I am allowed to build an accessory building of 120 square feet without a permit.  I asked the county about an observatory and got three different answers as to the need for a permit.  Since I am staying under 120 square feet I am not too worried about the permit issue, but it would have been nice to have got consistent answers from the county.  Everything will be done according to local building codes, so if the county later demands a permit I won't have to rebuild anything.


Bentonite is a clay.  If you search the web, you will find many uses for it.  Unfortunately, it can cause major  structural problems and there is a lot of it in the ground around here.  Is absorbs water like a sponge, expanding like crazy, shifting and cracking foundations, sidewalks, roads, etc.  It is also a major pain to dig in, it was almost impossible to bore out the holes for my piers, even with a two-man powered auger.  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 three holes.  The other two holes missed bentonite and bored out in a few moments.

Pier Forms

I used preformed cardboard tubes for my piers, it works very well.  But, I really wanted to pour the telescope pier a little taller.  No one stocked any tubes longer than 48 inches in the local area.  I asked Lowes if they could get the longer ones, they are available in 10 foot lengths, and they were not interested.  A local lumber yard said they wouldn't order just one.  I just used the 48" tube and the pier will be a little shorter than I wanted, but should work OK.  I can have a taller pier adapter welded up if I find my current setup is too low. Update: After getting everything setup, the pier height is almost perfect, I can almost make the horizon to the east.  I don't need a stool to reach the eyepiece at any location, yet it is tall enough I don't have to sit on the floor either.


1.  Its a good thing that assembly of the POD is not critical.  None of the wall sections come out even across the top so many of the rollers are not supporting anything.  However, it rotates easily and fairly smoothly. 

2.  I can't get the gasket to seal between the dome halves at the pivot.  I've tried two ways of doing it and both pull apart when the dome is opened.  Gotta watch the video again to see what the heck I'm missing. 

3.  Initially when I rotated the dome the hubs popped out of two skate wheels and things hung up.   After a few warm days, things kind of settled in and the wheel issue went away.

Boat Effect

Anyone that has had a boat knows what I am talking about here, it is a hole in the water that you keep dumping your money in.  Its kind of like that with the observatory.  There is a constant stack of $50 receipts to Lowes and Home Depot that I keep putting in the computer.  Every time I pick up some parts I think I'm done.  Get out in the observatory and I forgot to get some screws I needed, or some wire channels, or Velcro, or ???

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