View Full Version here: : Work has started on Al's Observatory
09-09-2008, 06:26 PM
"Darryl dug a hole, Darl"...:P
Well, I've finally started to get serious about the obs. I started earthworks about 6 weeks ago, recycling part of a disused motocross jump into the fill required for the site of my obs. All fill moved by hand and barrow, and sheepsfooted by hand with the crowbar in layers of <200mm. After compaction, I let the site settle for a month. The compaction worked because I nearly needed the crow bar to get through the fill!:thumbsup:
This afternoon I dug the hole for the pier. It's 350x350x700 deep including a 50mm key into the rock layer. I was planning to go a metre deep if I didn't hit rock. So the plan is to pour the pier this weekend:thumbsup:.
I have the pier fabricated and the anchor bolts are welded into a cluster ready to be cast in. The formwork for the top of the pier is built with the support for the bolts ready to keep them at the right level and square during the pour.
Once the pier is poured, the plan is to pour a slab floor for the Skyshed POD around it. It will be isolated from the pier footing by expansion jointing. The slab will be 100mm thick with 1 layer of F52 mesh with a plastic water barrier underneath.
I chose to go with the concrete slab for two reasons: we will probably sell this place before I retire and the girls move out so a concrete slab will be an asset for a garden shed, and a timber deck in the climate here would be particularly cold with the wind whistling underneath. The pier footing will be level with the slab so when I leave I'll grind the bolts off and it's good to go for a shed:thumbsup:.
The observatory is closer to the house than originally planned:whistle:. When crunch time came to start work preparing the site, I worked through the design process again, and decided it was best to move it closer to the house where I can fence it into the house yard. I've managed to keep the visible horison to under about 10° altitude everywhere except south, but south isn't much worse;). A number of factors influenced the decision: a wind sucking horse, security and convenience to the house:whistle:.
I'll post more as it develops.:)
09-09-2008, 07:38 PM
That is terrific news – you’ll be the envy of the “drag it all out every night” paupers, me included!
09-09-2008, 08:19 PM
Looking good Al, I'm looking forward to watching the progress. :)
Do you know when your POD will be arriving?
I haven't had any time to continue work on my ROR Observatory but will in about two weeks time. We are currently collecting parts for the pier.
09-09-2008, 08:50 PM
Oooooh yeah! I am soooo looking forward to it. I can't believe how little astronomy I have done since I moved. I have a dark sky site, but I've hardly made the most of it since I've been busy working on the place. I've got the most important stuff done now, so I'm keen to get the footing and slab done so when the POD arrives I can set up and play!:D
I spoke to Matthew a week or two ago and his best estimate was about 6 weeks:shrug:. He said the PODs were being manufactured and he'd let me know a better estimate of time when they were all ready to be containerised. Then he'll have an idea of what ship it'll be on.
09-09-2008, 09:44 PM
Ummm,.... a "wind sucking horse"????
09-09-2008, 10:40 PM
Horses grab hold of something, like a fence post, or a rail, part of a stable, telescope, or an EQ6 with their teeth, pull their necks backwards and swallow air.
It's a nervous habit perhaps bought on by boredom. Horses can loose condition, they would rather "windsuck" than graze
Some horses wander around looking for something to suck on plays havoc with the paddock infrastructure, also most astro gear.
Electric fences help.
Shooting the horse is probably a bit extreme but works
09-09-2008, 11:15 PM
It's kinda tragic not funny when a horse gets the idea that wind sucking is the thing to do, they almost never get cured even when you reverse the original cause, and they're basically no good for anything ever again. Probably a lot like amateur astronomy.
10-09-2008, 04:54 AM
I hope it arrives sooner than anticipated, Al. Can't wait to see progress.
10-09-2008, 07:35 AM
Woo Hoo, great news Al. Looking forward to first light. :thumbsup:
10-09-2008, 07:43 AM
another one with an observatory under way...green with envy Al
10-09-2008, 07:53 AM
Yes... well, the horse in question can't be ridden either as it has a "bog spavin" (:shrug: not sure of the spelling or even the pronunciation:lol:) on a rear hock, but it belongs to one of the girls and she's very attached to it...:rolleyes:. I know what I'd do... Nice explanation BTW.
Getting close to the bone there!:lol:
So do I!:whistle::D
So am I.
10-09-2008, 07:54 AM
Thanks Shrek... uh HOughy!;)
18-09-2008, 02:02 PM
Just rang Matthew and got an update on delivery of the POD.
Manufacturing is complete. Due to sail on Sept 23. Delivery about 4-5 weeks after that. That means delivery should be during the week prior to IISAC!
