Student Telescope Project Help!!!!!

From: Ellis, Jonathan D (jonathan.ellis@ic.ac.uk)
Date: Thu May 17 2001 - 07:36:08 PDT

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    Hi,
    
    We are a group of Mechanical Engineering students from Imperial College,
    London, UK working on a Alt-Az telescope that is designed to automatically
    track satellites and are facing a few little difficulties that hopefully you
    guys can help us with.  Our main problems are aligning the primary and
    secondary mirrors and the tracking system, specifically the encoders.
    
    The telescope is about 2m high with a 50cm diameter primary mirror and a
    secondary of about 15cm.  The secondary mirror is on a inverted optical
    table mount and so its plane can be adjusted.  There is a small tertiary
    mirror that is angled at 45 degrees that reflects the light into a camera
    attached directly to a monitor.
    
    The control system is based around a 386 computer, a program has been
    written that uses TLE files and then controls two friction drives to find
    and then track satellites. Feedback is by means of two optical encoders (one
    per axis).
    
    The big thing that we need to sort out is aligning the primary and secondary
    mirrors and any help on this would be appreciated (due to constraints beyond
    our control we can not drill holes and preferably not mark the main mirror).
    
    The encoders each consist of two optical discs (one containing the most
    significant bits) the current problem is that the input into the computer
    reads 1,2,3,4,5,98,99,100,137 etc. We believe this may be caused by
    misalignment of the discs but are unsure how to overcome this problem
    (aligning two discs to a hundredth of a degree doesn't sound too easy) and
    we do not have a sufficient budget to buy encoders.
    
    If any one out there has any good ideas we would love to hear from you, or
    any good websites, textbooks etc. We are very new to all this stuff so any
    help no matter how obvious it seems would be great.
    
    Regards
    
    Jon and group
    
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