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Found 43 results

  1. Hi. Finally it's time to start a project i have been planning for a while. My remote Linux - INDI observatory Some info about the project. The observatory is going to be box style. I don't do any visual stuff, so i wont make room for myself. It is going to sit on a south facing second story balcony at my parents place. It's by a fjord near Drammen, Norway, so almost everything southbound is water and zero light pollution. The house itself sits on a spot with mostly green and yellow on the LP map, so beats my apartment where there is dark red LP as far as the eye can see (sadly).. To start things off, I'm building the pillar. As it's on a balcony, there will be no way to dig and cast a base in concrete. However concrete (b30) will be used to make the pillar more substantial. I want it to be very rigid, and I guess by having some weight to it, some flex in the floor will be "pre flexed". Any project starts with a good drawing so here is some cad. The outer tube is a cardboard casting tube. It sits on a wood plate with a total thickness of about 3.6 cm, has four m20 threaded rods that will be casted in with four 50x35 cm steel angels for stability. On top there is three steel plates connecting the base to three m20 bolts with mounts for the celestron avx. I will use the celestron's plate from the tripod (removing the legs) on top to mount the head on. The gap between plate one and two from the top is to be able to adjust and level the mount. I will have to get the three plates and three blocks on the right fabricated, but hopefully at a acceptable prize, hopefully... This weekend was mostly drawing, but did get something started. Let me know what you think about the design. More to come as project progresses...
  2. I have a steel pier for sale. This was purchased along with a pulsar dome and believe it is an older Pulsar model. The pier sat in a yard, exposed to the elements for a few years before I purchased it so there is some surface rust and flaking paint but will clean up nicely. £250 and buyer will need to collect from Suffolk.
  3. Once again we travel South in Europe, this time we visit Lisbon. Never been in Portugal earlier so this travel was really exiting. Lot of old culture to see and tasty foods. Maybe a bit higher cost than expected but still cheaper compare to Sweden where I live. This time it was not only I and my girlfriend, we had also brought with us a friend. All three of us are interested in astronomy. When I know we should visit Lisbon I started to search for some astronomy related. I found that there is an old observatory just 6 km from where we stayed. They also had guided tours, but should be booked at least two weeks before visit. This was a last minute travel and not enough time left. Here is my mini report from Lisbon Astronomy Observatory: http://www.astrofriend.eu/astronomy/observatory-sites/lisbon-astronomical-observatory/lisbon-astronomical-observatory.html It didn't worked out as expected, but you at least have the information if you visit Lisbon in the future. /Lars
  4. Hi Guys New member, ancient ATMer. I have joined to directly access Pulsar dome owners' fund of information. I am building a raised platform 8' off the ground to provide a much bigger sky. Trees and hedges surround and interrupt our dark rural property. Our modest 1.5 story home is on the southern border of our large garden. Fortunately neighbours with security lights at a hundred yards south and SW are safely hidden by the house. Increasing age demands shelter from the almost constant wind. My two main OTAs are now much too heavy for easy lifting: I am using a chain hoist and nested stepladders! I have a 10" f/8 reflector with premium optics and a 7" f/12 R35 iStar refractor. [Presently folded.] Both ATM builds. My almost completed, massive DIY GEM has 2" shafts and lots of heavy aluminium. ie. Immovable! It is running AWR IH2/ASCOM drives to 11" and 8" Beacon hill wormwheels. The images show my mounting on a temporary test stand. Now the real reason for my unscheduled interruption: [Much as I like talking about myself.] I am torn between a DIY all aluminium, rotating "dome" of the cylindrical roof variety or buying a Pulsar 2.7m. dome only kit. Making a hemispherical dome is a long term exercise in geometrical and sealing frustration IMHO. The off-the-shelf Pulsar 2.7 is rather cramped for my 2 meter long Newtonian even when the dome is mounted on a much larger "box". Does any recent Pulsar 2.7m dome purchaser have the minimum internal dimensions between opposing quadrant ribs? I understand the 2.7m is actually 2.6 from Pulsar's own drawings but that may be external. With so little clearance available I really need an accurate figure. Thank you for your patience if you have reached this far. Regards, Rusted
  5. Hi all, After having my mind programmed into thinking that home observatories should be round or square I saw an article showing a triangular one. This altered my thinking completely. I had some plywood and other wood left from building my house so took a couple of days to build my observatory. The size was dictated by the tripod base and the movement of the telescope on the mount. I have a NEQ6 Pro and 8inch ACF. The first thing is to align the tripod along the meridian North South with the help of the sun's shadow and the time. This means that with the scope parked it takes up less room. The roof hinges over with the help of a counterweight (not shown on my first video) and the base of the observatory is a equalateral triangle about 5-5 feet high to allow the scope to see most of the sky. This setup allows for access to the scope but is really for remote viewing. The triangular base is approx. 6 feet on each side but the roof requires room on one side to be hinged over. The observatory can be built from 4 sheets of 18mm exterior grade ply and one sheet of 5mm marine ply for the roof and 3 4.2mtr length of 50mm by 100mm treated wood. The cost could be less than £200 if you can use some reclaimed bits. The video I made is about 20 minutes long and involved me thinking and working things out while building it. The triangular construction is much easier and stronger than a square or circular one. The design means I have the scope setup and ready for those short glimpses of clear sky while also able to try remote control of the scope with the roof closed. Since the first video I have put more hinges on the joint and a beam (made from hardwood I bought as an off cut) with a couple of old rail track plates used as counterweights. The next thing is to use a garage door opener to remote the opening of the roof. So here is the link to the video. Please just see it as an example of what you can do, not as a 'this is the way to do it' video. If I was building it again it would be similar but better.
  6. pwalsh61

