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Pierless Observatories

Equipment Mount Observatory Tripod
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#1 Rayje1997

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Posted 12 September 2022 - 08:53 PM

Hello!

 

I currently rent and can't build anything, but I'm always planning what I will do when I own my own property. I'm thinking that when I build an observatory I am going to go pierless since I like to swap scopes out quite a bit and I find that my tripod is quite sturdy as it is. The thought is that I'll pour a concrete pad that I'll just use like that for a while, then build a roll off roof observatory on top of that later. Of course, I could easily change my mind before that ever happens, but what I really want to see are your versions of this! Who has a pierless observatory? And if so, why? Pics please!



#2 Zombeaver

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Posted 12 September 2022 - 09:11 PM

I am looking at adding a pier to my front yard. I’m thinking of a concrete pad and 4 anchor awl thread so that I can relevel the pier if the pad shifts. Sort of like the base of a traffic light pole.
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#3 Ihtegla Sar

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Posted 13 September 2022 - 09:06 AM

I have an 8' Exploradome on a 10' square wood building with a wood floor with no pier. I built it last February and so far I have had three different telescopes on two different mounts/tripods with no problems. I just put vibration suppression pads under the tripod feet.

But I am visual only, so if there is a momentary vibration it's no big deal. The floor is built to be very sturdy. Vibrations have been minimal, and not noticably worse than when I used to set up outside.

I did make provision for a future pier by putting a concrete footing under the wood floor with a removable hatch. So if I ever get around to having a metal pier fabricated, I could install it. Tripod legs do make a tripping hazard in the dark.

Why did I go pierless? Same reason as you. I wanted flexibility to change scopes/mounts. How could I design a pier if I didn't know what scope/mount I would put on it? How would I know how tall to make it? Maybe in a few years after getting used to the observatory if I end up settling on a scope/mount combination I may put a pier in, but before doing that I want to try to set up my 20" dob inside just to see how that works.

Edited by Ihtegla Sar, 13 September 2022 - 09:34 AM.

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#4 Rayje1997

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Posted 13 September 2022 - 09:43 AM

I have an 8' Exploradome on a 10' square wood building with a wood floor with no pier. I built it last February and so far I have had three different telescopes on two different mounts/tripods with no problems. I just put vibration suppression pads under the tripod feet.

But I am visual only, so if there is a momentary vibration it's no big deal. The floor is built to be very sturdy. Vibrations have been minimal, and not noticably worse than when I used to set up outside.

I did make provision for a future pier by putting a concrete footing under the wood floor with a removable hatch. So if I ever get around to having a metal pier fabricated, I could install it. Tripod legs do make a tripping hazard in the dark.

Why did I go pierless? Same reason as you. I wanted flexibility to change scopes/mounts. How could I design a pier if I didn't know what scope/mount I would put on it? How would I know how tall to make it? Maybe in a few years after getting used to the observatory if I end up settling on a scope/mount combination I may put a pier in, but before doing that I want to try to set up my 20" dob inside just to see how that works.

I like the idea of designing it in such a way that adding a pier later is possible. I have seen some people have a concrete floor and then build a pier out of block with extremely strong glue and bolts, so that could be an option if I ever really want a pier. I do visual and astrophotography, but I don't think that vibration will be an issue for AP since when I'm doing that everything will be controlled remotely. There is a good change that I won't even be in the building at the time. 


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#5 Ku8475

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Posted 13 September 2022 - 12:14 PM

I plan on selling my house in the next few years (military life, sigh) and want to be able to breakdown and move my observatory in a moving truck when the time comes. I am currently in the initial brainstorm and planning phase, but I think I'll be using my mount isntead of a Pier for price and ease of relocation.


Initially I was thinking just use a 5 gallon bucket for the concrete, but with my septic in the same area I didn't want to risk digging to deep. Also, that's still going to be a pain to dig up. Instead I plan on digging 3, 2 foot holes and filling them with a fine sand (probably steal it from the beach). On top of the sand I am going to put 1x1ft pavers stacked up and glued. I will cut holes in the floor to neatly fit the pavers so they can sit roughly an half inch above the floor. I'll seal it with foam and put the rubber flooring down to prevent toe stubs.


Is that going to be more of a pain? Absolutely. However when I pull up roots, I should only have to cut the foam and pick up the pavers. Epz.
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#6 Raginar

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Posted 13 September 2022 - 12:28 PM

I plan on selling my house in the next few years (military life, sigh) and want to be able to breakdown and move my observatory in a moving truck when the time comes. I am currently in the initial brainstorm and planning phase, but I think I'll be using my mount isntead of a Pier for price and ease of relocation.


