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West Texas Observatory (WTO)

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#1 syxbach

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Posted 04 April 2021 - 09:32 AM

Hi folks

 

Finally, our remote observatory is built, by Scott and Bob from BYO, together with my local contractors.  I do not know which name I should give it. West Texas Observatory (WTO)? Lol. Please give some advice.lol.gif

 

Just let everyone know that Scott and his team finished two observatories in West Texas in the past 2 weeks, and now they are heading to Arizona for their next project. He said he probably still has ~15 projects on their list. Therefore this is quite a busy year for them. Please be patient when you contact them. Make sure you really want to build one in the near future so that they can put you on their list.

 

The other thing I want to mention is the price will be increased because of the shortage of lumber during the Covid time. My observatory is 15.6 by 15.6. The lumber should be ~2.3 k but the real price for the materials is 4.5 k. For those on the list and who want to build this year, please get prepared for more investment. Basically, we eat up the price change mostly after we negotiated with Scott. This is not their fault.  Scott and Bob are really nice guys! They finished our observatory in 5 days.   

 

The slab and 4 concrete piers cost us around 6 k. This observatory is Model CJE Max 15'6" x 15'6", which is around 14 k (after price change). The total is around 20 k, shared by four people. 

 

Yuexiao  


Edited by syxbach, 05 April 2021 - 09:08 AM.

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#2 syxbach

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Posted 04 April 2021 - 09:38 AM

Project started from the slab and concrete piers. Because I have built one pier in my backyard, I contacted those guys.  Really appreciate their help.

 

https://www.cloudyni...ot-do-any-work/

 

Each pier has an at least 4 ft depth underground. 

 

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#3 syxbach

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Posted 04 April 2021 - 09:57 AM

Now everything is ready for concrete. Originally they planned to order fiber-reinforced concrete. I do not know that because I am not familiar with these stuff. I checked online but still ask them to add rebars. At the end of the day, we still get normal concrete. We ordered cubic 10 yard concrete (~1.5 k). 

 

The workers did not fully understand my design that piers and slab should be completely separately with each other. Because they needed to finish the job in one day, we finally decided to do the following steps

 

Pour the concrete into those 4 big holes (3 ft depth) until the concrete reached the bottom of the sonotubes. Then fill the sonotubes with concrete. Add 6 inch dirt to cover the top of the four holes so that the piers will have a 6-inch buffer layer with the slab. Finally, 6 inch slab was finished.  Therefore, the concrete piers will not be affected by the main building. 

 

The final look of the slab is really nice. I think this is much stronger and sturdy than the deck

 

I did not design the conduit correctly. I have to redo it later.frown.gif  

 

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#4 syxbach

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Posted 04 April 2021 - 10:01 AM

After another 2~3 weeks, the concrete should cure mostly. Then BYO team arrived. They started the job immediately. Very efficient!

 

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#5 syxbach

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Posted 04 April 2021 - 10:12 AM

After 5-day building, the observatory was finished. We went there yesterday. Very satisfied. I brought my mount to see if I can see the Polaris. Just there, not blocked by the wall, I guess. My wife came with me to see the project. Glad I did not pay the full price and I shared the cost with my team. Otherwise, she won't be happy. After marriage, you need to report everything financially, you knowgrin.gif

 

Scott and Bob just left after they cleaned up the site and heading to the next project. Thank them a lot for this. Now we can do remote imaging. I am a little tired of travelling back and forth.

 

The Next task is to do the wire, power cable from the main ranch house, paint outside the building, and add the Skyroof system to the roof motor. I hope the observatory can be fully functionally in this summer. 

 

Yuexiao

 

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#6 xgu

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Posted 04 April 2021 - 02:03 PM

WTO sounds great! Congratulations to your new toy! I am so green with envy.

#7 MJB87

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Posted 04 April 2021 - 02:25 PM

Nice sky you got there!



#8 kcl31

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Posted 04 April 2021 - 02:54 PM

That’s really nice!! Great job!

#9 MHamburg

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Posted 05 April 2021 - 08:30 AM

Best of luck with your new facility!

 

Michael



#10 Ron (Lubbock)

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Posted 05 April 2021 - 12:11 PM

Thanks so much for sharing the results!  I wish I was still living in Lubbock so I could come visit your site.  It looks awesome.  Is it Bortle 2 there, or more like Bortle 1?  I guess it doesn't matter much when it's that dark.  Also, you can get your rig out of that ferocious West Texas wind now.  Wind was always a huge problem when I traveled to dark sites in your area.

 

Here is one suggestion that might help you.  Bees and wasps love to build nests in sheds and domes that are not closely watched.  You should seal up every little crack so they can't get in, and also store some insecticide at the site in case you get a hornet infestation during the summer or fall.


Edited by Ron (Lubbock), 05 April 2021 - 12:11 PM.


#11 syxbach

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Posted 05 April 2021 - 01:45 PM

Thank you Ron for the good suggestion. We will work on that later.

 

The place is close to class 1. I would say between 1 and 2. I cannot see the difference, too darkgrin.gif

 

Yuexiao

 

 

 

Thanks so much for sharing the results!  I wish I was still living in Lubbock so I could come visit your site.  It looks awesome.  Is it Bortle 2 there, or more like Bortle 1?  I guess it doesn't matter much when it's that dark.  Also, you can get your rig out of that ferocious West Texas wind now.  Wind was always a huge problem when I traveled to dark sites in your area.

 

Here is one suggestion that might help you.  Bees and wasps love to build nests in sheds and domes that are not closely watched.  You should seal up every little crack so they can't get in, and also store some insecticide at the site in case you get a hornet infestation during the summer or fall.


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#12 sheakev

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Posted 05 April 2021 - 01:54 PM

The slab and the layout of your piers looks great.  Just a few quick questions:

 

  • I note you have 4 piers, how far apart are they from each other and the wall?
  • Was your slab 15.5 X 15.5?
  • How high (tall) are the piers from the floor?
  • Was that a 24" auger on the bobcat for the holes?
  • Did you dig it out further to make the holes diameter larger?
  • What diameter are the piers (sonotubes)?
  • How high are your walls?
  • Finally, are the posts that support the opened roof resting on concrete piers or just on the ground?

Sorry for all the questions but it appears that this was a well designed and carefully thought out project.  All in all I can see why you are happy with this  I look forward to updates on how you automate the roof and the rest of your WTO

 

Kevin

 

 

Pour the concrete into those 4 big holes (3 ft depth) until the concrete reached the bottom of the sonotubes. Then fill the sonotubes with concrete. Add 6 inch dirt to cover the top of the four holes so that the piers will have a 6-inch buffer layer with the slab. Finally, 6 inch slab was finished.  Therefore, the concrete piers will not be affected by the main building. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



#13 syxbach

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Posted 05 April 2021 - 04:44 PM

Kevin

 

Here are some details that you are interested in:

 

  • I note you have 4 piers, how far apart are they from each other and the wall?

~60 inches, I evenly distributed my piers within the square

  • Was your slab 15.5 X 15.5?

15 ft 5 inch by 15 ft 5 inch. Scott asked me to reduce 1 inch (15 ft 6 inch is their design). If you can make your slab very accurate, 15 ft 6 inch is no problem)

  • How high (tall) are the piers from the floor?

~40 inch (with Dan's pier plates). This is the most difficult part for my design. First, we want to make clearance for our scopes. What ever telescope position is, we can close our roof. Or when you park towards the Polaris, the roof can be closed without being blocked. The wall is 7 ft. Our longest scope is TOA130/CFF135/TEC140, I made some calculations. From this point of view, the pier height should be as low as possible. On the other hand, if they are too low, the northern piers will not see the Polaris when you do polar alignment. Although I can do with drift alignment,  I want my mount's Polemaster on one of the northern piers to be accessible to the Polaris. If the piers are too low, the southern objects will be blocked for the southern piers. From this point of view, piers should be as high as possible. This is a dilemma. I need to bring my scope back to do further tests.

  • Was that a 24" auger on the bobcat for the holes?

