Tech – Server

Finally our command and control servers for the telescope arrived. Now we can port the already set up and tested environment from a desktop PC to a “real” Server. This added a lot of headroom for the virtualization of our productive environment.

The next task is the conversion from our virtualized Windows only command solution using ASCOM to a virtualized Linux only solution using INDI. The past showed that ASCOM is not up for the task handling such a project.

The first task of these new servers would be running the surveillance cameras and providing us some real time insights into the dome and the observatory surroundings during the next winter – this will help us to harden the dome against moisture and snow intrusion.

Some pictures from us setting up the servers.

(Photo by Günther Truhlar, 02.07.2019)



Under Construction – Electrics (Part 3)

After the rather strong winter at our observatory site, the weather got fine and we could continue with the electrical work at the observatory.

Some finalization of the electrical wiring and mounting of some surveillance cams were open from previous year.

So we meet at the observatory on 23.06.2019 and finished the work.

We also reinstalled the renewed working desk. So finally we have a desk – chairs are still missing 😉 …

Here are some photos of the construction work ongoing. 

And an impression of the location of that day.

(Photo by Günther Truhlar, 23.06.2019)

Project presentation at the 22. Minor Planet Conference

This years German minor planet conference (German) organized by the VdS-Fachgruppe „Kleine Planeten“ (German) in Salzburg at the Vega Observatory (German) was also a chance for us to present the project to a professional audience.

The project was very well received and some cooperation may arise from this meeting.

(Photo by David Voglsam, 16.06.2019)
(Photo by David Voglsam, 16.06.2019)

Tech – Reassembling the Telescope (Part 1)

After we got the telescope body back from sandblasting and painting (read here what happend) we were ready for the first test fit. We need to find out the margins we have to add the absolute encoders and their mounting mechanic.

We also measured out the dimensions of the ball bearings we need to mount the encoders.

(Photo by Günther Truhlar, May 2019)

After the measuring was done we disassambled the telescop again to prepare it for mounting the encoders. Therefore we have to wait for the delivery of the ball bearings and some metal parts.

Once we received all parts we assamble the whole telescope and bring it back to its original loaction in Davidschalg for testing. When all works fine, the installation of the telescope at the Kepler Remote Observatory site in the Star Park Hohe Dirn is planned for next year.

Tech – Sandblasting and painting the body

Since we dismantled the telescope for technical enhancement, we also took the opportunity to repaint it. However, this brought up some minor problems.

The first one was, that the steel body of the OTA was not manufactured really precise. So after removing all the filler, we saw a very wavy main mirror box and spider ring.

Another Problem was, that with the sandblasting, not all of the filler has been removed, which lead to some sections (especially on the spider ring) with a lot of tiny ripples.

Waviness and filler residues on the spider ring. (Photo by Günther Truhlar, 27.01.2019)
The sandblasting also reveals some inaccuracy in the welding seam. Fortunately this is just an optical “problem”, the welding seam itself is ok. (Photo by Günther Truhlar, 27.01.2019)
Filler residues on the underside of the spider ring. These need to be removed entirely before repainting the telescope. (Photo by Günther Truhlar, 27.01.2019)

For now we roughly painted it again to prevent it from corrosion, but we also came to the conclusion, after full update, we have to redo the paintjob properly, removing all the rest of the original filler, applying new filler again to remove the waves and ripples in the metal frame and paint it again.

To be honest, doing the paintjob prior the mechanical enhancements was not very smart, so we were not really concerned due to the poor first “paintjob”. Now we do not need to care that much about the paint since we have to repaint it anyway in the end.

The night in the Star Park – Impressions 4

Thanks to our partners, the Sternfreunde Steyr, and their effort walking up the mountain during difficult snow conditions (>1.5m of snow) we can show you some current impressions of the night sky in the Star Park Hohe Dirn and the KRO.

Thanks to Rudi Dobesberger , who take those magnificent shots of the night sky (see more photos from Rudi at his facebook page).

Star trails over the Star Park Hohe Dirn and the KRO. (Photo by Rudi Dobesberger, Sternfreunde Steyr)
Venus and Jupiter in front of the Milky Way. (Photo by Rudi Dobesberger, Sternfreunde Steyr)

Winter at Star Park Hohe Dirn – Impressions 3

Some time has passed since our last update on the project “Kepler Remote Observatory”. This had some reasons. The first one, with the most impact, is the current weather and snow situation in the Star Park.

We had well above 1.5m of snow and on certain spots far more, as you can see on the following pictures showing (or better NOT showing) the building of our colleagues the Sternfreude Steyr (thanks to Bernhrad Mayr for letting us use his pictures, find more pictures on his Facebook site):

A panoramic view of the observatory site. To the far left the building of the KRO, in the center and right, the building of the Sternfreunde Steyr covered nearly entirely by snow and their two domes. (Picture taken by Bernhard Mayr, Sternfreunde Steyr, 16.01.2019)
Foto of the KRO dome and the sun emerging in the south east. (Photo by Rudi Dobesberger, Sternfreunde Steyr, 06.02.2019)
View from the “Anton Schosser Hütte” down to the Star Park (middle – right). The general view direction is north-east. (Photo, Rudi Dobesberger, Sternfreunde Steyr, 06.02.2019)


The following gallery shows some additional impressions from the beautiful winter in the Austrian mountains:


Luckily the KRO itself was quite free of snow and accessible. The only problem was getting up the mountain. This was the main reason why the work stood still over the winter. We couldn’t reach the Observatory with construction equipment.

The building and dome of the Kepler Remote telescope, quite free of snow. (Foto by Bernhard Mayr, Sternfreunde Steyr, 16.01.2019)

And what are the other reasons, why construction work stood still at the observatory?

Well first of all we dismantled the telescope at its current location. You can read more about this process in this post.

We also started the telescope improvement (adding encoders, adding a motorized mirror cover). You can read more about this in this post.

(* Featured image by Rudi Dobesberger, Sternfreunde Steyr)