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  • Welcome
    • Welcome
  • Beginners
    • Getting Started General Help and Advice
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    • Getting Started With Observing
    • Getting Started With Imaging
  • Community
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  • Observing
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  • EEVA (Electronically Enhanced Visual Astronomy)
    • EEVA - Discussion
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  • Imaging
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    • Imaging - Image Processing, Help and Techniques
    • Imaging - Smartphone / Tablets
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  • WADAS's WADAS Discussion Forum
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  • Essex Cloud Dodgers's Topics
  • Essex Cloud Dodgers's New equipment
  • NLO and Planetarium's Topics
  • Astronomical Society of Edinburgh's Discussion
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  • Hairy Stars Club (Comets)'s Tutorials and Guides
  • Hairy Stars Club (Comets)'s General Discussion
  • Hairy Stars Club (Comets)'s Observing Campaigns
  • Hairy Stars Club (Comets)'s Analysis results
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Blogs

  • Blog 16571
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  • Viewing the night sky through a Telescope
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  • My Astronomy Life
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  • 2019 Observations
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  • Astrophotography is hard.
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  • Blog 12673
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  • TransparentBadger's Blog
  • SOUTH WEST ASTRONONOMY FAIR 2020
  • Blog 12674
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  • Domain backordering & monitoring service
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  • M00NMonkey's Blog
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  • Blog 16725
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  • dobsonuser's Blog
  • Observation Log
  • Blog 12688
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  • Blog 22037
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  • Tibbz's Blog
  • Astro-related Auction 'Lots'!
  • Blog 12692
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  • Alfven's Blog
  • Celestron C8, C6, Explore Scientific 127 ED Triplet
  • Blog 12695
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  • Blog 26950
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  • Jonathan's solar observations
  • Blog 12699
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  • Planetary Geologist's Blog
  • Cosmic musings
  • Blog 12720
  • SOLAR OBSERVATION REPORTS
  • Blog 22157
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  • harryt's Blog
  • Learn astronomy
  • Blog 12723
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  • Activity Blog
  • Blog 12742
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  • BIGFOOT's Blog
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  • BIGFOOT's Blog
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  • Ttyttt
  • New Zealand - Astro Memories
  • Blog 16843
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  • headphonesky's Blog
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  • nameunknown's Blog
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  • okbeautyfacial
  • Blog 12775
  • finderscope
  • Blog 22322
  • Blog 27061
  • Blog 29279
  • test's Blog
  • Blog 12776
  • Blog 16948
  • Blog 22413
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  • jonathan's Oberving Blog
  • Blog 12787
  • Blog 16950
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  • Blog 27073
  • Blog 29286
  • leicestergeordie's Blog
  • Blog 12792
  • Blog 16963
  • Help required by another newbie :-/
  • Blog 27075
  • Blog 29289
  • Geryllax Vu's Blog
  • The dome has landed
  • Blog 16974
  • Blog 22490
  • Blog 27077
  • Blog 29293
  • dorothypenelope
  • Blog 12799
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  • Blog 27080
  • Blog 29294
  • Liam Watters
  • Blog 12824
  • Blog 16988
  • Blog 22533
  • Blog 27082
  • Blog 29304
  • APPLE's Blog
  • Blog 12826
  • Blog 17025
  • Blog 22542
  • Blog 27099
  • Blog 29308
  • E3RCH's Blog
  • Blog 12828
  • Blog 17080
  • Blog 22548
  • Blog 27103
  • Blog 29310
  • Lab of Oz
  • Blog 12835
  • Blog 17104
  • Blog 22574
  • Blog 27105
  • Blog 29312
  • attewella's Blog
  • Blog 12838
  • Blog 17149
  • Nick's blog, including AOSX (Astronomy on OSX)
  • Blog 27121
  • Blog 29316
  • Spacecadet2010's Blog
  • Blog 12861
  • Blog 17154
  • Todd8137s adventure into space
  • Blog 27135
  • Blog 29332
  • inatthedeepend's Blog
  • Blog 12868
  • Blog 17157
  • Blog 22658
  • Blog 27138
  • Blog 29348
  • harrodleyla's Blog
  • Blog 12875
  • Blog 17176
  • Blog 22689
  • Blog 27139
  • Blog 29350
  • betigib's Blog
  • Blog 12890
  • Blog 17179
  • Blog 22718
  • Blog 27141
  • Blog 29352
  • Carl Sagan Videos
  • Blog 12901
  • Blog 17225
  • Wordpress Webhosting
  • Blog 27142
  • Blog 29353
  • great_bear's Blog
  • Blog 17228
  • Blog 22741
  • Blog 27180
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  • cocktail dresses
  • Blog 12934
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  • Blog 22747
  • Blog 27187
  • Blog 29355
  • Viper2000's Blog
  • Blog 12940
  • Blog 17249
  • Blog 22798
  • Blog 27208
  • Blog 29357
  • spacenut's Blog
  • Blog 12983
  • Blog 17287
  • Blog 22857
  • Blog 27217
  • Blog 29360
  • Vimax Singapore Reviews - Vimax Top Male Enhancement Pills Products
  • Blog 13013
  • Blog 17337
  • Blog 22875
  • Blog 27218
  • Blog 29365
  • alex's Blog
  • Blog 13020
  • Blog 17394
  • Blog 22894
  • Blog 27219
  • Blog 29368
  • supriyaatco's Blog
  • Blog 13026
  • Blog 17398
  • Blog 22970
  • Blog 27223
  • Blog 29369
  • ChrisMseeker's Blog
  • Blog 13061
  • Blog 17490
  • Blog 22971
  • Blog 27224
  • Blog 29382
  • mytelescope's Blog
  • Blog 13080
  • View From Neath
  • Blog 23056
  • Blog 27227
  • Blog 29385
  • mytelescope's Blog
  • Blog 13086
  • Blog 17501
  • Blog 23057
  • Blog 27228
  • Blog 29387
  • what atlas should you get with a 8" dob
  • Blog 13102
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  • Blog 29389
  • DIY Pier Project
  • Blog 13103
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  • William32's Blog
  • Blog 13107
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  • collamition
  • Blog 13113
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  • what atlas
  • Blog 13131
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  • Blog 29408
  • Round Midnight
  • Blog 13143
  • Blog 17577
  • Blog 23188
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  • Steve H's Blog
  • Blog 13176
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  • iristrista's Blog
  • Blog 13213
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  • iristrista's Blog
  • Blog 13224
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  • Gottzi's Blog
  • Blog 13227
  • Blog 17622
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  • africankitty's Blog
  • Blog 13252
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  • todd8137's Blog
  • Blog 13262
  • Blog 17648
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  • Blog 29565
  • Moon man show me your feet
  • Blog 13295
  • Blog 17661
  • Blog 23368
  • Blog 27372
  • Blog 29566
  • Spikey's Blog
  • Blog 13315
  • Blog 17668
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  • Blog 27376
  • Blog 29622
  • Steve H's Blog
  • Blog 13324
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  • Astronome's Blog
  • Blog 13360
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  • crashtestdummy's Blog
  • Blog 13370
  • Blog 17722
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  • Blog 27382
  • Blog 29684
  • Sussex Dark Sites
  • Blog 13374
  • Blog 17772
  • Blog 23479
  • Blog 27402
  • Blog 29768
  • My Astrophotography Journey
  • Blog 13376
  • Blog 17776
  • Blog 23491
  • Blog 27403
  • Blog 29771
  • LodestarLive Development
  • Blog 13377
  • Blog 17777
  • Blog 23494
  • Blog 27421
  • Blog 29775
  • Koraki's Blog
  • Blog 13380
  • Blog 17783
  • Blog 23500
  • Blog 27422
  • Blog 29795
  • redgreen1's Blog
  • Blog 13411
  • Blog 17793
  • Blog 23638
  • Blog 27427
  • Blog 29810
  • The Stars Are My Pills
  • Blog 13420
  • Inane ramblings of baldy bain
  • Blog 23649
  • Blog 27428
  • Blog 29822
  • Blog 13422
  • Blog 17842
  • Collimation Craziness!!
  • Blog 27440
  • Blog 29849
  • Johnny4365's Blog
  • Blog 13428
  • Blog 17871
  • Blog 23673
  • Blog 27442
  • Blog 29868
  • stargazer benjji's Blog
  • Buzz buzz buzz !!
  • Blog 17876
  • Blog 23687
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  • BexSmyth's Blog
  • Blog 13439
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  • whitestar83's Blog
  • Blog 13481
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  • GrahamTutt's Blog
  • Blog 13503
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  • Blog 23722
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  • mart1983's Blog
  • Blog 13509
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  • Moox's Blog
  • Blog 13563
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  • Jimmy Zhu's Blog
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  • Weezy's Blog
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  • darry lwall's Blog
  • East Midlands Stargazers
  • Blog 18033
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  • Celestial adventures
  • Blog 13675
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  • stash_old's Blog
  • Blog 13701
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  • My info i dont want to lose
  • Blog 13707
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  • What have I seen.....
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  • My program in JavaScript related to stars
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  • Confusion
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  • prabal's Astronmy log
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  • Lightridges-new version
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  • Which end do I look into?
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  • Stream of Bewilderment
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  • 4 Stellar Shows This Week
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  • Llama in Space
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  • Onwards to Mars, onwards to Mars!
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  • Explosions in the Sky
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  • Mike's random stuff blog..
  • Jupiters moons
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  • A 'StarGazers' Journey
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  • Feeling Through the Darkness
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  1. I thought that this video of perhaps the most well engineered trailer observatory might wake your interest. I was very exited when i first saw the trailer and when Anders (the owner) let me in, my yaw dropped to the ground! You can find the video here: https://youtu.be/LwFM_5mCspU Best regards / Daniel - Exo Photography https://youtu.be/LwFM_5mCspU
  2. Hello all, After months of trawling through SGL for ideas and inspiration, I've decided to bite the bullet and build a mini garden observatory for my 150PDS on a HEQ5. So many of the builds and threads on here have been brilliant and a testament to this communities ingenuity and skills beyond astronomy! I was fed up with the setup and take down time for my astro setup, especially when my kit normally lived in my office on the 2nd floor. I wanted to build something small as my garden is not very big and I could only get planning permission from the wife if I kept it as small as possible. I did spend a lot of time thinking about how to slide the roof as a lot of the designs here are for sliding roofs that are on wheels / rails. this design is really good but it also meant that I would need additional structures in the garden for the roof to slide on to and that would take up more space. In the end I decided to go for heavy duty drawer slides as my obsy was only going to be as big as the scope 'swing area'. I'll update on this thread as I progress but please bear in mind that I have very limited DIY skills or tools so I am going to take things a little slow and my posts will be filled with mistakes but I guess its all part of the learning process. Part 1 - the HEQ5 mount My first task was to build a pier mount for my HEQ5. For this I used some brake disks after numerous examples posted here. The exact models where TRW Brake Discs Pair Front DF1608 3322937807697 for about £20 on ebay. They seem to fir the HEQ5 perfectly. It was akiller to drill the 16mm holes in them but after a few days and some really shaky arms from the drill vibrations, they were done! Then came a selection of M16 threaded bars to hold everything together and a custom plate for the bottom and some M12 bolds for added strength as these would also go into the concrete pier. The idea was to fill a 200mm wide plastic tube with concrete and place this inside.
  3. Day 1 12/10/2015 Well Ive decided to build a mobile Observatory to allow easy movement and hopefully set up on sites quicker.This Blog will record the process in the various stages of the build conversion project. Donor vehicle is A 2004 Mercedes Benz frontline Ambulance with 200k on the clock. The engine is misfiring and preliminary checks would indicate piston trouble, as the engine is misfiring / lumpy and has excess back pressure at the oil filler cap. First job is to remove the engine from the vehicle as sump access is not good, I will likely need to drop the sump . Hopefully there will not be any major damage to the engine bores as that will mean a replacement engine. The conversion will take approx 6 stages to completion and a build time due to costs of around 10 months. 1/ Repair Engine unit. 2/ Install additional imobiliser,security lock upgrades and tracker system. 3/ Fit large sliding roof 4/ Fit an elevating Pier 5/ Fit a self leveling system to enable stability on site 6/ Re Enable Power supplies and safety check on electrics
  4. From the album: Mike's Images

    © Copyright Mike O'Day 2014 - all rights reserved

  5. 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.
  6. I can't resist any longer! Finally I'm getting started on my observatory project.This has a been a number of years in the planning, mostly because i'm not the kind of the person who is good at getting projects underway in the first place. I've had a few woes over the last couple of the years, perhaps i'll elaborate in the near future in a non-astro thread, one of which has seen me now struggling with even a relavtively low amount of lifting and carrying. So, since my kit got very little use last winter my aim is to get myself up and running with a roll-off-roof observatory to give me a permenant set up.I have planned said observatory a number of times over in various guises and locations in recent months, but now, i've got a plan, got a location and have broken ground!I will of course attach photos when i've got something to show, but for now you'll have to use your imagination to visualise a big hole (which I certainly didn't dig myself!) and four sticks marking the footprint. Not much, but it's a start, right?Here is the plan.This is being built at my parents house, who are fortunate enough to live pretty much in the middle of a field with little nearby in the way of street lights etc. It's far from a perfect site about with a lot of light pollution from the humber off to the west, but not bad in the scheme of things you could hope for. I've studied many of the threads on here and have come up with an idea that pinches bits from here and there and my plan is hopefully something I can make work.The plan for the base is to first make a low level deck that is 3m x 4.2m as this suits the timber lengths well. In old money thats around 9'10 by 13'9 and i'll apologise in advance for swapping and changing between the two. So the deck will consist of 5 concrete posts down each of the long lengths and then a ring beam around the outside, from here there will be a suspended floor on joist hangers which will get covered with thick ply to be the floor. From the bottom of the ring beam (tanalised timber) there will be a small hole wire mesh covering the gap and dug a spade or so down to reduce the chances of the wildlife moving in underneath. As I said, the property is somewhat in the sticks and there is no escaping rabbits, rats, foxes etc, so at the very least covering the sides will deter them. I considered building a dwarf wall around the outside (particularly like Malc-c did, your thread was a huge inspiration!) but have decided against it as the site is somewhat sloped and it will be easier to make up the difference on posts/deck than a lot of extra brick work, plus it isn't directly accessible from the driveway so all materials will need moving manually a fair way.So, at the moment we have a hole that is around 0.9m in all dimensions and a load of enthusiam, waiting for the guy to come and get the posts in.One thing that i'm already not clear on after a boat load of research is the use of membranes etc in the floor / deck. So any input is welcome. Since the sides of my base won't be enclosed, other than the mesh wire, it should be pretty well ventilated, buit i'm not sure on whether there is a need (or reason against) putting a breathable membrane between the joist tops and the ply covering.Comments and ideas welcome. Apologies in advance that this may go on for a while!CheersStevp​
  7. Hi, I have recently bought and mounted a third version of a weather monitoring station, this time a non DIY product - The Lunatico AAG Cloudwatcher and the Solo computer with it. I have been running a weather monitor for five years now, but because i lack front-end coding (or hasn't taken the time learning it) I have been looking for a out-of-the-box product which presents the data in a nice way. The difference between this product and the two other models I have made earlier is the raspberry pi and the webserver capability. The earlier versions hade the capability to output a "safe" or "not safe" command to my sequence program. This version from lunatico has the capability to output a folder in my network with a boltwood textfile, or direct via ASCOM. So far, i have been running this for two weeks now and it is working very nice. The data is presented on a webpage very nice and it has 100% uptime as of now. Just one time, the cloud temperature has been presented wrong, this happend during a weather change from +2 degrees celsius and overcast to about -10 degree celsius with clear sky in a matter in a couple of hours. please feel free to comment and ask questions /Daniel
  8. I and my girlfriend was out in the forest and looking for Sweden's ancient history. We found what we looked for, but also something totally different, three old observatories. That's the observatories that was mentioned in the text about Swedish old observatories, translated to english by me. We had already drawed plan to visit this observatory, Tamm's observatoru in the future. But didn't expect to find it here. Some photos from this lucky day and information I have collected: http://www.astrofriend.eu/astronomy/observatory-sites/tamms-observatory/01-tamms-observatory.html /Lars
  9. I have already earlier written an article about the old observatory at Stockholm in Sweden where I live. Only 30 minutes away from my home by the subway. A friend to me, Nippe, told me that he had written an article about that observatory's history. I got permission to use it on my homepage. I have translated it to english (not perfect but I hope you understand the information) and implemented it among my earlier photos from the observatory. http://www.astrofriend.eu/astronomy/observatory-sites/stockholms-observatory/stockholm-observatory.html Nippe's history article is very interesting, a lot of information about the observatory that I wasn't aware about. Enjoy reading ! /Lars
  10. Hi I have seen a number of obervatorys online and most often they have a decked base. i have temporarily place my shedpod on old patio consisting of concrete slabs which require some TLC. I'm wondering whether I should aim to place the shedpod on decking once I have tidied up the patio or not. I don't wish to spend more money on decking if there se no advantages to doing so Please could you advise if there are any advantages for me to place my obsy on decking over a concrete patio slabs e.g. less moisture, less vibrations, or less creepy crawlies? Also are there any clever ways to reduce spiders as I have been getting a few spider webs inside the obsy. Recently I had to remove the mirror to remove some webs from the ota despite it having a dust cap and a dust cover? Thanks for reading Ian
  11. I have my Celestron 9.25 AVX permanently mounted in my observatory. So having done my alignment I simply hibernate the scope when I finish and restart the next time with minimum fuss. What advantages would I gain by using the Celestron SkyPortal with my Android phone? I mainly do imaging.
  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. Well if you got the money, THIS is the way to go I guess. I'll just stick with my Mak and Heritage P130 till my ship comes in!
  14. 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.
  15. 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:
  16. Hi all, I'm considering building a small scale observatory - remote imaging to keep the form factor small. The problem is I only rent my house, so I can't exactly go all out. My landlord is fairly forgiving though, so I can do minor damage as long as it's repairable when we eventually have to move. My plan then is to repurpose a steel frame (40mm tubing) which I will clad and insulate. This will be easy enough both to build and to move/remove if necessary. However, I'm not sure what I should do about the mount. My setup isn't massive - TS Optics 6" f4 reflector on an NEQ6 with a WO 66mm refractor guide scope. However, I'd like something more stable than the NEQ6's standard tripod as I'd like to not have to do PA every time I go out. I'm looking for ideas for a pier that will be sturdy enough, yet that I don't have to immerse in concrete. I've no worries about burying the base of it just in the ground, but I'm not sure if that'll be stable enough. My thoughts were to use some 160mm HDPE pipe, bury it to a depth of about a metre and fill with sand. The bottom end would be capped so the sand doesn't run out and the top end would be plugged with (something as yet undecided) to hold a pier plate. How stable to people think this would be? As I'd be operating remotely, I'm not worried about disturbing it whilst imaging, but I am concerned it might shift with temperature changes etc. Is this a rubbish plan? If so, any ideas about an alternative? Thanks, G
  17. 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
  18. Hello, This is my first Milky Way timelapse Canon eos 1200d with kit lens 18-55mm. Made 212 shots at 25s exporsure iso 3200.
  19. When I post photos and stories about old observatories I get a lot of positive reactions. When I wrote about Stockholm's old observatory I found a very nice and interesting story written almost 90 years ago by the Swedish astronomer Östen Bergstrand. It's written in Swedish. I feel I must spend some hours and translate it into English for all of you that don't talk or read Swedish language, the first four pages are now translated. The article's name in English is: Astronomical observatories in Sweden, by Östen Bergstrand: http://www.astrofriend.eu/astronomy/observatory-sites/swedens-old-observatories/01-swedens-old-observatories.html Let me know if you find it interesting and I translate more of the pages into English. The Swedish language in this article is very old and difficult to translate and my English isn't the best either. But you will understand what's written. /Lars
  20. 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
  21. 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.
  22. Just starting my build and found advice of others really helpful. Appreciate views of others on my build before I get too far. I am building the Observatory for My HEQ5 with a short fast refractor for imaging and my LX90 SCT mainly for viewing, so my pier must allow me to easily swap scopes if necessary. Design principles and interesting features: Basic design: Concrete Plinth + Altair Steel Pier + Off-the Peg Shed Pier: I chose the Altos pier because it looked sturdy and allowed some final leveling and North orientation after installation. It has a variety of fixing options and adapters, plus I might move and could take it with me. https://www.altairastro.com/altair-skyshed-8-observatory-pier.html Shed: Went for a 10 x 6 shed. Intend to build just a 6x6 roof, which will slide over the other 4 foot bit + 2 foot more. The four foot section will be the warm room with a flat roof. I can build the internal partition after the shed is erected. Wanted a Shed that could be easily adapted and found the "Rowlinson Premier Shiplap Apex Shed 6X10" Price: £514.99 inc delivery This is good quality, but the real bonus is that the apex sections are separate. You build the four walls at level height and then the two apexes go on the ends. This will allow me to then easily adapt the design by attaching rails to the bottom box section and then wheels to the roof bit. The shed sides are also slightly taller than a standard shed at 172cms giving me some welcome headroom. The roof comes in sections, so building just the 6 foot bit looks straight forward (In theory). It is worth shopping around for sheds as the same model can be different prices on different sites. Wheels and Rail: I think this bit is neat, I am using a wooden slotted fence posts as the rails. Wheels: B&Q TENTE FIXED CASTOR 45MM product code 3700001799978 price £2.14 each rated as 40kg each and I am using 8 of them for a 6 foot roof Rails: B&Q NEVA HALF WOODEN FENCE POST 70X35X1800MM product 3663602942825 £7 each and I am using two on each side for a total length of just under 12 foot. I looked at Aluminium rails but during a wander round B@Q I found these wood posts with grooves in them. I tried the wheels in store and it looks fine. Added advantage that they can also form part of my Obs structure. Pier base: As per Altair instructions a very large hole in the ground filled with concrete. However my base is a plinth that protrudes 35cm above the base level. I calculated the height needed to elevate the pier so that my tallest mount (The LX90) would just fit under the closing roof. If I had mounted the pier at ground level I would have reduced my min elevation angle to 60 degrees for my shortest scope/mount combination. With the extra height I get down to 25 degrees, less if I raise the pier head. The pier also has a narrow central hole, so I have run a cable in a 12mm pipe through the concrete block and up through the middle of the pier. Shed Base: Paving stones laid after the pier is installed. I will run a 40mm pipe under the slabs to carry all the other cables to the pier. Today I completed the first stage and poured the concrete for the pier base and plinth as per the instructions on the altair web site. The concrete goes 80cm below the ground and 45cm above, with a 10cm base that leaves a 35cm plinth. I used a wooden former to contain the concrete above ground. I made it of 9mm ply with screws every few inches. On top I attached a template holding the fixing bolts which were pressed into the soft concrete. Even so the weight of the concrete nearly burst the mold and I had to reinforce with paving slabs. See picture, but it looks fine now. See pictures) I should add that I employed a local garden handyman to dig the hole and pour the concrete. The next stage is to lay the slabs for the base. Any comments most welcome, especially as they could save me from an imminent disaster, but so far so good. Max
  23. 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...
  24. I thought I’d share my observatory build here. The build is complete much sooner than I had anticipated really – for reasons which I’ll explain. Feel free to comment and criticize, but if you spot a fatal design flaw it’s too late! I should point out, also, that I’m a relative newbie. I had a 6” Newtonian on an AZ mount in 1986 (aged 14) which I used for two or three years until I put it to one side. Over the past three decades I’ve been a ‘non-practicing / armchair’ astronomer. But now I have an 8-year-old son who’s keen and has been pestering me to buy him a scope. I was initially reluctant as I was concerned he would expect me to show him Hubble quality brightly coloured images of galaxies, nebulae and planets – I know the limitations of an amateur telescope! But he was keen and I was beginning to feel the bug biting again. My wife & I bought him a SW 200P on an EQ5 mount for his eighth birthday and we haven’t looked back. But it became obvious fairly quickly that if we were going to get the best out of we’d need some sort of permanent set up so that a quick 20 min session can be fitted in after dinner and before bed. I was worried the scope would get put away and forgotten about if it was a 30-minute ordeal to get it set up every time we wanted to use it. We have a fairly large garden with good views almost all around (except to the NW) above 20o and although we have Torquay just five miles to the South there’s no street lighting or neighbours bothering us in our back garden. Initially the project was going to be limited to installing a home-made soil pipe pier on a 0.75m3 block of reinforced concrete with a view to installing a Pulsar Dome at some stage in the future. I made an adapter plate out of birch ply for the EQ5 head to on which was fixed to the pier by 3 x 1m M12 threaded bars which were concreted into the 110mm soil pipe and protruding 200mm above. Electrics and Cat5 were supplied to the pier through 40mm wastepipe underground (mousing lines left in place). So this setup worked OK, the position was good and it was a relief to have my mount set up and ready for action. But the pier wasn’t as stable as I’d hoped it would be and the plywood mounting plate left a little to be desired – too much flex introduced by the 200mm protrusions of M12 rod. I felt the urge to go a little further and decided to crack on and get on with the whole project done and dusted. Having more or less decided on a Pulsar dome I was having second thoughts, I wasn’t really sure that I wanted to be ‘indoors’ while enjoying the ‘great outdoors’. When Thomas and I are out with the scope we spend as much of our time looking around the night sky ‘au naturel’ as we do looking through the scope. Also, we have no neighbours immediately next door to us and no street lights shining into the garden so there was no need to consider light screening. So we decided that a roll-away shed on a dedicated deck would be the way to go. The shed would double as a warm room in the winter and perhaps as a computer room if we decide we’d like to try our hand at imaging sometime in the future. The “astro-deck” and “astro-shed” were constructed over the course of 2 weekend and a few evenings. · The shed rolls on 6 x 75mm fixed casters (screwfix item 50880) rated at 70kg each. The casters run in recessed tracks in the deck. (I estimate the shed weighs 200kg) · The concrete pier base is entirely independent of the deck – no amount of leaping about on the deck causes vibration in the pier. · I replaced the home made pier with a Rigel pier from Pulsar – a big improvement! · The shed ‘locates’ snuggly onto a plywood plinth that I made to conceal the top of the concrete pier base – this means the shed can’t be tipped over (by wind or miscreants). · There are electrics and data connections in the shed, at the pier and on the deck. · A handrail and picket fence surround the viewing area – safety feature to prevent numpties from falling off the deck in the dark! · Cost approx. £1500 (including the pier) Further work / mods to be done · The red lighting is too bright · Install burglar alarm · The shed is heavy to move, once it’s built up a head of steam it’s Ok but getting it moving is hard work. Some sort of simple winch mechanism would make life easier. · The scope needs to come off the mount for the shed to be opened or closed – a bit of a miscalculation if I’m honest but not a problem so long as I’m a visual observer. If I want to have a permanent imaging setup I might need to make some adjustments to the shed.
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