The Home-Dome is designed to be mounted on another structure, for example a
dormer on the roof of a garage. The Pro-Dome models have walls (solid or wall
rings) with entry doors and are designed to be mounted on a concrete pad, deck,
or flat building roof. There is no difference in the overall design or quality
of materials, but the Pro-Dome models include additional parts and accessories (doors,
deadbolt locking system, rotation enhancements, trim items, etc.)
At the bottom of the base ring (or wall ring if using them) is a 3 inch wide
mounting flange which turns to the inside. You will drill down through this
flange into your foundation and fasten the dome down with anchor bolts
Every dome must be anchored to a strong foundation. The foundation keeps the
dome from lifting, twisting or sliding away during windstorms
Yes, you can add any of our electrical equipment after the dome is
constructed. Depending upon the observatory design, it is sometimes easier to
install hardware during the initial assembly, but it is not essential to do so.
Often customers will first purchase a "manually operated" observatory, then find
as time spent observing increases it makes sense to motorize. Usually, as an
astronomer moves into imaging and then finds automation essential as long and/or
multiple exposures take up the better part of the night
Pre-assembly should not be confused with a "pre-drilling" option offered by
some other vendors, as it is much more. With pre-assembly we have a specialist
(whose only job is to build and test observatories), who will completely
construct your observatory at the plant. Once completed, it is put through a
comprehensive series of "working observatory" tests - including operation under
a remote/automated environment, if that option is included. Once the dome is
ready for crating and shipping, it is carefully un-assembled, leaving as much in
place as possible and still safely pack. For example, a PD10 with 3 wall rings
would be packed with "wall stacks" (three wall segments, plus the corresponding
base ring segment), rather then all the individual pieces. We do not want to
imply that construction without pre-assembly is an impossible (or even very
difficult) process, but that pre-assembly will reduce the final construction
time at your site by at least 50%. This factor should be considered especially
when the customer is paying a contractor by the hour to build the observatory.
As you are aware, Technical Innovations offers an optional Pre-Assembly service at an
additional charge of 15%. With preassembly, the dome is completely assembled, then fully tested
as a “working observatory”. When the dome has not been preassembled at our plant, bolt holes need
to be measured and drilled by the customer/installer in order to attach one fiberglass section to
another or install miscellaneous add-on parts.
Starting January 1, 2014 Technical Innovations began offering a new service called “Pre-Drilling”
at a cost significanly less than the 15% “Pre-Assembly” charge. Rather than constructing the entire
observatory, the pre-drill service will ship the fiberglass parts with most of these holes measured
and drilled prior to crating. Throughout the final assembly process, it is extremely important to
maintain roundness and levelness, while keeping a pleasing “cosmetic” appearance by aligning seams and
keeping adjoining sections flush. Many times there will a hole going through two pieces of fiberglass
which will then be bolted tightly together. Even though the sections must be moved around until the
final position meets the specifications, (especially base and wall rings), we know closely enough where
the holes will be located to be able to drill one set of the holes (“Guide”) then the use that hole as
a guide when we drill through the second piece (“Final”). In this case, the pre-drill service will measure
and drill the “guide” holes while the customer will drill the “final” (using alignment of the existing
“guide” hole) and bolt the sections. The best example of this would be wall and base ring sections,
which join together end-to-end (“Overlap”), and bolt to the corresponding section directly below, (“Stack”).
Many of the holes are measured and drilled simply as “final”, and these will all be done in the pre-drill
service. An example of this situation would be the holes for the wheels and side rollers in the base ring.
Even though a few “final” holes will need to be drilled in the final assembly, no measurements will be
required and “guide” holes will provide a fast and accurate final assembly.
Only those products delivered in the state of Florida or picked up at our
facilities in Orlando Florida are currently subject to the 6.5%
Florida sales tax. Of course Florida residents must pay the sales tax, even if
the observatory will be located outside the state
When international shipments arrive in the destination country, they are
usually subject to duty/taxes which must be paid by the purchaser before the
shipment is released from the customs warehouse. International customers should
research these (including the process) prior to ordering.
Many "visual observing" people purchase an observatory as a safe (and out of
the weather) location to keep their telescope and simplify preparation for
viewing. In this case it is perfectly fine to continue using the tripod inside
the observatory. These people will often find that once they begin to image they
will need the stability a pier provides. Astronomers also find that an added
benefit of a pier is the space freed up inside the observatory. See "At Home in
a Dome" for a chapter on piers.
Three models of our domes (HD6S, HD10 and HD15) are designed specifically for
mounting on new or existing structures. We also have "skirt" products to make
the transition between the round base ring and the structure. The domes are very
weather tight and safe for even mounting above living areas. Our free
downloadable booklet "At Home in a Dome" (see button on Home page) contains a
lot of information on mounting domes on buildings.
Dome automation is the ability to operate the observatory without direct
human intervention. This would include the ability to remotely operate the
shutter, rotate the dome and slave the dome to the telescope. From our
standpoint, automation also includes safeguards against adverse conditions (for
example, bad weather or high winds). The dome must be motorized (ED - electric
rotation system and ES - electric shutter system) before the Digital Dome Works
(DDW) automation package can be installed. If the Dome Trak level of
automation is desired, only the ED system is required.
This is determined by two factors, the physical limits solely based upon
dimensions and fit, and the space needs inside the observatory. For example, a
14" Meade LX200 can actually fit inside an HD6T for a robotic imaging
observatory, but if the customer wishes to also have visual sessions (especially
if intending to have guests), the 10" LX200 may be the "maximum" size to fit the
requirements. We have a worksheet which can be downloaded (as a part of "At Home
in a Dome" or individually on the PRODUCTS page). Many people find that "ideal"
fits approximate a 10" SCT in a RoboDome; 12" SCT in 6 foot dome; 14-16" in 10
foot and larger scopes in the 15 foot.
The electric dome drive system is made up of two 12vDC motor assemblies (on
6' and 10' domes) and four assemblies on the 15. These motors are geared to
rotate the 10 foot dome 360 degrees in one minute (6 degrees per second). The 6
foot dome will rotate slightly faster while the 15 foot is less.
The placement of mounting holes depends upon both the surface and material
being mounted onto. In some cases the distance between any two bolts may vary
based upon surface availability.
The circular and rectangular skirts are designed with seam overlaps to adjust
to "perfect" fit. Even though the mounting structure dimensions are specified,
the finished structure may be "off" by a fraction. Once the skirt is adjusted to
the proper fit, the mounting holes can be drilled.
All freight shipments are insured through the shipping company. The customer
should closely inspect the crate as it arrives in the truck for any evidence of
damage. If damage to the crate is apparent, it should be noted on the driver
ticket (Bill of Lading), with the driver signing acknowledgement. The crate can
be damaged with none of the parts inside damaged, and likewise there can be
damage to the dome with no visible exterior damage. Upon unpacking the dome,
examine each part to assure there has been no damage in shipping. If any is
encountered please contact our office as soon as possible. We will make sure
that repairs or replacement is completed on a timely manner and we will work
directly with the shipping company on the insurance claim.
Motor drives and electronics carried an industry standard 90 day warranty in
the past, but that has been extended to one full year also as a result of the
extremely low failure rate in these systems. A full copy of our standard
warranty can be downloaded in the PRODUCT section of this web site.
Our policy is to provide replacement parts as needed for every dome produced
and sold by Technical Innovations. I many cases parts have become obsolete by
improvements and or design changes. If an improved replacement part is not
available, we will custom make (at no additional charge) the exact damage part.
We have all shop drawings for every part made since the production of dome #1 in
We and adapted and sold our Digital Dome Works automation package to both
owners of domes manufactured by other vendors and "homemade" observatories. For
some of the more popular, (Ash and AstroDome for example), we have custom
interface packages to operate and control the higher voltage motor drive systems
these domes contain. We have also developed custom applications for features
such as dual shutter control and power transfer. We would be happy to talk to
you about your observatory design and the automation levels you wish to achieve
The dome is made of "marine grade fiberglass" and stainless steel hardware to
minimize on-going maintenance and allow you to concentrate on observing instead.
We suggest washing the dome once or twice a year with soap and water
The "standard" colors of our observatory domes is bright white outside and
non-reflective dark blue on the inside. The bright white is very high UV
reflective and is very efficient at preventing heat buildup inside the
observatory during the day. Even in desert areas, the inside temperature will be
10 degrees or less higher than outside air temps when closed up. The wide
shutter slots assure quick stabilization once opened. Having said this, the
fiberglass sections can still be ordered with any exterior (interior also) color
the customer wishes. We understand that situations (for example homeowners
associations requiring "earth tones") exist. The customer provides a color
sample (hardware store paint chips work great) which is computer scanned and
matching color pigments added directly to the gel-coat. This produces a color
throughout the material and not a "coating" which would require maintenance.
There is an extra charge for special colors, simply to cover our costs in
acquiring material in much smaller volumns.
