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Old 09-03-2012, 09:22 AM
LostBoyNZ (Graham Parker)
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My own little New Zealand Observatory

Having a large shed already here, which used to contain chickens, I'm planning on turning part of it into something much cooler, a little observatory for my telescope (Meade 8" LX200).

Looking at doing astrophotography, I've been reading a lot about piers, but still can't decide to go concrete or steel. There's already a concrete floor (although not hugely thick) in the shed, but it seems that'll have to be partly removed to build a solid concrete base no matter which style of pier I choose. I have the Mitty Euro wedge to attach on top of the pier.

Plans are for the pier will be 1m high at the moment, and given the height of the walls, it seems at worst I'll be able to see as low as 30 degrees on most sides. I'd love more, but being very new to all this, it's already quite complicated. Hmm.

Being not far from the house and with an ethernet-over-power adapter, I'm looking at controlling a little computer out there from inside the house. Being away from the telescope during photography seems ideal; warmer indoors, less vibrations than if I moved around the scope, and I can ensure there's no lights on around the scope (which in this area, would attract moths).

I remember reading online about modding the Meade scopes so the wires don't get tangled as it turns, which will be essential if I'm gonna leave the scope on its own.

Anyways, having enjoyed other people's threads, I thought I'd create my own showing the progress of construction Plus being a newbie, if anyone thinks I'm making any mistakes, they might be nice and point them out before I do, hahaha.

1/6th of this shed will become the telescope observatory (the part with the blue tarp hanging inside on the first photo here).

(EDIT: I'm not sure why the images below don't appear as they do when I preview this thread, doh!)

http://img.acianetmedia.com/i/rWJp7.jpg

http://img.acianetmedia.com/i/5OSaV.jpg

http://img.acianetmedia.com/i/fvWHO.jpg

http://img.acianetmedia.com/i/RLjM9.jpg

http://img.acianetmedia.com/i/vjyw.jpg
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  #2  
Old 09-03-2012, 11:48 AM
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ZeroID (Brent)
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Hi Graham, looks like you've got a bit of work cut out for you. I am also attaching my pier down to a concrete slab but I'm building a false floor so I can walk around the pier without disturbingi t and I can set the height to maximise my horizon limits.
You probably don't want to see too much below 30 Degrees due to atmospheric distortion but the SCP for me is at 37, yours about 40+ I guess without consulting the maps.
Looks like you'll have darker skies as well than my Auckland so take advantage of whatever you can for viewing.
Keep us posted and if you need any advice or help etc there are plenty of people on here who will offer you their assistance, even if it just moral support.
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Old 09-03-2012, 12:27 PM
LostBoyNZ (Graham Parker)
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Thanks Having setup the telescope in there to see what angle of the sky it will be able to see, I figured out I can stand and look through the eye piece when it's at its highest. But a false floor might be very handy, combined with a gas-lift stool. At the moment if the floor was higher, I wouldn't be able to stand up in one edge of the building. But I'll think about it yeah. I'll look into what height stools are too.

Outside of Christchurch (here in Tuahiwi) the skies seem quite good yeah. In between Rangiora, Woodend and Christchurch. Although that spotlight of a full moon lit up the skies well last night!

Thanks Wow, that's some fantastic sounding gear you have up there!
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Old 09-03-2012, 09:37 PM
LostBoyNZ (Graham Parker)
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This is something I made up recently too, which will be a handy chart for inside the observatory or on the computer there. Using NASA's webpage http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/docs/mrst.php I put together all the data for 2012 & 2013 into Excel.

This tells me when each planet rises, peaks and sets, and is lit up blue if that happens when it's dark. This goes off the beginning of dawn / end of twilight. The maximum altitude of each planet is also shown, and gets lit up greener the higher it'll be in the sky (starting at 30 degrees). The Azimuth is also shown in there too, just shrunk down a bit.

http://img.acianetmedia.com/i/dBLha.jpg

Pluto is in there too, off to the side of that screen shot. I'd feel bad leaving him out Then the Sun's information is off to the side too. Thanks to Iconka for the cute planet images

Last edited by LostBoyNZ; 09-03-2012 at 09:52 PM.
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Old 09-03-2012, 09:43 PM
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FlashDrive (Col)
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Just go for it Graham ... live your dream mate.

Put up some pic's when your done. for all to see. !!

