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About Scorpius

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    Proto Star

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    Shenandoah Valley, Virginia
  1. Perhaps a Celestron Neximage 5? It's not the newest model available but I have one and also the same scope as you. It does a good job when the conditions are ideal. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Celestron-93711-NexImage-System-Imager/dp/B006ZN4VE2/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=neximage+5&qid=1602328817&sr=8-1
  2. Hi Derek & thanks - plan to start on the ROR supporting framework this weekend and looks there's like no rain in the forecast for the next several days! I think this will be the most challenging part for me especially since assistance is hard to come by at the moment. Once I get the framework in place, the plan is to pre-fab the roof trusses - in the evenings after work - then ask my son & son-in-law to help set them in place over the long Thanksgiving weekend. That's the plan anyway but remains to be seen if I can meet that goal in terms of weather & other non-observatory related responsibilities. Yeah - ole Wally (the guard dog) is outwardly a friendly little guy who's small stature & good nature belies the ferocious beast which lies within. Seriously though - he was attacked by coyotes when he was young but managed to escape & was rescued by a neighboring farmer who saw my wife's lost & found ad in the local paper. We didn't witness the attack but I had a boxer at the time - who truly was ferocious - & we've always believed it was "Baby" who distracted the coyotes long enough for our little buddy to make his escape. When we took him to the vet after his return, he found canine bite wounds on his back & said they were definitely inflicted by a coyote. Baby got sick & had to be put down a few years later but if dogs could talk - I'm sure Wally would confirm that he owes his life to his old friend Baby...
  3. Kim glad you like it, it's a new design I'm trying out. Lightweight, easy to remove & install although I'm a little concerned about its long term durability. Hope to upgrade to a more conventional design sometime soon but not sure exactly when that will happen...
  4. Well fellow stargazers – this weekend was a bust for me. Rained on Sat then had other commitments to take care of yesterday but did manage to get over there in the afternoon & cover it with a huge tarp since they’re forecasting rain the next two days with a chance for more on Thurs. I’m off from work this coming Fri - so hopefully the weather will improve so I can start working on the ROR this weekend...
  5. Kim, top notch workmanship & amazing progress. I’m sure you’re anxious to get your gear in there & start using your obsy. After all, that’s why we choose to put ourselves through all this hard work in the first place right? My progress has been thwarted by the weather once again but glad to see you pretty much have yours dried-in. Looks like some siding is about all that’s left so hope that goes up fast & look forward to more of your updates. Please understand I’m not being critical but just wondered – is there enough headroom on that beast of a pier for your big scope & will the square shape create any issues with tube strikes? I’m sure you considered that during the planning stage so probably viewing the pics out of context? Like the way you did your rails - gives the roof a nice low profile. I think that's going to be an issue for me since I purchased 4" rollers & V-tracks. The tracks were advertised as 3" wide but when they arrived they were 4". That's too wide to fit on a 4x4 - which is 3.5" per side - so now looking at adding a 2x6 on top of the 4x4 so the tracks won't hang over the edge. Contacted the vendor & he offered to accept a return & send some aluminum tracks which are 3" wide but don't have time at this point so will try to figure out a way to make the 4" ones work... Great build and best regards, Scorpius
  6. Kim - that's amazing news especially since you just started your build a few weeks ago. Congratulations & I look forward to seeing your progress pics very soon
  7. Thanks Steve - been pouring the rain here as well but they claim it will clear off tonight - possibly giving me an opportunity to get something done on the obsy tomorrow. Even so, I was able to attend the local Veteran’s Day Parade which was a somewhat soggy event. As it turns out, I was born on Veteran’s Day, & served 3 yrs in the US Army, but this year’s parade was especially memorable for our family since our son participated as a member of the 116’th Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the Virginia National Guard - a unit that traces its linage directly back to the famous “Stonewall Brigade” of the American Civil War - in which his great grandfather (times 3) - William Grass Kesterson enlisted at the age of 16, served throughout the war, & was still under Lee's command at the surrender in Appomattox. We were a little surprised to learn he was part of the color guard - since he’s a relatively new recruit – & his assignment made him part of the first group to pass by in the parade. The live action shot’s a little blurry but he’s on the far left, closest to the camera, & quite a sturdy young fellow who’s made his old man very proud! So how’s it going with your build? Did you get all the siding on yet? http://www.military-history.org/articles/early-modern/stonewall-brigade.htm That’s mighty neighborly of you Kim, but don’t let progress reports on my little shack discourage you from updating your thread. You’ve obviously been boring with a big auger so deferring to me would be like 50 cents holding up a dollar! Thanks - haven’t decided on the roofing yet but leaning toward a product named Ondura (another new-fangled material) due to its lightweight & supposed longevity. Thought about metal – and may still go that route – but might be noisy if you’re tinkering about in there when it’s raining - plus it gets really hot in the summer (not a good thing I’ve been told) - and it’s heavy, although not as bad as conventional sheathing with asphalt shingles. http://ondura.com/ Hope you won’t keep us in suspense much longer since I’ve got a feeling yours