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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Astronomy & Celestial Talk
Thread started 10 Oct 2016 (Monday) 15:57
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Permanent Outdoor Concrete Pier Observatory in Florida Project

 
MalVeauX
"Looks rough and well used"
MalVeauX's Avatar
Joined Feb 2013
Florida
Oct 10, 2016 15:57 |  #1

Hey all,

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:

IMAGE: https://c4.staticflickr.com/9/8275/30158350891_278507a6c9_c.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/MWZr​26] (external link)IMG_4305 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

IMAGE: https://c5.staticflickr.com/9/8408/30128996172_57b2aa31eb_c.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/MUoY​Tf] (external link)IMG_4303 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

IMAGE: https://c1.staticflickr.com/9/8269/29613407144_1644c9fc83_c.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/M7Qs​ef] (external link)IMG_4307 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

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.

Very best,

My Flickr (external link) :: My Astrobin (external link) :: Canon 17-40L For Sale

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MalVeauX
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"Looks rough and well used"
MalVeauX's Avatar
Joined Feb 2013
Florida
Post has been edited over 1 year ago by MalVeauX.
Oct 10, 2016 16:07 |  #2

Build Log :: 9-12-2016

I planned this for a few weeks, coming up with ideas, bouncing them off others who have observatories, etc, over on CloudyNights mostly, but also here in another thread. I knew what I needed & wanted, but how to get there was the question. After finalizing all my plans, I set to do the work and get this project up and running so that I could enjoy a permanent observatory for this fall.

Dark Site & Location:

I have 5 acres near the West coast of Florida, and it's a dark site, or fairly dark site. I'm not far form the Chiefland Astronomy Village if anyone is familiar with that. So we have decent skies for astrophotography away from a lot of the light pollution, thought some is still present. I picked a spot in my 5 acre field with low tree horizons so that I could have a wide open field of view to the Southern sky as well as all the other directions too, but my primary interests are in the Southern skies from my location. I picked a spot that I liked and mowed the bahia grass down to give me a location to focus on and a mowed pathway to walk out to it. I kept this area mowed for a few weeks before finalizing where I wanted to put the pier. It's important to have a good field of view so that you're not as limited in time frames to see or image certain objects. Not everything will be at Zenith at a time that you can conveniently image. So the goal is to simply have the most time that is convenient and that comes from having a big field of view over each horizon and less obstacles. I can see everything from about 25 degrees or higher in any direction, which is low, and I only care to image much higher than that to avoid atmosphere, but having the option is better than not having the option.

+++++++++++++++

IMAGE: https://c5.staticflickr.com/6/5749/29696951460_ac1f6457e2_c.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/MfdD​3u] (external link)Pier01 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

To begin, I bought 10 bags of 80lb concrete and some rebar. This would be the beginning of my footer for the pier.

IMAGE: https://c7.staticflickr.com/9/8056/29363125374_5ac3e22cf0_c.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/LJHG​bj] (external link)Pier02 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

For the footer hole, I dug a pit. Luckily I didn't have rocks or clay to dig through, just sand really, as this field was traditionally used for agriculture, it was already long processed years ago and kept clear. The pit is 24 inches x 24 inches x 36 inches deep, approximately. I was not super precise on things, just close enough for things to line up. I dug the dirt out by hand with a standard shovel onto a tarp in the back of my truck so that I could move the dirt elsewhere.

IMAGE: https://c2.staticflickr.com/9/8198/29907269641_d45c133422_c.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/MyNz​j2] (external link)Pier03 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

The top of the pit is approximately 24 inches x 24 inches square-ish:

IMAGE: https://c6.staticflickr.com/9/8204/29364124653_af76c38aae_c.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/LJNP​eg] (external link)Pier04 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

The bottom of the pit is approximately 36 inches down:

IMAGE: https://c3.staticflickr.com/9/8725/29696661210_8830259afb_c.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/Mfc9​Lb] (external link)Pier05 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

At the base of the pit, I dug farther into the horizons to create a "toe" lip around the base.

IMAGE: https://c8.staticflickr.com/8/7501/29990477735_fdb353a7ca_c.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/MGa3​bk] (external link)Pier06 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

At the base of the pit, I threw in some gravel, rocks and chunks of concrete. This is to help with water drainage.

