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Equipment Discussions >> Observatories

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Escher
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 08/30/07

Loc: Fenton, MI
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5578633 - 12/19/12 09:42 AM

Been watching the build - I'm in awe..

I WISH I had more land and could do this one day - the POD is great, but this is AWESOME!


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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
Fiberglassing lessons from a novice new [Re: Escher]
      #5582173 - 12/21/12 09:56 AM Attachment (76 downloads)

I fiberglassed the FL dome 12 years ago, and it stood up through hurricanes and lots of rain, so I know this works. However, I'm sure there are many experts who could show you a better way to do this. My goal is simply to build a project that will last; it is not a boat, so the main idea is to build a solid roof, not win beauty contests. If it looks good from a short distance I am happy. Of course you can do it your way.

If you are building the whole project indoors, use epoxy resin, not polyester resin. Polyester stinks to high heaven, but is far cheaper than epoxy. The windows and doors were open when working in the shop.

First paint the project with a heavy coat of resin. Instead of a brush use a plastic squeege made for body work to make the work go much faster.

Edited by Tom Clark (12/21/12 09:00 PM)


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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
Re: Fiberglassing lessons from a novice new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5582183 - 12/21/12 10:00 AM Attachment (67 downloads)

Next. after the resin is dry, cut the 6 ounce fiberglass cloth into manageable sizes, lay out in place, and squeegee the resin right through the cloth. Leave the edges overhang just a bit. They are trimmed with a razor knife after dry.

Edited by Tom Clark (12/21/12 09:02 PM)


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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
Re: Fiberglassing lessons from a novice new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5582198 - 12/21/12 10:08 AM Attachment (67 downloads)

After the resin is applied to the cloth and dried overnight, you can trim the edges, and sand as much as you want. I only sand around the edges to get rid of sharp corners. For bumps and stringers, I just use a scraper to knock off the messes. There were parts of the roof that could could be reached only by mounting our squeegees to a long stick that created more of a mess, but the minor imperfections mostly disappear. Hey guys, it's a roof, not a boat.

On the sides of the doors, the first time I tried too cover them with glass cloth. This time I am just brushing on a couple of coats of resin to the bare wood to permanently seal the wood.

After a couple of days, I apply a couple of coats of latex primer with a roller, then a final coat of color will be applied when the project is nearly finished.

Edited by Tom Clark (12/23/12 09:44 PM)


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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
Re: Fiberglassing lessons from a novice *DELETED* new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5582211 - 12/21/12 10:16 AM

Post deleted by Tom Clark

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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
Re: Fiberglassing lessons from a novice new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5582216 - 12/21/12 10:19 AM Attachment (81 downloads)

It looks good to me. I could have spent months doing a better job, but after a while you just want to get it finished. The same process was used on the double doors I made for the dome entrance…

I hope this tread has given you guys the idea of building your own observatory dome. Anything smaller than this one is an easy project. A friend built his 16 footer in far less time than this 24' dome is taking.


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dmdouglass
professor emeritus


Reged: 12/23/07

Loc: Tempe, AZ
Re: Fiberglassing lessons from a novice new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5583078 - 12/21/12 07:23 PM

Tom said:
"I hope this tread has given you guys the idea of building your own observatory dome."...

Yeah.... Call Tom and invite him over !!

Really though Tom.... you are doing an AWSOME job !!
I look forward to seeing this up close and personal some day when we pass through NM on our trips t/f Arizona/Iowa.


Edit-Add: And I sure would like to see/hear the stories on those airplanes hanging down from the ceiling. And MAN !! What a shop !!!

Edited by dmdouglass (12/21/12 07:25 PM)


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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
Re: Fiberglassing lessons from a novice new [Re: dmdouglass]
      #5586162 - 12/23/12 07:28 PM Attachment (76 downloads)

Quote:

Tom said:
"I hope this tread has given you guys the idea of building your own observatory dome."...

Yeah.... Call Tom and invite him over !!




Sorry guys, I am taking some time off after this project - a couple of years, probably…

This project is nearing completion. The dome has been painted it's final color, a easy on the eyes tan. The tan really blends in out here, whereas the stark white can be seen for miles and miles.

Today we started putting up the walls. and got about half way finished. After standing back a bit and taking in the view, we really realized that the end to the construction is in sight!

Of course just like we are never finished building a telescope - there is always something to add or tweak - an observatory is the same way. The build seems to go on and on and on.

Looks like the end of this tread is drawing near. The main thing left to do is put the shutter up in place and hook up the gears, so another post or two will be coming one of these days.

As I said a post or two ago, hopefully some of you have caught the dome fever and plan to build your own. I look forward to seeing your threads in the future.


