I have a good friend named Don who asked me to help him with an installation job in southern California. Don is one of those friends that is always there when you need him. I could call him right now and say I really needed his help and he would drop what he was doing and load up and be here in a few hours. He is one of those friends that you cant let down. He would never hold it against you if you couldn't make it but you better be almost dead if you wimp out or you will never hear the end of it.
A couple of months ago Don helped me move the engine lathe I bought using his heavy duty truck and trailer. The scales had definitely tipped in his favor so I was really on the owing side of the fence.When he asked for my help with this project I jumped at the chance to help out. Actually I would have helped him regardless. The installation was interesting to me technically and a great opportunity get out of town for a while with some friends.
Don has been building telescope enclosures for the :Las Cumbres Observatory telescope network. He built one of the first prototype clam shell Aqawan enclosures three years ago and has building them for LCOGT ever since. Ultimately the non profit company wants to link an array of telescopes positioned all over the world and allow professional astronomers and citizen scientists to schedule time on the instruments. Most of the intended locations are remote and require the instruments to be protected from the weather by a remote controlled enclosure like the one below. Pretty nerdy stuff for a guy that is normally a cow puncher.
My part in the story was volunteering to assist my friend Don with an installation on the top of a building in southern California. A group of Caltech planet hunting astronomers are developing the next generation of detection instruments to find earth size planets by measuring tiny wobbles in distant stars. Ultimately the enclosure we installed at Caltech will be moved to a mountaintop in Arizona.
This adventure all started on a Sunday morning with loading the trailers with all the various Aqawan parts and tools. But first there were a couple of machining details to clear up.
building you see in the background is not a telescope but a solar light director called a coelostat . The dome follows the sun all day long and pipes the sunlight throughout the building with fiber optics augmenting the buildings electric lighting.
This is the big installation day. We have a crane coming this morining to hoist the clamshells and wall sections into position on the building.
Shamrock crane sent a neat little five ton rig built on a Ford F-750 chassis. Mike the operator told us he can pick a thousand pounds sixty feet straight out which is fairly impressive. The clamshells and wall sections are fairly light but the crane access was pretty limited.
We ended up finding a great lunch spot right down the street. How can you go too far wrong with a place called Pie 'n Burger.
Stay tuned for part 2. Thanks for looking.