After a hiatus of 6 months or so I've gone ahead and ordered the tin shed for my Observatory build. Made the decision after three glorious clear nights of which I managed to view on only one of them.
Monday night I set up on the driveway to attempt to get guiding working and test my mod to get the DSLR to focal point ( fail again !! ). Stunning night and although both projects failed to deliver I even managed to find Sombrero over the city and run the DSLR through a small telephoto mounted on top of the truss cage.
Tuesday night also promised to be an exceptional night but my wife is going through a job change and we spent most of the evening discussing options and scenarios. She went to bed about 9 pm, too late for me to setup.
Wednesday also was a stunner but again similar family committments at home put an end to any viewing possibilities. Again my wife went to bed about 9 pm.
When she went to bed I got onto TradeMe and bought the tin shed. My biggest problem is as others have, the time to setup before any viewing etc can be done. Had I got an Ob up and running, at 9 pm I could be quite happy to wander out and kickstart it and do a couple of hours out there. I don't sleep before about 11 pm.
I have a novel roof shift design posted in an earlier thread which should make for quite a cheap ( comparatively) build and I will document and discuss it on here for anyone looking for ideas.
So 'SkySlab' is officially under way ( and having publicly posted it here I better get on with it ).
I pick up the kitset on the weekend. It is 2.7 x 1.8 meter with a flat sloping roof and cost $390 NZ. It will sit on my already built platform based around the 'Sewer Pipe' pier out on the 4 x 4 meter concrete slab in my backyard. Probably needs about $200 of timber to strengthen and frame the structure. Look out Bunnings, here I come again.
Any encouragement and swift kicks in the derriere to keep me on task are appreciated.
Ok, progress with pictures.
Picked up the jigsaw puzzle shed, it just fit in the back of the wagon with the rear door not quite closed.
It had instructions ... They were in Chinglish ... and small diagrams and writing ....
Pulled the pack out on the lawn and figured out which piece went with each other, Glad I've got a bg lawn.
My design is for a roof that swivels 90 degrees on a pivot at one side. That means the roof needs to be quite robust. This shed relied heavily on the structure being all screwed together and the roof was integral to it's rigidity, This roof was like tinfoil !!
I had already figured I was going to frame the roof regardless but in this case I had to do it before I could even pick it up off the lawn ! I am beginning to think the coat of paint is thicker than the metal !!
So I got all the panels together and managed to stow them up 'on site' and off the lawn.
Thats probably as far as it's going to get for at least a week. We've just gone off daylight saving so the evening light is now reduced and there is a weather bomb heading our way from up in the Pacific that is due to hit over next Easter weekend unless it fizzes out. I've left it all as secured as I can with bungies restraining the panels from wind effects hopefully.
Lesson so far ... READ the instructions even if they are tiny chinglish ones so you don't miss out parts or use the wrong ones in the wrong places. I only made one easily fixable mistake and the parts I got left and right crossed over were interchangeable anyway.
Heres a few pix anyway. The more important ones will come when I start assembly, strengthening critical parts and the roof pivot area.
Easter weekend was supposed to be a weather bomb but we had a belated summer instead. So much progress made.
I won't bore with how to assemble a cheap chinese tin shed. Suffice to say they are very frustrating and need about 4 people which I didn't have. Fortunately though, I was building within an enclosed area, the Slab is fenced so with a little bit of bracing and a lot of swearing I erected the shed on it's platform around the pier.
The fenced area is also good as it protects the shed from most of the weather from all sides otherwise I'd probably be building something a lot stronger.
Then I strengthened the upper roof lines as in the original construction the roof is the brace. (Told you it was cheap !! ).
The blue plastic is the underneath damp barrier and once the shed was up I nailed down a batten inside the wall edges, ran the plastic up and over it and under the shed base. This stops water coming in underneath the walls from outside. On top of this went a thin customwood base then the carpet tile offcuts ( free from works big upgrade ).
