Construction Progress Report: Nine Pier Shared Observatory

Great progress has been made on repurposing the largest building at Dark Sky New Mexico (DSNM). This 1000 square foot observatory had originally been constructed by an earlier owner for a one meter scope being fabricated for a Federal government agency. Federal interest waned and the project stagnated.

Dark Sky New Mexico decided this building would best be used as a shared observatory and as the new power and communications infrastructure hub needed at the site. Don Van Akker gets credit for the design and layout. What a great guy and friend to DSNM. Over the past six months, the building has been refurbished, a new roof motor control system has been installed, nine new piers have been constructed, and new telecommunications equipment has been purchased and is being beta tested.

Over the summer season, a new electrical power system is being installed with new power supplies being extended from this hub to every DSNM observatory. New fiberglass telecommunications lines will also run from this hub to each observatory. Al Acker, Lead Electrical Engineer at DSNM said, “This new system will harden the internal DSNM infrastructure and greatly increase reliability. Our ability to monitor bandwidth and manage any problems will be excellent.”

The building roof now rests on a structural steel extension that increases the load bearing strength, ensures reliable operation, and reduces maintenance costs.
DSNM Lead Technician Vince Laupola can do it all! Vince mixed the concrete used to fill the concrete blocks that form the piers in the new building.

Don Van Akker (left), Michael Hensley (Center) and Vince Laupola are the crew working on this new building. If they look tired, it is because they are!

The new building includes nine new piers that will be available in late summer.  They feature through the pier chases and come with a two foot pipe pier extension fabricated by Mesilla Industrial Machining, a DSNM Strategic Partner.