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Concrete pier vs cinder block pier

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#1 nikulsuthar

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Posted 21 October 2020 - 07:51 PM

Hello All,

Many thanks for taking out time to read my this post. I need suggestions on the material of a permanent pier for night long Astrophotography of long exposures. I want to make a permanent pier without a dome or a shed observatory in my backyard. I believe that a 24" tall 10" diameter concrete pier with a 2 feet deep concrete footing will be very sturdy and stable. But that is not flexible to remove or move or alter its height. Alternatively steel pipe pier can be expensive and wood pier is out of question as it will be in Phoenix Arizona summer heat. So I found some posts about successfully making a pier from 8"x8"x16" cinder blocks with a deep concrete footing. I like that idea as it can be easily removed and remake short or tall depending on the need in future. I'm having some engineering background and it tells me that if made properly then it should be quite stable. But before I make a decision on a concrete or a cinder block pier, I want to check with experts here what you guys think. Did anyone had such a kind of pier and how stable it has been. For smaller payloads like the AVX mount and a 6" reflectorit will definitely be fine. Right now I have EQ6-R Pro with Explore Scientific 127 ED Triplet refractor which also should be fine on it. But will it be fine on a longer focal length of C11 or C9.25 with a heavier mount like CGX-L? Please let me know what you think...

Thanks

#2 AstroPotamus

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Posted 21 October 2020 - 08:03 PM

Curious as well, since I'm planning something similar with similar equipment bit in Upstate NY.
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#3 DuncanM

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Posted 21 October 2020 - 08:09 PM

Hello All,

Many thanks for taking out time to read my this post. I need suggestions on the material of a permanent pier for night long Astrophotography of long exposures. I want to make a permanent pier without a dome or a shed observatory in my backyard. I believe that a 24" tall 10" diameter concrete pier with a 2 feet deep concrete footing will be very sturdy and stable. But that is not flexible to remove or move or alter its height. Alternatively steel pipe pier can be expensive and wood pier is out of question as it will be in Phoenix Arizona summer heat. So I found some posts about successfully making a pier from 8"x8"x16" cinder blocks with a deep concrete footing. I like that idea as it can be easily removed and remake short or tall depending on the need in future. I'm having some engineering background and it tells me that if made properly then it should be quite stable. But before I make a decision on a concrete or a cinder block pier, I want to check with experts here what you guys think. Did anyone had such a kind of pier and how stable it has been. For smaller payloads like the AVX mount and a 6" reflectorit will definitely be fine. Right now I have EQ6-R Pro with Explore Scientific 127 ED Triplet refractor which also should be fine on it. But will it be fine on a longer focal length of C11 or C9.25 with a heavier mount like CGX-L? Please let me know what you think...

Thanks

 

You can make a metal pier quite cheaply with raw material from https://www.industri...Phoenix-Metal#1 . You just need the right length of pipe. a top and bottom plate, and have the three pieces drilled and welded, as needed. You could pour a 6-8in thick slab and simply bolt the pier down. However, there are very few suitable mounts that can function well without wind protection.


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#4 gatsbyiv

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Posted 21 October 2020 - 08:19 PM

The cinderblock pier design is often called a "Todmorden" pier after one of the first sites in the UK to use it.  Google that term for plenty of examples to see what kind of scopes people are putting on them.  I have a similar-sized setup to yours on mine, but I can't vouch for something like a C11.


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#5 *skyguy*

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Posted 21 October 2020 - 08:21 PM

Twenty years ago I built a 13' pier using 16"x16"x8" chimney blocks for my ROR garage top observatory.  The pier was not filled with concrete (left hollow) and was built by myself and a friend and it cost about $75 dollars for the materials. It has a 12" LX200 mounted on top, which is used almost exclusively for astrophotography. I've never had any problems with vibrations ... the pier is rock solid.  

 

OrbitJet Observatory:

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

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#6 nikulsuthar

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Posted 21 October 2020 - 10:45 PM

You can make a metal pier quite cheaply with raw material from https://www.industri...Phoenix-Metal#1 . You just need the right length of pipe. a top and bottom plate, and have the three pieces drilled and welded, as needed. You could pour a 6-8in thick slab and simply bolt the pier down. However, there are very few suitable mounts that can function well without wind protection.

