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The Dome

Constructed out of 12mm plywood and 3mm hardboard.

All the ribs are made gluing plywood arcs together, these are then fastened  to the base ring which is made in a similar way.

The skeleton is then skinned with 3mm hardboard.


A lot of dome designs use nested shutters, my original design did use them but it was to complicated

to automate. I have installed a single shutter with a moveable short section, this normally stays

in the closed position and is not automated.

shutter motor

Shutter Motor and drive chain

A standard car wiper motor drives a set of bicycle gears to decrease the speed, then the chain

loops around another gear at the top of the dome and connects to the shutter.  Limit switches

stop the motor at the open and close positions.

rot motor

rot motor3

Rotation Motor

This is a DC motor with 12:1 gearbox, the electronics use a PWM signal to control the speed,

the speed is slow to start and after 5 seconds ramps up to full speed. This allows the dome to track

with the telescope.


Centering Rollers

Three centering rollers keep the dome central in it track.


Support Rollers

There are two support rollers, the third position is the motor drive.


Control Electronics

The domes brain, the whole system run of 12v batteries which are charged form an external source.

Using a custom built micro-controller, all the dome systems are constantly monitored. If any parameters are

outside the set limits, the unit will alarm and shutdown the faulty system.

Telescope tracking is accomplished using TheSkyX, this controls the scope and sends commands to the micro-controller.

The controller also send data out over the Ethernet to provide Ipad telemetry and control


Ipad control app


Computer Setup



  1. Marco Bruno says:

    Paul, congratulation for the dome. Astonishing, it is a very nice project. I am a DIY man, but I’m really impressed by your skills!

  2. Steve says:

    Excellent work on both the web site and your observatory.

  3. Tosca Z says:

    Impressive. Not just the design (a wonderful example of NZ ingenuity), but that you were so committed to your astronomy work that you built a backyard observatory. Thanks for the gorgeous images. Look forward to more. God bless.

  4. Marco Heeg says:

    Hello Paul …
    my english is not so well. sorry …
    Best wishes to the other side of the world.
    Your photos are fine !
    Marco from Germany

  5. Peter says:

    Hi Paul, is it possible for you to email more detailed pictures of the dome construction? I want to build something like this, Thanks, Pete

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