Saturday, September 13, 2014

Another perspective of the construction.

A couple nights ago I was going a flight review with a friend.  We flew over Crest and circled the house for some photos.  Observatory is easy to pick out in the photo.  Someday this will be a photon's final brief view inbound from a many light year journey to be sucked into the Meade, bounce off a couple mirrors and be preserved on the camera sensor.

View from 2,000 feet. 

Photons from across the universe will fall into that square. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Walls getting covered....

Tonight after work I was able to install most of the wall panels.  I still have some large gaps to cover, then a a 6 inch or so strip along the top of all the walls.  I should have that done early this weekend I hope. Then the fun of designing the roof starts.  
I have a few ideas for the roof, but will get to that soon enough.   I really hate this time of year when the days get shorter, every night I have less time to work until I need to turn on lights.  Weather here has still been like summer, and expecting some low 80s again this next weekend.

Daylight fading while walls go up.  The covering in the middle is over
the pier hole, it would suck if I fell down in there.  
Construction supervisor Alex on duty.
Almost done with the outer walls. 

When it gets darker, just attach a light and keep hammering nails. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Four wall frames standing on their own.

I guess this is a major milestone that says this will really happen.  Wall frames are standing on their own on the cement pad.  I did drill a hole and add one more bolt for supporting the walls, but I think the rest should be ok.
I cut notches in the base of the frame to fit around the power and network conduit pipes, I'll drill holes in the wall later to run the cables.  You can see the blue foam between the cement and the treated wood, just something to help as a moisture barrier.  Nailing wall panels on is next...
Wall frames up. 
Just a closer view of the electrical/network feed.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The walls move out to the yard.

Last night I got two of the four walls up on the cement pad in the backyard.  Careful measuring where to drill the holes in the wood for the bolts in the pad worked out well and everything lined up nicely. This photo was taken tonight before I put up the other 2 walls.  Measure twice, drill once - and again it all lined up well.  
Photos of the 4 walls later.  The shortening days are a problem, so I had to use a flashlight to finish.   Alex the construction supervisor cat is seen in this photo.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Four framed walls.

I didn't get as far as I wanted today.  I was hoping to have 4 walls on cement today, but that didn't happen yet.  We are expecting rain tomorrow, and I didn't want the wood to soak up water and end up warped, and I didn't have a tarp yet.   Better to wait a few days until the dry weather is back trough next weekend, then the walls will be moved from the hangar to the cement.
Later this winter, we'll be building an airplane here, but for now it's the spaceship. 
Four walls standing.  I'm only off by about 1/4 inch on one side, but that can be shortened easily.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Holiday weekend progress.

We are just a little over halfway through the Labor Day weekend and have made some great progress.  Frames for three walls has been completed and temporarily set up on the taxiway in front of the hangar. The decision was made to put the window on the darker side of the observatory.  We have a neighbor across from us that has a bright light on every night and another that has an occasional annoying light.  There will be one more window on the yet to built wall where the door will be installed also. This will face the house so if needed, a peek out to see if anyone is waving at me to come in or anything.
Tomorrow, work will continue with the third wall and hopefully get this mounted on the cement pad.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

One of four walls has been framed.

Cruddy weather here today, so we didn't go up to the airshow at Everett today.  We took a trip to Home Depot and loaded up the Toyota with wood and some bags of cement - they have 60lb bags for sale this weekend for $1.99 - we'll go back for more, but didn't want to overload my little car too badly.
This will be the east wall of the observatory which will face one of the neighbors who has a bright light occasionally turned on.   We plan on installing a window on the West side which is the darkest side of the yard, just to have some daylight in there during the day.
The first wall is framed and we'll start on the next one tomorrow - weather permitting if we don't do the airshow - which is sure looking like it won't happen this year.   :-(

Lining up the studs.
A chair is so much better on the knees on a cement floor. 
First wall is framed!  Three more to build.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Foundation - finally!

