View Full Version here: : Starlight Observatory
09-08-2008, 08:07 PM
I am starting this thread to showcase the construction of Starlight Observatory. I will update this thread everytime some progress is made with hopefully with some images. Progress will be quite slow due to other commitments but no matter how long it will take, an observatory will be born. :)
After a couple of weeks of drawing plans and deciding exactly what I want, we have finally started construction. The Observatory will be based on SkyShed plans that will be raised off the ground. The dimensions will be 3.8m x 2.4m. It will have a 1.4m warm room and 2.4m cold room. It will house my C8 + guidescope and EQ6 Pro on a concrete pier.
It will have a fairly open sky with great views to the South and East. The West and North are slightly obstructed but not enough to complain about. The skies at night are quite dark when there is no Moon so everything is ready to go. :D
The one thing that I am really looking forward to is that I will not have to continuiously setup and packup the equipment every observing or imaging session. I can't wait.
Matty, it dose not matter how long it takes to get this all happening, you will wonder on completion why you hadn't done this sooner.
As with my simple and humble observatory, everything is set up, and it takes some 10 to 15 minutes to be imaging, just open it up and go for it.;)
Looking forward to the continuation of this thread.
09-08-2008, 08:19 PM
Today we started to dig the hole for the pier. We have dug it to a depth of 80cm even though we originally planned to make it 1m. The pier will be reinforced with steel and once it has been put in place. It is not going to move.
Here are a couple of images.
Looking good Matt, It also looks like a nice sheltered spot as well.:thumbsup:
I did notice a sudden build up in clouds this morning to the West around 7:00 am, was that you getting an early start?:rofl:
I was checking out a few sites on my property today as well.
Cheers and looking forward to further updates.
09-08-2008, 11:11 PM
Yes, I am used to spending upto an hour and a half getting setup ready for imaging so it is going to be great not having to anymore.
09-08-2008, 11:15 PM
Yes, me too. I remember looking out the window when I woke up and it was nice and clear. Then suddenly when going outside about 15 minutes later, A few large clouds started to hover over from the West. :lol:
I think they are predicting rain tomorrow. :rolleyes:
10-08-2008, 12:21 AM
looking forward to watching the progress Matty.
10-08-2008, 12:50 AM
Murphy's law eh Matty ?
where ever you dig a hole, there will be a pipe there (or a great bleeding rock)
personally - i would move my hole away from the pipe
10-08-2008, 11:30 AM
Thanks Steve and Geoff,
Yes it is always the way. :rolleyes:
I was thinking about moving the hole away from the pipe but now that I have dug a great big hole, I have decided not to. It should be fine.
10-08-2008, 03:55 PM
Just to let you guys know that we should be putting the pier in place hopefully next weekend depending on if every is ready and the weather.
11-08-2008, 09:05 PM
Have you thought about putting in a few conduits before you pour
the slab so you can have some if not all your cables coming up into
the centre slab to avoid cables on the floor?
11-08-2008, 09:21 PM
the que for tickets to Matty's Starlight Observatory start behind me
11-08-2008, 09:29 PM
Yes, I am planning to put some conduits down the centre of the pier to avoid thousands of cables all over the floor.
Thanks for the suggestion. :thumbsup:
11-08-2008, 09:31 PM
Steve, come and visit anytime mate. Entry is free. :P :thumbsup:
11-08-2008, 09:40 PM
Yeah, Conduits are a good plan.... I'd want a pair USB leads from where ever the computer will be to the pier, power from where-ever its coming from to the base of the pier (get one of those 1->4 distrobution blocks)..
And as always.. AC power away from data... DC power is not so much of a problem... (take a usb lead for example, DC power and data in ONE LEAD!) :)
Cant wait to see more Matty...
EDIT - Green with envy! :D
11-08-2008, 09:42 PM
You don't necessarily have to have them come up into the pier
itself, just right next to it.
If you brought them up the pier and had the top blanked off with
a welded plate etc, I couldn't picture a way of bringing them
out of the pier that wouldn't weaken the pier itself....holes etc.
I used PVC circular 1 way and 2 way boxes and linked them all
to the outside wall of the observatory. Other spare conduits are
short stubs close to the tripod.
