I am also an end user of the Pro-Dome. If you still remember you had paid a visit to our dome and had scrutinized its structure.蔡sir 寫: 以下皆為我在維修過程中得出的看法，沒有接觸過的人根本無法理解箇中的因由，當然擁有同類設備的各方友好，因應不同的客觀情況，在使用過程中，會有不同見解，各位不妨在本帖完結後提出來討論。 *
Our dome has been functioning for three years and is under rather heavy usage. On nearly every clear sunny days the dome will be opened up for sunspot recording and on many clear nights it served as a base for visual observation for planets and lunar surface. On some occasions the dome was remotely controlled from my home.
On whole we feel that mechanical structure of the dome is rather robust and its operation is astonishingly smooth ( as judged from its poor finishing ), though I have to agree with you that its craftsmanship is rather rough.
We do carry out a basic maintenance scheme to ensure the dome’s normal functioning. The tasks are simple – grease all the pulleys and wires at 6 months interval and on sunny days open the dome for an hour of sun-bathing. As we routinely carry out solar observation the dome has been actually under constant sun bathing.
The major problem of the dome lies on its software side rather than the hardware side. From time to time we face little bugs developed on the control software and we must devise ways to bypass them. But the defects are still minor, at least at the moment.
I guess that your difficulties were mainly based on the fact that the dome is totally lack of basic maintenance. Years of negligence will certainly lead to the accumulating effect of disastrous malfunctioning.
Yes, the dome is certainly over ten years of age. Our first visit to the dome was at the year 2001. By that time the shutter of the dome was already out of order.蔡sir 寫:
ProDome : 直徑10呎，玻璃纖維結構，安裝年份不詳*，估計超過１０年。
The base-ring of the dome is supported by a number of rubber pulleys. These pulleys also serve as bearing for rotation. The rotation of dome is very quiet and smooth – in our case we have to shout out to clear off nearby students. They can hardly hear the sound of the rotating dome.蔡sir 寫:
If the dome is moving with great sound and heavy vibration it will be a clear sign of negligence in routine lubrication of the pulleys. It’s a maintenance problem rather than a design problem. .
Agree with you. This is a foolish and the only foolish design. We have changed this stupid plastic hinge into a stainless steel one after two and half years usage, when it broke into two halves.蔡sir 寫: ２．水平方向無法轉動，連接support ring（承托整個圓頂的玻璃纖維圓環）的“橋”的─塑膠門鉸斷裂。 *
The steel wires have to be greased at regular intervals to avoid winding up itself. Nobody cared and leaded to later problems.蔡sir 寫: ３．內部：拉動天窗的鋼索拉斷，部份轉向滑輪銹蝕或丟失 *
The belts are very durable even in our case - they still show no signs of wearing - even after 3 years of heavy usage. I can’t think of any reason for the fast wearing down of the driving belts.蔡sir 寫: ，水平轉動的驅動裝置裏的皮帶磨斷，大部份承托輪的固定螺絲和圓頂的緊固螺絲鬆脫，*
This was really poor electrical installation. It was a surprise that one could carry out safe observation inside the dome.蔡sir 寫: 電線跌滿一地（用膠紙黏在圍牆內？），連照明燈也掉在地上（也只是用玻璃膠固定），*
I also noticed that before. It’s a pity that they used steel floor. Wooden floor would be a better choice.蔡sir 寫: 地板是一塊花鐵板，極可能有觸電的危險。 *
Rouge craftsmanship – yes.蔡sir 寫:
Non-functional – no !. Indeed the Pro-Dome is much cheaper and lighter than an equivalent metallic dome from China. It can handled robotic control and synchronize with Paramount seamlessly. Although I haven’t tried I guess that the dome will certainly communicate well with Meade LX series and Celestron Nexstar series. With little modification it will communicate with Takahashi EM series as well. China made metallic dome, at the moment, still incapable of doing this.
Indeed the Pro-Dome is widely used in many budgeted observatories worldwide. Although budget orientated, it provides quite stable performance. We had been doing some researches before buying this dome and, as an end-user for three years, we are still being satisfied by its performance.
I supply my views at the standpoint of an end-user. I can imagine how difficult it is to repair a dome so lack of maintenance. No wonder you have made a great job and I am more than happy to see another Home-dome is being brought back to life and another telescope is coming to serve the promotion of astronomy.
Chan Yuk Lun