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

SHipping containers for observatories

  • Please log in to reply
41 replies to this topic

#1 DENISANNA

DENISANNA

    Explorer 1

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 68
  • Joined: 05 Oct 2019
  • Loc: Campbellton, New Brunswick Canada

Posted 20 June 2021 - 09:21 PM

Hi everyone,

I've recently purchased a (only used once) 20' shipping container. Added two patio doors, one inside to separate telescope room from control room and one patio door at the entrance (behind the steel doors. My plan is to build a torsion style roll off door operated by a garage door opener and controlled within. Most of my ideas took in consideration the ventilation, insolation and electrical requirements needed to operate a total EA system.

I would like chatting with some of yous who have taken or are considering this similar approach to share knowledge on what I believe is a strong, weather resistant, somewhat mobile building. One of the biggest plus of this type of observatory is that you can place it remotely where you would not have to be concerned with anyone accessing your precious gear. The locking system is almost thief proof where the only access inside would be to grind out a hole on the side. My experience with these types of individuals is that most commit these crimes as opportunities, any effort deters' perpetrators as the equipment does not sell without being noticed.

Once my pier base is set in place, all I will have to do is cut a circular hole in the floor to access the pier and drop the container dead on the pier and raise off the ground and level. Vibrations will not affect my viewing as the only connection to pier and container will be a rubber weather/pest resistant shield. I can post pictures upon request but only for those interested in this topic.     


  • okiestarman56 and jcj380 like this

#2 Dynan

Dynan

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 6,082
  • Joined: 11 Mar 2018
  • Loc: NOLA

Posted 20 June 2021 - 09:51 PM

One of the biggest plus of this type of observatory is that you can place it remotely where you would not have to be concerned with anyone accessing your precious gear.

Unless they figure it's protecting something valuable, and they roll it up on a float and drive off with it. bigshock.gif

 

My Daddy told me, "Son, locks only keep honest people honest."

 

Insure the heck out of it and enjoy your life...and the great Canadian skies! CS!



#3 555aaa

555aaa

    Vendor (Xerxes Scientific)

  • *****
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 2,215
  • Joined: 09 Aug 2016
  • Loc: Ellensburg, WA, USA

Posted 22 June 2021 - 08:48 AM

I had someone query me about a similar concept for a remote observatory which could be deployed from a 20 or 40 foot container.

#4 DENISANNA

DENISANNA

    Explorer 1

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 68
  • Joined: 05 Oct 2019
  • Loc: Campbellton, New Brunswick Canada

Posted 22 June 2021 - 09:11 AM

I believe it’s all about the roll off roof and pier that will make this observatory a good choice



#5 t-ara-fan

t-ara-fan

    Vanguard

  • -----
  • Posts: 2,062
  • Joined: 20 Sep 2017
  • Loc: 50° 13' N

Posted 22 June 2021 - 02:05 PM

It would definitely be secure. Are you going to build the control room with an insulated floor and 2x4 framed insulated walls and ceiling?   How tall will the pier be?   If you have clear horizons the scope will have to be fairly high to get to lower declinations. And you know you will want to.


Edited by t-ara-fan, 22 June 2021 - 02:05 PM.

  • Neuralsnafu likes this

#6 DENISANNA

DENISANNA

    Explorer 1

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 68
  • Joined: 05 Oct 2019
  • Loc: Campbellton, New Brunswick Canada

Posted 22 June 2021 - 04:04 PM

Hi t-ara-fan

the lock box is made of 3/8” steel and the lock itself(made for this exact purpose) is unique keyed. I feel it to be secure enough. I will not insulate the floor at this point as i dont think i will be observing in winter. The walls are strapped with 2”x3”x8’ glued flat with construction adhesif in the corrugated recesses and will receive a 1” shielded foam insulation covered with a 3/16” luan panel. The control room is separated by a thermal patio door from the telescope room primarily to prevent weather, bugs and whatever that can be a nuissance. The concreat pier is buried in the ground where it will poke at floor level once the container is in place all leveled up, a solid cast steel pipe 10” filled with compact sand to dull the vibration will reach inside until the mount (EQR-PRO) with the horizontal OTA parrallel and 4 inches from the roll off torsion box cover so as not to loose more horizon than need’s be. Will shortly post pictures as to where i’m already with this project


