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Bukko

Yet another building project

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1 hour ago, JamesF said:

They do look very impressive, I have to say.  And from the photos appear to be very well-made, too.

James

Hi James,

Yes, I have been impressed with the build quality. Especially where the basic design has been very well thought out. Obviously, all I have done is manually rotate the domes, but the whole thing revolves smoother than mty Skyshed Pod did... And that is much smaller and lighter. But then again, the Pod costs a whole lot less.

I have been looking through your observatory build diary and that is a pretty impressive job in design too. But where I am on the top of a (small) hill with little to break the wind, I did not want to push the tracking and guiding abilities...

Gordon

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Enormously impressed with your project Gordon and ever so slightly jealous as well!

I will look forward to seeing the end result....good luck.

Steve

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1 hour ago, jjosefsen said:

It looks so good!

What kind of gear are you putting in there? Saw an EQ6 and a 300mm(?) newton..

Yes, right for the first dome.

The NEQ6 is belt modded. The Newt is an OO VX12 with a feathertouch focuser. Imaging train is a SX OAG and filter wheel with a set of Baader LRGB and narrow band filters and cameras are SX Superstar for guiding and an SBIG ST8300 for imaging. This is all a few years old now but works well.

I do have a Carbon tubed  WO 110 FLT that will also fit on the NEQ6 for wider views.

The second dome is all new stuff; an ME2 mount and an OO ODK16 to catch the photons.

Imaging train is a SX Maxi filter wheel with integrated OAG. Finlers are a full set of Chroma LRGB and narrow band. Cameras are another Superstar for guiding and a SX Trius 46 for imaging.

Each dome wil have a HP i5 pc and will manage the dome, mount tracking and imaging. They are ethernet connected to the warm room and I have a two-monitor i5 system to manage the domes remotely.

Setting this lot up should keep me out of misscheif for a while...

Gordon.

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30 minutes ago, SteveA said:

Enormously impressed with your project Gordon and ever so slightly jealous as well!

I will look forward to seeing the end result....good luck.

Steve

Hi Steve,

the problem I now have in "going public" on the system is everyones expectations of the results will be bigger than my abililty...

I anticipate both my sons getting to play with the system, not just me, which is partly why I am looking to automate as much as I can...

But please don't be jealous, this is the end of a long working career of stress and pressure culminating with the obligatory heart attack!! (Now much better)

Gordon.

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32 minutes ago, Bukko said:

But please don't be jealous, this is the end of a long working career of stress and pressure culminating with the obligatory heart attack!! (Now much better)

Sorry to hear that work took such a toll. I quit the rat race 5 years ago now and haven't looked back despite a lack of spare time now that I'm running a small business with my wife.

again...good luck with this ambitious and extremely interesting project and I'm sure the results will definitely impress.

Steve

ps. I'm still jealous😬

 

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Today I have started to install the wiring fo rthe motors and sensors.

And have managed to stumble on a couple of omissions from Scopedome!!

There is a fair number of interconnecting cables and as I am not a expert in building them, I got the pre-wired cabling....

Now, one of the first lessons I had in fault-finding problems is to try and blame someone else.. So here goes. There are two limit switches for the shutter travel and they are both in one bag. My builder buddy (apportioning the blame now...) pulled the limit switches out of the bag and just fitted them randomly. So both domes have jumbled up limit switches. Now, Scopedome didn't include a wiring schedule and the controller box doesn't identify the functions on the connectors, just the numbers...

I guess they thought the scheme was foolproof, but they didn't realise they had sold the domes to me!!

The second issue uncovered is the control box does not have any mounting points on the dome wall. I don't fancy trying to screw it in place, in case it goes through, so I get to make some little wooden stand-offs and glue them in place.

Lucky for me, I got some floor paint that seems to match the dome walls perfectly so I can cover it up well..

Here's a couple of pictures of progress today.

Gordon.

IMG_5362.JPG

IMG_5363.JPG

IMG_5367.JPG

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Hi Gordon

The limit switches will be identical, the difference is how they are wired. If in doubt with the wiring, ring the suppliers, they will put you right. Yep blame the builder :)

Fabulous build btw and keep the eye candy coming...

Steve

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14 minutes ago, sloz1664 said:

Hi Gordon

The limit switches will be identical, the difference is how they are wired. If in doubt with the wiring, ring the suppliers, they will put you right. Yep blame the builder :)

Fabulous build btw and keep the eye candy coming...

Steve

Thanks Steve,

I am happy to know you are enjoying the thread.

Yes, the limit switches are identical, but each has a numbered connector and at the control box, a matching numbered connector. But no diagram to say which number does what.

I am sure I take this saying from another SGL menber, who said... "Nothing is foolproof... for a sufficiently talented fool"... This time it's me.

I have already emailed the factory in Poland to ask for advice.

In the meantime, I can still carry on with the installation while I wait for the reply. The two connectors are next to each other so no issue swapping them.

Gordon.

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"Humble pie" time...

I got a reply from Scopedome with an extract of the control manual, showing the whole wiring diagram...

Everything was on their website, really obvious, I should have looked there first. The dome wiring is now completed, only the fixed stuff to do. Scopedome does a pier thing for mounting everything, looks really good, but far too late for me.

I got some solid wood shelf and cut it up to bolt onto the pier. Now painted with the grey floor paint that worked really well on the blocks I fitted to the dome. It takes all night to dry so tomorrows' job will be to fit them.

In the meantime, here's a couple of pictgures of the rotation controls fitted. The pre-wired cables does make it easy, but the connectors makes it look a bit messy...

Gordon.

IMG_5370.JPG

IMG_5371.JPG

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Very neat that all the cable runs are built in.  I'm sure I noticed them in earlier photos and couldn't work out what they were :)

Hefty looking motors for rotating the domes, too.

James

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2 minutes ago, JamesF said:

Very neat that all the cable runs are built in.  I'm sure I noticed them in earlier photos and couldn't work out what they were :)

Hefty looking motors for rotating the domes, too.

James

I think I said before how impressed I was with the attention to details.

And the motors are pretty substantial; the whole dome can rotate with one finger so not really neccessary, but better too big than too small I guess. Attached to the gearbox are encoders, so overkill, or fine detailed engineering...

Looking forward to comissioning all the controls, I am guessing by the weekend... (Just when the forecast says rain...)

Gordon.

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Been another busy day, I am in catch-up mode on the garden, I am sure "we" left it too long to start cutting.

The result is I can's get the mower over the whole ground, but need to bring out the strimmer. But I got one of those 4:1 petrol jobs... It is OK for each of the functions, but not really good enough to do the large amount of ground needing done.

So yesterday, I got a new Stihl strimmer, shocking price, but like everything when I started using it, the difference was obvious. A  couple of hours today was as productive as a whole day with the 4:1...

Anyway, progress on the Obby...

I concentrated on one dome today and managed to fit the big brackets I built yesterday and fitted the stationary dome controller. Plan is to use the other side to hold the little power supplies for the mount and camera.

It is surprisingly big and part of the inverter and connectors ended up below the floor level. It is also much higher up the pier than I wanted, but it seems to be clear of the mount. I htink I need to fit the scope and check to make sure I can get enough rotation. If I need to drop it lower, hopefully there will be enough clearence with the dome roof to increase the pier height, if required...

"The best laid plans of mice and men..."

Gordon.

IMG_5373.JPG

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Recently, Accuweather has been less that accurate predicting conditions here, but this time, they said rain on Friday for a few days and we have rain!!

So, as my next step was working on the power distribution, I have decided to wait for aa while until we get dry weather. I know I have the dome built now, but I really want the daylight from having the shutter open and so get rain indoors.

Anyway, I took the opportunity to tidy up the warm room a bit, it had become a tools and equipment store recently. I thought it would take longer, but it probably was not as bad as I thought.

Anyway, here is a shot showing the desk. On the left is the dome control pc, two monitors allows me to manage each dome separately so less chance to mix them up...

On the shelf above is my 4g router; one benefit of living in the middle of nowhere is dark skies, a drawback is a fixed line hardly gets 1Mb/s... So I have a 4g internet link. It's not too bad, despite the distance to a mast, I get around 10Mb/s and 40GB/month for only 10 Euros!!

The big monitor is for image processing. Underneath is the PC's and I also fitted a UPS as the power is not 100% reliable.

The steps are for accessing the domes.

Still a bit more tidying up to do, but good enough for now...

Gordon.

IMG_5384.jpg

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The weather improved a bit this afternoon, so, purely for research purposes, I mounted the VX12 on the mount to see what clearence I have on the dome.

And to help with the balance, I had to also mount the cameras...

Anyway, when balanced, I have over 30cm between the top of the scope and the nearest part of the dome (the shutter motor)

Increasing the height of the pier another 20cm is not too difficult... It would also allow me to improve the seperation betweel the scope and the controller mounted on the pier. Also, I do have a WO 110mm frac which I would like to be able to use, so more height would be helpful.

Now, I understand that there is also a benefit in having lots of space around the scope for air movement, so keeping the height the same is also useful. (Should have got the 4m versions... haha)

So, a question for the collective on SGL, would you increase the pier height, or leave it how it is?

Obligatory picture attached...

Gordon.

IMG_5387.jpg

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Posted (edited)
23 minutes ago, Bukko said:

The weather improved a bit this afternoon, so, purely for research purposes, I mounted the VX12 on the mount to see what clearence I have on the dome.

And to help with the balance, I had to also mount the cameras...

Anyway, when balanced, I have over 30cm between the top of the scope and the nearest part of the dome (the shutter motor)

Increasing the height of the pier another 20cm is not too difficult... It would also allow me to improve the seperation betweel the scope and the controller mounted on the pier. Also, I do have a WO 110mm frac which I would like to be able to use, so more height would be helpful.

