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Deck Engineering (Backyard Observatory Part 2: Operations)

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#226 mmalik

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Posted 22 April 2024 - 10:02 PM

Please NO...

 

 

...let the discussion continue. Previous threads got derailed by similar diatribe. Regards

 

 

Note: Trailer is the portable/mobile deck here! I'll get the name edited...

 

 

Admins: Please edit the name to 'Deck Engineering (Backyard Observatory and Beyond...)

 

 

 

Shouldn't all this trailer and waterworks stuff be in a different thread than "Deck engineering ... operations"?

 

 

.


Edited by mmalik, 22 April 2024 - 10:09 PM.


#227 mmalik

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Posted 24 April 2024 - 07:42 AM

What's important to you...

 

 

A preliminary analysis of sort, a way to prioritise things. Your thoughts/comments welcome!

 

 

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#228 mmalik

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Posted 24 April 2024 - 05:14 PM

I do agree that I prioritized my "control area" (office space) as much as the sleeping area, but gave little to no thought about a kitchen or permanent bathroom. I always considered that an electric kettle, a microwave, and a small BBQ would cover 100% of any cooking needs and my target was as close to zero water for cleanup as possible. A washtub easily replaces a sink. A portable toilet with carry-away biodegradable bags just goes into the garbage sack when I leave. I am now making my mind up about a fridge. Initial thoughts were to have a permanent unit; however, I have come across a portable unit which I can cool down at home, plug into my lighter for the trip down, and then will run on either 120v or 12v once I am at the shed. I am leaning in this direction because, well, again it is only me 99% of the time.

 

At the end of the day it is about water...

 

 

Calling it kitchenette, bath, etc. are just fancy ways to get around it. I get you; I would have started the same way (with office only) and go from there. Rather the tiny shed I have in my backyard is exactly an office space/control room. Now with CSV in the prospect, it is a whole different ball game.

 

 

I see you gradually inching toward a dispersed kitchenette of sort. I am attacking the problem from a different perspective since I am just too far. I would like to build something that can sustain life (for one person of course), test it, and then haul it to CSV for permanent placement.

 

 

I feel once you are over the hump with setting things up things electronically (the observatory, the office, the control of it all, etc.), circling back to a proper kitchenette with running water would be well worth the effort and will be quite rewarding & pleasing. I feel we are all on the same page with this and approaching a present and clear 'need' quite logically. Regards

 

 

.


Edited by mmalik, 24 April 2024 - 05:18 PM.


#229 mmalik

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Posted 24 April 2024 - 08:47 PM

If you find all the appliances you need that will fit into the space, you may find it difficult to find cabinets to house (match) everything. For example you may find a perfect fridge that is 36" tall, but cabinets are 34.5" tall. Building cabinets from scratch isn't difficult, if one has the time and interest to do it. I would image there are many mini fridges that are sized to fit under a standard kitchen countertop.

 

The water heater doesn't have to be on the floor (but needs to be supported). Mounting it higher may allow you to fit a larger fresh water tank.

 

This 42 gallon tank is 39"L x 14"W x 18"H. There might be enough room to put the water pump and accumulator in front of the tank. A ShurFlow water pump can be mounted vertically on a wall, but the head must be on the bottom. Accumulator can be mounted vertically also.

 

Do you really need a large microwave? We rarely use our microwave at home and we use the one in our camper only to store bread & buns. Other folks use theirs a lot and a standard kitchen size microwave is desirable over the smaller ones in most campers.

 

Overall your drawing looks good. I think you are going to have plenty of room to do this. You may even be able to do a 3 burner cooktop and still have ample counter space. Watch out for drop in propane stoves . . . if a three-burner stove has four knobs, then it is set up to control an oven. 

 

You liking the diagram means a lot to me...

 

 

In due time I would like us to zero in on each entity that best suits the kitchenette rectangle in a 7'x7' tiny shed. You bring up some good points; yes, microwave doesn't have to be that large; I drew it that way since most mounted ones are BIG. Then there are no so little things like having enough (available) counterspace for all kind of use.

