View Full Version here: : 20' Container Observatory
27-07-2011, 12:34 PM
Well, after years of planning, my wife and I have just taken the plunge and bought a proprty on acres in Arcadia which is about 50km north of Sydney. Her motivation is a tree change (albeit one still within the greater Sydney area) whilst I only had 1 criteria, somewhere to build an obs. OK, 50km out of Sydney doesn't give me pitch black skies but it's bound to be an improvement on my current location which is close to the geographic heart of Sydney.:)
I'm currently investigating the idea of modifying a 20' shipping container as seen in the attached sketchups. The reason being that my brother-in-law owns a business that sells & modifies shipping containers. He seems to think such a project should be pretty straight forward.
My main concern is the heat factor in summer. Shipping containers are notorious for getting very hot inside. I'm hoping that this can be overcome by adequate motorised ventilation, raising it ~30cm off the ground and by using a suitable exterior paint.:question:.
I'd be interested to know if anyone has managed to tackle the issue of an overheating obs?
I'm meeting up with my brother in law on Friday to come up with a design so that work can begin. I'd appreciate any comments / suggestions that anyone may have re such a project.
I'll post updates as this progresses.
27-07-2011, 12:54 PM
Ventilation in sides and a whirler vent on top you could probably even insulate with particl board and sisulation
by the way 20" (inches) is small I assume you meet feet
27-07-2011, 01:04 PM
Feet, Yes:lol:. Thanks for picking that up.
I was considering a 2nd hand refrigerated container (reefer) and removing the refrigeration unit however they cost a lot more and are harder to come by.
Your idea of interior walls with insulation may work well though.
27-07-2011, 01:15 PM
You need to be able to remove hot air build up much like you would from a roof space to make it bearable in the summer months
ventilation slates at ground level and the whirler vent on top would do that
although metal would loose heat rapidly at night
27-07-2011, 02:56 PM
Thanks again Trevor. I like the idea of ventilation in the floor. I'll raise it with my brother-in-law when we're discussing the design details.
27-07-2011, 03:20 PM
You could put in a air con, This would also reduce cool down time on your telescope.
27-07-2011, 05:12 PM
Ok - roof - air space a false roof. Can be sail cloth over battens - just something to keep the direct sun off.
Sides - paint with reflective solar paint (about 40% drop in radiation.
Then buy sheets of styrofoam from an outlet - they're very cheap - 1200 x 2400 x 12mm will cost about 7 dollars - go for about 15mm easy to work and Delta is about max for efficiency. Stick them to the inside and cover with 4mm ply (also less than 10 dollars a sheet.)
Stud adhesive is very efficient.
If you drill holes in the lower area and vent the top, make sure you put some serious rodent gaurd on it.
27-07-2011, 07:16 PM
Do what landrover did with their safari models....put a tropical roof on top of it. Only has to be 6" above the top, and you can get the foam backed colourbond already bonded.
27-07-2011, 07:26 PM
Jenifer, Mark & John. Many thanks for the suggestions. You've raised some interesting ideas.
Yes. I agree that placing a shade cloth just above the roof would act to avoid direct sunlight. I just need to think how to do it without obstructing the sky too much when the roof is rolled back.
I'll also look into internal insulation as suggested. I imagine it wouldn't be difficult to attach during construction.
If all else fails, I can look at a small portable AC unit. I may need to setup a solar power cell or 2 to keep it going.
27-07-2011, 08:52 PM
Interesting idea Matt. The wall heights seem to be a bit restricting though ... most folks have fold-down wall sections or other solutions for viewing lower altitudes.
27-07-2011, 10:13 PM
A/Cs use a lot of power. Solar cells wouldn't handle it.
Be interesting if you can make it work. I think there are some serious barriers there.
Are you planning to mount the scope on the steel floor?
Generally the base needs to be separated from the general floor to isolate it from vibrations. Like a concrete pier set deepish into the ground and separate from the floor. I dug a 1 metre deep hole and its about 800mm square with lots of steel in it and then poured concrete in it and it extends about 100mm above ground. That seems totally stable and no vibration effects.
The main worry would be heat. You don't want to fry your scopes in summer.
When I built my observatory I lined the roof and walls with Aircell Insulbreak insulation. I sprayed it matt black on the inside.
In really hot days I was pleased to find the inside of the observatory to not be that hot. That is despite being colorbond roofing and walls.
The insulation ideas are critical. A couple of whirlybirds with mesh base and a solar powered vent would be good. The foam roof with something on top sounds good advice as well. You can buy colorbond sandwiched foam roofing panels. Much like used in coolrooms. They'd also be rigid and would make it easier to build a roll off roof. Put a 100mm C purlin on top and stitch some of those together and fix some wheels and you got a roll off roof.
28-07-2011, 08:31 AM
Thanks Mike & Greg for your comments & suggestions.
Mike, re the wall heights, this is something I'm going to discuss with the container modders. I have a few ideas, the most desirable (ie expensive) being a dome - perhaps something like this http://www.telescope.org/infopage.php?title=Tenerife_Observa tory but I may be able to get them to design a curved roof to gain some extra OTA elevation. It would at least provide me with a better view of the Eastern & Western horizons.
Greg, I'll be using a 30cm diameter cement pier with a 1 tonne (1 cubic metre) base as per my current pier. I'll have a raised floor in the sectioned off area of the container with a 35cm dia hole in the centre of the floor. This way, when I get the container delivered, the crane will be able to lower it over the pier and onto concrete blocks at each corner of the container (30cm above ground level).
I'll have power running to the obs so I could power an AC unit from there if need be. I would only use this as a last resort if all else fails.
28-07-2011, 05:28 PM
I just bought a Mini cube 6' x 6' container, but for a totally different reason.
One thing you will have is a very secure observatory. The average thief will find it very difficult to get into.
good luck with your project.
hi, a few years ago i converted a 40 ft container into a dwelling on our present weekender farm until we completed the construction of the house, i found out that in winter it cooled down very quickly and needed internal heating and in summer with the doors closed it was an oven. to overcome these issues (and successfully) i carried out the following modifications.
1. installed sliding alluminium windows with fly screens to allow for air flow in summer and keep out the bugs(they love it inside),conversely in winter with the windows shut and a curtain drawn temperature was ok.
2.We carpeted the wooden floor to dampen noise and it was easier to keep the whole interior clean and tidy ...and civilised
3.lined the walls with reflective builders aluminium sheet(buy it by the roll) and then fitted timber battens on the internal walls to which were nailed pine coloured plywood sheets (threeply)which i purchased from Mr plywood
4.12v lighting serviced by solar did the job ,today i would do the same only use leds .In your case combinations of red and white in strips along the walls placed as downlights.
5.the internal roof was lined with 50mm thick styrofoam squares which were cut to fit tightly between the metal battens in the roof,white (pre covered) plywood sheets were then applied as a ceiling also from mr plywood.
6. a small potbellie stove provided all the heat at night as the farm is located in the southern highlands where it gets very cold during winter.
7the external roof was protected from the problem of water pooling(which promotes rust and eventually destroys the container) by installing a false zincaloom roof secured with battens and held fast with wire rigging . the false roof added significant temp controll to the interior of the container as it provided air flow and further insulation.
8.Mr Plywood also provides the skirting boards and cornices that go with the plywood as a seperate item these can also be purchased from Bunnings.they are made of poly material and very easy to install. incidently from memory the plywood sheets are almost the height of the internal height off the container and are joined with a plastic joiner which is the same colour as the skirting board and cornice.
The container is still used to this day by my children and their friends as a bunk house and myspace room and its comfort is excellent. For an observatory i would do all of the above and instead of rolling the roof away from the container and using up valuable space ans dollars i would roll the roof back over the other half of the container all you need in a grinder and a welder to cut open the roof (keep the cut out and re use it with a frame to fabricate a roll on/off.roof
When locked up the great feature of the container is that its dust proof water proof vermin proof and secure.
Excluding the cost of the container and using seconds where possible this should only cost you about $1500.00.
IF MY WIFE HAD NOT PLANTED TWELVE RADIATA PINES AROUND THE BOX I would have converted it to an observatory, but alas this cannot be undone so i house a 16 dob inside it which i roll out on good nights when i get the urge. good luck with your project i can assure you you are on the right track.
i forgot to add that besser bricks placed on concrete slabs raising the container off the ground is a must dont use sleepers they rot and attract white ants. i would also not cut a door into the side as your drawing suggests but rather keep the sealed doors of the container it gives you greater access and of course the other features of security etc.
