Wednesday, June 30, 2010

In go the aperture stops

We hope to clean up some more stray light within the system by masking off shiny parts of M2 & M3 that do not form part of the mirrors' clear apertures.  The aperture stops are made of a non-reflective black material & those at the outer edges of the mirrors are attached via the SAC cage.

The M2 stop is the black ring just below the mirror in the next two images.  It is seen here from inside the SAC while M3 was out of the way.

& here it's viewed from below through the hole in M3.

M3 also has a similar ring just above its surface, seen here from underneath - blocking the gap between M3 (left) & the SAC cage (right).

The aperture stop for the inner part of M3 had to be attached directly to the optical surface.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Removing the big CGH

While the lucky ones escaped to San Diego for the SPIE conference, Francois & Ockert took M3 off again & removed the big CGH.

They even photographed the process!  My redundance is now painfully clear...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A great time for low-temperature testing

Now that winter's really setting in up here, it's easier to cool things down to test the SAC's performance at low temperature!  Not much fun for the poor buggers in the clean room, but misery & suffering's supposed to keep us grounded ;)

Encouragingly, the SAC behaved well over the range of operational angles & temperatures tested.  In the meantime, the SALT Ops guys developed a new discipline that will be presented along with Sutherland's bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

M3, & hence The Whole SAC, is aligned!

The May 14 post described how to get the CGH aligned - the next step was to put M4 back in before tipping & tilting the CGH & decentring the interferometer to get the best fringes possible.

The actuator readings indicated where the CGH ended up after optimising the image quality and with the scheme below we could work out where M3 needed to be moved to.  The decentre's set by adjusting M3's tie-rods that attach to the mirror at 1, 5 & 9 o'clock while tilt's taken care of by placing shims (in the form of feeler-gauges) under the mirror's spherical bearings.

After each M3 adjustment, we again had to tweak the CGH & interferometer to get the best image quality & then decide what the next M3 move needed to be.  This seemingly endless iterative process was interspersed with regular re-alignments of the CGH (as described previously) & handfulls of rapidly greying hair were torn out along the way...  But eventually things did converge so - believe it or not, the SAC is now ALIGNED!!

Now we need to tip the whole contraption over & make sure it all still works at angle, then we'll also check it over a range of temperatures...