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Equipment Discussions >> Observatories

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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
Building a 24' Dome
      #5435774 - 09/23/12 09:59 AM Attachment (364 downloads)

"Astronomers who enjoy observing or imaging all share one need in common - dark skies! Of course you can try to enjoy astronomy from nearly anywhere, but the one thing that will enhance your results more than anything is the best skies from which to observe.

After nearly 30 years in this hobby, we have learned a lot. Equipment comes and goes. Our first telescope has morphed itself into the 20th. Many sets of eyepieces have graced our eyepiece boxes over the years. However, the ultimate question is still not answered. Where is the best place to observe from?"

The search for a new astronomy home was started in a post on CN in June of 2010.

By the following year we had discovered our new home, purchased the property, and started the big job of moving our home and observatory to New Mexico, under some of the best skies in the country, where you can expect 300 clear nights a year, unbelievable transparency, , decent temperatures, and great seeing. A second thread on CN talked about our findings of locating the new home.

We had lived for 40 years in Florida, but sold our place at the Chiefland Astronomy Village in February of 2012, and by March the move west started.

We now are living at The New Mexico Astronomy Village, a brand new place just starting out. Already five astronomy families have purchased land, and before long more astronomers will be moving here and building their own observatories. There is already one 24x24' roll off next to us, with more planned before long.

After getting the basics finished, there is now time to start the build of our new home for our 42" driven Dobsonian, affectionally known as the Beast - mainly because it weighs 1600 pounds, and when struggling to build it it earned that name. Lots of photos will be posted on a page on my web site as construction continues, so if you want to learn how to build a fiberglassed wooden dome, you might want to check it out now and then. Jeannie and I expect to have the Beast back in operation in a couple of months, and are quite excited to have the big scope working under skies that are far superior to where it was for the last 10 years.

As an added benefit Mike Lockwood has the mirror in his shop for a refiguring and recoating job while the new home is being completed. We can't wait for first light, and to be able to invite friends over to share the views.

Tom Clark

Edited by Tom Clark (09/23/12 10:19 AM)


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Starman27
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Reged: 01/29/06

Loc: Illinois, Iowa
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5435794 - 09/23/12 10:08 AM

Can't wait to see the evolution of your new obswerving site and observatory. All the best on your build.

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roscoe
curmudgeon
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Reged: 02/04/09

Loc: NW Mass, inches from VT
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Starman27]
      #5436298 - 09/23/12 02:50 PM

How did you make the ribs? Are they strips glue-laminated to a curved form, or a series of overlapping arcs glued together? Or, do you have a really big steam box?
Russ


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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: roscoe]
      #5436492 - 09/23/12 04:35 PM Attachment (193 downloads)

I band saw 3/4" plywood on the desired radius and then laminate them together with glue and a nail gun. It sounds harder than it is. Even for a 24' Dome 33 sheets of ply were cut up in 4 easy days.

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Mirzam
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5436674 - 09/23/12 06:14 PM

Easy is a relative term.

JimC


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stkoepke
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Reged: 01/11/08

Loc: Abilene, Texas
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Mirzam]
      #5437402 - 09/24/12 02:59 AM



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seryddwr
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Reged: 02/19/10

Loc: La-la land.
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: stkoepke]
      #5438188 - 09/24/12 02:17 PM

Oooh! Oooh! When you're done, can I come and visit. (I live in southern NM)

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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: seryddwr]
      #5438297 - 09/24/12 03:26 PM Attachment (168 downloads)

Hey Greg,

If you live in southern NM you can come over and help us build the dome. We will need all the help we can get when we reassemble this dome on top of the walls before adding the sheeting. We just finished cutting all 30 ribs to fit this morning.

So where do you live?

Tom


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gravitino
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Reged: 04/28/09

Loc: Evanston, IL
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5438453 - 09/24/12 05:03 PM

Looking good, Tom. Are you following a plan for the layout of the ribs, shutter, etc? I'm particularly wondering about: (1) number of ribs (2) attachment angles etc, and (3) shape of the gores that will cover the ribs.

I've always considered a ROR the ideal observatory solution, but a little better wind protection for a large Dob (I've just finished my 22") has made me start considering a large dome, which seems to be what I'm seeing here. :-)

Clear skies,
-- Shane


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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: gravitino]
      #5438583 - 09/24/12 06:19 PM Attachment (207 downloads)

Shane, the plan is simple. The ribs have to be 24" apart at the bottom. As you know, wall studs are normally 16" on center, but since the ribs are closer at the top, the building department OKs the plans for 24" base.

My plan was first designed 12 years ago when I built the Fl observatory. This time I used the same plans for the NM building department, but am making a few minor changes. Since the mirror is 42", and I wanted at least 10" clearance either side so we don't have to move the dome so often, this opening is bigger. Also, the roll back shutter is less open to damage from high winds while observing, we went with that. In the past, too many observings sessions were cut short because the wind picked up to dangerous levels.

Every rib points to the center of the building. I have a nail sticking up in the center, and used a plum bob to mark the location of where the ribs hit the main arches.

As to roll-off vs dome, what protection do you get when the eyepiece is 14' high and the walls are 6' high??? Wind does not shake the scope in a dome. A dome is much warmer than observing outside (ROR), and there is never any dew in a dome. After 10 years of observing inside, I could never go back outside in the weather again. Well, we do use our travel scopes at star parties, but that is another matter.

Note in this photo how all the ribs point to the center…

Edited by Tom Clark (09/24/12 11:30 PM)


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DeanS
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Reged: 07/12/05

Loc: Central Kentucky
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5438639 - 09/24/12 07:18 PM

Tom, looks like your shop has never been moved! Congrats on the new set up.

Dean


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dobsoscope
sage
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Reged: 05/24/06

Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: DeanS]
      #5439214 - 09/25/12 06:35 AM

What method did you choose to fix the ribs up at the top?Do you use hinges or do you cut the timber at an angle and screw it to the semicircular hoops?

Would you consider skinning in aluminium sheeting? That would last 'forever',, more or less.


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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: dobsoscope]
      #5439938 - 09/25/12 01:59 PM Attachment (168 downloads)

The ribs are attached at both ends by the metal brackets that are common in construction. I drew the plans in 2001, but then they had to go a structural engineer, who added all the final little footnotes. The brackets are called LS-30. Since the FL observatory went through four hurricanes, I guess they are strong enough.

A friend skinned his dome in aluminum. It always leaks due to the caulking getting old and cracking. I used 1/4" exterior grade plywood, and then fiberglassed it. 12 years later it is still like new and doesn't leak, so will use the plywood again.


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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5448770 - 09/30/12 04:32 PM Attachment (160 downloads)

Now that the dome parts have been fit together, and all the ribs cut to the proper length and angles, the dome was taken apart and the pieces put back into the garage. Now the concrete pad is open so the walls can be built. On the bottom pressure treated 2x6s were cut to the proper radius, and then the wall top ring assembled so it can fit onto the top of the wall after the studs mounted. After the walls are finished and the wheels mounted, the dome will be reassembled again, this time on top of the walls.