Hmmm, maybe I should extend my holidays so I can set it up...:whistle:
18-09-2008, 04:53 PM
That's great news Al. You must be really eager to get all setup with your new POD.
Keep us updated. :)
18-09-2008, 06:03 PM
Murphy's Law says it will be delayed so it arrives while I'm away at IISAC!:lol: ...or it's delivered a day or two before IISAC just to tempt me into staying home to set it up!:P:whistle:
20-09-2008, 12:14 PM
Another step closer...;)
Finished the formwork this morning. The plan is to pour it next Saturday. It'll be a Ready-mix job, I'm not going to mix that much in the mixer without more help than I'll have.:P
The slab and pier footing are oriented true N-S (within probably +/-5° for compass reading and set up errors). To orient your self the long timbers over hang the formwork on the Northern side.
21-09-2008, 12:12 AM
Looking good Al,
It is all coming together nicely. :)
It must have been "Work on your Observatory Day" as I did the same. I concreted the pier in place.
21-09-2008, 06:27 PM
Today I cut the reo to save time next weekend and I started putting in the strainer posts to extend the house yard around the obs. I also ran a string line across the pier footing. It seems that even though the level says the footing and the top of the formwork are all level, the footing is about 20mm low compared to the formwork. Obviously, this is less than ideal, but applying a bit of "adaptive engineering" it won't be too big a problem;).
It was always my intention to fully grout the pier to the footing. Just bolting it to a footing or slab introduces a flexible connection into the pier, so grout is important... so... I cut a piece of 16mm MDF to fit the bolts and the same size as the footing. Some 4mm spacers underneath will make the board the right height to screed of the slab with expansion jointing around it. I'll strip out the board with the rest of the formwork, and when I fit the pier I'll lay a 20mm thick bed of grout:thumbsup:. It should almost look deliberate when I've finished!:P:lol:
21-09-2008, 06:49 PM
Looking forward to seeing the pour finished Al.
BTW I put my floor on today :D. Photos tomorrow. ;)
21-09-2008, 07:53 PM
So am I, Paul! It'll just be a waiting game then till the POD arrives.:D
Looking forward to seeing your pics. I like watching these projects develop.;)
21-09-2008, 08:17 PM
26-09-2008, 05:27 PM
The concrete is arriving at 7:30am, so I decided to do the prep work this arvo...
The plastic is down and the mesh in place on 50mm cups. There's two runs of expansion jointing around the pier: a run of 4" level with the top of the slab and a run of 3" below that to ensure that I don't get concrete underneath the expansion jointing in contact with the pier. Hopefully if the slab does move, it will take the 3" jointing with it anyway...
There are two 32mm conduits with long radius bends in place. One will be for power and the other for signal cables to POD bays north and south of the access door. I chose to line the conduits up with the join in the panels, so if I want to rearrange the bays at any time, or buy more to make a 5 bay POD, the conduits don't foul access into the bays.
The form spacer is bolted down on top of the pier to get the height right while screeding the slab;).
There's also a temporary fence around it all, to keep the horses and dogs out of it. I'll drop that in the morning to give the concrete truck access, and put it back afterwards until it's cured.
26-09-2008, 07:36 PM
Woo Hoo!!!! Looks like I've started something. :lol:
27-09-2008, 12:24 PM
The slab is poured.
I tried to finish it as smooth as I could with a steel float. I had to use a plank to bridge across to the pier footing to allow me to reach it all to finish it without an extension float. The finish is a little rough around the pier footing:rolleyes:... I started to edge it but then decided that was too difficult to make look good and didn't have a long enough plank to be able to move it get right round the footing...:whistle:.
It's all just a waiting game now...;).
I'll leave it a few days before stripping the formwork.
I guess I'll fill in my time before the POD arrives by fencing it into the house yard properly.:)
I've quite enjoyed doing a bit of wheelbarrow astronomy!:D
27-09-2008, 11:59 PM
Looking good Al. :)
It is not long now, is it? A couple more weeks and your POD should arrive.
Great work. :thumbsup:
It is great to get the slab laid. Things really start to happen now! :thumbsup:
30-09-2008, 05:41 PM
Thanks Matt. A little while to wait... Nov 9 or thereabouts:).
They would if I had the POD now, but I've got a little time to let the slab cure ;).
Looking forward to it!
07-11-2008, 10:06 AM
A little more progress today... I set the pier.
The photo shows the little slab extension where the door will be that I cast a few weeks ago as well. I figured the last thing I want to be doing is negotiating a step as well as the low door either in the dark or carrying any heavy astro gear...
The pier is sitting on a 20mm bed of stiff mortar. Leveled it off, slipped the pier on and used the bolts to pull the pier down plumb. After the mortar cures, I'll tighten the anchor bolts to final tension. Should give a nice solid joint to the pier footing:).
04-12-2008, 07:13 PM
My POD has arrived.:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D
Just about to sit down and watch the assembly DVD. I could nearly wear that out between now and Saturday!:P:lol:
The plan is to show lots of restraint and watch the DVD first, then on Saturday morning I'll start painting the inside with black Fusion paint, and assemble it on Saturday... when I will also post photos.:whistle:
All the bits look good so far:thumbsup:.:whistle:
04-12-2008, 07:25 PM
well congratulations Al - now comes the weather again LOL.
Look forward to the pictures
04-12-2008, 08:22 PM
Yeah... what else would we expect?
Love the Red Neck Wind test on the DVD!
05-12-2008, 01:14 AM
Looks great Al!!..soon it'll be open up..set up and start viewing..ahhhhh!!!
06-12-2008, 09:27 PM
What a day! Whew!:)
It started yesterday afternoon...:P...
Because I planned to paint the inside of the POD with Krylon Fusion paint to reduce UV and IR (and hence temp build up in the POD) I started masking and painting panels in Friday arvo after work. I managed to get two dome quadrants painted on Friday arvo, using one aerosol can of Fusion per panel.
7:00am Saturday and I was out there doing it again. Wrestling with the breeze, trying to spray paint outside...:rolleyes:... How I would love a workshop with a) nothing in it that I was worried about overspraying, and b) enough room to do it without a major removals exercise...:whistle:
About 10:00am a mate turned up to give me hand putting the POD together:thumbsup:... this is a must! I finished off painting the last wall panel, and decided not to paint the inside of the door panel at this stage.
By lunchtime we the two dome halves assembled but without the rubber seals and my offsider had to go...
So I poked about doing what I could by myself, fitting the POD bay wedges for the shelves, then started assembling the walls.
When Lyn got home from shopping we were able to get back into the 2 person tasks.;)
One minor disappointment was that when we assembled the dome on the walls, it was obvious we didn't do as well as we thought pulling the domes into shape while fitting the flange plates and rubber seal clamping strips.:doh:The weather seal is snug right across, but on one side is very tight:sadeyes:. That side of the secondary dome just scrapes on the inside of the primary dome. I'm not too sure what can be done about that yet... I may be able to pull the dome off one day and have another go at it, but I suspect that could be very difficult to make the necessary adjustments in screw positions with existing holes there. For the time being I think it will have to do:whistle:. So if you're about to build your POD - give this lots of attention!
With storms forecast for this afternoon, I was keen to get the POD anchored, which I managed to do by about 7:00pm. I'll have to go back later and install the rubber flange seals between the two dome halves, and fit the shelves to the bays, etc... in the meantime, it's up, it works and its secure!:thumbsup::D
I must say the quality of the gear supplied by Skyshed is excellent!:thumbsup: The stainless steel fittings and rubber backed washers to weather proof the screws for the bay wedges, are all very nice touches.:thumbsup:
I must say there is more work in assembing a POD (the first time) than I thought there would be, but after watching the assembly video I figured it was going to be most of the day to do... well I didn't finish in a day, but then I added a few hours work painting onto the schedule...
I've attached a few photos:
1. The assembled dome halves.
2. The bays are keen... they're in position.
3. Walls assembled.
4. View of the inside walls. The bays are black lined from Skyshed, the wall panels are painted with Krylon Fusion.
5. The stainless steel screws and rubber backed washers are just the thing to keep the bays dry.
6. The almost complete POD... open.
7. Another view of the POD open.
8. The POD closed.
06-12-2008, 10:10 PM
congratulations Al looks pretty good
07-12-2008, 09:37 AM
Looks great! I remember seeing one of the prototype POD's a few years ago and was quite impressed with it. A nice installation.
Glad you didn't go for the glow in the dark version! - which I can't understand why anyone would buy?!
07-12-2008, 09:48 AM
Neither can I... unless your only into solar observing and plan to paint the inside black:shrug::lol::screwy:
07-12-2008, 11:50 AM
That looks so kewl, Al :thumbsup:
Big smilies 'eh. :D:D:D ;)
That's excellent Al, congrats !
Could you take a photo with you in the obs, I just want to get an idea of it's dimensions.
07-12-2008, 06:04 PM
Awesome Al! It looks great.
Congrats. :) :thumbsup:
07-12-2008, 07:02 PM
Big? Did you say BIG or BIG? Nah, they REALLY BIG ... and persistent!:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D See?
OK, I'll get all glamoured up for you tomorrow OK?;):lol:
Yup! Did I tell you was pretty happy at the moment?:lol::whistle:
I haven't done much to it today, been out boating with friends, but after I got home this arvo I fitted the black foam seals to dome pivot flanges, and I've managed to improve the rubber seal a bit.:thumbsup: It was very tight on one side and had folded under, but I found with a little manipulation I could get the seal rubber pointing out the right way. No need to pull it apart and refit:thumbsup::).
07-12-2008, 08:36 PM
They are finally here; I had my name on the list for a while and got impatient!
The setup looks good and fairly robust as they claimed.
The only question / comment I have was that a few users in the U.S. recommended not to put the pier in the exact middle as you can’t look straight up. For those who have done this (looks like you) I see that in the 'Sky Shed Pod' Yahoo forum they detail a retro-fitable slide rail that offsets the roof few hundred mm to allow zenith views. I see these are for sale now (called Zenith Tables) fresh on the website, check with Wayne.
Let us know how you find it. - I was looking at the Neutron Blue glow model.
07-12-2008, 09:19 PM
Yeah, Dave they are finally here:)... and they are robust. I'm really impressed with the quality as supplied.:thumbsup:
I was originally concerned about not being able to see zenith, but after discussions with other POD users at the time I was all but convinced that it wasn't that big a deal... it only affects objects at the same declination as your latitude.:whistle:
I thought about offsetting the pier, but to offset the pier is just a compromise. It's just a matter of making the decision about which declinations you are prepared to tolerate the "blind spot" at culmination. Of course, fork mounted SCTs on wedges have other reasons to offset the pier;).
The POD Zenith Table (PZT) was already being used in prototype form when I ordered, so the problem seemed to me to be trivial. If I find the "blind spot" at zenith to be a problem I'll build or buy a PZT.:thumbsup:
Having said all that, I deliberately designed my pier to be as short as possible - well, as short as I am comfortable working with. The theory is the closer you are to the top of the dome, the bigger the blind spot will be, so I'm trying to keep my scope low. This is a change for me. For as long as I've been doing astronomy, I've stood up to observe. I now have an observing chair and will be operating mostly sitting down.
I'll keep you posted how it goes. Theory and practical are often different;):P.
08-12-2008, 05:19 PM
Here ya go, RB... perspective (rather than glamour;)) shots.
Clouds didn't cooperate while taking the shot of the door side, hence the lens flare and savage contrast.
08-12-2008, 06:26 PM
What a work of art!....The pod that is.:P :lol:
10-12-2008, 09:21 PM
I'm slowly getting there:).
I completed assembling the POD yesterday (all except caulking around the bottom:P) so it was time to start setting up the scope.
Oops!:( The mount won't fit on the pier adapter plate :eyepop:...:shrug:
It seems I had assembled it all previously, but not with the nuts and studs in the adapter plate:rolleyes:... the nuts were fouling the azimuth adjusting screws. So change of plan today... I replaced the studs with 100mm set screws an all is well:thumbsup::).
So tonight I've started assembling the scope on the pier and moving stuff into the POD:D. As it i going to be wet the next few days (I can't imagine why?:lol:) I caulked the bottoms of the walls (even though the silastic I have isn't the best stuff for the job, it's better that nothing:P.
I have a few jobs to do to set the scope up properly:
Modify the lead to my dew heater controller with a plug so I can run the cable through the conduit;
polar align, of course;
maybe source some fresh adhesive backed velcro - some of the stuff I have wants to peel off rather than the velcro come apart:lol:... I think it's old... the adhesive is hardly sticky at all!I'll post photos later.
Other than that is all :D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D here!
13-12-2008, 08:59 PM
hi al finished the rest of dome today put the floor in layed vinyl down ready for my scope one prob been waiting for my electrician to wire everything up dame mates :whistle:when hes done in goes the scope ill post some pictures when done
15-12-2008, 09:59 PM
What a glorious night!:thumbsup: Not much breeze, not too cold...
I am in my POD on my first night of real use.:D Just finished drift aligning. I'll fine tune that later with K3ccdtools:thumbsup:. I'm very happy with the markout and forming of the slab and pier footing... The slab and footing bolts for the pier were aligned with true north/south by compass. Just to be on the safe side I drilled extra tapped holes for the azimuth stop in my pier adapter plate... but I don't need them!:thumbsup::whistle: The azimuth adjustment screws are <3mm off centreline.:)
I have already decided that the bracket for my hand control needs a mod. It positions the hand control well for sitting in low positions, but is hard to read the control if standing. I'll also make it a litle more compact too.
