Hi, Ray Shore here from AstroPhotography Tonight. In the last couple of weeks I finally finished the observatory modification for my Celestron CGEM astrophotography setup. Previously, the roll-off housed my 12″ Meade LX200 but I sold it to fund my new CGEM scope. Since the CGEM fit in there a bit differently, I had to make some changes to the post and footings. Plus, the modular data connections had to be updated.
Basically, my roll-off is just a shed that rolls away from the telescope. As you can see in the photo to the left, the entire shed rolls away rather than just the roof as with the popular roll-roof design. Since I image remotely (i.e., from a control room in my garage), I did not need any room in the observatory for me or my computer. I needed something just large enough to protect the telescope. My roll-off is basically a 4′ x 4′ shed that rolls back on rails when the doors are open. It’s a VERY simple design that has worked well for me over the years!
Temporarily, the tripod is sitting on cinder blocks. In the Spring I plan to build a permanent pier. The tripod seems to be working very well the way it is though. I just have to be VERY careful in the middle of the night not to bump it!
Also shown in the picture (mounted on the post) is a 4-port surface housing block that contains Cat. 5e jacks. These are my modular connections for remotely operating the CGEM, Canon XSi DSLR, autoguider, and webcam. I ran Cat. 5e unshielded twisted pair cabling through schedule 40 conduit underground to my control room. The Cat. 5e jacks on each end are terminated on this cable. Then I use RJ-45 to USB adapters on each end to provide a USB connection for the equipment.
Overall I’m very happy with my roll-off observatory. It has made a big difference in setup time. This convenience increases the chances of an astrophotography session when the skies are clear!