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A Backyard Observatory For Under $500?

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24 replies to this topic

#1 Gork

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Posted 15 November 2020 - 01:33 PM

Back in my days as a Quality/Reliability Engineer, we had a motto by which we lived; “Good, cheap, easy……Pick any two”. For this project I chose cheap and easy. I would keep my computer, cameras, and accessories in my den when not in use, and the mount and telescope could stay, semi-permanently situated outside. The search began. Who in the world makes a portable or temporary structure large enough to provide security for a 10” f/4 newtonian riding on a Celestron CGX mount?

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#2 Gork

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Posted 15 November 2020 - 06:08 PM

Thanks, havasman.  We had a saying back in Navy days, "Why were there 102 heroes at the Alamo?  Because there was no backdoor!"  I was kind of in that scenario.  I couldn't seem to find a backdoor until I happened to see a lawnmower in one of those little "sheds".  I figured that even if it didn't work I was only losing a couple of hundred bucks.  Heck, I do that all the time without even trying!


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#3 Jon_Doh

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Posted 17 November 2020 - 10:12 AM

Brilliant!  If my house wasn't located on a big hill I would do something like this.



#4 astro_1

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Posted 18 November 2020 - 01:16 PM

Thanks for sharing. Something to ponder about. 


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#5 jagg3d

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Posted 18 November 2020 - 02:00 PM

"Of course, the instructions that said “Easy Assembly” were relative to the number of friends you can suck into an “easy” job."

 

LOL, isn't that always the case. Thanks for the review, very interesting and something I'll look into as well. Getting sick of setting up and breaking down every time I want to observe/image.



#6 Gork

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Posted 19 November 2020 - 12:36 AM

When I hit 70 it was no longer difficult, it was impossible!  Now I spend at least two nights per week, weather permitting, under the stars.


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#7 Mrcloc

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Posted 19 November 2020 - 03:40 AM

Wonderful project!

 

Unfortunately if I do that where I live, it will be well cleared away when I wake up in the morning. :)



#8 aschmeelk

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Posted 21 November 2020 - 08:17 AM

Patrick, what brand is the shelter you purchased?



#9 psterngold

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Posted 21 November 2020 - 11:26 AM

In software development, we called it the "iron triangle", with the sides marked Cost, Quality/Features and Schedule. The sayiing was, the area of the triangle would remain the same, so pick the two you want prioritized, and the third will shrink/stretch in the unfavorable direction, LOL. You want more features? Great, double the budget or give us more time, and you got it! You want it faster? Ok, then give me more people (money) or reduce the feature set (quality). LOL.

 

Thanks for this article. I don't need a backyard observatory, but I would like to keep my gear stored in the back yard for quick and easy set up. One of these might do the trick, although as Mrcloc said, there is the risk of theft, so I might need a lockable shed after all. :-(

 

Regards,

Paul



#10 mikeykokomo

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Posted 25 November 2020 - 04:05 PM

Congratulations. A great inspiration to those low budget readers, on how to reduce setup from 45 - 90 minutes to 15 minutes. However living in tornado alley, a tent won't suit my regional needs. Your example is however suitable for the vast majority of members on a budget living in a single family home.

I personally use two trash barrels (see image linked) https://www.flickr.c...157717045670117

 

Toward the security concern, a motion sensor triggering a barking dog may discourage most curious or ill-willed intruders. 

 

Thanks for sharing, and clear skies.



#11 Gork

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Posted 25 November 2020 - 05:24 PM

Ashmeelk,  slap me for not getting back to you sooner for your question.  I actually bought it from amazon.com

Pat



#12 condensermike

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Posted 26 November 2020 - 12:00 AM

Nice set up with a very detailed write up! Thanks!



#13 GeoNole94

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Posted 26 November 2020 - 10:18 AM

Thanks, I enjoyed your journey!



#14 Lazaroff

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Posted 28 November 2020 - 08:52 PM

Any concerns about leaving the scope in the shelter during the heat of the day in June?

 

How about the humidity in August--if Tucson gets a real monsoon next year?



