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Building a 24' Dome

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#101 Tom Clark

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 09:51 PM

" Where is the darkest place you have ever been?"

"Inside Clark's dome," says everybody who has been there.

Just starting to paint the inside flat black. It will enable the best dark adaption you will ever enjoy. It is far darker than outside…

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#102 Lynnblac

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 01:08 AM

I could not make sense of the picture until I read the text!

#103 Tom Clark

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 08:07 AM

Naturally!

#104 snowboycosmos

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 10:18 PM

Tom have been watching your progress from beginning to now and you truly are living the dream. Perfect Skies, Mammoth Scope, Superdome, all of us are there with you at the astronomy village, just not in body but in spirit. I'm afar off in cloudy Scotland and just in from a freezing cold night out in the garden seeing a few blurry stars. You are blessed !

#105 Tom Clark

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 08:30 AM

Finally received the rack and pinion gear and have mounted it to the shutter. As soon as this cold spell breaks the shutters will be mounted. After that it will be time to move the scope to it's new home.

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#106 1965healy

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 10:09 AM

Looks a lot like a wall when it's on it's side. Dang that things huge! So close!

#107 Taylor

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 11:49 AM

How do you get your telescope in the dome? I assume it breaks down into manageable pieces.

Mike


Mike, Now the door opening shows up.

Getting closer to finishing the project. Now it is just hanging the doors ahd shutter and trim pieces, and of course lots of painting.

Notice the cloudy skies. One of the winter storms was passing by on the way north to snow all over everyone. So, now you know that we don't have perfect skies every night.


That observatory looks incredible, well done! I can only imagine what kind of views you will be getting through that monster telescope and the clear skies of NM.

I'm hoping to use some of your ideas when my wife and I buy our first house 12-16 months from now.
On a much smaller scale, of course. Probably along the lines of 8-10'.

Clear skies.

#108 dmdouglass

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 11:51 AM

Yeah.... and at least 3 beautiful model aircraft flying low providing aerial cover during its storage !!!

At some of our star parties, we have several members who fly rockets during the day. My guess is, that if we could ever talk him into coming....., Tom would fly model airplanes.

How cool is that ??

#109 dodgerm37

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 09:38 PM

Tom, Where in Ohio were you? I'm near Youngstown, the home of far to many clouds. Bob

#110 Tom Clark

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 10:26 PM

Born in Dayton. Hated the weather.

Moved to FL in 1972. Moved to NM in 2012.

#111 averen

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 11:13 AM

Tom,
Nice build! I'm sure you're glad to be almost done!

How much resin and fiberglass did you use on the dome and shutter?

Thanks,
Jared

#112 Tom Clark

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 05:11 PM

The calculator said that the dome would be 904 square feet, so I purchased a 120 sq yd of 7 ounce cloth. There is some left over. I purchased 10 gallon of resin, and have one gallon left.

I'm very glad to be nearly finished! Ordered the shutter motor from Poly Dome this morning. Will get the shutter mounted soon.

#113 Tom Clark

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 08:29 AM

This project required a double entry door so the scope, desk, and other large things could be moved in and out. Most pre-built doors are the standard 6'8" high. Interior doors are very inexpensive, but exterior doors are very expensive, and all of them are a foot higher than what this project needed.

Don't forget that a Dob is going into this dome and the walls are only 6' high so the scope can view nearly to the horizon. When the last time I built doors the local lumber company had a sale on 1x12 lumber so I bought some and ripped the material on my table saw. This time I just purchased 1x4s since there doesn't seem to be as many sales going on - in spite of the bad economy. The material was purchased in 12' lengths so there would be little waste.

Once the doorway was framed in the boards for the door were cut to size and laminated with overlapped joints. This photo shows the door partially assembled before the 1/4" plywood was glued on.

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#114 Tom Clark

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 08:33 AM

The doors are built slightly larger than the final size, then trimmed to size after the plywood skins are glued on. The outsides of the doors were fiberglassed just like everything else for weather protection. Doors built like this are a bit heavier than normal, but they are very strong.

Next project is to put up the plastic dome overlap that will cover the opening between the dome and the walls.

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#115 Tom Clark

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 11:30 PM

It took awhile, but painting the inside is finished. The shutters should be going on soon.

For any astronomer who has fears of climbing ladders to reach the eyepiece of a large telescope, consider building a rolling staircase like this one I just finished. It is an updated version of the one I used in the old observatory for 10 years. Thousands of people - from 6 to 86 years old to have used it safely for observing. The handrails make the experience very safe.

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#116 Bob Myler

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 11:17 PM

Looks like the inside of a newly refurbished Yerkes! :goodjob:

#117 Tom Clark

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 08:37 AM

Not quite! However, I did get the idea for my ladder from Yerkes. Years ago years ago I wrote an article on Yerkes, and the docent was telling me about their 100 year old wooden ladder and all the famous astronomers who had stood on it over the years. I had Jeannie take my photo on that ladder while imagining all the ghosts of astronomers past standing around me.

Later when I was considering purchasing a steel rolling staircase for my dome, (that I would have to modify to suit my needs) I remembered that wooden ladder from Yerkes that had lasted a hundred years, and designed my own.

The Yerkes dome is around 100 feet in diameter, and the whole floor goes up an down. What an engineering feet that was!

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#118 stmguy

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 08:51 AM

I also was out Yerkes years ago, what a piece of engineering. It's hard to get a grip on how big that telescope is from pictures, you really have to stand beside it. We designed the floor of the McGregor observatory at Stellafane to have the floor go up and down but I think liability concerns put the kibosh on it.
Norm

#119 csa/montana

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 10:08 AM

Tom, what an awesome job on your dome! :bow: That will give you a lifetime of enjoying the night skies!

That ladder is pretty fantastic, also! :)

#120 1965healy

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 10:34 AM

I'm saint til he paints the floor black, then I'm getting a little black tent and moving in! I'll wear my ninja outfit, I'll be invisible!

#121 Tom Clark

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 04:23 PM

Only one more door to be installed and this project is finished. The swing out bottom shutter went on this morning, and works perfectly. Chains hold it when it is lowered, and door bolts lock it in the closed position.

I am waiting for the shutter motor to arrive, and then we will have the 6'x16' main shutter lifted up by a small crane. The track and wheels are already finished and waiting to bolt onto the shutter.

The project has taken almost five months, but we are glad to reach the end. Now it is almost play time.

Mike Lockwood finished refiguring the 42" a couple of weeks ago, and sent it off to be recoated. I talked to Mike all through the refiguring, and found out that the mirror was worse than I thought it was. Jeannie and I have observed with many of Mike's mirrors, so we can't wait. Mike is going to deliver the mirror himself after the Winter Star Party, and will help us reinstall it and test its operation in the scope. Mike is not only the top mirror maker for large mirrors, but he loves observing also - and that is a good combination! He is going to stay for a week and observe with us to try out our New Mexico skies.

I will add a few more photos at that time.

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#122 rockethead26

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 04:34 PM

Tom,

Such an outstanding job. Well done! In a couple of years I'll be nearby to check on our Granite Gap property just down the road. Hopefully, I'll get a chance to meet you and Jeannie and see this incredible observatory.

#123 MDB

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 09:20 PM

Congratulations on a job well done! I really like seeing a great plan executed well. It has been really enjoyable for me to follow your build and you've planted a idea in my brain albeit a somewhat smaller one. Enjoy!

Mike

#124 EricGraham

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 11:11 AM

Shame on you Tom, taking a picture on a cloudy day. How do expect people to envy us here if they see we have cloudy skies too!

Eric

#125 Tom Clark

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 05:03 PM

Eric,

When they find out that we have over 300 clear days a year they won't mind that we show the clouds now and then. I think a front is coming through. We just got home from playing golf and it is 70 degrees today.

That's not bad for the end of January, and one of the good reasons for living in SW New Mexico.






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