IMAGE: https://c3.staticflickr.com/9/8330/29362748114_31f0558196_c.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/LJFL​2Q] (external link)Pier07 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

Finally, I placed 4 foot pieces of rebar iron in the center of the pit, so they are approximately 8~10 inches above the soil line. The purpose is to reinforce the footer, but also to serve as a marriage point for the pier once it's attached.

IMAGE: https://c3.staticflickr.com/6/5613/29362704474_c5c8429319_c.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/LJFx​4q] (external link)Pier08 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

Very best,

My Flickr (external link) :: My Astrobin (external link) :: Canon 17-40L For Sale

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MalVeauX
THREAD ­ STARTER
"Looks rough and well used"
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Joined Feb 2013
Florida
Post has been last edited over 1 year ago by MalVeauX. 4 edits done in total.
Oct 10, 2016 16:08 |  #3

9-12-2016, Continued

Once the pit was completed and the rebar placed, it was time to mix up some concrete. Everyone said I should have rented a mixer or hired a company to come out and pour the concrete. I figured, I'm fit enough to fool with the concrete and it's only 10 bags at the most of 80lb. I could handle it. Well, I proved I'm a fool and should have listened. I did it all by hand. And it was back breaking work. My goodness, never again. I will rent a mixer or better yet just buy concrete and have it poured by a truck. Sure, I saved money doing it this way, but it cost me a lot of aches and pains. Ultimately I used 8 bags of 80lb concrete for the footer, initially, as I wanted to add the rest later in a top slab with more rebar. So this initial footer is 6 x 80lb bags and is about 8~10 inches approximately below the soil line.

IMAGE: https://c5.staticflickr.com/6/5758/29696450700_93c0b309f4_c.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/Mfb5​bG] (external link)Pier09 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

After mixing 640lbs of concrete, and poured it into my pit, I added some loops of rebar to serve as more reinforcement for another slab later. I let this cure for about a week before I continued. Also, to let my back heal.

IMAGE: https://c7.staticflickr.com/9/8257/29695729470_731d34701e_c.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/Mf7n​MG] (external link)Pier10 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

After a week of curing, I picked up a 48 inch by 10 inch diameter concrete pier form (cardboard) from Lowes. It was approximately $10. I used some 2x4's to cut and build a frame that would hug the 10" form at the base and top, so that when I filled it with concrete it wouldn't burst. Concrete behaves like a liquid, so the bottom will build up a lot of pressure unlike the top. So I had to reinforce it there. I used deck screws that I could pull back out when it cured. The cross beams came up last and I used them to level the top of the form. I leveled the form approximately so that there's less precision needed later.

IMAGE: https://c3.staticflickr.com/9/8125/29696394730_f8062ec35d_c.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/MfaM​xG] (external link)Pier11 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

Here's the form after being reinforced and sitting on the rebar. You do not need it to be level here. Just close enough. The leveling will be done with the leveling plates later.

IMAGE: https://c3.staticflickr.com/9/8397/29956066626_30131d4d7a_c.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/MD7E​Xm] (external link)Pier12 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

After I mixed & poured more concrete and started to fill the pier form, I added some rebar that I bent into sheppard's canes and put it down into the form for further reinforcement. Then I finished filling the pier form with approximately 3~4 more bags of 80lb concrete.

IMAGE: https://c8.staticflickr.com/9/8535/29363540063_d3ee441ecf_c.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/LJKP​s8] (external link)Pier13 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

Once the form was filled, it was time to prepare the leveling plate cage that will be submersed into the concrete on the top and serve as the contact point for the mount attachment and for the ability to level the surface mechanically. Here, I'm using 5/8" threaded bolts that are about 12 inches long, with 5/8" nuts. I used 3 bolts of this size, and 12 nuts.