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crazyqban
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 12/16/08

Loc: Miami, Florida
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5452999 - 10/03/12 01:35 AM

Wow Tom, that is coming along great. I enjoyed viewing through "The Beast" on a couple of ocassions at Chiefland and can only imagine how great it will perform out in New Mexico. No doubt that a Mike Lockwood refiguring job will make and already excellent scope even better. Congrats, hopefully one day I can pay you a visit in your new digs. Clear skies.

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rwiederrich
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Reged: 11/17/05

Loc: Always Dark skies of Belfair W...
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5453470 - 10/03/12 12:09 PM

Quote:

Now that the dome parts have been fit together, and all the ribs cut to the proper length and angles, the dome was taken apart and the pieces put back into the garage. Now the concrete pad is open so the walls can be built. On the bottom pressure treated 2x6s were cut to the proper radius, and then the wall top ring assembled so it can fit onto the top of the wall after the studs mounted. After the walls are finished and the wheels mounted, the dome will be reassembled again, this time on top of the walls.




One: I'm assuming you have a killer band saw...second: I'm assuimng you have pleanty of help to assemble, disassemble, and remove to the shop the dome...thirdly: I'm sontinueing to assume you have lots of treated lumber to cut up for the footers if you used 2x6's.

I'm impressed what sheer desire and will can do...plus a wife happily content with her suroundings and your absence.

I'm overly impressed...


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rigel123
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5453718 - 10/03/12 03:24 PM



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DeanS
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Reged: 07/12/05

Loc: Central Kentucky
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: rigel123]
      #5453766 - 10/03/12 03:53 PM

Aren't you suppose to build the dome around the scope?

Sort of like a ship in a bottle.


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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: DeanS]
      #5454186 - 10/03/12 09:00 PM Attachment (125 downloads)

Quote:

Aren't you suppose to build the dome around the scope?

Sort of like a ship in a bottle.




Hey Dean,

You have been to Chiefland and seen the Beast. If that thing was inside the dome during construction, there would be no room to work and build the dome. Besides, chain hoists have to be attached to the dome ceiling to lift the tube assembly up so the rocker box can be slid under it.

All our old friends are welcome to come visit and observe with us when the project is finished…


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DeanS
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Loc: Central Kentucky
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5454230 - 10/03/12 09:36 PM

I would like to take you up on that someday Tom.

Thanks!


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nytecam
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Reged: 08/20/05

Loc: London UK
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: DeanS]
      #5454547 - 10/04/12 03:28 AM Attachment (115 downloads)

Nice work Tom
Quote:

Aren't you suppose to build the dome around the scope? Sort of like a ship in a bottle.


Yeh - anyone done a Dob-in-a-Dome where the Dob is physically attached and supported by the dome eg top end of the Dob pivots on the shutter for 'altitude' and rotation of dome for 'azimuth' Now that would be neat but may need a fancy viewing platform - also attached to the dome - a sort of updated Leviathan of Parsonstown from the 1850

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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: crazyqban]
      #5461738 - 10/09/12 08:36 AM Attachment (128 downloads)

On the last dome I used 1/4 x3 x3" angle iron rolled into a circle and welded together. It rode on 10 steel "V"-grooved wheels. The observatory quickly acquired the name "The Thunder Dome" because of the sound it made when rotating.

This time I am using 2" wide 6" diameter wheels rolling on a flat aluminum plate. It should be a bit quieter. The casters have a weight bearing capacity of 750 pounds each.


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David PavlichAdministrator
Transmographied
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Reged: 05/18/05

Loc: Mandeville, LA USA
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5461875 - 10/09/12 10:34 AM

Really cool execution, Tom!!

David


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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5465109 - 10/11/12 10:25 AM Attachment (133 downloads)

Yesterday the base ring for the dome was reassembled on top of the walls. The inside of the ring has an aluminum strip around it, and the base of the ring has a 3.5" wide aluminum strip to provide a smooth tract for the wheels to ride on. Another two 8" diameter wheels will be used to drive the dome in rotation.

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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5465130 - 10/11/12 10:43 AM Attachment (119 downloads)

All of the hold downs were welded from 1.5" angle iron, and ball bearings are attached to ride on the inner ring. This keeps the dome from sliding around as it rotates.

Saturday morning - if it is not too windy - will be the big day for reassembling the dome parts in place. Wish us luck, as there will be a lot of ladder work involved.

I realize not many of you will be running out and building a 24' dome in your back yard next week, but all of these ideas would be very good for using on smaller domes of 12' and up. Any smaller observatory would be a real easy project after building this monster.

A commercial dome of this size runs over $50K, and the projected cost of this project is a more far more affordable at under $10K, including the motors to rotate the dome and open and close the shutters. Of course all of the details are not worked out yet, but that just makes the building exciting.


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nytecam
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Reged: 08/20/05

Loc: London UK
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5466321 - 10/12/12 04:11 AM Attachment (112 downloads)

Excellent work Tom - main rollers and side restraint rollers looking good and a model for anyone dome building of any size. How is the dome anchored down to stop it lifting under storm conditions? Do the plates above the restraint rollers do that

ps: couldn't but help note the difference of aspect from your vast NM horizons to my cosy London backyard [below] containing my M12 astrograph that no faint DSO escapes its eagle-eye


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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: nytecam]
      #5467920 - 10/13/12 09:28 AM

"All of the hold downs were welded from 1.5" angle iron, and ball bearings are attached to ride on the inner ring. This keeps the dome from sliding around as it rotates."

Sorry, I should have been more clear. The black angle iron posts that hole the ball bearings also extend over the dome ring, so the dome cannot lift during high winds.

By the way, your yard is beautiful. We could use a bit of that greenery around here - but what the heck - we did move to the desert for the 300 clear nights a year along with the wonderful transparency of the air. You just can't have everything…


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EricGraham
member


Reged: 01/19/11

Loc: New Mexico
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5467949 - 10/13/12 09:52 AM

I guess I lucked out. I have a 30 year old established garden almost as lush as Nytecams and a great observing site not too far from Tom's.

Eric


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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: EricGraham]
      #5472084 - 10/15/12 06:43 PM Attachment (119 downloads)

After taking a couple of days off to have a little star party, a bit of progress has finally been made. Next up is sheeting the dome and then fiberglassing it.

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David PavlichAdministrator
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Reged: 05/18/05

Loc: Mandeville, LA USA
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5472425 - 10/15/12 10:34 PM

Hey Tom...I have a request. Do you have any pictures of your crew and you setting the dome section? I'd love to see it!

David


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dmdouglass
professor emeritus


Reged: 12/23/07

Loc: Tempe, AZ
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: David Pavlich]
      #5473333 - 10/16/12 01:38 PM

Hi Tom...

We have never met, but i would like to say that your project is absolutely FANTASTIC !!

I am really looking forward to photos of your continued construction. Keep up the GOOD WORK !!!


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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: David Pavlich]
      #5473412 - 10/16/12 02:51 PM

Quote:

Hey Tom...I have a request. Do you have any pictures of your crew and you setting the dome section? I'd love to see it!

David





David,

A friend set up his camera to take photos every minute while the dome was being reassembled on the walls. I haven't seen them yet but will one of these days, and will post a couple. At first I tried to put up the main arches with just a crew of guys, but after a bit, realized how stupid that was, so I halted work and got a crane out to lift the arches. That made putting the ribs back up a piece of cake.


