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gnomus

Ian King?

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I'm seriously considering putting a roll-off roof observatory in the garden.  I'm not sure about going the totally DIY route, however, due to lack of skills along with an excess of age and decrepitude.  I have had a look at Ian King's site.  I'd be thinking about 12' x 8' (or possibly 15' x 10') with one end as a warm room.  Does anyone have any experience of the ROR observatories that he is offering?

I would also consider alternative suppliers if there were any.  

Thanks in anticipation. 

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Has no-one bought an Ian King observatory?  

Anyhow, I thought I'd post up the basic plan.  The locations is as follows:

post-39248-0-50534300-1424208072_thumb.j

Overall there is no doubt that the best views of the skies would be in the blue box marked 'X'.  I have uninterrupted views East (apart from the orange street lamps - albeit some distance away).  I can get a fair bit of the Western sky to the side and over my house.   I can easily see Polaris over the houses to the North.  The problems with spot 'X', however are: that damn security light 'A' is very bright; and all of the houses to the North seem to have main rooms facing into my garden - so there is quite a lot of light from folks' houses into my garden.  (All boundaries are hedges or low fences.)   Finally, there is that big sycamore tree (magenta ring).  However, back at 'Y' the tree only blocks out the lower part of the sky.

Security light 'A' is so bothersome that we have actually moved to spot 'Y' when we set up the tripod.  We can block out the light with the side of our house.  We have considered spot 'Y' as a site for the observatory.  However, we have to be careful where we put the scope, because the big tree can block out crucial parts of the sky (part of the ecliptic seems to run right through it at the moment).    

What I am hoping is that if I put the observatory at 'X' with the roof rolling off Northwards (towards the security light), then the walls and roof will effectively shield us from the light.  (The light itself is only about 6 or 7 feet above the ground.)   Do people think that would work?  (We cannot talk to the neighbours at all because we are too middle-class.)

Are there any other potential issues I need to think about?

Edited by gnomus

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My neighbours have an annoying security light - though it's not on every night.  As a result I built my observatory with the roof rolling off in that direction.  I loose some western sky but that's better than the light pollution :D

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My neighbours have an annoying security light - though it's not on every night.  As a result I built my observatory with the roof rolling off in that direction.  I loose some western sky but that's better than the light pollution :D

Thank you.  That gives some grounds for optimism.

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Given the permanence of the structure and the investment. Is it worth rigging up a temporary screen the same size and trying a few sessions?

Paul

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That's definitely a good idea Paul. Also trying observing from different set-up positions and mocking up the wall height somehow, even just with garden canes.

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Brilliant map Gnomus, it is nice to see where you are going to build your obsy.

Street & security lights can be shut out with removeable plywood panels that go up after the roof is opened.  They are stored inside the obsy in between sessions keeping them dry.

As Gina says above have your rolling roof going towards the worst of your light pollution see picture of mine below.  The photograph is taken looking towards Burton on Trent which is where most of my LP comes from.

I tend to go out later though when the neighbours have settled in for the night.

Have a look at the rest of the obsy pictures as well.

http://stargazerslounge.com/gallery/image/22830-roof-open/

I also tried temporary screens using posts & tarpaulin which worked well but only used them in light winds.

I went for fixed sides on the obsy for 2 reasons, adds to the strength of the obsy frame (better support for the ROR runners) & shuts out more close by security/street lights.

My shed was made by this shed builder: -    http://www.dapasheds.co.uk/    Speak to Peter.  Please note this is a small business and it took around 3 months between ordering & the shed being delivered.

Most important thing - don't rush it, I was lucky and made only minor mistakes during the whole build.

It really is a different world though.  I've not used my portable setup since it was completed, it really is the best investment, provided you are not thinking of moving.

Best points.

  1. Solid pier mounting is miles better than a tripod.  I have around 1.6 tonnes of concrete under mine, well worth the effort.
  2. Sheltered from the cold & wind during sessions even if you are out in the observing room.
  3. Plenty of places to put 'stuff' and easier to find in the dark.
  4. Warm room really is a luxury, and access to the internet & Stellarium etc gives as much info as you need.
  5. Quick set up, you can make the most of short clear spells or when there are showers about.

