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New Sliding Roof Mini Garden Observatory Build


Domain105
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18 hours ago, Domain105 said:

Hello all,

After months of trawling through SGL for ideas and inspiration, I've decided to bite the bullet and build a mini garden observatory for my 150PDS on a HEQ5. So many of the builds and threads on here have been brilliant and a testament to this communities ingenuity and skills beyond astronomy! 

I was fed up with the setup and take down time for my astro setup, especially when my kit normally lived in my office on the 2nd floor.  I wanted to build something small as my garden is not very big and I could only get planning permission from the wife if I kept it as small as possible.  I did spend a lot of time thinking about how to slide the roof as a lot of the designs here are for sliding roofs that are on wheels / rails. this design is really good but it also meant that I would need additional structures in the garden for the roof to slide on to and that would take up more space. In the end I decided to go for heavy duty drawer slides as my obsy was only going to be as big as the scope 'swing area'. I'll update on this thread as I progress but please bear in mind that I have very limited DIY skills or tools so I am going to take things a little slow and my posts will be filled with mistakes but I guess its all part of the learning process. 

Part 1 - the HEQ5 mount

My first task was to build a pier mount for my HEQ5. For this I used some brake disks after numerous examples posted here. The exact models where TRW Brake Discs Pair Front DF1608 3322937807697 for about £20 on ebay. They seem to fir the HEQ5 perfectly. It was akiller to drill the 16mm holes in them but after a few days and some really shaky arms from the drill vibrations, they were done! Then came a selection of M16 threaded bars to hold everything together and a custom plate for the bottom and some M12 bolds for added strength as these would also go into the concrete pier. 

The idea was to fill a 200mm wide plastic tube with concrete and place this inside.

 

 

 

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Brilliant, I'm going to enjoy watching your observatory build its just a dream for me with no garden and only a communal area to image from. Good lucvk and clear skies. 

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23 minutes ago, AstroNebulee said:

Brilliant, I'm going to enjoy watching your observatory build its just a dream for me with no garden and only a communal area to image from. Good lucvk and clear skies. 

Thank you. I always wanted an observatory as it took an age to setup but never thought I'd have one, let alone build one. It kind of came about from boredom during lock down. Hopefully in the future you will be somewhere where yo have ample space to build something large or small like me. 

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1 hour ago, Domain105 said:

Thank you. I always wanted an observatory as it took an age to setup but never thought I'd have one, let alone build one. It kind of came about from boredom during lock down. Hopefully in the future you will be somewhere where yo have ample space to build something large or small like me. 

It's a brilliant little observatory and a perfect size for what I'd need. No wonder your so proud of your build I would be. Its a top top build you've created and one using the drawers Loders I've never seen before. Similar to you I've had to carry my set up all being light in one go down 2 flights of stairs from my 1st floor flat and they set up and carry back in one go as can't leave it unattended at any time. Good luck and can't wait for further updates. 

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very nice job. thinking of a pier myself and love the idea of brake disks! I'd not heard that before. Anyone know what's a perfect fit for an EQ6-R pro ?

And I wasn't keen on the plastic tube idea when I'd seen builds, but it looks brilliant to me. Definately considering it now.

For the mount build it'd be great if you could add some more details:

- what mix you used for concrete

- ebay links for tube, bolts, nuts, rebar

- any tips for ensuring your main tube set vertically

- any other tips, gotchas ?

(p.s. also an IT architect)

Edited by powerlord
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1 hour ago, powerlord said:

very nice job. thinking of a pier myself and love the idea of brake disks! I'd not heard that before. Anyone know what's a perfect fit for an EQ6-R pro ?

And I wasn't keen on the plastic tube idea when I'd seen builds, but it looks brilliant to me. Definately considering it now.

For the mount build it'd be great if you could add some more details:

- what mix you used for concrete

- ebay links for tube, bolts, nuts, rebar

- any tips for ensuring your main tube set vertically

- any other tips, gotchas ?

(p.s. also an IT architect)

Here is some more info on the material I used. Hopefully this may help with your builds.