Initially I was thinking just use a 5 gallon bucket for the concrete, but with my septic in the same area I didn't want to risk digging to deep. Also, that's still going to be a pain to dig up. Instead I plan on digging 3, 2 foot holes and filling them with a fine sand (probably steal it from the beach). On top of the sand I am going to put 1x1ft pavers stacked up and glued. I will cut holes in the floor to neatly fit the pavers so they can sit roughly an half inch above the floor. I'll seal it with foam and put the rubber flooring down to prevent toe stubs.


Is that going to be more of a pain? Absolutely. However when I pull up roots, I should only have to cut the foam and pick up the pavers. Epz.

I'm mil too broski.  First house I built a skyshed; after that I bought a used Piertech shed... it was a steal otherwise that wouldn't have happened.  However, the concept he uses (8020.net) is really good.  You could make a similar structure (the roof is the hard part) with 8020 parts.  There was a thread (google 8020 observatory cloudynights, you'll find it) on how he did it.  Once you take the brackets off, it basically boils down to 4 7' x 6' panels... easily loaded into a trailer or by your movers.  Each panel is light enough to be lifted by an able body person (I use a dolly to make it easier).  

 

As for tripod versus  a pier, it's really just footprint.  If you're visual, you can get some suppression pads and it'll damp out you walking around (or some standing pads too).  If you're photo and running it in your house, the only motion you'll see transferred to the ground is when you open and close the observatory (wind too I guess, but that'll shut down an ROR).. it's not a huge deal.

 

I did the 6x6 wood pier thing for awhile; worked about as good as a tripod if you'd like to reduce the footprint.  I used a 'fence post remover' to pull it out of the ground when I moved from that house.  With my piertech I just used concrete anchors to bolt my metal pier directly to the slab... same issues as your tripod above which was none after the roof opened and closed or high winds.


Edited by Raginar, 13 September 2022 - 12:30 PM.

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#7 Ku8475

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Posted 14 September 2022 - 08:12 AM

I'm mil too broski.  First house I built a skyshed; after that I bought a used Piertech shed... it was a steal otherwise that wouldn't have happened.  However, the concept he uses (8020.net) is really good.  You could make a similar structure (the roof is the hard part) with 8020 parts.  There was a thread (google 8020 observatory cloudynights, you'll find it) on how he did it.  Once you take the brackets off, it basically boils down to 4 7' x 6' panels... easily loaded into a trailer or by your movers.  Each panel is light enough to be lifted by an able body person (I use a dolly to make it easier).  

 

As for tripod versus  a pier, it's really just footprint.  If you're visual, you can get some suppression pads and it'll damp out you walking around (or some standing pads too).  If you're photo and running it in your house, the only motion you'll see transferred to the ground is when you open and close the observatory (wind too I guess, but that'll shut down an ROR).. it's not a huge deal.

 

I did the 6x6 wood pier thing for awhile; worked about as good as a tripod if you'd like to reduce the footprint.  I used a 'fence post remover' to pull it out of the ground when I moved from that house.  With my piertech I just used concrete anchors to bolt my metal pier directly to the slab... same issues as your tripod above which was none after the roof opened and closed or high winds.

I appreciate the follow up on this. I was unaware of the 8020.net website build. I might have to price that out as well. I was shying away from metal since I am in North Carolina and rust is AGRESSIVE here. I would be impressed if it could beat the $1300 estimate I am currently at for a wood build. I just found out autocad is free for students, so I am going to build it in there to try and minimize waste when I buy my materials. Great photos btw. I have been very torn on upgrading my camera from a unmodded dslr or building an observatory. After not imaging for most of summer due to weather I decided on an observatory. With rain and weather being a huge factor and lugging 100+ pounds of stuff into mosquito infested outdoors it is now an easy answer. ha ha.


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#8 N1ghtSc0p3

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Posted 14 September 2022 - 08:26 AM

Hello!

 

I currently rent and can't build anything, but I'm always planning what I will do when I own my own property. I'm thinking that when I build an observatory I am going to go pierless since I like to swap scopes out quite a bit and I find that my tripod is quite sturdy as it is. The thought is that I'll pour a concrete pad that I'll just use like that for a while, then build a roll off roof observatory on top of that later. Of course, I could easily change my mind before that ever happens, but what I really want to see are your versions of this! Who has a pierless observatory? And if so, why? Pics please!

Check out Chris White's obsy build...he's running it "pier-less"...


