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Split-Roof 8x8 Observatory Build

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#26 FerrariMX5

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Posted 01 July 2020 - 06:45 PM

Dave, 

 

Loving your project so far, 

Makes me want to grab a few tools and head over there to help!

 

 

Tony


Edited by FerrariMX5, 01 July 2020 - 08:40 PM.


#27 Travellingbears

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Posted 01 July 2020 - 07:34 PM

Tony

It’s been miserably hot/humid in MD this week so I’ve slowed down the pace as approach July 4th weekend. Only a few ‘non-critical’ tasks like adding exterior door and completing exterior trim boards and casing trim on windows.

 

I’m tempted within next few days to bring out a smaller mount/scope combo initially to use on the pier and leave mount under Telegizmo 365 cover. Would like to polar-align and do T-point model on MX+. I’m good with carrying 30-35 lb imaging setup in/out while doing punch-list during construction since don’t want to potentially bump scope. Won’t plan to bring out primary mount ME II/OAE or PW14 until everything is complete and pristine. I’m okay with using 25-ft GFCI extension cord to reach pier for power. 

 

Dave

 


Edited by Travellingbears, 02 July 2020 - 05:37 AM.


#28 Travellingbears

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 03:58 PM

I was reviewing my electrical requirements for observatory and had opened a topic for feedback from CN folk. After a few days of good exchange I consolidated requirements which are summarized below from post 36:

 

From feedback that I’ve received from CN folk I’m comfortable assembling requirements for my local electrician. Basically I’ll get 10-3 w/G UF-B pulled from main house panel to observatory and add double-pole 30A into house panel. At observatory I’ll have outdoor rate (NEMA3) sub-panel lug-center style box with two 120V/15A GFCI breakers and one 120V/20A GFCI breaker circuit. I’m planning on also adding surge protection at sub-panel. The GFCI breakers will meet requirements and simplify where can fit standard outlets into single and double gang electrical boxes. All interior observatory electrical runs will be in conduit between boxes.

At pier base I’ll have double gang 4-outlet box from the ‘pier’ 120V/15A GFCI circuit breaker. I’ll have three items normally plugged there: Paramount (120v/48), PowerWerx (120V/12) and my Win10 NUC (120V/19). The PowerWerx does 12V/30A distribution to 8-position fused RigRunner at mount/scope which covers all 12V items (cameras, focuser, Kendrick's dew heater, StarTech powered usb). The NUC runs imaging sessions and I typically use Remote Desktop over WiFi connection from house laptop if connected. Will buy or make a rain-resistant ‘device enclosure‘ for base of pier to sit over the 4-gang outlet and house the PowerWerx, NUC etc. Items in this group would be normally left ‘off’ at breaker between astro sessions for device protection.

A ‘general building’ 120V/20A GFCI breaker circuit to cover normally ‘on’ circuit for the interior lighting, roof motors, exhaust fan(s) and walls outlets. My roof motors can run from 120V or backup 24V battery pack (have solar charger system). This circuit has most ‘dispersed’ wiring requirement within structure. I concluded that I’ll skip any significant hvac system addition so don’t need 220V circuit at site. However if I find that cooling/humidity control (other than planned exhaust fan) I can add floor unit dehumidifier, portable A/C unit and second exhaust fan (or bump to larger CFM). Since the ‘optional’ future 120V portable A/C might draw higher Amps have planned for 20A vs 15A at this circuit.

A ‘secondary imaging’ 120V/15A GFCI breaker circuit which would have a 4-gang outlet for support of portable setup at my ‘workshop corner’ where I’ll have fold-up table. In my 8x8 the pier was positioned (centered) for EQ mount so ‘second scope’ circuit is for convenience to have unencumbered block of working circuit/outlets inside observatory. Normally left ‘off’ at breaker unless in-use. This circuit could also cover portable setups in yard with extension to a box on outside wall. In that case, I’d be connecting via 25-ft extension cord with three outlets.

Dave


Edited by Travellingbears, 09 July 2020 - 04:13 PM.

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#29 FerrariMX5

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 08:17 PM

Time for an update?  



#30 Travellingbears

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Posted 08 August 2020 - 09:13 AM

Since my last report tasks have been focused on electrical plan implementation. The electrical panel was installed and majority of general rough-in tasks within observatory were done two weeks ago. The electrical from house panel to observatory is almost complete. Connection from house panel thru basement and outside in conduit strapped to side of house was already done. Last ‘leg’ to observatory is about 20-ft to trench for conduit from back porch to observatory panel. Circumstances with weather impacted schedule for trench work but electrical will get done before end of this month. Still need to put the circuit for secondary imaging station and outlets on the UF-B wire at pier connection. Some photos below.
 

