IMG 8438  Breaking ground. The diggers doing the digging... I wish. IMG 8454  Deep hole - 5 ft deep in rock hard clay. IMG 8458  Both wanted a turn to be in the hole. IMG 8476  Can't have too much rebar.
IMG 8484  The footing to keep the pier from moving (side to side, but particulraly up/down due to frost/frozen earth pushing up). IMG 8496  The 8ft rebar will be positioned as displayed here with about 4 inches of gravel at the buttom. IMG 8480  Rebar at footing (all of rebar should be kept in the concrete hence the wiring to keep the horizontal rebar (right) up in the air which will be be surrounded by concrete later. IMG 8487  Temporary template to space the anchor bolts that will later hold an aluminum template that will hold the mount.
IMG 8499 IMG 8500 IMG 8503 IMG 8504
IMG 8510  End is in sight... IMG 8514 IMG 8516  Several days and 19 bags (or 570 kg; 1266 lbs) of  concrete later... job is done. End of 2014 season. IMG 4064  Start of construction in July 2015. More than 30C and digging in the rock hard clay again.
IMG 4069  It appears to be square though footings are off but there is no way in hell that I am digging more to make it pretty - the adjustable features in the design will have to compensate (and they did). IMG 4082  One of many miracles: it is very close to level (after concrete has mostly set)! IMG 4106  The deck and internal wiring conduits. It is square and level and it will be a solid foundation for a straight structure. IMG 4134  After all this, the thing is square (well it is off by 0.25")!! All the measuring and re-measuring paid off.  Father came to help and mother kept us fed.
IMG 4144  Pouring footing for the roller support. IMG 4170  The roof proved to be the most challenging to get it right.  Father was invaluble for this exercise. IMG 4182  Created the minimum possible before putting it up on its place. IMG 4196  The rollers..
IMG 4202  Seemed like it was almost done... this is just half way... IMG 4404  another weekend... IMG 4683  Finally shingles - no more rain damage. IMG 4746  It is starting to look like a decent shed...
IMG 5073  Pretty much done the outside. IMG 5078 IMG 5082  The observatory plugs into a regular socket via an extension coord :) The wiring inside is just like a normal house with wall sockets and will mostly be 12V powered. IMG 5129  Before/raw picture of the materials used for the mount head.
IMG 5130  old L beam to be used to hold the factory made mount's mount head IMG 5134  I love using the grinders - they make a lot of sparks and they work! Cuts through steel and concrete beautifully. IMG 5144  Proof of concept that the two rotors will space sufficiently for the rest of the mount. Definitely not the pretiest and probably not the most clean and stable solution but for now it will have to do. IMG 5147  Up side that it will look better than the rusted scrap metal I started with.
IMG 5152  looks ok IMG 1907  Initial drift alignment yielded perfect round stars; I was checking if the mount is stable and later got drift.  So the mount is not as stable as I would like it to be - will have to re-align and see if it holds without touching. Later I'll have to re-build the pier coupling. IMG 1933  The finished product (at least externally). IMG 1875  The roof opens as planned.
IMG 1874  Part of the side flips open. IMG 1893  The rail and wheel solution. A bit rough when rolling so closing the roof is a bit painful but it is working well. IMG 1899  Inside still under construction so it is still messy but it is operational. guiding-observatory  Screen capture: Guiding results (a bit rough - need more tweeking - later sessions showed that it is possible).
imagecapture-observatory  Screen capture: image aquisition. piersetup  Pier adapter mistakes: 1) original tripod adapter - somewhat shameful, most likely reason for losing alignment if the scope shifted when after a meridian flip  2) 'rat cage' approach = tunning fork = vibration amplificator = very bad idea 3) electrical conduit bridges the floor with the pier - not a major source of vibration but with the tunning fork amplification it is bad enough 4) weight shift may be contributing to erratic tracking at times IMG 2132  The raw materials to redo the pier adapter from scratch. IMG 2139  Way easier to drill in the soft aluminum vs. steel.
IMG 2144  First part of the mount adapter (2.5" diameter) IMG 2146  Second part of the adapter (1 1/8 " diameter hole in the 2 inch block) IMG 2154  The two make an adapter that usually is one solid piece but for the lack of a milling machine, this is another way to achieve the same thing. IMG 2160  Beutify it a bit and get rid of sharp edges to limit possible body damage at night if accidentally bumps into the adapter (head particularily).
IMG 2162  All the individual pieces before putting it all together for the final time. IMG 2168  Finally finished after many unforeseen complications (numerous to mention - all this looks easier than it actually was). before after sm  Before and after product. Tried adjusting it during a calbration night and this mount adapter is way better fitting, much smoother in operationa and thus way more accurate than the factory one! IMG 2175  Time to try it out.
IMG 2202  The rebuilt setup (wiring + weights still temporary until I figure out the setup is correct).