Many thanks for this link. I did not knew about it. But again I'll have to find extra metal sheets cut to shape for anti-vibration fins 6 or 8 count and get them welded to the pier. The problem is that for such a small job I'm having a hard time to find that do for me even I'm ready to pay for it. For example just to drill 6 holes to 2012 Chevy Malibu rear disc brake rotor as in this image DiscBrakeRotorMountBase.jpg I had to call several machine shops in the town from which only one gave reply to me. This disc brake rotor will serve as the base for my EQ6-R Pro mount. So finding a welding shop to do such small welding job is a challenge. But your information has removed my misconception that a steel pier can be expensive. Also to put a steel pier I'll have to do only a concrete footing and not the entire concrete pier. So your suggestion goes against making a concrete pier. I appreciate your response... :)



#7 nikulsuthar

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Posted 21 October 2020 - 10:50 PM

The cinderblock pier design is often called a "Todmorden" pier after one of the first sites in the UK to use it.  Google that term for plenty of examples to see what kind of scopes people are putting on them.  I have a similar-sized setup to yours on mine, but I can't vouch for something like a C11.

Yes. I doubt putting a CGX-L and C11 with three counterweights on vertically double stacked cinder blocks. But C11 is the max I'll go. Preferably I'll stick to a 9.25" on Losmandy G11. Also you're right on the Todmorden pier design as I also found similar search results. I just may first try with cinder block pier and if it doesn't work out then I may revert back to a concrete pier...



#8 nikulsuthar

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Posted 21 October 2020 - 10:52 PM

Twenty years ago I built a 13' pier using 16"x16"x8" chimney blocks for my ROR garage top observatory.  The pier was not filled with concrete (left hollow) and was built by myself and a friend and it cost about $75 dollars for the materials. It has a 12" LX200 mounted on top, which is used almost exclusively for astrophotography. I've never had any problems with vibrations ... the pier is rock solid.  

 

OrbitJet Observatory:

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

Yes Sir... Yours is the first post I ever found several years ago who made a pier from chimney or cinder blocks. I really liked your idea which is why I'm researching to go with a cinder block pier right now... I do not have a liberty to modify my garage roof like yours otherwise I would definitely have gone your way... like-button.jpg smile.gif



#9 StarmanDan

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Posted 21 October 2020 - 11:32 PM

Here is my first cinder block pier. It is approximately 6' tall and holds an 8" LX200. Solid as a rock.  Hollow on the inside.  No vibrations detected in a low power eyepiece when hitting the pier with my hand.  I now plan to build a taller one for a second story observatory.  

 

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#10 DuncanM

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Posted 22 October 2020 - 12:56 PM

Many thanks for this link. I did not knew about it. But again I'll have to find extra metal sheets cut to shape for anti-vibration fins 6 or 8 count and get them welded to the pier. The problem is that for such a small job I'm having a hard time to find that do for me even I'm ready to pay for it. For example just to drill 6 holes to 2012 Chevy Malibu rear disc brake rotor as in this image attachicon.gifDiscBrakeRotorMountBase.jpg I had to call several machine shops in the town from which only one gave reply to me. This disc brake rotor will serve as the base for my EQ6-R Pro mount. So finding a welding shop to do such small welding job is a challenge. But your information has removed my misconception that a steel pier can be expensive. Also to put a steel pier I'll have to do only a concrete footing and not the entire concrete pier. So your suggestion goes against making a concrete pier. I appreciate your response... smile.gif

No problem. I have  two steel piers fabricated out of 6in well drill casings, (carrying a CEM60 and CEM120 and 10in SCTs) and I didn't bother with additional fins and both piers are very rigid. Industrial Metal Supply can do some fabrication and cutting onsite.  I am certain that they will have all you need in stock. 

 

Again, the real issue is wind. If you pour a pad, you can add a fence around it to act as a windbreak, but without wind protection, the mount becomes the issue, regardless of how rigid the pier is.


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#11 nikulsuthar

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Posted 22 October 2020 - 02:53 PM

No problem. I have  two steel piers fabricated out of 6in well drill casings, (carrying a CEM60 and CEM120 and 10in SCTs) and I didn't bother with additional fins and both piers are very rigid. Industrial Metal Supply can do some fabrication and cutting onsite.  I am certain that they will have all you need in stock. 

 

Again, the real issue is wind. If you pour a pad, you can add a fence around it to act as a windbreak, but without wind protection, the mount becomes the issue, regardless of how rigid the pier is.

Your information definitely helps. If it is a one stop shop to get all the things done then it makes work easier and better.

