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Looking for Advice on Observatory Build


Skuber
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Hi all,

I (re)started my Astronomy hobby a year ago, and in that time I've moved from visual observations using a 6" SCT to astrophotography using my trusty TMB80.

The biggest barrier I've found is the weather - when I finally get a break in the clouds, I have to spend 1-2 hours setting up everything only for it to cloud over again...

So, my other half, in attempt to stop me moping about the house, has agreed to let me build an observatory in the back garden - she's even offered to put some money towards the shed!

We have an area of decking approximately 8' x 10' that used to have a shed on it that I can use. I've dug a nice hole and I've started getting the materials for the pillar.

However, the one thing I'm a little stuck on is the choice of shed.

From reading all of the posts here, it seems that bigger is generally better. Since I've got an 8x10 space, I thought I would go for an 8x10 shed.

My wife has suggested that the weight of an 8x10 roof would be too much to comfortably move on my own, even on rollers.

Does anyone with an 8x10 shed have any difficulty rolling it off? (I was planning the standard method of a metal channel + casters for it).

Next, I was considering converting an apex shed kit. However, almost all of the kits I see online appear to have the top of the door higher than the bottom of the roof.

So, with these kits, I couldn't just cut the roof off as it would interfere with the door.

Are there any 8x10 kits anyone would recommend that preferably come with the roof already separate?

Or is it better to build your own from scratch or convert an existing shed? (My woodworking skills are reasonable, and I have two friends who are excellent carpenters who could help too.)

Any help would be appreciated.

Many thanks,

Simon

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Ive just had delivery of a flat-roofed "Pent" shed - these retailers allow you to specify the dimensions, and also where the door is. I also asked for no windows. Looking at the design of the sides, its going to be very easy to convert the roof to roll.

If you have a little more money, you can get pre-converted ones like this and that.

I hope this helps..

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Thanks Chris, I hadn't considered a pent shed to be honest, but thinking about it, they could work for me better than an apex shed.

Those sheds look like they've got good potential, I'd be keen to see how you get on with your conversion.

Does the shed you've received seem to be quite sturdy?

Simon

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Have a look at the Blog in my signature (go back to late 2009 / early 2010!!) to see how I converted a metal shed (only 6x6 but the principles are the same) Mine was influenced by this one: Linnhe: Home of Mark S Baines & Linnhe Observatory in particular, which is around the size you are contemplating. These are metal sheds but the principles are pretty much the same for wooden ones.

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Hi Bizbuilder,

Many thanks for that - I've had a look at your blog before and found it very interesting.

Is that shed you've built an 8x10? I assume you don't have any difficulties rolling the roof off?

Simon

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The roof on my 6.5x6.5 is much easier to roll off than I expected it to be. Decent casters are the key I think but if you find it difficult you could rig up an electric garage door winch thingy or a hand crank similar to the one I saw in Patrick Moores' obs in the last S@N.

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Apex roof on mine but have split the roof down the middle and both sides move sideways without the need for extra space to accommodate the roof, photos in my album.

Jim

I LOVE the way you waterproofed your webcam... :)

But the pics don't really show the split roof. Any chance of a better pic, please? I can't really picture that...

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Opps, sorry, the photo was taken off :) . I have actually changed the layout from what it is in the photo, the build of the roof is in two parts, the apex is held together by an alliminum girder and that itself is in two parts longitudal. I just unbolted the two parts to allow a sideways movement. Think I can get that photo here:

the-sailor-albums-observatory-picture10173-037.jpg

Jim

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Opps, sorry, the photo was taken off :) . I have actually changed the layout from what it is in the photo, the build of the roof is in two parts, the apex is held together by an alliminum girder and that itself is in two parts longitudal. I just unbolted the two parts to allow a sideways movement. Think I can get that photo here:

Jim

Thanks, now I get it.. ;-)

How did you waterproof the top where the 2 halves meet?

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I first of all I attached 3 battens to the girder, 2 one side, 1 the other. When the roof closes the battens interlock, grease in between helps to stop ingress of moisture, works quite well, nice and eay to open and close. One of the other points is that I can open the roof enough for the telescope just as if it were a dome.

Jim

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Thanks for all your replies :)

I think from everything you've all said, I should have no problem rolling the roof off.

Now I just need to decide Pent or Apex (I'm definitely leaning towards the Pent shed solution at the moment...)

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Hi Skuber,

I run an 8x8 pent shed on decking. No problems, as you have already been told, with moving the roof, just have enough good quality castors. I even have corrugated sheets on top of the roof adding to the weight and no problem.

I didn't go for a metal runner channel however but run the castors on a 4x2 with a 10mm x 10mm baton on the outside to stop slippage. It is simple and doesn't get clogged up with debris.

I'm sure you will have loads of your own ideas and from other people bit if you want any pics let me know

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depends on your budget/scavenging skills :)

http://stargazerslounge.com/diy-observatories/129790-bad-weather-lots-spare-time-observatory.html

mine cost around £250 inc base + lots of looking around and a few favors from work mates.

my carpentry skills a quite modest and i found it evolved over time i had no plans to line the inside but the materials became available for free so it would have been rude not too.

wish i had made it a bit bigger though,but space is the one thing that i could not get around.

but it was great fun and makes a massive difference to a short session!

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