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Observatory winter prep and tune-up

Everything needs some TLC from time to time, especially after 4 years of exposure to the elements. The observatory is no exception. When I rolled back the roof one evening during the start of a routine remote imaging session, something didn't appear to be right. "Roof Status: UNKNOWN" was flashing on the screen. At that point I connected to the camera to get a live view, and it appeared it had opened all the way, but it looked as if it was a few inches further in than normal. That is when I closed everything back up and called it a night.

I paid a visit last Saturday and did a quick inspection. First thing I noticed was the top of the rails had gathered a thick layer of rust. The roof this time opened just fine, but I noticed the sensor wasn't making full contact. It was about an inch or so off.

I decided to treat the rails by wiping off the rust with a wet kitchen sponge, wiping them down with paper towels, and finally applying a coat of motor oil that I found in the shed.

For the sensor, I removed the top contact point and moved it about an inch to the right. It appears that shift happened slowly over time, as the wood was settling.



I also lubricated the roof motor, and it sounded much smoother after:

Then it was time to fix the roof/rail de-icing cables. Speaking of which, the need for those was perpetuated by a few instances of the metal wheels being stuck to the rails because of below freezing temperatures. The cable heats the rail and wheel (since metal is an excellent conductor) just enough to keep it above freezing. Plus it expedites the snow melt on the roof. This worked well for the past few years.

This night looks promising for some photon catching. It has been a while so I am looking forward to it.


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