Also your concern about the wind is correct. I wish I could put a garden shed or a done observatory but the HOA won't let me do it as half of it will show up above the community wall. But I've mine and my neighbor's single level house at a distance of 20 feet in East, South-East, West and South-West directions. So the only two directions from where it can be gusty wind are North, North-East, North-West and South. Typically the winds come from West and South-West directions. Also I would avoid imaging if winds are more than 15 mph speed. Also I'll get the higher payload capacity mount like the CGX-L and EQ8-R Pro for lesser mount flexure.



#12 nikulsuthar

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Posted 23 October 2020 - 01:32 AM

Here is my first cinder block pier. It is approximately 6' tall and holds an 8" LX200. Solid as a rock.  Hollow on the inside.  No vibrations detected in a low power eyepiece when hitting the pier with my hand.  I now plan to build a taller one for a second story observatory.  

I like your setup very much. It has good width, more mass, can be altered to different heights and can be removed whenever needed. It really suits your fork mount short body SCT. By I'll not be going for fork mount. I'll stay with an equatorial mount as I can swap optical tubes over it. I've a long 127mm refractor which can bump in the pier and therefore have constraints over it... But I really liked your design. I wish I could go with your design...



#13 PETER DREW

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Posted 23 October 2020 - 03:53 AM

As the originator of the "Todmorden" pier here in the UK I have several of them.  The largest is 4' square, hollow x 20' tall and carries a Massive Ealing-Beck equatorial fitted with a 16" SCT that also has a SW 6"ED refractor piggybacked on it.  I also have another 16" SCT on a short pier version.  A 8.5" F12 refractor, equatorially mounted, sits on a 6' tall version.  These piers are cheap and quick to build.   



#14 jfgout

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Posted 23 October 2020 - 11:13 AM

Yes. I doubt putting a CGX-L and C11 with three counterweights on vertically double stacked cinder blocks. But C11 is the max I'll go. Preferably I'll stick to a 9.25" on Losmandy G11. Also you're right on the Todmorden pier design as I also found similar search results. I just may first try with cinder block pier and if it doesn't work out then I may revert back to a concrete pier...

I have a CGX/C11 on such a pier and am very happy with the performance. See: https://www.cloudyni...se-observatory/

 

Note that the top wood adapter plate has been replaced by replaced by a metal part.

My design is low profile because of limitations on shed dimensions (wanted to build the shed in my garage, so it had to clear the garage door while rolling out + did not want to build something too tall for better odds against strong winds). Without this constraint I would have added one or two cinder blocks to get the telescope higher.

 

Building was extremely easy. The two most difficult parts for me where:

 

1) get the bottom block with its concrete anchors in position before the concrete footing sets. If I were to do it again, I would simply screw the concrete anchors on both sides to prevent any motion while I'm jamming then into the wet concrete.

 

2) Drill in the blocks with enough precision to have a good alignment (and get the lag screws/bolts to go through). Using a wood template and being patient helps.

 

I do see a bit of vibrations if I hit the ground with my feet next to the footing, but that's not really an issue. A bigger/better footing could probably solve this (non) issue.

Overall, I'm extremely happy with my decision to build this Todmorden pier!

 

jf



#15 dayglow

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Posted 24 October 2020 - 12:09 PM

A removable wind screen can be part of your design. 

 

This variant uses 1 inch vertical pipes and 1 inch crossbars to create a frame from which tarps are used for walls.  For schedule 40 pipes, inside diameter for 1-1/4  is just a little bit larger than the outside diameter of 1 inch so the pipes slip together nicely, sort of a 'telescopic' fit.

 

One sturdy way to make it is to sink 4 vertical pieces of 1-1/4 inch Schedule 40 galvanized steel pipe (6 to 12 inch long) into the ground within deeper cement footers which can be dug with post-hole shovel. Make sure these pipes are vertical as the cement cures.

Insert the 1 inch vertical pipes attach crossbars between them using galvanized pipe fittings and finally lash on tarps for form the walls.


The fittings simply screw into place and are easily assembled and disassembled.  Examples are seen in this web-site and such parts are widely available.

https://www.globalin...p-pipe-fittings

Depending on how much wind you need to deal with and how high the screen is to be, you may use either steel or PVC pipe for the wind screen framing. Even if using PVC pipe, I recommend the galvanized fittings rather than press-fit PVC types because these are easier to get apart when its time to take it all down.

-- David F.




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