is already under roof which makes me quite envious of your progress. But I’ll eventually get there my friend and when I do, the vast majority of work will have been done with my own two hands - without the use of power nailers, heavy equipment or four man construction crews on site for consecutive days. What say we let the competitive tone of our past posts take a break since the time & resources at our disposal are quite different IMHO? That's my wife's pooch - Wally - he's a friendly little feller but oddly enough, it takes him a little while to warm up to Californians... Thanks Tim – did you miss my response to your PM or just been busy planning your future observatory? Can’t say as I blame you since prior planning can save you a lot of heartache once actual construction begins. I’ve already hit a few bumps in the road but problem solving is one of my strong suits – since it seems like I screw up so often... So it’s onward & upward for Windy Knoll - or as old Stonewall himself might have said - press on men and show no quarter to the enemy seeking to desecrate the sacred soil of Virginia! If you’ve never seen the flick “Gods and Generals” check it out. It more or less realistically portrays the history of the Shenandoah Valley during the early part of the war including the forced march of young cadets from the Virginia Military Institute on their way to & during the battle of First Manassas where General Thomas J. Jackson famously received his nickname. It’s a great movie I’ve watched countless times in which Stephen Lang plays a great role as Jackson & Robert Duval does a pretty good job portraying Lee as well. Gettysburg’s not a bad either but this ole valley boy would choose Gods & Generals every day of the week & twice on Sunday... Here’s a link to a free live stream: https://search.yahoo.com/search?fr=mcafee&type=C211US0D20140916&p=gods+and+generals It's the one that says 1 of 6 - Video quality’s not that great but if you click HD & choose the highest resolution it’s not that bad. Matter of fact – since rain continues to fall in the Old Dominion – think I’ll go ahead & watch it once more... Cheers to all & clear skies, Scorpius
  8. In the US - the simplest, code approved method of providing power to an outbuilding is to install a single, underground, 120V - 20 amp branch circuit (2 conductors w/ground) or a multi-wire branch circuit (3 conductors w/ground) using non-metallic sheathed cable rated for direct burial - just be sure to observe the minimum burial depth which is 2 feet in most cases. http://www.southwire.com/products/type-uf-b-direct-burial-water-well.htm The circuit could then have multiple receptacles (wired in parallel) with the first one being a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). This arrangement provides ground fault protection for all the receptacles but only requires purchase of one of the more expensive GFCI receptacles. This will work fine if the load does not exceed 20 amps and you don’t need a separate circuit for lighting. If you do need more than one circuit, you can install a multiwire branch circuit (one for the receptacles & one for the lighting) fed from a double pole breaker in the house panel & meet code. This would still count as a single circuit eliminating the need for a separate subpanel & grounding system at the shed. However, multiwire branch circuits - which share a neutral between circuits - should be installed by someone who knows exactly what they’re doing or a dangerous condition could exist. Of course both these wiring methods assume the main panel box is properly grounded. However, if you need more than two circuits in the shed, a secondary disconnecting means (subpanel) must be installed which has its own grounding system (ground rods). In this case, the neutrals (grounded conductors) need to be isolated from the equipment grounds (ground wires) by terminating them on separate bus bars in the subpanel. Isolation of neutrals from grounds typically involves removing (or not installing) the subpanel’s bonding strap & terminating all neutrals on one bar & all grounds on the other. Over here, hot is black, neutral is white & ground is bare copper but grounds may also be covered with green insulation or some other color having green stripes. Regarding wire size, #12 AWG should be fine for the distance you stated however, you could always go with #10 AWG on a 20 amp breaker of you’re concerned about voltage drop. Here one ground fault circuit interrupter protects multiple duplex receptacles coming after it, known as multiple-location protection. Two-wire cable runs from the GFCI to all the following receptacles. The line terminals on the GFCI are connected to the circuit source and the load terminals are connected with a pigtail splice to each of the following receptacles to join them in parallel. This keeps each duplex connected directly to the GFCI. An excerpt from the VA Residential Code which addresses separate grounding requirements for outbuildings. Note the exception to E3607.3 which permits a multiwire branch circuit (actually 2 circuits with a shared neutral) without requiring a subpanel or separate grounding system at the shed. “E3607.3 Buildings or structures supplied by feeder(s) or branch circuit(s). Buildings or structures supplied by feeder(s) or branch circuit(s) shall have a grounding electrode or grounding electrode system installed in accordance with Section E3608. The grounding electrode conductor(s) shall be connected in a manner specified in Section E3607.3.1 or, for existing premises wiring systems only, Section E3607.3.2. Where there is no existing grounding electrode, the grounding electrode(s) required in Section E3608 shall be installed. Exception: A grounding electrode shall not be required where only one branch circuit, including a multiwire branch circuit, supplies the building or structure and the branch circuit includes an equipment grounding conductor for grounding the noncurrent-carrying parts of all equipment. For the purposes of this section, a multiwire branch circuit shall be considered as a single branch circuit.” This is my understanding of US requirements however, I agree with others who recommended you consult a “spark-trician” familiar with UK codes, permits & inspection requirements...