IMAGE: https://c8.staticflickr.com/9/8781/29906832711_8eb4b171c4_c.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/MyLk​qK] (external link)Pier14 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

The leveling plates were fabricated by a local welding shop. I asked them for 8 inch x 8 inch x 10mm thick plates, with 7/8" holes in the triangle pattern that you see, and a 1/2" hole in the middle. Two plates were made identical. I drew up the plans for the shop and they simply made them. Total for the plates was $37 after taxes for everything. They're heavy! The design I used for the pattern of holes is based on the mounting plate that my Orion Sirius sits on that is the center of the tripod. I just measured and traced it out and then made the plates big enough to fit that and have the post holes far enough apart to give me room for the mounting plate. I didn't use 4 post holes because the shape of my mounting plate came from a tripod, and has 3 legs, so it had 3 posts and that's why I used a triangle for mine too, to make it fit.

IMAGE: https://c1.staticflickr.com/9/8254/29955952656_40b37542cd_c.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/MD76​5m] (external link)Pier15 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

The leveling plates cage is assembled with 3 of the 12" long 5/8" bolts. The bolt head will go into the concrete. The first plate is sitting on top of 5/8" nuts and 5/8" washers, then the first plate, then more nuts & washers. I then do the same thing again at the end of the bolts with another set of nuts & washers, all 5/8". This way I can keep the form on the bolts, but this allows me to mechanically level the surface by simply twisting the bolts. Shift them up or down to move the plate up or down, side by side, etc. It allows for a leveling plane just by tightening the nuts and shifting the plates however I need. Maybe $20 for all the bolts, nuts & washers. This cage will be sunk into the top of the concrete pier form. It will be permanent, but the plates can be taken off. The nuts all have anti-seize lubricant on them.

IMAGE: https://c2.staticflickr.com/6/5447/29363409513_8260534b51_c.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/LJK9​Dg] (external link)Pier16 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

Very best,

My Flickr (external link) :: My Astrobin (external link) :: Canon 17-40L For Sale

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MalVeauX
THREAD ­ STARTER
"Looks rough and well used"
MalVeauX's Avatar
Joined Feb 2013
Florida
Post has been last edited over 1 year ago by MalVeauX. 4 edits done in total.
Oct 10, 2016 16:08 |  #4

Build Log, 9-20-2016

After pouring the pier and leveling it over the rebar that was sticking up from the footer, I also put the leveling plate cage you saw before into the concrete on the top and I put a thin piece of wood between the lower plate and the concrete so that I could keep the nuts & plates out of the concrete, while the lower part of the bolts were sunk into the concrete to become permanent. I let this structure cure another week before taking down the frame and cardboard to see how well I mixed & poured.

IMAGE: https://c5.staticflickr.com/9/8364/29696160420_4cbf6cd89a_c.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/Mf9z​TS] (external link)Pier17 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

After I sank the plates into the concrete, I just checked the plates again to make sure they were sitting in a way that was almost level so that I knew I'd be near level after it cured.

IMAGE: https://c4.staticflickr.com/8/7736/29363320283_c3aed5d3a8_c.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/LJJG​7P] (external link)Pier18 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

After that week, I disassembled the frame and pulled it away and then pulled away the cardboard form to reveal the pier. The pier was sitting on the 4 rebar pieces if you recall, so it is now joined by concrete to concrete and those rebar bits. I gave it a good shove and it was sturdy so I continued on. You can see here that I placed it below soil line and you can see the remaining pit area and the rebar loops ready for more concrete.

IMAGE: https://c3.staticflickr.com/9/8824/29696060890_fb05bd8b2a_c.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/Mf95​iQ] (external link)Pier20 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

Next, I cleared away the grass and used the same 2x4's to make a 28 inch x 28 inch square frame. I placed this around the form and used some split wood to hammer it into the sand and keep the frame in place. This is to serve as a frame for more concrete to make a small slab. I mixed and filled the remainder of the pit, where those loops of rebar are, with 5 more bags of 80lb concrete (400lbs). This concrete is hugging the footer, hugging the pier and hugging the loops of rebar. It's approximately 3.5 inches above the soil line. I leveled the top with another 2x4. I let this cure a good week.

IMAGE: https://c3.staticflickr.com/9/8075/29362100554_dafca1b1db_c.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/LJCr​x1] (external link)Pier23 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

Finally after a week of curing, I pulled away the 2x4 frame. The whole structure is now one piece, and it's solid. It looks like a pillar on a slab, but there's a heavy big footer under it holding it down and keeping it where it is. Overall this is 8 x 80lb bags for the footer (640lbs), another 3 x 80lbs bags for the pier (240lbs) and 5 x 80lbs (400lbs) bags for the slab that hugs the pier and marries to the footer with rebar. Approximately 1300lbs of concrete.

