It was one of those weeks…

It was one of those weeks.

Keck 2
The Keck 2 telescope, iPhone photo processed in Prisma
It did not look like it was going to be a bad week. The schedule was for a light week with nothing serious envisioned. Better yet, Tuesday was scheduled to be our departmental retreat, a day at the beach with the operations crew, all good.

One. Deb is having a bad spell. With little warning I took off Monday afternoon to drive her down to Kona to spend a couple hours in the infusion lab for medication.

Two. Monday would just not die easily… The phone calls began just after sunset. The Keck 1 hydraulic bearing system would not come on properly, shutting down just after the main pump came online. It became quickly apparent that I would be joining John and Justin for a trip to the summit in the middle of the night.

The system was just flakey, malfunctioning in several different ways each time we tried it. I hate those sort of problems. It took a couple hours of frustration to trace the problem to a loose neutral connection in one of the power panels. Victory to Justin!! With the telescope back online we headed down the mountain at 2am.

A Spot in the Shade
A beachgoer enjoys the view from the shade at Anaehoʻomalu Bay, image processed in Prisma
Three. That day on the beach I was looking forward to? I slept through most of it after getting to bed after 3am. I did head down to join the crew for lunch at least. Otherwise my Tuesday was spent sleeping or just quietly working on the computer.

Wednesday looked OK. I headed up to the summit to do a few things. The main thing was to restore some features and timing in the hydraulic bearing system. In the effort to troubleshoot the system in the middle of the night we had fiddled with quite a few things including timing. We also left the soft start circuit disabled as it was creating trouble with the flaky power. Of course none of this was put back once we had the system operating in the middle of the night, it could wait.

The rear of the Keck 2 primary mirror, processed in Prisma
The rear of the Keck 2 primary mirror, processed in Prisma
Without soft start the HBS will slowly spit a film of oil all over the drive tracks when starting up, requiring cleaning by the crew. In order to work on the system I need the telescope shut down for about half an hour or more, meaning no one else can move it. This little requirement proved to be an issue, other problems and the needs of getting the telescope configured for the night dragged on, I was unable to start work despite waiting all day.

With about an hour left in the day I finally get access to the telescope, only to be told no by summit lead. John was not going to take any risks, however slight, of messing up the system near the end of the day. So much for getting done what I cam up for. In the meantime I did get an accelerometer system installed on the telescope, something I had been hoping to get done for a while now.

Four. Just as I was getting ready to leave the summit the radio was saying bad things… Keck 1 was broken. There is a whole story on just this incident. The resolution of this problem was much more conclusive, and satisfying. While it did get fixed, we were two hours late in leaving the summit, another very long day.

Thursday? Thursday went well in comparison to the rest of the week. Just an easy day of getting things done at headquarters. John had wanted me to go up and put the HBS back… I told him no.

Friday on the summit again. This time there was little going on and I could have the Keck 1 telescope all to myself, all day long. Putting the HBS system right took twenty minutes.

The rest of the day I spent finishing little details, paperwork, and re-designing the printed circuit board for the flashers activity we will be doing at the upcoming Keck open house in November. Ray and I did win both cribbage games at lunch, things are looking better.

Saturday? Sleep, blog, and dehydrate bananas from my back yard.

This week should be better, it can hardly be anything else. Oh wait! We have segment exchange… Never mind.

Author: Andrew

An electrical engineer, amateur astronomer, and diver, living and working on Mauna Kea, Hawai'i.

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