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I am pimping my ride...


AMcD
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Ahead of a summer project to enable fully remote operation of my observatory when I am working away, I embarked on a programme of refurbishing my Alexander Observatories built roll off roof model circa 2008.  I have upgraded the (rotting) frame with aluminium joists and installed diagonal braces to stiffen the frame.  The nylon wheels in channels wheels have been replaced with brass wheels running on a track one side and wheels running on flat steel the other.  I have replaced the (rotting) wooden roof panels with lightweight metal sheets.  The old damp proof course material that was used as waterproofing for the roof gap has been replaced with neoprene rubber skirting.  Finally, I have purchased a server cabinet from eBay which will house the automating electronics.  Now for the final stage of saving up for, purchasing and installing the roof opening and automation gizmos in time for winter... 😬

 

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The only thing I would say is be aware of galvanic corrosion between the brass wheels and the steel runner. The steel will corrode a lot faster as an electrolytic effect will happen when both metals are in contact with each other and with water. If the brass has a high zinc content, then you can also get 'denzification', where the zinc leeches out of the brass, leaving a porous mass of copper with virtually no strength, but keeping the shape of the original article.

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nice job, im jealous lol.  the sheets make a great roof. the only problem could be quite serious condensation. ive had it with sheds and vans.  I found the easiest and cheapest solution was to use cheap chord carpet and carpet glue spray. just make sure you cover the whole surface and try to tuck it behind the wood beams. hopefully your observatory will stay bone dry.  clear skies. paul.

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On 24/06/2021 at 23:06, Stargazer33 said:

The only thing I would say is be aware of galvanic corrosion between the brass wheels and the steel runner. The steel will corrode a lot faster as an electrolytic effect will happen when both metals are in contact with each other and with water. If the brass has a high zinc content, then you can also get 'denzification', where the zinc leeches out of the brass, leaving a porous mass of copper with virtually no strength, but keeping the shape of the original article.

Many thanks for this advice.  I will keep and eye on it.  It never ceases to amaze me how much there is to learn with this hobby on so many disparate topics.  I guess that is what fascinates. 😀

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On 26/06/2021 at 09:27, apaulo said:

nice job, im jealous lol.  the sheets make a great roof. the only problem could be quite serious condensation. ive had it with sheds and vans.  I found the easiest and cheapest solution was to use cheap chord carpet and carpet glue spray. just make sure you cover the whole surface and try to tuck it behind the wood beams. hopefully your observatory will stay bone dry.  clear skies. paul.

Many thanks for the tip.  Is condensation a year round issue or one that tends to arise in particular conditions?

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14 hours ago, AMcD said:

Is condensation a year round issue or one that tends to arise in particular conditions?

If you imagine that through the night everywhere will cool then when the sun hits the roof in the morning there will be a temperature difference between the top of the metal roof sheeting and the underside this "may" cause some condenstaion on the underside but should burn away quickly if it's a hot day, another scenario at night time is that as you breathe your warm breathe will rise to the underside of the metal sheeting and condensate on the cold roof, good ventilation may be enough to minimise/stop it. Dramatic changes in temperature/moisture are the main culprits....your roof looks to be quite airy so see how it goes would be my advice.

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  • 1 month later...

The gear required for my remote control / automation project has arrived.  Today I have got as far as installing the serrated rack for the Talon roof opener and have started installing the electronics in the second hand server cabinet.  Who knows what will happen when I finally get to pressing the on button 😬

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Finished installing the mechanics and the electrics on the Talon today.  I moved the serrated rack to the other side of the motor (before learning that the software allows the direction of the motor to be reversed 😳) and had to play around with the location of the magnetic limit switches to get the right but it now works a treat using the manual open and close buttons for operation.  Looking to set up the software later in the week...🤓

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Today has been spent putting the wiring into conduits to make things tidy and assembling and labelling the pass through panel for the server cabinet 🤓

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I have spent the day trying to bring order to spaghetti.  After several school boy errors and beginner’s mistakes, I am almost there.  My brain however, feels somewhat knotted itself.😴

 

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3 hours ago, Swoop1 said:

Very tidy looking cable management there @AMcD.

Have a look at this though for real cable management!

Crikey!  I was saying to my wife today that I have developed a new respect for system engineers as I have struggled on with my amateur efforts that are simply designed to open a roof, point a telescope and take a picture 😀

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After three weeks of near constant tinkering and fiddling, finally putting the finishing touches to the set up.  Now just need to calibrate everything and then wait for some clear skies to show up...🤓

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Posted (edited)

A very noisy image of the Cygnus Wall in NGC7000 due to lack of integrations before the clouds rolled in (1 hour 10 mins of 5 min subs), and so much dust in my imaging train that the flat frames have left holes, but the first image taken using completely remote AP operation of the obsy via the Internet (albeit only from the house)...🤓

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Edited by AMcD
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  • 2 weeks later...

The observatory upgrade project appears to have passed the final test.  Over the course of the past two nights I have managed to obtain a further ten hours of data on the Cygnus Wall whilst working away from home.  I was able to access the observatory over the Internet on my iPad, set the sequence running and go to bed.  Whilst I was asleep the scope gathered 5 hours of integrations, re-focused every hour and performed a Meridian flip before the telescope parked itself at the end of the session and the observatory closed the roof.  I appreciate this post risks sounding rather too boastful, but I am just amazed it worked.  There was something very surreal about looking at Deneb from our balcony in London whilst the scope was pointed at from the Midlands.😃

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23 minutes ago, AMcD said:

The observatory upgrade project appears to have passed the final test.  Over the course of the past two nights I have managed to obtain a further ten hours of data on the Cygnus Wall whilst working away from home.  I was able to access the observatory over the Internet on my iPad, set the sequence running and go to bed.  Whilst I was asleep the scope gathered 5 hours of integrations, re-focused every hour and performed a Meridian flip before the telescope parked itself at the end of the session and the observatory closed the roof.  I appreciate this post risks sounding rather too boastful, but I am just amazed it worked.  There was something very surreal about looking at Deneb from our balcony in London whilst the scope was pointed at from the Midlands.😃

Far from boastful, hats off to your skills. I'm sure this thread will inspire people to work hard/win the lottery/save up/inherit a few bob* and have a go themselves. Well done. 😀

 

*delete as applicable.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Final piece of remote equipment installed.  The all sky camera let’s me confirm that, when the CloudWatcher says it is clear, it is ‘AP clear’ rather than ‘high wispy cirrus clear’.  The images are also strangely relaxing to watch come in.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I had somehow missed this thread thus far so I'm going to have to go back and read through it all now, but I'd just like to say that it gives me such a warm fuzzy feeling to know that I'm not the only person who thinks an 18" rack is a perfectly normal thing to have at home :D

James

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