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JamesF

JamesF's observatory build

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21 hours ago, Astrokev said:

I too am a little concerned about how warm the scope room will get in the sun.

  I saw the thermometer in my observatory in the Sonoran Desert wrapped past its 120 F/50 C limit on more than one occasion, with no detrimental effects on the equipment within. While I carried the Dell laptop computer into the house between sessions and never stored eyepieces in the observatory, telescopes and mounts stayed in the building year round. I would be concerned at those temperatures about cemented or oil-spaced optics but I doubt things will get nearly that warm in a temperate climate so far north.

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Brief trip out to the observatory this evening.  Managed to cut and fix the two largest sections of ply that go above the lighting and left it at that.  It was cold and dark by the time I was done.

Hopefully the latches for the roof will arrive tomorrow and I can think about fitting those.  I could really do with some decent weather so I can go for a spin with the roof off, too.

James

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6 minutes ago, MCinAZ said:

  I saw the thermometer in my observatory in the Sonoran Desert wrapped past its 120 F/50 C limit on more than one occasion, with no detrimental effects on the equipment within. While I carried the Dell laptop computer into the house between sessions and never stored eyepieces in the observatory, telescopes and mounts stayed in the building year round. I would be concerned at those temperatures about cemented or oil-spaced optics but I doubt things will get nearly that warm in a temperate climate so far north.

I think if it got that hot here the entire fabric of society would start to crumble :)

James

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1 hour ago, JamesF said:

I think if it got that hot here the entire fabric of society would start to crumble :)

James

Doesn't the Daily Mail forecast a 50C heatwave every summer, to alternate with the 'worst winter ever' forecast?

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Seems to be all small steps at the moment, but it will eventually get the job done...

The latches for the roof didn't arrive today, so instead I cut all the aluminium section for the lighting to length, mitred the corners where necessary and fitted it in place so I now have a single run from the door all the way around the external walls and stopping just short of the internal window.  That meant I could cut the ply to fit above the lighting on the southern wall and fit that.  To do most of the rest I need my new latches in place, so hopefully they'll arrive before the weekend.

I now have just two sheets of ply left of the fourteen delivered, plus offcuts.  One sheet should do the roof of the warm room and half of the other the inside of the southern wall flap.  That last sheet is quite scabby though -- all black and mouldy on one side -- so I shall probably be complaining about that and getting them to deliver a new one.  The offcuts should be sufficient to finish off the remainder of the walls and clad the piers once I have them built.

If the latches don't arrive, then the weather looks relatively pleasant this weekend so I might try to get some of the outside bits finished off.

Oh, as today has been relatively sunny, I checked out the walls and roof from the inside.  The walls weren't noticeably warm, so I don't think I need to worry about those.  The inside of the roof however had a definite temperature difference between the side facing the Sun and the side facing away.  There's clearly a fair bit of heat coming through there.  I'm not going to do anything about it for the moment, but it's going on my list to come back to at some point.

James

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No work on the observatory today, it not being every day that you have a child reaching their 16th birthday, but the latches for the roof did at least arrive:

obsy-build-81.jpg

I reckon I can make these fit without modification which is good news.  I have a couple of other jobs to get on with tomorrow, but hopefully this weekend I can get at least some of them in place and make more progress with the wall lining.

I have also found a couple of suitable locks for the external door.  Not the one I was actually looking for, but at least one of the ones I've found should do the job, so that gives me something else to be getting on with.

James

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2 hours ago, JamesF said:

No work on the observatory today, it not being every day that you have a child reaching their 16th birthday, but the latches for the roof did at least arrive:

  Those latches look a lot like what I had in mind for my last build. I never found any at the time, but a pair of 6" C-clamps did the job. Not elegantly, but effectively, anyway.

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G-cramps, C-clamps and F-clamps have a nasty habit of working loose in the wind.
I had a 6" iron clamp drop from the top of the dome where it was temporarily holding the shutters together.
Luckily it only hit me on the knee rather than damaging anything valuable or making a big dent in the larch floor.  ?
 