IMAGE: https://c4.staticflickr.com/8/7576/29363023803_0e6253300d_c.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/LJHa​Z6] (external link)Pier25 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

Lastly, let's see if it was worth it. Time to do the "water test." Nothing crazy. But I filmed it with audio. I put a shot glass of water on the leveling plates. I tapped on the concrete pier with a 2x4, hard enough for it to bounce, to see if the vibrations would travel and transfer to the water, causing it to move a little. The water doesn't move. I'm delighted that 2 weeks of back breaking concrete work resulted in something very, very sturdy and very good at dampening vibrations.

Here's the video of the water test:

https://flic.kr/p/MugG​PN (external link)

Very best,

My Flickr (external link) :: My Astrobin (external link) :: Canon 17-40L For Sale

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MalVeauX
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"Looks rough and well used"
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Joined Feb 2013
Florida
Post has been last edited over 1 year ago by MalVeauX. 3 edits done in total.
Oct 10, 2016 16:08 |  #5

Build Log :: 10-10-2016

Ok, so Hurricane Matthew moved on and I'm back on the project. Had a pause there for a bit.

The pier and leveling plates are done, but now I need to mount my tracker. Instead of purchasing a very expensive third party made pier plate, which cost hundreds of dollars, I just used the mounting surface that my Orion Sirius came with. It comes with a base plate made of steel and has tripod logs. Well, it's flat on the bottom and has the notch needed for alignment. So I'm going to just re-use this since I won't need the tripod now anyways (but I can always reassemble it if needed). The center hole in the plate is actually metric, I found out, after asking around. I couldn't use the stock bolt as it was very long and meant for other purposes. I needed a new bolt. I found out it was M10 x 1.5 pitch. So I shopped for some bolts that had grips that I could use to hand tighten so it could be removed. Also it had to be short enough to fit between the level plates. Again this is the stock plate that came with my mount for a tripod, I'm reusing it, so $0 extra.

IMAGE: https://c1.staticflickr.com/6/5651/30129282592_4aa8fcb586_c.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/MUqs​2w] (external link)IMG_0133 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

Next, I needed a new center bolt to fit into that hole in the plate and into the mount itself, which is also tapped with a M10 x 1.5 pitch hole. I found one on Amazon of all places, a M10 x 1.5 x 55mm long steel bolt with a nylon grip. Perfect! Was $16, but worth it. To make this work, however, I can't have threads on the whole bolt. I need the threads only on the tip of the bolt, so I had to customize this a bit.

IMAGE: https://c3.staticflickr.com/6/5562/29614173234_9e0fb9bf99_c.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/M7Un​XG] (external link)IMG_0128 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

To grind away the threads on the bolt except for at the tip, I used a Dremel and a standard grinding stone. Took it down fast, thankfully. I started initially with a handfile, but it was going to take forever, so I went with the Dremel instead.

IMAGE: https://c2.staticflickr.com/6/5811/30244655105_94b92b93df_c.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/N5BL​fM] (external link)IMG_0130 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

I left the last 20mm or so (1 inch maybe?) of the bolt with the threads intact. The rest of the bolt, I ground away the threading. This is necessary due to how the stock bolt and stock mount worked for my mount. The bolt threads into the lower plate, and passes through, then is free to move, and then threads into the actual tracking mount. Since the rest of the bolt no longer has threading, it doesn't "climb" when you turn it, and instead, the tip of the bolt threads into the mount and "pulls" it down. The grip now rests on a washer, under the top leveling plate, into the mount plate, then threads into the tracking mount, and it "pulls" the mount down, so it sandwiches all the metal between it and they are tight and snug. Sturdy enough to do this job. But also not permanent so I can take it down if needed. I used this design because this is how the stock mount that came with the Sirius works, I just borrowed the idea and had to make my own center bolt.

IMAGE: https://c6.staticflickr.com/6/5678/30158824021_eb12ce43ef_c.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/MX2R​Ev] (external link)IMG_0132 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

Here the center bolt is going through a washer, through the lower leveling plate, threading into the mount plate, then free sliding since I ground off the threads, until it meets the tracking mount, which it then threads into with the tip of the bolt. I hand tighten it and the plates sandwich together nicely and it's very snug. Nothing moves. Permanent yet I can undo it if needed. I used anti-seize on the bolt so that I can undo it easy later if needed.

