Piertech3 Adjustable Pier with AP1600 Experience


psparkman@...
 

Greetings everyone.  I am the recent lucky owner of an AP1600AE and I want to use it with my Celestron C14 for imaging.  I want to build a "Micro" observatory in my small suburban San Diego back yard.  I have a spot that will work, but need it to be as small as I can get it for my lovely Wife to accept it.  Essentially, I need it to be a 5' cube phone booth with a roll off roof.  I do strictly imaging, so it does not need to accommodate me in there while slewing around.  

With the scope this low, I am worried about extra humidity coming up from the ground, and this is a humid environment as it is.  Also, it would be nice to have the scope up higher to clear the sides of the "observatory" and my neighbors bamboo.  A potential way to solve my problems is to get a Piertech3 heavy duty height adjustable pier.  I could have it park 4 to keep the box as low as possible.  Then open the roof, and raise the pier up for imaging.  This will raise it another 20" and will help with clearance and humidity.

Does anyone have any imaging experience with the Piertech pier at longer focal lengths.  Will it maintain polar alignment well enough to reuse an APCC model?  Any other issues that I should consider with the Piertech?  Another other options or ideas?


Woody Schlom
 

Psparkman,

 

You say you live in San Diego.  Are you a member of SDAA (San Diego Astronomy Association)?  I ask because I believe there are several of us who have Piertech piers.  Mine is the smallest one (single column) and it’s in my mobile observatory and only holds a CPC-1100 Deluxe EdgeHD w/ HyperStar (around 100 lbs. when my LS80DSII Ha solar scope is piggybacked).  So it’s nowhere near as large as you need.  But I’m pretty sure there are at least a couple of the larger dual column PierTech piers out at the club’s Dark-Sky property in Tierra del Sol (near Boulevard, CA).

 

I’d find a 5’ x 5’ observatory with that scope and mount VERY constrained.  My mobile observatory is 7.5’ x 10’ and I’m using an Alt/Az mount – so no CW’s swinging around.  Personally, I wouldn’t go smaller than 10’ x 10’ if I could help it with your gear. 

 

Anyway, if you’re interested, I’m sure I can put you in contact with some club members who own the big dual-column PierTech piers – and I’m sure they’d be happy to demo them for you out at TDS (Tierra del Sol).  I’m not sure any of them have an AP-1600 or C14 on theirs (most seem to have Paramounts and various RC scopes), but the weights are probably similar.

 

And while out at TDS, you can see several types of observatories – roll-off roof, dome, etc.

 

Woody (you can contact me privately)

 

From: main@ap-gto.groups.io <main@ap-gto.groups.io> On Behalf Of psparkman via groups.io
Sent: Sunday, January 9, 2022 11:34 AM
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Subject: [ap-gto] Piertech3 Adjustable Pier with AP1600 Experience

 

Greetings everyone.  I am the recent lucky owner of an AP1600AE and I want to use it with my Celestron C14 for imaging.  I want to build a "Micro" observatory in my small suburban San Diego back yard.  I have a spot that will work, but need it to be as small as I can get it for my lovely Wife to accept it.  Essentially, I need it to be a 5' cube phone booth with a roll off roof.  I do strictly imaging, so it does not need to accommodate me in there while slewing around.  

With the scope this low, I am worried about extra humidity coming up from the ground, and this is a humid environment as it is.  Also, it would be nice to have the scope up higher to clear the sides of the "observatory" and my neighbors bamboo.  A potential way to solve my problems is to get a Piertech3 heavy duty height adjustable pier.  I could have it park 4 to keep the box as low as possible.  Then open the roof, and raise the pier up for imaging.  This will raise it another 20" and will help with clearance and humidity.

Does anyone have any imaging experience with the Piertech pier at longer focal lengths.  Will it maintain polar alignment well enough to reuse an APCC model?  Any other issues that I should consider with the Piertech?  Another other options or ideas?


Woody Schlom
 

Psparkman,

 

Regarding moisture coming up from the bottom of an observatory.

 

Almost all the observatories I’m familiar with are built on concrete slabs – except for mine which is a mobile observatory and is built on top of a flat-bed aluminum trailer.  I’ve seen photos of a couple of observatories that were built on stilts and had wooden floors.

 

With the observatories built on concrete slabs or my aluminum trailer, the owner then seals the joint between the floor and walls with lots of silicone seal.

 

And finally, I (and most others) also install some kind of dehumidification system.  The permanent observatories usually use electric dehumidifiers (such as those used in boats).  I use chemical ones in my mobile observatory (Dri-Z-Air in my case).

