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Equipment Discussions >> Observatories

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berlinstar
super member


Reged: 03/28/11

Loc: Berlin Center, OH
Re: Observatory from a Fiberglass Storage Tank new [Re: berlinstar]
      #5686589 - 02/18/13 08:43 AM Attachment (72 downloads)

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

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


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berlinstar
super member


Reged: 03/28/11

Loc: Berlin Center, OH
Re: Observatory from a Fiberglass Storage Tank new [Re: berlinstar]
      #5686604 - 02/18/13 08:50 AM Attachment (53 downloads)

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

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berlinstar
super member


Reged: 03/28/11

Loc: Berlin Center, OH
Re: Observatory from a Fiberglass Storage Tank new [Re: berlinstar]
      #5686613 - 02/18/13 08:58 AM Attachment (50 downloads)

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

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


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berlinstar
super member


Reged: 03/28/11

Loc: Berlin Center, OH
Re: Observatory from a Fiberglass Storage Tank new [Re: berlinstar]
      #5686644 - 02/18/13 09:22 AM Attachment (67 downloads)

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

Coming along pretty good!

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

At the moment costs are as follows:

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


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MHamburg
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 06/21/06

Loc: Brooklyn, NY/Berkshires, MA
Re: Observatory from a Fiberglass Storage Tank new [Re: berlinstar]
      #5686914 - 02/18/13 12:29 PM

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


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berlinstar
super member


Reged: 03/28/11

Loc: Berlin Center, OH
Re: Observatory from a Fiberglass Storage Tank new [Re: MHamburg]
      #5687537 - 02/18/13 06:50 PM

Thanks!

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


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droid
rocketman
*****

Reged: 08/29/04

Loc: Conneaut, Ohio
Re: Observatory from a Fiberglass Storage Tank new [Re: berlinstar]
      #5687933 - 02/18/13 10:12 PM

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

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ahopp
sage


Reged: 05/24/12

Re: Observatory from a Fiberglass Storage Tank new [Re: droid]
      #5688025 - 02/18/13 11:02 PM

One of my favorite threads.

Tony


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Jeff Smith
professor emeritus


Reged: 04/06/10

Loc: Chicago
Re: Observatory from a Fiberglass Storage Tank new [Re: berlinstar]
      #5692538 - 02/21/13 11:11 AM

Great idea!

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bogg
super member


Reged: 11/17/09

Loc: Bruce County Ontario
Re: Observatory from a Fiberglass Storage Tank new [Re: Jeff Smith]
      #5693459 - 02/21/13 08:08 PM

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

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csa/montana
Den Mama
*****

Reged: 05/14/05

Loc: montana
Re: Observatory from a Fiberglass Storage Tank [Re: berlinstar]
      #5693583 - 02/21/13 09:17 PM

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

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berlinstar
super member


Reged: 03/28/11

Loc: Berlin Center, OH
Re: Observatory from a Fiberglass Storage Tank [Re: csa/montana]
      #5694167 - 02/22/13 08:23 AM

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

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Raginar
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 10/19/10

Loc: Rapid CIty, SD
Re: Observatory from a Fiberglass Storage Tank [Re: berlinstar]
      #5694446 - 02/22/13 11:00 AM

This is my favorite thread. Keep sharing!

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Escher
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 08/30/07

Loc: Fenton, MI
Re: Observatory from a Fiberglass Storage Tank [Re: Raginar]
      #5695049 - 02/22/13 04:00 PM

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

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cloudmagnet
sage


Reged: 12/04/08

Loc: Georgetown, Texas
Re: Observatory from a Fiberglass Storage Tank [Re: Escher]
      #5695063 - 02/22/13 04:06 PM

Really cool idea!

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


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ahopp
sage


Reged: 05/24/12

Re: Observatory from a Fiberglass Storage Tank [Re: cloudmagnet]
      #5695080 - 02/22/13 04:17 PM

ASH Domes?

Tony


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berlinstar
super member


Reged: 03/28/11

Loc: Berlin Center, OH
Re: Observatory from a Fiberglass Storage Tank [Re: ahopp]
      #5695445 - 02/22/13 07:27 PM

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

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

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


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berlinstar
super member


Reged: 03/28/11

Loc: Berlin Center, OH
Re: Observatory from a Fiberglass Storage Tank [Re: berlinstar]
      #5697172 - 02/23/13 07:41 PM Attachment (57 downloads)

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

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


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berlinstar
super member


Reged: 03/28/11

Loc: Berlin Center, OH
Re: Observatory from a Fiberglass Storage Tank [Re: berlinstar]
      #5697177 - 02/23/13 07:44 PM Attachment (49 downloads)

Business End of Tank

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berlinstar
super member


Reged: 03/28/11

Loc: Berlin Center, OH
Re: Observatory from a Fiberglass Storage Tank [Re: berlinstar]
      #5697184 - 02/23/13 07:50 PM Attachment (58 downloads)

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

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