Building of the new Stark Bayou Exploradome Observatory 2012
In Nov of 2011 I started building a new domed observatory to replace my older Roll Off Roof
The project took approximately 2 months and started with the replacement of my old deck. I decided to purchase a 8’ Exploradome. I used observatory plans available on the Exploradome website.
After the completion of the deck, it was time to start on the Observatory. The pier base was the next step. The plan was to use a 3x3 ft pier foundation, 2ft underground which would hold a 12” sonotube Pier. Once the measurements were made on where the pier would be in relation to the Observatory, it was time to dig the foundation and pour the foundation and pier.
The foundation and pier were pored in one step using many bags of quick krete. Once the concrete was cured it was time to build the framing. Since I live in hurricane country, I wanted to make sure the observatory was firmly bonded to the ground so I used 16 4x4 posts set 3 ft underground in concrete to hold the base framing. The floor framing was bolted to the 4x4’s. 3/4” treated plywood was used for the floor. The pier is also totally isolated from the observatory so any movement inside should not affect the mount or scope.
The observatory framing was started after the completion of the floor. Each stud was tied to the floor framing using hurricane ties. I decided to build the walls 6” higher than the exploradome plans to give me a bit more headroom. The roof structure was also bolted and tied to the framing using hurricane straps on every stud. I decided to wall the observatory using Hardy Board since it is essentially concrete and is unaffected by insects, moisture and has high strength. Finally the building was complete although missing the dome.
The dome arrived a few weeks later and after some gracious help from my neighbors we mounted the dome to the observatory.
After the dome was on, it was time to do the wiring, paneling and carpet the floor.
My previous mount an MI-250 was mounted on the pier, the computer work station added and the dome rotation system installed.
My 2 1/2 month project was complete in early February. Now its time to do some imaging.....
A video showing the dome automation is available here: http://youtu.be/Bon4FQAi8ZM