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Pointers regarding ROR construction

observatory
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#1 Scott123

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Posted 04 October 2020 - 01:29 PM

I finally finished the slab last weekend. I won't be able to build the observatory itself until Spring, which is good - it give me time to plan it properly. I have a book by John Stephen Hicks called "Building a Roll-Off Roof or Dome Observatory" which has been helpful.

 

The observatory will have a 10x14 foot footprint. The actual observatory will be 10x10, with a 4 foot warm room on the north side.

 

Some questions:

 

  • How do you prevent the wooden rails from warping? They'll be painted or varnished, but are there better ways?
     
  • I've heard that using fewer, but larger, rollers is better than more but smaller ones.  (I'm going to use v shaped metal rollers running on gate track.)
     
  • I'll insulate the warm room, should I insulate the observatory section?

 

Thank you for your help.

 

Scott

 

Here's a photo of the slab.

20200927_091417-3.jpg



#2 Garyth64

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Posted 04 October 2020 - 01:45 PM

Scott, that looks like a great start.

 

Will 4' be large enough for a warm room?  It just seems a bit to small to me.  Could you get by with 6'?

 

How far is the pier from the end?


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#3 Phil Sherman

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Posted 04 October 2020 - 01:55 PM

I finally finished the slab last weekend. I won't be able to build the observatory itself until Spring, which is good - it give me time to plan it properly. I have a book by John Stephen Hicks called "Building a Roll-Off Roof or Dome Observatory" which has been helpful.

 

The observatory will have a 10x14 foot footprint. The actual observatory will be 10x10, with a 4 foot warm room on the north side.

 

Some questions:

 

  • How do you prevent the wooden rails from warping? They'll be painted or varnished, but are there better ways?
     
  • I've heard that using fewer, but larger, rollers is better than more but smaller ones.  (I'm going to use v shaped metal rollers running on gate track.)
     
  • I'll insulate the warm room, should I insulate the observatory section?

 

Thank you for your help.

 

Scott

 

Here's a photo of the slab.

attachicon.gif20200927_091417-3.jpg

Wood rails - the simplest solution is to use manufactured lumber beams. These consist of multiple layers of thin (ie 0.5") wood glued together. The grain patterns are usually arranged to prevent warping. You'll still have to seal the surfaces. A well designed cross braced structure will also help prevent warping.

 

Track wheels - you need enough wheels to carry the weight of the roof plus any expected snow load. ALEKO VTRACK will provide the lowest friction.

 

Insulation - definitely insulate the warm room. You can insulate the roof but it may be better to use one of the new high reflectance paints on the outside instead. If I were insulating walls, I'd only do the South wall. Insulation is a double edged sword. It prevents heat gain but also retards heat loss.

 

V rails for the roof wheels have one potential issue. If your walls warp a fraction of an inch, it can effect easy operation of the roof. One solution to this is to use a V rail on one side of the roof and a flat plate on the other. 


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#4 Scott123

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Posted 04 October 2020 - 07:56 PM

Scott, that looks like a great start.

 

Will 4' be large enough for a warm room?  It just seems a bit to small to me.  Could you get by with 6'?

 

How far is the pier from the end?

Unfortunately, I was constrained when I set up the footprint for the observatory. I had to center the pier within the ten by ten foot box. (Five feet in each direction.) And I couldn't extend the warm room back any further. So, it has to be four feet. A bit claustrophobic, I know. It actually is bigger than the cubical at a job I had earlier in my life. smile.gif


Edited by Scott123, 04 October 2020 - 07:57 PM.

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#5 Scott123

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Posted 04 October 2020 - 08:19 PM

Wood rails - the simplest solution is to use manufactured lumber beams. These consist of multiple layers of thin (ie 0.5") wood glued together. The grain patterns are usually arranged to prevent warping. You'll still have to seal the surfaces. A well designed cross braced structure will also help prevent warping.

 

Track wheels - you need enough wheels to carry the weight of the roof plus any expected snow load. ALEKO VTRACK will provide the lowest friction.

 

Insulation - definitely insulate the warm room. You can insulate the roof but it may be better to use one of the new high reflectance paints on the outside instead. If I were insulating walls, I'd only do the South wall. Insulation is a double edged sword. It prevents heat gain but also retards heat loss.

 

V rails for the roof wheels have one potential issue. If your walls warp a fraction of an inch, it can effect easy operation of the roof. One solution to this is to use a V rail on one side of the roof and a flat plate on the other. 

Excellent information! I'll have to call a local lumberyard and look into pricing on the manufactured lumber beams. (Early to do that, but I want to a rough idea on cost.)

 

Roof insulation - I saw a product called Double Bubble Foil Insulation, has anyone used that?

 

That is a good point about only running the V rails on one side, it will eliminate a lot of worries.

 

Scott



#6 *skyguy*

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Posted 04 October 2020 - 09:33 PM

I built my garage roof-top ROR observatory 20 years ago.  For the track, I used 2"x2" steel square tubing with a wall thickness of 1/8" (.125") and 1"x1" angle iron with a wall thickness of 1/8" (.125"). The angle iron was inverted and spot welded to the square tubing. The framework was constructed using the angle iron.

 

The materials were cheap and the welding was done by a friend. Any shop or garage that does welding could easily and inexpensively duplicate this track design. Over the years, I've never had any trouble with the steel track binding or warping.

 

OrbitJet Observatory

https://www.flickr.c...57644177074161/

 

Observatory Track.jpg

 

Obsevatory_wheel_and_turnbuckle.jpg


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#7 Garyth64

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Posted 05 October 2020 - 07:40 AM

Here's a friend of mine ROR Observatory:

 

https://www.cloudyni...rs-observatory/

 

I like how the roof rolled off over the warm room.


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#8 Dick Jacobson

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Posted 05 October 2020 - 10:58 AM

I knew that my beams, made from pressure treated lumber, were likely to warp, so I loosely attached the track (inverted 1.5" stainless steel angle) using screws on either side. If the beams warp, I can easily remove the screws, straighten the track, and drive the screws into new holes.



#9 Scott123

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Posted 05 October 2020 - 11:58 AM

I knew that my beams, made from pressure treated lumber, were likely to warp, so I loosely attached the track (inverted 1.5" stainless steel angle) using screws on either side. If the beams warp, I can easily remove the screws, straighten the track, and drive the screws into new holes.

I was going to mill out the screw holes on the track into slots, which would allow for adjustment, but would be a lot of work. Your method is much easier!
 



#10 Scott123

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Posted 05 October 2020 - 02:38 PM

To save some room in the warm room, the exterior and interior doors will swing out, not in. This will save me the floor space they would sweep out.



#11 HunterofPhotons

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Posted 05 October 2020 - 02:45 PM

To save some room in the warm room, the exterior and interior doors will swing out, not in. This will save me the floor space they would sweep out.

 

How?

You have to leave room to walk into the observatory.  The interior side of door openings are always dead space.  It's not like you can park a potted plant there.

 

dan k.


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#12 Scott123

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Posted 05 October 2020 - 05:43 PM

Good point, Dan! I am not sure what I was thinking. If the room was much smaller I could justify an outward swing. But not here.



#13 Garyth64

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Posted 05 October 2020 - 06:57 PM

Just for fun, I thought, what if this was mine?    And I might do something like this.

 

Keep the doors in line, so there's no dead space.  Use both side of the warm room for storage. A place for shelving, and maybe a place for coats and shoes.  Maybe a place for a desk for controlling the scope, or etc.  many choices.

As said, you don't want the door going into the observatory.  And the outside door could either open into the room, or to the outside.

 

ROR Plan.jpg

 

I wish I had an observatory to plan out and build.


Edited by Garyth64, 05 October 2020 - 06:59 PM.

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#14 Scott123

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Posted 06 October 2020 - 07:28 AM

Just for fun, I thought, what if this was mine?    And I might do something like this.

 

Keep the doors in line, so there's no dead space.  Use both side of the warm room for storage. A place for shelving, and maybe a place for coats and shoes.  Maybe a place for a desk for controlling the scope, or etc.  many choices.

As said, you don't want the door going into the observatory.  And the outside door could either open into the room, or to the outside.

 

attachicon.gifROR Plan.jpg

 

I wish I had an observatory to plan out and build.

I like that layout for the doors!

 

Are you located where you could build one, some day? I'm hoping I'll be able to build, come Spring. It will all depend on finances, etc.

 

Scott


Edited by Scott123, 06 October 2020 - 07:30 AM.


#15 Garyth64

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Posted 06 October 2020 - 07:32 AM

I like that layout for the doors!

 

Are you located where you could build one, some day? I'm hoping I'll be able to build, come Spring. It will all depend on finances, etc.

