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Sp@ce_d

Fire and Theft: How can we avoid it and stay safe?

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I wonder how many of you have seen Julys edition of AN and gasped at the picture of the BBQ built against the wooden obsy! This got me thinking..

As I delve more into the planning of my obsy, I realise how important it is to consider the risks of Fire and Theft during the planning stages rather than as an after thought.

I had a quick search through the forum and didn't find a great deal so, I thought I'd start this thread to see if we could collect some do's and dont's together.

I guess it breaks down into Prevention and Detection

So, how do you prevent and detect Fire and Theft.

I'll go first with my tip... I don't think it a good idea to build your wooden obsy against a BBQ !! :D

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Good idea for a thread, I've taken this a bit more seriously recently after totalling up how much kit is sitting in the obs :D

I've put in a night vision outdoor IP camera that gives me on overview of the area, as well as one inside the obs to catch the faces of potential intruders. I've also put a IR beam sensor on the entrance that will fire an alarm should someone step in

The next step for me is to finish off a server machine I have that will record from both cameras, and put in some more robust locks on the whole thing

You can never be too careful :p

Edited by Euan

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My starting point has been 'don't make it look as if its got lots of expensive equipment in it'. So it looks like a shed. It hasn't got alarms on the outside or mega locks, just normal ones.

I do need to increase the internal security a bit more though, and that'll be designed into my new build. So I'll be picking up tips from this thread :D

Helen

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I do need to increase the internal security a bit more though

I've been thinking about this as well, and while trying not to give anything away to would-be criminals, there are a few weak points in an imaging system that are easy to get and small enough to be away with in seconds if you know what you are doing. Securing these without making life more difficult for yourself is quite difficult

Obviously there are a few bits that are almost impossible to move even if you wanted too, I remember someone on here saying that someone tried to make off with an EQ6 and didn't get very far :D

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I wonder how many of you have seen Julys edition of AN and gasped at the picture of the BBQ built against the wooden obsy! ...

I haven't seen the article, but leaving aside the fire risk, a permanent barbecue next to the obsy would surely create all sorts of awful heat, cool-down and turbulence problems, making viewing impossible?

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I've been thinking about this as well, and while trying not to give anything away to would-be criminals, there are a few weak points in an imaging system that are easy to get and small enough to be away with in seconds if you know what you are doing. Securing these without making life more difficult for yourself is quite difficult

Obviously there are a few bits that are almost impossible to move even if you wanted too, I remember someone on here saying that someone tried to make off with an EQ6 and didn't get very far :D

My logic runs pretty similarly Euan. The main aim is for the Obs to be convenient for its purpose, and I'll take the risk of that meaning its easier for someone to nick stuff if they really want to. But generally, it isn't visible from the road, the access is alongside the house and we sleep that side of the house and have a noisy side gate!! So smallish risk while we're here. Our neighbours are good. So the biggest risk is when we're away, and we do tend to remove the carry-able stuff when we go away (quite often to use while away :p).

My house insurance includes cover for stuff in the shed.

Its all a question of balance.

Helen

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Hi Euan

We may be near enough each other to start our own "Astro Neighbourhood Watch" :p

I've been thinking about this as well, and while trying not to give anything away to would-be criminals,

Yes, please everyone, of course avoid giving any specific details that may compromise your own security here. I would hate to think my good intentions for this thread had the opposite effect.. ! :D

Good ideas.. keep 'em coming. As said, the first points with security is NOT making it look out of the ordinary and aside from all the techie security stuff anything that delays breaking in.. such as solid doors.. walls, roof, no windows of course..

Any ideas on fire prevention? A lot of cabling, computers etc in use these days.. anyone have Fire detection and/or suppressants in use?

Might help with keeping the insurance costs down?

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One good idea is not to post your exact long and lat on this forum along with a list of all your expensive kit.

Cheers,

Chris

Edited by cgarry
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Another good one maybe not go into too much detail of what "measures" you have installed :D

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Another good one maybe not go into too much detail of what "measures" you have installed :p

Good point

Did I mention that my alarms link to a servo that opens a kennel door to two hungry Rottweilers? :D

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In my obs I have a motion detecting IP camera (foscam) set to email me if it is activated, I can also watch it via lan or web, add to that a very loud alarm.

The obs is a shed that looks like a shed which helps too.

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I have modified a smoke alarm to act as an intrusion alarm.

It still functions as a smoke alarm, so two birds with one stone.

Steve

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motion detecting IP camera (foscam)

Never heard of them before, just had a look at the website and they look very nice (and good value)

Any chance you could PM me over a screen shot of your feed? I just want to a rough comparison of the quality compared to the IP cam I have at the moment

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Those IP Cams do look interesting. I've been keeping an eye out for exterior ones with night vision that will actually be strong enough to identify intruders at 20 - 30 metres without breaking the bank.

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Other options...

Mix of overt and covert cams...

Multiple sensors... Dulatech combined PIR/Microwave etc

Dialers...

Sound bombs.. the loudest one you can get... makes it almost impossible to stay anywhere close to them in an enclosed space......

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This is a topic I've been very interested in for some years now. The conclusions I reached (note: these are only my personal, unqualifed opinions) are:

You probably don't have any real insurance cover for contents of an observatory (even if the company is willing to take your premiums - are they aware that stuff is left inside, unattended and with maybe only a "cosmetic" lock on the door?)

Cameras are no deterrent. At best you can review the footage after the event - providing the thief doesn't take the camera too.

Same with security lights.

Even if the thief gets caught, the chances of getting your gear back, damaged or usable, is small.

Most thieves won't target you because of a back-garden observatory. They probably only think it's a shed and will break in on the expectation they'll get some tools or DIY gear.

Whether your neighbours would intervene, ignore it, not notice, be the culprit or call the police is completely random. Depending on where you live, what they are like, who's in and how well you get on. At night I wouldn't expect anybody to see anything - ever.

The only workable deterrent is a large, aggressive, hungry dog.

Edited by pete_l
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My vote goes with Pete.

I have a very very large German Shepard and if anyone fancies taking him on they are more than welcome to try.

He has access to the garden at all times via a dog flap in the back door. Well I say dog flap he is that big it is the entire bottom 1/2 of the door.

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Cameras are no deterrent. At best you can review the footage after the event - providing the thief doesn't take the camera too.

This is a good point. If you are recording the video from your cameras, make sure the recording device is NOT in the shed/obs but inside the house. This way, even if they nick the camera, you still have the recording up to that point in time.

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One good idea is not to post your exact long and lat on this forum along with a list of all your expensive kit.

Cheers,

Chris

It's amazing how many people actually do this.

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It's amazing how many people actually do this.

Indeed.

Also, if you own a domain name for your website that lists all your equipment, make sure that your address is not listed as the domain owner in the publicly accessible WHOIS database...

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Indeed.

Also, if you own a domain name for your website that lists all your equipment, make sure that your address is not listed as the domain owner in the publicly accessible WHOIS database...

Good point. Another potential vulnerability is dedicated amateurs who submit their observations to scientific organisations because some publish not only the data but also the lat/long and the equipment used.

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You can get really tiny CCTV cameras these days that can be easily hidden.

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I leave it to the reader to decide which ideas are practical, desirable or plain daft.

Roll off roof observatory looks like a shed with pergola alongside.

A bright white fibreglass dome = please come in and help yourself.

Shed appears to have a standard shed lock, and it works.

But the real physical lock/hinge security is independent of this.

Alarm includes shock/vibration to pick up hammering hinges, prying off planks, etc.

Alarm wires included in sides so even carefully removing a plank breaks the circuit.

Several self activated (battery inside) sounders in use.

Some difficult to see.

Can't smash them all in a short time.

Outside sounder warns neighbours.

Internal sounders more important, can't stay inside without ear defenders.

You have to accept that anything can be broken into.

Even if you parked a bullion van in your garden, someone could break in given time.

Time is the key.

Put small obstacles in the way and trigger the alarm.

They will go elsewhere.

'Accidentally' connect your ali storage cases and tripod to the mains.

Mark your kit with your postcode.

I know everyone likes to sell/buy kit in pristine condition.

But an eyepiece with a UV or even engraved postcode is no bad thing.

I would have no problem buying 'marked' kit. Assuming it was from a trustworthy place.

Buy Russian scope kit.

Too heavy to steal.

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It's amazing how many people actually do this [ publish lat/long or address on a website] .

The thing is, most burglaies are opportunistic. Very few are pre-planned and I doubt if one in 10,000 would be as a result of what the thief finds on the internet.

Most thieves are age 16-24. They're not very bright. If they use "computer s***" at all, it's probably only to look at youtube or maybe facebook or less wholesome sites. They won't be surfing astronomy sites - and I am firmly convinced that the people who DO visit astronomy sites would never try to break into my house.:)

So while it probably IS worthwhile having your postcode somewhere on your equipment, so it can be returned if the police find it (and having photos of your kit to give the cops if the worst happens), I reckon that being a victim because of publishing your address is very, very unlikely.

The key is to prevent the most likely things that would make you a target. So, as long as your place appears more difficult to steal from than the house next door, you've probably done all you can to keep it secure.

Edited by pete_l

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The thing is, most burglaies are opportunistic. Very few are pre-planned and I doubt if one in 10,000 would be as a result of what the thief finds on the internet.

Most thieves are age 16-24. They're not very bright. If they use "computer s***" at all, it's probably only to look at youtube or maybe facebook or less wholesome sites. They won't be surfing astronomy sites - and I am firmly convinced that the people who DO visit astronomy sites would never try to break into my house.:)

So while it probably IS worthwhile having your postcode somewhere on your equipment, so it can be returned if the police find it (and having photos of your kit to give the cops if the worst happens), I reckon that being a victim because of publishing your address is very, very unlikely.

The key is to prevent the most likely things that would make you a target. So, as long as your place appears more difficult to steal from than the house next door, you've probably done all you can to keep it secure.

Yes, I agree with all that. And having the place look like a tip is likely to make would be burglars think there's nothing worth pinching! :) Well that's my excuse!! :(:D:evil6:
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