Yes. We advise customers going through the permit process to use the
designation "temporary structure" for the observatory dome. The domes were
designed to be able to be un-assembled and moved. We are aware of one 10 foot
dome that has been moved 4 times! If you know that the initial installation will
be temporary, we suggest saving the clear silicone provided fro "caulking" the
seams and instead using a white "strippable" caulk purchased at any home
hardware store. The silicone is much more difficult (and longer lasting) to
We have domes outside of Phoenix Arizona (where 120 degrees F is not
uncommon) as well as domes located inside the arctic circle. One customer with a
PD10 located 125 miles north of Fairbanks Alaska reported that he stopped at -35
degrees F - not because the dome would not longer operate but that was his
Several years ago we had engineering studies done to support the national
code level of 110mph winds. Since that time, several counties in Florida
increased this level to 130mph. We have not completed a formal study to support
the 130 level, but we did get an "opinion letter" from an engineer in
Tallahassee that was successfully used to get a building permit issued. The
following is an excerpt from an email received after hurricane Katrina -
"The eye of the storm passed directly over us (the official track was about 2
miles east of here) and so we went through the worst winds in the eye-wall -
*twice*. Peak winds hit 140mph here. That's surely the record for Pro-Dome
Our domes are normally shipped by motor or ocean freight. To assure that the
dome arrives safely and with no damage to the finish, they are carefully packed
in an enclosed wooden crate. Each crate is made by hand with 2x4s and plywood.
As the crate structure is taking shape, the large fiberglass sections are
inserted and isolated from each other. Crates built for ocean freight requires
wood that has been heat sterilized and chemically treated, adding even more to
the materials cost.
Yes you can. The packing charge will be reduced to $50 to cover our expenses
helping you properly load, "pack" and secure the dome sections in your truck or
trailer. There will be no shipping charges, BUT you must pay the 6% Maryland
sales tax. Call us first to discuss the type and size of truck or trailer you
will be using and to be sure that it will fit.
Our domes are made from fiberglass re-enforced poly-resin with gel-coat
finish on both sides (often referred to as "marine grade fiberglass" since it is
used on boats) and is quite light. A fully assembled HD6S weighs on 110 pounds,
an HD10 is 310 pounds and an HD15 is approximately 750 pounds. Wall rings add 90
to 130 pounds depending upon size
We sell our domes directly to customers around the world, and now have
observatories in 47 countries. We have tried to make it known that ocean freight
is very economical since we are on the east coast of the United States, very
close to the Port of Baltimore. Deliveries to western Europe are about the same
as deliveries by motor freight to the west coast of the U.S. Please contact us
and we would be happy to provide an exact quote to your location. Also consider
the strength of the Euro and other currencies against the dollar as the exchange
rate is offering a significant "discount" to international customers.
The dome size refers to the approximate outside dimension of the base ring at
the mounting point. These exact diameters are 72 inches for the six foot dome,
119 inches or the ten foot, and 179 inches for the fifteen. All base rings have
a mounting flange which turns to the inside and is 2.5 inches wide on the six, 3
inches wide on the ten and 4 inches wide on the fifteen. Thus, the mounting
footprint can be represented by two circles; the first being the outside
diameter and the second (inside) being the outside diameter minus two times the
width of the mounting flange. Therefore, the six foot would be 72 and 67; the
ten foot dome 119 and 113; and the fifteen foot 179 and 171
Although we sell directly to astronomers around the world, we do have dealers
and agents. These are typically telescope dealers and shop owners, most with
first hand experience with our domes. You will see many of these advertising our
products along side theirs.
Our observatory domes are actually fiberglass re-enforced poly-resin with
gel-coat finishes. This material id often called "Marine Grade Fiberglass" as it
is the "fiberglass' used to make boats and watercraft. The "published" life of
this material is 30 years, but the reality is that with proper care it will
serve you indefinitely. If possible, wash the dome with soap and water once or
twice a year. A coat of "clear-coat" car wax will also make the dome look "new".
We do our best to give you an honest assessment of product differences, but
will not speak badly about another product. There are pros and cons to
every observatory design, and you are fortunate to have a choice. There is room
for a variety of products in the market; no one product is perfect for all
Here are a few general comparisons , and we can discuss more if you have
- Metal domes are more expensive than fiberglass, have poorer temperature
control and higher installation costs.
- Domes with bright white exterior will offer better UV reflection and
less heat buildup.
- Clamshell domes and roll-off roof observatories have wide sky views but
do not offer wind and stray light protection.
- Dome designs that provide a slot opening from the horizon to beyond
zenith offer greatest flexibility
- Tent type observatories offer temporary shelter but are not a permanent
We urge you to evaluate us by reading customer testimonials on this web site,
visit customer web sites through the Link page, and if possible visit one of our
domes in operation. Contact us and we will attempt to set up a visit close to
where you live.
Yes. We are a customer service oriented comapany and will alsways be available
either by phone (301-977-9000 Mon-Fri 8am-6pm)or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
All fiberglass and small parts carry a one year warranty against material
defects and failure. Motor drives and electronics carried an industry standard
90 day warranty in the past, but that has been extended to one full year also as
a result of the extremely low failure rate in these systems. A full copy of our
standard warranty can be downloaded in the PRODUCT section of this web site