 

Tube:

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/4-5-6-8-Plastic-Duct-Round-Solid-Ducting-Tube-Pipe-Ventilation-Extractor-Fan/143575535617?hash=item216dc4d001:g:kC4AAOSw-F1ejeUt

 

M16 x 300mm threaded bars to hold the discs together and insert into the concrete:

M6 M8 M10 M12 M16 M18 M20 M24 THREADED BAR 8.8 High Tensile Zinc Rod Studding | eBay

 

M16 nuts x 25

M6, M8, M10, M12, M14, M16, M20 Hex Full Nuts Bright Zinc Plated | eBay

 

M14 for the inner holes of the brake disc. I only added these to the bottom brake disc and inserted into the concrete for added strength.

M14 (300mm Length) METRIC THREADED BAR c/w NUTS & WASHERS ZINC BZP ROD STUD 14mm | eBay

 

For the North stop (Az Pin), I used an M8 bolt and some nuts which seemed to work ok.

The measurements for the HEQ5 North stop I had were:  37.5mm from the centre and 25mm tall, about 8x8mm in size

 

The brake disc was TRW Brake Disc Pair Front DF1608 3322937807697 | eBay

I chose this because the inner hole was 60mm in diameter which fits a HEQ5 nicely.

 

Rebars were from Amazon 12mm x 1000mm

Reinforcing Steel Bar for Concrete Rebar Reinforcement - 8mm 10mm & 12mm ø - High Tensile Ribbed Metal Rod, 2 Lengths (5, 12mm x 1000mm) : Amazon.co.uk: DIY & Tools

 

To tighten the HEQ5 on to the Pier brake discs I found the following from amazon and it fits perfectly onto a HEQ5 (M10 x60)

sourcing map Star Knobs Grips M10 x 60mm Male Thread Steel Zinc Stud Black PP : Amazon.co.uk: DIY & Tools

 

Surprisingly the part that took a while was the washer that I glued to the bottom of the top brake disc so I could screw the HEQ5 on it with the M10 knob. Without it, there is no way to tighten the mount on to the pier. You can see it was a large round disk stuck to the bottom of the  top brake disc. I couldn't find anything that fitted the bill but saw the following SGL thread (Lasermaster - Supplier Reviews - Stargazers Lounge) and ordered the following with LaserMasters:

  • Length: 140
  • Internal: 10
  • Thickness: 6mm
  • Quantity: 1
  • Type: washer
  • Material: stainless304

 

This was perfect for me. It cost about £23.

 

Concrete - I followed a you tube guide on mixing concrete but can't recall exactly which one. I didn't do anything fancy or deviate from standard concrete ratios. ( 1 part cement, 2 parts sand and 4 parts aggregate)

Because I had a fence next to the pier tube, I used old bits of wood to create a guide for the tube by nailing some wood to the fence and then having the pier vertical in the middle. To be honest, I just went for good enough rather than perfect as any imperfections in levelling I was going to cancel out with the adjustment nuts on the pier.

Not having the right tools has made things harder but I did purchase a small Mitre saw (Evolution R210CMS 210mm Electric Single-Bevel Compound Mitre Saw 240V | Mitre Saws | Screwfix.com) and this was a god send. It is perfect for my modest needs

 

If you are going to use drawer slides, you need to make sure the two sides of the obsy are parallel as can be or the slides will be hard to operate. To ensure the drawer slides are on perfectly I actually added the slides on to the two lengths of timber first so the slide was operational and then nailed the who unit on to the frame while ensuring it was level. It requires 2 people but its easier to nail / screw the slides and timber on to the obsy frame posts in one go rather than attach the slide to the timber frame and then attached the roof timber to the outside of the slide. Many of the slide fixing holes will become obscured this way.

I've added images as well as links as I know it can be frustrating if the link stops working and you wanted to know what it looked like.

Capture1.JPG

discCapture.JPG

knobCapture.JPG

M14Capture.JPG

M16Capture.JPG

rebarCapture.JPG

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19 minutes ago, Domain105 said:

Here is some more info on the material I used. Hopefully this may help with your builds.