BTW M42 is looking as spectacular as ever! Seems a shame to have to go to bed just to go to work in the morning...:rolleyes::lol:
15-12-2008, 10:14 PM
Good on you Al :D
I'm photoing M42 right now... on the little Tak Sky Patrol and a camera with 105mm lens because I couldn't be bothered dragging out the G11.
Oh I wish.... To quote Python - "You lucky, lucky barstool!"
16-12-2008, 01:31 AM
Congrats Al, great to hear that the POD is fully functional and had first light.
Hope you get many clear skies with your POD.
19-01-2009, 01:37 PM
Just an update...
I now have power on to the obs.
My plan had always been to power the observatory on solar, espacially when originally it was going to be well out in the paddock. As mentioned earlier, I had to bring the observatory into the house yard to protect it from a windsucking horse, and that is really what made the difference...
A few weeks ago I started having problems with my 38AH battery pack that I power my laptop with. It turns out it dropped a cell... probably from cycling it too deep when using the lappy:rolleyes:. It was a jump starter pack, so the battery was a cranking battery rather than a deep cycle.
So I had a few options:
Buy another jump starter pack
Buy a more appropriate battery (and charger, etc) for the job but keep it portable
Install solar on the obs now
Put power (240V) on to the observatoryI quickly decided the portable battery option was not preferred. It is great to have the scope always set up but shuffling batteries before and after sessions is a pain (how quickly we get lazy!;):P). So I decided to start the solar design.
This is where some tough decisions had to come in. To run the whole obs on solar for the periods of time I wanted it to be capable of (8 hours per night) was becoming problematic. The biggest user is, of course, the laptop. Without that, solar would be quite viable.
So I priced getting the power run out to the obs and it was a fraction of the price especially if I dug the trench myself. So I now have power onto the obs, which will power the laptop directly, but I can now also move the chargers for my power tank and jump starter pack into the observatory so I'm not shuffling batteries.;):thumbsup:
Going solar may still be an option down the track, just to run the scope and dew heaters.
09-05-2009, 04:18 PM
Another update on the development of the obs...
A few months ago I fried my big jump starter pack, which I used to use to power my laptop. That pushed me to put power on the obs to run the lappy and anything else that needs it. That's been a great move since I now have an iPod docking station so can play as much music as I like while I'm observing.:thumbsup:
A couple of weeks ago, I had a few dumb moments in succession resulting in me cooking my other jump starter pack - the one I used to power my dew heaters. So I bit the bullet and installed a deep cycle battery to run the scope and dew heaters.
The battery is a 100AH sealed AGM deep cycle battery (it's something like 96 AH C10, or 108 AH C100). It sits in a new battery box down the back of the power bay (behind the power tank in one of the attached photos). I also made up a power box that includes 3 car cigarette lighter sockets, a battery voltage guage (and momentary action push button) and fuse.
Everything in the power box is recycled from the 2 dead jump start packs, except for the box itself and a BP connector and a few screws.;)
I had a solar battery charger laying around doing nothing so that now provides a trickle charge to the battery (600mA), and I bought a new fully automatic battery charger to maintain the new battery. It is current selectable (2A, 4A or 6A) so depending on how much I've used the battery I can select an appropriate charge rate taking into account when I plan to get back to it to disconnect. I modified the leads on the battery charger so I can use a cigarette lighter plug to charge through the power box (and I can still attach the battery clamps if I want to use it on other batteries).
The solar battery charger leads were thin enough to run over the wall between 2 of the dome support wheels, and fit down the gap between two of the wall panels. A full solar cell would require much heavier cables and either drilling holes through the walls or a conduit in the floor (which is a bit late now:whistle:).
First light for the new power suystem should be tonight!:D
09-05-2009, 06:11 PM
nice work Al LOL i have 3 of those 100 ampers - just never seems quite enough
09-05-2009, 06:31 PM
rofl! Sorry, just that cracked me up. I found this hilarious image on a flickr group, was a photographic assignment on Gary Larson's Far side cartoons. I guess this person is going to have an easy study on equine vet stuff..
09-05-2009, 08:28 PM
Sheeny that observatory is a work of art! Very impressed.
Question, when you open it up to observe, what do you do about the mozzies?! This is a Newcastle question. You probably think of Newcastle as that city on the Hunter that produces 35% of NSW GDP, but there's another more important stat, it has 65% of NSW mozzies. Insect repellant also repels girls and causes cancer probably and premature deterioration of mirror surfaces. I think we need a perfectly transparent glass roof to point our scopes at.
Apart from mozzies you seem to have thought of everything, hope you have clear skies tonight, a bit cloudy here.
