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Observatory in Kirkintilloch

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I made an error fitting these so high. Six inches lower would have been better.  Note the temporary end stop for the rolling roof.


The steel was starting to rust so it has been painted with black gloss Hammerite.  It now looks very slim but is actually really strong.  Now that the pergola section is complete and rigid I’ve screwed the runners into the timber.  The roof rolls at fingertip pressure and in the slightest breeze.


Four roof clamps.  One month for delivery?  Whatever is Amazon playing at?  Ah, supplied from Hong Kong by air mail.  Don’t we make this stuff here?


An interior corner.   There is one clamp in each corner to lock the roof in position.  The two at this end pull the roof tight.

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The joists for the fixed roof.


Rest one timber on another and fix with steel straps


Angle bracing


The OSB goes on.  50mm overlap all around.


Fixing the OSB onto the roof. Run a string over the roof to line up with the centre of each joist for accurate positioning of each screw.


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Cutting the end pieces for the rolling and fixed roof.


Fixed roof outside.  Cladding will now be fixed to this right up to the top.


Fixed roof inside.


Rolling roof inside.  You can see the 6inch overlap to the fixed roof here.


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My electrician is due today so I’ve fitted some insulation and cut some 9mm ply for the inner lining.


It's coming along.  Getting excited!


Scope room light.  There’s another one on the opposite corner.


POWER!!!  I will fit the waterproof socket on the scope side of the wall later.   What did I get for my £250? A consumer unit, 4 double sockets (one exterior grade), three light fittings, switch, internal wiring, 40 metres of armoured cable and seven hours installing (including crawling under the house in the 2 foot space under the ground floor joists to get to the house consumer unit).   Rather him than me and worth every penny!


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LED there be light.  I bought three of them.


It’s white but not too bright.  Just bright enough to see what I’m doing at night.


Set to red and dimmest.  Almost invisible in daylight but fine at night plus with the remote I can switch them on and off wherever I am.


Warm room window fitted.


I fitted the waterproof socket in the scope room.  I’ll mostly be used for the dehumidifier.


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Unwrapping and laying out the EPDM.   It soon got too hot to touch in the sun hence the gloves.


Left to rest for an hour to remove creases and wrinkles.



Once the glue on the roof had set I started on the edges.  This proved to be a right pain to do so after finishing this edge I bought some EPDM impact adhesive to do the rest.

EPDM is easy to install.  It's quite heavy; a piece 4m x 3m weighs about 30Kg and it half killed me lifting onto the roof.   You can cut it with household scissors or once glued down use a stanley knife to trim.  It's essential to lay and glue it onto a clean surface (my roof is OSB) on a warm dry day for best results.

The rubber will be supplied folded and needs to be laid out flat for an hour or so to ease out the creases.  The acrylic adhesive has about 30mins working time and will set in 6 hours.  You can use a paintbrush or roller to slap this on.  Buy cheap ones and bin them after use.  It’s not worthwhile trying to clean them.  The contact adhesive goes tacky in 10mins so use for small areas at a time.  It sticks instantly and cannot be removed so be careful when folding the EPDM around corners and other fiddly areas.

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Insulating the warm room walls. Fiddly cutting to pack the diagonal bracing section.


I cut the ceiling insulation 1mm oversize so it’s just wedged tightly in place.


Warm room fully lined.


Inner door frame and ceiling trim.


My table is an offcut of kitchen worktop.  There’s a 50mm gap at the back for wiring and plugs.  Annoyingly B&Q stuck the price label to the face instead of the back and it’s not releasing with soapy water or my usual adhesive remover.


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Does plastic stick to EPDM?  Yes, very well in fact.


The plastic angle is glued to the EPDM and serves to stop rain being blown under the rolling roof into the obsy.



Before painting I’ll cover the edge of the EPDM with some wood trim.  It’ll look better than the raw cut edge.


We had some grey kitchen paint left over so guess where it went!  It’s a good colour match for the vapour barrier.


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EPDM glued to the floor as a creepy crawly barrier.


And again in the warm room.


B&Q were offering a standard internal door for £20 so it wasn’t worth making one.  I’ve had to trim the height by 45mm to fit.


Wood glue and sticky tape.


Brace the door in position to mark out the fixings for the slider.  I rarely measure when I can do things this way.


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Now it’s painted and hung.  It slides nicely.  Just got to fix the end stops in place.


These door handles are usually seen on kitchen units and draws.


Brush strip is fitted all around the frame to seal the door.


A summer thunderstorm makes a good test of waterproofing.  It was pretty torrential for a while but no leaks anywhere.


The floor is covered by interlocking rubber tiles.  Resting anything on them leaves a long-lasting dent.  I hope this will not be a problem.


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The trim is fitted and covers the EPDM edge and the effect is rather nice.   Just got to paint the rolling roof and gloss the front door.  The next step is to lay some decking to cover the ground from the end wall to pretty much where I’m standing.


EQMOD and Cartes Du Ciel plus a gamepad = happiness.  I used the EQMOD polar alignment routine which was fairly quick and efficient.  The free play between the mount and brake disk wasn’t a problem at all.  The scope is pointing at Mizar.


The power supply will go on the warm room desk.  Everything else will go in a box fitted close to the pier.  The mount is set to this height so that the scope in its home position is just below the roof joists.   I can lower it for fitting a larger scope but it’s perfectly rigid here.


The front door gets its gloss coat at last.


The electric box.  It’s fixed to the floor and sits 10mm away from the pier.  The door is held in place with magnetic catches and just pulls off.


The cables to the mount pass through this hole.  I’ll tidy them up later once I get the cameras and filter wheel in place.


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A bit chilly last night.


Despite the frost on the runners the roof rolled easily.  Anyone know how to spider proof an obsy?


A quick look at the Moon during daylight.  The shrubs to the southwest have been cut back so maybe I should raise the pier a bit to get a better view.  I’ll be in the heat haze just above the rooftops but I‘ll see if I can live with that.


My old laptop which got updated to Windows 10 when I wasn’t paying attention and  can’t cope any more so it’s time for a new PC to run everything.  On the right is an indoor/outdoor thermometer and while it is ambient in the scope room the warm room soon gets to 18c with a 400w convection heater.

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Some things to look for.


I may be tall but reaching for the roof to close it is a bit of a stretch.  A rope and pulley makes short work of it now.


All neat and tidy.


So, there we have it.   The total cost came to £2790.41 (I kept a spreadsheet).

Is there anything I would change?  I wish I’d tested the bitumen paint on some scrap before using.  I probably would not have used it.

I could have been a bit more careful with the EPDM impact adhesive.  It sticks permanently on first contact however lightly it is touched.  I accidently elbowed a bit into place which has left an unsightly crease along the rolling roof overlap.

The pergola supports for the rolling roof are a bit messy and the crossbeam is too high.  I forgot to check the gap between the roof and crossbeam.  It’s only 10mm so I cannot fit a longer weather seal to the roof.  There has been no water ingress so it’s probably not really an issue.  Spiders get in though and they are an issue!

The building is immensely rigid which means the roof rolls easily with the lightest touch.  It even rolls in a light wind so maybe another clamp is required to lock it in place when it’s open.  I’ve checked all the levels and angles and they are as good as when I started so the handiblock foundations are working perfectly.  The floor dried out and is as good as new despite being wet for months.  OSB3 is good stuff.

The next stage is to build a deck around the obsy and make it look neat and tidy.

Having spent as much time as possible over winter observing and comparing notes made in previous years I can say I have got 1.2mag better skies now.   How much of this is due to the obsy giving my eyes better dark adaption and how much is due to the new LED streetlights I cannot say.  I just love the improvement.

My best wishes to anyone who builds their own observatory.  It transforms your observing and makes that 30 minute gap in the clouds into a full on observing session.




  • Like 7

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Hi John,

Well done, a lovely build :hello2:

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Excellent work.... I can relate to how much work went into your obsy construction since I'm going through that as well...

Your observatory looks great... Can't wait to see my one finished and in operation, hopefully it is at least half as good as yours.


Edited by MarsG76

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Wow. That really is an epic set of posts. Taken me all morning to read through them.

I live just down the road from you in Lenzie. Would love to have an obsy but just don't have your skills or patience to build one. Apart from that SWMBO would never let me, lol. Good luck with your project. If only we could get some decent skies to let you make full use of it.





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Impressive work ! well done :)

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Well done John, glad it all came together as planned :)

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"Impressive... most impressive." - Darth V. :)

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That's a cracker. Many thanks for sharing the (epic!) build log - I am sure many will gain much from  it if they are contemplating similar.

Well done and may you derive great pleasure from it!

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Hi John,

very impressed with you thread and obsey build. You have shown great determination and ingenuity.

very well done and may you have many hours enjoying its delights.


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Great build John, really pleased that it all came together for you.

Looking forward to seeing some great pictures now !



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