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Observatory from a Fiberglass Storage Tank

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#51 csa/montana

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 09:17 PM

This is an amazing transition into an observatory! Thanks for letting us share the build with you!

#52 berlinstar

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 08:23 AM

Thanks for all the great complements!!! It's a real challenge to work on something like this and get all the every day life things accomplished as well. I'm training for a marathon right now too, and just starting to hit the 10 - 12 mile mark for my long run, so that takes a lot of time up, mainly during the week though so spare time is at a premium. In a way that's good though, because I'm able to think about and work out the mechanics and design ideas of my project (I have a working photographic memory). So in a way, it's probably better to work on it part-time rather than cobble it together and end up with some sub-standard, leaky observatory!

#53 Raginar

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 11:00 AM

This is my favorite thread. Keep sharing!

#54 Escher

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 04:00 PM

Agreed - This is making me want a storage tank to try and build a dome..

#55 cloudmagnet

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 04:06 PM

Really cool idea!

Along another train of thought, there was (is?) a company in Plainfield, Illinois that used to advertise in Sky & Tel for their aluminum observatory domes - but they also made the tops for grain silos that looked amazingly like their domes- sans the shutter!!!

#56 ahopp

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 04:17 PM

ASH Domes?

Tony

#57 berlinstar

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 07:27 PM

Silos were my first idea for an observatory / OB dome. I never got around to making a deal with any number of farmers around here that have grown up farms. I thought it would be awesome to take a complete silo and convert it to an observatory, warm room underneath, spiral staircase and all!

That still may happen some day, it just needs to be in the right location, or take one down, and place on some dark sky ground somewhere in Potter County, PA!

I think I'll make the plunge on the door tomorrow. I havent posted a pic of the business end of the tank yet (this area would be where all the fittings are for vents, plumbing, etc). Thats the part that is going to be cut out for the door. Theres some really weird compound cuts to make through the reinforcement ribs, then there will be a radius cut to make on the frame of the door to fit the curvature of the tank body. Im hoping to find a scratch n dent door tomorrow (keeping my fingers crossed)!

#58 berlinstar

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Posted 23 February 2013 - 07:41 PM

Worked on the base opening / door today. Bought the door from Home Depot for $116 and a door handle for $30. More than what I wanted to spend, but at the same time, I'd rather have the door secure, and lasting. Lots of cutting and fitting. You gotta laugh when you drop a little money on a brand new door, then tear it completely apart! It's a solid 6 panel door, soon to be a 4 panel door, and I'll still have to take a couple of inches off the bottom. to fit within the base. I left the upper and lower reinforcement rings intact for just that. The door framing will fit within these rings.

I got the other half of the shutter built. Went ahead with the design that telescopes within the other half - wasn't as bad as I thought it might be, but, if you look closely in the photo, you'll notice that there is a gap between the upper shutter and shutter frame! I intend to minimize the gap by cutting the 2x4 framing down (thinning), so that the dolly wheel won't be as high a profile off the frame, and the mating shutter. Worse comes to worse, I'll just cut a new set of ply rails (thicker to accommodate the gap).

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#59 berlinstar

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Posted 23 February 2013 - 07:44 PM

Business End of Tank

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#60 berlinstar

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Posted 23 February 2013 - 07:50 PM

Entry opening... All that ugly stuff got cut out. Surprisingly, This removes about 120# of weight from the OB body. If you look closely at the last picture, you can see steel plates (~3/16" mild steel), sandwiched between the fiberglass. A little more trimming to go, then I'll cut the door down (definitely don't want to screw this up)

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#61 ahopp

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Posted 23 February 2013 - 09:44 PM

Go! Go! Go!

Tony

#62 Bob Myler

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 03:10 PM

Palomar II is taking shape nicely.

#63 berlinstar

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 09:25 PM

Solved the "gap" between the frame and upper shutter tonight. I moved the dolly wheel off the 2x stock and instead, drilled a hole in the bracket perpendicular to the original holes so that they would mount to the ply shutter sides rather than the 2x stock. This placement allowed me to put the dolly wheels up behind the 2x4 framing, against the 1/4 ply sheet. I gained exactly 1 1/2 inches on each shutter by moving the wheels, and, it also simplifies the shutters in that in their static position, i wont have to make ply ends to box in the shutters. I should be able to install felt seals to keep the weather out just fine. I"ll post pics tomorrow.

#64 berlinstar

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 08:41 AM

Here's the photos that go with the previous post. I'm considering installing a bolt as an axle through the ply frame, and doing away with the steel castor cage all together. The current configuration relies on a wood screw, and over time I would think that it'll work its way loose.

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#65 berlinstar

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 08:44 AM

Overall, the tighter fit looks a little better too.

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#66 berlinstar

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 10:52 AM

I didn't get too much done on the OB this weekend. Caught a cold and can't really afford to drop the marathon training, so work on the OB suffers instead. Plus, a sub 30 degree garage doesn't help either.

What I did manage yesterday was to cut the door down to fit the entry hole. As indicated a couple of days ago, the six panel door went to a four panel in a hurry. I don't know exactly how much I cut off the top, but overall the hole height wise is 67.5 inches. I sawed the top off right at the level of the top panels and wanted to make it look as symmetrical as possible, so I ended up taking a couple inches off the bottom as well. Of course, trimming both ends meant more work in fitting the frame, etc, but it was worth it.

After making my cuts, I recovered the top and bottom end plates that were in the door, roughed out the polystyrene foam in the core of the door, then glued them back in with some polyurethane glue. As you can see from the picture, it came out just as good as a factory door.

Hopefully I get over this cold this week and I'll be back in business.

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#67 csa/montana

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 05:54 PM

Nice job on making the door uniform, when cut down!

#68 droid

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 10:33 PM

This just keeps getting better and better, cant wait to see the final product.

#69 Starman27

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 08:59 AM

Keep up the good work.

#70 berlinstar

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Posted 09 March 2013 - 04:08 PM

Beautiful days bring beautiful things! Terrific weather here finally, so went and final fitted the door to the base. To mount it to the base, I built an outer frame out of 2x2 stock, then mounted the door to that, as in a traditional door hang in a stud wall. Came out really nice and is solid.

Then came the really exciting part. I grabbed a couple of 2x8's out of the basement and set them on the top edge of the base. Then I dragged the dome out of the garage and proceeded to ramp it up atop the base - yes I used my little Kubota with a front-end loader to push it up there, ever so slowly so as to not topple it or knock the dome off the boards! Successfully got it safely in-place!

The dome turns very freely! One thing that I did not consider, is that by mounting the wheels tight against the base like I did, and with a tapered skate wheel, that there is NO need for wheels to keep the dome centered on the base. The wheels are just as tight against the dome edge, so the taper of the wheel is doing this job.

I'll put up pics of the mock-up on Monday!

Lots of finish work to do, and, I still have to finish the shutters, and glass them.

So far, so good!

#71 droid

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Posted 09 March 2013 - 04:15 PM

How doyou keep a really astronmer in suspence, youll show us monday :roflmao: :roflmao:

Sorry Couldnt resist. I await your photos

Do you have a peir in the ground yet???

#72 berlinstar

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Posted 09 March 2013 - 04:20 PM

No pier yet. I have a couple of locations that I'm trying to decide on - the first would be just off the deck, where I could incorporate very nicely, the OB, and the second is just out in the yard.

Trouble by the house is limited view.

#73 droid

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Posted 09 March 2013 - 04:45 PM

well then it seems you already know where its gonna wind up/ do either have a good southern view?

#74 berlinstar

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Posted 09 March 2013 - 04:53 PM

Sorry about the pics... Meant to bring the laptop home, but didnt realize I'd get this far today!

#75 droid

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Posted 09 March 2013 - 04:57 PM

lol, its all good, no apolegy needed, Im just one bored astronomer. :lol:






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