by John A. Church
Here is a news flash, hot off the wires!
On Saturday April 26, Rex Parker, Jeff Bernardis, Dave Skitt and the writer successfully replaced the existing Paramount mount on the Hasting-Byrne refractor at Washington Crossing with the GoTo version which had been stored in the observatory for some time. The replacement went perfectly and there were no mechanical issues at all. Balance in all orientations is very good.
The electronics were successfully fired up and all the systems worked well after a little tweaking of the motherboard to get the main IC seated correctly. The button battery that works the clock turned out to be discharged, but this is an easy replacement.
We were all pleased at how smoothly the two servo motors slewed the long OTA at varying speeds, ramping up and down very nicely. We had previously tested the mount’s performance with a heavy wooden mockup which simulated the moments of inertia of the actual telescope about both axes, so we knew that it would likely work very well when actually installed, and it did.
Keyholders will need to undergo some training with this new system. The operating manual will be circulated by email for easy reference. In the meantime, the mount can still be used in manual mode.
We anticipate that the rest of the transition will go smoothly, and we will soon be enjoying the benefits of computer control with this fine old instrument. I like to think that its 1880-era makers would be very pleased to know that it has been upgraded this way. It is now ready for even more generations of delighted users to enjoy the sharp and contrasty wide field views of an excellent 6-inch refractor.