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Hi, folks. I'd like to set up a permanent location about 20 meters off the side of the house to hold my imaging scope. I am quite handy and my son is an experienced contractor so we are confident of handling what needs to be done, but this is something neither of us wishes to jump into without some tech advice. Can anyone provide suggestions or details or preferably schematics for a reasonably priced observatory to enclose an F9 100mm APO that will be mounted on a pier, especially a simple roof design that can be manipulated by one person. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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Mine's pretty rough in appearance as my day job doesn't involves a tool belt.. but you can see it here:

 

The major consideration for you is pier or not? A pier is more stable so I would suggest it, but in Ottawa the depth of the concrete pier will need to be more than the relatively easy 4 feet in Toronto to get under the frost. 

My design ended up with a split roof to help avoid over loading the heavy duty sliders. And in the end I am happy with it as the roof sections are aligned with prevailing winds and I find the two sections together tends to stop wind from getting into the obs when the roof's open. However, a single section roof is better for easy of use and automation. I have plans to automate but am not there yet due to needing a way to open and close the two safety flaps on the top.

Feel free to ask me any question, since I am in similar climate my experience will likely be similar to yours once you finish. 

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That was quite the slide show, nicely documented. I hope your head healed up, no Frankenstein scar? Would your drive to the hospital be considered distracted driving? (Okay, enough, I'm sure it was nothing to laugh at at the time. Once I was helping a buddy move a bed/couch (I forget what they're called exactly) and the cheap cord we were using to tie it closed snapped and the thing sprung open and caught several of my fingers so bad that I was afraid I'd severed one or all because while we were carefully folding it to get my hand out the blood was pouring out of the glove. Fortunately it was more fright than serious, though I do have a couple of nasty scars.)

I will definitely be installing a pier, as much for rigidity as for ground clearance inside; I've kicked my tripod legs one time too many! Sinking it won't be too much of a problem, as my son has installed a number of pilings for decks, etc. Even a flagpole one time! It looks about 2 meters square? After a year plus, are you finding it at all cramped? I was thinking 3x3 but that may be overdoing it, especially as I will only be in there for setup, not observing, and extra width is extra cost.

That is an interesting roof design, something I'll keep in mind as I go forward. I'm not very concerned with how it will finish out, as it will be fairly well hidden from view from the house (my wife's concern), and almost entirely from neighbors (my concern), though knowing my son, I'll have to keep a rein on his enthusiasm for aesthetics. As long as it is solid, functional and weather-proofed to a reasonable degree I'll be happy. I think my dog might wonder why his house is so much smaller, though, haha. Thanks a bunch for the ideas.

(Just watched the Raptors game. I'm not much into basketball, but that was exciting.)

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Raptors better not disappoint this year, but then again the Leafs did it for decades and still sell out their games. I still remember when people switch from lets go Raptors to lets go Pizza once they realize we were going to lose and just wanted the free pizza next day with your ticket if they go above 100.

The head's fine. Heads bleed a lot even with minor scratch, but what I did took some doing to fix. The glue the ER doc used took something like 6 weeks to come out and was itchy. 

The size is 6 foot by 6 foot exterior. I only image so the scale of it was not really a concern when I started, and the wife didn't want something that big cause she was concerned I'd use up all the yard space. In hindsight a bit more negotiation or taking the apologize after the fact track, and getting a bigger building might have been a good idea. As now I realize future OTA size is now going to be observatory limited. And this is also one of the reasons why I ended up with a CEM60EC instead of a CEM120EC, at some point while drooling over the 120EC I realize that I wasn't going to be able to really load it up. The other side of this is that the slide I used are rated for 400lb per pair. While I suspect a 8x8 size roof would still be within spec it doesn't leave much room and I'd question performance under snow loads with roof closed.

The estimated limit to OTA length + imaging train now is about 1 to 1.2 meters depending on balance point. If the building was north oriented I could get a much bigger length so if that's possible for you it might be a good way to minimize the scale of the building while still being able to fit larger kit. Another thing to consider is your own scale, I am not a slim guy even though I am Chinese, but I am not fat either. So I can move around the setup without too many issues, but someone bigger around the middle might find it much more challenging.

In all though if I do it again I'd aim for single section roof to ease automation and likely do a 8x8 instead to gain that extra space for flexibility.

 

This summer's addition would be to finish painting it/trimming, add the automation and potentially solar power the whole lot so I don't have to extension cord it everytime I want to image. The lack of AC power was to reduce the costs and disturbance as I don't think the whole yard dug up to fit AC power was something my wife would have been too happy with. However, again it would be nice to be able to have power on all the time.

 

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Hi Sean. Comments from my observatory build.

1/ Make it bigger than you think now. Somehow extra scopes, mounts, accessories and the like need storing. Don't forget desk & chair space when a computer is involved.

2/ Make the roof open/close mechanism powered. Really nice not to have to tug and pull when cold and tired at the end of the night. Plan ahead in case shoulder joints are not so good in a few years.
I use a garage door opener on my roll off. Different roof configurations require different solutions.

3/ When I built my observatory in 2007 I did not know about SGL. There was very little build information on the web. So I made mistakes.
Spend time looking at others builds and use their good features. If possible have a look in person.

4/ If you use standard shed designs as a starter, think again. Put 150% to 200% the amount of 'shed' timber to keep things rigid. Whether putting timbers cloer together, or making them thicker.
Standard sheds rely on being a closed box for rigidity. Removing the roof means you lose strength. Also go overboard on roof strength. You need it to stay in shape when it moves.

Hope something in there is useful.

David.

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19 hours ago, cotak said:

Raptors better not disappoint this year, but then again the Leafs did it for decades and still sell out their games. I still remember when people switch from lets go Raptors to lets go Pizza once they realize we were going to lose and just wanted the free pizza next day with your ticket if they go above 100.

The head's fine. Heads bleed a lot even with minor scratch, but what I did took some doing to fix. The glue the ER doc used took something like 6 weeks to come out and was itchy. 

The size is 6 foot by 6 foot exterior. I only image so the scale of it was not really a concern when I started, and the wife didn't want something that big cause she was concerned I'd use up all the yard space. In hindsight a bit more negotiation or taking the apologize after the fact track, and getting a bigger building might have been a good idea. As now I realize future OTA size is now going to be observatory limited. And this is also one of the reasons why I ended up with a CEM60EC instead of a CEM120EC, at some point while drooling over the 120EC I realize that I wasn't going to be able to really load it up. The other side of this is that the slide I used are rated for 400lb per pair. While I suspect a 8x8 size roof would still be within spec it doesn't leave much room and I'd question performance under snow loads with roof closed.

The estimated limit to OTA length + imaging train now is about 1 to 1.2 meters depending on balance point. If the building was north oriented I could get a much bigger length so if that's possible for you it might be a good way to minimize the scale of the building while still being able to fit larger kit. Another thing to consider is your own scale, I am not a slim guy even though I am Chinese, but I am not fat either. So I can move around the setup without too many issues, but someone bigger around the middle might find it much more challenging.

In all though if I do it again I'd aim for single section roof to ease automation and likely do a 8x8 instead to gain that extra space for flexibility.

 

This summer's addition would be to finish painting it/trimming, add the automation and potentially solar power the whole lot so I don't have to extension cord it everytime I want to image. The lack of AC power was to reduce the costs and disturbance as I don't think the whole yard dug up to fit AC power was something my wife would have been too happy with. However, again it would be nice to be able to have power on all the time.

 

Surely the Raptors cannot be said to have disappointed their fans this year no matter how their season ends now? I suppose if you absolutely must see a championship from this year then nothing will do but victory, but as a fairweather fan I see nothing but good now no matter what the final outcome. That said, Toronto would be a madhouse with a championship trophy! As a dedicated Ottawa Rough Rider fan since the first Grey Cup I recall seeing in 1966, I certainly know how to grin and bear mediocre seasons, and seeing the newly minted Ottawa Redblacks win the Grey Cup in 2016 was the sporting highlight of my life, even above the great Clements to Gabriel win in '76 and the Canada/Russia Summit Series in '72, because with age I appreciate these things so much more!

I don't know if this will make you feel good or bad or neutral, but I remember watching the Leafs win their last Stanley Cup in '67, or perhaps you are old enough to have seen it yourself. If not, it may be some consolation that I was cheering for the Habs and I cried when Toronto scored the empty net goal to ice the last game!

I've heard that glue is sometimes used for a cut, though never had it done. At least it wasn't staples.

I do have in the back of my mind the possibility of upsizing to the 120 APO from the 100, and though my midsection is not really an issue (yet), I'm leaning toward 9'x9' because though it's more cost, I don't want to get into the same situation I found myself in jumping from a 4.5" reflector to a 6" to finally being satisfied with a 10" dob. Go big or go home, my son said last night, but he's not paying for it. But I'm not paying him, either, so there are savings right there. We will have to consider how to roof this thing.

The issue of power has come up, my son wanting to trench in a fixed supply, but I vetoed this. I don't mind continuing with an extension cord for the time being, and we can always do it later if it comes to that. Biggest issue is COST. I keep telling my wife that I'm done with the expenditures in this hobby, and it was so while I was observing, but imaging is a whole nuther story.

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3 hours ago, Carbon Brush said:

Hi Sean. Comments from my observatory build.

1/ Make it bigger than you think now. Somehow extra scopes, mounts, accessories and the like need storing. Don't forget desk & chair space when a computer is involved.