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I put two of my latches vertical and two at an angle.  This pulls the roof tight against my warm room and prevents any movement or rocking when the roof is closed and its windy.

large.Obsy-119.jpg.2c07892ec5b556f73c24e2e61335acc4.jpg

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Good idea.  I shall see if I can do the same.  I've already fitted two of mine (more of that later), but the other two I could put at an angle.

James

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Had to do some work in the barn today.  I think I mentioned earlier that I'd blocked off all the openings with the old polytunnel cover wrapped over timber frames, but clearly I didn't fit them tightly enough because the wind pushed them out last week.  Yesterday I saw a couple of swallows mooching about and I really, really don't need any getting back into the barn to nest this year, so much of my day was spent fixing up the frames so they can't blow out unless we get a hurricane.

Once that was done I had a little time to work on the observatory.  I made up a couple of mounting blocks for two of the latches which means I don't need to extend them, and fixed the hooks to the frame. With one in place I could feel safe removing one of the sash clamps that have been holding the roof closed for the last six months or thereabouts, finish off the wall lining on that wall and finally fit the second latch.

With one latch locked there was a little play (perhaps 5mm either way) in the roof position, but with two there wasn't any movement at all, so I think I can be happy with that.  By the time I have all four on it should be pretty solid.

James

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Regarding heat, this has yet to do any damage here and we are often in the upper thirties in summer. I just leave things like doors and flaps open and this seems to do the trick.

I just had a long catch-up on this build and greatly enjoyed it.

Olly

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20 hours ago, JamesF said:

Good idea.  I shall see if I can do the same.  I've already fitted two of mine (more of that later), but the other two I could put at an angle.

James

In my observatory, the four turnbuckles are all fitted at an angle in both N-S and E-W directions, so that they all pull against each other. I only tighten them lightly as I don't want to put undue strain on the fixings, but the roof doesn't move at all. 

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10 hours ago, ollypenrice said:

Regarding heat, this has yet to do any damage here and we are often in the upper thirties in summer. I just leave things like doors and flaps open and this seems to do the trick.

I just had a long catch-up on this build and greatly enjoyed it.

Thank you, Olly.  Twice over :)

James

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On the subject of heat, the weather forecasters seem to be of the opinion that April has been quite mild so far.  Certainly not every day, it hasn't been.  We've had a few frosts in the last couple of weeks and north-easterly winds that haven't been particularly strong, but exceptionally cold.  With the wind chill I suspect 4C might be a generous estimate of the warmest it was today.

Anyhow, I braved the chill this morning to go out and fit the last two latches for the rolling roof, but decided I wasn't completely happy that the "hooks" would definitely clear the sides of the warm room roof.  The spacing was a little tight and if there's a small amount of flex in the roof as it opens they might catch on the side and damage the EPDM.  To resolve that I spent the morning in the workshop making up some brackets to allow me to offset them slightly from the frame.  Having thought on it some more I think I can actually make a better design, so I'll put this on my list to revisit in the future.  For the moment what I have will do the job.

Having all the latches sorted enabled me to finish all the lining in the scope room other than the flap and a piece over the external door.  I could have done the latter, but I need to change the blade on the bandsaw and my hands were just too cold to be messing about with the guide adjusters by that time, so it can wait for another day.

I have a number of things to think about this week as well as just finishing off that little bit of lining:

Paint for the scope room walls is going to need some consideration now.  If I get that purchased before the weekend I can probably get my daughter to help with the painting over the Easter weekend

And I've decided to make up some stays for the end flap to hold it closed so I can remove the clamps that I'm currently using.  A few weeks back I installed a loft ladder in the house and wasn't able to use the stays that came with it so I might re-use those.  Otherwise I think my father-in-law has some 6mm steel rod that will do the job.

I need to finish off a few little bits and pieces outside, like the cladding for the north gable.  The weather looks as though it's going to warm up a little towards the weekend, so hopefully I'll have the opportunity to cross those off my list too.

