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!