29-07-2011, 07:26 AM
Looking at the drawings, the available sky looks very restricted,
The side walls are too high.
29-07-2011, 11:07 AM
Taller pier and a false floor ..? :)
29-07-2011, 02:33 PM
2.2 to 2.3 metres is a good wall height for an observatory.
29-07-2011, 05:22 PM
Matt, anything is possible if you put your mind to it.
I agree with Greg about using the insulbreak by Aircell. Good stuff, we use it in the building industry and it does help.
I deliberately did not put any windows in my observatory. Sunlight enters this way and heats up the area faster. Using slots in the floor or wall sides with a whirly bird is a good idea. False floor is going to work for you too. Having a warm room looks like a pleasant idea. Considering an extension to my obs with a warm room too.
Plant nice thick scrubs around the west and east walls too, this helps with creating a micro climate which ultimately keeps the heat out.
Certainly a good use of an very rigid structure and no building necessary. It took me nearly a year to totally complete my observatory, and there is still stuff I would like to do. By taking this approach you will save yourself a lot of construction time.
I like the idea.
29-07-2011, 07:30 PM
Thanks very much to everyone for their comments, suggestions and words of encouragement. I spent this afternoon at my brother-in-law's container yard and with the assistance of his modifications designer we made some good progress.
The main issue with shipping containers (heat dissapation) will be handled by a combination of reflective solarguard paint (white), 50mm foam insulation panels on the roof sections and the installation of a fan assisted whirlybird (which will pull in fresh air from vents in the floor). With this combination, we would hope to maintain sensible internal temperatures. Should that fail, then we still have the option of using a portable AC unit.
The idea of a sliding roof has now been replaced by a hinged design with the 2 halves of the observatory roof working in a clamshell type arangement. The attached partially completed pic shows the basic idea (it's obviously missing the other half of the roof / wall piece). This roof design was chosen for 2 reasons. Firstly, it achieves horizon - horizon views in the Eastern & Western directions (ie, the 2 sides of the container) and more importantly, it will be much cheaper than the original roll off roof design. The drawback is that the lower Nth and Sth altitudes will be obscured. I'll need to figure out the extent to see if this will be acceptable.
The floor of the telescope section will be 600mm higher than the "warm room" with gives plenty of potential storage space below the raised floor. It also gives me ~1800mm of head room when the roof is closed.
Based on Paul's comment regarding windows, I'm happy not to install any in the obs. It will reduce the internal heating and save construction $$$.
I still need to figure out the electrical and data cabling requirements but I don't think that should poose any problems.
I'll post updates as things progress.
29-07-2011, 08:49 PM
Fantastic idea mate, well conceived. I love seeing this sort of ingenuity where people use anything available to them and make the best of it.
In for later!
30-07-2011, 01:33 PM
Its looking good.
How will you open and close the roof section. I would imagine the sections to be rather heavy.
30-07-2011, 02:52 PM
The opening / closing mechanism is still being figured out. There are a couple of options being investigated, the ideal one being a hydraulic setup however I think that will be cost prohibitive. The current thinking is to use a combination of a winch & gas struts.
A lot will depend on the weight of each of the 2 roof sections. If I can lift one of the sections enough to pass the gravitational pivot point, the gas strutts will lower it at a steady rate. I would then winch the roof sections back up to close it (probably with a hand winch). Anyway, I hope to have this sorted out within the next couple of weeks.
The main issue here is that I can't find any other examples of where this has been done before so there will be a fair bit of learning as we go. But that's half of the fun isn't it?
30-07-2011, 09:21 PM
Portable air-con will most likely do any good. I used one in my shed (light coloured mini-orb external cladding over fully insulated stud walls, corrugated fibreglass roof sheeting over fully insulated ceiling, concrete slab floor) and during summer the 3kw portable unit could not cope. I ended up installing an LG 2.2kw in-wall air-con and this is great. For a 20 foot container sitting in the sun, I don't know whether anything short of 15kw would do it. Passive means (shading) along with good ventilation will be your best bet.
31-07-2011, 02:53 PM
Thanks for the info. I think the temperature management issue will be the toughest one to overcome. I'm hoping that the current ventilation plans along with the the 50mm interior insulation and heat reflective paint will do the job.
If I up needing to go with an AC unit, I'm only going to worry about the walled off end section where the important stuff will live. It will occupy a space of ~14 sqm. From what I can make out, I would need about 10,000 BTU per hour to keep the temp at an acceptable level (say, below 35 deg c on a hot summers day).
There are portable units out there that go up to 15,000 BTU but I guess we'll just have to wait & see how it all works out.
01-08-2011, 10:44 AM
Not knowing your site but I would think the Nth/Sth polar axis direction is the most important one. Everything will eventually revolve above you.
Could you not turn the container 90 degrees to give you best horizons in that axis ?
My own plan gives me Nth to 40 degrees and South to about 25 degree. East is almost 90 degrees, (CBD LP anyway ) and West is about 40 degrees but irregular. My most important view is South to the SCP so I have this 'slice' of sky which varies from about 60 degrees to about 120 degrees in this sweep across the heavens.
Just a suggestion.
01-08-2011, 01:51 PM
What you say makes very good sense (thanks) and is something that I've been considering. I'm lucky to be in a position where I have the flexability of orienting the container either N-S or E-W. The views to the South will be unimpeded so imaging close to the horizon would be a possability. The EW horizons are blocked by trees but I need to wait until I move (end of August) before I work out the relative horizon altitudes. My current thinking however is that I'll take your advise.
01-08-2011, 03:03 PM
I am suitably envious of your impending journey :thumbsup:
I put a lot of thought into using a container on the property I have used over the last two years and because I wasn't the owner thought a modified shipping container that could be easily removed as a uint was worth cosideration.
I considered quite a few options in the design but had I gone ahead I was planning to have the half of the roof over the elevated observing area simply slide back over the warm room half. This would have just required two angle channels running the full length of the two sides of the container roof, some castors on the moving half and a skirt to protect the sides. I was planning on simply putting handles on the edge of the sliding section so I could just pull it open and closed by sliding it out of the road and back again - simple..? This would have kept the container foot print from growing too and negate the need for outriggers.
Depending on the size of the observing area I was imagining a whirly bird on the unopned end just out of teh way of the fully opened roof.
A container has big doors too that can be opened to let heat escape very fast before you start.
The other option I was considering was cutting a circlular hole over the observing area and wacking a 2.3m Sirius dome over it - that would work too and prevent dew during the session so nothing ever gets wet - dew is something I hate.
Good luck with your progress and who knows your experiences may just spark me to venture down the same thought road again :thumbsup:
01-08-2011, 08:13 PM
I am suitably nervous about my impending journey :prey2:
Portability is one of the big benefits of using a container. You can get it built to your spec's in the workshop and then transported to your ideal location. The other big benefit is that you don't need council approval to have a container sitting on your property as they are classed as temporary structures by many councils.
I was originally considering the same thing but my concern was that this would restrict access to the horizon over the warm room of the conatiner. I'm not really sure how valid a concern this is though.
The other thing I need to consider is the complexity (ie cost) of the end design. According to the container modders, the current fold out roof design is far simpler to construct than a rolling roof design.
Mmmmmm 2.3M Sirius dome :D. Now that would be nice.
Who knows. Maybe Container Observatory version 2 will come with that nice feature:).
02-08-2011, 08:42 AM
Got it figured out for you Matt. It's bloody obvious !! :D Just face the big end doors of the container ... South !! Open them wide and enjoy the view, right down to grass level.
If you put in a false floor you just need to build some stairs up and over the platform to the very secure warm room at the north end.
Stairs could be mounted onto one door and swing out from under the false floor to be available. 600 mm is only 2 or 3 treads.
It would also btw minimise your north facing wall to reduce solar heating a bit.
And I think the half roof on rails (Mikes idea) makes good sense as well. False floor should also get you above the north roof view restriction.
Are you going to run the pier down into the ground through a hole in the floor or have you another idea ?
I am beginning to think of re-orientating my shed ob for similar reasons, that lower southerly view. And I may not have to cut down my old orange tree which fruits so well. :thumbsup:
03-08-2011, 08:19 PM
I'm not sure how your suggestion would work as you would still need a very solid permanent structure above the end doors to hinge them on. I still think I prefer your first suggestion (sounds much easier and I think it would work well;)).
