First bad weather project of the year is to make a Copenican Orrery from a kit comprising 19 sheets of A4 card Plus numerous other parts, and needing 82 assembly steps.
Day 1: Completed base, steps 1-11
Replaced the stock Celestron Focuser with a
Starlight Instruments Feathertouch Microfocuser.
I lost around 6" in scope height when I switched from the tripod to the pier.
After looking at several possibilities, I almost stumbled on a SkyWatcher Tripod Extension, that adds 8" in height and should work just as well on a pier. It did mean that I had to lower the Pier Adaptor by just over an inch, but the whole process was very straight forward.
Just need a clear night to try it all out now
Today, finally, fitted the pier and leveled the adapter plate.
Relatively straight forwards, despite the pier base being slightly out of true. But the bolt positioning was perfect.
Installed the NEQ6 and C9.25.
It will be a while before I can do a proper polar align due to an inconvenient tree obscuring Polaris in the summer. However the centre of the pier is very close to the centre of the tripod previously (within 0.25") and I kept the Parked settings of the mount. Having also used a laser guide to mark the wall in direct line of the mount peg, alignment should be close enough for observing and short exposure imaging.
Assuming it ever stops raining that is!
Now focusing on running the many USB, power, and dew heater leads, fitting the dew heater and USB hub, and trying to reduce the overall spaghetti look!
So a busy few days tidying up the concrete surface, removing formers, cutting holes in the floor piece, and fitting the floor. Then rolling back the carpet and cutting a matching hole.
And now, it's all ready for the pier to be fitted, and then the fun can start!
Will allow a few more days curing, so the plan is to fit the pier on Saturday.
The end is in sight!
With heavy rain predicted for much of today, it wasn;t clear if the concreting would get done. However, there seemed to be a 2 hour window in the morning; would it be enough?
Rigged up a shelter, set up the mixer, and brought out some bags.
This is the first concreting of any size I have done, and certainly the first time I'd used a mixer!
Soon clear that this was a one bag at a time job, at roughly 5 mins per bag, and up to 18 bags to use!
Not really knowing what I was doing, and ably assisted by Louise, we pressed on at a pace. It's funny how you seem to make little progress for a long time, but eventually find the hole 3/4 full.
Finally reached the top, had used 15.5 bags of 18, so estimation wasn't too bad.
I'm convinced it is too wet a mix (but what do I know), but no option now but to smooth off and insert the bolts.
Now have a week to wait to see if it will set properly!
No sooner had we cleared up than the rain started, and boy did it start!
2 hours of rain, much very heavy and accompanied by thunder!
Further pictures on the main page.
Created the template for fitting the bolts into the concrete, and marked out the floor filler ready to cut the hole for the pier once the concrete is done.
Picking up a cement mixer tomorrow from a friend, and then off to purchase the concrete mix.
Last night I added hardcore to the hole, and fitted the former for the top of the concrete base.
Today the pier arrived on schedule, Altair Astro via Tring Astronomy.
Thankfully it comes in pieces as it is pretty heavy!
Next step is to make the template for bolt fitting, then its off to order the concrete and pick up a borrowed mixer.
I've officially declared the hole complete! The depth of concrete + hardcore will be the specified 90cm so I'm hoping that is good. It's not so hard loosening the soil now, but much harder to then get the soil up. The two-bladed hole digger was a great investment but now quite hard to handle at that depth.
Hardcore to go down later, and hopefully concrete next Saturday.
For reasons I won't go into, the original project for my observatory became quite traumatic. One issue that always plagued me was having an enclosed garden, and therefore having to lug all building materials (and the part-built shed!) through the house. In fact we lifted the roof over a 6' fence from an adjacent footpath. But the consequence was that I decided against doing a concrete base and pier mount, and instead opted for paving slabs and a tripod. You can see a photo log of the build on the main observatory page.