DFM Engineering has recently upgraded Emory University's 24" telescope legacy control system with a new DFM TCSGalil™.
Mr. Horace A. Dale III, Emory Observatory and Physics Machine Shop Director noted the ease of use saying,"The TCS makes finding a specific heavenly body a simple matter of moving the mouse."
"Simply direct the cursor on the monitor to the displayed sky map, find the nebula, click, and stand by as the auto guidance system moves the telescope and points it toward the target. At the same time, the opening in the dome moves in sync with the movements of the telescope," he added.
"Ease of use is only one of the benefits of the TCS retrofit," Mr. Mark Kelley, Vice President of Engineering at DFM said. "However, there is a state-of-the-art, streamlined new engine under the hood, so to speak," he said. "The improvements are superior in multiple categories. For instance, with the new TCSGalil™, new parts are easily accessible, compatible software alignment is efficient, cable logistics are improved and computer speed is markedly increased."
The retrofit project at Emory encompased the entire Telescope Control System in the control room. Only motors, encoders, and wiring at the telescope were retained as original installation features.
DFM made a new Motor Driver Chassis (MDC), new rack mounted control computer, and a new software version based on DFM's current proprietary WindowsTCS software. These parts were assembled and tested at DFM using the DFM Demonstrator telescope before they were crated and shipped to Georgia.
The practical benefit of this control system retrofit is that it eliminates obsolete parts and the ISA slot dependency of the old DFM Telescope Control System.
Since 1991 DFM has been shipping TCS based on a custom ISA slot card as well as servomotor and stepper motor technology that dates from the mid 1980's.
The TCSGalil™ utilizes a modern multi-axis digital motor controller from Galil Motor Controls. New circuit boards have been designed and built for the MDC that provide signal conditioning for the long cables typical between a DFM Telescope and the control room.
The TCS software has been radically changed to utilize this new hardware that replaces the ISA slot card and other custom DFM components in the old TCS. TCSGalil™ gives DFM and customers with a legacy telescope control system a path forward as computers with ISA slots become unavailable and obsolete parts impossible to source.
The look and feel of TCSGalil™ has been kept very close to the old TCS user interface so that the transition is as painless as possible.
Now TCS computers are not required to support ISA slots so new state-of-the art personal computers based on Intel Core i7 technology can be used. These computers are faster and more capable of running programs concurrently.
The new TCSGalil™ includes ASCOM drivers for TCS, Dome, and Focus, allowing third party ASCOM compatible software to be clients to the new TCS. The new TCS is fully compatible with TheSkyX and the latest versions of MaximDL CCD.
Mr. Dale commented, "Few pieces of modern scientific equipment have the majesty of an astronomical telescope. The gleaming white, yellow and black DFM Cassegrain telescope housed in Emory's new observatory is no exception."
Emory scientists are using the DFM 24" telescope with its new TCSGalil™ for exploration and research and the data collected can be used for astronomical measurements, photometric measurements, and spectroscopic measurements.
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