You just can never have enough conduits :)
Now is the time to put em in!
12-08-2008, 12:12 AM
On ya Matt,
I collected all the bits to make my pier then broke my foot. I'm in a cast and on crutches for 6 weeks and everything stops. I can't even carry a beer :(
12-08-2008, 09:48 PM
Thanks for your help guys, I appreciate it. :) The more conduits the better.
Robin, I am sorry to hear that and your accident could've not come at a worst time. Just before you started your pier.
I hope you have a speedy recovery.
19-08-2008, 09:18 PM
I was just wondering if it is a good idea to insulate the observatory? or should I just insulate the warm room?
19-08-2008, 09:30 PM
insulating the warm room would do.... I dont think you want to insulate the scope.... otherwise you'll suffer longer cool down times.... and also, things that are warm and made of metal attract dew when exposed to the cold air...
16-09-2008, 07:20 PM
We have made some more progress towards the pier with a finished pier plate for my EQ6 Pro. We had the plate professionally made at a local engineering company and now that it is completed. We can now continue progress on the Observatory. The next step is to get the RIO bars welded for the pier and pour the concrete.
The dimensions of the plate are,
300mm x 300mm x 20mm
Here are some images of the pier plate.
Hi Matty, it's all happening as they say at the cricket.
that base plate looks a ripper, nice and solid.
16-09-2008, 08:58 PM
agreed... looks solid as! :)
You are going to tap in a spot for a polar alignment post thinggie I imagine?
16-09-2008, 10:26 PM
You are correct Alex,
I decided to wait and mark the correct spot for it once it is all done as I didn't want to have it in the wrong spot.
21-09-2008, 03:05 PM
We have been working extremely hard to get as much done on the Observatory as possible this weekend. Our plans for this weekend was to get the RIO bars welded together, pour the concrete for the base of the pier, collect the bricks, and lay the footers.
My Uncle welded the RIO bars together for the pier. We used 12mm threaded rod for the main bars and standard RIO bars for the rest, to hold it together. We went for the threaded rod instead of bolts as we found it easier this way. The rods are 2200mm long and once the Observatory is complete. The top of the Pier will be 1M from the floor. While my Uncle was welded. My father and I went to collect the bricks for the footers from our next door neighbours who generously donated 100 bricks to us, free of charge. :)
My Uncle finished welding in the morning and we spent the rest of the morning resting and replenishing our energy for the rest of the day.
We returned outside and prepared the RIO bars for the concrete. The pier hole which was 600mm x 600mm x 700mm took a total of 12 x 20kg bags of concrete to fill. It would have been more if it wasn't for all the large rocks we put in.
Once it was in and leveled, we spent the rest of the day plotting where the footers where going to go and put the bricks in place.
21-09-2008, 03:14 PM
We spent this morning laying the brick footers for the framing. We have still got a couple more to lay, but that can be done another time.
The next step is the concreting the top part of the pier and framing. :D
That's it for this weekend. :work:
21-09-2008, 03:23 PM
and you thought your tarantula image was green... you should see me right now :)
Pier looks like it goes fairly deep, should be very sturdy for any future equipment that you may end up hanging off it... with this kind of thing, making sure its future proof is the key... A few observatories I've seen were built with the original equipment in mind, and this can limit your options when expanding.
Looks like its progressing well Matty, will the walls be Al, bricks, wooden?
21-09-2008, 03:35 PM
I incorperated into the design quite a lot of room for upgrades most likely a larger OTA in the future. That's why I went for a solid concrete Pier.
The whole of the framing of the Obsevatory will be wooden. I'm really happy and excited with the progress we have made at the moment.
Excellent progress Matt, everything looks rock solid and secure.
A fine job.
24-09-2008, 05:45 PM
Thanks Ric. :) It is definitely rewarding, looking back from where you have started.
Weather permitting, this weekend we will be concreting the top of the pier and finish off the brick footers.
Excellent Matt !
I'll check this thread from time to time to see your progress.
30-09-2008, 01:37 PM
We finished laying in the footers last weekend. It was very hot but we managed to get it all finished by the end of the day. We made sure that all the footers were dead level with each other. Checking the next day, we were spot on (See images 3 and 4). :D
The Observatory is progressing along nicely with the top of the pier getting concreted tomorrow. :)
More images to follow.
