Conlin Hill Observatory -- 42 7' N, 71 54' W


Anyone who has ever hauled out a big field tripod complete with a heavy super wedge and then picked up a 75+ pound LX200 and fitted it onto the wedge finds out fairly quickly that this is not something you want to be doing on a regular basis. This is particularly true once the cold, ice and snow set in. In the Summer of 2002, I purchased my LX200 used on AstroMart, a great resource for amateurs (ASTROMART Classifieds). Setting it up on warm Summer nights wasn't too bad, but I knew I'd need a permanent spot for it before it got too cold.

I decided that a dome was the best way to go. Domes have the edge in dew prevention, wind protection, and style. I had a limited budget, and after looking at the pre-fab domes, I gave up on the idea. A dome is really the way to go, but since I couldn't afford one and I didn't have confidence that I'd be able to make one myself before the cold set in, I examined 2 other options: roll off roof and roll back shed. The roll off roof seemed to me to be potentially difficult to build, and is susceptible to dew problems since it opens and exposes the interior completely. The roll back shed offers -some- shelter from dew and wind (not for the scope, but for charts, computer, eyepieces, etc.) and has the added benefit of being relatively easy to fabricate.

I completed my designs in September 2002 and by the end of October, the building was complete. It makes a huge difference! Using the big scope is now very easy and I put a lot more time in than when I had to set it up each night. Another benefit of having a permanent setup is that the polar alignment can be set very accurately and not lost in the setup - breakdown process.

Watch amazed, as the observatory shed rolls back to reveal the LX200!

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It's man powered, I push against the back (North) wall to roll it back, and against the South side to return it into home position. The whole thing weights less than 200 pounds and is very easy to move.

The shed rolls on 10 2.5" non-swivel casters, 3 each on the East and West sides, one on either side of the front doors, and 2 evenly spaced on the North side. Pieces of black carpet protector were tacked along the outside bottom of all sides to keep out the elements.

I built shelves around the East, North and West sides to hold all my gear - it's key to have as little on the deck as possible. The only thing I don't keep on the shelves is the ETX70 which I place as close to the pier as possible to prevent it from interfereing with opening and closing the shed.

The LX200 fits snugly inside the shed, note that I must turn it upside down to clear the door (you can see the ETX90 and homemade dew shield under the LX200). I figured the pier height based on the height of the shed, which is not the same as the height of the door opening (d'oe!). I've got about 4 inches of clearance, not enough for the piggyback ETX90 so I flip it upside down. If I were to do it again, I'd pour the pier 8" lower.

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