Subject: APO 3.5m users committee minutes from meeting on 5/3/10

From: Suzanne Hawley

Submitted: Tue, 4 May 2010 13:08:27 -0700 (PDT)

Message number: 1181 (previous: 1180, next: 1182 up: Index)

      APO 3.5-m Users Committee Phonecon, 5/03/10

Attending:  Suzanne Hawley, Mark Klaene, Michael Strauss, Bill Ketzeback, 
John Bally, Jon Fulbright, Jon Holtzman, David Wehlan (for Remy Indebetouw), 
Scott Anderson, Bruce Gillespie

Absent:  Al Harper


User feedback, comments from institutional representatives:

 	Chicago (Al Harper) - no report.

 	New Mexico State (Jon Holtzman) - Jon had nothing new to report.

 	Washington (Scott Anderson) - Scott had nothing new to report.

 	Colorado (John Bally) - John had nothing new to report.

 	Princeton (Michael Strauss) - Michael said that everything was fine.

 	Johns Hopkins (Jon Fulbright) - Jon said that he had sent Suzanne 
comments on the proposed RITMOS instrument.

 	Virginia (David Wehlan) - David had nothing new to report.


Discussion of telescope/instruments report - Klaene:

Mark mentioned that the summer shutdown dates have been set, 26 July through 
13 August.  He also highlighted recent work on refining the telescope and 
primary mirror motion control systems.  We discussed at some length the 
question of improving high-altitude tracking from a cost-benefit standpoint. 
Suzanne pointed out that an increasing number of programs are using Agile 
to monitor exo-planet transits, and tracking them through the near-zenith 
is becoming a priority.  This led to the following action item:

===> ACTION:  Users Committee members should poll their users to find out 
how important it is to their science programs to track targets within 
5 degrees of zenith.

Mark also pointed to the newly commissioned ability to on-chip guide with 
Agile, and the plan to migrate the Agile guiding software from TUI to the Hub. 
Regarding the newly revived SPIcam, users should watch for any performance 
anomalies and report them to the observatory, now that the instrument is 
back on the air.  Mark also recapped the status and plans for the new 
NIC-FPS fanout board, and the spare telescope drive assembly.


    3.5-m Telescope, Instruments, and CIF Projects Highlights, 4/2/10 through 4/28/10

0) Overview

Despite last week's 6-inch snowfall, spring is arriving, and some of the 
facility work that has been put on hold for the winter is starting.  We 
are expecting a busy summer with a student group in July along with the 
2.5-m shutdown and one retirement (Norm Blythe, who has handled all of 
our LN2 usage for the past 7 years).  The 3.5-m shutdown dates have been set: 
start of the shutdown is July 26 and we will resume science on August 14, 
if the weather cooperates.

1) Telescope

Pointing and tracking behavior is still quite good with rare minor issues 
with a drive resonance on the azimuth axis; Fritz and Nick are working this. 
The problem doesn't seem to have a significant effect on telescope performance, 
but it needs to be corrected.  An electrical noise problem with the primary 
mirror support system was identified and corrected; this appears to have 
eliminated the crosstalk and oscillations we have been seeing on some sectors.

2) Instruments

DIS, TripleSpec, NIC-FPS, the Echelle, and Agile ran with no problems, although 
the DIS blue camera temperature is still not quite as stable as we would like. 
The DIS slitviewer ICC was replaced with a modern machine.

Agile on-chip guiding has completed its testing and is now fully implemented 
in TUI.  The guiding coefficients are the same as used for the rest of our 
guiders, but they can be modified by the user if the default values are not 
ideal for specific programs.  Users should read the documentation in the 
latest TUI release and for Agile before using this feature.  The current 
implementation is intended to to be a stopgap until we can complete modifications 
to the Hub software, where the other guiders are commanded.  Note that because 
Agile guiding is implemented through TUI and not through the Hub, only one 
user can actively use it at a time.  Therefore, users must coordinate with 
the Observing Specialist and among themselves if using multiple log-ins.