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1965healy
The Snarkster
*****

Reged: 06/23/07

Loc: San Antonio, TX
Re: Fiberglassing lessons from a novice new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5586311 - 12/23/12 09:37 PM

All I can say is WOW!

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MikeCMP
super member
*****

Reged: 07/12/11

Loc: Chardon OH
Re: Fiberglassing lessons from a novice new [Re: 1965healy]
      #5586440 - 12/23/12 11:20 PM

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

Mike


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seafury
super member


Reged: 01/18/12

Re: Fiberglassing lessons from a novice new [Re: MikeCMP]
      #5586559 - 12/24/12 01:06 AM

Hi what is that funny blue stuff up in the sky? over here (UK) we only seem to have various shades of grey. What a wonderful project you have nearly completed


Gordon

Edited by seafury (12/24/12 06:16 AM)


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Wmacky
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 11/24/07

Loc: Florida
Re: Fiberglassing lessons from a novice new [Re: seafury]
      #5586665 - 12/24/12 05:23 AM

Wonderful Tom. Though I'm just completing a ROR observatory, I left the main OB part square as to have the option for a dome in the future. Your methods will come in handy if that happens.

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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
Re: Fiberglassing lessons from a novice new [Re: MikeCMP]
      #5586857 - 12/24/12 09:28 AM Attachment (63 downloads)

Quote:

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

Mike




Gee, I sure hope so.

The scope has been hogging most of the space in the garage since we moved in March. The dome has double doors sized so the scope parts will fit with an inch to spare. Even the new rolling staircase breaks down into two pieces so it can go into the doors.


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dmdouglass
professor emeritus


Reged: 12/23/07

Loc: Tempe, AZ
Re: Fiberglassing lessons from a novice new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5587050 - 12/24/12 11:32 AM

Hmmmmmmmm........

I see more airplanes in that last picture.
Me thinks we have discovered his "other" hobby.


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Jeff Smith
professor emeritus


Reged: 04/06/10

Loc: Chicago
Re: Fiberglassing lessons from a novice new [Re: dmdouglass]
      #5588134 - 12/25/12 06:35 AM

Very impressive and inspiring!
I hope to do the same thing one day.


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MikeCMP
super member
*****

Reged: 07/12/11

Loc: Chardon OH
Re: Fiberglassing lessons from a novice new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5588165 - 12/25/12 07:46 AM

Do you have a picture of that scope with someone standing next to it for scale? It looks enormous!

Double doors with an inch to spare... Wow!

Mike


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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
Re: Fiberglassing lessons from a novice new [Re: MikeCMP]
      #5588244 - 12/25/12 09:38 AM Attachment (74 downloads)

For size reference on this 42" f/3.9, the finder is a 5" f/9 refractor. The scope has the eyepiece box mounted next to the focuser. Powers used are from 150x with a 30' field-of-view, to 900x. Views are like astrophotos. The primary weighs 220 pounds, and the total scope is estimated at 1600 pounds.

The optics were made by Vaughn Parsons of Intermountain Optics in Salt Lake City, and were the only thing available at the time. The primary is 2.2" thick, and the 7" diagonal is 1.7 thick. (It is 10.5" on the long axis.) The optics are now being refigured by Mike Lockwood and we expect far better performance than before.

The scope is a result of 20 years of my building and selling ever larger home-made Dobs, starting with our 1983 13" Coulter. The 42 was in use at the Chiefland Astronomy Village in NW Florida for the last 10 years. We just moved to New Mexico for darker, more transparent skies, and far less clouds. The New Mexico Astronomy Village has very good seeing as we are on the grasslands at 4800' altitude - not in the mountains where the seeing is usually much more turbulent.

The scope has entertained thousands of observers so far, with many more to come. While the scope is not exactly open to the public, we love the company of astronomers who are kind enough to make arrangements ahead of time for themselves or their group.

Merry Christmas everyone. May all your astronomy dreams come true.

Edited by Tom Clark (12/25/12 09:43 AM)


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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
Re: Fiberglassing lessons from a novice new [Re: MikeCMP]
      #5597569 - 12/31/12 09:20 AM Attachment (55 downloads)

Quote:

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.


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seafury
super member


Reged: 01/18/12

Re: Fiberglassing lessons from a novice [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5597588 - 12/31/12 09:32 AM

thats not cloud, its a slight mist lol

gordon


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Scout92
member


Reged: 12/20/11

Loc: Hoquiam, WA.
Re: Fiberglassing lessons from a novice [Re: seafury]
      #5599887 - 01/01/13 04:03 PM

NICE!!

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