the build

Are we really doing this? On the same day I knew where I wanted to build it, I started digging. First we needed to transplant a walnut tree which decided to grow beside my chosen place. Easier said than done but after some swearing we could begin to dig the hole that would later support the telescope, it its around 80cm deep and has a length and width of one meter.

My sister helping me dig the main hole for the mount fundament.
The fundament is reinforced by steel.

The observatory is completely decoupled from the mount, a step necessary to reduce vibrations. The needed fundaments (11 in total) were dug with the help of a gas-powered drill a neighbour lend me (Thanks again!). This part was actually rather enjoyable although anything but relaxing.

The infamous gas-powered hole digger.

As you can see we used a sewer pipe (2m long, 25cm diameter) as our base for the mount. The pipe is equipped with sockets and everything needed to supply the equipment with power without getting caught in electric wiring. I also mounted hooks for the remote controls and drilled holes in the lower part of the pipe so the concrete and the reinforcement steel create a solid connection.

The prepared sewer pipe.

The connection between the concrete in the pipe and the equatorial mount, a Losmandy G11, is realised by an adapter made by JD Astronomie. The quality is top notch and it will allow me to upgrade to an EQ8 by Skywatcher if necessary. It also makes me want to own a lathe 😀

The adapter minus the part made for the Losmandy.

Okay in all honesty I got help for the hard work. We used approximately 3.5t of concrete for all the fundaments so I guess thats okay. I also got help cutting all the wood. A craftsman we knew helped to find faults in my design and delivered the material based on my construction plan.

Reassuring my measurements were correct (Fortunately they were).

The next step was filling the pipe with concrete and adding the adapter. At a temperature of above 32°C quite exhausting. It also needs to be guaranteed that it wont dry to fast which I did by simply keeping it wet for the next days.

120kg later it is all filled up,…
…aligned and leveled.

After a few days drying up I began to wire the sockets and painted the pipe black. This helped a lot in creating a more professional look (and subsequently destroying the “sewage”-association). The next step was digging the trench (80m long) for the power cable. Til today I think about the missed chance to rent an excavator…

Mogli inspecting my work.

Finally, after some weeks waiting, my observatory arrived. The rains the day prior created quite challenging conditions for the assembly. The truck got stuck and needed to get pulled out by a Telescopic handler and a pickup almost fell over.

The parts arrive mostly assembled.
The wet and clayey ground was too much for the truck.
The mechanism behind the roll-off roof.
Almost done.

The next day a roof was installed. After this I spent some time on the interior. I got a desk for the pc, several cupboards for equipment, did some carpeting and hang a few posters. This is a process that will probably never end. I also planted several fruits and berry bushes around the observatory and build steps for easier entrance, theres even a bench for “tourists”. This is a process that will probably never end, but of course there was a first light.

First light and polar alignment under a cloudy sky

Everything seems to work but there a still some minor problems which need to be fixed, nothing unexpected though. Since the equipment has some value I also installed several high-end security cameras.

The inside of the observatory at night, as seen by one of the security cameras.

I also found an easy way to get my home WLAN over a distance of around 100m to the observatory, simply by using a repeater at a well-chosen spot. Now finally I am proud to say that everything is set to go. I only need to open the roof, the rest can be done from anywhere. For now I need to improve my skills in astrophotography and do some fine tuning (and of course equipment upgrades). The never ending circle of a hobby 🙂