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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: dmdouglass]
      #5473419 - 10/16/12 02:57 PM

Quote:

Hi Tom...

We have never met, but i would like to say that your project is absolutely FANTASTIC !!

I am really looking forward to photos of your continued construction. Keep up the GOOD WORK !!!




David,

Thanks for the nice note. Jeannie and I look forward to inviting local astronomy clubs over for observing after the project is finished, so maybe we will see you then. In 2010 we visited Steve Coe and the Saguaro Astronomy club, where I gave a talk. Keep in touch.


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Wmacky
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 11/24/07

Loc: Florida
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5473942 - 10/16/12 08:00 PM

Tom, I'm envious as I'm still back in the great state of humidity! You mention using a center nail, and plumb bob to align the ribs. I'm having trouble visualizing. Can you elaborate?

Any insight on laying out the ribs, hoops, and rings on the plywood sheets? Is there a place to gain such knowledge or did you dig formulas out of old trigonometry text books? I'm finding little info around on calculating the dimensions of the dome framing members, not to mention those gores!


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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Wmacky]
      #5474172 - 10/16/12 11:04 PM

Look at the photo above of just the dome sitting on the concrete. The center of the concrete had a piece of wood screwed down, with a nail sticking up out of the floor, in the center of everything. Note where it says that every rib points to the center of the dome. I used a straight edge that went from the center nail to a mark on the outer ring, where an ink mark was made where every rib was to be attached. Now all you have to do is mark where the top of the rib hits the main arcs high above.

How do you do that? l piece of string holding the plumb bob is held until the weight is hovering over the straight edge - and then mark the arc where the top of each rib is to be attached.

No rocket science or fancy math. Just a simple way to figure where things go.

If you are seriously are considering building a dome, when I built the first one back in '01-02, I wrote a two part article with lots of photos in Amateur Astronomy Magazine. Issues 33 & 34 I think. Back issues are still available…

To lay out the ribs and other parts, draw out your dome with dimensions. If you need 120 pieces with a 144" radius on the outside, and with a 140.5" radius on the inside, make a compass and draw a template. Then cut out the template and use it to draw the 120 pieces on the plywood. That is where the 4 days of bandsawing went.

You have to build the dome in your head, then jay it out on paper. Once you do that, all the pieces become clear, and the dimensions of each piece are arrived at. Sure the project may seem hard at first, but just like anything, it's one piece at a time, and before you know it, your yard contains a skeleton that looks something the dinosaur that is in my back yard at the moment!

By the way - you live in N. Florida. Go visit my old dome at Chiefland. When I was getting ready to build that one, I visited every home-made dome around the country I could find, took some of the good ideas of each, and that really helped me to figure out how I wanted to build mine.

Edited by Tom Clark (10/16/12 11:14 PM)


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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5477979 - 10/18/12 11:29 PM Attachment (122 downloads)

As the sheeting goes on the project starts to give an impression that it will be finished one of these days. Picked up 40 sheets of lauan 1/4" plywood at Home Depot yesterday, and today the roofing started.

Also, today the building inspector signed off on the framing inspection. He even gave us a pat on the back and said that it looked like we were building a solid building.


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dmdouglass
professor emeritus


Reged: 12/23/07

Loc: Tempe, AZ
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5478114 - 10/19/12 01:06 AM

"He even gave us a pat on the back and said that it looked like we were building a solid building."

Indeed you are !!!


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dobsoscope
sage
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Reged: 05/24/06

Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: dmdouglass]
      #5478243 - 10/19/12 04:41 AM

Excellent progress Tom!
The cladding is coming nicely. Did you consider using 1mm thick aluminium sheeting instead of plywood to have it withstand more the test of time and need less maintenance? I would assume it will not be an easy-everyday task to reach all the way up the dome to carry out maintenance on the cladding (joints etc.).


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Keith Howlett
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Reged: 03/06/07

Loc: Northumberland, UK
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5478302 - 10/19/12 06:33 AM

Hi Tom,

That's looking great. how are you joining the edges of the gores prior to fibreglassing?

Cheers,

Keith


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EddWen
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 04/26/08

Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Keith Howlett]
      #5478682 - 10/19/12 11:46 AM

Looks good!

Seems like it is already drawing the clouds out of Arizona, Thanks ;-)


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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Keith Howlett]
      #5480586 - 10/20/12 03:24 PM Attachment (143 downloads)

Quote:

Hi Tom,

That's looking great. how are you joining the edges of the gores prior to fibreglassing?

Cheers,

Keith




The plywood is held on with lots of staples and nails. The edges are not perfect, so they are caulked before the fiberglass goes on.


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Keith Howlett
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Reged: 03/06/07

Loc: Northumberland, UK
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5480690 - 10/20/12 04:52 PM

Thanks Tom, I'm looking forward to the next report.

Keith


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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Keith Howlett]
      #5487474 - 10/24/12 06:46 PM Attachment (157 downloads)

No fancy report - just this photo. The dome sheeting is now 3/4 finished. Would have already finished, but the wind is holding things up a bit.

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Keith Howlett
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5489771 - 10/26/12 07:06 AM

That really puts the size in perspective. I would need a bigger garden!

Keith


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Mirzam
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Keith Howlett]
      #5489785 - 10/26/12 07:29 AM

The end stages of aperture fever....

JimC


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Tom Clark
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Mirzam]
      #5490326 - 10/26/12 02:19 PM

Quote:

The end stages of aperture fever....

JimC




Not only that - but it is very contagious! Everyone who comes to visit and observes with us goes home with a serious case of it. No matter, it is worth all the headaches…


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Tom Clark
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5501453 - 11/02/12 07:41 PM Attachment (137 downloads)

In my last dome I had five red lights mounted around the wall, near the top. Even though they had covers over them they still shined in your eyes when you sat down. I knew that I wanted a different kind of light in the new New Mexico dome.

What seemed like a good idea at the time was rope lights (on a dimmer switch) all around the dome, near floor level.
It's that time of the year, folks. when Wal Mart starts setting out their Xmas stuff early, they have lots of rope lights available. I bought four boxes of 18 footers to circle the new dome, but this type of indirect lighting would work well in any observatory - round or rectangle. You just need to make a simple shield so the lights only shine down.


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Tom Clark
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5501463 - 11/02/12 07:47 PM Attachment (126 downloads)

My shield is 3/4" plywood band sawn 3/4" wide so it fits the curve of the walls. Then a piece of 1/4 plywood was sawn 2" wide and stapled to the 3/4" plywood strips. The lights can only shine on the walls (they are not up yet in this photo) and on the floor. The rope lights come with little plastic clips. I screwed them to the bottom of the plywood, and then just snapped the lights in place.

I have used these rope lights before, and you can dim them down to almost nothing. Since we are visual observers, we like it dark inside to keep our dark adaption as good as it can be. The new dome will have nearly perfect lighting, and it only sticks out 1" from the wall.

Yes, it is a little early to be adding the lights to this project, but now is the time of year when you can find them at very reasonable prices.

By the way, when the dome is fiberglassed and the steel walls are up, everything inside will be painted flat black. Inside the dome is far darker than outside - for dark adaption.

Edited by Tom Clark (11/02/12 07:53 PM)


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Wmacky
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5501875 - 11/03/12 12:55 AM

Quote:

My shield is 3/4" plywood band sawn 3/4" wide so it fits the curve of the walls. Then a piece of 1/4 plywood was sawn 2" wide and stapled to the 3/4" plywood strips. The lights can only shine on the walls (they are not up yet in this photo) and on the floor. The rope lights come with little plastic clips. I screwed them to the bottom of the plywood, and then just snapped the lights in place.

I have used these rope lights before, and you can dim them down to almost nothing. Since we are visual observers, we like it dark inside to keep our dark adaption as good as it can be. The new dome will have nearly perfect lighting, and it only sticks out 1" from the wall.

Yes, it is a little early to be adding the lights to this project, but now is the time of year when you can find them at very reasonable prices.

By the way, when the dome is fiberglassed and the steel walls are up, everything inside will be painted flat black. Inside the dome is far darker than outside - for dark adaption.




I'm going to Walmart tomorrow! Can you snap a pic of the box these came in?


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Tom Clark
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Wmacky]
      #5502827 - 11/03/12 07:11 PM

Sorry, tossed the boxes. Just ask in the Christmas section.

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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5502961 - 11/03/12 08:48 PM

That's beautiful Tom.

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stmguy
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: EddWen]
      #5505209 - 11/05/12 10:32 AM

How are going to drive this beast ?

Norm


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Tom Clark
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: stmguy]
      #5505766 - 11/05/12 06:08 PM Attachment (89 downloads)

Norm,

The Beast is not a new telescope. It was in use in Florida for 10 years before we decided to move to New Mexico for better skies. (See the first post of this thread.) The drive system is called a Sky Tracker - the same system used on Starmasters - and built by Vic McKiegan who builds the Sky Commander. It works great for visual use. Everything you enter ends up in the eyepiece after the slew is finished. Two tiny motors run the 1600 pound scope just fine.


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saga01
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5506126 - 11/05/12 10:52 PM

I think he meant a beast of a dome. I'm curious about that also since it looks pretty heavy.

Mike


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stmguy
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: saga01]
      #5506358 - 11/06/12 06:06 AM

yes I meant the dome, sorry about that !

I ask because I need to come up with a drive system for my gable roof observatory which ended up a lot heavier than what I thought it was going to be.
Norm


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Tom Clark
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: stmguy]
      #5506491 - 11/06/12 08:50 AM Attachment (83 downloads)


Sorry, honest mistake. The telescope was named The Beast when I was building it, simply because of it's shear size. Construction swallowed 18 sheets of plywood. Mike Zammit even made me a neat nameplate…


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Tom Clark
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5506504 - 11/06/12 09:00 AM Attachment (92 downloads)

Now, funny you should ask about drive motors, as I finished mounting two of them yesterday. They work beautifully but still have a little finishing adjustments to be made.

The motors are small 1/6th horsepower gear motors from my MSC catalog. The drive wheels are 8" versions of the 6" wheels the dome rotates on. The bearings were removed from the center and solid hubs machined so they could be driven by the gear motor.

The wheels ride against the 4" wide flat aluminum plates the other 10 wheels ride on. The domes rotates very quietly, unlike the Florida version that had steel V-groove wheels riding on an angle iron track. The neighbors named the Chiefland dome "The Thunderdome" because rotations sounded like distant thunder from down the street. I'm sure the new neighbors will be far happier as we silently cruise the universe.

Edited by Tom Clark (11/06/12 03:46 PM)


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Baxstar
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5506612 - 11/06/12 10:19 AM

Really like your project! Look very solid, keep us posted

Casper


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DeanS
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Baxstar]
      #5506757 - 11/06/12 11:51 AM

Hi Tom, are there any concerns about dust on the rubber drive wheel making it slip?

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Tom Clark
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: DeanS]
      #5507396 - 11/06/12 06:58 PM

Nope. That is why there are two drive wheels, not one. The dust would have to cling to the bottom of the aluminum plate, so while there will be dust it will not be thick. The drive wheels are hard polyurethane, not rubber.

The last dome had one drive wheel, and it occasionally would slip in certain spots, so you would have to reach up and give the dome a helping hand to rotate. Hope to eliminate that with two drive wheels.


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Jack Huerkamp
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Reged: 10/13/05

Loc: Louisiana
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5517426 - 11/13/12 08:35 AM

Tom,

I just stumbled onto the Observatory form of CN and have been reading this thread. Having looked through your 42" in its old dome at CAV, I hope to one day get to your new location as I am sure the skies there are much better than the ones in Florida.

Jack Huerkamp


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ZRX-Steve
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Jack Huerkamp]
      #5521621 - 11/15/12 05:41 PM

That gives new meaning to the term "mini"van. Wonderful work Tom. I'm in the Saguaro Astronomy club and hope to see your dome in person someday.

Steve


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Tom Clark
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: ZRX-Steve]
      #5522014 - 11/15/12 10:04 PM

Hi Jack,

Look forward to your visit. I have four RV hookups in the front yard for friends. Scope will be operational in a couple of months.

Steve, We will coordinate with Steve Coe and have your club over for observing before too long. Steve will be here in a month or so.


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Jack Huerkamp
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5522452 - 11/16/12 08:46 AM

Tom,

I look forward to doing so. I will be retiring next October and hope to travel more.

Jack


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Tom Clark
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Loc: North of Deming, NM
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5528977 - 11/19/12 10:25 PM Attachment (121 downloads)

We are now into 3.5 months of construction, and well into the hardest part of building a wooden dome - fiberglassing the dome. Of course you do not have to use fiberglass, but if you wish to build a dome that will last for many years, it is a good way to go. First we painted raw wood with polyester resin, and now are adding the glass cloth. A third coat of resin will be added when all the cloth is up. The final step will be painting with primer, and then a final color coat, so the walls and roof will match, and the whole observatory color will match house and barn. The tan color goes well with the desert surroundings.

The dimensions of the dome are 24' in diameter. The walls are 6' high, and the dome itself is 12'6" above the walls. A lot of time is spent on the scaffold and on a 24' extension ladder.

The last steps still to go are adding the sliding shutter, then the walls, and we will be nearly finished.

It's just my wife Jeannie and I doing the fiberglass, and we are working mainly when the wind is not too high and the weather is nice. With a big crew the work could be done much faster.

Edited by Tom Clark (11/20/12 07:53 AM)


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EddWen
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5529944 - 11/20/12 11:47 AM

I'm far from an expert with regard to fiberglass and resins, but do have friends who home-build experimental airplanes. They frequently debate whether they need a UV protectant between the primer and finish coat (vs added weight).

I don't know what altitude you are at, but it might be a consideration for a longer life of the dome.


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Tim Gilliland
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: EddWen]
      #5530001 - 11/20/12 12:11 PM

I enjoy seeing this progress, It is so impressive! An Amature Astronomer's dream.

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David Johns
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Loc: Queensland, Australia
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tim Gilliland]
      #5535833 - 11/23/12 04:29 PM

Fantastic....

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Dr Morbius
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: David Johns]
      #5554267 - 12/04/12 04:50 PM

Any new updates?