Flash
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Old 11-03-2012, 06:10 PM
Poita (Peter)
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I'd make a steel pier and bolt it to your existing floor first, and see how that goes.
If you won't be in there whilst snapping shots of the sky, then you won't have to worry about transmitted vibration etc.

If it doesn't work out, then you can always dig your hole and re-use the steel pier anyway, no loss...
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Old 11-03-2012, 06:11 PM
Poita (Peter)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LostBoyNZ View Post
This is something I made up recently too, which will be a handy chart for inside the observatory or on the computer there. Using NASA's webpage http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/docs/mrst.php I put together all the data for 2012 & 2013 into Excel.

This tells me when each planet rises, peaks and sets, and is lit up blue if that happens when it's dark. This goes off the beginning of dawn / end of twilight. The maximum altitude of each planet is also shown, and gets lit up greener the higher it'll be in the sky (starting at 30 degrees). The Azimuth is also shown in there too, just shrunk down a bit.

http://img.acianetmedia.com/i/dBLha.jpg

Pluto is in there too, off to the side of that screen shot. I'd feel bad leaving him out Then the Sun's information is off to the side too. Thanks to Iconka for the cute planet images
I love the chart!
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Old 12-03-2012, 10:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LostBoyNZ View Post
Thanks Having setup the telescope in there to see what angle of the sky it will be able to see, I figured out I can stand and look through the eye piece when it's at its highest. But a false floor might be very handy, combined with a gas-lift stool. At the moment if the floor was higher, I wouldn't be able to stand up in one edge of the building. But I'll think about it yeah. I'll look into what height stools are too.

Outside of Christchurch (here in Tuahiwi) the skies seem quite good yeah. In between Rangiora, Woodend and Christchurch. Although that spotlight of a full moon lit up the skies well last night!

Thanks Wow, that's some fantastic sounding gear you have up there!
For Astro I'd be setting the scope as high as roof clearance would allow (+ a few inches clearance of course). Just make sure the pier is solid.

Fantastic gear ? Just a lot of numbers, it's pretty average really. Couple of Newts and an Achro Refractor, binocs and some bits. Mine is cheap and nasty compared to many others. It's more what you do with it that counts and to be honest I haven't gotten anything decent out of it yet. This Astro photog business is a demanding mistress but like any mistress a fascinating obsession as well. I'll get there, hope to start my ob build in about 2-3 weeks. Funds are ready to go.
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Old 12-03-2012, 02:05 PM
LostBoyNZ (Graham Parker)
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Took the roof off today, plus the netting and such from two walls. Wow it was dusty!

Here's two photos. The roof will be on caster wheels, and tracks for it will go off in the direction of the second photo. I'll have them go further away from the Observatory so they'll get slightly less in the way of viewing, and I should get slightly more of a viewing angle. Also about 40 cm (16 inches) of the walls on both sides shown here will go with the roof.

So they'll be about 40 cm of wall attached to the roof, and the caster wheels will be under those. This is to try and get a better viewing angle range.

http://img.acianetmedia.com/i/aUZIA.jpg
http://img.acianetmedia.com/i/GSBvC.jpg

(the first shot is blurry because I took it through wire netting)

Love the chart? Thanks I'd love to offer it online or to other people, but it has custom data for where I live of course. Anyone good with programming could probably make it work though

That sounds like a good idea about the pier. I'll bolt an iron tripod (we have some iron available!) and bolt that down. As you say, I can always dig a hole and such later if it doesn't work out.

Yep the scope will be just a few inches under the roof, when it's resting at a 90 degree angle. When it's pointing up, it won't fit under the roof.

Ah, nothing wrong with cheap and nasty gear When you do get decent results out of it, it'll be even more impressive knowing what you did it with. That's great that you'll get to build an ob soon!
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Old 13-03-2012, 09:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LostBoyNZ View Post


Ah, nothing wrong with cheap and nasty gear When you do get decent results out of it, it'll be even more impressive knowing what you did it with. That's great that you'll get to build an ob soon!
You hit the nail on the head there, 'when you get the results'.
Ain't been no results yet. Mind you weather has NOT been very cooperative or I would have been out quite a bit more and probably made a lot more progress. Seem to spend more time in the garage planning, building and testing than outside under the skies.