 

Scott

No  frown.gif  I live in the suburbs  south of Detroit.  And I am just about surrounded with tall trees.  I can set up a scope in different places around the house depending on what's up.

 

My wife and I did have plans to move out to SW Colorado, but those plans have been fading.


Edited by Garyth64, 06 October 2020 - 09:07 AM.

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#16 BlakeMC

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Posted 06 October 2020 - 08:33 AM

https://www.cloudyni...y/#entry8032563

 

This system uses the Aleko track and is going on 4 years.  I've had zero issues with warping so far.  As described, the rails are built up using 2x4 and a strip of plywood.  Covered in all weather paint.

 

I opted for the v-track on both rails.  This does help with ice and snow that may sit on the rails.  To help with minor warping the casters are mounted with a slight bit of lateral play so they do have some room to follow the track.


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#17 Scott123

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Posted 06 October 2020 - 12:18 PM

https://www.cloudyni...y/#entry8032563

 

This system uses the Aleko track and is going on 4 years.  I've had zero issues with warping so far.  As described, the rails are built up using 2x4 and a strip of plywood.  Covered in all weather paint.

What size plywood did you use for the rails?

 

Thank you,

 

Scott



#18 BlakeMC

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Posted 06 October 2020 - 12:44 PM

What size plywood did you use for the rails?

 

Thank you,

 

Scott

1/2 inch.  The rails end up being 3 1/2 inches wide.  I have them sitting on 4x4 posts, which are about 3 1/4, so the rails are just slightly wider than the posts.


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#19 Scott123

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Posted 07 October 2020 - 01:02 PM

To those of you with warm rooms in cold regions, how do you heat them?



#20 HunterofPhotons

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Posted 07 October 2020 - 03:59 PM

I use a 220V baseboard unit with a wall mounted control.  My warm room is small and a two foot unit does the job.

The walls and ceiling are well insulated.

 

dan k.


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#21 t-ara-fan

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Posted 08 October 2020 - 09:21 PM

To those of you with warm rooms in cold regions, how do you heat them?

I am off grid. So I have a pair of 30lb propane tanks, and a Martin wall heater from Costco.

 

If I had utility power that would be much more convenient.  But I trade that for dark skies.

 

Obviously the heat is off when I am not there. So my concrete floor is covered in interlocking rubber tiles for insulation. If the slab was at -20° it would take a week to get warm.


Edited by t-ara-fan, 08 October 2020 - 09:22 PM.

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#22 Scott123

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Posted 09 October 2020 - 07:50 AM

I am off grid. So I have a pair of 30lb propane tanks, and a Martin wall heater from Costco.

 

If I had utility power that would be much more convenient.  But I trade that for dark skies.

 

Obviously the heat is off when I am not there. So my concrete floor is covered in interlocking rubber tiles for insulation. If the slab was at -20° it would take a week to get warm.

I'll probably use this kind of setup. It's about one hundred forty feet/forty-two meters to my house, so I probably won't hook up AC, at least at first. Having had a case of CO poisoning in my youth, I am wary of unvented heaters. This looks like the best solution.

 

I am going to lay down rubber tiles, easier on my feet, and might save a piece of expensive gear from breaking if I drop it.



#23 ismosi

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Posted 16 October 2020 - 06:57 PM

For the rails, I replaced the 2 PT 2x6's that warped with 3 2x6's; glued them and screwed them together. So far no issues. I looked into glulam but found it hard to source in the dimensions I wanted.


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#24 speedster

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Posted 17 October 2020 - 02:09 PM

Howdy Scott!

 

Beautiful site.  A swinging door between scope and warm room is a big problem either way you swing it so, don't swing it.  A pocket door eliminates the swing and can be weatherstripped with brush seals on the jambs.  Or, a barn door set up with a door sliding on a surface mounted rail.  Or, a pair of pocket doors or barn doors so the warm room can be opened to the scope room when the weather is acceptable (may 1/2 the year for you?).  When we hear "walls", we naturally think wood, plywood, sheet rock, hard, permanent.  Doesn't have to be that way.  Quilted fabric with perimeter velcro so it can be opened when weather permits?  Or, a glass wall to avoid the lonely claustrophobia?  Lot's of options.


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#25 Scott123

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Posted 17 October 2020 - 07:27 PM

I hadn't considered a pocket door, that would be a good solution!

 

LOL, a glass wall might be a bit much. I actually have a salvaged doublehung window I could use, it could be opened to allow some air circulation.

 

Scott




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