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Old 25-02-2014, 08:26 PM
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pvelez (Pete)
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Off to Coona

I packed the car this evening in preparation for the trip to Coonabarabran tomorrow.

A few months back I decided that Sydney is a lovely place to live, but a lousy site for a backyard observatory - especially one comprising a pier and a Telegizmos365 cover. After over a year umming and ahing, I bit the bullet and arranged to go remote. I will be taking my gear up to Coona for installation at the iTelescope facility at Siding Springs. I believe Fred is also now based up there so I won't be trailblazing.

Brad Moore has been excellent in smoothing the path. He is up there installing a PW CDK 0.7m monster. My humble CDK12.5 will be a doddle in comparison.

Here are a few shots of the car packed up - the CDK crate takes up most of the car - the rest of the gear is dwarfed by it.

Will let you all know how it goes

Pete

PS Mods - feel free to move this post as you see fit
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  #2  
Old 25-02-2014, 09:26 PM
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Have a good trip!
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Old 25-02-2014, 09:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pvelez View Post
PS Mods - feel free to move this post as you see fit
Too heavy for me to move by myself, maybe when Al and Mike are back online all three of us can move it.



Good luck with it all Pete.

RB
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Old 25-02-2014, 11:55 PM
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Great stuff Pete, probably a good decision, hope all goes smoothly and mega data is just around the corner

Mike
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Old 26-02-2014, 12:23 AM
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So ... You can set up your own private scope at iTelescope?
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Old 26-02-2014, 08:42 AM
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That should be a phenomenal site for your gear. Looking forward to the results.

Greg.
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Old 26-02-2014, 07:55 PM
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How in the world did that crate manage to get into that car? I suspect we'll see 10-20 circus clowns exit the car next. That's amazing!
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Old 27-02-2014, 09:05 AM
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So ... You can set up your own private scope at iTelescope?
Yes Russell. They offer a hosting service where you set up your own gear in the observatory and run it remotely. They can order gear for you if you need it and will install and maintain it too. You then operate it directly via Teamviewer or a VNC service or you can use their control system.

They also operate an affiliate program where you can effectively offer time on your scope for sale as part of their system.

There is a cost to all this of course. But the other option for me was to buy or rent a property, build an observatory and run it remotely - as a Sydneysider it would not be economical to run a dark site only when I was there. This way I have an observatory with a roll off roof, weather controls and someone on site to untangle cables etc at a fraction of that cost.

Pete
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Old 27-02-2014, 09:08 AM
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Originally Posted by frolinmod View Post
How in the world did that crate manage to get into that car? I suspect we'll see 10-20 circus clowns exit the car next. That's amazing!
You know the old maxim - if at first you don't succeed, get a bigger hammer.

Actually it slid in quite easily. The PMX sat on the floor behind the driver's seat standing up. The camera boxes and other stuff was stuffed in around the crate. I had my trusty RC8 to deliver en route - with it wrapped in towels and pillows, it took up its fair share of room.

Pete
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Old 27-02-2014, 09:10 AM
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Thanks Rick, Andrew, Mike and Greg

I'm am looking forward to clear skies and nights spent without that thought intruding - Is that rain?

Pete
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Old 27-02-2014, 09:34 AM
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Progress!

I made it to Coona yesterday afternoon - and was welcomed with cloudy skies.

I arrived just after a PW CDK 700 had been delivered. Yes, a 0.7m scope. At the moment it's packed in 3 large crates with the primary mirror assembly packed in a 2m x 2m x 2m box. The iTelescope guys had to hire a crane to lift it in through the roof as there was no way that sucker was coming in through the door. I can't wait to see it all unpacked this arvo.

Yes, I will be taking pictures.

The pier was custom built by a local manufacturer - it's a thing of beauty and damn heavy. Perhaps this is a cunning way to discourage customers taking their gear home. It did remind me what a boon Siding Springs has been for the local economy. There are signs everywhere for Coona as the Astronomy capital of Australia. There are quite a few astronomers living on site and many locals will be supplying gear and services.

I was also struck by the number of domes about on the drive up - private domes that are not part of the SS site.

Brad and Pete had marked out the location for my pier and quickly bolted it down. The PMX then went on as did the OTA. Next we're electrical gear. Brad ran a 12V cable and USB cable through the mount and set up a 12V rail and USB hub on the OTA. There is a cabinet at the foot of the pier with UPS power supply, rigrunner and wireless controlled power switch so I can manually restart the telescope gear over the net.

The guys then gave the OTA a clean - with compressed CO2! Pete fired a blast at the primary which removed stray dust and - I am ashamed to say this - a cobweb or 2. Housing my gear at home under a Telegizmos cover, a local spider had decided it was perfectly positioned to anchor a web between it and a nearby tree.

I'll post photos of this when I get home - it was impressive.