Yes, I am definately sinking the base of my pier well into the ground (1 cubic metre seems to be the recommendation). I'll fill a peice of 300mm formatube with cement to make the pier itsself. The obs will have a big hole in the lower & raised floors for the pier to poke through & I'll ensure it's fully isolated from the container structure.
Good luck with the reorientation of your obs & the preservation of your orange tree:).
04-08-2011, 12:41 PM
Matt, The container has two big doors at one end, hinged at either side, ..correct ?
Face that end South with your pier also at that end and have it high enough (tall pier) to give sight above the East/West walls and the North roof line. Build a platform maybe 600-800 high inside around the pier for access to the scope.
Open the doors, latch them back, look south at your leisure.
I'll do ya a picture later if it helps.
You've got to be creative in your solutions, having a site for a container just opens up the possibilities.
15-08-2011, 09:09 AM
I'm surprised that you're contemplating placing a sea cargo container on your property. Over here where I am located the county wide zoning laws and ordinances make that a risky proposition. You can get heavily fined for doing it.
16-08-2011, 09:26 AM
I've never understood these styles of observatories. You can only look straight up. What happens if you want to look at something else in the other 160deg of sky you cant access from the obs?
16-08-2011, 09:50 AM
It's all a matter of balancing telescope and wall height. Get the scope up high enough to give good views over the walls but low enough to get out of the wind and lower LP. Anything below about 25 degrees is in the soup anyway and not worth viewing. That still gives you 130 degrees of sky in all directions if you plan and site it right.
With good North South horizons and if you are patient everything will pass overhead at some time of the year. That will be my situation, Eastern and Western Horizons are pretty bad, North is not great but I have good Southern skies and that is where it is all happening as far as I am concerned.
Sometimes you have to make the best of a bad situation and I know of worse.
16-08-2011, 10:14 AM
Yeah i can see that. It was just from where I'm sitting it does not look like your going to be able to see anything other than straight up. Which is pointless lol.
16-08-2011, 11:09 AM
I suspect that what you are looking at are concept drawings, not plans. As I mentioned earlier, false floors, pier height etc are all yet to be decided when and if the project goes ahead.
Have faith young padawan and all will be revealed.
I'm a little bit surprised too - but good luck to you if you proceed.
How difficult is it to cut neat holes in these things?
I think a container would be ideal for secure storage. When you start talking about turning it into an obervatory I can see a few potential issues and some inevitable compromises.
17-08-2011, 09:24 PM
FWIW re heat problems, I used an old refrigerated container for wine making and storage. Painted the roof white, the local fridge mech took out the compressor unit (and paid for it) and I put in the smallest room aircon available. It stayed at 18C through summer and needed very little power. Would be a good solution if you can get hold of one - and if the local council is relaxed about it. regards Ray
17-08-2011, 09:43 PM
G'day Mtodman (Matt)
you can buy brick vents (screened for insects) at the big "B" or elsewhere and install then at floor level and at roof level in the container.
this will give a natural air flow through the Obs.
Refrigeration (foam insert) panels on the north and west sides with an air gap as well as the roof with air gap :thumbsup:
a raised shade cloth on the roof (4" min) WILL reduce
the internal temps to up to 5C below to Ambient or Hot Summer days
without power assist !!
Oh.. and cut out a drop down section for the North wall (for M33in Nov.)
Dennis at Leyburn has made a pretty good warm room and roll off cover from a shipping container. Mark Bolton might be able to hook you up with him if you wanted to hook up with him.....
04-01-2013, 09:04 PM
Well, after a long hiatus, things are now full steam ahead with the container observatory. As with many things in life, what started out as a modest(ish) idea has since grown somewhat.
I had in mind partitioning a 20' container into an observatory area (with roll-off roof) and a separate partitioned office area. What I am ending up with resembles more of a small house than an amateur observatory which is comprised of 2 x 20' containers + a 10' container with a 2.3M Sirius dome (see plans attached).
Cooling will initially be achieved via 50mm high density foam panels throughout and the office area will be covered by a shallow pitched colourbond roof. If that's not enough, I'll look at adding a couple of whirlygigs later on.
