Friday, February 18, 2005

No, really, I like astronomy more.

You might think from the first few entries in this web log that I'm currently obsessed with radioactivity. I'm not, and usually you can find me at the focus of a telescope. I was thinking of what is really stopping productive and easy use of the Ryerson telescope. Just last night, several problems happened:
1. The digital setting circles slipped off the declination.
2. The right ascension clutch (aka tracking) wouldn't work, or only occasionally would catch.
3. The dome slit was cranky.

All these things affect our motivation to observe, which is the whole reason of being for the RAS. If these items are causing problems, and they are, they need to be addressed and solved in a reasonable amount of time.

For #1, I can fix this easily by moving the setting circle up closer to the moving surface. Once it is done, it shouldn't ever be a problem again and we can get people to use the digital setting circles (designed to help people find stuff).

#2 See a comment below. I think a locknut is warranted, but I think Alex had determined there wasn't enough space for another nut. Can we get two thin nuts? Or, since the motion of the RA naturally loosens this nut, can we put a teflon washer in to help reduce friction?

#3 Physically characterizing the orientation of the metal bars that hold up and contain the slit rollers is important. Are they parallel and level? I recall shimming the bottom rail long ago to keep it level. Part of the problem with solving this is the inaccessibility of the parts, given some of them are 15 feet above the roof of a six-story building.

Oh, yes--the breakthrough last night was hearing parts moving when I tried to move the telescope in R.A. while locked--it gave me the idea to mentalize a force diagram. When the clutch is locked, what forces the scope to move? It's actually transmitted through the R.A. fine motion worm.


Steven Lucy said...

#2 and #3 I 100% agree with. Half the people already trained can't open/close the slit or get it to track half the time. I suggest we put all of our resources into fixing these two problems, though it might be hard before it gets warm. The slit I have some ideas about (and it's not so crucial for observing, probably), but the R.A. I have yet to take a good look at (though it might be easier to solve in the end, depending on what the problem is).

Dean W. Armstrong said...

#2 I may have fixed last night. Additional work is probably needed. Finding a way to prevent various screws from loosening would prevent the problem in the future.