  • t-ara-fan likes this

#7 Christopher Erickson

Christopher Erickson

    Skylab

  • *****
  • Posts: 4,042
  • Joined: 08 May 2006
  • Loc: Waikoloa Village, Hawaii

Posted 22 June 2021 - 06:51 PM

Mock-up for a client years ago. Top pic is animated, if you click on it.

Attached Thumbnails

  • Clamshell in action.gif
  • Overhead view.gif

  • vrotondi, speedster and DENISANNA like this

#8 DENISANNA

DENISANNA

    Explorer 1

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 68
  • Joined: 05 Oct 2019
  • Loc: Campbellton, New Brunswick Canada

Posted 22 June 2021 - 07:39 PM

Hi Christopher, am very intrigued by your type of roll off roof. Would totally be out of the way when observing. I would like to learn more about how it seals on the roof flange as i didn’t cut through my roof yet. Just wondering what materials are used and if in would take a load of snow because our winters can have heavy accumulations. 



#9 charlesgeiger

charlesgeiger

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 680
  • Joined: 12 Dec 2011

Posted 22 June 2021 - 11:34 PM

One thing about those steel containers is they sweat and rust.  I used to unload hundreds of them.  So looks like you are covering those problems.  I know they make tiny houses out of them.



#10 speedster

speedster

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 833
  • Joined: 13 Aug 2018
  • Loc: Abilene, Texas

Posted 23 June 2021 - 12:12 AM

A similar option is a roll-off bin.  30 yd is 22' long, 7.5' wide, and about 5' tall on the inside.  Roll off roofs (covers) are already engineered off the shelf.  https://www.rolloffcovers.com/. 



#11 DENISANNA

DENISANNA

    Explorer 1

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 68
  • Joined: 05 Oct 2019
  • Loc: Campbellton, New Brunswick Canada

Posted 23 June 2021 - 09:29 AM

Hi Speedster, thanks for the info, checked them out and the cost delivered is way beyond my means, thus i'll remain focused on building one at home, thanks again



#12 SteveGR

SteveGR

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Posts: 1,066
  • Joined: 04 May 2013
  • Loc: Western Michigan

Posted 23 June 2021 - 02:15 PM

Hi t-ara-fan

the lock box is made of 3/8” steel and the lock itself(made for this exact purpose) is unique keyed. I feel it to be secure enough. I will not insulate the floor at this point as i dont think i will be observing in winter. The walls are strapped with 2”x3”x8’ glued flat with construction adhesif in the corrugated recesses and will receive a 1” shielded foam insulation covered with a 3/16” luan panel. The control room is separated by a thermal patio door from the telescope room primarily to prevent weather, bugs and whatever that can be a nuissance. The concreat pier is buried in the ground where it will poke at floor level once the container is in place all leveled up, a solid cast steel pipe 10” filled with compact sand to dull the vibration will reach inside until the mount (EQR-PRO) with the horizontal OTA parrallel and 4 inches from the roll off torsion box cover so as not to loose more horizon than need’s be. Will shortly post pictures as to where i’m already with this project

The advent of portable battery powered angle grinders has made locks irrelevant.  They can either grind through the lock, or just through the side of the container.  You might want to put in a few cameras.
 


  • Christopher Erickson and Greg M like this

#13 jcj380

jcj380

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,507
  • Joined: 08 Jul 2014
  • Loc: Hellinois

Posted 23 June 2021 - 02:36 PM

Interesting idea.  I stayed in a 40-ft (I think) that was converted to a VRBO rental cabin last year.  Rebar welded across the windows and secured when not in use via the swinging doors - the front "house" door of the cabin was recessed inside the swinging doors.  Owner had welded a rebar ladder to the back, but it was covered so you couldn't go up on the roof.

 

I did read that the container roofs are pretty thin.  Don't know if that's accurate.



#14 DENISANNA

DENISANNA

    Explorer 1

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 68
  • Joined: 05 Oct 2019
  • Loc: Campbellton, New Brunswick Canada

Posted 23 June 2021 - 07:49 PM

First, i’m from an area where thiefs steel things that can be quickly traded off, our B&E stats are very low thus locking this thing up is more for the curious in off hours. This guy got his face severely mangled a little while back trying to grind his way into a very secure container in the business sector. The word got around with all kinds of rumours that the container was rigged somehow, who knows !

the cut out part of the roof (65”x65”) will be supported by welding a 2 1/2” x 2 1/2”  3/8” angle iron accross to corner beams. A structural engineer friend had good advice to give


  • jcj380 likes this

#15 jcj380

jcj380

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,507
  • Joined: 08 Jul 2014
  • Loc: Hellinois

Posted 24 June 2021 - 10:07 AM

Hope you post some pics as construction progresses.



#16 DENISANNA

DENISANNA

    Explorer 1

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 68
  • Joined: 05 Oct 2019
  • Loc: Campbellton, New Brunswick Canada

Posted 24 June 2021 - 12:10 PM

I sure will and hope I can get some feedback, criticism and whatever shared information that would help me complete this project !!



#17 Christopher Erickson

Christopher Erickson

    Skylab

  • *****
  • Posts: 4,042
  • Joined: 08 May 2006
  • Loc: Waikoloa Village, Hawaii

Posted 24 June 2021 - 06:32 PM

I would do a LOT of planning before commencing with any cutting.

 

One option is to use a 20' container and put a more typical roll-off or dome on top of it, like a second story. The "bones" (corners and beams) are very tough on containers. The ribbed steel sheets on the top and sides are not nearly as tough. Spanning the sides with beams and a concrete tray might create a reasonably vibration-free platform on top of the container. Let the container be the control and storage room and the roof the platform for a small observatory.

 

The "rotate-off" concept design I illustrated above has a lot of potential benefits. It has very simple motorized operation. Very simple control. Motor on one side and bearing on the other side. Minimal moving parts. Can be made extremely reliable. It will be as strong as you make it. Snow loading won't be a problem if you build it accordingly. Just about all linear construction. No huge, accurate bearings to build. No Complicated or fragile raceways. No big arcs to cut.

 

Using roof counterweights and an electric clutch on the mechanism means it is possible to make it failsafe. i.e. the roof could automatically close under gravity power in a power outage. Or if a motor or drive failure is detected, the electric clutch could automatically be released and the roof closed. 

 

It should be very wind resistant and easy to make very weatherproof.

 

I would put "DANGER - HIGH VOLTAGE" signs on all four sides. LOL

 

Hi Christopher, am very intrigued by your type of roll off roof. Would totally be out of the way when observing. I would like to learn more about how it seals on the roof flange as i didn’t cut through my roof yet. Just wondering what materials are used and if in would take a load of snow because our winters can have heavy accumulations. 



#18 Christopher Erickson

Christopher Erickson

    Skylab

  • *****
  • Posts: 4,042
  • Joined: 08 May 2006
  • Loc: Waikoloa Village, Hawaii

Posted 24 June 2021 - 06:37 PM

Everything is relative. The side and top panels aren't where the structural strength is but the panels are still usually tough Coreten steel. But not hard to cut with a torch.

 

On most containers I have dealt with, the top and sides were all the same gauge. However the side panels had deeper ribbing for more rigidity.

 

 

Interesting idea.  I stayed in a 40-ft (I think) that was converted to a VRBO rental cabin last year.  Rebar welded across the windows and secured when not in use via the swinging doors - the front "house" door of the cabin was recessed inside the swinging doors.  Owner had welded a rebar ladder to the back, but it was covered so you couldn't go up on the roof.

