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Observatory Build Underway


malc-c

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Hi Mike,

To be honest, and I've said this on so many build threads, often things pop up that you overlook in the planning stage and often its a case of winging it as you go.  Ok yes, plan the main concept, the overall size, if / where / what size warm room, roof construction, how the roof will roll, flip, open etc, but often what happens is that you come up with a better way of doing something when you put the thing together. 

I found that having a plan helped me most in quantifying how much wood etc. I was going to need.  My build then pretty much followed my original plan apart from rolling roof which, in the end, I made up as I went along.

having an observatory, given the UK climate turns observing / imaging into a brand new ball game, as you can take advantage of the gaps between showers and clouds.   It also means that sometimes you can go out, image a subject and then close the observatory down and start processing the images, where as before I wouldn't  have even set up the scope

Absolutely - your scope time increases dramatically.

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I find there's a few improvements I need to do before I can use mine again (unless it dries up).  All this wet weather has turned the lawn into a swamp and until I can get some sort of self draining path from the house to the obsy it's a definite hazard from slipping.  We have never had such a prolonged spell of heavy rain before and until now the drainage has been sufficient.  Now even with the odd clear night now and again I really don't want to risk it as there's nobody to come and rescue me if I damage myself.  I'm not as fit as I was and I know how easy it is to fall and break something.

Stay safe Gina :smile:.

One of my 'post build' improvements was to lay a path between the observatory and the house - I paid for somebody to do it as I'm no good at getting slabs level. 

Not only has it stopped a quagmire being formed around the observatory entrance and stopped me trailing mud into the house, it has tied the observatory nicely into the rest of the garden.

post-5202-0-53898500-1390736831_thumb.jp

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I wondered about the possibility of a roll out duckboard type something.  I've found this but at £50 inc. carriage it seems a bit expensive - or is it?  Could be very useful in various places in our grounds.

Edited by Gina
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I've ordered one - I measured up and 10m will just do it :)  Delivery from a couple of days to a fortnight so fingers crossed :D  Just had a little break in the rain and the "swamp" was navigable with care (in the daytime) and I was able to measure up.  I expect to make a proper path in the better weather but that duckboard roll should do in the meantime hopefully.

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Sticking a pathway down to cross wet grass ect, i would go with a border along each side of the pathway, then 20mm shingle to fill the gap between, there are a couple of reasons, it provides drainage to the pathway, it won't freeze over and become slippery, so you then end up on the grass so you don't slip over, should it be required to be level with the lawn just needs a bit of digging out, inlay a brick edging and fill with 20mm about 2-3" deep....

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Personally, I would just lift out the turf, lay down some of the weed barrier and then pour in a 2-3" depth of stone chippings ( much the same as we did around the observatory) - drains well, when it does freeze it's not slippery. - Drawback, a tonne of chippings costs around £150 delivered, but then that would do a fairly long path.

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We still have a small pile of stone chippings (scalpings as they call them round here) left over from covering our yard a dozen or so years ago.  Trouble is it's settled and will take a lot of moving :(  But that's available if I can get it out.

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I had a guy in the village with a 1.5 tonne tipper delivery 1.5 tonnes of 22mm cost £55 plus £10 for the delivery the local quarry is less than 1/2 mile away, local builders merchants delivery 2 x 880 kilobags for £90...the  driveway has 12 tonnes on it around 10 years back, just needs topping up in places, my Obby area takes about 3 tonnes nearly finished....

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi Malcolm,

One? more question, now that you have been using the obs for a while would be interested to hear your views on the rigidity od the pier. Has it worked out to your satisfaction or could it do with being more rigid ie bigger. My set up will be NEQ6 Pro head with a 9.25" SCT, Hyperstar and SX cameras so this is an interesting (and potentially expensive) question. I drew up a steel pier (faily basic) and took it to a local engineering company and they quoted £395 + VAT!!!

would like to find a cheaper alternative. Anyone else with experience welcome..

Regards

Mike

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If your question is aimed at my Oak Pier then so far only used the C11 for viewing but its a solid piece of wood 4' in the ground, 6" X 6"  wide pea shingle keeps it in place and insulated from the Obby wooden floor, I see your in North West Norfolk feel free to PM me and pop round for a look i'm close to Hunstanton on the A149.....

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Hi Malcolm,

One? more question, now that you have been using the obs for a while would be interested to hear your views on the rigidity od the pier. Has it worked out to your satisfaction or could it do with being more rigid ie bigger. My set up will be NEQ6 Pro head with a 9.25" SCT, Hyperstar and SX cameras so this is an interesting (and potentially expensive) question. I drew up a steel pier (faily basic) and took it to a local engineering company and they quoted £395 + VAT!!!

would like to find a cheaper alternative. Anyone else with experience welcome..

Regards

Mike

Mike, ask as many questions as you like, that's what the forum is all about.

Three years on from construction, (well 3 yrs in April) the observatory has stood up well.  Temperature extremes from 37c (in the shade) to -11c, 50mph gusts of wind, and a foot or so of snow...  I had one leak this year where rain had actually been blown up under the felt.  It was easily fixed with some bitchumen paint and an 8" x 3" strip of felt.   The pier has been, and is still solid as it was the day it was installed. The ali adapter is not as deep a purple as it was, but the anodising is still good.  Cost wise I still think the pipe filled with concrete is cheapest option.  If you have to go with a steel pier then having it made by a local company for £395 +VAT is no saving at all as you can get these from astronomical companies for around the same price.

The Altair Skyshed 8" pier at £575 incl mout plate  http://www.altairastro.com/product.php?productid=16162

Pulsar Observatories do a nice pier, but their site seems to be having problems so can't give you the price, but from memory it was around the £495 mark

If you want the Rolls Royce of piers and have $1500 then a Piertech motorised pier will give you the best of both worlds if you have a Newtonian and a Refractor http://www.company7.com/piertech/piers/pier-tech2_telescope_pier.html

Rother Valley Optics have one listed on e-bay http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Rother-Valley-Optics-NEQ6-Super-Heavy-Duty-Pier-Ultimate-Stability-/200910286587?pt=UK_Telescope_Mounts&hash=item2ec72faefb but the tube is only 4.7" diameter and has no bracing.

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See I should of kept my mouth shut... I went up to check on things this morning after last nights storm (61 mph gust recorded by the weather station) and noticed that a few of the carpet tiles were damp.  I had noticed that there was a slight difference in colour the other day when i went up there to get the camera, but didn't think anything of it.  I lifted a couple of the tiles and the ply beneath them had a slight dampness in patches, but were quite dry to touch (ie it was not as if water had just been spilt).  The strange thing is that there is no signs of water penetration, the roof in that area is dry as a bone, and these tiles are to the left of the door, so if it was the door that was leaking you would expect the tiles right in front of the door to be damp, but these are bone dry.  It's as though condensation has formed on the ply flooring in places, and this has penetrated the carpet tiles...

I've lifted the tiles that are damp, and will look at replacing them with something like a sealed cork tile or similar later when I come to do the refurbishment project, which is basically a lick of paint and better storage / work surface.

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  • 1 year later...
  • 5 months later...
  • 6 months later...

I started this post five years ago (almost to the day) and pleased to say that my annual maintenance this year, like the last, consisted of a coat of preserve and the addition of a couple of galvanised nails to provide a better attachment of one small section of shiplap on the roof where the constant movement over the years and the expansion / contraction due to heat and cold had made a small gap between it and the frame.  That was it for another year !

obsy2016.png

 

It's pleasing to find that something I've built has withstood temperatures from -12c to 35c (in the shade), 18" of snow,  gallons of rain and hail the size of baked beans, and winds up to 62mph yet still looks as good as the day it was completed :) 

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Still looking solid Malc. Yours was one of the builds that inspired me to get going on my own.

I've just noticed that I blatantly took your thread title.   oO

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  • 1 year later...

We'll almost 7 years since starting the build I've had to undertake my first repair to the warm room roof.

The other week  whilst getting something from the observatory I noticed that the inside rear corner wall had water marks running down it, and the internal plywood at the edge where it joined the wall was darkening and wet.  I got the steps out and went up onto the roof to find standing water in a small shallow in that area.  I couldn't do anything about it then given the snow and rain that we were having.

Today the weather was decent enough to lift the felt and have a look at where the leak was coming from.  I was shocked to see that the OSB under the felt was wet and falling apart.  The area was about 8" wide by 18" long from the rear edge.  The wood wasn't rotten or black, but you could break it easily with your hands.  Considering the roof was fine (I stand on it whilst cutting a hedge) last Autumn, the damage occurred rapidly  over the winter.  It seems the water had got in between the folds in the felt at the end of the side panel, and then as the wetness was drawn up by the wood, it sagged causing the water to remain rather than run off (one of the pitfalls of having a shallow pitch).

Having removed all the old damp wood I cut a strip of timber from an old draw front I had laying around and made it fit the hole as tightly as I could.  This was then screwed into the frame and then covered with 150mm wide self adhesive flashing obtained from B&Q.  This was quite pliable and could be moulded around the side panel and under the tracks for the roll off roof.  I used several strips to cover the area and make a good seal.  The felt was then re-laid and the track refitted.  For good measure a further strip of the flashing material was applied over the fold of the felt to ensure no water could seep back up.  It probably hasn't cured the standing water issue, but at least the water can't now (hopefully) get back in.

So word of warning to anyone who is planning or constructing their own observatory.  In hindsight I wished I had used 18mm exterior grade marine ply for the roof as it would have stood up to the water a lot better than the OSB and would have made the repair a lot easier.  But then given this is the only issue I've had with the observatory in seven years I guess it's testimony to the construction methods used and I shouldn't complain.  Some commercial sheds don't last this long :)

 

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I have one of these "puddles" on my warm room roof too where the roof sagged a tiny bit and the water doesn't completely run off any more. I'm glad I used rubber sheet for the roof so I don't need to worry about the water there as it has no way in.

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This is clearly a common problem - I also get a puddle of standing water on my warm room roof after rainfall.  Mine is due to the plywood covering the warm room being too thin and it has sagged.

Like Chris, the roof is covered in a sheet of MDPM rubber which is keeping the water out and has done for 5 years now.

If I ever have to build another observatory, I'll certainly use rubber sheeting again but not skimp on the thickness of the underlying wood sheeting.

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