The auger should have a diameter of 3 ft, I guess. 

  • Did you dig it out further to make the holes diameter larger?

I did not make the diameter larger. Just deeper. What I heard is to make the bottom concrete 1 cubic meter. A pillar of 3 ft in diameter should be close to that dimension. 

  • What diameter are the piers (sonotubes)?

10 inches. You can make 12 inches, which I think is better. My home pier is 12 inches.

  • How high are your walls?

7 ft

  • Finally, are the posts that support the opened roof resting on concrete piers or just on the ground?

They have concrete below the ground. 

 

Yuexiao

 

 

The slab and the layout of your piers looks great.  Just a few quick questions:

 

  • I note you have 4 piers, how far apart are they from each other and the wall?
  • Was your slab 15.5 X 15.5?
  • How high (tall) are the piers from the floor?
  • Was that a 24" auger on the bobcat for the holes?
  • Did you dig it out further to make the holes diameter larger?
  • What diameter are the piers (sonotubes)?
  • How high are your walls?
  • Finally, are the posts that support the opened roof resting on concrete piers or just on the ground?

Sorry for all the questions but it appears that this was a well designed and carefully thought out project.  All in all I can see why you are happy with this  I look forward to updates on how you automate the roof and the rest of your WTO

 

Kevin


Edited by syxbach, 05 April 2021 - 04:46 PM.

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#14 syxbach

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Posted 17 May 2021 - 09:12 PM

Some updates about our observatory. My friend and I painted the wood, installed the Skyroof and Skyalert system, buried the power and internet cables to the observatory during the last weekend.


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#15 syxbach

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Posted 17 May 2021 - 09:16 PM

For painting, I chose PPG because my wife works there. I have to support her businesslol.gif . Originally Scott from BYO recommend Sherwin-Williams, but was denied right away by my wife. 

 

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Edited by syxbach, 17 May 2021 - 09:54 PM.

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#16 syxbach

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Posted 17 May 2021 - 09:22 PM

One of the ranch owners, Steve, also the previous SPAC club president, rent a trencher. It is the first time for me to use this kind of tool. 

 

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Edited by syxbach, 17 May 2021 - 09:35 PM.

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#17 syxbach

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Posted 17 May 2021 - 09:26 PM

Then it was the pipe work. We delivered the power cables from the junction box to 4 different buildings which needed electricity. I feel I can be a plumber now.

 

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Edited by syxbach, 17 May 2021 - 09:55 PM.

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#18 syxbach

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Posted 17 May 2021 - 09:27 PM

The internet line was very long, directly from the main ranch house, ~300 ft.

 

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Edited by syxbach, 17 May 2021 - 09:43 PM.

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#19 syxbach

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Posted 17 May 2021 - 09:32 PM

Putting the dirt back and ground tamping were really exhaustinglol.gif

 

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Edited by syxbach, 17 May 2021 - 09:44 PM.

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#20 syxbach

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Posted 17 May 2021 - 09:40 PM

My friend Wei was responsible for the controlling system and internet remote access.

 

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#21 syxbach

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Posted 17 May 2021 - 09:47 PM

This weekend was full of labor work, which saved a lot of money for us compared to hiring people to do that. Now we have internet in our WTO and upgrade to 50 Mbps upload speed. Hope after additional work, we can operate remotely soon. 


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#22 kcl31

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Posted 17 May 2021 - 10:02 PM

Very nice!! I envy you Dr Shengrin.gif



#23 Tangent

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Posted 17 May 2021 - 10:20 PM

I would have never thought to isolate the piers from the slab.  I'm guessing this is to keep the effects of wind hitting the building from being coupled to the piers?



#24 syxbach

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Posted 18 May 2021 - 10:10 AM

The building may shake and vibrate, either due to people walking around or hit by a gust. Therefore, we want the piers to be totally independent of the main building. 

 

Yuexiao

I would have never thought to isolate the piers from the slab.  I'm guessing this is to keep the effects of wind hitting the building from being coupled to the piers?


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#25 jwheel

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Posted 19 May 2021 - 07:53 AM

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