 

Tube:

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/4-5-6-8-Plastic-Duct-Round-Solid-Ducting-Tube-Pipe-Ventilation-Extractor-Fan/143575535617?hash=item216dc4d001:g:kC4AAOSw-F1ejeUt

 

M16 x 300mm threaded bars to hold the discs together and insert into the concrete:

M6 M8 M10 M12 M16 M18 M20 M24 THREADED BAR 8.8 High Tensile Zinc Rod Studding | eBay

 

M16 nuts x 25

M6, M8, M10, M12, M14, M16, M20 Hex Full Nuts Bright Zinc Plated | eBay

 

M14 for the inner holes of the brake disc. I only added these to the bottom brake disc and inserted into the concrete for added strength.

M14 (300mm Length) METRIC THREADED BAR c/w NUTS & WASHERS ZINC BZP ROD STUD 14mm | eBay

 

For the North stop (Az Pin), I used an M8 bolt and some nuts which seemed to work ok.

The measurements for the HEQ5 North stop I had were:  37.5mm from the centre and 25mm tall, about 8x8mm in size

 

The brake disc was TRW Brake Disc Pair Front DF1608 3322937807697 | eBay

I chose this because the inner hole was 60mm in diameter which fits a HEQ5 nicely.

 

Rebars were from Amazon 12mm x 1000mm

Reinforcing Steel Bar for Concrete Rebar Reinforcement - 8mm 10mm & 12mm ø - High Tensile Ribbed Metal Rod, 2 Lengths (5, 12mm x 1000mm) : Amazon.co.uk: DIY & Tools

 

To tighten the HEQ5 on to the Pier brake discs I found the following from amazon and it fits perfectly onto a HEQ5 (M10 x60)

sourcing map Star Knobs Grips M10 x 60mm Male Thread Steel Zinc Stud Black PP : Amazon.co.uk: DIY & Tools

 

Surprisingly the part that took a while was the washer that I glued to the bottom of the top brake disc so I could screw the HEQ5 on it with the M10 knob. Without it, there is no way to tighten the mount on to the pier. You can see it was a large round disk stuck to the bottom of the  top brake disc. I couldn't find anything that fitted the bill but saw the following SGL thread (Lasermaster - Supplier Reviews - Stargazers Lounge) and ordered the following with LaserMasters:

  • Length: 140
  • Internal: 10
  • Thickness: 6mm
  • Quantity: 1
  • Type: washer
  • Material: stainless304

 

This was perfect for me. It cost about £23.

 

Concrete - I followed a you tube guide on mixing concrete but can't recall exactly which one. I didn't do anything fancy or deviate from standard concrete ratios. ( 1 part cement, 2 parts sand and 4 parts aggregate)

Because I had a fence next to the pier tube, I used old bits of wood to create a guide for the tube by nailing some wood to the fence and then having the pier vertical in the middle. To be honest, I just went for good enough rather than perfect as any imperfections in levelling I was going to cancel out with the adjustment nuts on the pier.

Not having the right tools has made things harder but I did purchase a small Mitre saw (Evolution R210CMS 210mm Electric Single-Bevel Compound Mitre Saw 240V | Mitre Saws | Screwfix.com) and this was a god send. It is perfect for my modest needs

 

If you are going to use drawer slides, you need to make sure the two sides of the obsy are parallel as can be or the slides will be hard to operate. To ensure the drawer slides are on perfectly I actually added the slides on to the two lengths of timber first so the slide was operational and then nailed the who unit on to the frame while ensuring it was level. It requires 2 people but its easier to nail / screw the slides and timber on to the obsy frame posts in one go rather than attach the slide to the timber frame and then attached the roof timber to the outside of the slide. Many of the slide fixing holes will become obscured this way.

I've added images as well as links as I know it can be frustrating if the link stops working and you wanted to know what it looked like.

Capture1.JPG

discCapture.JPG

knobCapture.JPG

M14Capture.JPG

M16Capture.JPG

rebarCapture.JPG

Well, I have to say, for someone who is self confessed to be not good at woodwork, you have made a mighty fine job there, and I think you need to re access your quality of woodworking capabilities…as you sold yourself very short….👍🏼👍🏼

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5 minutes ago, Stuart1971 said:

Well, I have to say, for someone who is self confessed to be not good at woodwork, you have made a mighty fine job there, and I think you need to re access your quality of woodworking capabilities…as you sold yourself very short….👍🏼👍🏼

Thank you! You have luckily not seen my many other disasters 😄 

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Thanks for the extra info. One other question - I didn't quite follow when you were saying about filling with concrete and worried about pipe splitting or something?

