Well it’s been quite awhile. A little over 2 months since they broke ground on the observatory. Unfortunately things like work seem to get in the way! But we are happy to report the structure is now fully operational and all that is left is to install the instruments! My wife and I painstakingly undertook the many projects leading up to this point: painting and staining the wood, installing the fiber cable and flooring, securing the conduit joints, putting up the sign. No disasters thankfully. The electrician installed the power to the observatory and placed an outlet on one of the 2 piers. The other he couldn’t do because he was unable to pass the cable through the conduit. That was my fault because the conduit on the west side away from the panel was pointing to the other pier instead of toward the warm room. A few too many bends in it getting over there, but we were able to pull cord through it so he will come back hopefully soon and should then be able to use the cord we placed to get his electric cable through
A word about setting up a working observatory for possible remote operation. Obviously you need electric but you also need internet! So prior to observatory construction, there are 2 conduits that are installed in the ground by the contractor and these run from the house to the observatory. One is for electric and one is for internet. You should space them several inches apart apparently so there is no electrical interference.Up here in this development there a lot of folks doing this so I do not have to reinvent the wheel as it were. There are several former IT guys, Johnson Space Center alumni, engineers etc. No shortage of expertise in this stuff. Of course since I have never done this I would have thought: Ok no problem, just run some ethernet cable from the house and you’re good to go. I was told “no..don’t do that! Ethernet is too slow. You need to lay fiber cable!” OK so what is “fiber cable”? It happens to be fiber optic cable. It conducts data at the speed of light! Ok I understand “speed of light”. That is fast! So as it turns out it is not that complicated. We purchased the fiber cable on line. Very inexpensive to my surprise. About 200 feet of cable was only $75. What you need is this box called a “media converter” which modifies the signal from your router so you can then plug in the fiber cable and it will transmit the signal to the observatory optically. When it arrives in the observatory, a second media converter box changes it back so you can then run standard ethernet to your computer and other devices. The difficult part was pulling the fiber through the conduit. Another new experience! How does that work? How it works is you first take a durable plastic cord light weight, tape a plastic bag on the end and place the plastic inside one end of the conduit. Then take a vacuum and place it at the other end. This will suck the bag all the way through. You then have the cord running through the entire conduit. Then tie one end of the fiber cable to the cord and slowly pull it through the conduit. Took us a couple of tries but it finally worked!