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SkyShed POD Update! Meet the SkyShed Team

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#1 SkyShed


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Posted 08 May 2006 - 05:19 PM

Meet the SkyShed POD Design and Production Team. These guys represent the main companies involved with the design and production of POD. Each company is working hard to make POD the best it can be. The team works very well together and I have never met such an interested and keen group of people. At every stage they have preserved and enhanced the original POD concept and design. By now they are fully aware of all the demands astronomers will make on the observatory and the unique features we wish to provide you with.

Our production meetings are so upbeat that everyone talks at the same time. Ideas fly back and forth, "What's the best way to weather seal the door?", "How to reduce the hardware to a minimum to speed up set up time", etc.

We have very productive meetings that go on for hours. Each time we come away with our individual marching orders and move to the next phase. Last Thursday's meeting was filmed by the CBC crew that's shadowing us to document the POD story. Since CBC "Venture" http://www.cbc.ca/venture/ is not available in many parts of the world we will be including a DVD copy of the show in the POD package after it airs next fall. At first I was worried how the cameras would effect the meeting but after 5 minutes everyone forgot they were there.

Here's the Team Line Up -

Doug Harke, Harke Industries, POD Door and Tooling Master,

Fred Thorn, General Manager of SPI Industries, POD manufacturer, co–designer
Website www.spiplastics.com Check out there site!

Farhat Hanna, POD co-designer and engineer

Wayne Parker, Owner SkyShed Observatories

Joey, Jimmy and Alain Roy of Royal Pattern Industries , POD mold and pattern makers, co-designers Website www.royalpattern.com

You can view of photo of the team at http://www.skyshedpod.com/podteam1.jpg

The Team info has been added the the POD Features PDF file. If you wish to download an updated copy it's at http://www.skyshedpo...PODFeatures.pdf

The entire team is working overtime to get POD on the market asap. Check out the guys from Royal Pattern. They're the best in the business and there shop and molds are built just like them, big and tough. These guys really know there stuff.

Fred Thorn from SPI has been on board since day one. He's so excited about POD he's jumping out of skin. We checked out many plastics manufactures and SPI stood out head and shoulders above the rest. They have a lot of experience at making outdoor plastic products and they have a new 1 million dollar machine being set up to pump out PODs 24 hours a day. SPI is also great at packaging and you can bet your POD will arrive in fine shape.

Fred brought Doug Harke along. Doug is a wizard at tooling and a general jack-of-all-trades. Doug's project is the POD door and some brackets. Doug and Fred go back a long way and Doug is heavily involved in SPI's installations at Disney World and at Mac Donald's restaurants across the U.S. and Canada. One of Doug's great ideas was to put strips of compression foam underneath the over laps in the POD panels. This will seal out dust and water. The strips will only need to be applied once and will last for many years. It's the same product that SPI uses in agricultural tanks that are only opened once a year. The compression foam stays in place after being compressed for the entire year, while keeping the elements out.

As for the guys at Royal Pattern, every one we talked to answered with one name when we asked them who were the best mold and pattern guys around - Royal Pattern. They're great people and have worked closely with POD engineer Farhat Hanna to make sure that we retain all of our features yet still make POD available at our original target range. They have been great at coming up with design elements. They were the one's who advised a double wall structure. Without a double wall, plastic needs some kind of support. With the double wall it's very strong yet still lightweight. This way we didn't need and internal steel skeleton which would have cost more and taken a LOT more time to set up and would have create a pile of more parts.

One feature we haven't mentioned yet is the stars inside the walls. What? Stars? I was going to leave this as a surprise but what the heck. To hold the double wall apart and add strength we use "kiss-offs" inside the walls. In PODs case we're using large (about the size of a hockey puck) star shaped kiss offs, so that when sunlight hits the dome, on the inside you'll see faint stars in the walls. Cool eh? There I spoiled the surprise. But there's more surprises to come...

More from the Team later...

Beta Testers - Do you wonder if we actually read your apps? The answer is of course! We must admit we didn't expect the thousands we're received so far. Holy Cow! We've probably received another 10 while I'm writing this.

The comments are incredible, some of the stories would tear your heart out, and some of you are just not fair with the brides and offers you've made. One person emailed me yesterday to ask why he hadn't received his beta POD yet. Hello? I think he needs to go back and read some of the instructions. If you're chosen as a tester you'll be notified before the end of June. We'd like to have made it the end of May but that's not going to happen. The Team has a saying "POD doesn't go out until it's ready".

"Launching Summer 2006" was chosen on purpose because that gives us until Sept. 21st to live up to our word.

Sept. 21st you say? But I want my POD now. Yeah, well so do I! LOL I've said it before, you've lived with POD in your head for a few weeks, I've lived with it in mine for years. Who's worse off?

That being said, I want my POD yesterday! Forget POD, I want my PODS!