All going well, it should be ready for delivery in early Feb which should give me plenty of time to finish the pier base and cement foundations.
05-01-2013, 12:45 PM
Bloody Hell ! You got a bit carried away there didn't you ? I had recently wondered if this was still a going project. Apparently yes !
Keep us posted please, I'd be interested as to how the temperature control system works out. You guys have been having some pretty ridiculous Celsius numbers over there lately.
05-01-2013, 03:30 PM
Ditto what Brent said. my 1st thoughts were how will you relocated it. Is it moduler? I hope you've got plenty of room for the trucks to manuver.:)
i think the veranda is a great addition. Hope the rest of the build goes smoothly.
05-01-2013, 05:13 PM
I guess it's a bit over the top but I figure that every man needs a "man cave":thumbsup:. Yep, the temperature will be something I keep a close eye on. My father-in-law who owns the company that's building the obs is confident that the panelling and roof should do the job though. I guess only time will tell.
The 3 sections are essentially bolted together and completely modular. They will be transported on a couple of flat bed trucks and reassembled. Yep, plenty of space for the trucks to get in. The obs will be located behind our horse padock so manuvering shouldn't be an issue.
I'm certainly looking forward to relaxing on the veranda on a clear night:).
I am currently working on updating my website to include a section on the obs construction. The progress can be tracked here:
05-01-2013, 06:36 PM
Awesome Matt!! Love it....and very jealous :thumbsup:
Will be quite a change from this http://www.astroromp.com/astronomy/Imaing%20Setup%20005b.jpg
Where are you located by the way, having horse paddocks sounds rather rural.
05-01-2013, 08:56 PM
Hi there Mike.
Yes, it will be a big change from the old setup. It served me well for a few years back at my previous address (West Pennant Hills in the Nth West of Sydney). We moved house about 18 months ago to acres in Arcadia which is just west of Berowra in the northern outskirts of Sydney. Being able to have a setup like this was one of my motivations for moving so I'l really happy that it's finally happening.
09-01-2013, 08:08 PM
This thing is a metal workers dream. I think I would have put the ladder and gate off to one side rather than in the middle. The way it is now, it looks like you'll be walking directly into your OTA as you ascend the ladder. No doubt looks are deceiving.
09-01-2013, 08:55 PM
Holy Smokes Matt!
That's no Container Obs, it's a small city!
I especially like the Anti-Gravity system that is holding up the Obs room in the third pic. Seeing it float off the floor like that is quite astonishing....;)
09-01-2013, 09:29 PM
Matt, your profile needs updating. It still has you at WPH.
09-01-2013, 10:07 PM
Gidday Matt. The company I'm currently placed at builds water treatment plants. Some of the smaller ones are "semi permanent or relocatable installations" so are housed in either 20 or 40 foot containers. Generally they line the inside with white 10mm PVC sheet fixed to SHS battens welded to the inside walls and ceiling. They also put rubber on the floor and paint the outside a light colour (unless the client specifies otherwise). They overcome the internal heat issues by using airconditioners and door vents. I think they have a formula for working out the size & quantity of AC's required. That's not part of the scope of my work so I'm not 100% sure.
The containers have filtration, RO, pumps, electrical enclosures & other assorted equipment so there's a lot of latent heat on top of the heat of the environment they're located in. The containers are usually placed on 200mm high concrete sleepers on a prepared bed.
I've also thought of using a 20 footer as an obs. Interesting to see what others come up with here.
10-01-2013, 10:32 AM
flolinmod, I originally planned to have the ladder off to one side however I ended up placing it in the centre because it would be in-line with the pier rising through the floor. I'm planning to design slide out storage or a slide out bed in the section below the raised floor, so either side of the pier needed to be clear. I'm not too concerned about bumping into the OTA. I will be able to climb up either side of it without too many problems but as you say, I guess only time will tell if I got it wrong:rolleyes:.
Chris, I like it as well :). I was initially a bit skeptical that it would work but after taking a good look at it, it's as solid as a rock.
Andrew, thanks for letting me know. I took a look in my profile and couldn't find any mention of WPH so I guess you were referring to my lat & long co-ords which I have now updated.