  9. Took off a couple hours early Wed & today to finish the last few pieces of siding which didn’t get put up last weekend because I ran out of time. Each panel was primed (2 coats) on the back side as well as all edges to protect against moisture. All corners will get trim boards but not until after the roof is complete. In the meantime, all joints have been sealed with heavy duty exterior caulking & it took just over 3 gals of good quality paint to cover the finished side since T1-11 soaks up paint like a sponge. I’m confident the siding is now well protected from the elements so will start working on the ROR supporting framework tomorrow, if it doesn’t rain. Still a little early to say I’m coming down the home stretch but think I’m beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel...
  10. Why not just wire the roof lighting as normal but have a plug & socket that gets disconnected before you open the roof. Obviously, if you forget to unplug it that could be an issue though... Or maybe four (2 positive & 2 negative) pieces of spring loaded, high conductivity, metal like copper with wires attached that make contact when the roof is closed?
  11. Went with my gut & got the old standby T1-11 (14 sheets) if for no other reason than shear mass. Checked out the SmartSide but looks like nothing more than glorified OSB with a special coating on one side plus it’s thin & very light. Sure it’s pretty to look at & all – and would be easier to install - but if it’s rated as structural siding , you could have fooled me. So thankfully, that moment of indecision is over! Know what I need to do now & no more posts til it’s done...
  12. Kim - looks awesome & that big pier is a real beast!!! +1 on subfloor adhesive, quiets it down a lot & screwing it down really makes a solid job. My compliments on your build and hope you enjoy the weekend off...
  13. Said I was going to let this thread rest for a while but need some advice pretty quick. I’ll be purchasing the siding this evening after work and although I thought my mind was made up, I’m starting to second guess myself now that the time is neigh. I’m going to use 4x8 sheets either way for ease & speed of installation & the two choices are what we call T1-11 which is basically an exterior grade plywood that requires staining or painting but is 5/8” thick & heavy duty. The other option - which I’ve never used - is an Engineered Treated Wood Siding Panel called SmartSide that comes pre-primed & is treated with zinc borate and marine grade resins added under pressure during the manufacturing process. The big concern I have with this new-fangled stuff is it’s significantly thinner – only about 3/8” compared to the 5/8” thickness of T1-11. I’ve used T1-11 a number of times over the years & it’s considered the old standby around here for sheds, outbuildings & such. As a matter of fact, I installed it most recently on the 4 season gazebo you may have spotted in some of my pics. However, I’ve noticed it’s starting to discolor – but not deteriorate or rot - in certain areas & is well past due for a fresh coat of stain. However, this newfangled stuff supposedly maintains its appearance for a long time with the coat of primer that comes on it, even if not top coated for several years. Whatever I use, it’s going directly over the roofing felt against the studs - with no underlying sheathing - which is why I’m wondering if this new stuff is really thick enough for the job. The engineered stuff is a just over a dollar more per sheet so cost won’t be the determining factor but its suitability for the application & long term durability certainly will. I know it’s ultimately my decision but interested in knowing which of these two products you would choose if they were you’re only two options? http://www.lowes.com/pd_12957-44903-NA_1z0vj9vZ1z11pro__?productId=3010839&pl=1 http://www.lowes.com/pd_55897-132-27874_1z0vj9vZ1z11pro__?productId=3058153&pl=1
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