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About David Arditti. I'd also save on materials by using inch spacing for all the roof framing, but I'd keep inch spacing for the floor joists. Last, I'd choose a better grade of siding than the waferboard used on the doghouse. Waferboard or other inexpensive sheeting is still suitable for the floor and roof as long as the latter is covered with asphalt shingles or an approved roofing material. Although the doghouse was basically a build-it-as-you-go project, a few sketches were needed to sort out some specific measurements.

Di Cicco used surplus steel rails, but the design detailed here uses commonly available materials. Click on the sketch for a cross-section plan. My doghouse required seven sheets of 4-byfoot building material with a minimum of waste. The floor and two long walls were one sheet each, while the end walls were made from one sheet cut in half.

Each half of the roof and its corresponding side wall were made from a single sheet. The seventh sheet was for the roof's north end and fold-down southern panel, and there was enough scrap left over for a set of shelves in the home observatory. Framing was all done with 2-by-4s except for the floor, which used 2-by-6s. The 3-byfoot access door was in the back northern wall.

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  5. Setting-Up a Small Observatory: From Concept to Construction.
  6. Making your own observatory!

The roof rolled on eight wheels made for garage doors. My original building had the wheels running on steel U-channel track left over from a previous project. Garage-door track would be a good alternative, but it is not a stock item at building-supply stores in my area. Thus the design I propose in the diagram above uses aluminum angle stock, which is readily available. Another length of angle stock mounted above the wheels would prevent the roof from lifting off in high winds. In climates where ice and snow might clog the track, one option would be to place a length of electric heat tape behind the aluminum track in a groove routed into the wooden support.

This tape, commonly sold to keep water pipes from freezing, would be needed only along the portion of the track that extends outside the building. I used to chip accumulated ice off the doghouse tracks with a screwdriver, but it's amazing how tenacious ice can be, and I'd certainly use heat tape if I built a new doghouse. At first I worried about keeping a building with a moving roof weathertight. But my fears proved unfounded.

Only during the most extreme wind-driven rains did a small amount of water work its way through the seams. While I didn't bother with it, you can always add weatherstripping to any points that are prone to water entry.

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These photos detail the doghouse's star-chart storage racks top , fold-down panel lower left , and door lower right. In order to clear the telescope, the south end of the doghouse roof was left open. Thus, the roof itself is like a squat covered bridge with the north end solid. A fold-down panel on the building's southern wall gives the telescope access to the horizon.

Shop Setting Up A Small Observatory From Concept To Construction

The area between the wall studs was surprisingly useful for storing star charts and the like. It's amazing how efficiently space can be used when you're forced to work in a cramped area. It was wonderfully convenient to sit at the eyepiece and have everything in the home observatory within arm's reach. Wondering how much it would cost to build the doghouse today, I made a trip to the local Home Depot. The cost goes up only a little if you switch to pressure-treated lumber for the floor joists, which is advisable.

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  • The magic of wide-angle photography made the doghouse appear spacious here. But even though it was modest in price and size, it served its builder for nearly seven years.

    Setting-Up a Small Observatory: From Concept to Construction

    How big a job is something like the doghouse? For anyone with even a modest amount of skill, it's a pretty easy project. My rule of thumb is that if you can handle a tape measure, circular saw, and hammer, and if you think you can build it, you will almost certainly succeed. Bookstores and home centers are filled with how-to guides for the weekend do-it-yourselfer.

    I highly recommend two low-cost books that are filled with good ideas and will help translate construction jargon. They cover every aspect of a building project from laying out the site through basic interior finish work but do not cover plumbing or electrical wiring. The first is a Dover reprint of a work prepared by the U. It has good sections on concrete and masonry work and can be ordered online from Amazon. The other is Leroy O. A good place to start is Abe Books.

    Building a Shed Observatory in 5 minutes

    If you decide to build a doghouse or other home observatory, please send me a photograph or two of the finished project dicicco SkyandTelescope. We may publish a roundup someday, and it would be nice to include any innovations you may come up with.