While the Flappy panels seemed a good idea at the time back in 2011, and I suppose it was as it has worked very well over the past 4 years, the Sun of summer and -5C winters has finally destroyed them.....they have given up the ghost! Although they where made of 20mm thick marine grade ply the harsh environment caused the ply's to badly delaminate, time for a re-think and an upgrade. After a lot of investigation I decided to go for the 2.2M short wall GRP dome manufactured by Pulsar Observatories. Manufacture was 10 weeks from the date of my order and it was shipped out to Spain which only took a further 5 days. The dome arrived in good order as it was palletised and shrink wrapped over layers of corrugated cardboard and polystyrene.
The original ' Flappy' roof panels
The new Pulsar short wall dome
Click on any image to see it at a larger size, use left and right arrow keys (or the N and P keys) to move back and forth through the gallery.
When I built the original observatory it had a sloping tiled roof for water clearance, but the dome requires a flat plinth to sit on, so the first job was to construct an inner square retaining wall and an outer wall with the same diameter as the dome short wall flange, both level and at the exact same height. The void between the two retaining walls was then filled with a hardcore and topped with 40mm of concrete. The whole construction was finished with white Capa Fina, a very fine hard waterproof finish available in Spain.The construction and finishing of the dome plinth can be seen in the following images.
The inner and outer retaining walls
The flat dome plinth nearing completion
On completion of the dome plinth the short wall and the dome itself was assembled piece-by-piece on the observatory. Our friend John, seen in image below, and my wife lifted each of the pieces up to me standing on the roof and I then lifted them into position and bolted them up. To align the panels John directing me from outside in order to get the flanges perfectly in-line as I tightened up the bolts.
Finishing the installation
The finished dome installation
Finally I must congratulate Gary from Pulsar on producing a top quality, well designed and beautifully manufactured product, and something which is excellent value for money; I would have no hesitation in recommending this dome/observatory to anyone wishing to buy such an item, they will not find a better home for their telescope on the market today.