MagAO-X 2019B Unpacking Day 8: And then there were two

Two days left on the mountain, and two people left from our group. This morning Laird, Amali, Emily, and Katie headed back to Arizona. That means that it’s just me and Jared here from the XWCL. I have another full day, while Jared remains until Wednesday—with only the video chats of Olivier Guyon (international astronomical man of mystery) for company.

We have returned from the “day and night” schedule to a more standard day schedule, which meant we were at breakfast to see them off this morning.

Emily, Amali, Laird, and Katie embarking on the bus ride down to El Pino.
Emily, Amali, Laird, and Katie embarking on the bus ride down to El Pino. (Photo by Jared Males)

Today, I finished some network configuration and handbook updates; held hoses and ladders while Jared did some real work; and (mostly) worked on the MagAO-X “friendly” GUI. It’s still in need of formatting polish, so I’ll show you a screenshot some other time. Instead, behold the Desk of Penance.

The MagAO-X Megadesk with three monitors dominates a work table. A lonely laptop is balanced atop a workstation (right) as a sort of makeshift desk.
Yes, I am reduced to propping my laptop on top of one of the instrument computers. It works okay, as long as you don’t mind back pain.

Among the things I held under Jared’s direction: a funnel and hose assembly for glycol dilution. Fancy astronomy instruments generate a lot of heat, and all their major components need liquid cooling (like a l33t g4ming r1g). Our cooling pump was not pushing coolant through as quickly as it should, and Povilas Palunas (Telescope Scientist here at LCO) suggested we might be viscosity (viscachity?) limited.

So, we replaced about 5 liters of glycol solution with distilled water, and now all our fancy components are happy again.

Containers of pink glycol solution, tubing, and a funnel on the floor of the LCO cleanroom.
Containers of pink glycol solution, tubing, and a funnel on the floor of the LCO cleanroom.

Aside from that, no excitement to report. Which, compared to yesterday, is definitely a good thing.

Jared, foreground left, holds up his phone to photograph a viscacha under the cleanroom eaves
The P.I. engages in chinchillid photography, a popular LCO pastime.

In compliance with Blog Rules 2019B-X, I present a foxy tune by Courtney Barnett: “Dead Fox” off of her 2015 album Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit.

MagAO-C Day 11: Clay to clean room

Last night went great. Now today MagAO-Classic has been removed from Clay to the Aux and the clean room. Night schedules are switching to day schedules. It was a 3-viscacha day at the clean room and many NSF proposals have been worked on, and SPIE abstracts have been drafted and submitted to the extend possible.

Sunset called for some frisbee. [Image description: In the pink glow of sunset, a pink PI throws a flying disk towards the photographer. The Baade dome is basked in a warm sunsetting glow, and the mountains are shown in high relief]
Vizzy and a local bird at sunset, one basking up the sun, one sheltering in shadow. [Image description: A vizcacha in the light, a bird in a shadow, sitting on some rocks and masonry structure.]
Here’s a fox from last week. No reason. [Image description: A fox on the road by the dining hall.]

Now it’s time for more proposaling and some packing too, so I leave you with the MagAO-Classic song of the day: Ylvis – The Fox (What Does The Fox Say?)

MagAO-X 2019B Unpacking Day 7: I broke Megadesk.

Friends, this was supposed to be a celebratory blog post.

My web-based interface to MagAO-X is getting to the stage where it’s actually useful. My suitcase finally arrived from airline purgatory. I finished my SPIE 2020 abstract. I found out how to make the soda machine dispense plain fizzy water (my one non-caffeinated vice).

However, fate had other plans for this author.

One of the reasons for constant comings and goings of MagAO-C and MagAO-X personnel here at LCO is that the P.I. foresaw the need for periodic supply missions from Tucson, as the unpacking process gradually revealed what we’d forgotten to stuff in the shipping containers back in October. (Alas, that he could have foreseen what would befall poor Megadesk!)

Among my items to hand-carry was a monitor mounting plate from the exquisite quadruple monitor stand in our lab in Arizona to stand in for a missing part in the corresponding quadruple monitor stand in Chile.

Four monitors are suspended from a mount in an inverted T-shape arrangement at the desk in our lab.
Four computer monitors are visible, three sitting on a desk and one on a mount. The mount has positions for all four, but only one is occupied.

Of course, LATAM and American conspired to lose the suitcase containing this, replacement clean-room booties, 3/8″ plastic tubing, Fruit Snacks for Kyle, MagAO-X hats and stickers, and all of my clothes.

(I set out from Tucson on Saturday, and by the time the suitcase caught up to me Wednesday afternoon I was likely offending staff and scientist alike with my single pair of jeans that were last considered clean five whole days ago.)

