Feder Observatory

A Blog for Minnesota State University Moorhead's Paul P. Feder Observatory

Archive for February, 2012

Observatory Log-February 18-19,2012 1

Posted on February 19, 2012 by Shouvik

Greg and I went out to the observatory tonight. The sky was clear. The IFW (Intelligent Filter Wheel) was flashing ‘Error=1’ message. The troubleshooting procedures were followed, that are described in the IFW manual. In case it happens again, it is recommended to disconnect the RJ45 connector of the IFW paddle from the computer. Take the hand paddle to the dome and connect it to the filter wheel. This was done by Dr. Winkler. The team did some flat fielding afterwards. Also we saw the aurora around 11 pm!

Shouvik K. Bhattacharya

Observing Saturday Night 0

Posted on February 17, 2012 by Linda

Dear all:

Saturday Feb. 18 may be a nice observing night.

Do recall that Feb. 18 is a public “Winter trails day” out at the site.  There could be hikers/skiers there through 9:00 pm.

I plan on going out close to 9 pm, solely for the purpose of obtaining a new set of flat fields with the cleaned camera/filters.  It would be a great night for you all to come out if you wanted some assistance getting started on observing.  I plan on getting out of your way early though, so telescope is all yours during most of the night!


Cleaning 0

Posted on February 15, 2012 by Matt

Items worked on tonight:

Cleaned all filters optically:  relubed the O-ring in the filter wheel; reinstalled the wheel and checked the motors.  If errors occur, try tightening the thumbscrew slightly on the back of the black housing.  I checked indoors where it is warm and temp. changes may loosen.

Cleaned the CCD chip optically; exposed for 30 seconds and blew computer cleaner (duster spray from Radio Shack) on for full 30 secs.  Remounted the camera to filter and back on telescope.  Didn’t have time to try new flats–but I am eager to see what they look like compared to old flats!

Reviewed the monitor set up.  Please keep monitor on top of blue DFM controller as PRIMARY–it is the most reliable monitor.  I left some instructions on how to move icons and apps around between monitors–use the nView Properties software accessible with a right mouse click anywhere on the desktop to get the items where you most easily see them. 

Also, please note that we are migrating all documentation to the MAC.  For now, there is a folder in the Documents folder on the MAC called Feder Notes.  The Documents can be opened from the MAC menubar–look near the trashcan icon.  Please keep the MAC desktop free of random items! Thanks!


Clean the filter wheel tonight 1

Posted on February 14, 2012 by Matt

Dear all:

I plan on going out tonight, Tues. Feb. 14 to do some maintenance on the filter wheel.  It will take a while for the wheel to dry and for me to reinstall it.  If you plan on observing, please give me until 10 pm, but feel free to come out later (when seeing may be better anyway!)



Observing Log, Feb 12-13, 2012 0

Posted on February 13, 2012 by Matt

Tyler Lane and Meredith McLinn started out the evening at the observatory, and ran into filter wheel troubles; the file below outlines the troubleshooting they went through.

Matt Craig came out to join them around 9:45pm (this was planned before the filter wheel problem came up), and showed them how to move the filter wheel control paddle out to the dome to make troubleshooting easier. The problem (filter wheel not turning) was fixed by tightening the thumbscrew on the bottom of the filter wheel enclosure.

Another issue they encountered was that the main Windows monitor is now the one on the telescope control box. They changed the order of the monitors in the Windows Display control panel so that the monitor on the desk is on the left.

Tyler observed V0556 Cas, then Meredith selected several deep sky objects to look at, including the Beehive cluster and M51; they left around midnight.

Matt stayed the night, observing EY Uma, M101 (SN 2011fe), more M51, and M106.