 

I did read that the container roofs are pretty thin.  Don't know if that's accurate.



#19 Christopher Erickson

Christopher Erickson

    Skylab

  • *****
  • Posts: 4,042
  • Joined: 08 May 2006
  • Loc: Waikoloa Village, Hawaii

Posted 24 June 2021 - 06:41 PM

Most containers, in my experience, have a thick lock pocket that makes them a bit harder to get into with a cordless angle grinder. I have seen lock pockets on containers over 20 years old.

 

I think the most important feature of security is to make sure your observatory is not the "lowest hanging fruit" around for thieves. If it looks tough, uninteresting, dangerous and comes with a higher-chance of getting them busted, they will go looking for lower-hanging fruit with less chance of getting them caught.

 

 

The advent of portable battery powered angle grinders has made locks irrelevant.  They can either grind through the lock, or just through the side of the container.  You might want to put in a few cameras.
 



#20 ayadai

ayadai

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 810
  • Joined: 01 Feb 2021
  • Loc: Northern Mariana Islands, Micronesia

Posted 24 June 2021 - 06:48 PM

Floor rigidity may be an issue; if you don't use the roof as Christopher proposes, isolation of the control room floor might be something to consider.


Edited by ayadai, 24 June 2021 - 06:50 PM.


#21 Christopher Erickson

Christopher Erickson

    Skylab

  • *****
  • Posts: 4,042
  • Joined: 08 May 2006
  • Loc: Waikoloa Village, Hawaii

Posted 24 June 2021 - 06:55 PM

Most shipping containers have sturdy wood panel floors and sturdy steel beams spaced underneath that. Having a pier go through the floor to a ground block is one option. Or if the scope is on top of the container, add a "floating second floor" in the container that is on beams or poles through the floor to the ground underneath.

 

 

Floor rigidity may be an issue; if you don't use the roof as Christopher proposes, isolation of the control room floor might be something to consider.



#22 jcj380

jcj380

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,507
  • Joined: 08 Jul 2014
  • Loc: Hellinois

Posted 25 June 2021 - 08:28 AM

So about how much load can an intact, unreinforced roof handle?  Could a person walk on it with no problem?


Edited by jcj380, 25 June 2021 - 08:28 AM.


#23 Christopher Erickson

Christopher Erickson

    Skylab

  • *****
  • Posts: 4,042
  • Joined: 08 May 2006
  • Loc: Waikoloa Village, Hawaii

Posted 25 June 2021 - 12:36 PM

If you build it that way, yes.

#24 DENISANNA

DENISANNA

    Explorer 1

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 68
  • Joined: 05 Oct 2019
  • Loc: Campbellton, New Brunswick Canada

Posted 25 June 2021 - 06:25 PM

I BELIEVE THE PANELLING THESE CONTAINER ARE MADE OF IS TO PROTECT THE CONTENTS FROM WEATHER, AND THIEVERY. THE BEAMS ARE THE STRENGHT THUS ADDING ANY STRUCTURAL DESIGNS MAY HAVE TO BE REINFORCED. IMAGINE THEY STACK THESE SOMETIMES I BELIEVE 12 HIGH.  

 

CHRISTOPHER WHERE WOULD COULD I GET MORE INFO ON A MOTORIZED PENDULEM TYPE ROOF???



#25 Christopher Erickson

Christopher Erickson

    Skylab

  • *****
  • Posts: 4,042
  • Joined: 08 May 2006
  • Loc: Waikoloa Village, Hawaii

Posted 25 June 2021 - 06:53 PM

I call it a flip-off roof.

There are no build-it plans out there anywhere, although you can find home-brew examples around the Internet.

If you wished to build one, you would have to design it yourself or hire a mechanical engineer, a robotics engineer or an observatory engineer to design it for you.

Possibly even just a good metalworking shop could do it.


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






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics