The Pinhead Observatory 2:
See my original observatory to see how it got the name
Revenge of the Astronomer
The Ravens have gotten out of hand, they have found a way to peck at my dome even though it has spikes sticking out of the top of it, so it's time to build a new observatory.
I've had an old 23' big rig trailer sitting around for years and I decided it was time to do something with it. The trailer has an outdated hitch on it, so it can never be used without a special attachment. For our anniversary my wife had a friend with a tractor pull it over from the corner of my property to a preexisting concrete slab. The trailer was pretty wobbly so I wedged some railroad ties in each corner for stability. Eventually I will pour concrete under the axle and let the air out of the tires and I may build a wall around the whole thing and let the trailer rest on it.
I was going to move the dome over to the trailer, but I decided to make it a roll off instead. The down side of a roll off is, unless I install a pier that can raise up and down, I will lose the sky toward the horizon. That's not that big of a deal really since there is a lot of sky glow around me anyway. If I find that I want to image towards the south, I will make the southern wall fold down, but that will be at a later time.
The new observatory will have a couple of advantages over the old one.
First, it will have permanent electricity to it so the scope will always be set up and ready to go. I had to run an extension cord out to the old building, so I never wanted to leave the scope set up, I was afraid of the humidity damaging the scope. This building will have a de-humidifier and an air conditioner installed so the temp will never get super hot and the humidity will stay low. My observing and imaging time should increase since the scope will always be set up with the camera attached and ready to go. I will install a temperature and humidity sensor that works with my weather station, so I will be able to monitor the conditions. It will also be tied into my home alarm system.
The second advantage will be a warm room. The back 8 feet of the trailer will be the observatory area and the front part will be my warm room. It gets really cold out here, maybe not as cold as back east, but still pretty cold for me anyway. I cut my imaging nights short sometimes because of the cold, now I won't have that excuse. It will be really nice to sit in my nice warm room watching the photos appear on the screen while I edit the ones I have already captured.
October 19, 2005: I started on the pier today. The concrete portion of the pier will be 8' tall and 12" diameter. There will be 3 bolts set in the concrete the a short metal pier will be attached to with the wedge on top. I drilled through the slab and ran rebar down through the holes to tie the pier into the slab. I bought 2 4' sections of sonotube so I taped them together and supported the top section so it didn't fall over.
This is a view looking in from the rear of the trailer showing the rebar sticking up through the floor.
This is looking under the trailer from the rear. The first section of sonotube is in place and I have already started pouring the concrete in.
Looking down at the hole in the floor that the pier is going to come through. The first section is already full and the second section is ready to go in place.
Here's a shot of the pier after the whole thing had been poured and the forms removed. It extends 4 feet in to the trailer.
December 30, 2005 The roof is finally off. I attached 6 2" wheels on each side and put 4x4's on under them. Then I cut the roof off. The roof roll's on to the front part of the trailer. I placed aluminum angle strips on top of the 4x4's and the roof for the wheels to roll on and keep the roof from shifting as it rolls
August 2, 2006 It's been a while since I posted anything here. The new observatory is pretty much complete. I need to get out there and take some shots with it all set up. It's nice having everything set up, all I have to do is bring the laptop out, open the roof and I'm good to go.