SPIcam has been inoperable due to a failed cryotiger compressor for some time.
We went through the four spare compressors that we had on site, and each of 
them had a problem.  A new compressor just arrived and has been installed, 
and the instrument is now cold.  Although we are currently monitoring 
temperature stability, chip contamination, and bias levels, SPIcam has been 
returned to service for science programs.  Any SPIcam performance problems 
that are noticed by users should immediately be brought to the attention 
of the Observing Specialist and the Observatory.

The new NIC-FPS fanout board testing at CU has been slowed due to problems 
with the spare Leach controller.  It was decided to investigate and try to 
fix these problems and continue with lab testing with the engineering-grade 
chip before attempting installing the board on the instrument itself.  This 
will delay the installation of the new fanout board at the Observatory. 
There was still no progress reported on the NIC-FPS etalon at CU.

3) CIF projects

The spare telescope drive box machining and fabrication continues; some 
parts are assembled and additional spare components have been delivered.

Nick has prepared a list of mechanical and optical improvement projects 
with preliminary designs and budgetary estimates.  The list is being vetted 
by engineering staff and management to see which items are high priority, 
and which could be implemented this year.  One of these projects is the 
investigation of the high-altitude tracking limit.


Agile on-chip guiding - Hawley:

Suzanne added that the recent testing of the on-chip guiding with Agile shows 
a 1 to 2 pixel stability over long periods, and feedback from other users 
is welcome.  Kudos to Russell Owen for getting this capability implemented 
in a relatively short time.


SPIcam back in service - Klaene:

Aside from the discussion given in the telescope and instruments report, 
Mark said that we are purchasing a new spare cryotiger for the instrument 
so that we should not have extended down time if the currently installed 
cryotiger were to fail.


Wyoming IR camera - Hawley:

Suzanne reminded the Users Committee that this proposed instrument has been 
in discussion for several years.  It would provide IR imaging over ~13 
arcminutes, and ultimately provide multi-object spectroscopy at R = ~3000 in 
J, H, or K using a microshutter array.  The spectroscopic option has a heritage 
traceable to the GSFC RIVMOS instrument.  One serious issue that needs 
exploration is that the current (baffled) FOV at the NA2 port is only 6-7 
arcminutes, and the NA2 guider will also partially occult this instrument. 
We will conduct an Instrument Review, possibly this summer, to evaluate and 
determine the necessary interface and operational aspects of the instrument. 
Suzanne would like one or more of the Users Committee members to participate 
in this review.  If the review is successfully completed, then we will look
toward a visiting instrument run, likely block scheduled in Q4 2010 or beyond.
The instrument PI, Mike Pierce, has provided a white paper that has been sent 
to the Users Committee members; this can be distributed to users at each
institution.  He has also invited people to contact him directly to discuss 
the instrument.

===> ACTION:  Users Committee members should forward the NIIS white paper 
to their users, and potential users should send any comments or questions 
to Suzanne Hawley.


Summer Engineering Plans - Klaene:

Mark listed the projects and activities planned for this summer:

   o secondary and tertiary mirrors will be realuminized, and their 
actuator systems will be serviced;

   o primary mirror will be washed (it will be realuminized at Kitt Peak next summer);

   o new circuit boards for the direct-drive motor controllers will be installed;

   o instruments (except NIC-FPS and echelle) will receive their annual servicing; and

   o enclosure will receive its routine maintenance.

NIC-FPS servicing will await the installation of the new fanout board. Echelle 
was extensively serviced last year and is performing well.  It will be slated
for additional work in the coming year as the upgrade project moves forward.
Suzanne pointed out that for the first time in many years, there is no 
major upgrade planned for the telescope or instruments this summer.  This reflects 
the attainment of a certain level of maturity of the telescope systems hardware, 
and accounts for the shorter-than-usual shutdown period.  Hence, there will be 
more observing time available this summer than we are accustomed to, although 
how much of it will be usable during the monsoon season remains to be seen.



[open from previous months]:


[new actions from this meeting]:

===> ACTION:  Users Committee members should poll their users to find out 
how important it is to their science programs to track targets within 
5 degrees of zenith.

===> ACTION:  Users Committee members should forward the NIIS white paper 
to their users, and potential users should send any comments or questions 
to Suzanne Hawley.


Next meeting:  The next Users Committee phonecon will be on Monday, 14 June, 
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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