Naturally, as soon as the bag arrived, I gathered up all the MagAO-X special deliveries and ferried them to the clean room. A viscacha was perched above the loading dock—normally an auspicious sign.

A viscacha perches under the eaves of the cleanroom building

In this case, however, it proved a dark portent—as I shall explain shortly.

This was also the end of the MagAO run, meaning it was time to remove from the telescope Clio2, VisAO, the MagAO Nasmyth unit, and the crown jewel—the MagAO adaptive secondary. Both extremely heavy and extremely delicate, its removal is a multi-person job involving many observatory personnel under the watchful direction of MagAO P.I. Laird Close. If you are concerned about the aforementioned omens, fear not—MagAO’s removal was a complete success! As I’ve blogged (and assisted) with this before, I’ll confine my comments to what’s new this time.

This afternoon was a first for MagAO-X and MagAO-C: two generations of Magellan adaptive optics systems (and their P.I.s) in the same cleanroom!

Jared Males and Laird Close, MagAO-X and MagAO PIs, stand next to their respective instruments in the LCO cleanroom
From left: MagAO ASM, Prof. Laird Close, Dr. Jared Males, and MagAO-X (behind the nitrogen tank) (Photo by Emily Mailhot)

But let us return to my shame, my downfall, the tragic demise of Megadesk-LCO. I slotted in the new brackets and attempted to affix all four monitors to the stand. The last one proved unable to fit, requiring some adjustment to the height of the arm that supports the three monitors arrayed horizontally.

The following conversation took place, somewhat portentously.

Me: “And this monitor stand—it’s not clamped to the desk, or anything?”

Jared: “No, it’s pretty stable with just the base plate.”

Me: “Wow, I need one for myself”

Jared: “Here’s the instruction manual. You finish up here; I have to go upstairs and finish a proposal.”

About five minutes later, the monitor mount was on the floor. You see, I made a classic blunder: forgetting about simple machines. When I removed the first monitor and turned to set it down somewhere safe, I didn’t consider the lever action of the horizontal mounting bar. With the mount in a partially disassembled state, its center of gravity went sideways… and so did it, slowly at first and then all at once.

There was one casualty, a 4K monitor in the lower right position that landed “buttered-side down”. Your author, appropriately mortified, informed the P.I.

Penance was assigned.

Anyway, we now have 0.75 of Megadesk. And an order for a new monitor.

To not end on a totally negative note, here’s a panorama I took on the road to the Magellans that would be ideally suited for a desktop background with the new three-up monitor arrangement.

A panorama of the Chilean desert at sunset with scattered purple clouds

The blog rules state today’s Song Of The Day must relate in some way to the last MagAO-C post’s song of the day (which was “Gangnam Style” by Psy).

They do not state the connection must be obvious.

Here’s “Essentially” by Japanese Breakfast (and no, I don’t think Psy is Japanese!)

MagAO-C 2019B Day 10: Last Closed Loop

Tonight was our last night on-sky with MagAO-Classic in 2019B. It was my telescope night, and Amali ran AO after Emily went to bed around midnight. Tomorrow’s the big day for removing MagAO-C from the telescope, so we always do these staggered bedtimes. It’s nice to have Amali and Emily here to help with removal.

Emily, Amali, Jared, and Katie enjoying the last catwalk sunset of MagAO-C 2019B. [Image description: 4 AOistas smile in the soft light of sunset.]

Alberto stayed an extra night with the rest of his turno, so this is the first time we’ve had him as our TO for the entire run. Thanks Alberto, you are a superlative telescope operator! Here are Alberto, Amali, and myself enjoying a quiet night of photon-gathering.

Katie, Alberto, and Amali in the Clay control room. [Image description: A Clio/VisAO operator, a telescope operator, and an AO operator sit in chairs and examine electronic screens, in a control room filled with screens.]
It was a 2-vizcacha day at the clean room this afternoon! Here is a close-up of Vizzy 1 in a cute pose. [Image description: A vizcacha sits up on its hindquarters, on a rafter beam, with its fuzzy tail hanging down. Its ears are back and its paws are held out in front of it.]

The song of the day is Gangnam Style by Psy:

MagAO-X 2019B Unpacking Day 6: Keeping The Loop Closed

Well I forgot to take many pictures today, and I forgot to motivate someone else to write the blog.

We got lots of work done today. Laird and Alex tested the alignment laser system. Kyle perfected a big part of our offloading system (where we send commands to the telescope from when our AO system needs help), and I got some closed-loop testing done. We also all worked on some conference abstracts that are due, and NSF proposals got some attention too.

Here’s a picture of a clean room viscacha:

I think she/he was heading over to the library ledge for sunset.

Here’s What is Love by Haddaway: