The Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope

Microwave Grounding - 2008

The microwave communication tower, which stands near to the VATT building, was found with a 56 ohm ground impendence that did not meet the Motorola standard of 25 ohms or less. Our investigation showed the cause of this problem to be that the chemical ground was destroyed, exposing the observatory to a lightning risk. An extensive repair plan was implemented by the VATT, and with the help of MGIO and the LBT group, the microwave tower grounding scheme was repaired and improved to 0.5 ohms. This is well within the Motorola standard. The VATT team on this project consisted of Franz, Gray, and Duffek.


Telescope Maintenance - 2008

Gary Rosenbaum prepares to
“hard wash” the VATT primary
(David Harvey Photography)

The telescope primary mirror had a hard wash this year rather than a complete re-aluminization. Gary Rosenbaum, a mirror coating expert with the Steward Observatory mountain operations group, came up to train Gray on the hard-washing technique. Rosenbaum also advised on a maintenance procedure for keeping the primary mirror clean. Gray is now a licensed protector and keeper of the mirror.

During this period Franz, Rosenbaum, and Joe Hoscheidt, also from the mountain operations group, developed and revised the pump-down procedure for the VATT 4K CCD camera. This procedure set forth a system to check out and train selected personnel for handling our camera and has contributed to our overall instrument reliability of 98.9%.


Power Audit-2008

Prior to the summer shutdown, VATT manager Duffek coordinated a power audit for the observatory site. This audit was ordered to determine phase balancing of the observatory’s electrical power distribution system and proper grounding of the VATT building ground grid to the microwave communications tower. The report generated from the power audit showed that the building phases were well within 10% of balance. A few electrical code violations were identified as well as excessive UPS ground currents. Franz and Gray took on the task of fixing the code violations, and they rectified all UPS ground problems by isolating building ground from UPS ground.


Telescope Upgrades - 2008

Chris Johnson at the climate-controlled computer rack, part of the HP upgrade at VATT. (David Harvey Photography)

A major computer and network upgrade was performed in the summer of 2008. Important highlights include:

  • A 1 gigabit fiber isolated network with a 10 gigabit backbone for the entire observatory. Harvey and Johnson worked diligently on porting current control software over to the new Hewlett Packard (HP) computers. This is the first gigabit network to be installed on Mt. Graham.
  • A cooling system for the HP computer racks was also designed and integrated for maintaining proper operating temperatures of the new computers and networking equipment.
  • Harvey also upgraded the NTP server as well as converted all analog video links from the telescope to fiber optics. This method of isolation was completed to minimize lightning damage, increase network robustness, and protect the new computer equipment kindly donated by Hewlett Packard Corporation.
  • Harvey and Johnson, with Boyle, have been instrumental in continued observer training and support during the observing season.
  • Currently, the VATT computer up-time has been running at 99.8%. With the upgrade, it is anticipated that our computer up-time will increase to 100% reliability.

General News of VATT - 2008

Working with Bob Peterson as the University of Arizona Steward Observatory’s mountain operations manager and Ken Duffek as the VATT manager, Christopher Corbally, S.J., remains director for the VATT, while Richard Boyle, S.J., is the telescope scientist and scheduler. Ned Franz, Dave Harvey, Chris Johnson, and Gary Gray comprise the rest of the VATT’s regular engineering team.

This year has seen a change in personnel. Chris Tardif, our electronic engineer, left the department and is now perusing a graduate degree at the University of Arizona. We at the VATT wish him the best in his future endeavors.

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Contact Us

Richard P. Boyle, S.J.
VATT Telescope Scientist

Tel: +1 (0)520 621 3230


Christopher J. Corbally, S.J.
President of the National Committee to IAU

Tel: +1 (0)520 621 3225


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