    Ringing piers

    In another topic I saw a link to (and watched) a video which, to be honest, seemed more like an advertisement than an objective assessment of the construction of piers. One of the topics to consider was the resonance of the pier, or how much vibration was likely to be imparted to the scope should something hit the pier. This set me thinking. In years gone by I dabbled in a bit of railway modelling and one of the books in my collection is "An Approack to Building Finescale Track" by Iain Rice. Now, you might be wondering what this has to do with piers etc. Well, in the book, Iain tackles the problems of baseboard noise. His solution is to use techniques in the audio industry. If my memory serves me well, this involves "Acoustic decoupling" involving materials of different densities so, for example, you would have the timber baseframe, an MDF sub-frame, a layer of fairly dense foam (such as used in camping mats/garden kneelers) then another MDF subframe. The foam would absorb much of the vibrations caused by model stock trundling along. Now, I'm not necessarily suggesting pier tops are made of foam, as that would be pretty daft. However, I was wondering if some form of dense foam could be used between mount and top of pier. The key thing, I think, is the use of a material of different density which can absorb vibrations caused by something striking the pier, perhaps introducing foam/neoprene "washers" on the bolts attaching head to pier so that there isn't a metal on metal link through which vibrations could travel. Useful idea, or am I talking out the top of my head?
  7. Read more and download: http://www.lightvortexastronomy.com/tweet-remote-control.html Tweet Remote Control is a Windows program written in Visual C# 2015, embedding the Tweetinvi and ASCOM references. It is meant to act as an inconspicuous safety backup, particularly useful to those with remote hosting for their astrophotography equipment. The original motivation behind Tweet Remote Control is for when you lose remote control of the remote computer. This can happen due to various reasons, including TeamViewer failing or their server encountering connectivity problems. It is sometimes necessary to restart the computer, or TeamViewer alone, for example, in order to recover remote control. When all else fails, parking your mount and closing your roof may become necessary measures to protect the equipment against possible collisions and from the elements. It is here that Tweet Remote Control can assist, provided the remote computer has an active Internet connection, of course. This stops you needing to have someone to immediately attend to the equipment physically. Put simply, Tweet Remote Control starts with Windows and runs in the background. It connects to a Twitter account of choice and therefore responds to specific commands, effectively sent by tweeting them via the connected Twitter account. The program monitors this connected Twitter account and reads new tweets made. If a tweet made matches a command written into the program, it deletes the tweet, executes the command received and tweets on your behalf (to update you on what is happening). Since all the program requires to function is a connection to a Twitter account, it need only be running on the remote computer with an active Internet connection - the rest is up to your tweet commands! Many features are supported, including control of ASCOM roofs, mounts and power relay switches (as well as Lunatico Astronomia's Seletek Dragonfly). Tweet Remote Control ensures it always starts automatically with Windows (once you connect a Twitter account, that is), and re-authenticates with Twitter automatically every two minutes. This ensures the program is always active with minimum delay, even if the remote computer's Internet connection drops for a period of time. When Tweet Remote Control starts, if it is connected to a Twitter account, it does so minimised to your Windows system tray as a small, black and white icon labelled TRC. Here, the program will remain with no user input required and with no pop-ups whatsoever. The key is being always-on and always-ready without user input and without hassling the user with pop-ups or messages. Finally, Tweet Remote Control is 100% free. Please feel free to contact me for bug reports or to request new features be added! Current list of capabilities in version 1.4: 1. Restart your computer 2. Shut down your computer 3. Restart TeamViewer on your computer 4. Close an ASCOM roof 5. Open an ASCOM roof 6. Check the current status on an ASCOM roof 7. Park an ASCOM mount 8. Check the current status on an ASCOM mount 9. Open power relays (turn off) on a Dragonfly 10. Close power relays (turn on) on a Dragonfly 11. Check power relays on a Dragonfly 12. Open power relays (turn off) on an ASCOM power relay switch 13. Close power relays (turn on) on an ASCOM power relay switch 14. Check power relays on an ASCOM power relay switch
  8. Hi all This is my observatory build record I thought I'd share since there are always some things which are novel and worth repeating elsewhere. I had built a telescope OTA that turned out to be too big for my mount and dome together - i could get it on the mount but couldn't move it without snagging the dome. So I made the decision to sell the dome and make or buy a new one. I always prefer to make things but one came up on Ebay that was worth bidding for at the right price and, having fought off the competition, I made a trp down to Wiltshire to pick up a 2.7m second hand polaris glass-fibre dome. This is the existing building which has since moved to Birmingham... The replacement dome came down really easily into its component parts and into the truck. Cleaning up the parts from the silicon rubber used to seal it was another matter. I probably spent at least two afternoons using a pressure washer and eventually the falt blade from a plane as an effective means of removing the silicon. The dome then spent about two months sitting down the side alley in parts while I re-worked the plot. Being larger than the previous one in diameter, the concrete block the pier sat on had to be moved from the corner of the garden further in, to the new centre of the dome. Moreover, the dome walls of the polaris dome were half a metre shorter than the previous one. So I had to do something - either slice some height off my pier or raise the floor. Tee pier is a 12" tube of steel and I like it being tall to avoid the cricked neck syndrome. Also I didn't want to start slicing the end off or trying to cut a straight section out of the middle and re-welding. Quotes from companies were coming in at silly prices. So I raised the floor. After careful measurement and calculation, with some modelling of telescope size and dome clearances thrown in, I reckoned I needed to raise the floor by about 80 cm in the worst part of a slightly sloping garden. This was to be achieved by sinking 4 4x4" uprights in a square and laying decking on it. First I had to clear the existing concrete to allow a new pier block to be poured. out with the SDS drill and chisels and an hour later, with the use of a post hole digger, I have a 3' deep hle, 12" round with a 8" deep by 30" square flat slab excavated. The flat slab sides are framed with wood to hold the concrete when opoured and some rebar suk in the middle to reinforce the long stem. This is a smaller concrete pour than the last one. One big one had been enough to show me that its not really necessary to go massive as long as you go deep and stable. I recall 9 bags of ballast and 2 of cement and some postcrete I had lying around went into the hole, along with some brick ends etc to make up the space. The cenrew was marked by a bolt in the cement which was removed later. This bolt set into a hole in the base of the pier to allow easy marking of the base holes for drilling. The holes were drilled 25mm diameter by 8" deep for 20mm studding on a 18" square pattern. The alignment of the square around the centre mark was determined by sitting the pier level on the central stud and using a piece of studding bolted into the centre of the top of the pier, the length of the stud was adjusted by moving the bolts until Polaris just crested the top of the stud when viewed from the south reference mark on the top plate. Now I had the alignment, the pier was then placed on top with the studs bolted tight in it at full length while the mortar around the studs in their drilled holes set. The pier was essentially used both to locate the holes and to ensure that the bolts were all parallel as they set. Finally the pier was set to working height and accurately levelled. The four uprights were concreted in place on a square with 3m sides. Four 8" by 2" joists were bolted to these uprights using 9" bolts and fixing spikes, 2 bolts to each end, one joist to a side. Between these joists were fixed more joists using joist hangers on a 18" center spacing, except to allow enough space for the foot of the pier to be lifted through the floor, so there was a 20" spacing there between joist sides. I had been recommended to use joist ties rather than noggins. These went in really quickly and easily and stiffened the floor up significantly. The rest of the effort was just laying the 38mm redwod decking and screwing in 100s of screws. I eventually succumbed and bought myself a new drill to do the job with. The dome went on next, we had to play with the foot ring, the wall ring and the topping ring, trying to work out the relevant positions until we twigged they were all related to the door position. Once we had that, the rest just fell into place. Thousands of bolts later, the component parts of the dome were all in place ready for sealing. The foot ring screwed to the deck, the bolts all tightened using the drill to torque and sealing mastic used to close the gaps for waterproofing. Finally the foot ring was sealed on the outside using window frame low modulus rubber. It flowed easily into the decking