travellingbears

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Posted 26 June 2020 - 11:50 AM

Tony

 

Thanks for the encouragement. I’m 64 and worked by myself in ‘DIY mode’ with occasional second set of hands provided by my wife. So it’s been a P/T project with the finicky Maryland weather and haphazard delivery schedule of materials from Home Depot. When I added the PW14 earlier this winter I thought to ‘upgrade’ from MX+ and ordered ME II/OAE. I think that I’ll be pleased with ME II in observatory.

 

Dave


Edited by Travellingbears, 26 June 2020 - 11:50 AM.


#16 Travellingbears

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Posted 26 June 2020 - 02:42 PM

A functional question arose once option for standard extended support structure for roof (roll-off onto rail-framing support) was crossed-off my build agenda. Only decision left was should split be E-W or N-S?  After analysis the deciding factor was potential impact (reduction) on light pollution from two streetlights in vicinity when roofline was open. Going in N-S would likely block their direct beam to the pier/scope location (so I made that choice). Looking out from pier on a few nights with roof open I’m glad that I made N-S choice. No hassle with blinding street light (blocked by roofline when open). Will be far better situation now than when I had open pier in yard back in April and did quick polar alignment tests with MX+ under direct exposure of these streetlights. Can still see over neighbor’s house to N so expect when mount/scope is in-place will be good for visual to Polaris.
 

Dave


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#17 39.1N84.5W

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Posted 26 June 2020 - 08:04 PM

Nice job!

#18 Travellingbears

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Posted 26 June 2020 - 09:09 PM

Nice job!

Thanks Nick! It’s always a relief when a DIY project reaches ‘substantial completion’ phase.

 

Now I’m starting to review items in the astronomy ‘man cave’ to choose what scopes/camera setups that I’ll move into observatory potentially testing in tandem setups with my PW14 scope. As second project I still have a 48” Bisque MX pier which could serve ‘discretely‘ (no neighbor concerns) as permanent pier for seasonal use for East/South views from a lower deck at border with our front yard’s landscaped area (water view side). Would just need to dig/pour concrete for pier foundation and bolt it up. In ‘astronomy season’ the MX pier would host my MX+ or MyT and protect with Telegizmo 365 cover. I can ‘walk-out’ a 35 lb scope/imaging setup. In ‘off-season’ the mount (and pier) come off and might set decorative lighthouse over pier foundation (it’s the Chesapeake Bay). Pic of some of my ‘mess’ below.

 

Dave

 

Dave’s astronomy mancave

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#19 kathyastro

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Posted 27 June 2020 - 02:43 PM

Did you change your mind about the drop-down south wall?  If not, how does that work with the south half of the sliding roof?



#20 Travellingbears

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Posted 27 June 2020 - 07:03 PM

Kathy
 

When I ended up as split-roof in N-S direction (for relief of light pollution) the drop-down from pier position had potential to give me 5-10 degrees of visible skyline below south roof line position. So I think it was better value in ROR implementation moving in another direction (N, E or W) which might provide more ‘sky view potential’ vs having roof panel extended South. If you look at second photo in my post #12 the extended south side roof creates one heck of a ‘shade awning’ over the south wall/window profile restricting upper angle for scope views from pier beyond a few degrees. I’ve also got increasing slope of treeline from horizon to 15+ degrees in distance to contend with.

 

If I’d been able to implement as 8x8 ROR moving west on rollers/v-track as single roof panel on rails/supports then the South side wall would worked at 4-ft with upper 2-ft panel serving as one attached side panel of roofline. I saw a cool design (British observatory builder) which used this technique for their ‘modular observatory’ builds. I would have done mirror-image to flip low wall to my fence line (south) and had the taller side in yard and 8x8 roof moving west. Design required supporting posts in wife’s garden and Town thought it increased my sq-ft needing revised permit (‘hoops to jump through’ / probably months of delays with review process) though. 

 

I already had low south wall and decided to try creating an ‘insert’ with two smaller 24x24 awning windows and a larger removable center panel. Had to drop framing height from 48 to 42 to accommodate Andersen windows and there’s a 30” wide space in middle (I’ll do removable insert). I might stick my TV85 on tripod out the south ‘viewport’ occasionally since we see Eagles/Osprey in south treeline during day.

 

Photo shows the South wall with windows and center opening. Still finishing casing/framing on inside. About 1” clearance for south side roof. Probably will add some ‘brush’ edging to keep insects out.

 

Dave

 

Observatory windows


Edited by Travellingbears, 28 June 2020 - 09:45 AM.

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#21 Travellingbears

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Posted 29 June 2020 - 08:59 PM

Did the ‘rough‘ install for the Aleko AR950 and rail along East side gable of South A-frame split roof today. Unit was purchased with batteries, controller and solar panels when I was planning to do shed roof 8x8 ROR on rollers/v-rails. Trying out on South side (smaller side) hoping that it’s got adequate torque to pull open from side mounted position. Should have rail track adjusted on Tuesday hopefully and then can try to connect power and cycle to see what happens. I’ll just pull North roof back a bit (to minimize chance of harder impact while testing) and see if I can get soft-stop on South to work with the magnetic sensors. 

 

I’m 6’2” so no issues reaching to push the roof sections open manually which have a ‘low’ cross member between the slider sets for added stability at just above 6’. It’s just the convenience (and piece of mind) that I could close observatory roof by automation (eg add rain sensor which could trigger in middle of imaging run to close roof / I’m not planning on doing ‘all-nighters’ with equipment) that’s pushing me to get the roof motors working while still in construction.

 

Dave

 

Aleko on South Split Roof

Edited by Travellingbears, 30 June 2020 - 06:55 AM.


#22 SonnyE

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 10:14 AM

Looks Great, Dave!

 

I see that when you opened the roof for the pictures, the clouds came to have a look at the opened roof.

 

All that newness is going to get you weather for months.... Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. frown.gif



#23 Travellingbears

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 07:13 PM

Looks Great, Dave!

 

I see that when you opened the roof for the pictures, the clouds came to have a look at the opened roof.

 

All that newness is going to get you weather for months.... Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. frown.gif

SonnyE

 

Being at Chesapeake Bay Maryland shore for past couple of years has made it ‘clear’ (pun intended) that skies are not always favorable to star gazing since I’m in struggle with high humidity, clouds system hovering over the water/shore and higher winds.

 

Back in 2016 we canceled real estate contract on 9.5 acre retirement place in the Shenandoah VA area adjacent to National Forest which would have been suitable ‘darker’ location for observatory. I was not optimistic with ‘astronomical viewing challenges’ when we bought the Maryland shore property (‘happy wife’ & accommodating spouse) back in 2017. In 2020 the completion of backyard observatory (‘happy husband’ & accommodating spouse) satisfies my need for similar ‘reciprocity’. My wife tries to understand my investment and interest in the hobby.

 

Dave


Edited by Travellingbears, 30 June 2020 - 07:14 PM.


#24 FerrariMX5

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Posted 01 July 2020 - 10:02 AM

Dave, 

 

You can make twice as much as me, or 10 times more than me, 1,000 times more than me, a million times more than me, but I am 64 years old, try and live twice as long as me.  That being said, how we spend our time is far more important than how we spend our money .

  Spend both wisely and enjoy our universe, its the ONLY one we have.  

Your time is well spent,

Thank you for sharing.

 

Life is an adventure,

Enjoy life!

 

Tony


Edited by FerrariMX5, 01 July 2020 - 10:10 AM.


#25 Travellingbears

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Posted 01 July 2020 - 06:07 PM

Tony

 

We are both apparently at ripe age of 64! As I complete the observatory construction my only hope is that I’ll benefit with a few enjoyable years under the stars for my efforts. 

 

Dave


Edited by Travellingbears, 01 July 2020 - 06:39 PM.



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