Cheers,

Fondofchips.

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I have a self built roll off with roof rolling over warm room. I like the principle very much. I do wonder on some of the commercial designs I've seen why the upper sides don't roll off with the roof but the need for this depends on how close to the horizon it's worth going from your site.

Roll offs and domes have different strengths and weaknesses. Domes tend to be cramped and need to be motorized to be used for imaging. Managing the flip adds complications, too. Navigating from within a dome if you are a visual observer is rather more difficult than you might expect.

Olly

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Couple of members have mentioned buying IKI observatories. guess non of them have spotted this post. could maybe do a search

Dave

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I look at the dome on there 2.2 about the same money as the shed the big plus light only come in the open bit.

Thank you.  Yes.  However..  I really wanted a bit of space, since at least two people will be in there when observing (and neither of us are what you might call svelte).  The doors to domes also seem to require ingress by crawling (see earlier comments regarding age, decrepitude and lack-of-svelteness).  I would like to have a warm room for imaging within.  I was also given to understand that the added shelter and warmth inside a dome could be a problem when trying to image because of heat rising up through the slot.

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Brilliant map Gnomus,

...

I also tried temporary screens using posts & tarpaulin which worked well but only used them in light winds.

I went for fixed sides on the obsy for 2 reasons, adds to the strength of the obsy frame (better support for the ROR runners) & shuts out more close by security/street lights.

...

My shed was made by this shed builder: -    http://www.dapasheds.co.uk/    Speak to Peter.  Please note this is a small business and it took around 3 months between ordering & the shed being delivered.

Most important thing - don't rush it, I was lucky and made only minor mistakes during the whole build.

...

Best points.

  1. Solid pier mounting is miles better than a tripod.  I have around 1.6 tonnes of concrete under mine, well worth the effort.....

Thanks for the detailed reply.  I may try out the screens idea before deciding on final layout.  I had a look at your shed builder.  May I ask, did you get him to fit the rolling roof?  That is one of the things that would concern me about doing it myself.

The pier is another worry.  It seems that a concrete filled tube is a common approach.  However, I am extremely concerned that the shed would be built around my pier and, when everything is put together, it would be the wrong height.  (Imagine how embarrassing that would be.)  I am thinking, therefore, of getting IK to fit a metal pier since the responsibility for getting the correct height etcetera would then be on him rather than me.  I wonder also if it is easier to cope with potential upgrades (eg a new mount) if I have a more "modular" (for want of a better word) pier design.

I do wonder about the folding down side panels too.  I can see plus point to this, but also appreciate your point.  

Regards

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My concrete pier turned out to be too low so I used 4 M16 threaded rods and nuts/washers to raise the mount plate about 6" (150mm).  A 10" diameter 10mm thick steel plate on the pier studs and another for the mount.

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Thanks again for the continuing advice.  I have spoken to an electrician.  He asked me if there would be anything "heavy duty" down there.  I said I didn't think so.  He suggested 6mm armoured cable.  Does that seem about right?  

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I've go for (and have) a small dome for complete protection for you and your scopes from LP and DEW - RoR are dew magnets :-)

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If you haven't already bought a book on the subject of observatories then you might find the followng book by David Arditti of interest:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Setting-Up-Small-Observatory-Construction-Practical/dp/0387345213

It contains some really useful information on obsy types, sizing, siting, etc. and also has some case studies including Olly's roll off roof observatory.

Rob

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I have that book and recommend it :)

I have ordered it too.  if it's good enough for Gina it's good enough to me :)

Fondofchips, I love your setup.  Where did you get that?

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If there is going to be 2 people in the viewing room I would go for the 15' x 10' option.  My pictures show a SW 200P reflector on a AZ EQ6 mount in a 8ft x 8ft viewing room and I still have to duck in places when the roof is closed.

Theoretically I could put a SW 300P in there but it would be very tight indeed.  Remember if you are going to use a reflector you will have to use at least a small step to get up to the eyepiece at times.  If there is 2 people in there it makes for swopping positions to allow the other person to view.

Make the observing room square - the partiton is on the warm room side.  This will leave around 4' 8" width (x 10ft) on the warm room, still enough space for 2 people to warm up between sessions.

Yes the shed builder did fit the rolling roof.  It has a sideways on runner design so the roof does not blow off - http://stargazerslounge.com/gallery/image/21541-runner-detail/

Pier height, the most difficult part to get right, I'm 6' 2" tall, obsy walls are 6' 6" tall, from there you work out how high the pier needs to be, I put my EQ6 tripod in there with the scope after the shed was built & before I ordered the pier to work out the pier height. 

Using a tripod mounted scope for a week or two is better than getting the pier height wrong. 

Kirkster501

Shed builder - http://www.dapasheds.co.uk/

Stud frame for bolting down pier - made myself with 16mm threaded rod 1.2m long, the rest of it was cobbled up from tile surround & other scrounged bits.  The rods were bent at the end to stop them spinning.

Steel Pier made by a local engineer, complete with 2 extension pieces which would give me 3 different height options. shown here in my gallery: -  http://stargazerslounge.com/gallery/image/22414-my-pier-picture/

Grey electrical boxes off Ebay, 21.5" monitor used off Ebay, Zotac mini PC replaced a dead laptop, cheap bookcase for books & eyepiece boxes etc from Argos, Red LED strips x 2 off Ebay, white rope light and plastic toolbox from Lidl, extra mortice locks off Ebay.

My 12 volt power supply is different to most, I use this battery charger/conditioner http://www.thegreenreaper.co.uk/Battery_Chargers/Battery_Chargers/AccuMate_Pro_12_24_Battery_Charger_Maintainer.html  it is connected to a 12volt 180ah battery so that the obsy isn't affected by power cuts.  (A power cut with no street lights and clear skies is any stargazers dream).

Cheers,

Fondofchips.

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SGL member and excellent imager Barry Wilson (search on Barry-Wilson) has an IK roll-off roof obsy, maybe PM him to get some feedback.

Martin

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I have ordered it too.  if it's good enough for Gina it's good enough to me :)

Fondofchips, I love your setup.  Where did you get that?

OK.  The book is on its way to me.  Thanks to all those who passed on this tip.

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If there is going to be 2 people in the viewing room I would go for the 15' x 10' option.  My pictures show a SW 200P reflector on a AZ EQ6 mount in a 8ft x 8ft viewing room and I still have to duck in places when the roof is closed.

Theoretically I could put a SW 300P in there but it would be very tight indeed.  Remember if you are going to use a reflector you will have to use at least a small step to get up to the eyepiece at times.  If there is 2 people in there it makes for swopping positions to allow the other person to view.

Make the observing room square - the partiton is on the warm room side.  This will leave around 4' 8" width (x 10ft) on the warm room, still enough space for 2 people to warm up between sessions.

Yes the shed builder did fit the rolling roof.  It has a sideways on runner design so the roof does not blow off - http://stargazerslounge.com/gallery/image/21541-runner-detail/

Pier height, the most difficult part to get right, I'm 6' 2" tall, obsy walls are 6' 6" tall, from there you work out how high the pier needs to be, I put my EQ6 tripod in there with the scope after the shed was built & before I ordered the pier to work out the pier height. 

Using a tripod mounted scope for a week or two is better than getting the pier height wrong. 

Kirkster501

Shed builder - http://www.dapasheds.co.uk/

Stud frame for bolting down pier - made myself with 16mm threaded rod 1.2m long, the rest of it was cobbled up from tile surround & other scrounged bits.  The rods were bent at the end to stop them spinning.

Steel Pier made by a local engineer, complete with 2 extension pieces which would give me 3 different height options. shown here in my gallery: -  http://stargazerslounge.com/gallery/image/22414-my-pier-picture/

Grey electrical boxes off Ebay, 21.5" monitor used off Ebay, Zotac mini PC replaced a dead laptop, cheap bookcase for books & eyepiece boxes etc from Argos, Red LED strips x 2 off Ebay, white rope light and plastic toolbox from Lidl, extra mortice locks off Ebay.