Truck and guys filling the form. 
This last week we had some contractors come in and do a bunch of concrete work in the backyard. We extended the patio, the ramp in front of the hangar to get rid of a gravel area between the grass and concrete, and had the pad for the observatory made.
The pad is 5 inches thick and I left a 30 x 30 inch square hole around where the pier is going to be mounted.  The idea now is to make a rebar cage down in the hole, pour some cement down there (make this ourselves) then drill 4 holes for the bolts later.  Plans may change, but that seems to be the idea that could work well, I just want to make sure the holes are good and deep for some fairly long bolts.
I finally feel something will happen now. 
I had the PVC come up through the cement as seen in the photo.  This will lead inside the wall of the observatory and to a few outlets later.
The bolts around the edges are 8 inch L-bolts that the walls will attach to.  Hopefully this weekend we'll start fabricating some walls.  Possibly on the floor of the hangar if the predicted showers happen.

Conduit installed and buried.

Power out of the house
The ground here at Crest is horribly hard and rocky, I'm sure I mentioned that.   Finally, got a trench down to an average of 12 inches.  Possibly not totally code, but we are using conduit as well as a GFI protected outlet on the end so nothing will blow up for sure.
Covered with gravel
I took a bunch of the "rock garden" area and dumped that into the trench to hold the conduit and also act as kind of a warning if ever dug there in the future.   That PVC glue stuff is nasty, stinky gunk, turn your head into the wind to breathe when using this that MEK stuff goes after brain cells!
Two conduits were run.  Electric and another for internet cable.  I'll probably go with wireless the first year, then next spring work on running a cable.  It's just a huge pain to find a connection from the network cabinet to the crawlspace and I want to get this done.
I ran the power to the kitchen outlet circuit (non appliance outlets), down the crawlspace and out the side of the house to a box that will soon have a GFI outlet.
Finally - filling the trench!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Yes, more trench digging.

I'm down close to 12 inches now and I think I'm going to call it good.   After that, I'm NEVER digging another hole in this yard again!  The ground here is horrible and it's like trying to dig through a freeway.  Time to look for a good deal online for power cable and some CAT6 (or possibly 6a) cable.  I feel so far behind with this project.
Here is a low angle, dramatic shot (makes it look really deep).

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Pier has least parts.

Yesterday we went over to Pacific Industrial Supply in Seattle to find something to use as a pier for the scope.   I found pretty much what i was looking for.  The metal tube is 8x8 inches, 1/4 inch thick, 4 feet long, and weighs 130lbs.
I got a 25x12 inch slab of metal also that will be cut into two 12x12 inch plates to weld onto the pier for the bottom and top supports.
The old mounting plates
The other photo shown is my old mounting plates from the old observatory.  The plate with 3 holes was mounted on the top of the cement pier, and the one with multiple holes was the top plate the telescope was mounted to. Reviewing polar alignment I did remember that it doesn't have to be perfectly level since all you are doing is pointing the axis of the rotating mount toward the North celestial pole.  So with that fact, I'm thinking I'll do away with the double plate mount I used on the old one.  Sure, I'll get the pier as level as possible, but it's not critical unless you are using an Alt/Az mounting  - which would be foolish for imaging anyway!  The observatory will be pretty much perfectly aligned with true north, so the pier will be mounted nice an symmetrical on the floor.
Traci has a coworker at her doughnut machine factory who is an expert welder and is willing to help with welding, cutting and drilling, so we are in good shape with that.
Total cost so far (before welder friend's labor) is $160 for pier parts.   Commercial piers of this size are easily $800+.
Now back to working on the power trench....

Won't even jiggle in a 6.8 earthquake!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Trench digging for power and internet

Pick, pick, pick...
Finally some more progress on this thing.  We debated a long time about renting an excavator or some kind of trench digging machine.  I tried poking at the hard ground a bit, and despite being very nasty to dig through, it is possible.   I stopped at Harbor Freight on the way home last night and bough a pick-axe that was on sale for about $16 with a 5 lb head on it.   A few whacks with that I realized this is the tool I needed!  It will be sweaty work, and we have had a lot of 85 degree days too.  A couple hours after work (and even after dark) and I feel I've made good progress.
I think by the weekend I'll have the trench dug, and possibly have conduit in place for power and internet.  I'll need to find some CAT6a cable on the internet as well as power cable and put in an order for that.  I think that can just be pulled through that easy enough.
Toward observatory site
Next, a trip under the house crawlspace is in order to track down the power cables and make a splice for that and a hole in the wall to run it outside.  Also, I'll probably just run a cable from the internet/network closet directly outside near the power, but with about 12 inches apart.  150 feet of that should be more than enough.
Looking toward house.