#15 Gork

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Posted 29 November 2020 - 05:29 PM

In my past lives I crewed on Navy aircraft, maintained huge telescopes, drove race cars, etc. etc.  all of which sat out in the weather for extended periods.  Temperatures were 30 below to 140 above.  They all worked as expected so I wasn't concerned with the heat, although I did take my computer and cameras indoors when not in use.  I just went through a mild monsoon with no issues but then I'm outside every time you can see a star.  My situation is one of those "no choice" deals.  Given a choice, I'd secure everything from the elements.  I just can't do that now.  I'm 73 and disabled, so it's kind of one way or no way.


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#16 Lazaroff

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Posted 29 November 2020 - 08:43 PM

Thanks for your answer. I'm an Arizona desert-dweller, too, and I've sometimes wondered about storing my home-made eight-inch dob outdoors so I could use it more often. I had little trouble picking it up and moving it around when I was in my twenties, but like everything else it's gotten much heavier over the decades since. (No gravitational constant in my universe.) I've considered a dedicated shed in the back yard, but the issues of heat and humidity have been a concern. That's why I asked. 



#17 Gork

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Posted 29 November 2020 - 08:58 PM

I am 73 and disabled so the CGX and 10" are still a burden because of all the stuff that goes along with them.  I am downsizing to an AVX and either an 80 or 102mm refractor.  That cuts about 75lbs off the rig.  I still don't plan on humping my gear around, but with the lighter stuff I might even go out further in the desert now and then.  A few years ago we moved from Tucson to Benson (40 miles east of Tucson) where I built my permanent observatory.  My wife got ill and needed a kidney transplant so everything went and we moved into an apartment by the hospital.  She's doing pretty well now so we are now on the extreme east side of Tucson.  We are leasing so I needed something not so permanent (see article on CN front page, "An Observatory for under $500".  That's my current rig.

Pat


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#18 Lazaroff

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Posted 30 November 2020 - 11:22 AM

Thanks. I read your interesting article. I wish you and your wife the very best.



#19 bigbinoman

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Posted 30 November 2020 - 09:30 PM

could you add a few closeups of the frame and rollers? It looks like the answer to my prayers as I carry everything in and out plus I have been using make shift light shields made from PVC & tarps. When we get a storm I have to take them down as store them in a shed. I will be making a set up like yours soon.



#20 Gork

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Posted 30 November 2020 - 10:10 PM

I will take some close ups for you tomorrow.  If you decide to go this way you want to go to the factory web site and order from there (get the heavy duty plastic).

Pat



#21 bigbinoman

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Posted 01 December 2020 - 11:14 AM

What brand do you have. It was not mentioned and Amazon only has 1 brand helterlogic. Is that the same brand?



#22 MoonKittyAZ

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Posted 02 December 2020 - 12:28 PM

Patrick, I just started my astrophotography journey in earnest in 2019. I live and work in Gila Bend, AZ, which is also where I do my astrophotography. I'm hoping to hook up with an astronomy group here in AZ at some point. I've been looking but the Google has failed me. Are you aware of any groups here in AZ?

 

Thanks!

 

V/R

Brian Baxter



#23 abormanis

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Posted 02 December 2020 - 12:51 PM

Very nice work, Pat!  Any idea how much wind your shed can handle?  I'm a former Tucsonan who now lives in West LA.  The Santa Ana winds can be intense on my roof deck.

 

Thanks,

Andre



#24 bigbinoman

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Posted 02 December 2020 - 07:37 PM

Patrick, I just started my astrophotography journey in earnest in 2019. I live and work in Gila Bend, AZ, which is also where I do my astrophotography. I'm hoping to hook up with an astronomy group here in AZ at some point. I've been looking but the Google has failed me. Are you aware of any groups here in AZ?

 

Thanks!

 

V/R

Brian Baxter

Try Night Sky network. NASA sponsored page that list many astro clubs.



#25 rbtparrish55

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Posted 02 December 2020 - 07:59 PM

Living in Michigan, not that far away from Lake Michigan, we can experience large amounts of Lake Effect snow. I wonder how well such a setup would fair. Getting older, I too struggle with moving equipment in and out. Not to mention the extra time needed to properly accomplish the same.




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