Thanks for the pix, keep us posted. Nice to see someone making some progress.
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Old 14-03-2012, 10:16 PM
LostBoyNZ (Graham Parker)
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Hopefully it's just a matter of time

What I've been up to today is pulling apart more of the framing, and planning where the scope will go. This should work out ok On the left is the wall, and on the right is the wall plus where the roof slides along. The part sticking up on the far right is where the roof will push off to. So they'll be nothing before that to block viewing.

Doing this allowed me to figure out where to place the telescope in the room for the best viewing angles, and I can get a maximum of about 22.5 degrees in all directions This is measured by knowing where the bottom middle of the scope will be.

I calculated that by figuring out what will be a good height for the eye piece while sitting on a chair, what will fit under the roof (of course) and what will give the best viewing angles. Hopefully (!!!) this is all correct. haha. So the "pier" will be 1m high, and the roof (taking part of the wall with it) will go 1m away from the observatory as well.

http://img.acianetmedia.com/i/SeDI7.jpg

(the lighter grey on the left is because the room isn't quite square, but it's close, so I can use the measurements to know how deep into the room to place the scope too)
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Old 15-03-2012, 08:01 PM
LostBoyNZ (Graham Parker)
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Today construction actually began! Up until now it's all been taking stuff down, but today the first thing (part of a frame) went up This is how it looks now...

http://img.acianetmedia.com/i/mLdpx.jpg

I snapped a photo of my Grandad using the chainsaw too:

http://img.acianetmedia.com/i/Gwv8m.jpg
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Old 16-03-2012, 07:26 AM
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Sounds good Graham
That's a nice pic of your granddad, captures the "action" well
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Old 16-03-2012, 08:11 AM
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stardust steve (Steve)
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looks like a great pad to set up. I was going to mention some sarking nailed down first to the roof frame will help keep the dust and moisture out. You can paint the underside black afterwards as it usually comes in that reflective silver/aluminium coating . Your lucky to have the land for these projects. I love a good project

Edit-http://www.sisalation.com/about.htm
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Old 16-03-2012, 11:19 AM
LostBoyNZ (Graham Parker)
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Thanks It's in my parents place, but hopefully one day I'll be able to buy similar land myself.

Ah, is sarking like building paper? We got a 25m roll of that yesterday to put under the roof to help weather seal it.
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Old 16-03-2012, 01:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LostBoyNZ View Post
Thanks It's in my parents place, but hopefully one day I'll be able to buy similar land myself.

Ah, is sarking like building paper? We got a 25m roll of that yesterday to put under the roof to help weather seal it.
Yeah, i should have said sisalation or building paper. Sarking is what we used to call it on site.
Looking forward to seeing some progression pics
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Old 16-03-2012, 02:58 PM
LostBoyNZ (Graham Parker)
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Ah, excellent, so we're using the right stuff Good to know.

Yep we're slowly but surely making progress. Couldn't get much done today, but managed to get the frame we partly put up yesterday straight and finished, plus all the grass behind it gone so we can later nail it from that side. Plus we got part of the second frame up It's tricky going on top of pre-built concrete, because it isn't flat.

Probably won't get any done in the next two days, or maybe just a tiny bit. Looking forward to more on Monday though Oh and today some strips of red LED's I ordered arrived, which I'll use for lighting out there.

http://img.acianetmedia.com/i/JVHyX.jpg
http://img.acianetmedia.com/i/ImbtF.jpg
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Old 04-04-2012, 05:03 PM
LostBoyNZ (Graham Parker)
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Construction is still going ahead The rollers, which will hold on the roof and part of the walls are up too. Little by little, it's getting closer to being complete.

Sadly the clutch on my telescope broke. It no longer holds the scope in place. So I ordered the "EZ Clutch" replacement online and will install that.

http://img.acianetmedia.com/i/h4qd.jpg
http://img.acianetmedia.com/i/ILc2N.jpg
http://img.acianetmedia.com/i/dOQmA.jpg
http://img.acianetmedia.com/i/M0aU5.jpg
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Old 04-04-2012, 05:21 PM
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Hi Graham,

Its coming on well. In pic 3 above,(dOQmA), the black ends on the cross beams, are they metal and do they hook over the upright and the cross beam to hold them together?

Regards
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Old 04-04-2012, 10:03 PM
LostBoyNZ (Graham Parker)
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Hi John, ah those are just plastic stapled into the wood. They keep rain from getting into the ends of the wood, where it's absorbed the easiest.
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