Now, I understand that there is also a benefit in having lots of space around the scope for air movement, so keeping the height the same is also useful. (Should have got the 4m versions... haha)

So, a question for the collective on SGL, would you increase the pier height, or leave it how it is?

Obligatory picture attached...

Gordon.

IMG_5387.jpg

Just use a pier extension when using the refactor. I would not change the height of the main pier. 

I hope that there are still some darks skys left for me when I retire in 20 years time. 

Edited by Adam J
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3 minutes ago, Adam J said:

Just use a pier extension when using the refactor. I would not change the height of the main pier. 

I hope that there are still some darks skys left for me when I retire in 20 years time. 

Hi Adam,

I don't have a pier extension, the plan is to either weld another bit of pipe in, or add height to the concrete pad below... Or do nothing.

I got frustrated with LP and where I lived in the UK was getting so crowded. House building was making this worse so we retired to SW France. Lovely dark skies and very friendly people everywhere. I really do recommend the move.

Gordon

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When you have a bit more time on your hands Gordon you could knock up a motorised pier, mine gives me 300mm of height adjustment, you could even control it remotely :grin:

Dave

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9 minutes ago, Davey-T said:

When you have a bit more time on your hands Gordon you could knock up a motorised pier, mine gives me 300mm of height adjustment, you could even control it remotely :grin:

Dave

Thanks Davey,

For now, I will stick to the steel piers I have, but it does sound like an interesting option, if Mrs Bukko will let me spend any more of the childrens' inheritance!!

Gordon.

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I have at least 500kg of spare concrete mix, so the easiest thing was to increase the concrete base height.

I also had some spare melamine shelfing left over, so cut one up and made some shuttering. It's about 20" square and 10" deep.

I dropped off the scope, the mount and broke the pier off the grouting to the base.

Fitting the shuttering I mixed up around 100kg of concrete and filled it. Tamped down and levelled off, I will give it a few days to harden then take the shuttering off.

When done, the scope will be around 30cm from the dome and around 15cm from the shutter motor at its closest. And the scope will not snag against the dome controls when slewing to the zenith.

So I guess I have a week before the ocncrete hardens, so I can switch attention to the other dome and finish the controls there while I wait...

Gordon.

IMG_5388.jpg

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That last photo looks a bit like an in progress steampunk nuclear reactor!

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39 minutes ago, Swoop1 said:

That last photo looks a bit like an in progress steampunk nuclear reactor!

If it gets flooded with water then we'll know for sure :D

James

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8 hours ago, Swoop1 said:

That last photo looks a bit like an in progress steampunk nuclear reactor!

Never thought about it like that... With ITER so far behind schedule, I guess there is room for an alternative Tokamak design!!

The layout evolved a bit during construction, the flooring was not rigid enough on the four original supports. It was OK for one person to stand on a quadrant, but the bend was too much if two people were standing close together. So another four bricks were added to the outer edges to add strength. Welcome, I guess, to the world of re-engineering !!

Gordon

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7 hours ago, JamesF said:

If it gets flooded with water then we'll know for sure :D

James

If it floods, I am in trouble - the PC and UPS is going under the floor there...

G.

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Can I ask what sort of weight the 12 inch is on the mount with the other running gear. I have a AZ EQ 6 and would like to try my Meade 12 inch SC on it, I have always thought it was a none starter as the mount is rated at 25kg and I think the tube is about 18kg but can't find any info, 10in yes and 8 inch but not 12. Interesting build and nicely done if I may say, the bricks you are using are the exact same I made a wall of outside😀.   

Alan

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1 hour ago, alan potts said:

Can I ask what sort of weight the 12 inch is on the mount with the other running gear. I have a AZ EQ 6 and would like to try my Meade 12 inch SC on it, I have always thought it was a none starter as the mount is rated at 25kg and I think the tube is about 18kg but can't find any info, 10in yes and 8 inch but not 12. Interesting build and nicely done if I may say, the bricks you are using are the exact same I made a wall of outside😀.   

Alan

Hi Alan,

The OO is around 14kg, plus the camera assembly, so possibly another kg or two...

It seems to work OK, but the FL is only 1200mm. When I first got the NEQ6, it held a 10" Meade and also did OK with 2 counterweights.

I have seen pictures on SGL of another member REALLY loading the NEQ6 but had it balanced well. I don't think the payload is the issue more the FL and balance. The AZ EQ6 is belt driven, I don't know how much better than my NEQ6 it would be (also belt driven now...)

De-mounting the 12" is not that difficult, so it would be a relatively simple trial, apart from the need to purchase a Losmandy rail to suit...

Thanks for the interest in the build, planning my dream observatory was about the only thing that kept me sane during my last few years of paid work and it just gathered momentum until I carried it through... If I stepped back now, I don't think I would have started it, the costs are higher than anticipated and the spare cash to pay for it less than planned due to extra UK tax and NI on foreign income... (Don't ask!!!)

And the bricks were ideal, I didn't want concrete as they hold more heat and at 50cm by 30cm by 20cm, it does not take so many of these to build the base.

HTH and thanks again for the interest.

Gordon.

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