 

In addition to moisture, you need to keep out insects and rodents.  Mice can be a terrible problem as they chew on wire insulation – and ruin everything.  I know a guy who owns one of the old white 16” Meade “Research” SCT’s on a Meade Alt/Az mount.  Mice got into his observatory, and then up and into the guts of his mount – and chewed through the wire insulation.  He had to completely disassemble the mount and then install all new wires. 

 

I don’t know about observatories, but I know ants love to live in RV’s and once again, they eat the insulation off the wires.

 

Woody

 

From: main@ap-gto.groups.io <main@ap-gto.groups.io> On Behalf Of psparkman via groups.io
Sent: Sunday, January 9, 2022 11:34 AM
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Subject: [ap-gto] Piertech3 Adjustable Pier with AP1600 Experience

 

Greetings everyone.  I am the recent lucky owner of an AP1600AE and I want to use it with my Celestron C14 for imaging.  I want to build a "Micro" observatory in my small suburban San Diego back yard.  I have a spot that will work, but need it to be as small as I can get it for my lovely Wife to accept it.  Essentially, I need it to be a 5' cube phone booth with a roll off roof.  I do strictly imaging, so it does not need to accommodate me in there while slewing around.  

With the scope this low, I am worried about extra humidity coming up from the ground, and this is a humid environment as it is.  Also, it would be nice to have the scope up higher to clear the sides of the "observatory" and my neighbors bamboo.  A potential way to solve my problems is to get a Piertech3 heavy duty height adjustable pier.  I could have it park 4 to keep the box as low as possible.  Then open the roof, and raise the pier up for imaging.  This will raise it another 20" and will help with clearance and humidity.

Does anyone have any imaging experience with the Piertech pier at longer focal lengths.  Will it maintain polar alignment well enough to reuse an APCC model?  Any other issues that I should consider with the Piertech?  Another other options or ideas?


Worsel
 

Psparkman

I have a Piertech adjustable single column carrying an 1100 GT with a 2500mm scope in a 7x10 Piertech rolloff.  I park at P4 to clear the roof when closed.  Good images using a 320 pt APPM model, PHD2 at times.  Image scale = 0.5 to 1.5 depending upon camera. I check polar alignment every 6 months.  It changes a bit or not at all over the last 5 years

The piers are actually made by Linak.  Chris Erickson has been using them for a while and may have more to offer.

Bryan


Jerome A Yesavage
 

Yes, I have the Pier and I get fine images in all positions. 

I park at P5, but Bob Denny put the fear of God in me to not use ACP automation to park and then close the roof.  If I use automation, I have to have the pier lower so the roof always clears the scope no matter what the mount position.  Now Vito, says you can put a park position sensor on the controller, but I have never gotten this to work.  I have the proximity sensor and an extra toggle for showing the pier down, but I cannot get the roof controller to take these inputs reliably.  It will open and then raise the pier, but it closes before the pier is down (notta so good). 

This is the proximity sensor:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07CWT7KW6/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o04_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

The toggle sensor is the same Honeywell that is used on my roof.  Rock solid. 

If any of you have this working reliably, please show me your wiring and settings on the roof controller.  I fear I am doing something dumb (again).


 

>>> Bob Denny put the fear of God in me to not use ACP automation to park and then close the roof. 

I'm not sure what to make of advice not to fully use automation software from an automation software supplier 🤔

On Mon, Jan 10, 2022 at 8:43 AM Jerome A Yesavage <yesavage@...> wrote:
Yes, I have the Pier and I get fine images in all positions. 

I park at P5, but Bob Denny put the fear of God in me to not use ACP automation to park and then close the roof.  If I use automation, I have to have the pier lower so the roof always clears the scope no matter what the mount position.  Now Vito, says you can put a park position sensor on the controller, but I have never gotten this to work.  I have the proximity sensor and an extra toggle for showing the pier down, but I cannot get the roof controller to take these inputs reliably.  It will open and then raise the pier, but it closes before the pier is down (notta so good). 

This is the proximity sensor:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07CWT7KW6/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o04_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

The toggle sensor is the same Honeywell that is used on my roof.  Rock solid. 

If any of you have this working reliably, please show me your wiring and settings on the roof controller.  I fear I am doing something dumb (again).



--
Brian 



Brian Valente


Dale Ghent
 

I think Bob's point is more along the lines of don't trust *only* software to keep the unwanted from happening. If you're going to automate roof closures, make sure that your roof control system has the appropriate *hardware* safety interlocks installed to prevent the unintentional guillotining of your telescope. This would mean things like making it physically impossible for the roof motor to run if the mount isn't in the correct orientation.

On Jan 10, 2022, at 12:03, Brian Valente <bvalente@...> wrote:

Bob Denny put the fear of God in me to not use ACP automation to park and then close the roof.
I'm not sure what to make of advice not to fully use automation software from an automation software supplier 🤔

On Mon, Jan 10, 2022 at 8:43 AM Jerome A Yesavage <yesavage@...> wrote:
Yes, I have the Pier and I get fine images in all positions.

I park at P5, but Bob Denny put the fear of God in me to not use ACP automation to park and then close the roof. If I use automation, I have to have the pier lower so the roof always clears the scope no matter what the mount position. Now Vito, says you can put a park position sensor on the controller, but I have never gotten this to work. I have the proximity sensor and an extra toggle for showing the pier down, but I cannot get the roof controller to take these inputs reliably. It will open and then raise the pier, but it closes before the pier is down (notta so good).

This is the proximity sensor:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07CWT7KW6/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o04_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

The toggle sensor is the same Honeywell that is used on my roof. Rock solid.

If any of you have this working reliably, please show me your wiring and settings on the roof controller. I fear I am doing something dumb (again).




--
Brian



Brian Valente
portfolio brianvalentephotography.com


Christopher Erickson
 

Piet Tech/Linak columns are great devices when implemented properly.

A simple limit switch interconnected directly with the roof motor can make sure the roof can't close if the pier isn't fully lowered.

However the increased robotic Observatory complexity does come with some risks. Switches can fail, mount power supplies can fail. Robotic columns can fail. Etc.

Personally I would suggest NEVER have a robotic or remote Observatory design that requires a mount and/or robotic column to be in a specific position before a roof/shutter can be safely closed. Inevitably there WILL be an eventual malfunction someplace. And either your roof can't close and everything gets wet, or a scope gets seriously damaged by the roof.

For a Mach1/2, one Linak column is probably good enough. For a 900/1100 I would probably use two columns. For a 1200/1600 I would probably use 3 or 4 columns.

-Christopher Erickson
Observatory engineer
Waikoloa, HI 96738
www.summitkinetics.com
   

On Mon, Jan 10, 2022, 7:09 AM Dale Ghent <daleg@...> wrote:

I think Bob's point is more along the lines of don't trust *only* software to keep the unwanted from happening. If you're going to automate roof closures, make sure that your roof control system has the appropriate *hardware* safety interlocks installed to prevent the unintentional guillotining of your telescope. This would mean things like making it physically impossible for the roof motor to run if the mount isn't in the correct orientation.


> On Jan 10, 2022, at 12:03, Brian Valente <bvalente@...> wrote:
>
> >>> Bob Denny put the fear of God in me to not use ACP automation to park and then close the roof.
>
> I'm not sure what to make of advice not to fully use automation software from an automation software supplier 🤔
>
> On Mon, Jan 10, 2022 at 8:43 AM Jerome A Yesavage <yesavage@...> wrote:
> Yes, I have the Pier and I get fine images in all positions. 
>
> I park at P5, but Bob Denny put the fear of God in me to not use ACP automation to park and then close the roof.  If I use automation, I have to have the pier lower so the roof always clears the scope no matter what the mount position.  Now Vito, says you can put a park position sensor on the controller, but I have never gotten this to work.  I have the proximity sensor and an extra toggle for showing the pier down, but I cannot get the roof controller to take these inputs reliably.  It will open and then raise the pier, but it closes before the pier is down (notta so good). 
>
> This is the proximity sensor:
>
> https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07CWT7KW6/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o04_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
>
> The toggle sensor is the same Honeywell that is used on my roof.  Rock solid. 
>
> If any of you have this working reliably, please show me your wiring and settings on the roof controller.  I fear I am doing something dumb (again).
>
>
>
>
> --
> Brian
>
>
>
> Brian Valente
> portfolio brianvalentephotography.com
>







Jack Huerkamp
 

Christopher,

 

Linak makes columns with different thrust capacities – 1000, 1500 and 2500 Newtons.  For my system with AP1600 mount, 16” RC and Lunt 152, I fabricated a lifting column using two of the 2500 Newton Linak units.  The total lift capacity is 1124# and I have about 550# of mount, counterweights and scopes riding on them.

 

When you mentioned using 3 or 4 columns, were you considering using the 1000 Newton units instead of the 2500 Newton Linak columns?

 

Yours truly,

 

Jack

 

Jack Huerkamp

Jack's Astro Accessories, LLC

38388 Pine Street

Pearl River, LA 70452-5192

985-445-5063

mallincamusa@...

www.mallincamusa.com

30.37N  89.76W

 

All of us get lost in the darkness.
Dreamers learn to steer by the stars.

………………………………….Neil Peart

 

 

 

From: main@ap-gto.groups.io <main@ap-gto.groups.io> On Behalf Of Christopher Erickson
Sent: Monday, January 10, 2022 9:28 PM
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] Piertech3 Adjustable Pier with AP1600 Experience

 

Piet Tech/Linak columns are great devices when implemented properly.

 

A simple limit switch interconnected directly with the roof motor can make sure the roof can't close if the pier isn't fully lowered.

 

However the increased robotic Observatory complexity does come with some risks. Switches can fail, mount power supplies can fail. Robotic columns can fail. Etc.

 

Personally I would suggest NEVER have a robotic or remote Observatory design that requires a mount and/or robotic column to be in a specific position before a roof/shutter can be safely closed. Inevitably there WILL be an eventual malfunction someplace. And either your roof can't close and everything gets wet, or a scope gets seriously damaged by the roof.

For a Mach1/2, one Linak column is probably good enough. For a 900/1100 I would probably use two columns. For a 1200/1600 I would probably use 3 or 4 columns.


-Christopher Erickson
Observatory engineer
Waikoloa, HI 96738
www.summitkinetics.com
   

 

On Mon, Jan 10, 2022, 7:09 AM Dale Ghent <daleg@...> wrote:


I think Bob's point is more along the lines of don't trust *only* software to keep the unwanted from happening. If you're going to automate roof closures, make sure that your roof control system has the appropriate *hardware* safety interlocks installed to prevent the unintentional guillotining of your telescope. This would mean things like making it physically impossible for the roof motor to run if the mount isn't in the correct orientation.


> On Jan 10, 2022, at 12:03, Brian Valente <bvalente@...> wrote:
>
> >>> Bob Denny put the fear of God in me to not use ACP automation to park and then close the roof.
>
> I'm not sure what to make of advice not to fully use automation software from an automation software supplier 🤔
>
> On Mon, Jan 10, 2022 at 8:43 AM Jerome A Yesavage <yesavage@...> wrote:
> Yes, I have the Pier and I get fine images in all positions. 
>
> I park at P5, but Bob Denny put the fear of God in me to not use ACP automation to park and then close the roof.  If I use automation, I have to have the pier lower so the roof always clears the scope no matter what the mount position.  Now Vito, says you can put a park position sensor on the controller, but I have never gotten this to work.  I have the proximity sensor and an extra toggle for showing the pier down, but I cannot get the roof controller to take these inputs reliably.  It will open and then raise the pier, but it closes before the pier is down (notta so good). 
>
> This is the proximity sensor:
>
> https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07CWT7KW6/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o04_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
>
> The toggle sensor is the same Honeywell that is used on my roof.  Rock solid. 
>
> If any of you have this working reliably, please show me your wiring and settings on the roof controller.  I fear I am doing something dumb (again).
>
>
>
>
> --
> Brian
>
>
>
> Brian Valente
> portfolio brianvalentephotography.com
>






Virus-free. www.avg.com


Jerome A Yesavage
 

Exactly.  With Bob's software it always parks first but you are not sure if it really is parked.  Piertech has the option for a proximity sensort to be used to determine that yes indeed the mount is parked, but I habe nver gotten it to work, so I look through a camera.... btw my ROR is 6x6 and it is tight... could not imaging 5x5.


Jerome A Yesavage
 

I agree.   I had certain structural constraints and my observatory is on my roof with the pier linked to the main roof support to ensure stability.  To get in under codes I used a 6x6 design and it works, but as Bob Denny pointed out, make sure the ROR cannot hit the scope no matter where it is. 

Operationally, what this means is that the scope is lowered to where it cannot see above 45 DEG over the edge of the roof... then it is fail safe to a weather-related closure.  This really is not much of a constraint since my site is light polluted and low targets are in the worst milk. 

If I have a must-do lower target, I can raise the pier and disable the roof (only to be done in for sure good weather).  This can be controlled remotely using the Pier Tech controller software.  Too bad I could not put a dome on...

For the person considering a 5x5... do the geometry carefully... at best you get a 2.5' radius circle... my Stellarvue 130 barely gets in and you have to be very careful about all orientations... dew shield cannot go full out... but a lot of heat keeping dry.


Christopher Erickson
 

In my mind, how many columns are used or the lifting capacity of individual columns isn't as important as the overall rigidity of the assembly. As long as the combined lifting capacity of the columns is at least, say, 4 times the expected maximum load on the columns. That is not a scientific conclusion. It is just a subjective one based on experience.

-Christopher Erickson
Observatory engineer
Waikoloa, HI 96738
www.summitkinetics.com
   

On Mon, Jan 10, 2022, 5:59 PM Jack Huerkamp <Mallincamusa@...> wrote:

Christopher,

 

Linak makes columns with different thrust capacities – 1000, 1500 and 2500 Newtons.  For my system with AP1600 mount, 16” RC and Lunt 152, I fabricated a lifting column using two of the 2500 Newton Linak units.  The total lift capacity is 1124# and I have about 550# of mount, counterweights and scopes riding on them.

 

When you mentioned using 3 or 4 columns, were you considering using the 1000 Newton units instead of the 2500 Newton Linak columns?

 

Yours truly,

 

Jack

 

Jack Huerkamp

Jack's Astro Accessories, LLC

38388 Pine Street

Pearl River, LA 70452-5192

985-445-5063

mallincamusa@...

www.mallincamusa.com

30.37N  89.76W

 

All of us get lost in the darkness.
Dreamers learn to steer by the stars.

………………………………….Neil Peart

 

 

 

From: main@ap-gto.groups.io <main@ap-gto.groups.io> On Behalf Of Christopher Erickson
Sent: Monday, January 10, 2022 9:28 PM
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] Piertech3 Adjustable Pier with AP1600 Experience

 

Piet Tech/Linak columns are great devices when implemented properly.

 

A simple limit switch interconnected directly with the roof motor can make sure the roof can't close if the pier isn't fully lowered.

 

However the increased robotic Observatory complexity does come with some risks. Switches can fail, mount power supplies can fail. Robotic columns can fail. Etc.

 

Personally I would suggest NEVER have a robotic or remote Observatory design that requires a mount and/or robotic column to be in a specific position before a roof/shutter can be safely closed. Inevitably there WILL be an eventual malfunction someplace. And either your roof can't close and everything gets wet, or a scope gets seriously damaged by the roof.

For a Mach1/2, one Linak column is probably good enough. For a 900/1100 I would probably use two columns. For a 1200/1600 I would probably use 3 or 4 columns.


-Christopher Erickson
Observatory engineer
Waikoloa, HI 96738
www.summitkinetics.com
   

 

On Mon, Jan 10, 2022, 7:09 AM Dale Ghent <daleg@...> wrote:


I think Bob's point is more along the lines of don't trust *only* software to keep the unwanted from happening. If you're going to automate roof closures, make sure that your roof control system has the appropriate *hardware* safety interlocks installed to prevent the unintentional guillotining of your telescope. This would mean things like making it physically impossible for the roof motor to run if the mount isn't in the correct orientation.


> On Jan 10, 2022, at 12:03, Brian Valente <bvalente@...> wrote:
>
> >>> Bob Denny put the fear of God in me to not use ACP automation to park and then close the roof.
>
> I'm not sure what to make of advice not to fully use automation software from an automation software supplier 🤔
>
> On Mon, Jan 10, 2022 at 8:43 AM Jerome A Yesavage <yesavage@...> wrote:
> Yes, I have the Pier and I get fine images in all positions. 
>
> I park at P5, but Bob Denny put the fear of God in me to not use ACP automation to park and then close the roof.  If I use automation, I have to have the pier lower so the roof always clears the scope no matter what the mount position.  Now Vito, says you can put a park position sensor on the controller, but I have never gotten this to work.  I have the proximity sensor and an extra toggle for showing the pier down, but I cannot get the roof controller to take these inputs reliably.  It will open and then raise the pier, but it closes before the pier is down (notta so good). 
>
> This is the proximity sensor:
>
> https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07CWT7KW6/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o04_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
>
> The toggle sensor is the same Honeywell that is used on my roof.  Rock solid. 
>
> If any of you have this working reliably, please show me your wiring and settings on the roof controller.  I fear I am doing something dumb (again).
>
>
>
>
> --
> Brian
>
>
>
> Brian Valente
> portfolio brianvalentephotography.com
>






Virus-free. www.avg.com