After a good month of work, and a few more months of waiting for all the equipment, my new dome is nearly complete. I only had to send in my focuser from Moonlite as it was not working.
For the rest, I am quite happy now with the dome (from ScopeDome, the 3 meter version). It is not perfect indeed, but that’s the best you get for the price. Especially the not perfectly round shape of the moving part gave me some headache: When rotating, it would often „jump“ from one wheel to the other. Also, the cog-rim was abrading on some wheels. I resolved it by leveling better the wheels, and by cutting away useless metallic parts of the wheel’s holder. All in all, a good piece of fiberglass 🙂
At the time I started planning for the dome, I had a few points in mind that were really a priority for me:
- Automation: Try to get everything working without the need to be always present.
- Observatory: Avoid the need to mount and unmount all the stuff everytime I want to image.
- Remoteness: Avoid to stay in the cold (hey, we’re in the Alps, winter might be cold!) during the night
So automating a dome.. Alright, seems it’s not a big deal, you can open the shutter from any computer, start the scope, take a picture, and shutdown everything. But what if in the middle there comes a rain or snow storm? I knew there are some Cloud sensors out there, but they are extremely ecpensive (like Boltwood’s Clous sensor). Fortunately, I found one from AAGWare from Spain at a reasonable price. It collects data about the sky temperature (using an infrared sensor), rainfall, wind and ambient temperature; and combines it to a graph like the following: