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Bukko

Yet another building project

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One thing that kept me motivated over the last few years I was working was my plan to find darker skies and build a proper observatory. Near the New Forest, I suffered from a lot of light pollution, from Southampton to my North and a huge petrochemical facility to the South

The whole retirement plan started when I turned 50, with the intention of retiring before my 60th birthday, so with that in mind, what to do and where to go started a decade long project to retire. Mrs Bukko and myself have ended up in SW France with a house surrounded by woodland and fields and wonderful views of the night skies.

My last working period finished last year, at the end of June and we sold up our UK home and moved to France. I needed planning permission from the local Mayor for the build and had to promise to form an Astronomy club when all is working. We got a British builder involved and have been constructing since last November.

Now, my last project was in Singapore and Mrs. Bukko agreed I could spend all my ill gotten gains from the project on myself. The project in Singapore ran on longer than expected, so I did better than planned.

Here is the first of a few pictures showing us clearing the land and putting down the concrete bases.

 

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Looks good and looking forward to seeing more of your French adventure. 

Dave

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I wanted a warm room plus, if I have to form a club, somewhere to host a few people.

I found a local supplier of garden rooms and got it delivered. About 4m wide and 3m deep, plus an overhang to keep the rain out. Once the concrete base had hardened, I started on a raised floor. Then for my buuilder buddy back to put the thing together.

It took a lot of thinking how to prepare the base for the domes, in the end, I made up a jig for a quarter circle and formed the shuttering by laminating two sheets of thin plywood and joined them into a circle.

The pier base was poured earlier and I used some polystyrene sheets to isolate it from the rest of the footings. It just needed careful pouring so the polystyrene didn't get damaged too much. I also ran power and data cables back to the house and between the dome bases.

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The warm room built really easy, but bad weather (cold) stopped the roof tiles being fitted until more recently. I also needed to put a second coat of wood protection on before heavy rain hit.

All the ground is on clay and water does drain well, so gravelling the area helped make it good to walk on, as well as a small path just in case heavy rain waterlogs the site. I got a little weather station to help monitor air conditions, especially the humidity reading!! All in French, I have another incentive to keep my head down and study...

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Looking very nice so far.  I love the cab on the digger, too :)

James

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2 minutes ago, JamesF said:

Looking very nice so far.  I love the cab on the digger, too :)

James

Thanks, James, The builder owns it and when he left the site, he took the keys with him !!

It was really useful, as we needed to clear quite a bit of ground. The warm room base is 4m by 4m and the domes are around 2.9m diameter each, plus the separate pier bases. We also ran underground cables for the power and ethernet to the house, so trench digging is a breeze.

But restoring the land afterwards has been so much hard work!!

 

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Great project- wish I had access to a digger for my build. The gradient was too much to be safe though, I fear.

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We needed to dig something like 50m of trenches for cabling. French rules pushes it a bit too deep for hand tools, especially as it is clay...

The little digger was great, but there was such a mess to re-level afterwards. I managed to get some bird food (I mean grass seed) down, so the ground is recoving now.

These pictures are a couple of months old now, so I am catching up...

Gordon.

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Posted (edited)

Looks great - coming on nicely ?   I could have done with a digger too when I built my observatory and we too have clay 20-30cm below ground level.

Edited by Gina
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So... The higher off the ground we can mount the scope the better. We get away from the humidity and atmospheric disturbances present. However, the higher we go, the more difficult to keep everything rigid.

I was allowed up to 3.5m off the ground in the planning consent, so wanted to do the best I could.

I went through lots of ideas on what type of buulding to use, the roll-off roofs, even a simple cover. But I am on th etop of a small hill and the wind is pretty high, so I decided a dome was best to give shelter. Then which dome? 

I had previously had a Skyshed Pod, but with a 12" Newt, the space was extremely cramped. Something bigger was needed and of the alternatives (such as the Baader clamshell.. too expensive and still suffer in the wind; the 2.7m Pulsar or the 3m Scopedome. In the end, the Scopedome won out, it was not much more expensive than the Pulsar, but included a bigger shutter and really well thought out control system. 