Here's the name of the first Beta Tester outside the POD production circle and SkyShed Dealers - drum roll please - The Harvard-Smithsonian Science Outreach Program. How could we say no to the Smithsonian! One day I'd like to have a POD *inside* the Smith though. LOL

They'll be mounting a couple of Beta PODs on a roof at their observatory and we'll find out how many people can swing on a POD door. I keep telling public organizations who are contacting us that POD stands for Personal Observatory Dome, not Public Observatory Dome, but what the heck, let's se how POD stands up to hundreds of people per night.

Retailers are getting excited. We've receive a lot of requests from retailers around the world and some of them have some pretty cool marketing ideas. Dave Miller our SW SkyShed Dealer has a retail astro store on a busy road near Durango, CO. *Word deleted by the CN gnaughties gnomes* be mounting a POD on a dolly and wheeling it out to the curb in front of his store every morning to display POD to motorists.

Eftson Science in Toronto, a well know retailer with a massive following, is going to mount a Martian RED POD next to the giant telescope they already up on their roof. The scope has been a Toronto landmark for years. They're going to put lights on timers to charge up the POD and then turn off the lights and let it glow in the dark for a while. They expect audiences at the shopping plaza parking lot across the street. POD will be visible from the 401 Hwy that's close by.

Shortly we'll travel to Efston to try out various large scopes in POD. We already know the smaller scopes will work well, but we want to know how big you can go. So far we can't see a problem with the 14"ers but we'll have to see.

POD will be available through retailers online, retailer stores, and Skyshed Dealers. Start bugging your local retailer now so they'll contact us for more info.

Shipping. I was thinking we were going to have to wait to get set up for manufacturing in Europe but Fred Thorn tells me that SPI ships containers around the world. If shipping rates aren't ridiculous POD should be available outside N.A. sooner than we expected. We will still set up manufacturing in Europe if demand warrants it and a good distributor is located.

The availability of SPI's containers means shipping to Australia would also be possible and maybe for a decent rate. SPI ships to Australia all the time. Keep letting us know about the demand there please.

POD Dreaming. I was thinking up some promo pics and one of the one's you're going to see is a daytime shot of two PODs set up about six feet from each other. There are two scopes mounted in one POD, on one mount, with the dome open to the sun. The other POD is the Control Room. The first POD has couple of Bays and the second is surrounded by five bays. Two astronomers sit at their individual Technology Bay consoles in the Control POD, with the dome turned in the opposite direction to shield them from the sun, as they work at solar imaging, each getting feed from his own scope. You're not the only one with POD dreams!

Quick question - Would you rather see keyboard trays slide out parallel to the wall or perpendicular, or both? Farhat likes the perpendicular direction but I like parallel. I think you might keep walking into the perpendicular keyboard in the dark but he thinks it makes it more accessible at the scope. You comments please.

When are we going to show lots of POD shots and animations? Actually we're finishing a bunch right now. Bernie Garner, two time Emmy winner and NASA animator , is putting the final touches on some animations right now. There's an animation of POD opening, then the dome starts to turn clockwise until it loops. It's great because you get to see all of the side profiles open and closed. Meanwhile the walls are fading color through the available spectrum of colors. It looks great! I had him remove this big blue sort of star-eye looking thing, which was inside and looked cool but drew your eyes away from what was going on with POD. Plus I was afraid some people might think the star comes with POD! LOL

The problem is that we can see them but you can't. Not yet. Our patent attorneys have been all over me. It was all I could do to get them to let me release the one shot we have released. The problem is this. As we were finishing POD Bay designs the attorneys realized that there were more aspects of POD that were patent-able than originally planned for. That threw our whole disclosure timeline out of whack. While we continue to roll out POD they rush to secure further patents. The process is frustratingly slow. You should have seen the time I had negotiating between the CBC TV crew and the attorneys. But that story will have to wait. I'm off to my Shed to have some fun with my PST before the sun sets any lower..


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#2 Bob Riggs

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Posted 08 May 2006 - 09:27 PM

It all sounds great, a portable turn-key observatory? Complete? For a grand? Bring on the POD! I want one too, A.S.A.P. Congratulations to you and the team.

#3 imjeffp


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Posted 09 May 2006 - 09:01 AM

some of you are just not fair with the brides and offers you've made

I can't send you my bride--will you settle for my mother-in-law? :)

#4 Bob Riggs

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Posted 09 May 2006 - 07:44 PM

Got any pic's :question:

#5 SkyShed


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Posted 13 May 2006 - 03:49 AM

No matter how many times I click spellcheck it's not going to know that *brides* should be *bribes*.

It is funnier as brides though.


#6 erik


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Posted 20 May 2006 - 09:25 PM

wow, that looks great! i like the portability aspect. can it be assembled and torn down by one person? :)

#7 Astrodave



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Posted 22 May 2006 - 07:52 AM

I wish i had a job further away from the city so i could live 30 miles further west where there is still mag 5 skies. id have one of these in a minute if i did!

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