Hi Stew, it's surprising what's being done with shipping containers now. I have heard of them being lined with a thick rubber bladder and used as underground water tanks. I had originally wanted to paint the whole thing white but it's an argument with "the approver" that I lost. It's going be be cottage green instead.
The whole unit will sit on cement piers with plenty of air space below so I could also place some form of ventilation slots in the floor.
An small AC unit is certainly an option if all else fails but I have a few more ideas to try (fan forced vents, etc) before I go down that track.
10-01-2013, 11:24 PM
Just buy a Reefer container fully insulated ready to go
10-01-2013, 11:51 PM
TLDR all of it however my input is heat waves at night coming off the metal will interfere with your viewing pleasure. Sure the roof comes off but there will be a lot of heat loss into the surrounding air space at night from the container.
11-01-2013, 07:27 AM
Did consider this however adding the 50mm insulation panels is essentially achieving the same results. Modding a standard container is also much easier then working with a reefer (cabling, welding, etc).
I had considered this. I'm hoping that the separate colorbond roof will prevent the containers heating up. I will also plant bushes around the Obs to try and keep the direct sunlight off the containers. If it's still a problem I guess I could use highly reflective (heat resistant) paint.
11-01-2013, 08:23 AM
I like the seperate raised roof with the air gap it's a great cooling option :thumbsup:
Also seperate shadecloth walls work really well in keeping the sun off the North & West walls :thumbsup:
Air vents at floor level is a good option as well.....
20-01-2013, 06:40 PM
Things are progressing well with the container observatory.
Last weekend I finished pouring the cement 6 piers that the 2 I beams will sit on to support the overall structure and I have also poured the pier base itsself (2 tonnes). I will pour the main pier (300mm diameter formatube) once the observatory is in place as there will be little margin for error with it's location rising through the container floor.
This weekend I have just finished excavating the hill on which the observatory will sit.
The I beams get sent off to be galvanised tomorrow (will take 10 days or so) and the observatory is currently getting electrical and data cables & fittings installed.
All going well, it should arrive on site in another 2-3 weeks.
01-03-2013, 05:07 PM
Things have been progressing a little slower than planned due to a few factors, the main one being the crazy weather we have been having around Sydney over the last month or so. My back padock (behind which the observatory will be located) has been too muddy to get any trucks in to deliver the I-Beams. We're shooting for this to happen next Thursday but we'll just have to wait and see if the weather co-operates. The observatory itsself is nearing completion as can be seen in the attached photos. The painting has been finished and the insulation is mostly done. Internal walls are also pretty well completed. With a bit of luck, in 3-4 weeks I'll be enjoying clear Autumn nights in teh comfort of me new man cave:).
Looks like you are building a block of flats.... looks great, will double as a storm shelter too... There is a fellow building a house out of shipping containers near me, 3 stories and all.....
02-03-2013, 02:21 PM
Wow what a solid setup :eyepop: Will be interesting to see the finished product, all the best with it :thumbsup:
03-03-2013, 04:05 PM
Thats mint lol and bomb proof haha. Great work, how much did the shipping container set you back?
06-03-2013, 04:07 PM
The shipping containers cost a lot less than they should have (my father-in-law owns the shipping container business). Normally the 2nd hand 10' containers go for $1,000 - $2,000 and the 20' containers go for $2,000 - $3,000. Modding is where the big cost comes in. Lots of labour.
19-03-2013, 12:51 PM
Woohoo!!! After a loooooong time in the planning & a few delays with construction, the observatory has finally been delivered and I simply couldn't be happier with the (almost) finished product. The I-Beams were delivered and dynabolted into the cement foundations a few days ahead of the observatory itsself which arrived last Friday. I spent the weekend fitting the colourbond roof and attaching the dome.
I still have quote a few things to do before it's ready to rock (Guttering, cement pier, carpeting, furnishings, power & data from house to obs, internal painting) but I can take my time over the coming weeks. Hopefully all will be up & running by the end of April.
I will post more pics as things progress.
19-03-2013, 02:43 PM
Gotta be happy with that!
20-03-2013, 02:46 PM
That has just got to be bombproof !!
25-03-2013, 01:07 AM
Thats brilliant, gotta luv it when a plan comes together :work:
25-03-2013, 04:44 PM
Thanks Guys. Yes, this one has been a very long time in the planning (about 2 years). Well worth the wait though :).