 

 

Yes, the water heater doesn't have to be at the floor level. The water tank can be made as large as the space will allow. I agree, there is plenty of space in the rectangle to house what’s needed. Lot of (propane) cooktop options.

 

 

As far the kitchen sink goes, there are options to make water trickle out of the faucet with attachments like this... to conserve the water usage; very creative! All in all, options and ideas are limitless, we just need to hone in on a few good ones.

 

 

Note: Given the trailer scenario, the only thing I think can go outside the kitchenette rectangle and outside the shed itself are the propane tanks and those can be at least two for redundancy.

 

 

Tons of ideas...

 

 

When it comes to the kitchenette, I have come across this... video which pretty much sums it all. Highly recommended for all everyone to see so we on the same page. Regards

 

 

.


Edited by mmalik, 24 April 2024 - 08:52 PM.


#230 mmalik

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Posted 24 April 2024 - 09:01 PM

On the home front...

 

 

...moved the solar scope over to the other side to have adequate maneuverability. It was getting to the point where I couldn't even point at the sun without touching the pier. Now the question is what can I mount on the other side that will not end up replicating the problem. Regards

 

 

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Edited by mmalik, 24 April 2024 - 09:08 PM.


#231 Bob Pitney

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Posted 25 April 2024 - 08:15 AM

Street Side

At the back of the street side of the camper is the dinette seat with the shower underneath. Next to it is a double sink.

 

05-Seat-02.jpg

 

Now, looking along the street side of the camper from the back of the camper, we see the double sink and an 3-burner RV stove. the stove lid is closed. Underneath the sink is the solar charge controller, water heater, water pump, solar charger, and plumbing.

 

1098271127049309119.jpg

 

Close up of sink (below). The backsplash on the sink also serves as a support for when the sink is folded over during towing and the roof is closed.

 

1098267472049309119.jpg

 

This picture (below) shows the solar controller display under the sink. Also shown is the ON/OFF switch for the water pump.

 

1098271133049309119.jpg

 

The stove is a low pressure RV stove. All propane devices inside have to run on low pressure. This is code. I will share more about this later. The Camp Chef Everest stove I linked to in another post is a high pressure stove and cannot be connected to the propane system in a camper. It would need to be connected to a small 16 oz. Coleman stove type canister. There are other stove that could be connected directly to the camper propane supply, such as the Camp Chef Ranger II. I would opt for a two burner drop-in stove, such as this one on Amazon. The windshield can help contain splatters when cooking and when folded down can increase counter space.
 

Below is the three burner stove. It is mounted on a box that can be removed and placed on the floor during transport. Below the stove is a 1.9 cu. ft. refrigerator (propane, 120V AC, or 12V DC). It is really small. To the right of the refrigerator is the 12 volt distribution center (think of a giant Rig Runner). Below the distribution center is an electrical outlet for the inverter.

 

10982675190493091191.jpg

 

For your warming shed I would get a larger fridge with a small freezer. Something like this one on Amazon

 

It measures 18.7’’ X 17.4’’ X 33.1’’ (W*D*H). The specs say it consumes around .5 kWh of electricity a day, which is 500 watt-hours. A 300AH LiFePo4 battery has  3840 watt-hours of capacity. During the day, if the solar system is large enough, it will charging the battery and running the fridge. Thus, during the non-sun hours it would consume a lot less than 500 watts.

 

Next, let’s look at what I did on the curbside.

Curbside

 

The second dinette seat is in the back and a removable table serves both seats. In front of this seat is a storage cabinet with an Olympian Wave 6 catalytic heater. The heater is connected to the trailers propane system. In front of this cabinet is the entrance door.

 

1098271151049309119.jpg

 

On the other side of the door, at the front of the camper is a cabinet (below).