I then ran a 150 x 25 across the roof line 600 mm from the west wall. This is the pivot point for the roof swing. I then added two cross boards to the roof as supports.
I need to get in there with a caulking gun and seal some corners and edges plus the door needs some modifications to stop water blowing through.
There is also a pole (temporary) to support the roof overhang when it is turned to the open position. This will get a proper brace when I finalise the build.
Obviously more sealing work to be done, I have some bigger corner braces to really stabilise the roof line and some fitting out to complete but 'SkySlab' has become a reality finally.
I also managed to recurtain our bedroom, build the bigger goldfish pond in the garden and sort out the weeds in another area. You don't need photos of those though but it certainly made my better half happy. She even carried some timber for me from Bunnings ...
Total cost so far $390 for the shed, $24.00 for the timber, $10.00 for the blue plastic sheet. The rest is stuff I already had or got for free.
Plus about 150 spire screws, maybe $20 and some sticking plaster for a few wee cuts.
Last edited by ZeroID; 09-04-2012 at 07:03 PM.
Reason: Costings added
Looks great Brent,
In the pic with the pier, is that a steel rail from a server rack mount kit?
Is the shed bolted to the floor?
A Prize to that man, well spotted sir !!!
Could not get along enough piece of wood for the back wall so had to do some creative splicing. Strongest piece of junk steel I had lying around.
There are internal clips which fit over the bottom edge of the shed walls and hold it all down. I also have to do some mods to ensure the roof does not lift as currently it is only really secured at the pivot bolt. A few hook and eyes will probably suffice. Temporarily there is a steel bracket hooked over the roof frame and secured to an internal brace.
The carpet tiles are rubber backed and impervous to water etc. Nice if I drop anything fragile as well. Quite pleased I had enough offcuts to cover the entire floor area.
No real progress this last week, work etc. Replaced some corner braces to strengthen the frame. Few more to go. But it rained heavily one night, wind blew etc and I'm pleased to announce it all stayed dry inside. A very important result IMHO.
We're unfortunately away this coming weekend so won't be much done for a couple of weeks I guess.
I moved computers, power supplies, lights and cabling up to the Ob yesterday.
First problem, both computers failed .... no reason I could discern but the desktop and the laptop failed at bootup. Shheeshh!
Grabbed another couple of laptops and finally got some sort of system going.
I had loaded the little 114 newt and the guide scope to make first tests easier and I need to mod SK II a bit yet for DSLR Focus.
Aligned scope with finder and guide scope for later on.
Amazingly weather held and when it got dark I went out and fired up all the electrics. One problem with tin sheds, if you bump into walls etc they are noisy !! Moved the roof back on it's pivot. Needs some refinements but it works !!
I had also upgraded the Hand controller on the mount to 3.27. Started doing a first alignment check. Complete disaster, it is all over the place !
Checked location settings, time etc etc and can find no error so some detective work needed there. My SCP E\W seems way out as well so some more work in that department.
But I'm happy. It will work eventually and in the meantime I have plenty to keep me amused and busy. I'll take a couple of pix when I get organised better, I've used about 5 meters of Velcro securing wires and stuff and replaced a few brackets to keep it all straight.
The beauty was that I could walk outside at 8:30, push the roof back, work for an hour or so then close the roof and shutdown then go back inside without being exhausted shifting it all around.
Got another SATA drive for the desktop, I think the HD was a bit ancient and didn't survive the bumpy trip over the lawn to it's new home. Should have carried it instead of wheeling it along in the cabinet I am using as a desk base. Lets me upgrade a bit as well.
More concerned about the hand controller being 'lost in space'. Hopefully get a chance this weekend to play with it.
Been slow but some progress has been made.
We've had some inclement weather which has been useful to iron out any leak problems, none so far but I've made seal strips for the door to prevent wind forced entry there.
I had an old kids home school desk, MDF kitset, 600 deep & 900 wide. Now pushed into the corner to handle all the PCs and power supplies etc. Ran all the wiring to the mount in a convenient groove under all the carpet so I don't trip over it at night. ST4 cabling, 12 v and 5 v plus USB connections and powered hub.