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Tom Clark
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Dr Morbius]
      #5554306 - 12/04/12 05:15 PM Attachment (94 downloads)

Well, I am only 66, but feel much older after Jeannie and I finished fiberglassing the dome. Well, actually, it is not all done. Next project is to close up the back and fiberglass it, then build the shutter. However, I started another thread looking for info on finding the long gear needed to open and close the shutter. I may have to look into using a chain drive…

Took a short trip over to the Arizona Sky Village to visit old friends Jack and Alice Newton, to see how Jack builds his shutters and motorizes them. A project this size requires as much brain work as manual labor!

Edited by Tom Clark (12/04/12 05:19 PM)


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David PavlichAdministrator
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5554759 - 12/04/12 10:19 PM

Terrific work, Tom! Gonna' be a masterpiece when completed.

David


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Baxstar
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: David Pavlich]
      #5555812 - 12/05/12 03:00 PM

It's already a masterpiece! Even unfinished!

Casper


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Norm Meyer
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Baxstar]
      #5558012 - 12/06/12 06:10 PM

Hi Tom,
I just finished reading this thread on your 24' dome. It
is amazing, beautiful work. I envy your location and this
new observatory taking shape. I'm up here in Maine and our
climate conditions are a complete antithesis to NM.We probably have 4 or 5 days a year of very good seeing.
Good luck on finishing your project.
Completely covetous.
Norm


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Tom Clark
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Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Norm Meyer]
      #5558877 - 12/07/12 09:14 AM

Hey Everyone,

Don't just be envious, it would be a lot more fun to come join us and live the astronomy dream. There is room for another 50 or so astronomy families here at the New Mexico Astronomy Village. It's growing quickly.

You don't have to stay where you are. Jeannie and I ran away from Ohio and moved to Florida 40 years ago. This last move across the country to NM was a bit of work, but we are sure glad we have made it. While we read about star parties back east being clouded out, I almost hate to tell old friends that we have had two cloudy nights in the last 6 or 8 weeks.

See the first post in this thread for lots more information on the NMAV.

Dome progress? More photos to be posted soon. Now closing up the back and working on building the roll-back shutter, since I finally found the hardware I was looking for to motorize the shutter.


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Tom Clark
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5561209 - 12/08/12 05:04 PM Attachment (91 downloads)

The last few days were spent closing in the back side of the dome, under where the shutter will roll back. It looks strange in this photo, but next it will be fiberglassed and primed.

The whole observatory will not be left white, but rather painted to match the shop and house. The tan color is well suited to the desert - it blends in rather than standing out like the stark white.


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Tom Clark
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5561222 - 12/08/12 05:10 PM Attachment (76 downloads)

The whole inside of the observatory will be spray painted flat black. The last dome in Florida was black, and everyone always commented on how inside the dome was the darkest place they had ever been. The only lights are starlight and the dim red indirect lighting around the floor.

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Retsub
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5563081 - 12/09/12 08:17 PM

Looking at your dome drive wheels, they look like they would be a harder urethane than maybe 80-85A hardness ? Bet not many of your neighbors in NM have a spare wheel from a brush hog to use if you needed one ! Thanks. *BW*

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Tom Clark
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5574304 - 12/16/12 03:04 PM Attachment (61 downloads)

The old bush hog tire worked just fine for 12 years, and is still working for the new owner. It did slip in one place when you wanted to go counter-clockwise, so that is why this time two wheels were used. No idea how hard the plastic is, but they have a capacity of 750 pounds each, so they seem pretty tough, and they work very well.

Still working even though winter is here. All the outside fiberglassing is finished. Building the shutter doors inside the shop, and will be putting up the steel walls and doing the final painting soon. The shutter will be fiberglassed inside the shop. By the way, most winter days here are in the 60s during the day, and 30 at night. However, the sun makes 60 feel very nice unless the wind happens to be blowing hard - and it does that now and then.


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Mirzam
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5574575 - 12/16/12 06:06 PM

NOw that's a big shutter! Did you overlap smaller sections of plywood to make the larger arcs?

JimC


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Tom Clark
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Mirzam]
      #5575423 - 12/17/12 09:26 AM Attachment (46 downloads)

Since plywood only comes in 8' sheets, the curved parts are band sawn and then laminated into the arcs with glue and a nail gun. All the curved parts for this 24' dome were sawn in about four days.

Total cost for the plywood ribs was around $1,000. . Even if you had to purchase a band saw first, the cost of building your own observatory is a tiny fraction of purchasing a commercial dome.


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Escher
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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
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Fiberglassing lessons from a novice new [Re: Escher]
      #5582173 - 12/21/12 09:56 AM Attachment (74 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
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Re: Fiberglassing lessons from a novice new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5582183 - 12/21/12 10:00 AM Attachment (65 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
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Re: Fiberglassing lessons from a novice new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5582198 - 12/21/12 10:08 AM Attachment (64 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
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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
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Re: Fiberglassing lessons from a novice new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5582216 - 12/21/12 10:19 AM Attachment (78 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
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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
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Re: Fiberglassing lessons from a novice new [Re: dmdouglass]
      #5586162 - 12/23/12 07:28 PM Attachment (74 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
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Reged: 06/23/07

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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
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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
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
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Reged: 11/24/07

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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
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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 (61 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
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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

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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
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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
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Re: Fiberglassing lessons from a novice new [Re: MikeCMP]
      #5588244 - 12/25/12 09:38 AM Attachment (72 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
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Re: Fiberglassing lessons from a novice new [Re: MikeCMP]
      #5597569 - 12/31/12 09:20 AM Attachment (53 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
member


Reged: 01/18/12

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

thats not cloud, its a slight mist lol

gordon


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Scout92
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Loc: Hoquiam, WA.
Re: Fiberglassing lessons from a novice new [Re: seafury]
      #5599887 - 01/01/13 04:03 PM

NICE!!

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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
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Loc: North of Deming, NM
Re: Fiberglassing lessons from a novice new [Re: Scout92]
      #5600393 - 01/01/13 09:51 PM Attachment (98 downloads)

" Where is the darkest place you have ever been?"

"Inside Clark's dome," says everybody who has been there.

Just starting to paint the inside flat black. It will enable the best dark adaption you will ever enjoy. It is far darker than outside…

Edited by Tom Clark (01/01/13 09:53 PM)


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Lynnblac
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Re: Fiberglassing lessons from a novice new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5605888 - 01/05/13 01:08 AM

I could not make sense of the picture until I read the text!

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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
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Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
Re: Fiberglassing lessons from a novice new [Re: Lynnblac]
      #5606095 - 01/05/13 08:07 AM

Naturally!

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snowboycosmos
super member


Reged: 07/18/12

Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5612813 - 01/08/13 10:18 PM

Tom have been watching your progress from beginning to now and you truly are living the dream. Perfect Skies, Mammoth Scope, Superdome, all of us are there with you at the astronomy village, just not in body but in spirit. I'm afar off in cloudy Scotland and just in from a freezing cold night out in the garden seeing a few blurry stars. You are blessed !

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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: snowboycosmos]
      #5622250 - 01/14/13 08:30 AM Attachment (75 downloads)

Finally received the rack and pinion gear and have mounted it to the shutter. As soon as this cold spell breaks the shutters will be mounted. After that it will be time to move the scope to it's new home.

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1965healy
The Snarkster
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5622386 - 01/14/13 10:09 AM

Looks a lot like a wall when it's on it's side. Dang that things huge! So close!

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Taylor
scholastic sledgehammer
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Re: Fiberglassing lessons from a novice new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5622532 - 01/14/13 11:49 AM

Quote:

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.




That observatory looks incredible, well done! I can only imagine what kind of views you will be getting through that monster telescope and the clear skies of NM.

I'm hoping to use some of your ideas when my wife and I buy our first house 12-16 months from now.
On a much smaller scale, of course. Probably along the lines of 8-10'.

Clear skies.


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dmdouglass
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Loc: Tempe, AZ
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: 1965healy]
      #5622540 - 01/14/13 11:51 AM

Yeah.... and at least 3 beautiful model aircraft flying low providing aerial cover during its storage !!!

At some of our star parties, we have several members who fly rockets during the day. My guess is, that if we could ever talk him into coming....., Tom would fly model airplanes.

How cool is that ??


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dodgerm37
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Reged: 02/10/12

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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5623475 - 01/14/13 09:38 PM

Tom, Where in Ohio were you? I'm near Youngstown, the home of far to many clouds. Bob

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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
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Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: dodgerm37]
      #5623558 - 01/14/13 10:26 PM

Born in Dayton. Hated the weather.

Moved to FL in 1972. Moved to NM in 2012.


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averen
Vendor Main Sequence Software
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Loc: Austin TX
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5624201 - 01/15/13 11:13 AM

Tom,
Nice build! I'm sure you're glad to be almost done!

How much resin and fiberglass did you use on the dome and shutter?

Thanks,
Jared


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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
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Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: averen]
      #5624823 - 01/15/13 05:11 PM

The calculator said that the dome would be 904 square feet, so I purchased a 120 sq yd of 7 ounce cloth. There is some left over. I purchased 10 gallon of resin, and have one gallon left.

I'm very glad to be nearly finished! Ordered the shutter motor from Poly Dome this morning. Will get the shutter mounted soon.

Edited by Tom Clark (01/18/13 08:12 AM)


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Tom Clark
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Reged: 11/14/07

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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5629469 - 01/18/13 08:29 AM Attachment (64 downloads)

This project required a double entry door so the scope, desk, and other large things could be moved in and out. Most pre-built doors are the standard 6'8" high. Interior doors are very inexpensive, but exterior doors are very expensive, and all of them are a foot higher than what this project needed.

Don't forget that a Dob is going into this dome and the walls are only 6' high so the scope can view nearly to the horizon. When the last time I built doors the local lumber company had a sale on 1x12 lumber so I bought some and ripped the material on my table saw. This time I just purchased 1x4s since there doesn't seem to be as many sales going on - in spite of the bad economy. The material was purchased in 12' lengths so there would be little waste.

Once the doorway was framed in the boards for the door were cut to size and laminated with overlapped joints. This photo shows the door partially assembled before the 1/4" plywood was glued on.

Edited by Tom Clark (01/18/13 05:04 PM)


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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5629475 - 01/18/13 08:33 AM Attachment (58 downloads)

The doors are built slightly larger than the final size, then trimmed to size after the plywood skins are glued on. The outsides of the doors were fiberglassed just like everything else for weather protection. Doors built like this are a bit heavier than normal, but they are very strong.

Next project is to put up the plastic dome overlap that will cover the opening between the dome and the walls.


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Tom Clark
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5634145 - 01/20/13 11:30 PM Attachment (61 downloads)

It took awhile, but painting the inside is finished. The shutters should be going on soon.

For any astronomer who has fears of climbing ladders to reach the eyepiece of a large telescope, consider building a rolling staircase like this one I just finished. It is an updated version of the one I used in the old observatory for 10 years. Thousands of people - from 6 to 86 years old to have used it safely for observing. The handrails make the experience very safe.


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Bob Myler
Pooh-Bah
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5635937 - 01/21/13 11:17 PM

Looks like the inside of a newly refurbished Yerkes!

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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
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Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Bob Myler]
      #5636389 - 01/22/13 08:37 AM Attachment (55 downloads)

Not quite! However, I did get the idea for my ladder from Yerkes. Years ago years ago I wrote an article on Yerkes, and the docent was telling me about their 100 year old wooden ladder and all the famous astronomers who had stood on it over the years. I had Jeannie take my photo on that ladder while imagining all the ghosts of astronomers past standing around me.

Later when I was considering purchasing a steel rolling staircase for my dome, (that I would have to modify to suit my needs) I remembered that wooden ladder from Yerkes that had lasted a hundred years, and designed my own.

The Yerkes dome is around 100 feet in diameter, and the whole floor goes up an down. What an engineering feet that was!


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stmguy
sage


Reged: 10/11/12

Loc: Western NH
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5636411 - 01/22/13 08:51 AM

I also was out Yerkes years ago, what a piece of engineering. It's hard to get a grip on how big that telescope is from pictures, you really have to stand beside it. We designed the floor of the McGregor observatory at Stellafane to have the floor go up and down but I think liability concerns put the kibosh on it.
Norm


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csa/montana
Den Mama
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Loc: montana
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5636544 - 01/22/13 10:08 AM

Tom, what an awesome job on your dome! That will give you a lifetime of enjoying the night skies!

That ladder is pretty fantastic, also!


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1965healy
The Snarkster
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: csa/montana]
      #5636609 - 01/22/13 10:34 AM

I'm saint til he paints the floor black, then I'm getting a little black tent and moving in! I'll wear my ninja outfit, I'll be invisible!

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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: 1965healy]
      #5640990 - 01/24/13 04:23 PM Attachment (103 downloads)

Only one more door to be installed and this project is finished. The swing out bottom shutter went on this morning, and works perfectly. Chains hold it when it is lowered, and door bolts lock it in the closed position.

I am waiting for the shutter motor to arrive, and then we will have the 6'x16' main shutter lifted up by a small crane. The track and wheels are already finished and waiting to bolt onto the shutter.

The project has taken almost five months, but we are glad to reach the end. Now it is almost play time.

Mike Lockwood finished refiguring the 42" a couple of weeks ago, and sent it off to be recoated. I talked to Mike all through the refiguring, and found out that the mirror was worse than I thought it was. Jeannie and I have observed with many of Mike's mirrors, so we can't wait. Mike is going to deliver the mirror himself after the Winter Star Party, and will help us reinstall it and test its operation in the scope. Mike is not only the top mirror maker for large mirrors, but he loves observing also - and that is a good combination! He is going to stay for a week and observe with us to try out our New Mexico skies.

I will add a few more photos at that time.

Edited by Tom Clark (01/24/13 04:28 PM)


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rockethead26
Carpal Tunnel
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5641015 - 01/24/13 04:34 PM

Tom,

Such an outstanding job. Well done! In a couple of years I'll be nearby to check on our Granite Gap property just down the road. Hopefully, I'll get a chance to meet you and Jeannie and see this incredible observatory.


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MDB
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: rockethead26]
      #5641521 - 01/24/13 09:20 PM

Congratulations on a job well done! I really like seeing a great plan executed well. It has been really enjoyable for me to follow your build and you've planted a idea in my brain albeit a somewhat smaller one. Enjoy!

Mike


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EricGraham
member


Reged: 01/19/11

Loc: New Mexico
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: MDB]
      #5642350 - 01/25/13 11:11 AM

Shame on you Tom, taking a picture on a cloudy day. How do expect people to envy us here if they see we have cloudy skies too!

Eric


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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
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Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: EricGraham]
      #5642982 - 01/25/13 05:03 PM

Eric,

When they find out that we have over 300 clear days a year they won't mind that we show the clouds now and then. I think a front is coming through. We just got home from playing golf and it is 70 degrees today.

That's not bad for the end of January, and one of the good reasons for living in SW New Mexico.

Edited by Tom Clark (01/25/13 05:04 PM)


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Peter L.
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5647531 - 01/28/13 07:57 AM

Absolutely incredible!

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stevecoe
"Astronomical Tourist"
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Reged: 04/24/04

Loc: Arizona, USA
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Peter L.]
      #5670927 - 02/09/13 03:43 PM

Tom and Jeannie;

I am in the RV park in Wickenburg and there is snow on the ground and the temperature is 34 degrees last night. I am glad I got some observing done during the week.

The dome looks great, I am glad that the shop we built has some usefullness;-)

Looking forward to seeing it for myself;
Steve Coe


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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5685809 - 02/17/13 07:40 PM Attachment (68 downloads)

Update.

Since the last photo was three weeks ago, nothing has been done except for waiting for the guy with the crane. This huge door has been hogging all the space in the shop, and the scope hogging all the space in the garage.

The crane man said he would be out in about two weeks, so any day now. Once the roof is finished the scope can be moved in. Lots of photos to follow. Just got a new fisheye lens that makes it easy to post interior photos.


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brave_ulysses
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Reged: 04/19/09

Loc: far outside the wire
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5685827 - 02/17/13 07:47 PM

championship shop! sorta reminds me of the new yankee workshop.

maybe you could wake up this thread with a couple of pix:
"Post a Picture of Your ATM Workshop !"

http://www.cloudynights.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php/Cat/0/Number/5587593/page...


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tclehman1969
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Loc: SF Bay Area, California
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: brave_ulysses]
      #5690079 - 02/20/13 01:06 AM

Incredible!

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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
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Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: tclehman1969]
      #5702081 - 02/26/13 04:59 PM Attachment (56 downloads)

When you are building your own project you are able to work at your own pace, but once you are dependent on someone else, all falls apart. We started the dome in Sept, and by January we were nearly finished, other than waiting first for the gears and shutter motor.

I wanted all those parts on hand before having the shutter lifted up in place. Then we had to wait nearly a month waiting for the crane guy to show up. At first he said two weeks, and then he said another week and he would call. After another week of waiting, I got mad and started looking around. Finally found an air-conditioning and heating guy with a small crane, and when I spoke to him he said he would be out in an hour. An hour and a half later the shutter was up and in place!


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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
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Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5702097 - 02/26/13 05:06 PM Attachment (53 downloads)

Of course that is when I discovered that the engineering designer for this project was not too sharp. The shutter was about 6" too short. It was supposed to overlap the bottom shutter. Oh well, things like that are easy to fix. I'll just add 6" to the bottom shutter so it goes under the top like it was planned. I think I must have used the radius for the shutter opening instead of the radius for the top of the shutter in my calculations. Duh!

I would like to thank everyone for their kind comments all through this thread. They really do help to make the job easier. It should be obvious that I am just a telescope maker, not a contractor - but the whole project wasn't that hard to do. You just take it one step at a time and before you know it we are nearing completion.

As soon as the shutter is working it will be time to get the scope installed. More photos will be posted then.


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Mary B
Vendor - Echo Astronomy and Electronics
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Reged: 05/21/10

Loc: Minnesota
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5702309 - 02/26/13 07:17 PM

Looking good even with the error. Maybe just some flashing that is Z shaped to cover the gap?

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dmdouglass
professor emeritus


Reged: 12/23/07

Loc: Tempe, AZ
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Mary B]
      #5702758 - 02/27/13 12:07 AM

How cool is that !!

You are going to enjoy that facility sooooooo much!
One minor little problem to fix... and you already have a plan.
And then it will be time for "first light"...

We await your report.


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Mirzam
Post Laureate
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: dmdouglass]
      #5702981 - 02/27/13 07:34 AM

The trick in engineering design is to make the mistakes look like they were "done on purpose".

JimC


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Tim Gilliland
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Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Mirzam]
      #5703047 - 02/27/13 08:33 AM

Quote:

The trick in engineering design is to make the mistakes look like they were "done on purpose".

JimC




Or as My wife says of my errors in woodworking, it gives it Character.

I really have enjoyed following this thread. Congratulations on a beautiful Observatory. Can't wait to hear first light on the refigured mirror.


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Smack
super member


Reged: 07/24/09

Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Mirzam]
      #5704117 - 02/27/13 07:43 PM

Quote:

The trick in engineering design is to make the mistakes look like they were "done on purpose".

JimC




It's what we aerospace engineers like to call "a feature".

Steve

ps before you get too scared, we aren't allowed to leave the features unfixed


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Peter L.
super member


Reged: 04/19/08

Loc: PEI, Canada
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Smack]
      #5704807 - 02/28/13 07:30 AM

Quote:

It's what we aerospace engineers like to call "a feature".



And I thought only us software guys used that term. "It's not a bug, it's a feature". I even have a coffee mug with that saying on it...

Peter


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EdTheEdge
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 04/10/09

Loc: Lomita, CA
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Peter L.]
      #5705236 - 02/28/13 12:18 PM

This is a most fascinating project, thanks for sharing!

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frolinmod
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 08/06/10

Loc: Southern California
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: EdTheEdge]
      #5706396 - 02/28/13 11:21 PM

Bugs only become features after other programmers write code that is dependent upon them and will break if you fix them.

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BluewaterObserva
Postmaster
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Reged: 05/18/04

Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: frolinmod]
      #5716732 - 03/06/13 04:04 PM

I'm not to far away from you. Mine is a .8 meter under a 6 meter dome in the Zuni Mtn's, NM.

The weather is warming up, My wife and I and perhaps our well behaved little Beagle would love to see your setup down there. Once the snow melts I think there are some back roads that would make it a fairly short distance between us. Your welcome to come up here some time as well if interested.


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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: BluewaterObserva]
      #5718336 - 03/07/13 12:28 PM

PM sent.

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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5746125 - 03/20/13 08:12 PM Attachment (57 downloads)

Haven't posted lately, as have been trying to figure out how to get our big sliding shutter to open and close properly. I hate to admit it, but getting the twin shutters to slide sideways was a lot easier to build and adjust…

The first motor I put on the dome was just too small. It would open the shutter a bit, but as soon as the open button was released the door would come crashing back down.

The door needed a more powerful motor that would hold the door in position. I ended up getting an electric winch gear motor, and taking it all apart, then building brackets so it could be mounted to the dome. It works, but seems to be too powerful and moves the door much faster than I would like.

Anybody know how to slow down an AC motor without doing it by gearing?

Edited by Tom Clark (03/20/13 10:51 PM)


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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5746140 - 03/20/13 08:15 PM Attachment (58 downloads)

The door does go up and down, but I am still adjusting the support wheels to try to end up with a shutter that is trouble free. The simple truth is I just don't know what I am doing and could use a little help.

Building everything else on this project was actually quite easy, but solving this new problem is taking a bit of work.


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John Jarosz
Astro Gearhead
*****

Reged: 04/25/04

Loc: Fairfax, Iowa
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5746323 - 03/20/13 09:21 PM

If you use a worm drive then the weight of the shutter can't backdrive the motor after it's turned off. Worm drives have a high reduction which slows the output speed down AND gives you much more torque. It might be something to think about.

John


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John Jarosz
Astro Gearhead
*****

Reged: 04/25/04

Loc: Fairfax, Iowa
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: John Jarosz]
      #5746335 - 03/20/13 09:26 PM

There are a zillion of them

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stmguy
sage


Reged: 10/11/12

Loc: Western NH
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: John Jarosz]
      #5746944 - 03/21/13 06:35 AM

You should be able to control the speed with a PWM control
http://www.ecrater.com/p/16370377/2000w-adjustable-controller-switch-ac?gps=1

this one is for 220 volts , not sure what you have for a motor
Norm


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Mike Lockwood
Vendor, Lockwood Custom Optics
*****

Reged: 10/01/07

Loc: Usually in my optical shop
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5747499 - 03/21/13 12:27 PM

Quote:

Anybody know how to slow down an AC motor without doing it by gearing?



There are a variety of solutions, but really you should know what type of AC motor it is before you choose a speed control method.

What other info do you have about the motor?


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Jeff B
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 12/30/06

Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5747548 - 03/21/13 12:45 PM

Would it be possible to have a hanging weight with a rope snaked over pullies along the ID of the dome, like an elevator? The weight could be removed so you could rotate the dome and only attached when openning the shutter.

Just an idea.

Jeff


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Rustynuts
super member
*****

Reged: 07/25/11

Loc: East Tennessee
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Jeff B]
      #5755049 - 03/24/13 09:48 PM

Tom, what you need for controlling ac is a frequency inverter. they are industrial ac motor controllers. they worked like the drive correctors worked for the synchronous motors used in the older eq mounts. I am surprised that you decided to use a ac motor system because the only way to slow down a ac motor is to lower the frequency connected to it. Jon

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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Rustynuts]
      #5779147 - 04/05/13 08:57 AM Attachment (73 downloads)

This is the first photo taken with the shutter all the way open. Mike Lockwood and Bob Noneman brought out the refigured and recoated 42" mirror, and also a used 90volt variable speed DC motor to use on the shutter. That solved all the existing problems. After a few adjustments to the rollers, they got the door working as it should. I had been fighting it for a couple of months, and it took them a couple of days…

It pays to have younger, sharper minded friends! Now we can get the 42" installed and ready to go. More photos to follow.


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Project Galileo
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: Jefferson County, Colorado
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5779450 - 04/05/13 11:43 AM

Congrats on getting over the speed bump. Your progress is beautiful. I can imaging the buzz and excitement around there while you install the guts of your observatory.

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dmdouglass
professor emeritus


Reged: 12/23/07

Loc: Tempe, AZ
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Project Galileo]
      #5779692 - 04/05/13 01:59 PM

Seeing the pitcture (above) with the group standing in front, gives a whole new perspective to the size of that building. And..... probably to the size of the scope that is being configured inside.

Wow !!!!


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BluewaterObserva
Postmaster
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Reged: 05/18/04

Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: dmdouglass]
      #5779948 - 04/05/13 03:42 PM

I am getting excited looking at it.....
I still get warm and fuzzies thinking about the first time I got stars to focus on my .8 meter.
If you have a 1st light gathering, my astronomer wife and I would love to be there for it.


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csa/montana
Den Mama
*****

Reged: 05/14/05

Loc: montana
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5780882 - 04/05/13 11:30 PM

That is most impressive! A really beautiful Dome; Congratulations!

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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: csa/montana]
      #5781417 - 04/06/13 10:20 AM Attachment (58 downloads)

4/5/13 A date that will be remembered for awhile. After 8 hours of hard labor, (not counting the last 6 months) the pieces of the 42 were moved from the garage to the dome, resembled, hoisted into the air, the newly refigured and recoated optics installed, a rough collimation, we had first light at 10:48 PM. We observed a few objects for an hour, and then went to bed exhausted.

Present were the dome slaves Mike Lockwood, Bob Noneman, Steve Coe, Jeannie Clark, and myself.

More later…


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BluewaterObserva
Postmaster
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Reged: 05/18/04

Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5782011 - 04/06/13 02:45 PM

Thanks for the report... Gives me tingles and I'm not usually easily tingled. It will be interesting getting your impressions of the refigured / recoated optics

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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: BluewaterObserva]
      #5791980 - 04/11/13 09:24 AM Attachment (48 downloads)

Thanks to everyone who has followed this thread and posted positive comments to encourage us to get the job done. As anyone who owns an observatory knows, they are never finished - you will keep on tinkering forever. However, this project is basically finished.

The scope is working far better than it ever did before. Mike Lockwood is a perfectionist who wants me to change out my old sling for a cable sling, so that is on the list of projects to do. The skies here in the New Mexico desert have such wonderful transparency compared to what we used to call our 'underwater observing' back in Florida that our observing will be like starting over. However, for now it is time to take a rest from the construction frenzy and rest a bit.

We had a small first light party 4/6. Present were Jeannie and I, Mike Lockwood and Bob Noneman, Steve Coe, and Lon Shelton. Lon helped me so much with the dome construction. The night was not good as the SQM was only 21.3. (A storm was blowing in from the west. Best night so far has been 21.9.) Still, the observing was the best the old 42 has ever provided. We will be inviting many friends over in the near future and will write some observing reports.

We have new neighbors moving in here at the New Mexico Astronomy Village to help build out the neighborhood. If you are getting ready to retire to better skies, look us up.


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csa/montana
Den Mama
*****

Reged: 05/14/05

Loc: montana
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5793231 - 04/11/13 08:51 PM



Got to say, I think many of us have followed your thread with great interest 7 anticipation for your first light! A huge congratulations on a beautiful job, well done!


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Mary B
Vendor - Echo Astronomy and Electronics
*****

Reged: 05/21/10

Loc: Minnesota
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: csa/montana]
      #5794835 - 04/12/13 04:19 PM

Great project and observatory, wish it was in my backyard!

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dmdouglass
professor emeritus


Reged: 12/23/07

Loc: Tempe, AZ
Re: Building a 24' Dome new [Re: Mary B]
      #5795326 - 04/12/13 08:21 PM

Did anyone catcch Tom's post above where he was talking about the condition of his skies ????

" The night was not good as the SQM was only 21.3. (A storm was blowing in from the west. Best night so far has been 21.9.) "

I chuckled when I read that. Bemoaning a 21.3 !!!!!

Many of us who travel to dark sky sites are looking for anything better than a 21..... I have a 18.5 here at the house, and that is "cheating" !! Step away from my obs, and the numbers go down quickly.

Bemoaning a 21.3 !!! Tom.. I think you are spoiled !!
And I know you will enjoy every minute of it too....


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