Reporting the status of a project reminds one of the tortoise and the hare story. The Kitt Peak Vacuum telescope upgrade project is the tortoise and the desire to be finished is the hare. As in the story however, the tortoise is progressing nicely. Ed Bell, Tom Roussey, and Russ Cole have completed the new #4 mirror control system and have done preliminary testing in the lab. The final performance characteristics will not be known until the mirror and control system are installed in the telescope, but the performance appears to be very good and should provide much better image stability than the current installation. Along with the #4 mirror upgrade, Jerry Duffek is investigating the possibility of upgrading the #3 mirror mechanical assembly to improve the focus capability.
Jan Schwitters is making good progress in the conversion of the "Magtool" software. The new Graphical User Interface will be written in the Tool Command Language (TCL). Writing the user interface in TCL will allow the interface to be platform independent and executed from various locations. Jan reports that the conversion is going more smoothly than expected, but requires more code than expected.
The telescope control hardware upgrade is also progressing nicely. We have ordered and received all new stepper motor drive amplifiers to replace the current obsolete ones. In anticipation of replacing the existing Telescope Control Program (TCP) "forth" computer and CAMAC crate, new VME crates, Motorola `162 processor boards, vxWorks targets and "smart" stepper indexer controllers have been ordered and received. The control chain is currently being tested in the lab. We have also ordered and received the fiber optic components necessary for the control system upgrade. The components consist of fiber cable, LIUs (Light-guide Interface Units), RS232 to fiber converters, fiber crimp connectors and serial port multiplexers. Still on the list of items to specify and order are replacements for the anemometer, new encoders for the #1 and #2 mirrors, GPS time code receiver, and replacement motor controllers.
Ed Stover and Dave Jaksha are in the process of defining and prototyping a new hand paddle controller for use in the Vacuum Telescope and elsewhere. One programmable hand paddle will be used for all the telescope and spectrograph functions, and thus some thought needs to go into defining the layout. Procurement is complete and testing started on some switches with small integrated displays, along with a controller board that drives the displays, an LCD readout, and interfaces to a host computer (the new TCP). Preliminary results look very good. The displays look very nice and seem to be rugged. Integration of the breadboard with the vxWorks control computer will start soon.