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As I am sure most of you know I have a SkyPOD, and whilst there are many features of this I love, the restricted view to the Zenith is a major PITA and after 3 1/2 years I can stand it no longer.

Yes - I know what you are all saying, why didn't I just get a ROR obsy. Well of course if I was starting now and knew what I know now I would do just that, but I have a POD, and can't face all the upheaval and expense of replacing it, and so I am hoping this will cure my problem and I will have in effect a ROR POD.

The kit that SkyPOD supply is just the hardware and you have to make the table top yourself anyway. However I have a restricted space as the POD is close to next door's fence, and there is a shed close to the end of the Bay on the north easterly side and you can only pass between the shed and bay if you are standing sideways. There would be no possibility of passing through this gap to screw on the table top once it is in place if you had to bend underneath it.

So I was faced with 2 options.

a) Put the PZT on the South/Western side - really didn't want to do this as the dome is still in the way as the objects fall to the west.

( B) B keeps coming out as a smiley face!!!)   Do a DIY construction constructing the table top in sections that can be screwed on a bit at a time.

When Skypod failed to deliver the hardware after waiting 2 months for delivery from Canada, I decided to go for option b.

Although I like a bit of DIY and carpentry, I decided to enlist my friend Ian who is a retired engineer to help with the heavy stuff.

Firstly the door had to be moved because it would have ended up beneath the PZT. this was no easy task because the POD walls are interlocking and finally stuck down fast with a sealant called Lexel, which doesn't want to be unstuck. Anyway, between me and Ian, we managed to pull the walls apart and re-position the door in a new position.


Door in new position. I will have to re-Lexel the "moved" sections to stop rainwater leaking under the walls.


Edited by carastro
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We worked out the plans and materials and went and got the materials that we could carry (they are going to deliver the rest) and while Ian was starting to cut up some of the timber I got stuck in moving the stepping stones on the lawn which now needed to go to the new door position. Why oh why did I buy such thick stepping stones, they weigh a ton, they are about 3" thick!!!!


I'm attaching the plans if any-one can understand them.

Plan 1 - aerial view:

Black are the uprights, I think Ian said he was doing 3 x 2"
Yellow = horizontal supports, note the one over the bay is wider (it will actually be a piece of decking) as this has to support two lots of table top (see plan 2 for explanation).


This shows the table top in two parts, and as explained above this will need to be constructed in sections because of the restricted access.

PINK = plywood painted with yacht varnish. I was going to get marine ply, but the timbershop said that wouldn't be much better as it would need varnishing anyway and would cost a huge amount more.

Mauve = Decking strips

So you can see why the horizontal support needs to be wide, to support both the ply and the decking.

Hope you guys can understand my drawings and explanations.

The dome itself will be released by using quick release brackets instead of the ones currently in place and there will be some raised sections on which the dome will actually slide rather than slide on the varnished plywood, still to be worked out.


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Weather, being away etc has slowed things down a bit.

This is the frame completed. Certain bits can only now be accessed by climbing over the POD wall.

I have since weather treated all the timber and floor decking that will not be reachable once the "lid" is on. Note the centre horizontal support is a piece of decking - this is because of the height of the POD bay not allowing for a deeper piece of timber. Ian has fixed the two end pieces of decking on for reasons best known to himself, something to do with spacing.


I am also now varnishing the ply which needs to have 4 coats on each side and all the edges, with such awkward shapes and not being able to do it outdoors because of the weather it's a juggling act.


By the way you can also see the POD cover I made from waterproof fabric on Ebay. It works really well, much better than the one i made before of Tarpaulin. 
This is the full picture taken before we started the PZT:


Edited by carastro
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Thanks Gina. 

Oh and it's easy to be clever with hindsight

Yes, exactly, we have to make the best of what we have.

So many evenings have been mucked up by the dome being in the way. Even slid off it will still be in the way to a certain extent in the NE, but the house is in the way in that direction anyway, but once objects have risen sufficiently I will have the rest of the evening without things disappearing behind it. 


Edited by carastro
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Interesting modification to your POD Carole, hope it resolves the zenith issue.  As Gina said, none of us have the benefit of hindsight, and it's only after we gain experience that we have those "should have done it that way" debates with ourselves.  Each observatory design involves compromises but at least with this modification you can offset one of them. 

Looking forward to the next set of pictures.

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I like what you're doing here Carole. Mrs Black Knight has always preferred the look and simplicity of the SkyShed Pod over a conventional ROR obsy, but the zenithal view problem has always put me off.

This PZT is a new one on me. When I was researching possible obsy's ages ago there was no such thing. Very interesting! TBH, it never occurred to me that it would be quite so easy to slide each half of the domed roof off the base. I shall be following your progress with great interest! ;)

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Hi Andy,

SkyPod actually do their own version of this called the PZT (Pod Zenith Table) but they only supply the hardware and instructions.  I could not use their method because of my restricted access during construction. 

You don't slide each half off separately, you slide the two domes off together. 

Scroll down this link:


This is their version of the PZT, as you can see the dome is still in the way of one direction, so you can organise this to be the side you are least likely to image/view, but in any case you can swap between normal dome use and PZT.

Glad if this thread will be useful to you and as you are in Swindon which is reachable to here in a day (I'm Bromley Kent), you would be welcome to come and take a look once it is finished. 



Edited by carastro
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  • 2 weeks later...

The POD Zenith table is virtually finished.  Just a few tweaks, but it works. and enables me to reach the Zenith. Just need to fit a couple of ramps to make getting the domes on/off at the sides a bit easier.  There are 3 strips of slippery plastic fitted onto the table for the dome to slide on (and not wear out the varnish).


The dome slid back by about 2'6"/3'.  As you can see the dome is still in the way towards the NE, but I never image over that way anyway, partly because the houses are in the way and lack of objects to image in that direction, but in any case I can always image that area with the dome in normal position if I wanted to. Objects mostly rise from behind that loft extension, so I'll be able to see the objects right through until they set or disappear behind a tree in the West.  The dome can also be swivelled slightly on the table.  

Need to practice getting it on and off a few times before I dare try it in the dark.


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  • 6 years later...

how do you slide the dome on and off? Also, where did you get the replacement dome brackets from?

You need to order them directly from Skyshed, I bought mine from Altair Astro, but I don't think they are dealers for Skyshed any more. 

Also remove some of the dome base wheels at the positions where the dome slides back on far ends or you will be slicing off the tops of the wheels and they will get in the way anyway.  

Once the brackets are removed, you simply push the dome onto the table.

To pull it back again I fitted some very large eyelets (get them from Skypod too), that screw into the unused dome bracket bolt holes.  So I normally grab them and just pull.   Getting the dome back on is a bit push and pull and brute force. 

Hopefully you can see these links, but if they are only visible to me, look on my website:

Scroll down 3/4 of the page:  https://sites.google.com/site/caroleastroimaging/home/observatory

Original Bracket


Quick release bracket


Place the old dome bracket on top of this and fix with warped rod (bit fiddly to get in and out, but you get used to it.



Edited by carastro
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