Birmingham Astronomical Observatory
New Construction

This page contains updates to my observatory construction progress.


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The photos on this page are reduced from their original size to 800x600 due to me being in the sticks and stuck with dial-up internet service, my apologies! I hope that they are representative enough of my construction ideas to spur others to come up with their own.

If there is something here that begs a question please feel free to ask!

The beginnings of a new observatory

This is the site in my yard where I chose to build my new observatory. The view is looking to the west and you can see that I have little obstruction. Actually my worst view is to the southeast as there is a large Maple tree behind the garage, but I can live with that.

I had to reinforce the sides to my deadman hole to keep the dirt from trying to fill it back in.

This photo shows my deadman hole which I had to reinforce to keep the sides from caving in. Fortunately I had some scrap lumber and corrugated fiberglass I could sacrifice for the purpose. All of the sod has been cut out of the area and heavy plastic sheeting and gravel will hopefully keep things from growing there.

This photo shows my floor joists, note the double joists on either side of where the pier will be.

In this photo you can see my floor joist layout, and yes they're only 2x6s. I have under bracing and double joists which ensure that there is minimal floor that is unsupported. Everything is braced, glued and screwed together.

Just after the truck left. I actually got more than I ordered so the concrete extends under the joist bracing.

It's a little difficult to see in this photo but the concrete actually extends to almost 50% of the ground under the floor. The driver actually had more concrete on the truck than I had ordered so we poured it to support the 4x4 under floor supports for the floor joists.

After mounting the plates and wedge. I later shortened the bolts for the upper and lower plates due to excess flexure.

I took this photo right after the paint dried on the subfloor. The subfloor is held in place with Liquid Nails Subfloor Adhesive and deck screws. Everything about the floor is extremely ridgid and there is almost no flex but I am planning on adding a finish floor, and probably carpet, after the walls and roof go up and it too will be glued in place except for the under floor access panel. The panel will allow me to get to the wiring running under the floor in a box section coming from the office/warm room to the pier base. This will be large enough so I can have my AC/DC converters under the floor and out of the way also.


Today, 3/6/07, I got the four walls framed for the observing room. This photo is looking roughly to the northwest.


This is another photo taken on 3/3/07 and is looking roughly to the southwest. You can see in this photo that I still have some catching up to do on my office! Note that what you don't see are lots of houses and neighbors! <grin!!>


It doesn't look like much progress but I did manage to get five pieces of siding cut to size and installed between the rain showers today. I took a full week off while I had company here at the house and I am just now getting back into the building mode!


We had a break in the Spring rains today so I was able to get the rest of the siding up. I also built all four of the stub walls that will attach to the roof, adding another 13" to the height of the walls shown in this photo.


Today, April 2, 2007, I was able to get all the roof rafters and stringers in place. I am planning on using corrugated fiberglass panels for the actual roof. My design is such that someday I may take the entire roof off and replace it with a dome....but that is down the road a bit! The fun part will be jacking up the roof structure so I can reattach the wheels. I built this way so I could make sure that the roof and stub walls totally line up with the base walls.


4/23/07 - Just so I would have a photo I ran out and took this one. If you use your imagination you can see my roof under the plastic that I have in place to keep the rain out. In this photo you can also see part of the door and the rail supports I have installed.

Let's start a new column so folks don't have to do so much scrolling! Below are a couple photos of where my construction is as of 6/6/2007.


The photo above is looking roughly SE. Behind the observatory you can see the house about 140' away and my one obstruction, the Maple tree behind the garage, which you can't see.


The photo above is generally facing the SW. There really isn't much that way except pasture and cattle.


6/18/2007 - I took this photo and the next one below today after I had finished installing the trim boards. Until I get the weather seals installed you might note the presence of black plastic which I have in place to keep the rain out.


This photo shows the weathering the siding has taken on down near the bottom, where my covering plastic did not reach. I'm hoping the upper part of the siding will weather close to what the bottom has done. Hopefully that will happen pretty soon so I can treat the siding.

I took this photo yesterday, 7/2/07, of the observatory with its coat of stain and preservative. I can't say that I am all that fond of the color, Sierra Redwood, so I might paint the whole building later down the road but for now it does afford some weather protection.

3/15/08 - I've tried a number of times over the past three days to upload a new photo of my construction progress with no luck. Though I can find no information I think I may have reached the maximum allowable space here. I also have a Flickr account and will upload some photos there that I will link to below.