ruts and gaps and seems to have taken well. Sealing out the dew that rolls off the roof. Issues to face have been: The original concrete was set in the ground where a compost heap had been. It had all dried out and contracted 8 inches. Hence the ground level was 8" lower than expected once uncovered. So I had to lower the entire decking by 8" or the height of a joist, or build up the concrete 8" higher than expected. I chose to lower the joists since at that point I hadn't put anything more than the 4 side joists in. For power I put in a small frame to mount an external waterproof socket pair at the end of 50m or armoured cable from the house. This has an eight- way individually switched distribution board plugged in to power the computer, screen and ethernet-over-power adapter. I also cut a new hole in the pier at the top - so there is now a pair of 4" holes, front and back and a new one at the decking height. This all helps with cable management inside the pier. The internal lighting of the dome I copied from elsewhere - a 8m strip of red leds was fitted around the dome under the top ring, controlled using one of those Ebay PWM controllers. At the minimum setting it is still a touch bright so needs a limiting resistor in series. I also built a curved desk which hangs off the top ring bolts and carries a monitor stand pillar. This shelf supports another longer shelf below, where the keyboard, mouse and light controller sit. it all works rather well actually. If anything it needs to be bigger, with holes for eyepieces in and enough space for a log book. The final twiddles include: Remote desktop screen at the telescope pier, its a usb touchscreen to present CDC maps. Add electric lock/unlock to the dome shutter. Continuing work going forward: Motorise the dome for rotation. I am removing two side centering wheels and attaching them to motors to drive on the inner overhanging dome lip and writing a dome driver in c# under ASCOM. Motorise the roof shutter. Its an up-and-over two-part shutter which slides on teflon sliders but is quite heavy. I have an idea to use 1mm wire rope to pull it up to the slot top on a winch and pull it back using the same size wire running in bike wire sheath along the slot to the bottom where it pulls the shutter down when the winch is reversed. Illuminate the steps. Its dark there - I have bought a PIR sensor to detect people approaching and will use this to turn on leds under the steps for footing . Since the wife also painted the door (see down) I thought I would also add a sound player with tardis noise playing when triggered. Add an external scope mount on top of one of the uprights. So I can do visual while photographing in the dome. Last but not east - the wife redid the door with some custom paintwork... And the dome interior with the telescope that caused all the grief in the first place - the 12" f/10 Cassegrain.
  9. Change of circumstances a few years ago unfortunately meant that I had to let go of all my astro equipment - Paramount, Tak scope and my beautiful Pulsar dome Now though, I'm back on track and I will be in a position soon to reacquire some if not all of the equipment back. Being able to do things second time round has also allowed me to really have a good think of what I want to get out of this hobby, so my thoughts will follow. But I would welcome feedback from you guys to ensure my thoughts aren't too way off the mark. Mount - mainly visual but with a nod to possibly video and a little imaging, as they say repeatedly - mount first, mount second and mount third in order of priority! Usual suspects - considering - EQ8 (at this price point I can't dismiss it), Mesu mount 200 (excellent feedback from Olly and others), 10 micron (again excellent feedback from Pers and others) Observatory - thinking 8' x 8' roll off, either self build or one of the shelf, via Ian King Imaging - depending on time it may unfortunately be the latter Scope - currently have a Celestron 100ED and a whole bunch of quality eyepieces / diagonals / filters etc, but ideally want a fast smallish frac so considering SW ED80 or something similar, keep the 100ed and then a light bucket considering Celestron c11 or 9.25 (hyper star compatibility would be good) - this may change depending on the final budget and obviously input from the CFO ('er indoors) Total budget is looking at 8k, but this could be stretched to 9 or even 10k with valid persuasion ...... but we'll see - and I don't mind buying second hand equipment, have done in the past and will probably do again. The sale of my beloved Ducati will help fund this as after a few 'near misses' I have realised life is better viewed through an eyepiece rather than looking up from the pavement! Thoughts welcome guys - just need feedback I'm on the right track. Oh and the whole lot will be bolted down in my back garden in Lincoln, small village, not overly light polluted and great views of all parts of the sky (as I live in a bungalow). Thanks for reading, Neil.
  10. Astroegg

