MagAO-C 2019B Day 5: Alycia and the Baysides

Tonight was Alycia’s first night. I told Emily it would be more relaxed than last night with all Jayne’s weird rotations because Alycia’s observations are more in MagAO’s wheelhouse — Alycia is searching for faint companions; keeping the rotator off for ADI mode; and is a Clio and general observational expert. But… hah.

So on the first Pre-set of the night, the Bayside-X stage decided to not work. There are 3 “Bayside” stages — they are the motors that move the AO system around so that the star is always on the tip of the pyramid WFS even when the star needs to be nodded around the detector on Clio for sky subtraction. We have replaced the X and Y stages with higher-power versions after we had observers who wanted to keep the rotator on and tracking, which caused the stages to overheat and fail. So I wonder if it’s a coincidence that we spent all last night with the rotator on, putting weight on the X-stage, and then tonight the X-stage refused to move…

Laird and Jared are now on pseudo-day schedules (see Alex’s great MagAO-X post about the unpacking today!) but this happened at the start of the night so Laird was still at the summit and Jared was down in the clean room with MagAO-X but he came up to help post-mortem. Laird went out to the platform with a walkie-talkie and we did the usual dance of moving the motors from the control room and Laird telling us what he saw or heard in the Nas. The current would spike but the motor wouldn’t move. Small movements and homing didn’t work; eventually we power-cycled them and in the end the X-stage did start responding again.

WFS hardware GUI, on the Bayside Stages tab. Each stage can be moved manually here, and the position is reported in mm and current in amps. The Bayside X and Y stages nod in Y and X on Clio, respectively, and the Bayside Z stage moves the W-unit towards or away from Clio, effectively producing a focus movement for Clio. Amali edited the code to enable “Control always active” on the X-stage after a nod rather than “Stage” (brakes). [Image description: A GUI on a Linux computer with status and function boxes and buttons.]

But Laird heard a noise that made him think there was some friction affecting the motion of the X-stage. Since the stage worked normally after the power-cycle, we started thinking about all the work we have done on the Baysides over the years. Originally we used the setting “Control always active” as that would position them precisely to the micron. But this was thought to contribute to the over-heating problem when we had high currents at strange rotator angles with all the weight of the instrument on the Y-stage. So we swapped the original out for the higher-power version, but we also started applying the brakes and turning off the active control after each move (“Stage” check box). But now we are thinking… maybe the brakes themselves are starting to fail, and the friction was the X-stage rubbing along its own brake. So tonight, Amali went into the code and reverted the procedure for the X-stage to now enable “Control always active” rather than enabling “Stage” (applying the brakes) after each move. And all stages worked perfectly for the rest of the night.

This is the “Board GUI” that shows the current state of the various subsystems on the W-unit, which includes the WFS (left) and VisAO (right). The rectangle at the bottom shows the current position of the pyramid with respect to the telescope center. The Bayside X, Y, and Z positions are listed. The entire W-unit is moved relative to Clio when we move the Bayside motors. [Image description: An optical diagram of the WFS and VisAO. Light from the telescope comes in from the top center, goes through the ADCs, and then is split by the selectable beamsplitter such that some portion goes to the right to VisAO and some portion goes to the left to the WFS. The WFS arm includes a rerotator that keeps the pupils aligned to the actuators, and a camera lens that keeps the pupils registered to the pixels on the CCD39. The VisAO arm includes science filters. Below the optical diagram is a rectangle with cross-hairs and a red dot showing the relative position of the pyramid.]

After Jared and Laird went to bed, at one point our TO Alberto went down to get some coffee, and I snapped this pic of the all-women control room. What a big difference from when I was the “Only Girl In the World” at LCO!

Astronomers hard at work. From left: Alycia, Logan, Emily, Amali. [Image description: Alycia is on her phone (don’t worry, Clio and VisAO are actively taking data). Logan is analyzing some data on her laptop. Emily is studying the telescope system to make sure she understands the big picture of MagAO. Amali is on her laptop debugging MagAO software, probably the FITS headers of Clio that aren’t being fully populated with the correct AO parameters.]
Vizzy by the library on my way up to the top. [Image description: A Vizcacha sits on a window ledge in the diffuse glow of pre-sunset.]
The Clay telescope at sunrise. [Image description: Photo taken from slightly downhill of Clay, the dome is to the side glinting in the sunrise while the sky has a beautiful stripey glow.]
Walking back to the village at dawn. [Image description: A cluster of terracotta-roofed buildings down a slope with a winding road. Beautiful mountains and hills. Quiet and still.]
The telescope ridges at dawn. [Image description: A stripey glow on the horizon. A mountain peak and a ridge are both covered in telescopes that are closed up to sleep for the day.]

Classic MagAO song from Day 40 of the super long cold winter run with so many technical problems and such long nights that I actually worked, really worked, 112 hours a week (trouble-shooting all afternoon, observing all night, and choosing each day either a shower or dinner): This Must Be the Place/ Naive Melody by the Talking Heads: