Whispering Pines Observatory (WPO)
This page will document the construction of the "Whispering Pines Observatory" in Franktown, Colorado. One of the reasons for moving to Franktown was to get away from the Denver light pollution as much as possible and still maintain a reasonable commute to work. My commute is now 40-45 minutes.
The project has begun with the selection of a pier, dome and construction plans. The site is located on our 3 acre property approximately 140 feet from the house. There are no bright lights that I do not control in a 360 degree radius of the site.
This panoramic picture traverses North -> East -> South -> West -> North. The house is East.
My plan is to build a 10x10 foot wood frame structure 4 feet high to mount a 10 foot ProDome on. After the dome is constructed, I plan to erect a shed next to the dome as a warming/control room. But first, I have to prepare the site.
This picture shows the site before any digging has started. This picture is facing west.
This picture shows the beginnings of the foundation and the floor. The site is not level so I had to make sure that the floor was level. The pier will be located in the center. I still have to dig that hole!
Finally, The pier has been poured. I dug an 18 inch diameter, 5 foot deep hole for the pier. I then drove three, 5/8th inch rebar's an additional 2 feet into the bottom of the hole and cut them off just above ground level. I then inserted an 18 inch sonotube approximately 18 inches into the hole. It took about 24 sixty pound bags of concrete to fill the entire hole to the top. I then set the pier anchor bolts using the form in the foreground of the picture. I took care to line the bolts up correctly so that the pier will be facing North when installed. Now I will let it cure for a full week.
Finally a break in the weather. The walls are now framed. Now I need to anchor the walls to the floor with 5" lag bolts then put up the side panels. Since the dome will not ship for a month and a half, I will probably work on the electrical stuff next.
The walls are covered and even though it is not in this picture, the door is installed with double locks. Also, the platform on the top for the dome is in place. Electrical work starts this Sunday.
I am nearly complete with the construction. The dome is anticipated on Friday 10 June. That is this coming Friday. I still need to have power run to the site and I have yet to finish the tops of the corners. The wiring is complete inside and a breaker box is installed waiting for the hook-up.
This picture shows where I will mount the dome. The mounting ring is made of 2x6 planks cut to an octagonal shape. My drawings indicate that the dome will mount on this just fine! As you can see in this picture, the roof corners are not complete. That is next. Maybe tomorrow!
I have closed off the hole in the center where the pier is mounted. I have to put some kind of gasket around the hole to keep the bugs out! Still need to finish the inside walls but that can happen at anytime.
THE DOME HAS ARRIVED!!
The crate measures 4 feet high, 6 feet wide and 8 feet long! It weighs 875 lbs!
Frank brought it out on his truck after I had it delivered to his business. We pushed it off on some car ramps then Frank pulled forward and it unloaded as smooth as can be, Now comes the assembly!
The dome is installed. Al, the guy who helped with the wiring came over Saturday and we mounted the dome on the WPO. I still have to install the electrical dome drive and shutter units but it is now basically usable!