Subject: APO 3.5m users committee minutes, March 2010

From: Suzanne Hawley

Submitted: Tue, 23 Mar 2010 23:17:06 -0700 (PDT)

Message number: 1174 (previous: 1173, next: 1175 up: Index)

          APO 3.5-m Users Committee Phonecon, 3/8/10

Attending: Suzanne Hawley, Mark Klaene, Bill Ketzeback, 
John Bally, Michael Strauss, Jon Holtzman, Remy Indebetouw

Absent:  Al Harper, Jon Fulbright, Scott Anderson


User feedback, comments from institutional representatives:

New Mexico State (Jon Holtzman) - nothing to report (too cloudy).

Colorado (John Bally) - nothing to report

Princeton (Michael Strauss) - nothing to report

Virginia (Remy Indebetouw) - nothing to report, users happy.

Washington (Suzanne Hawley) -  a beta version of TUI that allows 
Agile on-chip guiding is about ready to be tested by UW users.
Others who are interested in testing should contact Suzanne.
Also, re: cloudy weather, OPEN and DD time can be requested for
critical programs that get weathered out (e.g. for graduate student 
thesis data).  Quite a bit of the OPEN/DD time has gone to such 
programs in the past few months.

Chicago (Al Harper) - no report (absent)

Johns Hopkins (Jon Fulbright) - no report (absent)


Discussion of telescope/instruments report - Klaene

There was some discussion of snow removal.  We use
several methods including the snow program, roof heaters,
and manual shoveling.  Which is used depends on conditions, powder 
verses ice and wet snow. The snow program works well for powder, while 
wet snow requires sun and manual shoveling.  Ice on the lightning 
arrestors has hurt us twice this month. Danger of this ice falling 
into the open shutter is our biggest concern and there is no way to 
manually remove the ice since the arrestors are quite tall and located
at the corners of the roof. Usually the ice clears with a few hours 
of sunshine and/or ambient temps in the high 20s.  The roof heaters 
have limited value and can cause other problems.

Added 5 new beds (singles) in a few dorm rooms to accomodate
extra housing demands due to reduced availability of housing at 
Sunspot. Sunspot/NSO housing is likely going away completely by 
summer because new development folks working on ATST are
spending a few years at Sunspot before going to Hawaii.

The telescope should not be slewed with the covers closed. It is still 
okay to do cals with covers closed while the telescope is tracking.

Bally asked about 2010 weather statistics. From SDSS they reported loss
time in January due to weather at 55%, which is quite a bit higher
than usual for the winter months.


3.5-m Telescope, Instruments, and CIF Projects Highlights, 2/3/10 
through 3/3/10

0) Overview

Weather, specifically snow, has been the main issue again this period 
and winter is not quite over. Recent storms have been more moderate 
and caused significantly less problems although we continue to spend 
over 2 man days a week dealing with weather related issues.   This 
now includes 3 roof leaks. Loss time due to snow on the roof 
increased somewhat because of icing of the roof mounted lightning 
arrestors. The arrestors are impossible to reach and clear and thus 
we must have some warming to clear these.  The concern with ice on 
the arrestors  is that it can easily fall into the open shutter and 
onto the optics.

Remodeling  of the dormitories was accomplished to add 5 more beds.

1) Telescope

Behavior has been quite good with only rare minor issues with 
pointing and tracking.  A couple of servo errors were seen during 
slews and tracked to a software bug in the controller in handling 
magnasensor crossings. Slewing with the mirror covers closed also 
causes rare servo errors, we have not seen any problems while 
tracking with the mirror covers closed.   This resulted in a minor 
procedure change.

2) Instruments

Echelle and  Agile ran with no problems.

DIS blue warmed unexpectedly, and SPICam was running warming than 
normal by 10-20 deg K.  Vacuum was checked on both cameras and found 
to be OK.  Both cryotigers were recharged to a higher pressure based 
on discussions with the Polycold technicians.  The new pressure is 
higher than their manual suggested for these ambient temperatures but 
appears to have fixed the problem.

TSpec ICC power supply failed, taking out numerous boards in the 
chassis. An SDSS spare chassis was assembled and UVa folks reinstalled 
the software returning TSpec to normal operation. Fortunately the 
PCIA Interface was okay. The spare is at CU. New chassis has been 
procured and we plan to replace the power supply in the slitviewer ICC.

The DIS slitviewer camera shutter continues to have occasional 
cold weather problems. We are monitoring this for increasing 
frequency but so far it has not re-occurred. Observing Specialist are 
running the shutter prior to start of observing when possible.

The new NICFPS fanout board testing is progressing at CU.   Initial 
testing with the spare Leach controller yielded unexpected results. 
They have moved to the Rockwell controller and obtained more 
consistent data. Once testing with the Rockwell controller is 
complete they will revisit the issue with the spare Leach controller. 
Installation is still possible for March or April. There was still no 
progress reported on the NICFPS etalon at CU.

3) CIF projects

The spare drive box machining and fabrication is in work.  A 
preliminary vibration study was also conducted and is being analyzed. 
We plan to perform additional testing this month. On chip guiding 
software development for Agile is progressing and initial testing is 
planned for later this month.


o Q2 schedule and class trips - Hawley

The Q2 schedule was just released yesterday (3/7/10).  There are no
class trips planned for Q2 according to the proposals that were
scheduled.  If anyone is planning a large trip, they should let
us know immediately.  Also, we need to be notified about trips that 
are planned for Q3 (July-Sept) as soon as possible, since we will
be coordinating with summer shutdowns and SDSS work on the mountain.

o TUI versions - Klaene

There was a question about when the version of TUI being used
by an observer needs to be updated.  The plan is that a new
field will be added that will come up when TUI is started so
that the version is available for the user and the Observing Specialist
to see.  If it is out of date, this field will appear in some
bright color (possibly red).  In general, users should try to
update their version of TUI to the newest version within a few
months of its release.  The version history available at:
gives the updates.  Note that the current (latest) version is
TUI 1.7.0.  Changes in the second digit (currently "7")
indicate a fairly major update that should be installed quickly,
while changes in the third digit (currently "0") are minor updates
often for a particular instrument.  The new python libraries needed
for this update from 1.6.2 to 1.7.0 can be somewhat problematic to
install on linux machines.

o Possible visiting instrument: RITMOS - Hawley

RITMOS is a multi-object spectrograph built as a prototype instrument
for a 24" telescope and is presently available to go on a bigger telescope.
It would need some new front end optics. The FOV on the 3.5m would likely
be quite small, about 2'x1', similar to Agile and the GFP.  We would like 
to know if users would be interested.  There is a published SPIE paper 
(Meyer et al 2004 SPIE 5492, 200) that describes the instrument which has 
been sent to the users committee members.  Massimo Robberto at STScI is 
the person who is leading this effort, because of his interest in 
building a multi-object spectrograph, perhaps for the 3.5m, that uses this 

o Note added in proof - Hawley

After the meeting finished, a new problem was discovered with the 
SPIcam cryotiger.  The instrument will be offline until May.
Updates will be sent to apo35-general.



[open from previous months]: NONE

[new actions from this meeting]:

Users committee members should ask their users if RITMOS is of interest
to them (please share SPIE paper).


Next meeting: The next Users Committee phonecon will be on Monday, 5 April, 
at 8:30 AM Pacific Time.  The agenda and other materials will be sent 
to the committee members during the preceding week.

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