It also made it easier to build a support wall and look good when done. I sketched out the full height Pulsar with an additional wall and it didn't look right.

In France, they sell big bricks. I got some at 50cm long, 30cm high and 20cm deep. They are hollow so keeping the thermal mass a bit lower and being so big, it is quick to put together. Every brick needed to be cut and it takes 18 per layer.

They also work out perfect for the Scopedome base ring, not too big, not too small. The top layer looked like a home for wildlife, so needed sealing....

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17 minutes ago, Gina said:

Looks great - coming on nicely ?   I could have done with a digger too when I built my observatory and we too have clay 20-30cm below ground level.

You are lucky - 20-30cm to find clay... Mine starts from the surface and seems to go all the way to the centre of the earth..

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I'm intrigued to see how you get inside it now :D

James

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Hope you haven't forgotten the entrance doorway!

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4 minutes ago, JamesF said:

I'm intrigued to see how you get inside it now :D

James

The plan is to use the scopes inside for imaging, remotely from the warm room, with little need to enter.... Its a plan and if I can avoid fitting steps, then it makes another barrier for any tea leaf...

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Just now, Gina said:

Hope you haven't forgotten the entrance doorway!

No worrys Gina, the Scopedome has a door...

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You have green beer in SW France???  Or is it lime juice?

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1 minute ago, Gina said:

You have green beer in SW France???  Or is it lime juice?

A pint of creme de menthe?  (Who remembers the Billy Connolly joke?)

James

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1 minute ago, Gina said:

You have green beer in SW France???  Or is it lime juice?

Haha no, not in France. I was working in Singapore and my hosts invited me out for a meal and they served a special beer they make, which uses seaweed.. The taste is pretty much the same as regular beer, but its green. I think the place is called Red Balloon and there are a couple of them on the island.

Gordon

 

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3 minutes ago, JamesF said:

A pint of creme de menthe?  (Who remembers the Billy Connolly joke?)

James

Green Hughie, Hughie Green. 

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Just now, Dave Lloyd said:

Green Hughie, Hughie Green. 

Marvellous :D

James

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Briefly, as I don't want to divert Gordon's thread too much further, I've just recalled that there was a "green pint" when I was at university.  I seem to recall it was called a "Frogbite".  A half of cider, half of lager and a shot of blue curacao, if I recall correctly.  Not that it was possible to recall much correctly after a couple of those...

James

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I also remember the great "Creme de Menthe" sketch from Mr. Connolly - they really don't make comedians like him anymore..

Frogbite is a new one on me, though, there was many others in my younger daye of the late 70's... Cocktails for beer drinkerss, I think... Mine was a Rum and Black, with a pint of bitter and lime... Oh, those were the days...

Anyway, catching up a little more with the build, I am aware the Scopedomes really need a flat and level base to work from, so after a lot of effort to make sure the bricks were really flat and level, I painted the structure white. The bricks inside the bases are for a raised floor.

The pictures show the southerly views available and the last one was a trial fit of my OO VX12 on the NEQ6. A final check the height will be OK before the domes arrive... And yes, the pier has one of those rats nests. When the pier was built some years ago, the need of the NEQ6 to secure it through the centre bolt forced the move. But it is secured as short as possible and has never been a source of instability. And yes, the pier will be levelled when it is finally bolted and grouted down..

My reasoning for levelling will be to make sure the weight loading goes directly down the pier, rather than required for PA...

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Catching up with the timeline now...

Exciting day, the two domes were delivered from the factory in Poland. The driver said it took 20 hours of driving to get here so glad I did not decide to collect them myself !!

One of my friendly neighbours has his tractor with a forklift attachment and it cost me a bottle of single malt to have him come round and unload for me. A bargain, for sure.

Shocked at the size of the pallets, we used some scaffold planks to extend his forks to lift them off. I am sure we were a straw away from it failing, but we got away with it and now they are ready for the build to continue...

Gordon.

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I'm intrigued to see what they look like with the wrapping off :)

James

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1 minute ago, JamesF said:

I'm intrigued to see what they look like with the wrapping off :)

James

They look nice...

And big....

Quite an upgrade from a Skyshed, for sure!!!

More pix to follow...

Gordon

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