The Elizabeth Observatory


Roll Off Roof Building made by entirely me

The Roll-Off-Roof Observatory was combined with a utility shed. The shed uses most of the space normally wasted under the roof supporting beams, and I don't have to mow around posts! The observatory is 6*7 feet, shed is 4*7. I used 4*4 inch beams for the roof to roll on. The construction of the existing pier is described in the equipment section. I've installed an old Pentium computer to handle the CCD camera. All parts were bought at Home Depot and Lowe's, and no exotic tools were used. I aligned to the property line rather than the usual North, it would look awkward if it stuck into the yard. The project was designed on the fly causing a few mistakes. It also went way over budget.

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The frame was built around the pier I built two years earlier.
The frame is made of 2*6 and 4*4, also note the surrounding trees.
My biggest mistake was forgetting to note the incline of the land.
I started the frame on the far corner, notice how the near corner
ended up underground. I dug around the beams and filled in
a "moat" with white stones as seen in the final pictures.

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The frame is supported by six steel spikes in the ground.
I notched the steel and 4*4 posts to better support the 2*6s.

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I've added the 2*4 studs, 5/8 in flooring, 1/2 in walls, and started the roof.
The flower pot was added after I bumped my head a few times.

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I used six steel wheels rated at 300 lb each.
The appliance wheels are only used to keep the roof centered.

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The two roofs are framed with 2*4 trusses.
The 1/2 in plywood is covered with tar paper and shingles.

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The six foot roof opens two feet past the shed.

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The trim and doors are painted dark flat green, as will be the interior.
The floor and lawn mower ramp are painted grey, Flower pot is now full.

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The observatory door is full height.
After I stained a few dozen cedar shingles green (see lower left) we changed our minds.

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I pulled the green shingles off, put up natural white cedar.

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Front view with shingles.
The four sides required about 830 shingles and 1700 nails, all done by hand.

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Roof open! Note there is plenty of clearance above 8 in SCT.
Note also the incline of the land caused the right side to go underground.

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Final photo of four month project after linseed oil applied to cedar.
I've spent many evenings using the observatory and I'm quite pleased.

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I wondered if the roof trusses would handle a foot of snow.
I found the roof would roll after a quick clearing of the snow with a push broom,

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The vents on the two roofs and at the base of the rear wall allow
fresh air to circulate and heat to escape. This photo is ten years later
and the cedar shingles have aged, eventually they will turn grey.

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An advantage of all wood construction is if I want to hang something up I pick
a spot and use a nail or screw. Need a shelf, cut a piece of wood and screw it in.
This applies to the pier as well which has four power supplies mounted on its sides.

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