Coming along very nicely. Never fast enough though, is it? ;)
Another job done and another step closer.
Nice job with the leveling as well.
30-09-2008, 03:03 PM
Thanks Malcolm and Ric. :)
Although I would like it done as quick as possible. I would rather take my time and make sure everything right and correct before continuing.
Sure is fun though. :D
30-09-2008, 03:12 PM
You can tell Spring is in the air..all these new observatories going up...:)
02-10-2008, 04:17 PM
As planned the pier is up! :2thumbs:
We spent the first part of the morning preparing the box frame for the concrete pier. We used 12mm standard MDF which would make the frame for the concrete pier.
We then leveled the box around the RIO bars and braced it using 2x4's. It took exactly 13 x 20kg bags of concrete to fill leaving us with less than a handful of concrete left over. It is now in the curing stage but is rock solid. :D
We have decided to leave the wooden frame around the concrete allowing us to be able to add some shelves and be able to easily attach things to it. The dimensions of the pier is 340mm x 340mm x 125mm.
The next step is Framing. :D
There will no construction work happening this long weekend as we are having a break.
That is all for now.
02-10-2008, 04:26 PM
Gotta be getting bloody exciting by this stage mate...
those threaded rods at the top of the pier dont seem level in that image, are they going to stay that way or will they be trimmed off?
02-10-2008, 05:08 PM
I sure am Alex. :nerd:
The threaded rods are going to be trimmed once we work out the position of mount once it is polar aligned. We have it all sussed out. ;)
That's a nice solid looking pier Matt. That should definitely last a life time with ease.
03-10-2008, 01:39 AM
It is definitely stronger than I thought it would be. It is going nowhere. :D
The Observatory is really taking shape (with a bit of imagination :lol:).
03-10-2008, 11:58 AM
I couldn't resist. :P
With the concrete pier up and the plate set up. I couldn't resist putting the EQ6 on top of the pier to see what it looked like. :)
It gives you a brief idea of what it is going to look like inside the Observatory.
Seeing that is giving me the urge to start my Obs as well. :lol:
Got a few other jobs to do around the place first though.
The pier looks great with the EQ6 on it Matty !
03-10-2008, 05:56 PM
Geez matt, couldn't you find a thicker piece of steel for the top plate?
That looks like a piece of hull off the titanic :)
Will the weights clear the corner?
03-10-2008, 06:26 PM
I assume the BBQ will live nowhere near the obs once it's up & running. The oily smoke is not something you want anywhere near your optics.
05-10-2008, 05:59 PM
Is there a date when you plan to start your Obs? :shrug:
It sure does. :D
The pier plate probably weighs just as much as an EQ6. :lol:
I put the EQ6 on top of the pier with the counterweights and it does clear the corner. I was worried at first but luckily there is just enough clearance.
Probably not. When the Observatory roof is closed the smoke will not be able to do any damage to the scope's optics or anything else. So it might stay there unless we encounter any problems when using it next to the Obs. :whistle:
I think it will a while yet Matt probably around May next year.
07-10-2008, 09:59 PM
Matt, good work all around. The EQ6 looks good on your pier, and I think that leaving the MDF attached makes sense, for the reasons that you offered plus it will provide a bit of insulation, which may reduce the amount of heat pick-up by the pier. I plan to insulate (to an extent) my circular pier.
08-10-2008, 12:21 AM
I'm sure before you know it, you'll have an Observatory, built and ready to go.
Thanks Chris. :)
I never thought about that. How important is it to insulate a pier? As the pier should be well protected from heat sources from outside.
08-10-2008, 06:42 PM
Matty, I consider that it's worthwhile keeping the thermal mass of the observatory and its equipment as low as is reasonably practical. By doing this, the observatory itself and the equipment within will reach thermal equilibrium with the atmosphere sooner as the evening cools down, and therefore not create as much localised turbulence in the atmosphere.
Having said this, some items, such as the pier, need to be "solid" (some would debate this, but that's another topic), but all is not lost, since it is a simple matter to wrap some insulation around a pier. This will also stop it gaining some heat during the day.
My pier is also solid concrete and will have a steel pipe extension on top. The pipe is somewhat thicker walled than I wanted (don't kick a gift horse in the mouth) so I will wrap some foam rubber or similar around it, then maybe a layer of thin carpet around that.
11-10-2008, 05:56 PM
I thought it was time to see what the scope would look like setup on the pier. I went and picked up a bolt to secure the EQ6 to the plate allowing me to attach the scope to the mount without it tipping over.
The counterweights weren't placed in the balanced position as the threaded rod is in the way. Once they are cut the counterweights will easily clear the plate.
I can't wait to get the walls up!
Anyway, I thought it looked pretty cool. :D
11-10-2008, 06:22 PM
DAMN YOU AND YOUR AWESOME PIER!!! :D
Looks awesome matt... Lucky so and so.
Your scope looks very at home sitting on the pier Matt.
It's a great looking setup as well.
07-12-2008, 12:56 PM
After a long period of no work being done on the observatory, we have completed the floor platform ready for the next phase of construction. :D
The majority of the floor framing material that we used were 90mm x 90mm wood pieces and for the flooring we used yellow tougue flooring.
We decided to build off the brick wall to save materials and time once we get the wall up. The wood frame that is on top of brick wall is the actual height of the wall and will also act as one of the roof supports.
It is now starting to look like a half completed Observatory. :) :whistle:
07-12-2008, 01:18 PM
good going! Sure is starting to look like an observatory.... Now at least, if you wanted to you could mount up in there and use the pier...
07-12-2008, 05:35 PM
I was thinking of mounting the beast up on the pier but I thought I would wait for when it has four walls around it. ;)
07-12-2008, 05:46 PM
Why matt!! :) you can get the mount aligned out on the mount and leave it there covered with a couple of towels and a tarp... from then on, your astronomy only requires you to carry scopes/computer outside, set it up and start imaging.
My mount lives outside setup and aligned. If I carry out my scopes at around 5pm and start plugging in cables/computer etc etc, Im ready to image as soon as its dark enough. Saves a lot of hassle when you dont have to drift align before every session.
Nicely done - 90x90 for floor joists.... spare no expense man! :)
Excellent job Matty, very solid looking. The 90's and the yellow tongue will definitely keep eveything rock solid.
I see it's raised to allow air flow underneath, what height is that at?
I'm looking forward to the next stage.
08-12-2008, 12:50 PM
Man i don't even have the equipment yet and i want to start construction :D All i have to say is i hope you have waterproofed the MDF, because as soon as it gets damp it swells up like a person who has allergys to seafood... apart from that i wish i wasn't a uni student.
08-12-2008, 06:31 PM
The whole floor frame is raised about 250mm off the ground. This allows for that extra height and air flow.
08-12-2008, 06:33 PM
The MDF hasn't been waterproofed yet but I will make my next priority as it has already swelled up a little due to a small amount a water finding a way through the plastic cover.
08-12-2008, 07:44 PM
Looking good Matty! It's really taking shape now. I admire your enthusiasm.
One question: What scope are you going to bring to the 2009 IISAC?;)
08-12-2008, 07:53 PM
Excellent work Matty. You and your folks have done well building it to what it is. I have to say that I was initially worried about the height of the adjoining wall and your houses' roofline, but the height of the pier plus GEM give you plenty of clearance over them.
I really have to pull my finga out and start mine. We were going to sell our house for a while there, but i think we'll stay now - so time to build. :)
08-12-2008, 08:12 PM
I'll be bringing my 20" RC to IISAC09... :whistle::P :lol:
Get the plans drawn up and start building. ;) Imagine all the time you will save not having to setup and pull down you equipment.
08-12-2008, 08:17 PM
You said it brother! There's no imagination involved.... :lol:
16-12-2008, 05:06 PM
The walls are up and it now looks like an observatory. Well, almost. :whistle:
With the walls up all that is left to do is put a roof up and the last supporting beam for the rolling roof. :D
The wall height is 1900mm apposed from the 1800mm we previously had planned. The extra wall height is to make sure that the top of the telescope will clear the roof when it is rolled over the scope.
16-12-2008, 05:22 PM
That looks Mint! ahhhhrgh you bastaaarrrd, i just want one :rolleyes:
Lovely work Matty, that looks superb.
