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Equipment Discussions >> Observatories

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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
looking for source for gear racks
      #5551731 - 12/03/12 09:39 AM Attachment (56 downloads)

Before starting construction of my own dome, I visited many home observatories, taking photos for ideas later on.

Somewhere I took this photo of a shutter opening mechanism. Now I am looking for a source for the motor and gear rack similar to what is shown in this photo. If anyone can help or recognizes it, please let me know.

I was planning to use a commercial garage door opener, and make my own gear, just purchasing the rack, but all my internet searches are getting nowhere fast.


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mikey cee
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 01/18/07

Loc: bellevue ne.
Re: looking for source for gear racks new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5551811 - 12/03/12 10:51 AM

Because of different curvatures this rack may have been custom bent. Might only be able to find straight stock ones when you do find a supplier. Mike

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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
Re: looking for source for gear racks new [Re: mikey cee]
      #5552129 - 12/03/12 02:13 PM

Mike,

This material is only about 1/8" thick, and will be easy to bend to a large radius by hand. My radius is 12', so in answer your comment, yes, I am looking for flat stock.

Tom


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stmguy
sage


Reged: 10/11/12

Loc: Western NH
Re: looking for source for gear racks new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5552172 - 12/03/12 02:38 PM

Looks a little like stuff I saw on a farm long ago , perhaps Tractor Supply might have something similar ??

Norm


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Scott Horstman
Vendor - Backyard Observatories
*****

Reged: 03/11/04

Loc: Here, There and Everywhere
Re: looking for source for gear racks new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5552421 - 12/03/12 05:05 PM

Tom, the picture you posted is an Ash Dome shutter motor set up, They use the same sort of track for the rotation but it's horizontal not vertical so couldn't be bent easily on site to fit your radius. If you mounted it vertically so you could bend it, you'd have to do some sort of "capture" to keep the gear in the rack. You might check with them or Dan at Exploradome. They put a pretty good system together. It's similar and I'd bet it'd be cheaper.

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

Reged: 05/21/10

Loc: Minnesota
Re: looking for source for gear racks new [Re: Scott Horstman]
      #5552622 - 12/03/12 07:08 PM

That track looks like shelf support material.

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Starhawk
Space Ranger
*****

Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: looking for source for gear racks new [Re: Mary B]
      #5552694 - 12/03/12 07:49 PM

Have you looked at Grainger and McMaster-Carr?

-Rich


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Christopher EricksonModerator
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 05/08/06

Loc: Waikoloa Village, Hawaii
Re: looking for source for gear racks new [Re: Scott Horstman]
      #5552723 - 12/03/12 08:05 PM

Quote:

Tom, the picture you posted is an Ash Dome shutter motor set up, They use the same sort of track for the rotation but it's horizontal not vertical so couldn't be bent easily on site to fit your radius. If you mounted it vertically so you could bend it, you'd have to do some sort of "capture" to keep the gear in the rack. You might check with them or Dan at Exploradome. They put a pretty good system together. It's similar and I'd bet it'd be cheaper.




I'll confirm that the pic is of the shutter drive system of an Ash dome.

You might consider calling Ash and see if you can buy the parts you want from them. No guarantee that you can get what you want but it might be worth a shot!

Ash is a quality manufacturer of tough, reliable steel domes.


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Scott Horstman
Vendor - Backyard Observatories
*****

Reged: 03/11/04

Loc: Here, There and Everywhere
Re: looking for source for gear racks new [Re: Christopher Erickson]
      #5553144 - 12/03/12 11:59 PM

Quote:

I'll confirm that the pic is of the shutter drive system of an Ash dome.






Thanks Chris. Always makes one feel good to be verified by the experts.


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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
Re: looking for source for gear racks new [Re: Scott Horstman]
      #5555268 - 12/05/12 08:31 AM

Update:

I looked at Grainger and McMaster-Carr, no dice. Called Ash Domes, they were nice but said that they would not sell components. Tractor Supply has a light-duty metal with round holes in 6' lengths. I bought some to experiment with, but gut feeling is that it is too light duty. (I am a retired machinist.)

Haven't called Dan at Explorer Dome yet. Will call today. Looked at their web site but didn't see much but little domes.

Will next looking into using chain drives. Anyone have any photos of a working solution along those lines?

