Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

Making a Pier Plate out of a Brake Rotor for CEM60

mount observatory DIY
  • Please log in to reply
16 replies to this topic

#1 krockelein

krockelein

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 71
  • Joined: 12 Jan 2017
  • Loc: Duluth, Georgia

Posted 29 June 2020 - 12:06 PM

When I decided to build a concrete pier, I really didn't want to spend $360 to get a pre-made pier plate to hold my CEM60, so I set my sights on building my own out of a brake rotor.  After spending hours searching the interwebs for details on how to do this, I finally pieced together everything I thought I needed and set about actually building it.  The plate is now finished, just waiting for my back to recover so that I can pour the concrete!

 

I want to put all the details as to parts, sizes, dimensions, etc. here in one place to save some future person the frustration of trying to hunt down each individual detail from different places.  Maybe this will be just what you need, maybe not, but if you are planning on undertaking a project like this, I hope this helps you.

 

Parts:

 

  • Brake Rotor- there are a myriad of different sizes, but this one is good for an 8" pier. 
  • Aluminum Plate-1/2" thick, two 6"x6" (glad for the backup even though I didn't need it)
  • 4 1/2" GALVANIZED anchor bolts with 2 washers and 2 nuts each
  • 3 M8-1.25 X 20mm socket cap screws 
  • 1 M8-1.25 X (it doesn't really matter, it just has to get through the 1/2" plate, and there's nothing underneath it)  Be aware you will have to grind the knurls off of this so that it fits as the center post.
  • 2 anchor posts-no idea on this one.  I am reusing the ones that came with the mount, but they are essentially two M8-1.25 shafts.  Not sure how long, I didn't think to measure them.

 

 

Tools:

  • Circular saw-although this beggared my imagination, a regular saw blade on a circular saw cuts through 1/2" aluminum plate easier than it does through some woods!
  • Electric drill
  • Titanium bits (or cobalt)-don't think you can just get one in the size you need.  You'll need to start small and then work you way up to the final sized hole in at least 3 steps.
  • M8-1.25 tap and bit set
  • Cutting oil-don't forget this one
  • Assorted hand tools (clamps, vise, files, allen wrenches, coffee, beer, whiskey, etc.)

bolts and tools.jpg

 

Procedure:  (Can't hide my Science teacher roots!)

No mysteries here, and figuring out the how is a big part of the fun, at least for me.  The only holes that have to be drilled exactly are the two anchor post holes.  I used the top plate from the current pier as a template.  I drilled and tapped out the hole for the center post, put the current plate it and marked out the two anchor post holes. 

 

Just be sure that when you are drilling the holes for the 4 anchor L-bolts to make them far enough away from the inner wall that you can spin a nut onto the bolt.  Don't ask why I'm point this out to you, just trust me on this one...

 

Top view.jpg

Bottom view.jpg

 

Credit to OldManSky, TomK, and Whuppy for either their posts or their personal input or both.

These CN posts also have good information for you:

https://www.cloudyni...60 pier plate

https://www.cloudyni...pter-for-cem60/

https://www.cloudyni...n-avx-2-tripod/

 

 

 

 

 


  • Tom K, Phillip Easton, kathyastro and 3 others like this

#2 Phillip Easton

Phillip Easton

    Messenger

  • *****
  • Posts: 428
  • Joined: 24 Dec 2010
  • Loc: DFW

Posted 13 August 2020 - 10:22 PM

Thinking of building a pier for my CEM60 so interested in seeing this mounted and in action!


  • krockelein likes this

#3 DSOGabe

DSOGabe

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 602
  • Joined: 02 Aug 2019
  • Loc: El Paso, TX

Posted 14 August 2020 - 12:53 PM

Wow! Thanks for the info. I'm getting ready to make a pier for my CEM60 and have been thinking about the plates as well. I was thinking of getting quotes from local metal working businesses, but this sounds pretty straight forward. Just out of curiosity, what was the rotor made of? I read somewhere the aluminum and stainless steel have a negative chemical reaction similar to aluminum and concrete.


  • krockelein likes this

#4 OldManSky

OldManSky

    Skylab

  • *****
  • Posts: 4,418
  • Joined: 03 Jan 2019
  • Loc: Valley Center, CA USA

Posted 17 August 2020 - 02:10 PM

My similar setup has been in use for about 7 months now.