My 12 volt power supply is different to most, I use this battery charger/conditioner http://www.thegreenreaper.co.uk/Battery_Chargers/Battery_Chargers/AccuMate_Pro_12_24_Battery_Charger_Maintainer.html  it is connected to a 12volt 180ah battery so that the obsy isn't affected by power cuts.  (A power cut with no street lights and clear skies is any stargazers dream).

Cheers,

Fondofchips.

Thanks again for these tips.  And, apologies for the endless 'interrogation'.   Is your pier a hollow metal tube?  How thick is the metal?  Is there any reason you went for the roof design that you did (as compared with the standard shed pitched roof)?  Do observatory sheds need to be constructed more robustly than standard garden sheds - for example, do they need thicker floor and wall joists?

If I contact your shed builder, do you mind if I tell him that you referred me to him?  Is it "Mr Chips" or did you get on first name terms with him (?Fondo?).

Thanks again.  I do appreciate all of the advice that I am getting here.

Regards

Steve 

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Thanks again for these tips.  And, apologies for the endless 'interrogation'.   Is your pier a hollow metal tube?  How thick is the metal?  Is there any reason you went for the roof design that you did (as compared with the standard shed pitched roof)?  Do observatory sheds need to be constructed more robustly than standard garden sheds - for example, do they need thicker floor and wall joists?

Pier is a hollow metal tube, quite thick walled around 6-8mm, I had to fill it with kiln dried sand as when I tapped or knocked it started ringing.  The sand has made it more solid so it was worth it anyway. 

Note that you need to choose what mount you are going to use, long term if possible.  I bought a pier adapter for a EQ5 mount but I had upgraded to the EQ6 by the time the project was finished.  So I had to sell the unused EQ5 adaptor  & buy a EQ6 one.

Example of a pier adapter here: - https://www.altairastro.com/product.php?productid=16169&page=1  they do come up for sale here & on  http://www.astrobuysell.com/uk/propview.php?minprice=0&maxprice=1000000000000000&sort=id%20DESC  occasionally.

Pitched roof is like that as I stressed to the shed builder that it must be dry inside, apparently the water runs away better when the roof is at a low angle.  It makes the ROR roof lighter as well.

All of my obsy wood is roughly a size bigger than a normal shed & braced as well.  This is why I have 2 outward opening doors as the partition between the viewing room & the warm room is then stronger giving better support to the ROR roof runners.  It means that although nearly all the obsy wood is bigger than a normal shed it isn't huge unless you want a door in between the warm & observing rooms.  I went for stiffness & strength & don't see a problem going outside & back in again between the 2 rooms.

The other advantage to the outside doors is more storage space in the warm room where I've put a tall bookcase for books, eyepiece boxes etc.  I still have a window between the warm room & the viewing room as well. 

I've just measured my pier height 1250mm (49"), wall height 6' 6" and I'm 6' 2" tall.  I found the best way was to sort pier height was after the shed was put up using the telescope & tripod first to work out the pier height after a viewing session. 

I have a 8" SW reflector & a Lyra 4" refractor and they both work OK at this height.  I don't look at stuff down near the horizon due to local light pollution anyway. 

Cheers,

Fondofchips.

Edited by fondofchips

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I have an IKI-ROR. I don't post here often sorry but feel free to PM me. It's really a HiTec product with David Jackson and David Grennan behind the hardware and software. I'm thrilled with mine. I am beta testing the ASCOM driver for the RoR and have been doing unattended all nighters on a number of occasions (or when the UK weather permits) - works a treat!

See pictures and some comments in a thread I started in early December last year.

Good luck!

Roberto

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Fondofchips, did Dapasheds build it completely for you to your design?  You mind PM'ing me how much it cost please?  I have the skills to build one myself, I have little doubt, but time is a precious commodity in Steve-world with me being a single parent. I'd rather slab out an area, dig a few holes and pay for one.  

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