Oh, a bit of a random thing, but I thought I'd mention it whilst it's in my head in case it's of use to anyone else.  Whilst I was messing about in the workshop today I noticed a bag of "invisible" shelf supports.  That's invisible supports for shelves, not supports for invisible shelves, which might be a bit tricky to put stuff on.  I think I bought a bag of them when I was fitting some shelves in the bathroom and had a few left over.  Anyhow, it struck me that they'd make excellent locating pins for a rolling roof to hold it in place when it isn't latched down.  I may return to this one if I automate the roof.

James

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Hi james , could you tell me where you bought the latches? I am thinking of replacing mine for something like these.. john.

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21 hours ago, ollypenrice said:

Regarding heat, this has yet to do any damage here and we are often in the upper thirties in summer. I just leave things like doors and flaps open and this seems to do the trick.

I just had a long catch-up on this build and greatly enjoyed it.

Olly

I do much the same Olly, with having a dark roof covering it can get rather hot inside and like you we get well above 35 many a day, last year 42.3C, almost enough to make the roof covering melt.

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4 hours ago, dobbie said:

Hi james , could you tell me where you bought the latches? I am thinking of replacing mine for something like these.. john.

I got them from Amazon:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0752YR2W2

There are various sizes, so you might want to try to find something larger or smaller depending on your setup.

James

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3 hours ago, JamesF said:

I got them from Amazon:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0752YR2W2

There are various sizes, so you might want to try to find something larger or smaller depending on your setup.

James

thanks james. 

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Haven't got much done this week, but over the last couple of evenings I've been tidying up in preparation for painting the scope room, which I hope my daughter will help with tomorrow.  I even took a hoover down and to get rid of as much of the dust as possible.  Disappointingly the removal of the dust revealed this:

obsy-build-82.jpg

Looks like a rodent of some variety has been nibbling at the edge of the floor :(

I'm slightly tempted to get some steel or aluminium angle and screw it over the edges, though clearly I'm going to need to put some "rodent deterrent" down there somewhere.

Last job this evening was to remove and number all the pieces of aluminium section for the lighting.  They can go back in once the painting is done, but taking them out makes the whole job a lot quicker and simpler.

James

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Well, what a busy (and lovely) day it has been!

Painting the scope room was first thing on the agenda.  I bought the paint earlier in the week.  I was looking for something reasonably dark for the scope room and having browsed through some colours, how could I not go with "Galaxy Blue"?  My daughter was keen to help, so out came the rollers and brushes and for the first time in what seems like ages I rolled the roof back so we could work in the sunshine as much as possible.  With two of us it went very quickly and by lunchtime the majority was done.  In some lights the paint does look quite grey, but in others it's definitely blue.

obsy-build-83.jpg

We also decided to paint the sides of the roof -- I'm not going to bother with the actual roof yet, in case I decide I need to insulate it.  That's a decision for another time.  I still have the gables to paint as well, but again I'm thinking about adding ventilation to those so they can wait for a bit.  And obviously the end flap isn't finished enough to paint yet.

But with all the other painting done in the scope room we fitted the aluminium section back into the walls and then broke out the roll of LEDs.  The self-adhesive tape on the back made fitting them a doddle, though I did have to think for a few minutes about which end to start from and whether I needed to unroll the entire reel first, as the connectors are male at one end and female at the other.  Fortunately it worked out that we could start from the scope room window with the loose end of the reel.  We felt it was necessary to finish everything off at that point and my daughter was keen to play with the mitre box and razor saw, so she did all the cutting of the diffuser and I did the measuring and fitting.

And here's the result (maximum white, with the camera flash on)

obsy-build-84.jpg

obsy-build-85.jpg

This is maximum red, this time with the flash off:

obsy-build-86.jpg

obsy-build-87.jpg

And minimum red:

obsy-build-88.jpg

obsy-build-89.jpg

That's all with the standard control unit that came with the LED strip.  When I plugged in the wifi control unit I discovered that it would actually allow the LEDs to be dimmed even further:

obsy-build-90.jpg

It's hard to judge without being dark-adapted, especially after spending most of the day in the sunshine, but I think the red will certainly work ok.  The white is harder to judge.  I might wander out after dark this evening and see what it looks like.