Dave

 

 

north wall:

Electrical rough-in North wall

 
south wall:
Electrical rough-in South wall
 
pier:
Electrical rough-in for pier

 

 


Edited by Travellingbears, 08 August 2020 - 09:14 AM.


#31 Travellingbears

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Posted 14 August 2020 - 04:53 PM

I’m pleased to report that electrical conduit work got completed this week and the electrical panel in observatory was finally connected thru to main house panel today. I can now utilize the outlets within the observatory which means that when I bring out a mount/scope I’m not going to be needing to use my 25-ft GFCI extension cord.

 

I have about 10-days until I undergo cataract surgery on my left eye (scheduled for 8/26). This time last year I had cataract surgery on the right eye. Hoping that I’ll get thru process quickly again and be back to tinkering outside to complete remaining tasks on the observatory. Need to tidy up, get some trim pieces done and door mounted when I have opportunity. Project is coming along well, and I hope to be enjoying the benefits of this effort shortly.
 

Dave


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#32 FerrariMX5

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Posted 17 August 2020 - 01:39 PM

The heavens will wait, they have a history of waiting..



#33 Travellingbears

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Posted 21 August 2020 - 07:45 PM

The real work began today to commission observatory as I brought the first box (Paramount ME II) out of the astronomy mancave  (basement). The ME II made it safely onto the 42” bisque pier without incident. I spent a few minutes readjusting bolts at base of pier to level (had it off after swap from MX pier) and didn’t think it was in adjustment range with micro-levelers. I’ll get versaplate and electronic box mounted this weekend. I’m probably going to pull up the PW14 as solo scope on the ME II for a while to get that setup tuned up. I’ve still got the MX+ on portable MX pier so will likely try to do some work with my FSQ-106 or another scope there. 

 

Dave

 

Beginning setup of ME II in my observatory

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#34 Travellingbears

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Posted 22 August 2020 - 07:13 PM

Got the versaplate and electronics box attached to the ME II this afternoon. Decided to power it up and homed from hand paddle.  All lights normal at startup on mount and it moved to expected home position. So just need to connect NUC to usb on mount with SkyX and setup preferred infrastructure IP for WiFi. I hope to have opportunity to drag out the PW14 scope either Sunday or Monday. After I go in on Wednesday 8/26 for my outpatient cataract surgery (left eye this year) I expect to take a break for a few days on my observatory tasks.

 

Dave

 

Paramount ME II in new observatory


#35 Travellingbears

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Posted 24 August 2020 - 08:04 PM

Today I got a bit motivated and carried the PW14 out of the man cave and up to the observatory. It’s 50-yds from basement door up the street thru the backyard gate to the observatory. It’s now on the ME II. Still will need to check optics (new scope from Planewave). Will be using Nitecrawler with PW14 (had PW flange made) since I was hesitant to buy their dedicated PW rotating focuser ($4K) when I already had a couple of Nitecrawlers that I was swapping between scopes using different flanges. Photo from our security camera showing me carrying scope into observatory. Had that baby secured around my arms with lifting straps. 
 

Planewave CDK 14” being carried in to new observatory
 
PW14 on ME II shown in Paramount ‘home’ position within observatory. Have designed split-roof height in observatory with pier position so adequate clearance to use this as ‘park’ position if desired. View from doorway in north wall.
 
My wife was available today and assisted getting the PW14 into ME II versaplate and initial balancing. The extra set of hands was beneficial with management of larger scope.  She understands the cost of the equipment and would hate to see it slip and end up on the floor. I married a good one.
 
Dave
 
Planewave 14” on Paramount ME II/OAE in new observatory

 


Edited by Travellingbears, 24 August 2020 - 08:14 PM.

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#36 Travellingbears

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Posted 29 August 2020 - 05:41 PM

Had my cataract surgery on Wednesday 8/26 and after two days I was back in observatory. Yesterday I mounted the EFA and Delta-T modules on Planewave and installed the Nitecrawler. Today I got the observatory security camera (extension of our home wireless system) installed and was working on my cable management. I placed camera where I’ll get direct view of mount/scope position. Of course I’ve got to include a snapshot of myself working.

 

Dave

 

Working on my cable management

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#37 Travellingbears

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Posted 01 October 2020 - 12:23 PM

It’s been about 1-month since my last post on observatory. I’ve finally got the ‘roof open’ last night with plan to start checking out my PW14 with MEII/OAE on pier and using nitecrawler/QSI6162 combo for imaging. I also have QHY600 but have yet to do more than preliminary testing and QHY600 struggles with cooling delta of more than 35C from ambient (so might get to -5C in warmer night). My QSI6162 easily reaches to -20C (50C delta) in current weather so decided to give it first try. I already have my dark libraries (run at -20C) from March 2020 for exposures up to 15-min at BIN1x1.

