In November 2011, I started by laying out an octagon shape of posts to serve as a foundation. Note to self, digging holes in red clay is no fun.
By December, I had the sub floor built, and the hole dug for the permanent concrete pier.
Then comes the fun job of mixing concrete by hand and pouring the sonatube full of concrete and rebar.
In January 2012, I installed the floor.
Then framing the walls.
Started building the dome in February 2012. Building the dome was the biggest challenge. Getting the curves right, then trying to figure out the best way of covering it. This was my second attempt at a domed structure. I'm sure the third would have been better, but the next one would probably be a bought version.
In March, I started covering the dome, having settled on using fiberglass as the covering material.
By May, I was ready to place the dome on top of the walls. It's good to see my calculations on how high I could build the dome walls verses how high I could lift the dome with the tractor paid off.
Then come the fun of actually using the new structure. Here is the 8" reflector installed on the mount.
This is how the dome currently looks in 2016. So far its been holding up well. It is so nice to be able go out there, fire up the computer, slide the opening cover back, and be imaging in almost no time.
Things to be improved on, the dome came in much heavier than I'd like with all the fiberglass and fairing compound. Of course it is quite sturdy, but the wheels I used to support it, and allow it to turn are not up to the task, and it takes a fair amount of effort to turn it. I'm thinking eventually I'll replace the dome with a manufactured dome. After doing that, automating the dome would really be nice. Right now, every 1 to 3 hours, I have to manually rotate the dome to continue tracking an object.