 

1098271139049309119.jpg

 

All of this is installed in a tiny camper that is a little smaller than your warming shed. Keep in mind that there are no walls in the camper. You will be able to install wall cabinets or shelving units. You can also install a residential wall air conditioner, whereas I had to install an AC unit on the roof.

You can probably buy some kitchen base cabinets and a formica counter top at a big box store with matching wall cabinets. In my install I framed the the cabinets and then covered them with all paneling. I also used to paneling to cover the drawer fronts and cabinets doors. The countertops are all plywood and I covered them with formica. It was a lot of work vs. buying ready made cabinets.

 

1462988102049309119.jpg

 

This is a trip to Joshua Tree National Park in 2005. You can see the rooftop AC unit and solar panel. To the far right is the Weber Baby Q. The silver things on the top of the pull-out beds are PopUpGizmos, to help keep the interior cool. They are removable. I mention this because the same company makes the TeleGizmos for our scopes. I think they made PopUpGizmos before adding the telescope line.

 

  • In summary, the tiny camper has:
  • solar system
  • battery bank
  • inverter
  • two propane tanks
  • under floor water tank
  • shower
  • double sink
  • 3-burner stove
  • refrigerator
  • wall mounted propane heater
  • rooftop A/C
  • Dinette and seats

 

My next post will include some misc information to complete the install.

Nick!!!! I was just cruising through CN when I came upon your post. I suppose I didn't know or forgot you are an astronomer. Been a long time, right? I sold PopupGizmos two years ago...it's still goin strong for the new owners. Of course TeleGizmos is plugging right along. If I recall correctly your were instrumental in helping us to develop the Super High Wind gizmos. 

 

Looks like all is well with you, good to see you here on CN. A small world indeed.

 

Regards,

 

Bob Pitney

TeleGizmos


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#232 mmalik

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Posted 25 April 2024 - 06:25 PM

With your plan, I have one big reservation, and it is the only one. Where and how will you obtain/transport water to CSV, especially since you will be driving to the site in a rental vehicle. Perhaps there is a place somewhere nearby you can obtain water. In this case, you would need to drive to CSV, load your stored water containers, drive to the water source, and return to CSV and fill your warming shed tank. There are other options and well documented in that really good YouTube video you shared in another post.

 

 

Lastly; there is a diner and gas station with basic groceries within about 20 minutes drive. It is not so removed from civilization that you cannot go out for breakfast if you so desire.

 

The place may not be that desolate...

 

 

...plus no harm driving for water in one big haul that sets you say for a week? All seems quite doable and within reach. A local well will be even better if CSV could pursue? Regards

 

 

.


Edited by mmalik, 25 April 2024 - 06:25 PM.


#233 mmalik

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Posted 25 April 2024 - 06:32 PM

Of course TeleGizmos is plugging right along.

 
 
Few testaments to TeleGizmos...


1. A solar setup shown in action (...yesterday; capture here...) as well as parked under TeleGizmos

 

 

2. A pristine setup shown where I don't get a spec of dust when coupled with a minor secondary layer underneath
 
 
 

Minimal observatory...
 
 
...with benefits. This is all what's needed for the most part and provides maximum comfort to a visual or imaging astronomer. In my experience, TG365 exposes your equipment to lesser extremes of elements than an observatory if setup correctly. Regards
 
 
Note: Build an observatory by all means for security of the equipment, physical protection, etc. but what's shown is what a minimal setup can get you under most circumstances.
 
 
post-205769-0-27312400-1703799136_thumb.


Pristine Tarping...
 
 
I was always worried about how the scope is going to stay neat & clean and in good condition under a tarp and still be exposed to extreme temps, and elements. After being under the tarp in summer and winter, here is what such a 365 tarping is all about...
 
 
1. Initially I was just trapping with TG365 and that went well.
 
 
2. Then I started seeing ladybugs making a home under the tarp and a whole lot of 'em. None on the scope, but mostly on the underside of the tarp itself.
 