    Herstmonceux visit

    I'm going on a school trip with primary school children to Herstmonceux. I've never been before! Is there anything I should especially look out for that shouldn't be missed? It's unlikely there will be a great amount of time whilst there so I could do with some insider info if anybody has been before... Any suggestions and know-how much appreciated.
  11. dear all i am looking to have an observing tent to use it for astro imaging equipment that i use on my house roof because it's very difficult to build my setup each day , so please any idea for getting this tent online,and is there any terms that should be consider before buying this tent or any body use tent for the same purpose.
  12. I'm in the planning stage for my own observatory and have been looking at Roll-off designs, but am now having a think about a possible DIY dome. My design would be based on a geodesic. At present I am thinking about how the dome rotation would operate. Having looked at several online dome builds, most people seem to sit the dome on a circular base, which either rolls on casters mounted on the walls somehow, or the base actually has the casters which roll on the top of the wall in some way. For the sake of discussion, let's imagine that there are two circular rings, one on which the dome rests and which has 6-8 casters on the underside that roll on an identical circular ring attached to the building walls. When I exert a tangential force on the dome in an attempt to rotate it, it seems to me that the dome will actually want to move sideways (not rotate), which several online sources seem to confirm. People seem to solve this issue by making the castors roll on some kind of track, or they fit guide casters to keep everything in the right place, essentially forcing rotation. So, because rotating is not the natural tendancy of the dome, it seems to me that the caster wheels are continually being forced to steer round a curve when actually they just want to go in a straight line tangential to the circular rings. Thus, I would expect them to kind of skid a bit as they operate, a bit like a bicycle might do if it had to follow a circular path but I wasn't allowed to turn the handle bars at all. (Actually, the bicycle probably wouldn't be able to follow the path in that case as there would be no guide force to make it skid). This leads me to believe that flat bottom wheels would be a bad choice because they'd create too much friction and make it hard to turn the dome. Much better wheels would be rounded ones (donut-shaped) that have minimal surface area in contact with the rolling surface so that skidding friction is kept as low as possible. Is my thinking logical here, or am I just not on the right track at all? Assuming I'm understanding what is going on well, it seems to me that the best thing I could use would actually be spherical ball bearing castors (think like mouse ball) that could rotate however they needed to help the dome rotate with minimal friction. I'd be looking to automate the dome rotation later, so having something that moves easily would be fairly important given that I'd probably go for a friction drive wheel. Does anyone have any experience here or a good understanding of the mechanics involved to give some good advice on how to make the dome easy to rotate? David
  13. Emmanuel Marchal

    New observatory project!

    Here we go. It's been a long long time I've been wanted to have my own obsy. Having recently (2y ago ) upgraded my scope to a LX200 10", I found that setting up that scope was no longer a 10 min operation and as a result, my observations got severely reduced to close to nothing. I have to admit I've taken on a full house renovation last year with my family and 2 young children so been quite busy. But now that the house is done, 2016 will be all about getting the garden done and that mean a new shed.... which has to have space for the telescope. The old shed was a simple 7x4, so it makes sense to upgrade to 13x7 doesn't it?! A small spot for the lawn mower and the rest for the scope plus maybe a warm room. Still working on exact plan and dimensions so I will start posting more soon and keen to get feedback. One thing for sure is I've decided to build it from scratch rather than buy. just much more fun. One first question is wether i need a concrete slab or concrete foundations or i can simply lay it on top of stone tiles. The garden is well protected so not worried about wind. Thoughts? manu
  14. Barrilles

    Roll off for my Mak Cas

    I thought I would share this design. I needed a house for the 6 inch Mak Cas on a pier. I wanted it bug proof and I wanted a sitting area near the scope that I could warm. Some wind block would be nice. After reviewing a lot of roll off roof designs I went with a roll off building instead. It rolls to the west, where trees would otherwise block the sky. I am clear to the south, and the house blocks a bit to the north. The 5 by 10 building was built to roll on 6 casters on top of square steel tracks. There is a 3 by 5 warm room in the back. The floor is steel for rigidity, while the building is normal 2x construction with hardie exterior to match the house. Its a bit heavy to push by hand, so we added a bicycle crank set to move it along. The bicycle frame is inside, with a very narrow slot in the floor for the chain. I have yet to install the electrical as winter came and slowed down construction. So far, no rodents, wasps, bats or other guests have been able to move in. Enjoy.
  15. Hi, we have recently bought a new house in a semi-rural area close to Filey, North Yorks and requiring some help please regarding best location in the garden for siting an observatory. The "agreed" spot - that the boss is happy with (ie cannot see obs from the house) offers a view from 270° to 120°. From West to North viewing is ok above 50° (house) (270° to 359°) Due North to ESE is virtually uninterrupted. (0° to 120°) Down side is the trees to the south are too high (40') and not mine to deal with so that is going to be a real downer for Orion I think. Can anyone with "sky knowledge" please help and let me know how good or bad this outlook actually is - more importantly, what large galaxies/nebulas I stand to miss in the 120 - 269° direction. If it is a non starter then please be honest I have included a photo of the garden - the green dome is superimposed and where the planned location of the observatory will be built - the direction indicators are spot on and the hedgeline is about 12 feet high. Is there such a site online where you can enter your observing window and in turn it lets you know what is visible over the course of a calendar year ? Thanks in advance Oh, if I tell the missus "we have to move again" there will be some telescope gear appearing on here very cheap and me thinks some surgeons could be learning new "extraction techniques"
  16. I am putting this in Astro Lounge as opposed to DIY Observatories because, well, I probably won't be doing it (all) myself....... I stuck my neck out at my societies AGM and raised the prospect of having our own observatory. Arguments against were expense, lots of folk have their own dome, location and security. Arguments for included outreach, lots of folk want but can't have their own observatory, skills progression. I was tasked with a feasabilty/ cost study before we decide whether to approach organisations for either funding assistance or permission to site an obsy on their ground. To kick start the costing side of the study, I need to asses what is required (outside of a plot of land for the obsy). My first thoughts are:- Shell. I am thinking sustainable so a substantial wooden structure including a dome and warm room. 'Flatpack' with DIY assembly would reduce financial impact. Perhaps increase the warm room size into something large enough to become our meeting hall? Power. Mains would be best but, would a solar panel/ battery combo suffice? Pier. This would be one of the DIY part of the project and I am thinking a reinforced concrete pier with mount fixings to suit the desired mount though a steel pier is a possibility. Water/ Drainage. As a society obsy, with outreach use a goal, somewhere to produce refreshing beverages (and to download the later result) may be desired. Mains and sewer or mains water and septic tank? What have I missed? Thanks Matt
  17. From the album: Mike's Images

    © Copyright Mike O'Day 2014 - all rights reserved

  18. Well the time has come, along with the all important permission, for the start of my very own observatory build. I've looked at lots of builds on SGL, many of which I'm really impressed with, but obviously each build has its own constraints in relation to time, money, size of garden and of course now permitted development rules. With this all taken in to account I decided on the following as a general concept: Overall size to be 3.6m x 2.4m (12' x 8' in old money) I have decided to have a warm room, even though I do image mostly remotely, as I thought I could store equipment in there, and it could house the power supply etc. Also it's a place to go when I've been told off for doing something wrong, as you do! Main scope room to be 2.3m x 2.4m and warm room 1.2m x 2.4m. I will be using a roll off roof, custom design but really nothing new, and this is likely to be pent as I have limited space for it to open. Being pent makes it easier to open only a section of it (I think). Main base frame is beam and block using 7n MD concrete blocks sat on hardcore, topped with 150 x 50 pressure treated joists. I am using 75 x 50 for all the general framing as I want to use 50mm Celotex insulation with a reasonable air gap. I will be using a steel pier on a 1m3 plug. I think that's about the general overview, and I have drawn it all up in CAD and Sketchup for a 3D perspective (SWMBO doesn't get CAD drawings). I know the build is going to take some time, and I'm aiming to be imaging in there by the Spring of 2017 being realistic, with total completion in the Summer. I will try to get it done earlier but don't want to compromise quality for speed, and of course work gets in the way, with only weekends currently available for working on it. I'll update this thread as much as I can and please feel free to throw and comments or recommendations my way as I will be explaining why I am doing what I'm doing in each post, but as it's my first observatory build I would welcome any and all comments, good or bad. Let the build begin
  19. Astrofriend

    Sardinia Observatory visit

    Hi, My girlfriend and I have just come back from Sardinia island in Italy. One thing we did down there was to visit an amateur observatory. We did didn't plan to do this in advance so we just go up there to see if we could find anyone there. No luck with that but we got a very beautiful view from the summit. Here are a couple of photos from the place: http://www.astrofriend.eu/astronomy/observatory-sites/sardinia-observatory/sardinia-observatory.html What a dream, 1100 meters altitude! There is also a link to the astronomy club, if you plan a visit in advance you maybe will get a chance to have the guided tour, I think they have one every Friday with clear sky. A very nice place, visit it if you are nearby! /Lars
  20. Adaaam75

    Flip top lid!!!

    Hi guys and girls, I would like your thoughts on my grand design for my observatory as Kevin McCloud is busy and I am looking for that little gem of advice which may help me navigate around or avoid a common or not so common problem already addressed by the informed users of SL. I have a (second) shed measuring 2.5m x 3.0m and this is to be my observatory with great views 340° of the night sky (tree hiding NNW so not an issue). I live in the country 10 miles away from the nearest town so light pollution isn't an issue although I'm not in a dark skies site I have looked at the website below and found my area is in a reasonably good area for darkness. So to not ruin the aesthetics of part of our garden I have been looking for alternatives to the rolling roof option. I have a flat roof at a slight angle to accommodate rain and have decided the best option is to cut the roof in half and open it up like a book with both halves folding on hinges to 170° being supported on chain with a rope pulls to pull them back in and dampeners to stop them slamming down. There will be a fixed pier and suitable wiring for plug sockets, red wall light and a consumer box. A desk along one wall and storage space. What are your thoughts? I will post pictures when i begin! http://www.avex-asso.org/dossiers/wordpress/?page_id=127&lang=en_GB#
  21. Hello, This is my first Milky Way timelapse Canon eos 1200d with kit lens 18-55mm. Made 212 shots at 25s exporsure iso 3200.
  22. Hi all, It's taken several weekends of graft but I'm finally there, bar a bit of cable tidying. I'd decided to go with the roll-away sentry box style arrangement after seeing a pic in S@N magazine; also andyo was an inspiration with his post - http://stargazerslounge.com/topic/156319-roll-off-shed-not-roof/. The first thing to do was dig a trench to level the ground, with a deeper hole for the pier plinth. In the end I built the plinth with big concrete blocks rather than pouring a single lump - it was much (much) cheaper this way and seems to be pretty solid. I then drilled holes and bolted the EQ6 pillar to this plinth using some M16 (I think?) bolts and Rawlplug's R-Kem concoction. Next was the decking, which went on a frame built over and around the plinth hole so it'd be secure all around the pier. I made sure my extension cable was poking up between pier and decking before screwing it down I then added buffers at either end and some rails to keep the shed rolling in the right place. The shed itself is 4 foot square; I wanted the whole build to be as small as possible so it wouldn't dominate the garden! To start with I sliced a hole just wide enough for the pier in the base, added a bunch of reinforcing blocks of wood, and used 12 wheels to support the shed. I then came up with a way of bolting the shed base to the ground in both positions - this would keep the thing held down during the endless Dartmoor storms, and make it a tad easier to build the shed in the first place. For this I used the original EQ6 feet as the big heads would make it easy to screw and unscrew by hand. Once the shed was built it was easy to roll the whole thing smoothly into and out of position, keeping within the rails and stoppng at the buffers so it doesn't touch the pier. A bit of tidying up and it's all done! Next steps will be to paint all the sticking-up bits white so I avoid auto-kebabbage in the dark. Here's a close up of one of the foot bolts holding it all down: ...and here are a couple of photos of the completed shed in 'closed' and 'observe' mode: Anyway I hope this might help some of you if you have similar plans. Of course I'm yet to actually use the observatory....yes, Storm Desmond is my fault...sorry. Jim
  23. No doubt many of you already know about this but I came accross this free ebook and I thought some of you might be interested ... The book has 188 pages and includes around 70 odd black and white images of nebulae and clusters captured in the few years at the end of the 1800s and early 1900s. One example is plate 55, the Trifid Nebula The ebook can be downloaded for free from : http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/36470
  24. Like many of us, I was a little bit peeved at the time it takes to move about 50-100Kg of kit, set it up, make all the electrical connections, polar align, calibrate the GOTO system and fix anything that has gone wrong (it always does) prior to starting out a session - and that's if it's still clear. And then there's the packing it away again at the end of the night. It was such a chore that unless the forecast was clear all night long I tended not to bother. To make my hobby enjoyable again, I needed an observatory. There are a number of options: 1) Roll-off roof 2) Roll-off shed 3) Clamshell 4) Dome These all have their pros and cons. 1 & 2 are cheap, but need additional garden space to roll them off. The way my garden was set up, and the location I wanted the observatory, meant that I discounted them. The only clamshell easily available in the UK is the SkyPod, and whilst I considered it for some time, I finally