Since the beginning of time, man has looked towards the heavens in wonder and amazement. This beckoning still holds true, even to this day, as amateur astronomers point their telescopes towards the night sky and look back in time.
Now, the time has come for the PolyDome Co. to offer a whole new breed of observatory dome ... the Explora-dome! Unlike what is on the market today, the Explora-dome promises to be a truly affordable, virtually indestructible, maintenance free observatory dome. It will soon be made available to amateur astronomers to protect their valuable and expensive investment...their telescope. Built to your liking, a dome-topped observatory can now be within your reach, with the introduction of the Explora-dome.
The Explora-dome will be roto-molded as a one piece unit. It will also include a two door shutter system. Manufactured of very strong UV stabilized Polyethylene plastics, the lower door will flip outwards, while the shutter door above it will slide open and closed. The Explora-dome has been designed in such a way to allow owner self-modifications. Buyers of the dome will also have to provide their own means of rotation for the dome. Weighing approx. 100 -125 lbs., all Explora-dome surfaces and doors will have a 1/4" thickness. Keep watch for more news and updates to follow.
Polyethylene is extremely durable; it has a higher impact resistance than fiberglass, aluminum and even steel (no more hailstorm worries). It's coefficient of friction is lower than nylon and comparable to Teflon making it slippery enough for easy cleanup, easy rotation and snow will slide right off the dome. Polyethylene is 100% recyclable so it is environmentally friendly.
Finally, an affordable observatory dome for amateur astronomers!
Now you can afford to sit inside a true observatory sheltered from the winds and annoying neighbor's porch lights. No more need to haul your equipment out, set it up and what I dread the most, break it down and haul it back inside. Best of all, you aren't sacrificing quality for price. Fiberglass takes hours and hours of laying up the resins and glass. That is why they cost so much. Here, the dome is molded and easily duplicated.
UV stabilized - molded right in
High Density Polyethylene has more impact resistance than fiberglass, aluminum or even steel! This is an amazingly durable product that has survived the extremes of farm country year round.
100% recyclable too so it is environmentally friendly.
Anticipated weight is less than 125 pounds (<56.7 Kilos).
High density polyethylene has a coefficient of friction better than nylon and similar to Teflon. This provides easy cleanup and the capability to slide like a Dobsonian rather than using an expensive roller type setup.
One piece construction
Leaks are a thing of the past!
Less expensive than certain, very desirable, high end eyepieces. I still want one of those eyepieces but considering I can have an observatory at the price of an eyepiece? Not that much decision making going on in my brain right now!
None in production at this time but many are being considered. Right now we are offering the Dome Only package at an unbeatable price! Below is the list of potential options – let us know, supply and demand rule here!
A kit for a ¾” marine grade plywood ring. 4 pieces that can be shipped and assembled easily. Probability of happening – very likely – stay tuned!
Molded Dome Ring
Possible, the demand must exceed a certain threshold
Very likely – including door pieces and hardware. Will probably not include the 2x4s or the skin since they could be had locally for less cost.
Manual Dome rotation Kit
Dobsonian sliding kit would be offered with the ring kit
Rollers/casters likely to happen
Shutter opening devices may be unnecessary (it should open/shut easily) but is being considered and designed as a step towards automation
Unlikely at this point but accommodations/alterations will again depend on demand. It is quite possible to do so but enough interest must be there.
Off the shelf products may be compatible – stay tuned!
The Explora-dome Story
It all started when several amateur astronomers began modifying an existing farm product to use as an observatory dome (without the calf or feeder). Their diligent efforts caused others to think. A very dangerous and expensive pastime for most of us – just ask our wives!
Very creative but it had its limitations, not to mention a whole lot of customization.Along came a dedicated amateur astronomer who happened to contact the manufacturer, Polydome, at just the right time. The manufacturer had both the capabilities and the interest. He started posting in an astronomy forum and soon, one by one, fellow stargazers began putting in their 2 cents worth along with their areas of expertise and experience. Soon, another astronomer with CAD experience joined the fray and began drawing up plans, posting them and modification after modification was made. Then, they all joined together and came up with a name and logo! The manufacturer was impressed but still needed assistance with a webpage and help in marketing astronomy products so still other dedicated amateurs stepped in. Suddenly, we have a wonderful new, affordable product that can make that backyard observatory dream a simple and inexpensive reality!
The Polydome Story
The Polydome Story
Over 30 years of experience.
Dick Johanneck started Polytank, Inc. in 1972 doing custom roto-molding. In 1977, he began making calf hutches which became known as Poly Dome Calf Nurseries. The agricultural products division of Polytank was later named PolyDome. Since that time, Polytank and PolyDome have added over 200 products to their line. Polytank has dealers across the United States, Canada and 10 foreign countries.
The roto-molding process uses hollow metal molds and a powdered polyethylene plastic that becomes liquid under high heat. The molds with the liquid plastic inside are spun on both vertical and horizontal axis to form a uniform thickness, or skin on the outside walls, thus the name roto-molding. the mold is removed from head and allowed to cool under controlled conditions to avoid shrinkage or warping. The resulting polyethylene plastic is resistant to impact, most corrosive chemicals and temperature extremes. The slippery surface makes it very easy to clean. Polyethylene is also environmentally friendly because it can be recycled.
Most PolyDome products are one-piece with no seams or sharp edges. The lightweight of polyethylene makes even large units easy to lift and move.
PolyDome has their own metal fabricating shop from frames, stands, and supports used with their agricultural products. All metal parts are powder coated for corrosion resistance.
What is Rotational Molding?
Rotational molding, or roto-molding, is a very cost-effective way to produce large parts in small or large quantities. A consistent, pre-measured amount of thermoplastic resins are loaded into a mold that is heated as it is rotated slowly on both the vertical and the horizontal axis (biaxial rotation). By both heating and rotating the fluid thermoplastic at the same time it is evenly distributed on the inner surfaces of the mold. The resin becomes fused for a strong, consistent product.
In the first step a pre-measured amount of plastic resin (High Density Polyethylene) is loaded into the mold.
The mold is then closed, heated and rotated about the vertical and horizontal axis. As the heat penetrates the molds, the melted resin adheres to the mold, evenly coating the inner surface until it is thoroughly fused.
During the cooling phase, the mold continues to be rotated to maintain even walls as air, water spray, or a combination of the two gradually cools the mold.
What are the Benefits of Roto-molding?Roto-molding results in seamless parts with a very uniform wall thickness and more strength in the corners where it is needed. Unlike other forms of molding, the mold has no internal core to manufacture the cost of tooling is much lower. Once the mold is constructed, you can easily reproduce thousands of identical products with uniform consistency. To alter or make minor adjustments is far easier than the other ways of manufacturing. All of this results in a lower cost product to the consumer!
Roto-molding also offers superb precision and flexibility in design. Complex shapes, contours and flanges can be designed right into the product. The color is molded right into the product, all the way through and it can never crack or chip off. This means no painting is required – ever!
In general, roto-molded plastic products are lighter in weight than fiberglass or metal, are much easier to handle and less expensive to ship since they are virtually indestructible. They are very tough, impact resistant, long lasting, UV resistant and never corrode!
Frequently asked questions
What is the shipping cost?
This varies greatly but the initial distribution model is through the current suppliers of our farm product line and the ever expanding network of astronomy dealers/distributors. We have scheduled delivery nationwide in the US and plan on including this product as part of the normal delivery process. Once the dome is delivered to the local dealer/distributor, you have the option of picking it up yourself or having it delivered to your door at your cost. You decide what is right for you and of course, we will ship worldwide at your cost if you decide to do so.
Do you ship over-seas?
It is being strongly considered. Basically, if there is enough demand, Polydome will establish a worldwide network of distributors/dealers. Currently we have an extensive US and Canadian based distribution network. You, of course, can have it shipped anywhere the law allows us to at your own cost.
Do you offer a base unit?
Currently, no but Polydome is considering making one based upon demand. I have a design of a base ring and structure in the works and will be offering the plans, a kit or completed unit based upon the same criteria.
When will they be available?
Soon, very soon. My best guess is in March.
Who is my closet dealer/distributor?
Again, it is in the works to provide an online map but if you know of stores that distribute the Polydome/Polytank farm oriented products locally, that will be the place. Specific locations for your order will be handled at order time to allow you to decide on the delivery method (pickup or delivered to your door).
Do you offer rotational devices?
We are designing a number of accessories and others may offer them soon. Nothing is ready to ship at this time but stay tuned!
Is it compatible with the existing dome systems?
We haven’t tried experimenting just as yet, but we will be doing so once they exist (the first proto-type should be molded in a matter of days!) Fundamentally, there is no reason the existing off the shelf products wouldn’t work if they can accommodate adjustments for an 8 foot+ dome.
Can it be automated?
Yes, but we do not have the products yet. Use your imagination with the existing products or check back to see if we have something of interest soon.
Do you need to paint it?
No! It is translucent to a point (It looks white but does not block 100% of the sunlight or annoying neighbor’s lights). I will be adding a recommendation on the painting soon. Basically, paint the inside white, then flat black with a paint that adheres well to Polyethylene. Leave the outside alone since it does not need anything!