 
3. At that point I started double wrapping the scope in a large black garbage bag and cleaned out the inside of the tarp.
 
 
4. From then on I kept an eye on things and all has been well.
 
 
5. I have yet to mount the second scope but one concern I have is if the current tarp will be adequate for both scopes. It might, given the side-by-side scenario, but time will tell.
 
Note: At one point I was thinking of piggybacking the scopes and that surely would have made the existing tarp inadequate aside from the moment arm stresses might have imparted on Mach2.
 
 
6. This being the first winter for the solar scope, I am also starting to constantly run the PC under the tarp and that also helps keep the milieu under the tarp fairly under control in terms of temp. and humidity.
 
 
7. Case in point, things can be made to remain pristine even under a trap if you can't manage a dome/observatory. Matter of fact, I see solar scope under the tarp in much pristine condition than the scope in the dome which gathers lot more dust and weathers even harsher conditions.
 
 
8. Lastly, if you tarp and wrap things properly under the tarp, that's all you may need short of a full-fledged observatory. Tarping can be fairly sufficient for most applications if you can just build yourself a pier. Regards



post-205769-0-94922200-1703798995_thumb.

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Edited by mmalik, 25 April 2024 - 07:35 PM.


#234 mmalik

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Posted 26 April 2024 - 09:11 PM

Don't forget that you can always buy a standard camper/trailer if your observatory structure will be separate. There are a few RV villages not too far from CSV that have on site-storage for a nominal monthly fee. Several members keep their trailers there and just tow them over to CSV when they are in town.

 

BTW, several members have RV's stored at local RV parks. We might be able to convince the park owner to let members stop there to fill up on water. I'll bring it up with members next weekend at our spring dark-sky party.

 

We get the point you are driving home...

 

 

...people having to (i.e., required to) park RVs at RV parks and RV villages away from CSV when not at CSV. In the end it is not about filling water or dumping water but what can be situated permanently at the CSV aside from the observatory?

 

 

I came up with the tiny shed + observatory on a trailer idea to be able to build remotely but in the end have a permanent structure at CSV like others. Can this very aspect be discussed with CSV? I'll see if I can discuss this with Chris as well. Regards

 

 

Question: What date exactly is the spring dark-sky party? Would you be able to present the following permanent 'situation' with one-time haul plan to CSV for those of us extremely remote to CSV and for whom building onsite may not be a feasibility except may be a concrete pier in the ground? What better advocate than you. Thanks in advance!

 

 

.

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Edited by mmalik, 27 April 2024 - 04:21 AM.


#235 KTAZ

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Posted 27 April 2024 - 11:00 AM

I highly recommend contacting Christopher regarding any CSV guidelines or rules; however, I see absolutely no reason why your approach wouldn't be acceptable at CSV, IMHO.

May 3-5 is our spring gathering.

Edited by KTAZ, 27 April 2024 - 11:03 AM.

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#236 mmalik

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Posted 29 April 2024 - 08:44 PM

Astronomy is no longer a backyard problem...

 

 

...it is a dwelling problem. Planes, trains and automobiles will take you places but once you are there how do you dwell on a tiny scale for, say observing in the desert.

 

 

There are mini campers, minivans, overlanding vehicles, tiny homes, tiny sheds, etc. Of course, use cases for each are quite different, the (build) concepts are pretty much the same.

 

 

Here... is a unique one I came across that can be a great idea for redundancy. Other ideas welcome. Regards

 

 

Note: Idea is to draw upon unique and creative ideas to develop a build plan for a tiny shed that will be built at home for placement in the desert.

 

 

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Edited by mmalik, 29 April 2024 - 08:55 PM.


#237 ngatel

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Posted 30 April 2024 - 01:46 PM

In a small area, maximizing the space with compact appliances is paramount. A wood burning stove is going to use up a lot of valuable space vs a wall mounted heater (electric or propane). Wood burning stoves aren't as efficient as the other two. Small wood stoves require a lot of wood feeding, plus in most deserts you can't find much wood. With propane or wood you would have to periodically replenish your fuel. With a properly designed solar system and battery bank you never need to replenish fuel.