09-05-2009, 08:35 PM
Give me a little while, Dave, I'll catch up! :P:lol:
:lol: I can appreciate that... the girls mightn't...:whistle:
Having grown up on the central coast and lived and worked in Newcastle (and Giru in FNQ!:eyepop:) I know all about mozzies... It's jujst another item on the list of reasons why I like it here.;)
I think it's too cold for mozzies here. :):whistle:
28-10-2009, 06:40 PM
Here's a couple of (not so good) shots of the new rig... my C11 and ED80 side by side on the EQ6. (My flash wouldn't play the game - maybe too much contrast between the white of the mount and the black of the obs walls:shrug:)
I finally managed to get it all mounted and balanced this afternoon. Rain stopped play before I could get both scopes optically aligned, so that's the next job:thumbsup:.
I plan to use an Orion XY guide star finder to allow me to leave both scopes "rigidly" mounted and aiming at the same point.
Looking forward to getting back into some imaging. The C11 should go well on the moon and planets to start with, and the ED80 on paper should allow me to improve the resolution of the spectra I capture with the SA from about 34Å with the C8 @ f/6.3 to nearly 20Å:thumbsup:. It will be an interesting experiment to see if I can achieve it.
Not sure what I'll achieve with the C11 and the SA... it depends if I can use the second focuser to achieve a greater back focus and hence greater dispersion:shrug:.
So, I'll soon be playing about learning to guide:)... I think it'll become necessary using the ED80 for spectra even if not capturing DSO's.
Buying the C11 was a bit earlier than I'd planned but when it came up, I decided to grab it;).
Long term the plan is to get something like an SM60 and BF10 for the ED80, maybe a QHY8 for DSO's and ultimately an ST7 and SGS combo (dream:P) but that might all take some time, and depending on opportunities might differ a little bit:P.
I already have all the business for EQMOD, but after an initial play I think I'll leave that on the back burner a while... too much technology for me to sanely sort out in one hit:lol:.
28-10-2009, 07:10 PM
That looks cool Al. Fair bit of weight on the mount with your ED80 as well. Does it take the load easy? I'm asking coz I have a C11 and ED80 too but I never tried to have them both on the G11 at the same time. You should get a dew shield for your C11. I did one out of flute panel and flocked it. The length of the OTA. Keeps the corrector plate nice and dry and increases contrast heaps too. :thumbsup:
28-10-2009, 07:26 PM
Yes, I think it's probably pushing the limits for the EQ6, but I hope not too much. I noticed Richard Omeara had his ED80 piggybacked on the C11 before I bought it - both on his EQ6... so I figure the side by side setup should be a little easier than that.
Before I got the obs, I used to use both a dew shield and dew heater on my C8. Since having the POD, I have found that I haven't needed the dew shield, just the heater... so I've gone that way with the C11 for now:). Hopefully it will be OK, because there's noticably less space around the scopes in the POD now than there was with just the C8. If I have to go to a dew shield as well, that will only get worse:P:lol:.
19-01-2010, 10:39 PM
I thought I'd bump the thread with a star trail shot taken over the POD while in action tonight.:) Would've like to get some longer trails, but I have to work tomorrow:sadeyes: and the camera battery was just about flat whe I finished anyway. Maybe another time...:)
19-01-2010, 10:56 PM
Great stuff, good to see it in action :thumbsup: Looks like you've got a twin brother in the obs ;)
19-01-2010, 10:59 PM
nice shot Al
20-01-2010, 08:33 AM
That's my best Zaphod Beeblebrox impersonation:P.
01-03-2010, 01:10 PM
Just had a good read through your observatory site. Great read and setup. The Pod has one advantage over the Sirius obs and that you certainly get "more sky" for your money. The slit in the Sirius certainly needs your eye on it so that you don't start photographing the dome, but thats something Ill have to get used to. I see David has a mozzie zapper in his dome and it looks like Ill have to do something about it as thre little devils love it in there.
01-03-2010, 03:47 PM
Yeah, that's one of the things I like about the POD. It's a good compromise between a dome and a roll off roof.
ATM I'm investigating the PZT (POD Zenith table) which will allow me to push the dome off the POD by 30" or so to get a clear view of zenith. It wasn't an issue with the C8 and the CG5 mount, but the EQ6 is taller and the dove tail offset from the centre of the RA axis is greater meaning more of the sky around zenith is obscured by the dome. Combine that with the C11 OTA and its a bit limiting without the PZT mod.;)
The other mods that I'm waiting for a clear weekend (and someone to give me a hand with:P) is fitting a solar fan into the dome to keep the temps down.
Mozzies aren't an issue in Oberon. It is not often warm enough for them:). I think I've had one night with mozzies.