It's very solid, and after an initial careful drift polar alignment, I haven't had PA issues since (PHD2 reports about 0.2' PA error still, and has since day 1).

Attached Thumbnails

  • obscontrolbox.jpg

Edited by OldManSky, 17 August 2020 - 02:11 PM.

  • krockelein likes this

#5 Tom K

Tom K

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 927
  • Joined: 19 Jan 2010
  • Loc: Escondido, CA

Posted 17 August 2020 - 08:26 PM

They should pin this post!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  • krockelein and OldManSky like this

#6 krockelein

krockelein

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 71
  • Joined: 12 Jan 2017
  • Loc: Duluth, Georgia

Posted 20 September 2020 - 12:58 PM

Wow! Thanks for the info. I'm getting ready to make a pier for my CEM60 and have been thinking about the plates as well. I was thinking of getting quotes from local metal working businesses, but this sounds pretty straight forward. Just out of curiosity, what was the rotor made of? I read somewhere the aluminum and stainless steel have a negative chemical reaction similar to aluminum and concrete.

Hey, sorry for the delay.  Between being back teaching with all of its additional challenges this year and still building the observatory, I haven't had much time!  The rotor is steel, as far as I know, and I have also heard of the chemical reactions.  The anchor bolts are the only part that are actually in contact with the concrete, and they are galvanized so they are protected from it.  I did paint the rotor/aluminum plate combo because the rotor rusts easily.  I don't know of any reactions between aluminum and steel.



#7 krockelein

krockelein

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 71
  • Joined: 12 Jan 2017
  • Loc: Duluth, Georgia

Posted 20 September 2020 - 12:59 PM

They should pin this post!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Dude, I am humbled!!  Don't even know what else to say...



#8 krockelein

krockelein

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 71
  • Joined: 12 Jan 2017
  • Loc: Duluth, Georgia

Posted 20 September 2020 - 01:06 PM

Thinking of building a pier for my CEM60 so interested in seeing this mounted and in action!

 

My similar setup has been in use for about 7 months now.

It's very solid, and after an initial careful drift polar alignment, I haven't had PA issues since (PHD2 reports about 0.2' PA error still, and has since day 1).

Paul, if yours is doing this well, then mine should perform similarly, since it was modeled on yours.  I think you have already told us what you have in the box, right?  Probably in your thread about building your observatory?



#9 sparks

sparks

    Sputnik

  • *****
  • Posts: 45
  • Joined: 24 Jan 2006
  • Loc: Virginia

Posted 21 September 2020 - 10:48 PM

Thanks for posting. I am planning to install two piers at my dark sky site (https://groups.io/g/CMOR).

 

I had decided to use the EZ Tube system for the pier (https://www.ez-crete...oducts/ez-tube/) but they've been out of stock since COVID arrived so I'll be pouring it and this looks like a great way to finish it off. They will be standalone so the next item I need to suss out is an easy way to make a rigid cover when it's not in use. If they only made 5' high Tardis... (https://www.walmart.com/ip/Doctor-Who-TARDIS-Waste-Basket-with-LED-Lights-Sound/51660189

 

Cheers,

 

Bob


  • krockelein likes this

#10 krockelein

krockelein

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 71
  • Joined: 12 Jan 2017
  • Loc: Duluth, Georgia

Posted 22 September 2020 - 08:44 PM

Bob, I only used a 4ft sonotube 8" for the part coming out of the ground.  No tube is necessary in the ground, and from what I learned it's even better to fill a rough hole as the uneven sides help the cement resist moving even more.  I did the pour in two parts:  first was the hole that my son and I augered out with a 12" bit (probably more like 14" by the time it was dug out) and about 4' deep.  I made a mold at the top so that the cement would form a square about 6" taller than the mouth of the hole.  It took about 12 60lb bags of cement to fill it to the top of the surface mold.  The rebar is continuous from almost the bottom to just below the anchor bolts of the mount adapter plate.  I let this first pour set a little over 24 hours and then set up the sonotube on top of the surface mold with some lengths of 2x4 to hold it as close to vertical as I could get it and filled it with about 6 more 60lb bags of cement and put the adapter plate in.  It still hasn't held my mount, but it looks like it'll be just fine.