 

Of course on first night immediately noticed Nitecrawler wasn’t connecting/responding. I recently added EFA and Delta-T modules for support of fan control and monitoring/controlling mirror heaters on PW14. Turned out associated with issue where USB-serial converter device provided with EFA unit for PW14 was apparently using same com port as nitecrawler. I did quick fix with adjusting com port for offending hardware converter device (device manager -port - advanced - changed from com5 to com7) and resolved. Just updated in PWI3 and was good. Not sure why intelligent install didn’t ‘recognize’ another device using com port but then I’d had nitecrawler disconnected from NUC  when I hooked up EFA/Delta-T and configured. I normally operate with NUC in observatory and sit in den with laptop or iPad and rely on home WiFi connection (RDP to nuc). Last night I would notice the connection become ‘unresponsive’ and kept strolling to backyard to view in real-time. Today I was seeing broadcast from Comcast that service interruptions in my area are expected to be resolved by 2:30p today. So likely WiFi/internet was belching. I have wireless keypad/mouse for the nuc but haven’t bought a small monitor for wall of observatory yet. Need to do that ASAP. I kept stopping and pulling nuc to take inside where I could connect to living room tv on hdmi to view and see what had occurred and been stored. Not a very comforting few hours! My wife watched me going in and out the door to backyard grumbling each time. If observatory wasn’t 8x8 (tight fit) I might have pulled the camera off and put the 2” compression fitting on end of nightcrawler and a diagonal and tried a quick look with an eyepiece. Not a perfect start but hoping for clear night on Friday/Saturday.

 

I’m waiting on FedEx this next week to arrive with a couple of powerpole cables with 2.1x5.5 connectors from PowerWerx and larger (8-position) powerpole block. Have a ‘shortage’ and needed to use standard block AC power supply 120V/12VDC to the Delta-T last night. I’ve yet to ‘properly’ affix the StarTech USB and PowerWerx blocks onto the scope accessory dovetail and zip-tie everything neatly. I’ve added usb isolators to critical components (eg paramount MEII usb input on MKS5000) since I’ve had less desirable results (blown MKS5000 on other Paramounts). So a bit of additional housekeeping to tidy cable management will happen within the next week. 

 

Dave

 

pic below of ‘frustrated’ guy last night looking at astro app on iPad

 

Split roof observatory on first night

Edited by Travellingbears, 01 October 2020 - 12:30 PM.

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#38 PeteM

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Posted 03 October 2020 - 08:36 PM

Dave,

 

Just getting up to speed on your build to inspire the next stage of my build after the pier footing completion today. You really have quite the obs and setup going now. Hope you get things figured out with the PW/MEII setup. Hoping to get a PW to mount on my AP1100(whenever that comes and the wife approves)

 

Pete



#39 Travellingbears

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Posted 04 October 2020 - 02:11 PM

Pete

 

My need for observatory was obviously discussed with my wife. She happily agreed since she looked forward to the time in future when she wouldn’t see a scope under a Telegizmo365 cover cluttering up the deck or sitting in living room when we hosted family gatherings at the holidays. Now my wife is getting over the ‘shock’ of seeing the backyard observatory in ‘her landscaping’. For some reason she thought 8x8 would be smaller. Good luck with your build!

 

Get the larger scope when you can. Keep the dimensions/size in mind now while you’re doing roof for clearances. I had been using 48” MX pier (already owned)/MX+ combo with modest size length scopes and had walls up. I don’t park with OTA at horizontal on pier (I use Paramounts ‘home’ position) and went down to 42” ME pier when swapped to MEII/OAE with PW14 because of clearances. The PW pier calc doesn’t account for stuff like needing to shift scope forward in versaplate to deal with weight distribution. I knew that I was going to need to mount versaplate in forward position on ME II due to balance point of PW.  My PW had Moonlite adapter for PW/ Nitecrawler / QSI6162 combo adding 20-lbs to tail end so 14” dovetail was sitting at top of the ME versaplate and versaplate bolted in forward position on axis. By going from 48” MX pier (MX+) to 42” ME pier (ME-II) pier combo I still had 4” clearance on roof when scope was in Paramount’s ‘home’ position (my normal ‘park’) and I wasn’t smacking a side wall or other mischief. My actual floor height was about 10” from grade (where pier bolted about 1” above) so measuring from floor inside observatory 42” ME pier’s top plate sits at 32” above floor. The 48” MX was similar at 38” and I would not have been able to move the PW scope to ‘home’ with roof closed if I had been only had the MX+ mount. Had worked out logistics before ME pier order. I originally had requested shorter than 42 and then increased to 42 (max that would fit). The height of PW14 on ME-II (pier sits at 32” above floor) at top of scope is 84” when at ‘home’ and roof apex is 88. 

 

Dave


Edited by Travellingbears, 04 October 2020 - 03:08 PM.



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