View Full Version here: : Observatory/Dome Build
13-05-2012, 09:20 PM
Been working at this for the better part of 2 years now, and never really got around to sharing progress on the way through, but the project has now reached a reasonable milestone (ie. basically operational), but not the final long-term outcome.
Initially planned as an area for a large roll-off roof shed, the area was prepared with that in mind, and to double as a "man-cave" to some extent.
Progress has been eratic, primarily due to work and finance constraints, so there have been some pretty long gaps without much activity.
4 months ago, an opportunity arose to get a good deal on a Technical Innovations ProDome6 (1.8m) with full automation. Rather than scrap my plans for the shed, i've laid the foundation for the shed for the long term, but have put the dome in place as well as the interim solution.
The following photos are snapshots of the various milestones, and I hope someone finds them vaguely interesting!
13-05-2012, 09:28 PM
So this is the progression of the main area.
The walls were built double thickness, and core filled with concrete, on 450mm wide footings that were 600mm deep.
The walls were complete for about 6 months before I filled it in. Placed plastic all around, aggie drainage through the base, and then topped up with fill from a neighbour who conveniently was digging out their back yard. Topped with about 100-150mm of b-grade crush rock.
Then, this was basically let to settle for the better part of a year.
NOTE: I also ran 2 lengths of conduit at this point for power and data the length of the wall, knowing long term I would be hooking this up to the house.
13-05-2012, 09:36 PM
Then the dome arrived. Actually, 2 of them did. I got a decent price because I bought both. The other one will be up for sale shortly. That kick started the prep work for the pier footing and slab.
First I built the cage that would be inserted in to the footing hole. The threaded rods were purchased from bunnings and welded together with a template that matched my existing steel pier.
The area where the dome would live was marked out. As you can see, the grass and weeds took hold well over the intervening period, and that is post 2 doses of round-up.
13-05-2012, 09:52 PM
So this shows the pier footing build primarily.
The hole is 1400mm deep and 800x800mm square. The threaded rod cage was mounted slightly above the boxing to allow us to trowel underneath, and we got the 0.9 cubic metres of concrete in relatively easy (this was a 40 degree day, and within a week, would not have been able to get a truck up there).
Also dug a trench from the house to the pad area to have 2 runs of conduit, one for power and one for CAT6 ethernet. I had already run conduit under the whole thing before I filled it in (forgot to mention that in the previous post)
Also decided to come out near the corner to put in a sub-board for future use. The run from the house power goes back to the meter on it's own 20A circuit running 6mm thick wire (rather than the standard 2.5). Leaves me some wiggle room should I ever want to run high power equipment in the shed.
13-05-2012, 09:59 PM
So then, ran trench tape and filled that in, and ran the final conduit to the pier footing with 240V and 2 x CAT6 cables.
The levelled out the pad area, removing all the weeds, to a depth of 100mm. Also dug 400mm deep footing holes in the corners (actually some went much deeper) to cater for the longer term shed build.
Then popped on the reo, and tied it all together and popped it up on stand-offs, and then had the concrete delivered (by pump as the total area was going to use 7.4 cubic metres of concrete. Note also the installation of some drains to divert run-off from the hill.
13-05-2012, 10:15 PM
After the concrete dried for a week, some expansion joints were cut (gonna need a few more I'm pretty sure), and then the dome which had been pre-assembled in the garage was dismantled and re-assembled in place.
All the calculations were done about height and position, but needed to be done in-situ for the final positioning. I assembled the dome with the door facing north, but once everything was installed, realised that the centre of the scope axis was offset the other way, and I would not have clear view at the zenith. If I offset the dome, then I had no room to walk in without smashing in to the scope.
At that point, it started to rain, so shut up everything, and hopes that it would be waterproof. The shots show no water ingress, other than around the base which is just going to happen until I bolt down the dome and silicone around the entire base later this week.
Tonight I had to man-handle the dome and spin the base 180 degrees to get the position right, so the door faces south now.
So, all that's left to do is actually have the electrician come and hook in the power to the meter, and put some RJ45 connectors on the CAT6 cable, and then plug all the bits in to the laptop and give it a run. And maybe get some rubber mats for the floor.
I'm also running a remote webcam in there (primarily so I can eyeball what is going on), as I will be running it remotely from inside the house.
The plan, once the equipment has all been bedded in, it to try and use DC3's ACP to automate the entire thing (probably a big ask given the LX200GPS is probably not really the kind of mount you want to do this with), but they designed their software with that in mind many years ago, so it was at least FEASIBLE once upon a time.
Hope someone finds this useful, and if anyone needs any more details of what was done at various stages of the project (if I can remember), then feel free to jump in, and I'll do my best to fill in the gaps.
13-05-2012, 11:01 PM
Decided that I'd show a panoramic shot from the pad area. This was mid-build (ie after the fill and before the long break in the middle!)
The big tree in the east means it's a long wait until stuff becomes visible during the night.
The view to the west is no massive loss, as that's where the city lights make pointing that way a disaster.
And, for the first time, I will be able to point at the SCP and actually not be blocked by a house or some other obstruction!
Dome looks cute out there on that huge slab ;)
Looks great tho. Bet you can't wait for the shed to spread your wings a bit.
One day I'll get to do something like this.
14-05-2012, 12:31 AM
Yes, more than one comment about how lonely it looks. Maybe I'll setup the second dome up there instead of the garage just for laughs. I'll put my EQ6 in there on a tripod!!
The toss up between a full size shed and the above was a tough one. Primarily, in order to do the full shed would have meant waiting a year or two to save up, plus lots of issues with permits etc.
It has already been about 4 years since I was somewhat forced in to my imaging hiatus, and needed to get my feet wet again before making the full commitment. My logic goes that when I can afford to do the shed, it will be time for a major step up in equipment, so this interim solution made some sense to me.
14-05-2012, 09:01 AM
Rob, looks great, but how about the pier for the future shed? Will you have a second one at some point. But now that you have laid the concrete how will you create an isolated new pier?
14-05-2012, 12:16 PM
The pier position is the one and only. I don't intend to have more than one imaging rig in reality. The EQ6 is my "portable" mount, although I've never really used it for various reasons.
Once the shed is in place, the dome will go. It will either be a roll-off roof, or I will mount a larger dome on the top to be able to handle a larger scope.
14-05-2012, 12:33 PM
Nicely done and stylish
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