I have just spent the weekend working on the dome.
Bolted the dome onto the obs.
Fitted the dome motor.
Installed the stairs.
Still got plenty to do though. Will post more pics shortly.
15-04-2013, 08:39 PM
I've been busy over the past few weekends making progress on the observatory (and largely neglecting my other household chores). Since the last update i've:
Poured the cement portion of the pier (the top metal section is currently being fabricated)
Installed the roof guttering (still need to fit the downpipes)
constructed the fly screens for the windows
Improved the seal of the dome to the observatory after a few small leakes were found after heavy rain
The metal pier will be ready by the end of this week (touch wood).
15-05-2013, 04:34 PM
I finally managed to find some time to post the latest pics of the container obs. The pier is now pretty well finished (could do with another coat of paint). I also need to fabricate a new aluminium top plat to sit square with the top of the metal pier. The old one is out by 45 deg.
I have carpeted & furnished the office area but still need to carpet under the telescope room. Still not sure what I will use to cover the floor in the raised telescope room though. Possibly rubber matting??
I've run temporary power to the obs until I can afford the time & $$$ to dig a 90M trench and lay power & data cable. Looks like I may need to invest in a WiFi repeater though as I can only just pick up a faint signal from my house which drops out regularly. The other option may be IP over power line. I will post a message in the computer / IT forum to see if anyone else has experience / advise in these areas.
We have a winner! I've paid to stay in less well appointed units.... is that a sink in your observatory??
15-05-2013, 05:34 PM
That is one posh observatory!
15-05-2013, 05:43 PM
That's a tall pier, looks pretty solid, how is the dampening?
15-05-2013, 05:59 PM
All I can say is WOW!!!!!!
What a great job you have done.
15-05-2013, 06:04 PM
Very classy, probably one of the most comfortable looking obs I've seen :)
15-05-2013, 06:32 PM
What a cool setup. Kitchen sink, bed (fold out lounge?), flat screen tv and storage. Just a small suggestion. I would put up a set of heavy curtains in front of the entrance to the scope area. Make sure the drapes go all the way to the ground and even drag. That will prevent the heat and light from leaking into that area.
All up though it is a dream observatory and a nice celestial cubby house.
Just amazing. What a boy cave!
Now that's what a call a "warm room" for monitoring the action from!!
15-05-2013, 10:21 PM
Awesome ! damn !!!
16-05-2013, 10:19 AM
Thanks all for the kind words gents. I feel extreemely fortunate to be able to own such a great "boy cave". I owe a lot of people a great deal of gratidude.
Yes. It even comes with a kitchen sink :). I still need to do the plumbing. I'm looking at a 2.5kl water tank which I will place under the obs and I'll run a small water pump.
Mike, I've done some preliminary testing on the pier dampening and it looks to be fine. The bottom half of the pier is 300mm diameter concrete which has a ~1.5 tonne base sunk down to bed rock. The top portion of the pier is metal. It's based on 175mm square tubing with 2 stabilisation plates welded onto each of the 4 sides (ie, 8 in total). The metal pier weighs about 150kg (was fun lifting it into position).
Paul, I will certainly take your advise re the curtains. Actually, I have already bought the curtain material but I will also get some heave backing material to make sure minimal light escapes outside the warm room.
16-05-2013, 05:05 PM
Sounds like you have it licked :thumbsup:...I could have perhaps helped you a decade ago (http://www.pbase.com/strongmanmike2002/image/68940105/original) :D ...now? phist! No chance :rolleyes: :lol:
Fabulous looking observatory mate, maaaajor jealousy out here I think! :lol:
16-05-2013, 05:06 PM
Totally awesome. Very jealous.
16-05-2013, 07:05 PM
This looks very comfortable and cozy - well done!
17-05-2013, 09:32 AM
Next time I'm over in Aus I'll know where to stay, do you take pre bookings ?
Bloody nice one, makes my tin shed look like a .... tin shed.
Hi Matt, they has to be one of the most awesome Obs I have seen in a long while.
Well done on a fantastic build.
17-05-2013, 12:50 PM
Fabulously kitted out Matt. One could live in there.
17-05-2013, 01:44 PM
Excellent Matt! The Matt cave. :thumbsup:
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