Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Telescope Boot-Up & Perfect Granddaughter

Thursday we installed batteries and brought the scope to life.
We were lucky no none was killed.
Reading the manual by flashlight, we tried a polar alignment and I have to say it was a little spooky seeing the big telescope moving on its own.
Then we tried to focus in on something but we quickly decided we may as well have been looking up a goats ass, so we decided maybe a little more daylight manual reading is in order.

Friday morning I drove to the cities to see my son and his family who traveled in from New York with our new granddaughter Helena, Leni for short. Now I'm not much for babies but the only word I can come up with for her is Perfect and I do mean Perfect.
It was fun to see everyone, Pat's sister Sue and her husband Doug threw a great pool/dinner party on Saturday for the entire family. It's amazing how much fun kids have in pools.
Back up north Sunday night.
Monday I pulled down the scaffolding and started measuring for the raised platform that's needed because we chose to build with taller walls and door.

Total of 30" of lift will give us a nice eye piece height along with storage underneath for things like snow removal tools. So far the only tricky part is going to be the stairs
and remembering not to hit your head going up.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Very Big Week

Monday was sandblasting and paint day.
Sandblasting, on my fun shit-o-meter, is around a negative 5, just above going to the dentist for a root canal, but it went well.
The paint is a flat black spray can combination primer/paint that coated nicely and covered with only 3 applications. Tuesday was drying day.

Newly painted and sandblasted pier and wedge.

Jim arrived on Tuesday afternoon bringing all kinds of goodies with him including the CCD camera and it's manual, Photoshop 8, Photoshop Astronomy and a DVD astronomy course from the University of California, Berkeley entitled
Understanding the Universe.
He had told me last week how large the camera manual was, and I have to say the man does not exaggerate. The damn thing is huge. Watch for a separate blog posting on the camera later.
Earlier, I had also test fitted the wedge base plate to the bottom of the telescope and then packed the scope back into the shipping box for the last 3 mile trip to it's new home and I put up a set of scaffolding in the newly cleaned observatory.
Wednesday Jim was all fired up to mount the scope so we started by putting up the second set of scaffolding and then planking across the back of both scaffolds.
Then a trip out to the storage building for the telescope box and the wedge. When we got back to the observatory we placed the scope box on the rear planking and the wedge under the right set of scaffolding.
On the second trip we hauled the steel pier over, carried it in and installed it to the concrete pier. We then leveled it and tightened down the 3/4 inch anchor bolts.
On our third trip we picked up Jim's wife Michelle and headed into Grand Marais for lunch and 10 bags of sand to fill the steel pier, a must to deaden any ringing vibration if the pier is bumped. On the way back Jim asked Michelle if she would help us out and the three of us now had some heavy work to get done.
Filling the pier with sand was no big deal but lifting the 168 pound wedge from the floor to the top of the 6' tall pier hurt pretty good and we still had to lift the man killer telescope. It was even difficult getting the lid off the scope box inside the observatory with such limited room! With Michelle on a step ladder where she could see the bolt holes, we made the big lift and got the center bolt started, the other three bolts went right in and we then celebrated with Advil all around!

It was nice just to sit and look over all this hard work coming together.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Lots of Things Coming Together

Jim's been doing research and ordered the CCD camera, auto focuser and filters, and some of the items are being custom made to eliminate clearance issues.
The CCD camera has arrived and Jim is bringing it when they come up on Tuesday, I can't wait! The auto focuser is still a week or two away. Jim also mentioned that he had printed the CCD camera manual, a large three ring binder with 12 tabs. He's thinking it might be complicated, so do I.
The steel pier and wedge is back at the storage building and will get sandblasted and painted tomorrow. I had hoped to be done with this job, but the humidity has been very high making this kind of work next to impossible.

The heated control room building design is now final, I've done a lot of image searching on goggle for unusual small building and my favorite came on the Dr. Seuss Playhouse search.

Here is the link where I found it,
"The playhouse was designed and built by Rohan Goel, for his IB project and then raffled off"

I did build a small model to see if it scaled up larger without losing it's charm and it does work out just fine, construction will begin at the end of the month.
More planting this weekend when Pat was up, she has the grounds looking great, everything growing nicely including the grass and so far only 2 plants that our local deer, Bucky, just had to eat.

We are also looking into a set of tracks from American Track Truck for winter access to the observatory without spending half our lives plowing snow.
Here's a photo from their site, this system would make the 3 mile trip safe and warm.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Visual Learner and Wedge Building

I'm a visual learner so before I can build anything, I need a clear picture in my mind of the item I'm designing.
The process of wedge design was somewhat painful for a few reasons, first I was having trouble seeing the known angle of 47 degrees 44' 22". I just could not work out whether this angle was off the horizontal or vertical, so I had to call in the high paid help again.

Sam Parker is our project surveyor and a bit of an astronomy buff himself and thanks to Sam's help I was able to see it clearly. That man is worth every dime we're spending with his firm.
The second stumbling point was the design itself. A quick Internet search shows great diversity in wedge building, you can pivot the scope mounting plate from the top, middle, bottom or anywhere in between.
I would come up with an idea, let it roll around for a day, then change my mind, then change it again! This went on for weeks and last Friday I decided it had to stop. I made a call to Tom at Last Chance Fabricating asking for some more shop time and he was kind enough to agree. I figured about 8 to 10 hours would cover it and I only missed that time estimate
by 3 days (not bad) .

I started by cutting the base and telescope mounting plate out of 3/4" steel. I then welded 1/2" steel flat stock under the base to hold the bearings in place along with welding the 3/4" shaft on the scope mount

The triangular cantilever support is cut from 1/2" steel plate, heavy 6" square tubing with 8" disks welded to the bottom which will insert into the steel portion of the pier.
This photo shows cardboard patterns, I cut out a few designs before becoming happy with this one.

Installation of the 8" disks and side cut outs, now just need to finish up the welding and grinding.

Top view of the angle adjustment, the telescope mounting plate is trapped between two 1/2" thick pieces of flat stock that are drilled and taped for 3/8" fine threaded cap screws.
This allows for 5 degrees of total movement, that's 2-1/2 degrees both sides of my target setting.

Front view of adjustment screws.

Complete pier ready for sandblasting and paint, total weight around 400 lbs, not including the sand filling after installation. A special thanks again to Tom for the shop time, you can see what he's working on by looking on his blog or web site .