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Dome removal for imaging - Is it easy?

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#1 elfuma

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Posted 18 September 2019 - 01:30 AM

Hello All,

 

I've a roll-off observatory shed installed in my backyard and it does its job (it survived two thunderstorms, so far..). Now, I'm planning to permanently install a 2nd scope, but unfortunately my current observatory shed is too small so I'm looking around for some ideas.

 

What I'm considering is to buy a dome-like observatory like either Skyshed, NexDome or ExploraDome. However, I do imaging, so I'd need the dome to follow the scope through the night, i.e. I need reliable automation which apparently is not the case here, at least according to what I've read around. So, I'm wondering if any of the domes listed here above can have the dome quickly and easily removed (and reattached). In other words, I was thinking that I could buy one of these domes in its basic version (no automation, no motors), and then when I do imaging I do simply remove the whole dome in order to have a full clearance of the sky. So, I'm wondering which one of the domes listed here above is the simplest one to have the top dome removed, if ever possible. Would it be something which requires just few seconds, or several minutes?

 

Of course I understand that it would be much easier to build another standard roll-off shed, however I've limited building experience and I don't feel confident in spending more time to build up another one; this time I prefer to go with something made by professionals.

 

Thanks, Luca



#2 TMO

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Posted 18 September 2019 - 02:17 AM

Hi Luca,

 

I have a NexDome.  The dome portion (sitting on the ring wall) is too heavy and awkward to move.  It requires at least three people to easily remove it.  

 

Geoff


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#3 OleCuss

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Posted 18 September 2019 - 04:17 AM

I've not done it myself, but the SkyShed POD's dome can be made to be removable.

 

You buy the POD Zenith Table (PZT) kit and the hardware is then such that you can fairly readily release the dome.  The typical use is to have built a sort of table onto which you slide the dome several feet out of the way.  But at least one person has set up a sort of crane mechanism (IIRC) to lift the dome entirely off the observatory and move it off to the side and put it at ground level so that there is no obstruction at all.

 

I do not remember hearing how well it works.

 

Note that the dome is about 120 pounds so the lifting mechanism needn't be all that hefty.

 

I've thought about doing a different variation on the PZT.  The idea would be to construct a table which is effectively on rails which come straight and level from the dome for several feet and then slope fairly gently down to the ground.

 

Set up v-groove wheels to run on the rails - and even this old man should be able to safely shove the dome off the observatory, unlock/unblock the table's rolling/sliding mechanism and then gently slide it to the ground.  Then after the observing session push it back up the rails, lock the table in place, and then slide the dome back onto the observatory.

 

I don't have the room to do the table on rails idea so unless and until I move it is pretty unlikely to happen.  Well, if my wife gives up the garden it could happen but I don't think she'll accept a set of rails which will be very visible.

 

 

But I'd also seriously consider the roll-off-roof system.  Roll the roof off to one side/end on rails and maybe have a motorized or manual winch system to move the system up and down to end the visual obstruction issue.  Or if you have lots of room just make the rails quite long and move the roof far enough away that it just isn't an issue?


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#4 elfuma

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Posted 18 September 2019 - 10:13 AM

Thank you, guys.

 

OleCuss, I see your point. I have some spare room (my wife is planning to setup a garden there, so I need to be quicker than her..). I don't think I will go with rails, even though that would be nicer, because I prefer to just keep it as simple as possible. I'm thinking to just extend the PZT range by enlarging the plywood platform. Or maybe I could just try to retrofit the dome myself and add a sliding surface without the PZT. Thinking..

 

That would be nice to see a full clearance solution provided by Skyshed or any of these companies, though. I think this would be a game changer for those like me who do not want to mess up with motors, interfaces, Arduino, etc... Just my 2 cents.

 

Thanks for the feedback.

 

Luca


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#5 SometimesKen

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 10:44 PM

Thank you, guys.

 

OleCuss, I see your point. I have some spare room (my wife is planning to setup a garden there, so I need to be quicker than her..). I don't think I will go with rails, even though that would be nicer, because I prefer to just keep it as simple as possible. I'm thinking to just extend the PZT range by enlarging the plywood platform. Or maybe I could just try to retrofit the dome myself and add a sliding surface without the PZT. Thinking..

 

That would be nice to see a full clearance solution provided by Skyshed or any of these companies, though. I think this would be a game changer for those like me who do not want to mess up with motors, interfaces, Arduino, etc... Just my 2 cents.

 

Thanks for the feedback.

 

Luca

I've read in other forums that POD owners built their own PZT like structure to hold the dome. I've also read that folks living in a high snowfall area had problems sliding the dome onto the PZT table because of snow build up on it, so they fabricated something that doesn't collect a lot of snow. 

Just something to think about if you go that route.

 

I have a automated 8' ExploraDome, but the Foster Systems controllers were not working properly so I returned it to ED and I'm waiting for replacement MaxDome II controllers. MaxDome is supposed to be fairly decent automation gear.

Good Luck


Edited by SometimesKen, 19 September 2019 - 10:46 PM.


#6 elfuma

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 11:09 PM

Thank you, SometimesKen

 

I've planned to do my own PZT as well, but at the end of the day I've decided to just enlarge my actual rolling roof shed instead of buying the POD. There are two main reasons:

1) It is quicker. I'll skip the details here, btw it will require only 1 day of work.

2) It is cheaper. Overall, the shed's retrofit will cost 400$, while the POD with 3 bays and a couple of minor accessories cost around 3000$. To clarify, 3000$ to me is a fair price; the problem is the shipping cost which came out to be around 1000$.. That stopped me: 1000$ for shipment is a bit too much. I'm not trying to blame SkyShed for this, of course, it is just matter of size and distances, but I do see 1000$ to be better spent somewhere else.

 

Luca


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#7 SometimesKen

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Posted 20 September 2019 - 07:47 PM

Hello elfuma,

I built my slotted dome observatory 13 years ago and I still miss the wide open skies. My love for this "obsession" started in a field with low horizons! 

When I built the Bad Moon Observatory I used double headers on top of the 2X4 frame and often thought about making it a roll off dome for those beautiful nights!  Then I would have the best of both worlds!


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