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#9 Rayje1997

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Posted 15 September 2022 - 08:44 AM

I'm mil too broski.  First house I built a skyshed; after that I bought a used Piertech shed... it was a steal otherwise that wouldn't have happened.  However, the concept he uses (8020.net) is really good.  You could make a similar structure (the roof is the hard part) with 8020 parts.  There was a thread (google 8020 observatory cloudynights, you'll find it) on how he did it.  Once you take the brackets off, it basically boils down to 4 7' x 6' panels... easily loaded into a trailer or by your movers.  Each panel is light enough to be lifted by an able body person (I use a dolly to make it easier).  

 

As for tripod versus  a pier, it's really just footprint.  If you're visual, you can get some suppression pads and it'll damp out you walking around (or some standing pads too).  If you're photo and running it in your house, the only motion you'll see transferred to the ground is when you open and close the observatory (wind too I guess, but that'll shut down an ROR).. it's not a huge deal.

 

I did the 6x6 wood pier thing for awhile; worked about as good as a tripod if you'd like to reduce the footprint.  I used a 'fence post remover' to pull it out of the ground when I moved from that house.  With my piertech I just used concrete anchors to bolt my metal pier directly to the slab... same issues as your tripod above which was none after the roof opened and closed or high winds.

 

Sorry to take a while to respond, I hadn't gotten a chance to look at the build you were talking about yet. That looks great to me! I like the idea of using metal rather than wood and it looks like it might be possible to build it cheaper than using wood at well.



#10 Ihtegla Sar

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Posted 15 September 2022 - 11:23 AM

Sorry to take a while to respond, I hadn't gotten a chance to look at the build you were talking about yet. That looks great to me! I like the idea of using metal rather than wood and it looks like it might be possible to build it cheaper than using wood at well.


Just keep condensation issues in mind if going with aluminum. You may need to insulate the aluminum to prevent sweating. It may depend on where you live. Where I live in the pacific northwest there have been reports of uninsulated aluminum having significant condensation issues.
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#11 Rayje1997

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Posted 15 September 2022 - 11:54 AM

Just keep condensation issues in mind if going with aluminum. You may need to insulate the aluminum to prevent sweating. It may depend on where you live. Where I live in the pacific northwest there have been reports of uninsulated aluminum having significant condensation issues.

 

I would probably install a small dehumidifier to mitigate that



#12 speedster

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Posted 15 September 2022 - 11:28 PM

Piers are far more stable than tripods but how much movement you live with depends on your focal length and pixel size.  Short FL and big pixels are much more forgiving than long FL and small pixels.   No need to avoid a pier because you want the flexibility of using multiple mounts.  We have many customers using multiple mounts on a single pier.  Some want a single mount plate prepped for 2 or more different mounts and others want a mount plate for each mount so it's only 3 bolts to change mounts.  

 

Screenshot 2022-09-15 231615.jpg


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#13 Raginar

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Posted 16 September 2022 - 03:21 AM

I appreciate the follow up on this. I was unaware of the 8020.net website build. I might have to price that out as well. I was shying away from metal since I am in North Carolina and rust is AGRESSIVE here. I would be impressed if it could beat the $1300 estimate I am currently at for a wood build. I just found out autocad is free for students, so I am going to build it in there to try and minimize waste when I buy my materials. Great photos btw. I have been very torn on upgrading my camera from a unmodded dslr or building an observatory. After not imaging for most of summer due to weather I decided on an observatory. With rain and weather being a huge factor and lugging 100+ pounds of stuff into mosquito infested outdoors it is now an easy answer. ha ha.

You'll never beat the price of lumber with metal.  The big thing for me was getting something I could move with me from place to place.  I didn't want to put up a skyshed everywhere I went (though it does work great as a normal shed after you drop the rails and lag bolt the 4x4s to the sill). 

 

if you have a place for an obs; it's good money.  That's the issue I have now; no place on my own property to image from.  I ended up buying a wheeley bar (JMI/Farpoint) and I truck my setup out to my neighbors property (with permission of course).  I have a Telegizmos cover and I'll leave it out there as long as it's clear out. And when the weather looks particularly bad or it's going to be cloudy for a week or two, I'll drag it back into my garage. I use a TPLINK CPE510 to extend my wifi about 330' from my house (5Ghz too, it's a good connection) and control everything via VNC (I use a stellarmate, if I was on windows I'd just use Remote Desktop).

 

Anyways, there are lots of ways to skin the cat.  I think $1300 is a good deal.  You won't regret it. PM me if you got any questions.


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