Thanks for all your input and help. The quest goes on. Mike Lockwood is now working on my 42" mirror refiguring. I need to get the dome ready in a month or so…

Tom


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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
Re: looking for source for gear racks new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5555955 - 12/05/12 04:33 PM

Thank you everybody! Problem solved!

Scott, thanks for recommending Dan at Explorer Dome. He was very helpful, and led me to the right place on their web site. At first all I saw was their small domes. but hidden in there are many pages of info and parts.

I got my gear rack and main gear for a very reasonable price. they also have the rest of the parts to finish the job if you don't want to make them yourself.

The gear and rack are made with poly-something. When I asked about durability Dan said that they come with a lifetime guarantee. That works for me. Here is a link to the page of their web site I was on. Yes, it says it is for dome rotation, but the rack comes straight and has to be bent to rotate a dome.

You can check on the other thread to watch the completion of the dome over the next month or so.

Edited by Tom Clark (12/05/12 04:37 PM)


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Scott Horstman
Vendor - Backyard Observatories
*****

Reged: 03/11/04

Loc: Here, There and Everywhere
Re: looking for source for gear racks new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5557089 - 12/06/12 08:57 AM

No problem Tom, glad I could help. Dan and clan are great folks. I hope it does the trick.

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Starhawk
Space Ranger
*****

Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: looking for source for gear racks new [Re: Scott Horstman]
      #5558957 - 12/07/12 10:08 AM

Egad- I've been at the large dome for the 60" scope on mount Lemmon- it has a working drive for the dome shutter, but I didn't take pictures. It's about the size of what you are doing, though. I'll ask around.

-Rich


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Starhawk
Space Ranger
*****

Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: looking for source for gear racks new [Re: Starhawk]
      #5558975 - 12/07/12 10:16 AM

Just in food for thought, a drive chain can be laid out so it acts like a rack. This would be the inverse of your picture, with the chain underneath with guides to keep it from moving side to side and the sprocket on top (outside of the shutter). I would suggest supporting the shutter with roller-blade wheels. But a rack made this way wouldn't need to be the perfect curvature- a support roller would make sure the local separation was correct, or the chain could be picked up on each side by small guide sprockets.

-Rich


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Christopher EricksonModerator
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 05/08/06

Loc: Waikoloa Village, Hawaii
Re: looking for source for gear racks new [Re: Starhawk]
      #5559239 - 12/07/12 12:40 PM

Quote:

Just in food for thought, a drive chain can be laid out so it acts like a rack. This would be the inverse of your picture, with the chain underneath with guides to keep it from moving side to side and the sprocket on top (outside of the shutter). I would suggest supporting the shutter with roller-blade wheels. But a rack made this way wouldn't need to be the perfect curvature- a support roller would make sure the local separation was correct, or the chain could be picked up on each side by small guide sprockets.

-Rich




Drive chains can be found with 90-degree mounting tabs on every or every-other link. Also, you can buy bicycle chains with hollow links that can be mounted with small nails or screws. Bicycle chains are more than strong enough for amateur observatory applications.

However be warned that thermal expansion and contraction can make drive chains rather problematic over time. They can get too tight in cold weather and too loose in warm weather. And the regular thermal expansion-contraction can potentially loosen up your fastening system rather quickly.

I hope this helps.


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Retsub
super member
*****

Reged: 12/08/06

Loc: Houston,Tx.
Re: looking for source for gear racks new [Re: Christopher Erickson]
      #5563020 - 12/09/12 07:28 PM

Hi Tom, fine looking dome ! Glad you found a simple rack for a drive. I was about to suggest that you look for some country parts meaning looking at the square link chains that are used on farm implements. Would have been easy for you to bend some small steel tubing to the correct radius and tack weld it on both sides of the chain to make your rack by the foot. Always is another way but maybe not the best. Keep at it! Regards. *BW*

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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
Re: looking for source for gear racks new [Re: Retsub]
      #5622262 - 01/14/13 08:38 AM Attachment (10 downloads)

As a follow up to this post from the beginning of December, the rack and pinion gear finally arrived and are mounted to the shutter. The parts are solidly built, reasonably priced, and have a lifetime guarantee from Dan at Polydome. The shutters will soon be mounted and the dome finished.

So for anyone else looking for these gears here is a link:
http://explora-dome.com/cat_ED_II_Hand_Control_of_the_Dome_Rotation.cfm


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