Do you plan to just leave mount out in all weather then, but bring the rest in, using cover and your roof to protect from rain?

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8 minutes ago, powerlord said:

Thanks for the extra info. One other question - I didn't quite follow when you were saying about filling with concrete and worried about pipe splitting or something?

Do you plan to just leave mount out in all weather then, but bring the rest in, using cover and your roof to protect from rain?

Hi , the plan is to leave everything out side and take nothing in once it is setup. I'm not 100% sure what affect this will have on the equipment due to moisture or condensation but I was thinking of placing a bike / telescope cover over the telescope / mount once I finish using it and before I slide the roof back on. Ultimately I would like to add some solar panels and battery so I can have things like humidity control, moisture detection and air flow fans running automatically based on the weather conditions. This is probably something for much later on.

With regards to the concrete splitting etc. What I mean was that I wanted the tube filling and the ground filling concrete to be a single continuous block of concrete. I could have jammed the tube into the ground and filled it with concrete and then the outside of the tube with more concrete. This would mean that the tube would be separating the concrete in the tube at the bottom and the ground around it. I lifted the tubing off the bottom of the hole before I filled with concrete. This meant there was one solid block of concrete that filled the hole and the tube. I did this because I read somewhere on here about the tube having less stability if it and the ground are not one solid block of concrete. In the pics you can see I used some bricks to lift the base of the tube off the bottom of the hole so the tube concrete and the hole concrete were touching. Maybe it doesn't matter but I thought I'd do it in case it made a difference.

Hope this makes more sense. 

My general approach is to learn from doing what I am doing and then for each issue that arises, tinker with stuff until the problem is fixed or better. No having done anything like this before I know I've probably made many mistakes but until it is all up and running and a few seasons have passed, I will not know what I did wrong. 

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very nice. Only suggestion I'd make is to add 240v. I did similar a month back - fitting outside sockets to the far end of my garden where I setup my kit. As you've got the fence there, you can probably run cable along the bottom of fence as I did and avoid having to bury cable in garden? Stick an RCD in where you spur it off from the house. Then you don't need to faff around with batteries, etc - and stuff like fans, lights, security cameras or whatever become much easier to do ?

I setup in a circular patio at end of garden, and it's now super easy to just plug my kit in at night. If/when I build and observatory it'll def have mains.

You've certainly persauded me that if I go for one, I'll do it myself. I think I'd make mine a bit bigger so I could be in it when needed (PAing, faffing, things that need manual focus, general screwing around that has me out there for 30min-2 hours just now).

I do fancy trying a sort of slide down roof which sort of slides out, then rotates vertically and slips to side of shed - saving space as the place I have in mind wouldn't have room to slide the roof horizontally.

are you planning to motorise the roof ? I suppose another benefit of your design is that it would be easy to do with a motor/belt or even a threaded rod as it's only opening 1400mm or so.

keep posting the pictures !

stu

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48 minutes ago, powerlord said:

very nice. Only suggestion I'd make is to add 240v. I did similar a month back - fitting outside sockets to the far end of my garden where I setup my kit. As you've got the fence there, you can probably run cable along the bottom of fence as I did and avoid having to bury cable in garden? Stick an RCD in where you spur it off from the house. Then you don't need to faff around with batteries, etc - and stuff like fans, lights, security cameras or whatever become much easier to do ?

I setup in a circular patio at end of garden, and it's now super easy to just plug my kit in at night. If/when I build and observatory it'll def have mains.

You've certainly persauded me that if I go for one, I'll do it myself. I think I'd make mine a bit bigger so I could be in it when needed (PAing, faffing, things that need manual focus, general screwing around that has me out there for 30min-2 hours just now).