IMAGE: https://c5.staticflickr.com/9/8648/29613678804_d18380fa9c_c.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/M7RQ​Z3] (external link)IMG_0137 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

Here's the tracker mount & mount plate on the leveling plates surface, joined by the center bolt. This is the same design and setup as the stock tripod & mount is for the Sirius, I just adapted it to a pier instead of tripod legs.

IMAGE: https://c6.staticflickr.com/9/8269/30158524381_e3f677c4e4_c.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/MX1j​Ai] (external link)IMG_0139 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

Finally, the mount is on, everything is solid, and I'm level. Good to go. But how do I store it? I got a Telegizmos 365 cover for the outdoor side of things. This replaces the need for a structure. The next problem is humidity. I used an Eva-Dry unit. It's a renewable silicon dehumidifier. They're good for 20~30 days. Then you simply plug them in, they heat up, and they're dry again, and ready for re-use. $15 or so, on Amazon. When I'm sealing up the mount & scope, I just hang this in there by a hook, and seal up my Telegizmos cover. The low volume of air and pretty tight seal gives the dehumidifier a nice working space to do it's job.

IMAGE: https://c5.staticflickr.com/9/8577/30128779972_020a8fd8a6_c.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/MUnS​BE] (external link)IMG_0149 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

Last, but not least, the Telegizmos 365 cover itself. This one was costly, it was $140 from Astronomics. A lot of people just use a BBQ cover from the store for cheap. I wanted something totally UV resistant, weather proof, heavy duty. This stuff is used on satellites. It is a small price to pay compared to building a shed or structure. It has a cinch strap at the base, and I added another bungee around it to tighten it up really well against the pillar. Some humidity will enter from the pier itself. That's ok. That's what the dehumidifier is for. Inside the cover, it will not get any hotter than ambient temperature due to the materials and how it's built. These things are really awesome. You just have to manage humidity.

IMAGE: https://c1.staticflickr.com/9/8269/29613407144_1644c9fc83_c.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/M7Qs​ef] (external link)IMG_4307 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

Complete! I'm now outside, permanently, aligned and setup for visual or imaging use when I want. No more set up times!

Very best,

My Flickr (external link) :: My Astrobin (external link) :: Canon 17-40L For Sale

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MalVeauX
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Joined Feb 2013
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Post has been last edited over 1 year ago by MalVeauX. 2 edits done in total.
Oct 10, 2016 16:09 |  #6

Completed Project :: 10-10-2016

IMAGE: https://c5.staticflickr.com/9/8408/30128996172_57b2aa31eb_c.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/MUoY​Tf] (external link)IMG_4303 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

Tracker: Orion Sirius
Telescope: Celestron C6A (150mm / 6 inch) SCT + Vinyl Hood (awaiting upgrading to an 8" or 9.25"!)

I use portable lithium batteries to power it all, my dew heater, etc. The mount & scope now stay outside permanently. I remove the hood while storing it in the cover.

Pier Materials & Costs:

+ Two leveling plates with holes from local welding shop, $37.
+ Four 2x4's, 8 feet each, to make frames, $20.
+ Handful of deck screws to make the frames, $5.
+ 16x 80lb bags of concrete, $4.50 each, $72.
+ Plastic mixing bit for the concrete, $7.
+ 8x pieces of 4 foot 3/8th inch rebar, $3 each, $25.
+ 48inch x 10inch diameter pillar form, $10.
+ 3x 12" 5/8" bolts, 12x 5/8" nuts, 12x 5/8" washers (all steel), $20.
+ M10 x 1.5 x 55mm nylog gripped bolt and washer, $16.

Total for materials for the pier & mounting system: $212

Cover & Dehumidifer:

+ Telegizmos 365 cover for German Equitorial Mount and 8" SCT, $140.
+ Eva-Dry dehumidifier, $15.

Total for storage materiasl: $155.

Total Cost for Project:

$367... and an aching back. But worth it!

