Skyshed Pod experience
Posted 25 October 2012 - 10:07 AM
Unexpectedly, the owner of Skyshed joined the conversation and recommended steps I could take to resolve the water intrusion. Last weekend I finally had time to pull the dome apart and make the recommended fixes. Since then it's been raining more or less continuously, and when I checked the pod this morning, not one drop of moisture had made it inside.
I wanted to share this to correct my statement that Pods are leaky. When they are several years old and have been transported several hundred miles in a suspension-challenged UHaul trailer, yes, they are leaky. But when they are properly assembled and sealed they are as tight as a drum.
I also wanted to note the remarkable level of help from Skyshed. Here is a vendor who actively monitors his product's image on Cloudy Nights and graciously offers his help to resolve a problem that isn't even of his own making. That kind of attention to their customers (even second hand customers like me) deserves to be recognized. Kudos to the team at Skyshed - I'm an even happier Pod owner now.
Posted 25 October 2012 - 11:29 AM
Glad to hear everything is working out.
Posted 25 October 2012 - 12:49 PM
Posted 25 October 2012 - 01:29 PM
The fix: I split the dome halves and replaced any foam that was dried out or overly compressed. The mating surfaces of the dome halves are like a rabbet joint, with 2-3 inches of overlap. The foam covers about 1/4 of the largest surface, so on the remaining surface I applied a generous bead of clear Lexel sealant. This is the type of sealant recommended as it sticks well to the Pod material. I then joined the halves together and installed all of the fasteners. With the dome halves still on the ground, I applied a bead of Lexel in the external seam between the two joined dome halves. Once this cured I popped the dome halves back on the observatory, bolted them up, and it's been dry in there ever since.
Posted 26 October 2012 - 05:51 AM
Many thanks Wayne for a great (leak prove) observatory and a great team.
Posted 30 October 2012 - 10:41 AM
Posted 30 October 2012 - 12:28 PM
1. I thought by using a GEM and offsetting the pier that I could avoid the zenith issue, but with a C11 that doesn't quite work.
2. I knew about the light blocking abilities of the pod, but I prefer the wide open design so that I can step back from the scope and see the whole sky in context. A slotted dome excels at blocking ambient light, but in my opinion you lose the connection with the night sky.
3. A Rolloff would offer the wide open view (sort of) but it would require more money and much more time to build, and it would not be something I could quickly dismantle if I move.
So I have to disagree that the Pod design is deficient unless you put up some kind of spec against which to judge its merits. For my own requirements it's the best answer.
Posted 01 November 2012 - 07:52 AM
All these problems were pretty much predicted, the excessive heat, the leaks, the mold, the blocked zenith, before the product was even produced. It is good to hear that the vendor is trying to support the product with patches and paid-for upgrades like the PZT, visor and shower cap for "chubby rain", but if properly designed, these things never would have been an issue in the first place.
The PZT offers the option of turning the P.O.D into a full R.O.R type of obs (something which the slotted type obs can not do) as well as allowing full access to the Zenith.
The visor is not a cure for anything. It again is adding to the versatility of the P.O.D by allowing the user to turn the half opening clam shell domed P.O.D into a slotted obs and back again in a matter of seconds. Again, this is something other types of obs can not offer. The visor also helps to block stray light and /or give added protection from breezes etc should the need arise.
As for the rain cap, all types of obs leak if not sealed correctly. A few, choose how hard the user tries to stop it, just leak. Only Skyshed, as far as I know, offer a cure. All credit to them.
The Skyshed P.O.D is a wonderfully designed obs allowing the user full sky views whilst offering protection against the elements etc. It is a joy to use.
Posted 01 November 2012 - 07:21 PM
Hands down, the Exploradome wins from a standpoint of wind, dew and light protection while you are using it. When you're not using it, it wins hands down in keeping the interior at reasonable temperature levels and keeping the elements (rain) out.
The one and only "pro" that I could see with a pod is that you can "see the sky". You can see the sky from a roll-off for a lot less money.
When it comes to interior room for a scope, the Exploradome again wins hands down. There is no second dome half that has to fold inside the other half. This allows a lot more headroom in the Exploradome. I run a C14 with a full-lengthed dew shield. There is no part of the sky I can't get to or image.
The Exploradome opens 14 inches past the zenith, so there is no permanent 16" obstruction directly over your scope. When the pod was under development the issue of the blind zenith became apparent, yet the design continued. There was a CAD drawing showing how a GEM mount could "look out from under" the overhang. This might be true if you are trying to look straight up. As pointed out by a friend of mine that owns a pod, any view east or west sets the scope further back under the blindspot with a GEM mount.
I was highly interested in the pod when it was first proposed. Then I realized through some observatory planning software a friend did for me, that if I wanted to image anywhere near the zenith with my 10" SCT and top mounted guidescope, I would practically have to put the scope into the south wall to escape the overhead pie pan blocking the zenith. This was not exceptable and I went with the Exploradome.
When the pod was first delivered, the zenith issue was minimized by the vendor, that it applied only to 'zenith crazed' individuals. Eventually the complaints grew until the PZT patch was devised (and charged for). Since the dome is shoved off onto this table in one direction, I've always been curious as to what kind of wind protection one has if they shove the dome off to the south and there is a cold north wind.
As far as the leaks and heat, those issues were apparent during the month long "beta test". The units went right into production and eventually there was the "shower cap" to try and stop the 'chubby rain'. There was also an "insulated" model with foam inside the panels for 'extreme' heat applications. I think this option was discontinued because the panels warped when the heat expanded the plastic and the insulation didn't expand.
My white exterior, black lined Exploradome never runs more than about 4 degrees over ambient, even in bright 100 degree sunlight. With the black liner to cut the IR, there is no need to spray Kralon paint or staple insulation all over the inside. Heck, one friend spent a couple hundred bucks on solar fans, attic fans, insulation and staples trying to get the heat problems under control.
As far as the light and dew protection, one time I was using a pod with a quarter moon out. I was SHOCKED... the thing was GLOWING inside. The light was transfusing right through the plastic. The Exploradome does not transmit any light through it (due to the molded in black liner).
As far as wind protection, a pod with that visor (again another modification to overcome a problem that is a paid for option) would certainly be better than wide open, but even further limiting interior room.
These are just the simple facts on the two products. I think the pod is over priced for what you get (you can get the same functionality out of a roll-off for a fraction of the price). The thing was supposed to be portable but I don't recall anyone actually using it as a 'portable' where it is torn down and reassembled for a weekend star party. (If you are looking for that functionality, look into the Astrogazer). My second Exploradome was a portable that was trailerable and could be set up at a star party as a single unit in 10 minutes.
Understand I am not knocking the pod, just giving it my honest opinion and experiences with using different observatories. Many folks have found that they work for them and that's ok. Others have found they didn't work out because of these shortcomings and switched to the Exploradome, (including some beloved telescope superchargers). Others liked the pod base and retrofitted an Exploradome dome on top of the bottom panels. I think the Exploradome even offered some kind of retro kit for those that scrapped their clamshells.
Anyway, gee, compared to what metal or fiberglass domes cost, the the plastic observatories are a bargain. They are still expensive, and I think it is important for folks to know just what they are getting into, so they make the right choice for what they need.
Posted 02 November 2012 - 07:29 AM
Posted 03 November 2012 - 12:53 PM
After reading your advice to CN members about POD over the years, I'd be most happy to call you to clear up some of the misconceptions you have about it.
If you could PM me with your number I'd be happy to call for a chat.
Posted 03 November 2012 - 01:24 PM
Best to all, Linda B.
Posted 03 November 2012 - 01:31 PM
We'll look forward to this exciting time for you!
Posted 03 November 2012 - 02:06 PM
I really look forward to it too. Thank you.
Best, Linda B.
Posted 03 November 2012 - 06:25 PM
i have had a pod for 3 years know.one of the first shipments to australia it has never failed or leaked water we have extreme heats and humidity where i live and i would recommend the pod covers just to settle the tempts down a little..if i had any issuses or questions wayne would pm or email within hours the service is unbelievable and some big buisness should take note of customer service...i use a 14" meade sct visual and yes i did trim the dew cover a couple of inches to fit within the second dome..this to me is nothing to be able to walk down to the pod and be observing within 2 minutes is a god scent and any cloud or rain your packed up in just as much time.excellent value for money even halfway around the world
Posted 04 November 2012 - 03:06 PM
Best, Linda B.
Posted 04 November 2012 - 05:35 PM
I've had my 2nd or 3rd hand XL3 for 3-4 years. When I got it, it leaked like a sieve. It needed to be resealed and gaskets. Since I replaced them it changed from a POS to a great dome. Had I simply WATCHED the vidoes that Wayne had put together I would've saved myself a lot of grief.
A great product! I just wish I had room for the MAX!
Clear Dark Skies
Alt 518ft ASL
Posted 04 November 2012 - 05:49 PM
Thanks for your post of experience with your POD.
Posted 04 November 2012 - 08:22 PM
Posted 05 November 2012 - 08:24 PM
Posted 08 November 2012 - 02:53 AM
For those of you who have a PZT, how does it work. Do you have to lift the whole POD dome off the rollers. If so that seems like a two man job.
Posted 08 November 2012 - 09:46 AM
BUT Mike the few I have seen with the PZT do not require much effort (or time) to slide it back off...
I just would not worry about having to exert the effort ..
Posted 08 November 2012 - 11:46 AM
The PZT does add to the time to open and close up the POD but it adds so much to the use of the POD that it's well worth the couple of extra minutes. It's faster opening the whole thing up (flip up the dome, pull the three quick releases, store the brackets, push the dome back onto the table). The close up process is the same but it's the pulling of the dome up onto the wall that takes a minute longer as you have to work on both sides of the dome to make sure they're properly positioned on the wall ... the brackets then lock everything in place.
It's a little daunting at first when you put together an 11-12' wide 3/4" plywood table (it goes around half the outside of the 8' diameter POD) but it's really not difficult for one person to assemble. It easily attaches to the POD with a second pair of hands. Once the PZT was setup on my POD I don't know how I did without it.
Posted 08 November 2012 - 06:33 PM