Pier and wedge mounted

First you need to settle on the location. Our back garden offered a fairly clear south-facing view down the valley. Unfortunately the house, hills and a few trees obscure other directions, including - unfortunately - the western horizon. The observatory is oriented north-south, with the roof sliding off to the north.

Location set, the next step is to dig the foundation for the shed and the base for the pier. It is important that the shed is isolated from (i.e. not touching) the pier base to prevent vibrations as you walk around the shed floor transmitting to the mount, resulting in 'jitter' in your images. It is also important to give the telescope as solid a base as possible. The concrete base I produced for my set-up is about 1m x 1m x 1m - a tonne of concrete! I did the digging by hand over several muddy weekends but hired a mixer for the concrete. In the picture to the left you can see the shed base with a hole in the middle through which the pier base protrudes. The rest of the shed base is supported by concrete block set into 15cm of cement.

 Here are the various stages in the construction (the fun part at least, after all the digging). The man from Taylor's was a real star - there was a slight problem with one of the panels. He not only fixed it but helped me put the shed together, which I hadn't paid for! All that was left was for me and friend to man-handle the roof onto the shed body. It rolls extremely smoothly.

I should have said earlier, but when I was doing all that digging, I also dug a 60cm deep trench in which I laid armoured cable from the garage to the shed - a run of about 25m. Once the shed was in place, the cable was fed up through the floor and into a junction box.  I'm a fairly competent electrician but had someone qualified check my work out.

I have lighting and a power supply for the telescope, laptop, etc. I have used external waterproof light switches and sockets as it can get quite dewy overnight. I also bought one of those heated car seats which is strapped to my chair - it makes all the difference having that warmth to sit on during the colder nights!

Latest addition is a small dehumidifier which I bought on eBay. Generally damp is not a problem, but I do have a laptop in their so am erring on the side of caution. Besides, when I close up the roof after a dewy or frosty night, the dehumidifier is great at clearing away the residual moisture and dropping the humidity to around 65%. The one I bought also allows you to fit a drainage hose so that instead of having to empty a reservoir every day it continually drains.

So there it is - the construction took me about 10 days of hard work, but I'm able to use my equipment so much more often. Within 5 minutes the roof is off, the scope and PC powered up and I'm ready to go. In the Equipment section you can also read how I remote control everything (nearly) from indoors.

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