I can see exactly where your heading with your Obs, it's going to be a ripper.
16-12-2008, 06:34 PM
Thanks Brendan and Ric. :)
I'm now starting to get really excited. I set up the scope last night on the pier to get an idea of what it would be like in the Obs when it is completed. All I can say is.... It's perfect. I'll post some pics later.
We should have the roof on this weekend if everything goes to plan. :D
16-12-2008, 07:44 PM
I dont know why I keep checking this thread every time its updated.. Just makes me more jealous.. :D
Looking good mate! I bet you're itching to give it a run!
16-12-2008, 08:59 PM
The skies cleared up last night so I thought it would be a good idea to put the scope on the pier and test the waters, so to speek. ;)
I don't know what else to say except that we couldn't have put it together any better. Everything worked perfectly. :)
Here are some images of the scope setup on the pier in the almost completed Observatory. :D :whistle:
16-12-2008, 09:17 PM
That's looking really good, Matty!:thumbsup:;)
Nice shots Matt, the scope looks really at home on the pier.
17-12-2008, 09:31 AM
Looking real gooooood Matt. I can almost see the star charts you're about to hang up on those walls.:thumbsup::thumbsup:. I will have one more attraction next time I visit Canberra.
17-12-2008, 11:57 AM
:(:sadeyes::doh::shrug:... what more do i have to express. :( my heart is full of sadness.
thats a cracker of a obs.
Im warming the miss's up with carefully planted seeds. showing her all these great amature photos being taken. last night i think one of the seeds broke ground. she was saying how amazing it is to see a picture full of stars, but theres nothing there if you look with your own eyes... in her words "Its just amazing"
Then i showed the Orion neb, it made me smile when she stood there looking though the 25mm ep for nearly 1/2 hour. (thats the key get her involved then expensive purchase's are easy to slip past the minister of war and finance!
17-12-2008, 06:00 PM
Very interesting thread Matt. I thought you had been a bit quiet on the imaging side, now I know why. You've been busy building an amazing observatory. Now everybody wants one. Myself included :)
18-12-2008, 11:22 PM
It is really getting exciting now. We have collected all the material we need to construct the roof. So it will be a busy weekend ahead.
I can't wait to be able to mount the scope up on the pier and leaving it there. Instead of having to pack it away at the end of an imaging session. :)
I will update this thread with some images of the progress ASAP. :D
19-12-2008, 12:42 AM
Matty, you have inspired me to leave piles of astro gear at random places around the house which has resulted in nod being given to consume a chunk of yard for a shed to store it all :) Thanks mate.
19-12-2008, 12:46 AM
Well will ya just look at that? What a great job mate!
Proud of ya.
27-12-2008, 04:58 PM
must say, i like your style
27-12-2008, 10:26 PM
That's great news Robin. Glad your plan worked out for you. ;)
29-12-2008, 12:43 AM
I'm pretty sure the car battery and charger in the lounge room sealed it:rofl:
But it'll be small, 2x2meters, there's not much room left in my back yard, have a look. :(
So long as I can still see east, it'll be fine.
The floor and framing is ordered and the initial web site (http://www.starshed.org.au) is on line :)
29-12-2008, 10:37 AM
I love the way you guys are swindling your way to what you want :D hehehe, unfortunately i have a study where i plonk all my observing gear, but im sure as soon as it gets too much to fit in there :) hehehe
02-01-2009, 04:18 PM
We decided to change the design of the wall frames to allow more of the sky to be visible when the roof is rolled off. What we did was drop the height of the wall where the roof rolls by 160mm to make sure that walls and roof do not obstruct the view. Which I found was a problem before.
Here are some pictures.
02-01-2009, 04:50 PM
Well, it finally looks like and Observatory. The Roof is now up and rolling and the Obs is almost complete. :D Well not quite, there is still a lot of small things to still do but if you look back of how much has been done, I can confidently say we are almost there. ;)
One of the main problems we faced was making sure that Observatory will be properly waterproofed. So we designed the roof to fit under the stationary roof when it's closed. We used form plywood for the roof which will later be covered will some sort of roof material.