I have built one new desktop PC and got the bits for another. Both reasonably grunty for guiding and photography later on except the first one has been pressed into use as my home PC as that has gone BSOD on me. Time to replace anyway, I'll track down a Win7 super PC for inside so I can get the homebuilt special out into the shed.
I also have a low 2 drawer filing cabinet on wheels that doubles as a seat to the desk while providing some much needed storage.
I pulled the scope to bits around the mirror cage area to shift the focal point up for the camera. Looks like the mirror needs a good wash. All sorts of sticky stuff and weird markings. Just hoping none of them have corroded the mirror reflective surface, it is supposedly protected by a silicon layer. We'll find out just how good that is tonight.
I will get some pix up soon now that it is looking a bit like the business. Just need some decent weather so can get the roof open and the ladder up to look down inside.
Last night was a clear cold 4 degrees, windless and the wife had gone off to her nightclass. So powered up SkySlab seriously for the first time. Still only got the little blue newt on the mount but SK II is nearly modded.
But the real objective was to get the mount SCP aligned and stable. Did some primary star alignments to see how far out it was ( heaps !! ) and then put in the illuminated ret EP and started. Three & a half hours later I was finally getting 2-3 mins without discernible drift in the grid. So getting close, sort of.
Even the roof worked better, sliding surfaces are getting smooth and will only improve when I build on the support outrigger.
Couple of pix showing internal setup, just one 900 wide desk in the far left corner which will hold almost everything out of the way. Power supply, PC's and power, data distribution components . My rolling seat\filing (EP) cabinet is hidden behind the left wall, just visble in the second shot. I seem to have enough convenient storage.
And a pic looking down into the ob from above so you can see how the roof swings out of the way. It pivots at the right side just above the black curtain that sheilds the computer screens. Nice benefit, you get a bit of roof to shelter under away from the worst of the dew fall and sky chill.
It is quite small and it will get more cramped with SK II mounted up but I am pleased with the ease which I can be up and going. Previously I would be dragging gear out from the moment I got home, much to my wifes annoyance but now its swing away and power up.
When wife got home I even scored a hot chocolate and she came out for a look see.
Had a 'home' day today, head cold etc so having got SKII setup for the DSLR the other night thought what the keck, just go for it.
So SKII is now mounted on the mount on the pier in the Ob. Tidied up the red lighting setup, still need a small white light for tidy up at evening end. Powered up the mount and checked clearance to walls etc. So I can now show a few pics of the nearly completed setup.
First is SKII loaded up in 'parked' position, roof closed.
Second is Astrodesk with computer, laptop, power supply and all the connections etc on the side. Notice the red rope light under the upper shelf of the desk for keyboard and note pad lighting.
Last is roof open looking down into the Ob. Far left corner is my low rolling filing cabinet which doubles as a desk seat.
And tested my Solar filter for Wednesday, now I can see sunspots !! Real Cool !!
Looks great Brent , good to see it all up and running
If I may make a suggestion, you should put all your power boards and
plugs in a weather proof box . With dew , condensation and moisture
combined with an all steel shed you run the possible risk of a short or
electrocution. I may be paranoid but its better to be safe, I used all weatherpoof switches , lights and power board protector in mine just to be
on the safe side.
Nup, pretty safe. The shed floor is off the ground by about 300 mm ( and isolated from the pier ) The floor is sealed and carpeted and all power connections are up above the floor anyway mounted to the desk side. If it is raining or nasty outside there is no power, shed is disconnected completely and I won't be using it. It's also on a RCD when in use. And so far in all the wild wet stuff we'd had there are no leaks anywhere and it is in a very protected place with it's own tin fence on all sides. Any roof water just splashes down to the concrete slab below and runs away downhill, no chance of flooding ever. The house would be underwater and for that to happen it means Noahs Ark would be floating by at the same time.