2/ Make the roof open/close mechanism powered. Really nice not to have to tug and pull when cold and tired at the end of the night. Plan ahead in case shoulder joints are not so good in a few years.
I use a garage door opener on my roll off. Different roof configurations require different solutions.

3/ When I built my observatory in 2007 I did not know about SGL. There was very little build information on the web. So I made mistakes.
Spend time looking at others builds and use their good features. If possible have a look in person.

4/ If you use standard shed designs as a starter, think again. Put 150% to 200% the amount of 'shed' timber to keep things rigid. Whether putting timbers cloer together, or making them thicker.
Standard sheds rely on being a closed box for rigidity. Removing the roof means you lose strength. Also go overboard on roof strength. You need it to stay in shape when it moves.

Hope something in there is useful.

David.

1) Ya, I've been through the reflector start-up craze and spent more than I'd have liked in working my way up to a 10" Dob, so I'm not anxious to do it again by building this obs. too small to begin with, and 3 meters square seems to be where I'm headed. It is very secluded on the property, too, and if we build solid I may consider storing the reflector, etc., there, too.

2) Good suggestions on the roof. I'm into my sixties now and though with no physical handicaps yet, looking ahead makes sense. I live in Ottawa so snow and ice, etc., must be taken into account for roof mechanics. Definitely the most serious thing to consider, and I won't rush until I'm as sure as I can be. My contractor son is a whiz at this stuff, but he's used to spending other people's money with abandon, and though I wouldn't attempt this without him, I'm constantly bringing him back to reality in our discussions over this!

3) I have all summer to get this right, so if I don't, I have nobody to blame but myself.

4) Again, I rely on the genius of my son for a solid build. He's erected many decks, sheds, docks, garages, etc., many of his own design, and the fact that he's continually sought after for these things is a testament to his capabilities. 

Thanks for the input. Sean

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Seanelly said:

Surely the Raptors cannot be said to have disappointed their fans this year no matter how their season ends now? I suppose if you absolutely must see a championship from this year then nothing will do but victory, but as a fairweather fan I see nothing but good now no matter what the final outcome. That said, Toronto would be a madhouse with a championship trophy! As a dedicated Ottawa Rough Rider fan since the first Grey Cup I recall seeing in 1966, I certainly know how to grin and bear mediocre seasons, and seeing the newly minted Ottawa Redblacks win the Grey Cup in 2016 was the sporting highlight of my life, even above the great Clements to Gabriel win in '76 and the Canada/Russia Summit Series in '72, because with age I appreciate these things so much more!

I don't know if this will make you feel good or bad or neutral, but I remember watching the Leafs win their last Stanley Cup in '67, or perhaps you are old enough to have seen it yourself. If not, it may be some consolation that I was cheering for the Habs and I cried when Toronto scored the empty net goal to ice the last game!

I've heard that glue is sometimes used for a cut, though never had it done. At least it wasn't staples.

I do have in the back of my mind the possibility of upsizing to the 120 APO from the 100, and though my midsection is not really an issue (yet), I'm leaning toward 9'x9' because though it's more cost, I don't want to get into the same situation I found myself in jumping from a 4.5" reflector to a 6" to finally being satisfied with a 10" dob. Go big or go home, my son said last night, but he's not paying for it. But I'm not paying him, either, so there are savings right there. We will have to consider how to roof this thing.

The issue of power has come up, my son wanting to trench in a fixed supply, but I vetoed this. I don't mind continuing with an extension cord for the time being, and we can always do it later if it comes to that. Biggest issue is COST. I keep telling my wife that I'm done with the expenditures in this hobby, and it was so while I was observing, but imaging is a whole nuther story.

Well I just think Toronto teams have receive so much cheering and support from their fans that we really deserves something rather than "it'll better next season". I am not old enough to have seen the leafs won last time. As my predecessor at work was very uncomfortable to hear, he worked at the company for almost as long as I have been alive, by that I mean he started in 82 and I was born the year before. His only reply's been "someone will say that same to you one day buddy".

The incremental material cost is not that large going from what I made to a 9x9, wood's relatively cheap.

If you use similar steel roofing material as I used but forgo the plywood you'll save some costs and weight. One thing to note is the roof truss needs additional bracing to deal with the horizontal forces coming in from all the pushing and shoving to open and close. I'd recommend buying the trusses pre-fab if you can as it would save some times and actually be engineered for a specific load. Mine are engineered as "I put my 160 lb on it and it doesn't fold, so 6 of them should hold up that small roof".

Extension cord gets old after a while and I do worry about leaving it out in case of rain etc. And I am pretty sure it's not to code if you leave it out all the time which you might be tempted to at some point :). So if AC is possible I'd do that. You'll definitely be happier.  At a minimum you can leave a webcam to keep an eye on conditions inside which I can't. The solar setup can't come soon enough in my opinion for ease of use.

Edited by cotak

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