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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?
I thought I would share this design. I needed a house for the 6 inch Mak Cas on a pier. I wanted it bug proof and I wanted a sitting area near the scope that I could warm. Some wind block would be nice. After reviewing a lot of roll off roof designs I went with a roll off building instead. It rolls to the west, where trees would otherwise block the sky. I am clear to the south, and the house blocks a bit to the north. The 5 by 10 building was built to roll on 6 casters on top of square steel tracks. There is a 3 by 5 warm room in the back. The floor is steel for rigidity, while the building is normal 2x construction with hardie exterior to match the house. Its a bit heavy to push by hand, so we added a bicycle crank set to move it along. The bicycle frame is inside, with a very narrow slot in the floor for the chain. I have yet to install the electrical as winter came and slowed down construction. So far, no rodents, wasps, bats or other guests have been able to move in. Enjoy.
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.
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
Well the time has come, along with the all important permission, for the start of my very own observatory build. I've looked at lots of builds on SGL, many of which I'm really impressed with, but obviously each build has its own constraints in relation to time, money, size of garden and of course now permitted development rules. With this all taken in to account I decided on the following as a general concept:
Overall size to be 3.6m x 2.4m (12' x 8' in old money) I have decided to have a warm room, even though I do image mostly remotely, as I thought I could store equipment in there, and it could house the power supply etc. Also it's a place to go when I've been told off for doing something wrong, as you do! Main scope room to be 2.3m x 2.4m and warm room 1.2m x 2.4m. I will be using a roll off roof, custom design but really nothing new, and this is likely to be pent as I have limited space for it to open. Being pent makes it easier to open only a section of it (I think). Main base frame is beam and block using 7n MD concrete blocks sat on hardcore, topped with 150 x 50 pressure treated joists. I am using 75 x 50 for all the general framing as I want to use 50mm Celotex insulation with a reasonable air gap. I will be using a steel pier on a 1m3 plug. I think that's about the general overview, and I have drawn it all up in CAD and Sketchup for a 3D perspective (SWMBO doesn't get CAD drawings).
I know the build is going to take some time, and I'm aiming to be imaging in there by the Spring of 2017 being realistic, with total completion in the Summer. I will try to get it done earlier but don't want to compromise quality for speed, and of course work gets in the way, with only weekends currently available for working on it.
I'll update this thread as much as I can and please feel free to throw and comments or recommendations my way as I will be explaining why I am doing what I'm doing in each post, but as it's my first observatory build I would welcome any and all comments, good or bad.
Let the build begin