Tools Used:

Note, I already had some basic tools, I didn't buy any tools for this. I used what I had.

Vehicle to transport material, I have a truck.
Circular Saw, I used to cut the 2x4's for frames. A hand saw can do this though if you don't have one.
Dremel tool, grinding bit. A hand file works too, just takes longer.
Power drill, to screw/unscrew things fast. You can do this by hand if you want.
Level, to keep things level.
Sharpie, to write on stuff.
Tape measure, to measure stuff.
Shovel & bucket for concrete mixing and moving.

+++++++++++++++

Reserving this spot for some first light photographs. Waiting for Hurricane Matthew to move on, so that I can get some clear skies again.

Very best,

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TCampbell
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Oct 11, 2016 09:27 as a reply to MalVeauX's post |  #7

Look great! Do you have power in the area or will you run the scope on 12v battery tanks?

I look forward to seeing the images! Hopefully you get some clear skies once we get to the new moon (or even the 3rd quarter moon).




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Talley
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Houston
Oct 11, 2016 09:57 |  #8

I would of done the foundation recessed 6" under grade and backfilled over it allowing only the pier to come above the ground. This is how it's done in the industrial world. Actually most piers have large square foundations that are 3' down then just the pier comes out of the ground.... the ground will keep the foundation from floating up or moving from this. It could raise but doubtful considering your area.... still something to look out for.

Other than that great job. You could always do a mortar finish around everything to clean it up just bush the flat, primer then finish smooth. I'm sure your more than satisfied with the finish.

If you 1/4" aluminum plate let me know this way no worries with rust. I have access to some I could send you.


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MalVeauX
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"Looks rough and well used"
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Joined Feb 2013
Florida
Post has been last edited over 1 year ago by MalVeauX. 2 edits done in total.
Oct 11, 2016 10:08 |  #9

TCampbell wrote in post #18154056 (external link)
Look great! Do you have power in the area or will you run the scope on 12v battery tanks?

I look forward to seeing the images! Hopefully you get some clear skies once we get to the new moon (or even the 3rd quarter moon).

I have power there, I use some outdoor extension cords. I used to run on all battery, but my laptop consumes too much, so I just stretch a cord over and run the laptop on AC. The mount & dew heater run on 12v lithium battery tanks, they go all night no problem. The laptop however just consumes too much, especially with my ZWO camera it seems. But this is in my yard, I really didn't even need batteries, I just like having the freedom of the 12v lithium tanks, they're great for lots of things (like during the hurricanes they charged tablets, phones, etc, to keep my 3 year old from going too bonkers). I can get about 2 hours of battery on my 12v lithium on my laptop before it uses the internal battery, but it just draws too much because they try to draw from the tank to charge the internal battery of the laptop at the same time it draws from that battery, so it draws more than it needs to run, way too much. Laptops are not efficient at all in that way, even on pure DC.

Since the moon is up, the moon will no doubt be my first target. I like crater imaging anyways!

Talley wrote in post #18154072 (external link)
I would of done the foundation recessed 6" under grade and backfilled over it allowing only the pier to come above the ground. This is how it's done in the industrial world. Actually most piers have large square foundations that are 3' down then just the pier comes out of the ground.... the ground will keep the foundation from floating up or moving from this. It could raise but doubtful considering your area.... still something to look out for.

Other than that great job. You could always do a mortar finish around everything to clean it up just bush the flat, primer then finish smooth. I'm sure your more than satisfied with the finish.

If you 1/4" aluminum plate let me know this way no worries with rust. I have access to some I could send you.

Yea I have no clue about these things, I just went with what a lot of other people did when they made piers. I've done my share of post holes and concrete for fences here in the country, but nothing this big or heavy. We don't get frost heaving or anything and my yard never floods even with hurricane level rain dropping, so nothing moves. It's sand so it drains well. The footer is 3 foot in the ground, and the pillar raises 3 foot out of the ground. The footer is about 8 inches below soil line. That top slab was added just for "looks". I could have just buried it. But I wanted to have a little slab to help me keep my yard work away from the pier. I'm all steel on this build, it's less expensive. Some sealant on the plates (Everbrite will do the job) will keep them happy. Not a lot of surface area so doesn't take much to seal it. Thanks though!

