|16" f/10 Meade LX200R Telescope, LX200GPS SMT Mount|
Vol 5 No 2 (click on 'Publications Page' and then 'Volume 5 No. 2') of the SAS Newsletter describes a unique attachment of the Meade Steel Pier to the observatory block pier and some modifications to the steel pier that has resulted in a very accurate method for alignment on the true north pole .
In 1981 I purchased (started making payments) a five acre parcel of land approximately 7 miles, in a straight line, south east of Prescott, Arizona near Dewey.In 1981 I purchased (started making payments) a five acre parcel of land approximately 7 miles, in a straight line, south east of Prescott, Arizona near Dewey. At about 5,140 ft. elevation, this was to be my future observatory site and retirement home. The property is in an unincorporated area of Yavapai county and is in a subdivision called Blue Hills.
I obtained a construction permit In 1983 for both the observatory and home. Having the correct priorities, I started and finished construction on the observatory first. In 1983 the telescope footing (a 5x5x5 cubic foot volume of concrete) and floor were poured. I had expected to get the observatory, including building the dome, done in time for Halley’s comet. This was a gross underestimation, as all my projects are, and it was not until 1989 (working on weekends, holidays, and vacation time) that the dome was hoisted on top the building and I was able to use it. Even then, I had not constructed and put up the outside stairs and landing yet and I had to use a ladder to get to the second story. The dome and observatory are my own design, and I built everything myself without any help from anyone to hold or lift things. That is the reason it took so long. The only work I did not do was the concrete and block work.
The building is 16x16 feet and two stories high. There is a small patio area to the west of the building that you can see in the image. The 32 inch square pier is made of 8x8x16 inch cinder block. The 16x16 inch center hole that results from laying blocks in the dimension of a 32 inch square was left unfilled. The blocks themselves were reinforced with #3 rebar and filled with grout. I got the idea for this kind of pier from a visit to one of the professional observatories, although I do not remember which one. This pier is about 12 feet high but is so rigid that I can kick it very hard and get hardly any movement in the field of view.
Originally, the dome was intended to be a smaller 11 foot four inch prototype test of my design for a larger 16 foot dome, but it took such an immense amount of time to build (again I grossly underestimated the time and work it would take) that the prototype became the permanent dome. The dome frame was constructed from 1.5 inch, one inch, and ¾ inch square steel tubing of 1/16th inch wall thickness. The horizontal base rings (to which 6061 T-6 1/4" thick aluminum plate was attached as the running surface for rotating the dome) and split rings for the dome slit were rolled into circles by a commercial metal fabricator. The pieces of the frame were welded together with a gas welder, the 0.025 inch 3003 aluminum sheeting was attached with pop rivets, and the bottom running plate of ¼ inch thick 6061-T6 aluminum plate was bolted in place.
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