|Nothing fancy here except the need to block some wind or perhaps some stray light from the neighbors porch or yard light. Found Dark Sky Panels for $65.00 each on the internet but didn't like the price. I'll be honest, I looked at all their information and decided I could buy and build the equivelant much cheaper than buy them.
I haven't tried them for light blocking yet but in the photos they are set up during first light blocking the north wind that is coming over my roof and around the end of the house blowing on the area I use in the front yard for observing. Two weeks after I built them they got first field light and worked exceptionally well blocking a cold north wind at a remote dark site we use. I will be building at least three more
Panel frames are made from 1 1/2" sched. 40 PVC pipe.
I tried using clamps to hold each frame together like the Dark Sky Panels but they allowed the frames to twist and then pop apart. Of course the clamps I used are not the same as sold by Dark Sky Panels and I'm sure theirs work well. I instead use zip ties to hold the panels together which make very handy "hinges" which allow quick adjustment of panel placement and angle and I do believe this method will prove more handy than any type of clamps. How well or long the zip ties hold up in the cold or to continued use remains to be seen but I carry plenty of extras with me when I observe.
Material list per panel frame:
- 4 ea. 1 1/2" sched. 40 PVC pipe 3' long
- 3 ea. 1 1/2" sched. 40 PVC pipe 4' long
- 4 ea. 1 1/2" sched. 40 PVC pipe 90 deg. elbows
- 2 ea. 1 1/2" sched. 40 PVC pipe tees
I like the idea of the weights made from plastic jugs filled with sand using pipe clamps to hold down on the bottom pipes. Not having any jugs I used some lead sheets to make molded fold over weights for the bottom pipes. My dad made a mold and will be pouring some custom fit to lay over the bottom pipe shortly.
The fittings are not glued as sometimes I use my wife's car to travel to observing sites instead of my truck and the panels can be dissassembled to fit in the trunk. If the fittings get loose a short wrap of duct tape will do nicely to hold them together.
Finally, used the zip ties to attach some tarps I already had on hand which are too large but work fine. Will be heading to Wal-Mart to see if I can find some 4' x 6' tarps which will fit exactly.
Right now with only 3 of them they are more of a wind break or light block than an observatory. Will be building 4 more shortly.