 

Plus a wood stove requires running a chimney out the roof with the potential for leaks. Should a leak occur while you are away for an extended period of time, serious damage could occur to the interior and equipment.

 

Given where you live, you are more acclimated to cold weather than us long-term desert dwellers. I have lived in a desert for almost 50 years. I can easily handle very hot weather compared to non-desert people. On the other hand, I do really, really poor in cold weather and need lots of extra clothing compared to my friends when we backpack together. Point being, you'll probably need less heat than those who live in the southwest.


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#238 KTAZ

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Posted 30 April 2024 - 04:41 PM

No way that I'd put a wood burning appliance in an obsy that small. By the time it gets burning you'd have to open the doors and windows to cool off.

 

With a well insulated space, on a cool desert day (50's-60's) you will not need much more than your body heat and computer to maintain a comfortable room temp. A winter night (30's-40's) will need only an occasional kick from a space heater. Of course, I prefer a cool room when sleeping; YMMV.


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#239 mmalik

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Posted 30 April 2024 - 07:15 PM

Agree...

 

 

...electric (solar) heating with propane backup should be adequate for the use case. Wood stove looked pretty cool though. Regards

 

 

.



#240 mmalik

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Posted 30 April 2024 - 07:33 PM

Kitchenette/dinette are a given...

 

 

...for the use case and can be compacted quite elegantly for a very comfortable living. Here... are some good design ideas that I really like. Lot of counter space and yet lot of space saved in a tiny shed. Regards

 

 

Note: Most of these ideas are from van builds but concepts are transportable with some improvising and are quite creative & elegant. Bath is still on my mind and more on that later.

 

 

.

 

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#241 mmalik

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Posted 30 April 2024 - 09:23 PM

Shower remains a dilemma...

 

 

...but ton of good ideas, again from the van life. It can surely be compacted for tiny shed or just moved outdoors. Few good ones I have come across are linked below...

 

 

1. Link... (indoor-toilet in an accessible enclosure but not inside the shower cavity)

 

2. Link... (indoor-includes door & pan ideas)

 

3. Link... (rolled shower door concept)

 

4. Link... (outdoor-most simplistic)

 

 

Note: What I don't like about compact shower enclosures is when folks try to cram a toilet in the same space and this is where the things get messy in terms solving the issue elegantly.

 

 

.


Edited by mmalik, 01 May 2024 - 06:08 AM.


#242 ngatel

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Posted 01 May 2024 - 06:09 PM

Shower remains a dilemma...

 

 

Note: What I don't like about compact shower enclosures is when folks try to cram a toilet in the same space and this is where the things get messy in terms solving the issue elegantly.

 

 

.

My experience with small trailers is there are two things I want to maximize: countertop space and storage space.

 

A shower takes up a lot of space for something that isn't used that much, plus it reduces counter space, although things can be stored in a shower. This is why I recommended the "in dinette" solution — it is only opened when you need to take a shower, otherwise it is under your sofa/bed and you can store stuff in the laundry tub that is used as a shower pan.

 

Same with a  built-in toilet. Takes up space, a separate plumbing system needs to be installed for the holding tank, and waste disposal becomes somewhat complicated. A camping porta-potti solves a lot of these problems. Nice ones are small, have an electric flush, and a water level indicator. Here's a link to the Thetford 565 Porta-Potti manual. It shows how simple it is to empty it. Separate the top from the bottom. The bottom has a spout and open/close valve, which makes it simple to walk to an outhouse (CSV apparently has them) and dump the waste.