I had ordered a Pyxis rotator and adapter which had arrived before I did. So we assembled the imaging train and checked the balance. I need another counterweight - this will be another contribution to the local community as it will be cheaper t have it made here than order it from Bisque and ship it up here.

The other issue is that the PMX clutch system is not quite right. When I balance the scope and the. Flick the 3 way switch to lock into Track mode, the worm doesn't quite engage. Well it does, but a bit of pressure on the counterweight bar can move it. Has anyone else encountered this? Looking at the Bisque website there is a procedure to reset the Cam stop which I will try out this afternoon.

I had a chance to marvel at some of the other gear in the obs. There is some mighty fine hardware on display. I have taken many photos which I plan to show my missus from time to time - next time there is a discussion about over expenditure I can point to how much others have spent.

This afternoon we finish off the electrical work, tie down the cables, install some software and check that it all runs smoothly. Then I need to wait for the skies to clear so I can do a TPoint model and check collimation. The crate was well padded and I know CDKs hold their collimation well but I was not 100% happy with collimation at home so it's worth checking it again.

Clouds forecast till Monday - as you would expect.

Photos to follow when I get home

Pete
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Old 27-02-2014, 09:39 AM
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Ps

The others exciting element of this...

As iTelescope rents land from the ANU to run their site, they have a good relationship with the gurus running the big scope up here. If the planets align (oops, I shouldn't use that term among astronomers) I will have a tour of the 3.9m scope and observatory.

Woohoo!

Pete
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Old 27-02-2014, 12:55 PM
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Note that the 3.9m is run by the AAO, not ANU. The ANU run the 2.3m and many of the other scopes on the western end of the site.

Glad to hear the setup is going well. But are you still going to get the same 'buzz' from doing everything remotely? Half the fun of astronomy for me is getting out there in the night air and spending time hunting and then reflecting (internally, not optically) and the wonders in the eyepiece. Doing it from a computer screen 500 km away just wouldn't do it for me
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Old 28-02-2014, 06:08 PM
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Interest in the costs involved with iTelescope. Will PM you.

Last edited by Logieberra; 28-02-2014 at 07:53 PM.
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Old 28-02-2014, 07:08 PM
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Pete,

The clutch thing is not a clutch. You need to adjust the 1/4-20s using two hex wrenches simultaneously. Best if done by two persons. One pushes up on worm gear assembly to press the worm down into the ring gear. Then you tighten both hex bolts at the same time. I'm sure Brad knows how to do this! After you do that be sure to readjust the cam-stop too.

Peter

PS I've got 2 MX weights sitting around.
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Old 28-02-2014, 07:54 PM
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My earlier, misleading, post deleted. Peter knows it all
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Old 01-03-2014, 02:37 PM
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Photos - 1

I made it back from Coona in 1 piece yesterday. Despite the rain, it seemed an easier trip coming back via Mudgee.

Here are some photos from Wednesday

I'm sure you are all familiar with the Solar System model based on Siding Springs - the first pic is Jupiter on the way in from Coona.

The second image shows the observatory from the drive in - the recovery from the fires is certainly ongoing.

The next few images show Brad and Pete getting on with the installation job.

Photos 6 and 7 illustrates the use of a CO2 "gun" to clean the primary - I don't think the pictures do it justice

The last photo lets you see the iTelescope building in situ - right next to the tennis court with some of the ANU gear - including the Sky Mapper - in the background

More to come

Pete
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Old 01-03-2014, 02:51 PM
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Photos - 2

A few more shots from Wednesday

All powered gear is run from a 12V rail with a fuse box mounted on the side of the OTA - the first shot shows Brad at work on it. Brad made up a cable for the STX so it could be powered from this unit. He was very particular about the pin outs and it was a surprise that the camera didn't work initially - despite there being power running through the cable. The camera worked fine with the SBIG issue cable. We worked out that the rail's fuse had blown as the STX drew more current than we had anticipated. A new fuse and all was well.

The last shot shows a very excited astronomer itching for the cabling to be finished and the clouds to clear.

Pete
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Old 01-03-2014, 03:02 PM
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Photos - 3

Some more shots

The first is self-explanatory. The second illustrates the impact of the January 2013 fires. I'm not sure whether the Las Cumbres sign was the most damaged (hence its replacement) or a recent chafe of name.

The last shows the observatory with the roof partially retracted.

This was an impressive roof. There was new Planewave CDK 0.7 m scope delivered while I was up there. The primary and base weighs around 700kg. It was lifted into the observatory with a crane through the roof. But to set it in position, a block and tackle attached to the roof was used to lift it - the roof was then opened to move it into position. The only element that struggled was the pulley system - even though it was rated to 1 tonne. The roof happily glided along.

Pete
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Old 01-03-2014, 03:05 PM
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Photos - 4

The last set of photos of my gear in its new home.

Note the very neat cabling - its better than I could manage!

Pete
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