A few month ago I had a thought - why it is rare that amateur astronomer build own DOME style observatory.
Probably ROR design is more easy to build, has more floor footage and so on.
However, Dome style is classic and I think more desirable but much more difficult to build.
So, I started thinking about how to build a simple DIY Dome. I mean totally in house using common materials and basic power tools.
Without hiring contractors or renting special tool and keep cost low enough but DOME!
I keep in mind my design should be easy replicated by average handyman.
Hera are my wishes and limitations:
1. use widely available sheet metal from local stores for walls and for Dome itself,
2. for railing system utilize 10 feet unistrut channels and ball bearings,
3. Dome shutter should be sliding style without front piece like in Explora Dome for simplicity.
4. Must be Zenith view,
5. Dome should be ribless for simplicity as well,
6. rotation and shutter opening system will be manual to keep cost of project low,
7. avoid to use spherical surfaces, instead cylindrical only with minimum segments,
8. avoid to use welding process. I made mistake in vertical arch design and weld this time but next dome will use much, much less welding. But today welding is not complicated process and a welder is relatively cheep (price started from $140 new)
9. dimension of any part of dome MUST be no bigger than 8' due to DOT requirement.
Probably something else, but I will mentioned later.
Also, I used oak wood boards. The base of dome - octagon was made from glued together boards with attached beneath top rotation ring. I think it is very good solution because later I can use screws to assembly dome and dome could be without ribs, and 8" shelf around dome could be used later to hold or store accessories.
After some research and calculations I found that Octagon shape of dome will be good enough and I choose diameter of base will be around 7 1/2 feet.
Assembled observatory could be separated into two pieces for transportation to permanent place.
With this dimensions metal leftovers, scrap etc, will be minimum. If I choose 9 or 10 feet dome quantity of material will be double and lots of leftovers.
I have some experience working with air ducts and choose that technology for dome.
The only special tool I don't had was a unistrut bender. So I made my own and It solved my task how to make arches.
I think one picture is more informative then hundreds words. I have to say dome is not completed yet, but you can see it's almost done.
I am going to paint dome only. Inside and out. I know, someone will say painting zinc galvanized metal is bag idea but I made extensive research and found proper technology and materials. Who will interested I will answer. I cannot guaranty it will last for life time but pain manufacturer promise that. I'll see.
How is my feeling about size? I think just enough. Inner diameter of octagon 96", outer slightly bigger.
Here are images
I think my design is simple and doesn't required special skills. I repeat, I am not pretend for fancy look or automated operations. My goal was to build cheap and simple observatory.
I think I did it.
Thanks for watching
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