 

When designing tiny temporary homes, people often want to make them as comfortable as their full-time residence, which can often be over-kill. For example our 14 ft. tent trailer came with a microwave, three burner stove and oven combination. We used the oven 3 times in 8 years and never used the microwave. Our current trailer has the same kitchen appliances and we have never used the microwave or oven. We don't need 3 burners, two would be more than ample — but we mostly cook outdoors with a separate portable camp stove and we "bake" outside with our Weber Q propane grill. For us, even on two-month trips, we could get by with a portable stove for indoor/outdoor cooking and the grill for outside. 



#243 MJB87

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Posted 04 May 2024 - 11:03 AM

A friendly reminder to the community.

 

This is a forum about the constructions and operation of astronomical observatories (fixed or mobile). Please keep your posts specific to that topic. General posts about trailer or RV living or configuration do not belong here. They belong in the Off-Topic Observatory forum and you are welcome to start a new topic there.

 

The purpose of Cloudy Nights it to allow our community to engage with each other on topics of interest. Our forum is not the location for personal blogs that wander over time from topic to topic. Once a topic is started, the posts in that thread need to be relevant to that specific topic. If you want to shift the discussion to a new subject, please start a new topic. This is so that our community can identify from the thread title the nature of the discussion underway.

 

Please refer to the Terms of Service on this:

 

h. Do not start a topic within an already established topic (hijacking). If you have a new topic to discuss, start a new topic in the most appropriate forum. If you are unsure where to post just contact a Moderator


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#244 mmalik

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Posted 15 May 2024 - 07:26 AM

Solar capture stance...

 

 

Note: SharpCap capture settings (Apollo-M) included as well; suggestions welcome to their validity?

 

 

 

post-205769-0-99010700-1715775139_thumb.

 

post-205769-0-54318900-1715775242_thumb.


Edited by mmalik, 15 May 2024 - 07:29 AM.


#245 mmalik

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Posted 15 June 2024 - 07:26 AM

Extending the PZT...

 

 

Bilateral PZT I build is bit limiting and I've been contemplating to extend it to the point where I wouldn't have to rotate if at all possible. Under the new initiative, I would like to extend one side of the PZT to a point where I'll have access to most of the sky. CDK14 is a big scope and existing PZTs are a bit of a crunch when it comes to meridian flips, etc. Comments/suggestions welcome. More in coming posts. Regards

 

 

.

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Edited by mmalik, 15 June 2024 - 08:28 AM.


#246 mmalik

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Posted 15 June 2024 - 07:42 AM

80/20 Aluminum...

 

 

Question I have is if the following config will have adequate tensile strength to carry the PZT load?

 

 

8020 89"...

 

8020 24"...

 

T-Nut with ball...

 

5/16-18...

 

 

.

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Edited by mmalik, 15 June 2024 - 08:14 AM.


#247 mmalik

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Posted 15 June 2024 - 08:13 AM

Come to think of it...

 

 

I got introduced to 80/20 as I was researching dwelling... options at CSV above. I've been wondering why no one has thought about building an observatory enclosure with such a rich array of 80/20 aluminum options? I see Piertech... using somewhat similar concept but why no one has created an 80/20 masterpiece of an architecture yet?

 

 

Note: Watch this video... to get yourself familiarized with 80/20 and how it articulates to make different shapes & structures.

 

 

Pricey proposition but a good concept nonetheless if one were to build an entire observatory out of it. Roll off roof is something that will need more exploring but as far framing goes 80/20 nails it. Your thoughts on 80/20 roll off options welcome since that would be one thing that could be a showstopper.

 

 

Look forward to hearing from you. Thanks in advance. Regards

 

 

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#248 mmalik

mmalik

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Posted 15 June 2024 - 09:09 PM

As for CSV....

 

 

...I am torn between full scale trailer... vs. just the warming shed on wheels. Main problem being CSV is so distant that establishing a homebase there as a first step might be one option where pier pour and observatory build can take shape along the way. Like a writer's block, I have a CSV block. Your insights welcome to resolve the stalemate. How folks out west are managing their (remote) builds? Regards

 

 

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