Sunday, April 3, 2011

Closed loop tracking & focus control, & Ouberg Pass

The past few nights have been about checking out SALTICAM's functionality & making sure that the software does all it's supposed to.  This has kept Janus & Luis rather busy & the Astronomer Hat's been oscillating between David & Darragh.

Sadly, there's been some mechanical damage to one of the guide probes & so it's not able to operate over its full envelope - this will have to be repaired at a later stage.  In the meantime though, it's been possible to move the tracker in order to get a star onto the probe & then to proceed with commissioning the SALTICAM guidance & autofocus systems.

This led to full closed-loop tracking for the first time - a major milestone in the telescope's progress to full operations!  Fantastic work Janus :)

Various other software functions for getting targets placed - such as offsetting &/or rotating the field to put an object onto the RSS slit or into the slot for high speed work got ironed out by Luis - seen here enjoying the power hat... 

The new slot in the SALTICAM frame transfer mask really is a huge improvement over the old one which was positioned too high above the CCDs - mooi so Willie!  The slot's visible across the centre of the field & the profile in the top left corner shows a cut across the slot.  The red outline represents the position of the guide probe.

On a very different note - the Saturday morning mission centred on Keith's ambition to cycle down, & then back up, the Ouberg Pass.  This is the spectacular edge of the escarpment, about 35 km from Sutherland, that drops about 600 m over less than 7 km.

It was a perfect day out there, particularly enjoyable if you didn't have a bicycle to worry about & absolutely wonderful if photography's your thing... 

Here's the downhill data from the lunatic's GPS & heart-rate monitor - note the red (heart rate) peak immediately prior to the blue (speed) dip when a tricky corner (pale green spike) came up!

To everyone's astonishment, he made it in one piece & actually did cycle all the way back up, the round trip taking an hour & 40 minutes (10 minutes of which was the downhill!).  The captain of the support team was on hand to administer the necessary refreshments back up at the top...

The data from the ride up tell the rest of the story - the things some people do for fun?!

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