01-03-2010, 07:10 PM
You can't get full zenith with these pods Al?
01-03-2010, 07:54 PM
In the standard configuration and the pier mounted centrally, no. A lot of the POD users OS reckon to offset the pier from centre so you can get zenith, but after playing about in CAD I decided it made little difference - some part of the sky will still be obscured near the meridian. If there's part of the sky which doesn't have much of interest to you, then that's the bit to ignore;).
For me it made little difference and as I said, the problem was trivial with the C8 SGT:). However, the PZT mods costs about $700, and allows the you to push the dome up to 30" north or south on those occasions when the zenith obscuration is going to be an issue.;)
It makes it a hybrid between a dome and a roll off roof.:P
01-03-2010, 07:56 PM
The PZT would be a great idea and I saw them advertised a while back. Makes sense if what you want to image is at the zenith or thereabouts.
04-03-2010, 06:47 AM
I just ordered my PZT kit.:D Should be good.
04-03-2010, 05:00 PM
Well done - hope it doesn't take too long to get to you
27-03-2010, 01:08 PM
Well today was the first opportunity in a long time that I've had anyone around to help me lift the dome off the POD for a bit of maintenance and to fit a solar fan.:)
We lifted the dome off and I was going to give it any extra coat of black Fusion paint on the inside to try to keep more IR out during the day, but unfortunately the masking tape I was using decides to peel off in sunshine.:rolleyes: So I flagged away that idea.
I had some Dow Corning 791 to re-caulk the dome, so that was next. I haven't had any problems with leaks from the old caulk (roof and gutter silastic) but it was badly cracked and was very much a compromise when I built the dome. I cleaned up the surface of the dome with a scotch-brite pad to try to get some active molecular ends on the HDPE for the new caulk to bond to.:thumbsup: The old sealant peeled out very easily BTW... it was just sitting there basically.
I also fitted the solar fan I bought a couple of months ago. I cut the 150mm diameter hole in the outside dome shell first with a jig saw, then drilled 54 1/2" holes in the inner dome to provide equivalent open area to the fan grill for ventilation. A full width bed of Dow Corning 791 beneath the fan gasket and held in place with 3 screws.:thumbsup:
27-03-2010, 03:07 PM
Certainly looks the goods mate. Glad everything went well.
Any thoughts on condensing all of this and putting it in the "Projects and Articles" section?
I would imagine that more people in the future will give the SkyShed Pod pretty serious consideration.
Congratulations on the new observatory and on the presentation of the assembly from start to finish.
Very well done.
28-03-2010, 04:17 PM
hi al the pods going well here, ordered a poly cap for mine keep a bit more of the heat out.ive a solar fan and they do well no leaks with it or the pod.did you order the pzt with the next shippment coming over
28-03-2010, 04:30 PM
Yep. I've ordered the PZT:D.
I did record some afternoon inside/outside temps before fitting the fan, so I'll have to continue that now it's in to see how much difference it makes.
29-03-2010, 10:14 AM
Where did you purchase the solar fan from? I've been thinking that I should install something like this in the Tempest Observatory.
Hope that the PZT works out as it looks like an innovative solution to the zenith situation.
29-03-2010, 11:22 AM
29-03-2010, 11:31 AM
You have probably thought of this already, but it wouldnt hurt to have a lower vent open in the floor or down as low as you can when the solar fan is running to be able to provide a cool source of air and circulate the cool air up through the top vent.
I know when I put my whirlybirds on the house, they did pretty much nothing until I put some eaves vents on the shady side of the house and then the temperature differential went from 5 deg lower than ambient to 15 degrees.
Of course, this may not be needed if there is already good airflow from under or through floorboards etc, but I thought I might mention it anyway.
By the way, how do you keep warm if there is no slit and half the pod is open to the sky? Are you able to heat inside (bar heater etc) without causing too many thermal currents?
29-03-2010, 01:20 PM
There's good ventilation between the dome and the walls in the POD:thumbsup:.
Warmth is acquaired the same way as out in the field:P... layers of clothing, freezer suits, etc. Because there is no separate warm room, heating is not on. Too many thermal currents. Having said that, it is naturally far warmer in the POD than without. Radiation loss is less than 50%, there is exscellent shielding from the wind etc. I haven't used a dew shield or a dew heater on full power since I've been in the POD.
03-04-2010, 04:53 PM
just a quick question. I went and bought the same solar fan as yourself and I see that of course the gasket etc is made for a flat surface. How did you accomodate the curve of the Pod?
Or did you just fill it with silicon?