Need me to pull up anything?
the maxium dl screen that controls the camera
can you drag over WINSCP
Is the filter wheel on?
it’s going *bleep* *bleep* and flashing77777777
it stopped *bleep*ing and flashing, but still
reads the sevens
ok. turn it off anad back on again
display flashing IFW 1.11
set to PCERROR= 1 is flashing on the display
try changing the filter on the wheel to R
I see three buttons and two switches.It turned to 77777777 again.
huh….push one of the arrow buttons up or down
doesn’t matter
There is a button that says ‘back’, ‘next’,and ‘home’. Which did you want me to use? any?
yes. push next
pushed it once. ERROR=4 flashing stopped flashing
I will push it again?
flashing sevens. Sevens not flashing anymore.
does it display a filter band at all such as “R” or I, or V??
nope, just sevens. Do you think that the switch
that says ‘sbig’ or ‘pc’ will have anything to do with it?
maybe, try that once
ok switched it to sbig. No apparent change.
I didn’t think that was the problem, but it was worth a shot,put back to PC…
back to PC
Should I hit ‘next’ again?
sure, cycle through about 4-5 pushes of the ‘next’ button
error=6 after maybe 4 pushes
should I try the home button?
pushed it, no apparent change.
power cycle, then home button again?
yeah try that
power cycled
button pushed, still no apparent change
ERROR= 1 – flashed at first
ERROR =3 – never flashed
77777777 – not flashing
I am coming in…I think we should call Dr. Craig

“If the wheel takes too many steps to find the
HOME position or the filter ID is not read correctly, an error message will be displayed for a short time.
An ERROR=1 would display if the wheel rotation to find the HOME position takes an excessive number of steps.
An ERROR=4 would display if the wheel is stuck in a position.
An ERROR=6 would diplay if moving to another position uses an excessive number of steps.
(see trouble shooting guide for more)


try turning off for a few min, then turn it back on one more time…off
Dr. Craig said that the Error= 1 means that the filter wheel isn’t turning,so whenou you turn it back on, hit the next buttion, to see if it changes, I will be out hear listening for it to turn.
OK. Is it moving now?
well, i couldnt move it before i loosened one of the screws
That sounds odd. Why wasn’t it moveable before?
the o O-ring may just be dirty and preventing the wheel fro moving
Oh, OK.
Should I turn the filter wheel back on now?
just hit ‘next’
IFW 1.11 still blinking
ERROR= 1 flashing
hit next in 5 sec
5 4 3 2 1hit next
ERROR=1 flashing again/still
hitting it again in 5 4 3 2 1 next hit
ERROR= 1 flashing
thats good, stop for now
OK.Hey, could you turn off the filter wheel pleaes?
turn it on quick, push next, once, and if there is no change, turn it off, and we’ll wait
if there is no change from an error message,
I turn it off?
just hit next once, i cleaned the o ring
next hit once
I hit next while the IFW thing was still flashing
it’s reading ERROR=1 now.
Should I turn it off?
yeah, turn it off and we’ll leave it off till Dr.Craig gets here

Observing Log, Feb 10, 2012 (posted late) 0

Posted on February 12, 2012 by Matt
Matt Craig and  Aaron Peterson observed the night of Feb 10. It was clear and cold, with moderately good seeeing, FWHM was 5.5-6.5 for a 5th magnitude star.

We tried upgrading the ASCOM drivers to make SkyX work with the telescope but had no luck.

We observed V0556 Cas (a cepheid), EY Uma (suspected RR Lyrae), and KZ Uma (a known δ Sct variable), all in R band.

Observing tonight (Sunday)? 0

Posted on February 12, 2012 by Matt
Hi all,

I talked to a few of you on Friday who were intereested in observing tonight (Sunday). Looks like it might not be a late night, because ClearSkyClock (the cloud forecast service) indicates it will cloud up for  a couple hours around midnight.

Please reply to this to indicate:

1) whether you want to go out tonight
2) whether you want me there.

If I don’t go out tonight I might be able to go out on Monday (which is also supposed to be clear).

Saturday/Sunday Feb. 11/12 2012 0

Posted on February 12, 2012 by Matt

Beautiful night with FWHM of 4th mag star 4.5 to 5.5.  I observed a number of objects:  M101 (sn 2011fe); EY UMa (suspected variable); TC0027 (minor planet–I think it was too dim to capture); NSV 4863 (suspected variable); and SZ Lyn (RR Lyrae).  I also grabbed all twilight flats to compare to dome/lightbox flats .


More observing this weekend 0

Posted on February 10, 2012 by Linda

Remember, Dr. Winkler is going out Saturday night and it also looks like Sunday will be clear. Observing requests to Dr. Winkler by the end of Friday afternoon.

Observing Friday 0

Posted on February 10, 2012 by Matt

Looks like I’ll be going out to the observatory tonight with Gregg and Aaron, arriving around 8pm, leaving by about midnight. Please get us any observing requests by the end the day, and speak up if you also want to come along.

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