I do fancy trying a sort of slide down roof which sort of slides out, then rotates vertically and slips to side of shed - saving space as the place I have in mind wouldn't have room to slide the roof horizontally.

are you planning to motorise the roof ? I suppose another benefit of your design is that it would be easy to do with a motor/belt or even a threaded rod as it's only opening 1400mm or so.

keep posting the pictures !

stu

Hi Powerlord,

I've already had the external 240v sockets fitted in anticipation of the obsy being built. Yes the plan is to simply plug in the obsy and use the mains power without any batteries etc. Electrics is the next thing on my list once the obsy is built. With regards to motorised roof, I have thought about it and it should be simple enough to do. I have my sons 12v electric car that no longer charges from which I was going to take the motor and controls then use a wifi enabled smart switch or two to automate the roof. This is probably going to be a new project next year. The idea behind solar panels was for the obsy to have some power even when not plugged in. I didn't want it permanently plugged in to the mains in case there was a leak or water got in somehow. Brilliant suggestions though - Thank you.

It's funny you mentioned a slide out and down roof style. That's exactly what was in my mind at the start. The issue I had was I couldn't work out the mechanics of such a roof slide mechanism. The slide out was fine but then the rotation to slide down was complicated with the weight of the roof involved so I just went with the easier drawer slides. Maybe I gave up too soon! It would be lovely to see yours when you build it so I can see what it looks like.

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For side roof, It's basically a garage door horizontal.

I think automating would be trickier without filling space with levers, but for manual, it'd be very similar to yours, but imagine your runners pivot at the edge of roof. That design would leave 2 runners sticking up when out, but an alternative would be bearings at roof midpoint in a guide rail.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Swoop1 said:

A very tidy build @Domain105. I like the use of drawer runners for the roof.

I think 'micro observatories' are becoming more prevelant as astronomers seek to get that permanant set up with minimal impact.

Thank you. I think because the size is relatively small, I was able to get away with the drawer runners. Any bigger then it would have been harder due to the weight of the roof. 

I'm just waiting on the weather to clear up and then I can continue with the flooring and sides. 

 

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3 hours ago, powerlord said:

For side roof, It's basically a garage door horizontal.

I think automating would be trickier without filling space with levers, but for manual, it'd be very similar to yours, but imagine your runners pivot at the edge of roof. That design would leave 2 runners sticking up when out, but an alternative would be bearings at roof midpoint in a guide rail.

 

 

Ah yes, I get it now. The garage door analogy is a good one. Yes that could work quite well. 

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  • 3 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Turbocoo, to be honest I didn't realise you also had a runner build but if you were first then I take my hat off to you sir! 🙂 They do work really well don't they!  I still need to update this thread with the final completion pictures

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I've been meaning to update this post with my finished obsy pics but the year has passed and I still haven't so here are the finishing pics for the obsy. Things left from last time were sides, door, flooring etc...

So here is the flooring I added over the concrete floor. Everything is heavily wood stained to keep it weather proof

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originally I didn't think about adding a door to get in and out. I thought I'd just climb over the top! then I realised I would need a mini door to get in and out as needed. Also added some handles to allow for easy roof opening and closing. I copied my door design from my shed at the back of the garden

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With the door on, I thought I'd get the electrics out the way. I have an external socked so just created a 3pin to 16A commando (female) cable. It had to be female as if I had the plug in the external socket with the power on, I did not want the pins from a male connector to electrocute me. On the out side of the obsy, I installed an 16A commando (male) socket that the power would plug into. On the inside of the obsy, I connected an external 3 pin power supply to power my scope and mount etc.

So the power link goes something like this:

3Pin external power socket ----> 3 pin plug -----16A Female commando ---->16A male commando on obsy exterior ---> 3 pin external socket in the internal of the obsy ---> extension gang

I also added a door lock to keep things locked up when not in use

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An that's pretty much it! I added corner strips to the cladding to make it look neat, some padlock thingies to add 2 padlocks to keep the roof locked.

So the build is complete and I am very happy with it. I've now added in the scope and other bits and bobs. the scope is horizontal when the roof is closed. I've added this as a home position in EQASCOM. I've created some "pockets" on the inside of the obsy where I keep my laptop during imaging sessions.

It may not be the most extravagant of obsys but I'm really happy with it.

I hope you have enjoyed the obsy build journey with me and hopefully it may have helped some of you with you own builds.

Next step it to automate the roof opening and closing via a smart app. I've got a prototype working but I will start a new thread for that.

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