++++++++++++

If the weather cooperates, I'm hoping to take a look at Jupiter tonight before it dips below the horizon, it's an early view this time of year. Otherwise, I'll spy the moon and if weather is ok, image some.

Very best,


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Sibil
Cream of the Crop
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Joined Jan 2009
SoCal
Oct 15, 2016 08:56 |  #10

Impressive work.




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calypsob
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Joined Jan 2012
Roanoke Virginia
Nov 03, 2016 12:20 |  #11

Nice job man are you within access of a Wi-Fi connection? If so you could add a little stick PC and control everything from inside your house.


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MalVeauX
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Joined Feb 2013
Florida
Nov 03, 2016 13:38 |  #12

calypsob wrote in post #18174790 (external link)
Nice job man are you within access of a Wi-Fi connection? If so you could add a little stick PC and control everything from inside your house.

Yea, I have wifi close enough for signal. Maybe something for the summer when it's so hot and humid even at night with all the mosquitos. It's super pleasant in Florida this time of year with cooler weather, lower humidity and less bugs, I love being out in the Florida "winter."

Very best,


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Poindexter
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Joined Feb 2007
Vermont
Nov 17, 2016 06:29 |  #13

Whoa! And you've now added a way to sell your home in the Buy/Sell forum :)


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MalVeauX
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Florida
Post has been edited over 1 year ago by MalVeauX.
Dec 03, 2016 21:24 |  #14

Walked outside this evening, the seeing was good, clear dark skies tonight in Florida in my area. Being able to just walk out and take the cover off and be ready to observe/image is just awesome. I was observing in less than 5 minutes walking outside to my permanently mounted setup. I was imaging in another 10 minutes after I took a look through my eyepiece and noticed the seeing was good. I was observing with a 2x barlow and 15mm plossl, and there wasn't a lot of distortion so I figured seeing was great. Walked inside, grabbed my laptop and camera and attached it and just recorded some quick video.

Orion Sirius (Mount)
Orion 80ED (600mm F7.5 Refractor)
GSO 2x Barlow
ZWO ASI178MC (camera, USB3)
Captured all with SharpCap (free)
Stacked with Autostakkert!2 (3000 frames, best 40%)
Panorama (moon only) done with MS ICE
Wavelets with Registax6
Finalized in CS5

IMAGE: https://c1.staticflickr.com/6/5506/31258971672_22e279848c_c.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/PCfp​es] (external link)80EDB_12032016 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

IMAGE: https://c2.staticflickr.com/6/5655/31288411361_e44f4bd694_c.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/PERh​Ci] (external link)80ED_12032016 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

Venus:

IMAGE: https://c3.staticflickr.com/6/5816/30582015674_f13028c8cc_o.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/NAqP​Nj] (external link)Venus_12032016 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

Moon (Waxing Crescent):

IMAGE: https://c4.staticflickr.com/6/5476/31288403171_cf6b8f5e42_b.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/PERf​c6] (external link)MoonMosaic_12032016 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

Crater Petavius:

IMAGE: https://c8.staticflickr.com/6/5695/31403940815_c6f3b4f68f_b.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/PR4p​vr] (external link)MoonMosaic_12032016_Pe​taviusCrater (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

Very best,

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MalVeauX
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Florida
Dec 04, 2016 14:15 |  #15

Heya,

Did some solar today from the pier.

Filter is a Baadar AstroSolar film filter from AstroZap. I toss it on the scope, then I just locate the sun with a low power eyepiece, then center it up, switch to a higher power eyepiece (I used 15mm) and then tossed in a 2x barlow to center up on a sunspot. Set the mount to solar tracking. Rolled 2000 frames of video and stacked 40% of the best.

IMAGE: https://c2.staticflickr.com/6/5663/30612346313_235fa66d66_c.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/ND7h​3n] (external link)SunSpot_12615 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

IMAGE: https://c7.staticflickr.com/6/5710/31050237950_25f7f03986_c.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/PiNz​Yb] (external link)IMG_0165 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

IMAGE: https://c6.staticflickr.com/6/5728/30612354933_3e03165d22_c.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/ND7j​AZ] (external link)IMG_0168 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

Very best,

My Flickr (external link) :: My Astrobin (external link) :: Canon 17-40L For Sale

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