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#1 YetAnotherHobby

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 10:07 AM

A while ago someone was looking for opinions on Exploradome vs SkyShed Pod. I chimed in with my recent experience with a used XL3 Pod, explaining how it was leaking badly enough to leave puddles on the floor.
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.

Geoff

#2 SkyShed

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 11:29 AM

Our pleasure Geoff!

Glad to hear everything is working out.

CS!
Wayne

#3 t.r.

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 12:49 PM

And to help others, what specifically were the fixes and how were they applied?

#4 YetAnotherHobby

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 01:29 PM

The foam weatherstrip sealing the dome quadrant seams had failed. The original owner had supplemented the original rubber foam with some kind of external rubber sealant in the seams that had dried out and pulled free of the plastic dome halves, allowing water in. On top of that, I had transported the dome halves assembled, which likely jarred the joints loose, further weakening the weather stripping, and probably finishing off the external sealant.
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.

#5 Peter9

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 05:51 AM

As a very happy owner of a Skyshed P.O.D (also second hand) I too can verify that you will not find a better relationship between the owner/vendor and his team, and the thousands of POD users around the world.

Many thanks Wayne for a great (leak prove) observatory and a great team.

Regards. Peter.

#6 Snaproll

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 10:41 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.

#7 YetAnotherHobby

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 12:28 PM

I read quite a few forum posts discussing the merits and limitations of the Pod design before purchasing one.
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.

#8 Peter9

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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.

Regards. Peter.

#9 Snaproll

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 07:21 PM

I've used a pod and owned three observatories, two Exploradomes and an Astrogazer. The pod and Exploradome have their pros and cons. This is my experience with them:

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.

#10 Tim Gilliland

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 07:29 AM

I have an Exploradome also. If I primarily planned on viewing from it maybe the POD would be a better choice. But I don't. I image from my obs and rarely view from it. More often than not I am imaging from the Dome and then view from the driveway while the exposure's are running. That way I get the advantages of the Exploradome for imaging and the wide open Sky's when viewing. I really think it is a matter of what the intended use is. I am extremely happy with my choice. :jump:

#11 SkyShed

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Posted 03 November 2012 - 12:53 PM

Hi Jim,

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.

CS!
Wayne

#12 Agatha

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Posted 03 November 2012 - 01:24 PM

I have no POD experience, but I plan to. I am still a beginner and my observing skills are lacking. Much of this is due to bad location (light pollution) and injuries making it very difficult to take equipment down a flight of stairs and through many doors. My plan is to move to a more rural location and have an observatory. I have been looking for years now and I know that a POD is in my future. I've read an endless amount of pros and cons of several designs...clamshell, slotted and ror . I even know what color I will go with...and yes, some of the options. I can't wait. My move will happen within the next year. I will be sure to post when I have my brand new POD in my own backyard. And, please, don't even try to talk me into something else. More to come at a later date. :grin:

Best to all, Linda B.

#13 csa/montana

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Posted 03 November 2012 - 01:31 PM

Linda, congratulations on your future move, and your new POD! I'm very excited for you; this will open up a whole new world for you; or should I say, a whole new night sky!

We'll look forward to this exciting time for you! :bow:

#14 Agatha

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Posted 03 November 2012 - 02:06 PM

Carol,

I really look forward to it too. Thank you. :grin:

Best, Linda B.

#15 mozzie

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Posted 03 November 2012 - 06:25 PM

hi all,
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

#16 Agatha

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Posted 04 November 2012 - 03:06 PM

That is a wonderful testimonial. Thank you. :)

Best, Linda B.

#17 Startraffic

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Posted 04 November 2012 - 05:35 PM

Geoff,
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.

Wayne,
A great product! I just wish I had room for the MAX!

Clear Dark Skies
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#18 csa/montana

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Posted 04 November 2012 - 05:49 PM

Welcome to Cloudy Nights! Glad to have you join us on the forums, especially our little corner here in Observatories.

Thanks for your post of experience with your POD.

#19 mozzie

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Posted 04 November 2012 - 08:22 PM

thanks for the welcome.....i just say things as i see them or use them.....

#20 SkyShed

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Posted 05 November 2012 - 02:34 AM

Thanks folks! Always remember...RTMF!

CS!
Wayne

#21 Ed Wiley

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Posted 05 November 2012 - 08:24 PM

Never had a leak in my Pod except a bit around the base on one side during an exceptional thunderstorm. I have the PZT and think it is essential, at least for a GEM. I am 67 and have no trouble with moving the dome unto the PZT.

Ed

#22 mistyridge

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Posted 08 November 2012 - 02:53 AM

I have a POD XL3. It is going on 2 years old now. I assembled the dome using liberal amounts of Lexal sealant. It has never leaked. The only moisture comes in around the base of the walls due to wicking through the concrete pad. Summer heat has been the only issue, but, then I do not spend any time inside when it is over 100 degrees outside. My mount is not affected by the heat and I keep my scopes in the house so they are close to ambient at night when I put them on the mount.

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.

#23 Bob Griffiths

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Posted 08 November 2012 - 09:46 AM

I do not honestly not a Pod fan... (not knocking them but they do not meet my needs...

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 ..

Bob G.

#24 mclewis1

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Posted 08 November 2012 - 11:46 AM

The PZT kit comes with HDPE ramps (same material the POD itself if made from). Careful placement of the ramps on the table means the dome doesn't need to be lifted much at all. You just get the edge up from the top of the ramp onto the wall. So it's more pulling than lifting with the PZT, which makes it very easy.

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.

#25 mistyridge

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Posted 08 November 2012 - 06:33 PM

Thanks Mark. There are times I want to see the whole sky such as finding the proper alignment stars.






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