Backyard Observatory Using SkyShed Plans




Introduction: Backyard Observatory Using SkyShed Plans

Building an astronomy shed!

Step 1: STEP 1 - Identify the Site and Build the Pier (4/14-5/3)

This was done in a previous post: Building a Concrete Telescope Pier and Adapter.

Step 2: STEP 2 - Construct the Floor (4/23-5/19)

After leveling the ground as best as possible, six 7' 10.5' pressure treated (PT) 4x4s were set on paving stones and cinder blocks until they were level. A seventh 4x4 was cut in half and added to the center for additional support. Roof shingles were used for further leveling. Two 8' - 1 x 4s were attached to the ends of the 4 x 4s. The SkyShed plans called for laying down 1x10s for the floor, however, I decided to put a sub-floor of half-inch PT plywood and then add PT 1 x 10s. After a couple weeks the 1 x 10s started to warp so I removed them and and made my floor out of 0.75" plywood. I added two coats of all-weather varnish for protection.

Step 3: STEP 3 - Construct the Walls (6/13-6/21)

I the frames of the walls separately and then attached them to the floor with deck screws. Since I was working alone I did not attach the walls to the frames yet. I pretty much followed the plans from SkyShed except I purchased a 14" by 21" aluminum window from Amazon.

I had to be creative in order to hang the T-111 walls. Fortunately I have numerous clamps to fill the job of a helper.

Step 4: STEP 4 - Construct the Roll Off Rails (6/29)

I followed the updated plans from SkyShed for the roll off support for the most part. I built my Roll Off Support Jacks out using 1/4" thick 4 x 4 steel plates from Lowe's (I cut them to size) and 5/8" diameter 8" galvanized bolts. I had to chisel a hole in the paving stone to make room for the bolt. The cost to make my own was a little less than $30. Lastly, I had a problem with leveling the far beam as an uneven very large boulder or bedrock was exposed on the surface. I had a bag of concrete leftover from the pier so I built a small berm using local rocks and poured the concrete into the berm to make a level platform.

Step 5: STEP 5 - Construct the Roll Off Track and Support Runner (7/1)

Getting the garage door track was little time consuming as I had to check with several garage door companies before I found that would order it for me. I ordered 4 - 9' sections and screwed them onto to roll off support beams. I contacted a SkyShed installer for advice on what screws to use to hold the track, they recommend #10 or #12 panhead bolts 2.5" or 3" in length. At first I used the #10 screws but when I was sure they would not hit the roller balls, I used the #12 screws. Also, I ordered 20 nylon rollers and hinges from Amazon.

Step 6: STEP 6 - Build the Roof Frame (7/12)

I followed the plans from SkyShed for the the gable and roof construction again using deck screws. I build the gables on the ground and then attached them to the secured roll off slider. For building the roof frame I used a 2 x 6 for the main cross beam and used a 2 x 4 support to level and hold in place. I then added 2 x 4 angle braces for added security. Next, two 2 x 4 trusses were added to each side of the structure. Following SkyShed plans, I attached 2" by 4" hangers with #9 Simpson screws and then the 2 x 4 support beams into the hangers.At this point, the roof is ready to be attached, however, I did not realize the metal roof had to be ordered and it would be at least thee weeks to be delivered (that's what I get for not checking).

The above photo shows the shed with the temporary roof consisting of 1/4 inch plywood with 30-gage paper. The good news is, it did not leak!

Step 7: STEP 7 - the Door (7/13)

The door was pretty much to the SkyShed plans only I used the T-111 rather than the 10" boards. Also, I used higher quality poplar 1 x 4 rather than pine.

Step 8: STEP 8 - the Roof (8/10)

After removing my temporary roof, I installed the charcoal gray steel roof. Again I followed SkyShed's plans for this but just a couple of notes for the non-roofers:1) the screws are specially made for installing metal panels as they have a rubber washer attached to seal it from rain,2) it is extremely hard to find a beam to screw into, you might want to turn the crossbeams onto their side so you have a larger target.

So what do you do if you do miss the beam? I missed four times. What I did to fix this was remove the screw, attach another board next to the beam I was aiming for, then put the screw back only now there is a board to catch it. It may not be pretty but it works.

Step 9: STEP 9 - Weather Proofing (8/12)

For weatherproofing I attached a 1 x 6 onto the backside of the roof about 1/4 inch above the wall. On the roll-off side I attached a 1 x 10 onto the roof covering the opening.

Step 10: STEP 10 - Electrical (8/17)

I purchased a 30 amp circuit breaker box and ran 14/2 Romex wire in 3/4 inch PVC conduit out to the shed. The conduit was buried to a depth of six inches. The shed has 2 outlets on the wall and one at the base of the pier.

Step 11: FINALLY

It is done!

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    5 Discussions


    Question 2 years ago

    I'm looking at building a roll off roof observatory myself and likely going to get the skyshed plans since I don't have the knowledge on how to design and build one without help and I'm wondering how much did the total cost of materials for this build end up being? I know they advertise that they include the list of materials with the plans but they don't mention an approximate cost on the build materials (obviously prices fluctuate and they vary depending on where you buy them so I'm just looking for a ballpark figure) so I'm curious how much this cost to build was because cost is one thing that is factoring into my planned build.


    3 years ago

    Really cool, and well done!

    However the electrical...

    - NEC code requires 18" of cover for non-metallic conduit (which it appears to be). However, if you're conduit was metal, your 6" meets the minimum. NEC 300.5

    - NM-B (romex) is not permitted for use in wet locations. Underground conduit is defined as a wet location. NEC 334.12

    - You run 14 gauge wire, but that's only rated for 15 amps , not 30 amps. (strike that, it looks like a 15 amp breaker).

    - I don't see any ground fault protection. GFCI recepticles (or a breaker) are required. NEC 210.8(A)(3)

    - It looks like the NM-B pops out of the conduit and goes into a one gang metal box. There's no cable clamps on this box and the romex can be cut from the metal edges. mostly because...

    - ...there are no staples used to secure the romex. Requirement is within 12" of every box and every 4 1/2'. NEC 334.30

    - I have no idea why you put a single circuit breaker in the shed, so I'm worried about what is feeding this.

    Conclusion: Stick to the carpentry, let someone else do the electrical work.


    3 years ago

    awesome! I saw a similar build without a write-up and wanted one.


    Reply 3 years ago

    Good Luck! Cheers