Construction

location 2

Construction has begun.  The observatory will be just east of the gazebo. The platform for the observatory will be about 2 feet high, it will allow me to get a fair shot to the south over the shed.

 
piers

Holes for the piers are dug.  Two holes bored out nice, quick and easy, the other three were into solid bentonite.   Bore a couple inches and the auger would heat and polish the clay into pottery.  Chip the bottom of the hole out with a spud bar and run the auger another inch or two.  Took about three hours, and a lot of sweat, to bore them.  There was zero moisture in the ground, if I had been thinking I would have worked some in with the root feeder a couple days ago, too late now.   Poured the piers the next day.  All the piers have 4 pieces of rebar in them and "J" bolts in the top to hold the platform.  The telescope pier has 4 "J" bolts in the top.  Corner piers are 8" and run about 36" into the ground.  They extend about 12" above grade.  Telescope pier is 10" diameter.  It runs about 48" into the ground, with a belling at the bottom to hold it against frost heave.  It extends 48" above grade.  Final height should run about 24" above the finished floor, add a 2" adapter I had welded up, plus the 10" height of the AP 900 mount and I think it will be about right.  I may have to have a slightly taller adapter made up, not a big deal, a local shop gave me a good deal on the first one. 

 
Pier Adapter

Picked up the pier adapter from the welding shop.  Steve did a great job, ground the edges much smoother that he said he would.  I figured on spending some quality time with my grinders getting it cleaned up, but instead all I need to do is get it painted.  :-)  He charged me $70 labor and $30 materials, not a bad deal at all.

 
Platform
12' x 12' platform is built.  I used double 2x12s for the beams on the north and south sides and the joists are 2x8s on 16" centers.  Materials are required by local code for these spans.  Flooring is 5/4 pressure treated pine, laid on the diagonal to eliminate any sideways movement in the finished platform.   It is a little springy when you bounce near the middle, but since the telescope pier does not touch the platform it won't be affected by any bounce of the platform.  I gave it 1" of clearance between the decking and the pier.
 
Delivery
Delivery Day!!!  Each box is easily managed by two people, their size makes them too awkward for one to do anything but drag.  Old Dominion delivered on a truck with a lift gate and the driver used a hand forklift to roll them into the driveway for me.  We broke them down where they sit, carried the pieces into the garage, cut down the cardboard, loading it and the pallets into the pickup to haul to the recycle center.  Could not have been any easier.
 
Full Garage
A fisheye of a somewhat full garage.  Everything came through in great shape.  A minor dent in one of the dome quads popped back out in a few hours in the cool garage.  I think its pretty ingenious how the POD bays are tapered to fit inside of each other to minimize shipping issues.  You don't really lose much space in them either.

Weather forecast for this weekend is <30 degrees and up to 8" of snow.  Go figure. 
 
Observatory
The following week most of the snow melted and it got in the mid 40's.  Dad came over and we put this puppy together in about 4 hours, taking few coffee breaks in the process.  I had preassembled the dome halves in the garage last week so the sealant had plenty of time to cure.  Everything went together without any difficulty.  Being roto-molded poly there is a fair amount of variation between the pieces so nothing lines up exact, but once assembled it works very well.  I still need to do some adjusting to the dome brackets to find the sweet spot for their tracking, but otherwise the basic construction is done.
 
Electrical is installed.  A couple 4-plex outlets and red & white rope lights, on dimmers, is all I think I need.  A heavy extension cord will provide the feed for now.  I have electric at the gazebo so I will plug in there.  If there are no issues using that circuit I will put in a permanent feed.  If that proves not to work, then a dedicated line from the panel will be run.

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