So anyone that may have seen some my threads from before, I was working on a project to move my mount & telescope stuff outside permanently to avoid the pains of doing it every single time I want to observe or image. I'm in Florida so this presents a few challenges. I also want to do it on a budget as I don't want to construct a several thousand dollar roll-off-roof design shed or something else, even though it would be nice, I just don't have the capital for that right now, but may explore that at a later time. For now, I just wanted to have a reliable way to get my equipment outside and keep it outside. So from talking with others both here and on CloudyNights, I originally was going to do a wooden pier, but eventually bought into the idea of doing it with concrete.
Things I wanted:
1. Minimal setup time. No more dragging out 40lb to 70lb of equipment out into my yard (which is a dark site) and polar aligning, balancing, star aligning, etc, mid-day or in the dark. No more waiting for the telescope to reach ambient temperature.
2. Permanently polar aligned. This is the longest process. I wanted this minimized. With one really good polar alignment, I should be good yearly. I will just recheck alignment once very 6 months or so. I expect to have to re-align it sometimes, but it should be infrequent instead of every single time.
3. Something more sturdy to vibration than the stock tripod, which was heafty, but certainly not as sturdy as 1300lbs of concrete.
4. Safe means to keep the mount and telescope outdoors, on the pier, permanently regardless of rain or shine. This means I needed humidity control and a cover (instead of a structure) to manage UV light and weather. For this I used a Telegizmos 365 cover. They're a little expensive but it's way cheaper to do this than to build a structure. Eventually I want a structure, but this will get me started.
5. Inexpensive build cost. Again, I didn't want to get into a several thousand dollar build project for a structure with a removable roof or dome, etc. I'd like one. But I just don't have the captial right now. So I needed a good solution alternative that was budget friendly.
6. Had to be able to do it by myself basically.
So the project was to create a heavy, sturdy, big, concrete pier and put leveling plates on it and my mounting plate along with my tracking mount and telescope. My primary goal is imaging. But I do some minor visual too. With it permanently setup, I will do visual more often.
It took me approximately a month to construct after a few weeks of planning and talking about it. Hurricane Hermine & Matthew decided to come to Florida right as I began working on this, so I had plenty of cure time on the concrete before I finalized it by placing my mount.
It's finished, and ready to take on the elements and withstand the sun, rain and humidity of Florida year round. This will serve as a project build log in the posts after this one, as I have completed it, and photodocumented the process since I'm not a contractor or anything and have no real experience "building" things.
Completed Concrete Pier for my Permanent Outdoor Observatory here in Florida:
The build log will follow this post from start to finish with description, cost, etc. Please feel free to ask questions, this was a learning process for me and I learned a lot from it, but I only had the nerve to try do build it and make this happen by talking to others who also did something similar, before trusting my gear to the elements 24/7.