I did notice that the wifi unit has a tendency to whine when the colour settings are in the middle of the range which might be irritating, but I probably won't be using that part anyhow, and if I'm in the warm room I probably won't be able to hear it anyhow.

Not sure what I shall work on next.  I shall have a think on that this evening.  Had I trusted the weather forecast I should have planned a bit further ahead and sorted out the remainder of the bits to allow me to finish doing the EPDM on the rolling roof.  As it is it might be a good idea to get at least one pier finished so I can actually start using the observatory before its first birthday.

James

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Posted (edited)

Twilight is fading now and I've just been to shut the chickens up for the night.  Another check of the white LEDs suggests they'll be quite adequate for the job, so I'll look at getting another strip (it won't need to be anywhere near as long this time) for the warm room and put them in the ceiling.  Initially I was thinking that I'd just have white for the warm room, but in fact I think it makes sense to have red available too, so if I'm doing something that involves moving between the scope room and warm room and I want to maintain dark adaption then I can do so.

Making that decision means I can now get on with lining the warm room ceiling.  In fact given that I still have some clips left and a few bits of the aluminium section to use as spacers, I could probably do the entire thing and get on with painting the warm room too.  Not sure I want the same colour as in the scope room though.  I might just go for white or magnolia, or see what tins of left-over paint we have kicking about with sufficient contents to do the job.  There are bound to be some that were kept for patching up scratches and repairs that aren't actually needed any more because we've changed the colour of the room since then.

James

Edited by JamesF
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This evening I discovered that it's possible to get right angle connectors for the LED lighting strips, so I can make a single run for the warm room in a U shape.  That sounds ideal, so I've just hit the buy button on another 5m LED strip, the aluminium section and connectors.  I shan't bother with wifi operation for this one.  I can't see the need at the moment.

James

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Looking fabulous James. I still need to pull my finger out and make a final decision on LED strips. 

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Today has been a bit of an unsatisfying day.

My intention was to remove all the screws holding down the rails for the roof and seal all the holes to stop water getting in, removing one of the rails that has leaked in the past and sealing the underside of the V channel at the same time (so water can't travel down the inside).

Yesterday when I opened the roof I didn't roll it fully open, but to seal all the screws it was necessary to do so.  But it wouldn't open all the way.  It was clearly binding somewhere, but I couldn't work out where.  Checking the latch fittings made it clear they weren't the problem, so I thought back over what I'd changed since the last time I'd had the roof right open and the only thing that occurred to me was adding the top section of cladding on the wall, so I removed that and still had the same problem.  "Ok, perhaps the roof is binding on the screws holding the rails down".  So I removed a few of them and the roof did open about six inches more, but still not all the way.

Eventually (and this did take quite some time to work out) I realised that I'd laid a trap for myself (isn't that the usual sort?).  The ends of my roof rails are still not supported where they extend beyond the warm room and clearly they have sagged a little over the winter.  As the first set of wheels started to run down the sag, the middle of the roof between the wheels was grounding out on the rails.  Hunting around I managed to find a section of old door frame destined for the woodburner that hasn't yet been paid a visit by Mr Chainsaw and fashioned temporary props for the ends of the rails, in the process discovering that having the rails rise rather than droop also leads to the roof fouling the rails in a completely different way.

With that sorted my daughter and I spent a jolly hour or so removing all the screws, squeezing sealant into the holes and replacing them (and sealing up the rail).  After that I had to replace the cladding that I'd removed and so on.  I don't like to feel that things have gone backwards.

So, next I really need to get the piers moving and to sort out the proper supports for the roof rails.  Not sure I can do anything about the latter until after the bank holiday weekend, so tomorrow I shall try to get the piers sorted.

As we finished working on the rails we heard the siren of a fire engine driving past (any kind of emergency vehicle siren is quite rare around here) and I noticed large clouds of black smoke rising into the sky to the north east, being blown our way.  I couldn't see the source, but there's very little in that direction bar a couple of houses about a mile and a half away, so I hope people are safe and well this evening.  A short while later we had bits of ash falling around the house, which can't be good news :(

James

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