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Maintaining a dob stored in the garden shed - any special precautions?

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I'm considering my telescope upgrade having reached the limits of my current Celestron 130mm newtonian. I'm thinking a Dobsonian is the most affordable route, although not yet quite decided on the make and size. Our house is pretty crowded and so I'd plan to store this in our garden shed (which is dusty but dry). I wondered if there was any downside to doing this, for example, do the bearings and focuser get rusty or stiff, does the mirror get mouldy etc. etc.?

If there are issues, I'm not beyond some routine maintenance (i.e. cleaning, greasing and oiling, but are there any special steps I should be taking to keep a shed stored scope in good condition?

One final thought is about security. Thefts are uncommon, but not entirely unknown where I live. I'm assuming a reasonable sized Dob would not be an attractive proposition to a thief (heavy to shift and difficult to sell), but I'd be interested to hear your thoughts and wisdom.

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Your shed may be 'dry' but it is still effectively the same as the outside humidity. Ventilation is important.

So I think it will be OK if you cover your optics, possibly along with desiccant packs. Creepy crawlies leave nasty trails across optics! Most other part will be fine. 

But.... make sure the scope is completely dry before storing after an observing session. 

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I've kept 2 newtonians in my shed for a year or so, without apparent issues (so far!). Neither if them has any electronics though (beyond one RDF). If the shed's dusty, use a loose-fitting cover (bike cover etc).

I have a battery-powered PIR linked by radio to a receiver in the house (it's a readily available, commercial gadget). Admittedly I need to be home for it to be effective but it's plenty loud enough to wake me if I were in bed asleep. Since the shed has bikes, mower etc I already had the alarm before the scopes arrived. I change the shed-PIR batteries every two years, even though they would last somewhat longer and I don't use cheapo batteries. You can't stop a determined thief but you can make things difficult.

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To some extent the TLC depends on how long you want things to last.

The bright and shiny metalwork will benefit from a wipe over with silicone (electrical) grease, vaseline or WD40.
When re-assembling scopes I always put (a tiny amount of) grease on screw threads as these are often into dissimilar metals.
When working with an old (previously tarnished) scope I buy new screws, usually stainless steel.

As an example Skywatcher dobs have ordinary rustable steel screws holding the end rings to the OTA.
If you have a flextube model, a tiny bit of oil/grease in the spring/ball bearing extension tube detents is a good idea.

Warming the scope will only encourage creepie crawlies to take up residence and encourage mould growth.
To discourage mould you need a combination of clean and dry surfaces.
Obviously the OTA outside surface can be wiped down with Mr Sheen or similar, which discourages creepie crawlies.
But you don't want to the wiping down glass regularly😆.
A small dehumidifier, drying air under the scope cover is your friend here.
Alternatively put the scope into an old small wardrobe or broom cupboard.
This has the benefit of protecting your scope from impact with lawn mower, bike, etc.
If you try to dry a complete 'ordinary' shed, it is neverending task.

On the security side of things....
I have no personal experience, but to me a stolen mower is probably going sell easier at the car boot sale than a dob🤔.
Also your shed looks like any other shed on the street. Not a 'valuable kit in here' dome to attract attention.
But if you but big iron bars on the door, or a huge padlock and hasp, it looks like something special and may get extra attention.
My observatory looks like an ordinary shed from outside. But it has several security features inside that I won't discuss on open forum.

HTH, David.



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Our understairs cupboard is overflowing, so it's the shed or nothing, for now anyway (I may get rid of the Celestron at some time depending on the ability of the Dob to travel). The added bonus is that a scope in the shed raises will be easier for my partner to ignore. She's already made it clear she isn't on board with me turning the place into the next Greenwich Observatory... sigh.

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4 hours ago, DhamR said:

I'm going to assume for my own immature amusement that that means flamethrowers and comedy falling anvils.

You will only find out if you try to break in🤨

As shed security wasn't the principal question for the OP, I didn't dwell on the details.
But I'm happy to discuss my ideas and installation by PM for anyone using a shed.

The flame thrower is a fire risk and the anvil causes ROR rail deformation. So I abandoned these early in the build.
Mains electricity on the door handle and mount, supplemented by spring loaded sharp spikes extending from the shed walls are quite effective🤣

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 I’m not sure if there is much difference between a shed and my 2.1m dome. I’ve kept my C11 and EQ mount in there for about 15 years without a problem. Well ventilated with the gap under the dome.

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For me the biggest issues with many dobs is the particle board they are made from and the damage that can be done from damp grass.

Most sheds will do a good job of protecting them from the elements but when you put it outside try to raise it off the ground and give the mount a wipe down when you bring it back in. I have no idea why mass manufacturers make the bases from chipboard these days.

As for a cover, I make sure the end caps are on with a shower hat covering the bottom, and drape a dust sheet over the tube.


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