 

Mold For 1st stage pour
End Of 1st pour
A look At surface slab with mold removed

 

 

As to the rigid cover, there's always the ones made by Dan's Pier Plates, or take a gander at Dan K's creation about 1/4 of the way through this post:  https://www.cloudyni...pter-for-cem60/

 

The T.A.R.D.I.S. would be an awesome model for a rigid cover!  I, for one, think you should definitely do it!!!


Edited by krockelein, 22 September 2020 - 09:00 PM.


#11 sparks

sparks

    Sputnik

  • *****
  • Posts: 45
  • Joined: 24 Jan 2006
  • Loc: Virginia

Posted 22 September 2020 - 09:26 PM

Thanks for the tip on Tom K's flip top cover for his pier. I like the idea but I don't think that exposed wood would hold up to the rain/snow of WV. However if I build a round table mounted directly onto the pier I could use a heavy duty 55 gallon trash can as a cover that would clamp to the table. 


Edited by sparks, 22 September 2020 - 09:30 PM.

  • Tom K and krockelein like this

#12 Tom K

Tom K

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 927
  • Joined: 19 Jan 2010
  • Loc: Escondido, CA

Posted 23 September 2020 - 10:37 PM

Thanks for the tip on Tom K's flip top cover for his pier. I like the idea but I don't think that exposed wood would hold up to the rain/snow of WV. However if I build a round table mounted directly onto the pier I could use a heavy duty 55 gallon trash can as a cover that would clamp to the table. 

That is for sure - we get at best about 9 inches of rain a year here in San Diego County and never any snow, so the choices of building materials is pretty forgiving.  In an earlier iteration of my tilt off enclosure I used very thin plywood and then laid up fiberglass fabric/resin over the exposed wood.  That worked for several years but the sun ate it up.



#13 sparks

sparks

    Sputnik

  • *****
  • Posts: 45
  • Joined: 24 Jan 2006
  • Loc: Virginia

Posted 23 September 2020 - 11:38 PM

Tom K,

 

I have been focussed on finding a way to cover/secure the entire pier and all my ideas were cumbersome. By just covering the mount things will get a lot easier. I am concerned about keeping the diameter of the (table) small enough that it doesn't interfere with the refractor while in use.

 

My location is unattended most of the time so I want to make it as secure as possible while also making it look as mundane as possible. How much more mundane can you get than a trash can. Anything I build can be broken into but I'm not sure how appealing a Losmandy G11 (after they rip off the trashcan) will be to a would be vandal/thief. I guess we'll see.

 

I haven't had any problems in a dozen years with the travel trailers and storage sheds, so I'm not terribly worried. I want to get these built before the freeze, so I'll need to start mocking up something soon.

 

Cheers,

 

Bob


  • Tom K and krockelein like this

#14 krockelein

krockelein

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 71
  • Joined: 12 Jan 2017
  • Loc: Duluth, Georgia

Posted 17 October 2020 - 12:27 PM

Bob, how is your mount cover coming along?  My observatory is pretty much finished, just some final details to do.  



#15 sparks

sparks

    Sputnik

  • *****
  • Posts: 45
  • Joined: 24 Jan 2006
  • Loc: Virginia

Posted 18 October 2020 - 09:28 PM

No progress. I’ve been trying to get a metal building installed. Found a manufacturer but can’t find a contractor to install the foundation. It’s been pretty frustrating. The prefab piers are still out of stock too. I’ll wait until spring and hope things get better.

Edited by sparks, 18 October 2020 - 09:29 PM.


#16 krockelein

krockelein

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 71
  • Joined: 12 Jan 2017
  • Loc: Duluth, Georgia

Posted 20 October 2020 - 02:42 PM

Delays suck!  Especially when you've gotten through the decision process and are ready to get it done!  On the bright side,with  our hobby we can always be sure that the targets will still be there in the future, regardless of how long a delay might last!


Edited by krockelein, 20 October 2020 - 02:43 PM.


#17 onesillyhatch

onesillyhatch

    Sputnik

  • *****
  • Posts: 34
  • Joined: 04 Feb 2015
  • Loc: NY

Posted 30 October 2020 - 10:40 AM

ok so here is my new challenge.. portable cheap tripier.  So create a pier mount and a portable light setup that is cheaper than the $600 tripier.  I was thinking scope rings around a pier extension.  Top one slides bottom one stays in place.  Thoughts or ideas on this.. this is to add to this post and use the above idea to make it portable not hijack the thread.  I may end up with a new thread but this got me thinking.




CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics





Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: mount, observatory, DIY



Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics