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Lockie

Chris's Obsy build

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Hi Guys:)

I've wanted to build an obsy of my own ever since I was lucky enough to use the Bayfordbury observatory during my Astronomy degree about a decade ago now. 15 months ago we managed to move up the property ladder from a one bed flat to a terest house with a garden of all things:D So here I am, I've done most of the DIY in the house, now its spring I can turn to the garden and my Obsy plans. Luckily my wifes onboard with this idea as I met her on said Astronomy degree, I just have to get her approval on the specifics i.e size, position in the garden, layout, materials etc then everything should be fine:)

I haven't yet fully decided what form this Obsy will take yet? my ideas range from converting a wooden or metal shed with a role off roof, to building a obsy out of breeze blocks and then rendering it, or even simply having a secure shed with large double doors which open to reveal skies to the north, south and west. The main goal is to have somewhere to hide away in my own little world of Astronomy and Astro imaging, and as a bonus I don't have to lug my HEQ5 though the house into the garden. also this will allow me to finally setup up guiding with a laptop and Phd software which will be cool:)

I would love poeples input as I go along and if you see me making any school boy errors please feel free to shout STOP!! :icon_salut:

Edited by starfox

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In the spirit of being thorough I will illustrate everything including the kitchen sink, so towards the end of the garden is the result of me being left with the rotten shed with a spade and my size 9 feet for a couple of hours, the fence was already broken it wasn't me getting carried away or anything:D

Several Fiat Panda trips later most of the rotten timber is now down the tip.

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Edited by starfox

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The old shed was placed upon concrete foundations which looked almost as bad as the shed did so I decided to break the old foundations up into hardcore for the new foundations. I thought a pick axe would be the best tool for this but after failing to find anywhere that sells one I settled on a 6lb sledge hammer for the job from Homebase. The second picture is showing several hours work with the sledge hammer I'm sure a pick axe would have made this particular job easier but I've got a feeling the sledge hammer will come in handy for other aspects of this build.

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Edited by starfox

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Good luck with your ob project - the concrete, now broken, looked like a 'skim' eg very thin so pehaps better out the way even if it was probably ok as a shed base. The scope needs an isolated pier clear of the ob structure.

I'd frankly avoid blockwork walls [unless you have a severe security problem] as timber/thin metal adjust quicker to night temps. You're planning a RoR although you mention 'doors' to view through??

Edited by nytecam

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Thanks Nytecam:) yes it's a skim about 2-3 inches deep and it's in a bad way with pot holes and cracks etc. I mentioned both a RoR and double doors as I've not fully decided what form this obsy should take yet? I'm going to do a lot of brain storming and reading lots of obsy build threads whilst I'm digging out and clearing the garden I recken:). security is a bit of a concern but I will also replace the fence at the back with a High fence and lockable gate which should help and I will rig up some kind of basic alarm system as well. So far I'm leaning towards either a metal shed lined with polystyrene to help with condensation, or build my own wooden frame from scratch and tongue and groove it . I recken I will dig in a peer because I will probably regret it in the long run if I don't, in which case like you say I will isolate a 0.75m cubed block of concrete from the rest of the foundation to prevent vibrations. I've got today off so I'm going do a bit more before it rains in the afternoon:) My wife said she's concerned about dimensions I did want something about 7' by 7' but might get relagated to 6' by 6', apparently I'm allowed to have it bigger if she can keep other garden shed objects in the obsy? I'm not sure whether to have a big obsy and keep other stuff in it or to have a small obsy and have a seperate small shed? to avoid arguments I've instructed my wife to just draw what she wants me to do on some graph paper, I can see who's going to be the foreman on this job:D

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If you don't want a warm room then you could build a small storage shed under the roll off rails for the garden guff. Or you could buy a cheap small wooden shed or garden storage locker and keep the warm room option...

If you decide on wood clad with T&G shiplap then do make sure you get the thicker stuff (19 or 21mm) the thin 12mm stuff is dreadful!

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A few years back i built a workshop, used 9" X 9" X 18" celcon blocks, insulated the interior with 1" polystyrene 8' X 4' sheets, then clad this with sterling board, size wise its 25' X 16' a bit bigger than you would want but very secure and for a Oby these bricks go up fast because there big and light, insulated on the outside with feather board would make for a good barrier to heat getting into the brick, my workshop on the hottest of summer days stay very cool...good luck with what ever way you decide to go...

is the UK?s largest manufacturer of aircrete products - H+H - Int

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Thanks Islander, they are both very good suggestions, I think I would like the warm room and to buy something the size of a storage or bike shed for garden stuff, I think my wife would prefer the first option of storage under the run off rails for space, I like both though, this might have to be decided by a game of rock, paper, scissors:D oh yeah, thanks for the heads up about the shiplap:)

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Thanks Tinker, Celcon blocks sound very interesting I'll be researching them for sure:), I'm liking the fact that they are light and large and insulated, if they are very light I might not have to dig the foundations too deep, I'm getting a list to research already:)

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the rain mostly stayed away from Ipswich so had pretty much a full day on the project:) I finished breaking up the old skim foundations then went B&Q to find some rubble bags, it turns out that B&Q sell pick axes after all so I bought one, well something similar called a mattock which looked more useful to me. I wish I'd asked in B&Q the other day, breaking up the foundations would have been much easier with a mattock than a sledge hammer. The garden looked a bit of a bomb site so I filled the rubble bags with the courser rubble and took them down the tip along with the rest of the rotten wood from the shed and other debris so by this evening everything was looking a bit more organised. I'm really enjoying it so far even though the whole of my body hurts and I've got some cracking blisters, I might pay the price tomorrow when I'm X-raying for trauma/orthopaedic cases in theatre so I'll be wearing a heavy lead coat all day:).

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Edited by starfox

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Heres a pic of the rotten shed about 30 minutes into the destruction, Its amazing what you can fit into a Fiat Panda:)

post-28797-133877758343_thumb.jpg

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Heres a pic of the rotten shed about 30 minutes into the destruction, Its amazing what you can fit into a Fiat Panda:)
to true 8 people:)

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No sujestions from me... just requests... plenty of picks pls :icon_salut::):D good luck and keep us posted ;)

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nice one dtr42 they should be employed by the Fiat marketing, thanks for the link:)

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Thanks Shellfish, no probs I plan on being thorough, it will be good to look back on and will hopefully add to the pool of obsy building knowledge with the issues a come up against, I'm really enjoying going through the other threads on obsy building its very comforting to have all this knowledge, help and advice on here:)

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Have fun! I'd say certainly go bigger than 6x6, that will be too tight. If you have more space you can store things in there too, so removing stuff from the house. I'd build a smaller storage shed under the roll-off part as long as you can get the relative heights right.

My biggest bits of advice are to make the roof lightweight and don't skimp on the rolling mechanism - it'll save loads of grief later.

Helen

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7x7 is the absolute minimum for an obsy I reckon, go as big as you can (10x10 is quite roomy, I have a desk and other gubbins in mine now). Anything that looks more 'shed like' than 'observatory like' is also going to be a bonus in an urban area. At least you have started with a level site - I spent months just breaking rocks before I could begin....have fun!

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Edited by laser_jock99

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Thanks Helen your advice is much appreciated:) I've cleared some more rubble after work this evening and realised that there isn't a lot more I can do without a plan so I thought I'd start by measuring all the garden dimensions and then factor in what size the storage shed and obsy need to be? After discusion with my wife we decided that 6'x4' would be suitable for the storage shed, and I'm allowed to fit both the storage shed and obsy within a space at the end of the garden with dimensions of 18'x8.5', the rest of the 60'x12' garden has been reserved for a lawn and a play area for when our baby boy is a bit older.

Like you say 6'x6' is tight:icon_confused: I did run the idea of 6'x8' by my wife and she seemed ok with it provided there is enough room for access to the shed and obsy in the allocated 18'x8.5 plot? now I've got some dimensions I will lay out the plot on graph paper and cut out templates of the storage shed and obsy so can move them about within the plot so I can see how all this might fit?:D

Apart from half a shift on Saturday I'm off work untill next Wednesday so I can stay up late tonight and research by reading Obsy build threads, and further reasearch on materials and logistics. I want to get as much done as I can on this project before my wife goes back to work from maternity in two weeks, I won't have as much time after that.

I guess if I'm going to finalise the obsy dimensions it would be helpful to know what kit is going to be in it now and in the lifespan of the obsy? At present I have a mark 1 HEQ5 mount and a ZS66 Apo and I image with canon DSLR's. As soon as I've built the obsy I initially plan on soldering in an ST4 port to my mount and getting something like a 150PDS or GSO 150DS Newt as a main imaging scope and guiding it with my little Apo and a QHY5 via a laptop and Phd. Other items I think I need to fit in include a small chair and worktop, dehumidifier, and a lamp, also some little laptop speakers would be nice so I can have some tunes:D In the future I might want to move upto something like an 8" RC but this wouldn't be much bigger than a 6" Newt volume wise because of the shorter RC tube assembly. So, what size obsy can I fit all this into??:icon_salut: 8'x6'?

Edited by starfox

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Hey Laserjock, that looks pretty epic! I take it your gardens on a big slope which you had to level off:D Congrats on building you obsy with such an uphill battle (no pun intended) a 10'x10' obsy is impressive I'm guessing you garden must be reasonably large? I take on board your comment about 7'x7' being the minimum, I'm now thinking 8'x6' which is pretty much the same square footage:) 49 vs 48 feet square. Like you say I want it to look like a shed with my terest house surroundings I don't want it to look too out of place, this wouldn't please my wife nor my neighbors.

holy moly I've just been flicking through the images on your Cambrian Observatory link, what an incredible build and what an amazing location!! nice one:)

Edited by starfox

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I've had a read about Celcon blocks and I think they might be a bit over kill for a small obsy, I recken even though they are aircrete you would still need proper building foundations and somehow isolate this from the pier foundations. I think I've narrowed the materials down to wood or matal or both.

Helen mentioned about keeping the roof as light as posible, has anyone tried building an obsy with a polycarbonate roof? the stuff they use for new style conservatories, its strong and very light and I recken you could cover it to stop light transmission thus excessive heating?

Twin Wall Polycarbonate Sheet - Polycarbonate Sheets & Trims - Roofing -Building Materials - Wickes

(I especially like the review where the customer used this stuff as a vertical cattery sneeze barrier, Brilliant!:icon_salut:)

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I've had a read about Celcon blocks and I think they might be a bit over kill for a small obsy, I recken even though they are aircrete you would still need proper building foundations and somehow isolate this from the pier foundations. I think I've narrowed the materials down to wood or matal or both.

Helen mentioned about keeping the roof as light as posible, has anyone tried building an obsy with a polycarbonate roof? the stuff they use for new style conservatories, its strong and very light and I recken you could cover it to stop light transmission thus excessive heating?

Twin Wall Polycarbonate Sheet - Polycarbonate Sheets & Trims - Roofing -Building Materials - Wickes

(I especially like the review where the customer used this stuff as a vertical cattery sneeze barrier, Brilliant!:icon_salut:)

My builders suggested using polycarbonate, but in the end the problem of then having to cover it made it a bit too much hassle (and I thought it wouldn't look so good). What we did instead is documented here http://stargazerslounge.com/diy-observatories/156681-observatory-re-work.html The sheets are a Coroline equivalent (not sure exactly what tradename the builders bought) Coroline Corrugated PVCu Bitumen Sheet Black 2m x 950mm | Screwfix.com

It is all working nicely :D

Helen

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Metal shed roofs are surprisingly lightweight - even with a 3"x2" wooden frame mine can be easily moved. (Have a look in my blog - around the summer 2010 for details of how I did mine). Mine is a nominal 6x6 shed but beware!! Metal shed dimensions seem to be taken across the whole roof! This overhangs the walls on each side so the inside dimensions are smaller. I assume the same trick is used with wooden sheds. If you can, download some shed instruction sheets (Yardmaster can be downloaded) and check to see what the real dimensions are by looking at the base dimensions. My 6x6 shed is small but useable for one person - if i ever rebuilt it I would say 7x7 is the absolute minimum, 8 or 9 x 7 would be much more comfortable if you have the space.

Another trick is to set up your scope/tripod at various places around the garden - with the mount set at the proposed height - and see what your views are like. You may find that you change your mind as to the "best" place! Your neighbours "palm like" tree may well be much more of a problem than you first think - it will depend on the orientation of your garden. Also take into account street lights and neighbours "security" lights - a change of position of your mount by a few feet may make all the difference.

Just one other thing - its spring! Make sure you take into account nearby trees and bushes that may soon grow to block your views!

Hope this helps.

Good luck with the build!

Edited by Bizibilder

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Hey Laserjock, that looks pretty epic! I take it your gardens on a big slope which you had to level off:D Congrats on building you obsy with such an uphill battle (no pun intended) a 10'x10' obsy is impressive I'm guessing you garden must be reasonably large?

Not a huge plot- but the only available space was on a 15 degree slope- hence the groundworks required.

Regarding clearance around your observatory pier- make sure you have the most space on the side you will be mostly operating. A lot of the time you will be looking south so you'll need standing room on the North side if possible.

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Thanks Helen, sorry to here that you had problems but you have certainly done a great job of sorting them out, not cheap though I bet. Very nice obsy love the light weight pent roof and the flashy castors:D I've book marked the Coroline link, thanks for that:)

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Thanks Chris. It would have been much cheaper to have got it right first time! which is why I'm so keen to pass on the advice to others....

Its worth it though. Tonight being a classic example. I'm giving it an hour, but wouldn't have bothered if I had to set up and then dismantle a rig.

Helen

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