got put off by the trouble imaging straight up and the reports of leaks. So that left a dome. The problem with a dome is that they are expensive - and for imaging they need automating (even more expensive). Still, that seemed like the best solution for me. In The UK, the dome that is most easily available is the one from Pulsar observatories. It is available in 2.2 and 2.7m sizes and can be made in white or green (possibly other colours too, white and green are the only ones I have seen). I had seen a dome at a fellow astronomers house - and he had successfully motorized it which meant that I could follow his plans. I'm, OK at tinkering with things, and can actually even be good at it, but for expediencies sake I'd rather get something off the shelf and I'd be rather upset if I found that I couldn't motorize it as I wouldn't be able to image which is my only interest in the hobby. So when Pulsar adjusted their design (see later) and made a fully motorised observatory "off the shelf" an option I decided to go for it. I bought a dome, dome controller, shutter controller and a Shelyak Dome Tracker. Pulsar 2.2m Dome Oberservatory Shelyak Dome Tracker I took a while building the base in my garden - there's a separate thread for that. It needs at least a 2.4m circular or square concrete slab. I went the circular route as it's much harder to build. They suggest a 1m square base for the pier, but I decided 75cm would be more than enough. I made a £500 deposit by credit card (for the protection it offers) and then the rest was paid by bank transfer 3 months later when the dome was ready to deliver. Unfortunately they are built in Norwich and I live in Somerset, so there was a hefty delivery charge. They also offer to assemble everything for a small fee and given that I was into this for quite a sum already, I thought I may as well ensure it got set up properly. I bought an Astro Engineering pier from them too. On the appointed day the guys from Pulsar arrived and set about work, fortunately in good weather. They were finished by mid-afternoon and showed me how the observatory worked - as well as installing up the basic Shelyak Dome Tracker software on my PC. Unfortunately we hit a bit of a snag here, as it wouldn't work! I got a second laptop out, and fortunately it did work on that - but when I checked it again a few hours later after they had gone, it didn't work anymore. Time to pull my hair out! To cut a long story short, I had email communication with the guys from Shelyak and Pulsar over the next 24 hours - they identified a problem with a component not working properly at low temperatures (a December install) and they sent me a new unit. They also wrote a new driver, which meant that the faulty component wouldn't cause trouble anymore anyway. Good service. When I finally got permanent electricity installed to my observatory, I set up my kit properly. The dome moves by two motorised wheels (blue) pressing on the side of the dome. These are powered by a 12v 10a transformer. There is another wheel (the grey one) which is attached to a rotary encoder so the dome knows how far it has travelled. The "home" position is set by a metallic sensor - mine is at 290 degrees. You can see it in between the IR sensors below - it's just a bit of tin foil. When the dome is told to home itself, it rotates until it finds the home sensor and then sets its internal position to 290. From there on, it counts clockwise and anticlockwise motion via the rotary encoder. In addition to the computer control, the dome can be set to track at sidereal rate (or various fractions/multiples thereof - remember, the dome isn't equatorially mounted) if you didn't want to use a computer. The Shelyak unit is nicely hidden away behind the dome controller metalwork too. It connects to the computer via RS232, but they throw in a USB-RS232 cable in case you need one. The shutter mechanism is attached to the dome part which makes getting power to it more difficult. The solution that Pulsar have come up with is a 12V battery and a solar panel. To send signals from the Shelyak Dome Tracker, they have utilised an IR connection. The open/close shutter will thus only work when the dome is at the home position, as this is when the IR sensors are aligned. It closes the shutter by means of a chain and sprocket. There is a manual open/close button in addition to the computer control. To get the dome automated you need to enter a few details, such as the size of the observatory, the number of steps for a full revolution, the position of the pier how high the centre of the scope is above the rotation axis of the mount. After that, it's plain sailing - rather than use the normal ASCOM driver for the mount, you use the ASCOM Dome Control driver instead (comes with ASCOM) - which itself connects to the dome and to the mount. You slave the dome to the mount and then when you issue slew commands, it moves both the dome and the mount to the right position and keeps them there throughout the night. And this is it in action:

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