> Construction of a Remote Observatory in France

After visiting Les Granges for 12 years where I do my Deep Sky Imaging, Olly has given me a site on which to build a Remote Observatory. Olly sold the Issac Newton 20 inch Dob leaving me the area for the build.

After removing the Dob and some of the plinths, we cut back the shrubs and cleared out the site. This was all done over a weekend in May 2018.


We made good use of Olly's trailer collecting sand, gravel, and cement bags from the local quarry.


Once onsite, we had to fill plenty of barrow loads to get the materials up to the site.


While I went to Ireland, Olly built the Shutterbaords for the cement pour, which was to happen in August.


The build begins!
While visiting Les Granges for a fortnight in August, we began the build. We decided to make a concrete pier using pre-cast cement rings as the support walls for the pier. We used the existing base from the 20 inch Dob, and offset the pier on the base due to the dimensions of the planned observatory. We used re-bar drilled into the base as support for the pour.


The hardest part of the build. Mixing and pouring cement in 33C Summer heat! Smoothing out the cement did give a great result.


While the cement was drying, we constructed the walls. This was built up as box sections with marine ply as the skins. This was then all screwed together once the cement was dry. Olly got to enjoy a well deserved beer after another hot days work!


The walls were painted with a few coats of protective paint, and then the roof shell construction is begun.


The marine ply was again used for the roof skin, and corrugated steel for the roof, which was put at a small angle for rain run-off.


We decided to install the Mesu 200 mount at this point. This is a 100Kg capacity mount with a very low periodic error. I choose this mount as myself and Olly already own one which has performed flawlessly for years. It will be able to hold a dual telescope too, should I decide to go with that set-up. I like the idea of future proofing for more possibilities later.


While I was back in Ireland again, Olly installed the rails and wheels. The roof is super smooth on these rails. You can open and close it with one finger!


With another trip to France in Oct, we had the front panel and back door to build. I also installed the roof motor, which is a gate motor. We installed the rack and pinion rails for the motor and spend the day making minor adjustments to the set up. The PLC in the motor required teaching, and programming to get the right opening and closing speeds, and slow down as the end limits were reached.

Once the roof motor was set up, I wired up the shed for incoming mains 220v. From here I would use a UPS to close the roof in an event in a power failure, and then the Eagle 2 PC and Dragonfly which will control the software to all the equipment and the roof opening and closing. I'll be using a Tak 106ED to image with Atik full frame CCD camera, and an FS60 Guidescope.


Here is a video of the Trebuchet design front flap closing. At this point I was able to control the roof motor from my phone to the Dragonfly with a remote desktop connection to the Eagle 2. All of these are connected to the same network.


At this point, the observatory is almost ready for Remote Imaging. Once the Eagle 2 and Dragonfly can operate the equipment, the final step will be using scripts to run the scope and camera.

This way I can choose the objects, and let the script do all the work. This may take some testing and tweaking, as well as making sure that the safety measures kick in, should power be lost, or the roof hits an obstacle.

To be continued...