One of the biggest hassles I face is the having to setup and tear down all the astro equipment every time I want to do an imaging session.
I have got pretty quick at doing this but still takes around 30 minutes, but when the equipment is heavy and there is also so many cables etc. it gets quite tedious.
To combat this, I decided I was going to get myself a prefabricated observatory that I could at least have equipment setup for many days while I am at home, rather than having to drag it all outside, and then drag it all inside again at the end of the night.
I had looked at a few different options and watched numerous videos on YouTube and in the end decided to go with the NexDome. I placed an order for this back in July 2020, but due to Covid / shipping constraints etc. it never arrived until January 2021. This was shipped direct from the manufacturer in Canada to Cyprus.
I still had to make a deck area for this, but decided to do a test build of the observatory to make sure there was nothing missing, and none of the panels etc had been damaged in transit.
The overall footprint required for the dome and the 6 add on storage bays is a 3.2m diameter circle, so having looked at various options of where to temporarily build this, I opted for the corner of the widest part of the driveway, so can still easily get the car past etc..
Here you can see it built in the temporary location:
Maya helped me build it over the course of 2 days, but total time was probably around 8 hours. The observatory arrived flat back in 3 large cardboard boxes;
We took everything out the boxes, then laid the boxes along the side of the driveway and then put all the various panels into the various boxes, dome curves, wall panels, bay ways, doorway etc.
The first day, late afternoon we started assembling 3 of the additional bays, until it got dark, and then took the section back inside overnight, just in case the wind got up and potentially blew them over or damaged them in some way.
The next day, we started with 2 of the bay sections and built the connected bay between them, having placed it in the corner of the driveway as the starting point. Once the 6 bays were built and the door panel was added, it was time to assemble the dome roof. The left and right sections consisted of 3 curves sections, these were bolted together on the grass to stop them getting all scratched, as it took a few struggles to get the holes to align and wrangle everything into place. The two dome half where then lifted onto the rollers of the walls and bolted into place using the connection panel and the shutter section.
And voila, one assembled observatory! Ok, it wasn't quite as simple as that, there were a few shouty and sweary moments, and did manage to sustain one minor finger cut on the sharp edging.
At this stage it is still not complete. None of the bay shelves are installed, which will add further strength, the shutter motor drive kit is still not installed and nor is the rotation motor kit. Trying to hold off on that until I get the observatory into its final position, as I still need to get it positioned equally spaced bays/wall distances etc to help with the rotation, and it needs to be fixed down on the ground. To fix the rotation and shutter kits I need to remove some of the bolts again, which I will probably need to do anyway to move it to its final location, so don't want to do this more than once...
Just need to get the deck built for it...........
In the meantime, I have managed to use it with a scope as you can see below, I just need to babysit any imaging session so that I can manually rotate the dome to keep the telescope looking through the opening as it tracks the sky.
For more specs etc on the observatory and the various options, you can visit the NexDome website at: https://www.nexdome.com/
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