The wall cladding will hopefully be put up this weekend but it's awesome that most of difficult jobs have been completed, so it is just the little things left to do. :)
Here are some pictures of the roof. :thumbsup:
02-01-2009, 05:05 PM
Looks good mate, I like how the rolling roof tucks under the fixed roof.. I take it the fixed roof is where the computer/electronics/equipment storage will be?
I've said it before... I'll say it again... Jealousy! :)
02-01-2009, 05:08 PM
Nice job on the roof,
one concern or problem that might or might not have been thought about, where you have the stationary roof overhang, whats sealing it to the rolling portion of the roof? you will need some sort of spring loaded weather strip or something of the like because if you get wind and rain together, it will push straight past the over hang. and then its in amoungst everything. also be sure to seal the edges of the ply wood because just like the MDF it will suck water like a sponge and swell to nasty proportions.!
02-01-2009, 10:31 PM
Thanks guys. :)
Alex, you are correct. The fixed roof is where I will store most of the equipment but most importantly, sit. I am thinking about putting a curtin to seperate me from the elements especially in winter. I am making this observatory totally wireless/cordless as I hate being literally swimming in cords. Going to have setup wireless EQMOD and wireless USB. :D
Brendan, we are heading to Bunnings tomorrow to pickup the cladding and the paint for the form plywood. As I know the consequences of leaving wood exposed. Thanks for the heads up. ;)
That's looking fantastic Matt, it's certainly going ahead in leaps and bounds now.
It wont be too long now before your out under the stars again.
04-01-2009, 12:22 AM
Wow matty, what a bloody mansion. It's huge, at least when you're given the boot you have someplace to go :)
04-01-2009, 12:37 AM
It's getting closer to its official opening. :D Almost there.... ;) :whistle:
It's a great size. :D During the design phase it started off as just a pier. Then upgraded to a 2x2 shed. Then to a 2.4x2.4 house. Then finally to a 3.8x2.4 mansion. :lol: I'm hoping to put a bed in it one day. :rolleyes:
At least I have a back up if I get kicked out.
05-01-2009, 03:58 PM
The star light telescope is good u can observe the stars I wonder if there is powerfule telescope that look for new glaxies and stars.. :eyepop:
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05-01-2009, 04:00 PM
its great wow :thumbsup: dimension!!!!!!!!!!!!
21-02-2009, 10:14 PM
Time for an update. ;) Haven't had one in quite a while.
Well, the Observatory is almost finished. Got the sarking paper and Hardy Planks put up last month. We have also connected the power and all that is left are the little fiddle bits.
Here are some pics. Almost ready for the official opening. :D Will get some new images to post. :)
That's looking fantasic Matt. It won't be long now to the official opening and first light.
22-02-2009, 10:15 AM
Almost there Matt, looking forward to pop over when it's done for a visit!
22-02-2009, 11:46 AM
Oh Yeah!! :) Its gonna be a very happy day when you can open that up for business! :)
22-02-2009, 03:29 PM
Really impressive :thumbsup:
22-02-2009, 10:34 PM
Brilliant stuff Mattie. I'll just have to schedule a trip to Cooma so that Jenny and I can pop through Canberra on the way for the opening... :D
Pass on a message to the folks for me - I congratulate them on encouraging your progress. There aren't enough parents in the world like them. :thumbsup:
23-02-2009, 12:13 AM
Brilliant Job there Matt:thumbsup:
I hope you get many wonderful nights observing and imaging in it:):):)
23-02-2009, 05:34 PM
Thanks guys. Although I've said it before, I'll say it again.... It's almost done! :) :whistle:
No worries Chris. If your travelling to Cooma, don't hesitate to drop in for a look see. Will have to make an official opening date. :lol: :P
P.S. I'm going to start work on the Starlight Observatory Website. Might take a while though.
16-04-2009, 10:59 PM
C'mon c'mon Matt! Where is it? How's it going? Is it finished yet? Huh? Huh? Is it?...C'mon...come ooooonnnnnnnnnn!!!
Looks awesome Matt. A very neat and professional looking job. Congrats!
Can't wait to see the finished product :thumbsup:
We are all getting excited Matt and looking forward to the grand opening and first light.
More progress reports please.
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