03-04-2010, 06:16 PM
That's pretty much it, Al. There used to be a video tutorial on the Skyshed POD site about how to fit it. It's basically lay down a big pad of sealant before mounting the fan. If you slip the fan i the hole and trace around it you can get a good guide to how big to make the sealant pad.;)
15-04-2010, 07:20 AM
A couple of shots of startrails over the obs while I was doing some processing and IT work inside it last night.:P
The first one has a ghost of my white tee shirt as I'm entering the POD, so I "blacked" that out before stacking the second one.:)
15-04-2010, 08:52 AM
Nice one Al and gives your whole setup a good focus. Whats the skyglow in the left of the photo?
15-04-2010, 09:14 AM
Looks like the camera is facing North West based on the large arc of the stars and therefore the skyglow would be sunset..?
Al, the second one seems to have captured what I think to be an Iridium flare? or some other tumbling satellite stuttering across the frame?
What do you think?
15-04-2010, 04:36 PM
Sunset. I started the run during twilight. It gives me the option of using some early frames if I want to for extra colour (such as the first image:)). Both these images are made from the same set of data, I just dropped some of the earlier frames for the second one to get a darker sky.;)
:thumbsup: Nice work, Detective Chris!
I think its a strobe on a plane. It's very regular, and while a tumbling satellite would also be regular, the angle to the sun would not be and any flat reflective surface would quickly fade. Actually I just checked the individual frames: definitely a plane. There is a fainter strobe beside each bright strobe and a red strobe just offset but always in the same orientation to the other 2. 31 flashes in a 30s exposure and about 5 x 30s exposures to cross the FOV.:D
15-04-2010, 04:42 PM
Ahh, Elementary my dear Sheeny,
Not as I thought, but cool just the same.
16-04-2010, 05:33 PM
I have always wanted to do a shot like these.
I love it....perfect...awesome...beautiful .
23-10-2010, 12:40 PM
I've had the POD Zenith Table (PZT) kit for a few weeks now, but haven't been able to do anything with it until I got some marine ply. I picked that up today:D along with some exterior paint that should match the POD (if my eye is any good:P).
Now all I need is a free weekend of good weather!:P:lol: Unfortunately I don't have enough shed space to make the PZT indoors.
One thing I forgot to get while at Bunnings was a couple of plasterers trowels to modify into handles for the dome so I can pull the dome back on without having to go outside... next time...;)
20-11-2010, 05:36 PM
Well its been an absolutely glorious day here today... perfect day for solar imaging, but I've had other priorities.:D
I installed the POD Zenith Table (PZT) today.:D
I didn't take any pro0gress photos, because I've been head down all day... I don't have the room to be able to assemble the PZT and paint it and install it some other time... so today has been a big day doing it all at once!:P
I've pushed the dome off and pulled it back on... it works a treat!:thumbsup:
20-11-2010, 06:05 PM
Looking Strange there Al, I have not seen that feature before:question:
20-11-2010, 06:11 PM
looks like a breakfast bar Al!! ;)
20-11-2010, 06:52 PM
Yes, I can see it being multifunctional particularly when entertaining.;)
The seat that used to occupy that location beside the POD has had to be relocated to the patio for now, but I can visualise one or more eskies under the PZT, and a smattering of coasters on top... (must get coasters!:lol:) ... probably accompanied by the smell of fried onions and steak...:)
Gardening tools of course are forbidden! ...and snow men are only allowed if no additional snow is imported to the PZT!!!:lol:
If I didn't have the solar panel trickle charging the battery on the north side I would've put it there to provide more shade to the POD walls and bays and help manage temperature, but being on the downhill side and with a garden there the PZT would not be so multifunctional I'm sure.:P
And yes, Ron, I haven't seen anything like the PST on other observatories, but then the POD isn't your usual dome either.;) Now its sort of a hybrid... a push off dome:P.
20-11-2010, 07:06 PM
Looks a bit like a tan jockeys hat, but nevertheless very functional. Glad that it works as advertised. Clear skies from now on.
20-11-2010, 09:19 PM
Thanks Al pictures of the new function when possible Please.:thumbsup:
I am interested to see it in operation, yes it is not your average dome and that's for sure:D
21-11-2010, 05:42 PM
looking good al!!!! was it a big job to do in a day??? i put a pod cover on and its made a big difference in temps....
21-11-2010, 05:50 PM
It was big enough:P... I knew I'd done something for the day!
I had fitted the brackets and removable guide wheels beforehand, and also cut the Ply to size. So all I had to do was cut the pieces for the joining plates, join all the ply, paint both sides, install, trim the inner circle because it was too tight, fit the ramps and edge stops and paint the edge stops...
It needs another coat of paint yet.:)
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