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Observatory from a Fiberglass Storage Tank

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#26 Madratter

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 06:00 PM

Never say never, but I never intend to use anything with rubber wheels again on an observatory. They go out of round too easily and then everything becomes a mess.

#27 berlinstar

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 09:22 AM

Here's some pictures I took of the progress over the weekend...

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#28 berlinstar

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 09:26 AM

Here's the Dome with 3/4" birch ply bearing surface build and install...

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#29 berlinstar

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 09:28 AM

I got my skate wheel trial all worked up and installed as well, to the base. Base is 6' high. I used the same jig to ensure that the top that mated with the dome edge would be square, then cut it off.

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#30 berlinstar

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 09:32 AM

The base in the pic above hasn't been cut yet on the bottom surface. I cut it flush with the bottom reinforcement ring. I have to cut in the entry door yet, and hopefully will get that completed this week through a couple of evenings. If the weather holds for this weekend, I'll get to try the dome out on the base. At present, my calculations are ~13# per wheel provided the dome is complete at 200# total.

#31 berlinstar

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 09:42 AM

I also hope to have a design finalized for a shutter. My initial thought is two parts that will slide under each other and to the back out of the way, but at the same time be able to use them separately to block out the stray light. I'll build this out of the 3/4 ply stock and 1/8 lite ply, then glass it all.

#32 berlinstar

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 04:58 PM

Weeks are terrible to get anything done, especially through the winter. Just not enough daylight, which is usually welcomed, but there's too much cloud cover for viewing anyway.

In any case, I found some time to layout a cardboard template for the shutter frame. I needed about 2 3/4" to clear the curvature of the dome in the center. I made the template 4" high to accomodate the inner frame for the lower shutter, and I hope to fit an outer shutter over the entire frame then (at least that's the 2 minute plan).

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#33 csa/montana

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 06:05 PM

That's looking really nice! It really cleaned up very well.

#34 berlinstar

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 07:50 PM

Thanks! Like I said, if the weekend holds out on the weather, I hope to trial fit the dome to try out the rotation. Hopefully can get the shutter framing completed, and at least mounted onto the dome. I can see this isnt going to be easy because out of square is going to make for an unworkable sliding shutter.

#35 Bob Myler

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 05:48 PM

Shame about that hole at the other end - would have made a perfect dome for a home planetarium!

#36 berlinstar

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 11:12 AM

Wow! Never thought of that one. I actually have the piece I cut out of the end I'm using. Trying to figure out if I should utilize the cut out for the shutter pieces, or build them out of lite ply. I need to get the framing in-place, then intend upon using the scrap fiberglass pieces cut from the tank body as bearing surfaces. From there I can assess whether I have enough space for using the cutout, or just build a lite ply set of shutters.

#37 berlinstar

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 08:15 PM

Well, the weather did NOT cooperate this weekend at all. In the teens and 3-4 inches of snow. I planned on tugging the base back into the garage for cleaning up and cutting the door in, but found my tractor had a flat tire and it broke the bead off the rim, so no way to get it in the garage!

I did manage to get the shutter framing at least cut. I'll be working toward mounting these up hopefully this week.

It's another busy week. The Gemini II kit shows up this Thursday, so I'll be playing with that too!

Should have some new pics of progress sometime shortly.

#38 berlinstar

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 01:45 PM

Gemini II kit came today :)

This week, I've been working on mocking up the wood shutter framing with the dome. It sounds easy, but proving more difficult. Reason being is that I made a 30 degree radius cut on the inside cut of framing to accomodate the dome. Since I cut it with a scroll saw - it's uneven and left gaps between the dome and wood frame. Time to get the belt sander out and fit it as best I can, then check for squareness. Compounding this, is the fact that I have several pieces. Will need to get all pieces together, then fit them to the dome. Hopefully I can get this behind me this Sunday, as well as get the base drug back in the garage!

Now if only a good warm, clear night to try out the GII!

#39 berlinstar

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 12:33 PM

Can you say: Scroll saw gone wild??? :). Lots of clean-up work with a rasp over the weekend on that framing! None the less, its fitted. Still have to box the ends in, but atleast the rails are screwed to the dome and fairly symetrical from initial observations. I have some time this week to do some more, so I'll post pictures then!

#40 berlinstar

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 12:35 PM

Oh... Did get the Gemini II installed on the G-11 this weekend too! Now for some clear skies!

#41 berlinstar

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 08:43 AM

As some or most of you have probably known (me included), the work has just begun. It's easy to make a bunch of cuts (provided they're planned out). It's easy to clean up the shell too. But, making all of the hardware to go with it is the lengthy and difficult part! I got a couple of days in on the shutter this weekend.

I had the framing for the shutter cut and mounted on the dome over the past week, and as you can see it's still a mock-up until I have the shutter completed and am happy with the mechanism as a whole.

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#42 berlinstar

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 08:50 AM

The plan is to get all of the mating surface between the dome and framing filled with bondo once I'm satisfied with the movement of the shutter over the dome and framing. I discovered that I was about a half inch off in mounting the framing to the dome, after trial fitting the shutter over the framing. Ended up cutting some 2X spacers and unscrewed the framing so that everything would be squared.

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#43 berlinstar

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 08:58 AM

Went to Home Depot and picked up some cheap wheels for a trial of the shutter over framing. My intent is to utilize a 3/4" piece of the discarded tank body as a bearing surface for the wheels to run on. These little castors are very flimsy, but to my suprise they work like a charm. If I can find some skates for pennys again, I might go that route instead, just to have a little more robust sliding action.

I'm also reconsidering the telescope design of the shutter (one piece sliding into the other. It would be much less trouble to keep the upper half sliding, while the lower half hinges out (now I see why there are commercial designs like this).

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#44 berlinstar

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 09:22 AM

I like the idea of a telescoping shutter though. I still may explore this option as I'm about to build the lower shutter this week.

Coming along pretty good!

I also looked at steel doorways... Looks like my most inexpensive option is a $116 steel door. It'd be 30 inches wide and I'll need to cut it down to fit the body. If anyone has a cheaper recommendation, please let me know.

At the moment costs are as follows:

Fiberglass tank: $200.00
Skates (wheel set): $40.00
3/4 inch Birch Ply: $90.00
1/4 inch ply (for shutter): $20.00
4 Casters (for shutter): $10.00

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#45 MHamburg

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 12:29 PM

This is very impressive. I admire your inventiveness and persistence. Keep us posted!
Michael

#46 berlinstar

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 06:50 PM

Thanks!

This is the last of the photos that are going to be taken with my iPhone!!! Time to break out the "old" technology (the digital camera). Both Google Chrome and MS Internet Explorer show my photos right-side-up, but iPad & iPhone are upside down... Many appologies...

#47 droid

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 10:12 PM

This awesome, I cant wait to see the final product.

#48 ahopp

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 11:02 PM

One of my favorite threads.

Tony

#49 Jeff Smith

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 11:11 AM

Great idea!

#50 bogg

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 08:08 PM

Interesting use of a fiberglass tank. Very ingenious. Your work is amazing.






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