Summer 2016

Summer 2016
Summer in Tsukahara

Spring in Tsukahara

gkimbal's Spring in Tsukahara album on Photobucket

Sunday, March 26, 2017

ScopeDome: Update

ScopeDome has been temporarily repaired and readjusted. I believe the "basic" design of the dome is sound. However, the manufacturer’s assembly instructions are inaccurate and misleading. A permanent repair will be made during tsuyu (rainy season) to prevent any loss of precious imaging time. I will replace the metal lathe with 6061-T6 aluminum. I found that the original aluminum is too soft for what is required. Securing the new lathe will be accomplished using aluminum blind fasteners. The old metal strip will remain and the new strip will be layered on top. All of the seams will be offset to maintain electrical continuity. In the event of the new strip prematurely wearing, I can remove the aluminum blind fasteners. I will also replace the wire connectors going to the lathe and rollers. The crimps are of poor quality and some of the crimps only have one or two thin strands of wire.


I conducted several experiments with the rollers and the metal lathe to determine how much pressure is required to have sufficient voltage to power the shutter. Of the eight rollers, I only needed five rollers to make contact at the same time. The manufacturer requires all eight rollers to make contact at one time. If the dome is slightly out of round, the metal lathe will wear through and fail eventually. Since only some of the rollers need to make contact, this reduces the pressure applied to the metal lathe from the rollers. The dome turns with little friction and the metal lathe remains in good shape. I will also perform regular inspections of the metal lathe to check for any unusual wear. I’m confident that these steps will prevent this failure from happening again.

Lessons learned (reality check): 

1. Don't expect any useful help from ScopeDome if something goes seriously're on your own.

2. ScopeDome will be very quick to point out their warranty information. Be sure to understand the warranty BEFORE you decide to purchase. What that means is that once you give them the money...good luck. If a part is needed, you pay for the shipping costs from Poland even if the dome is brand new. They may or may not cover the cost of the actual part. In my case, they would cover the cost of the metal strip, but not the shipping. The shipping would have been extremely expensive and painfully slow.

3. ScopeDome uses Skype as a way to help troubleshoot a problem. It is a useful tool, but useless if something goes seriously wrong. Make absolutely sure you have the ability to troubleshoot and repair the dome on your own. If not, then you will have an expensive piece of junk sitting on your property.

4. Get used to the fact that something will go wrong. There is an insecure and uneasy feeling about owning a ScopeDome. I gave up on reliability. It doesn't exist when you own one of these.

5. ScopeDome advised me to either tear down the entire dome or drill into the outer fiberglass cover to gain access to the fasteners holding the metal strip. Both pieces of advice clearly shows that something is seriously wrong with the design.

I hope this will be helpful information to someone who is considering purchasing a ScopeDome. There isn't much user information out there about these domes. Maybe they all work perfectly as mentioned by the manufacturer...maybe they don't. Please choose carefully as this is a major investment in the enjoyment of the hobby and reliability is a critical factor.



  1. Hi George,
    You 're a man of extraordinary talents and acquirement. Don't give up on ScopeDome!


  2. Thank you for the kind words. I hope you and your family are doing well. Giving up on ScopeDome never entered my mind. This problem(and solution)opened my eyes and presented a great opportunity to learn more about the dome. Learning new things and facing challenges make this hobby extremely rewarding...and fun!