18 August 2016 Performance of cable isolators in the transport of large optical assemblies
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Following a 7-year, multi-million dollar effort to fabricate a 730 kg, 4 element Wide Field Corrector (WFC) for the Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET) Wide Field Upgrade (WFU), it needed to be transported 820 km to its destination at the McDonald Observatory in West Texas. The final system optical test for the assembly required repeatability in the +/- 2μm range. Due to the size, mass, and ultimate destination of the payload, the only option available for transport was via roadway on a flat-bed trailer. While the route was primarily interstate highway, it presented a great variety of vibrational inputs due to poor paving conditions, and mountain roadways. Consideration also had be given to avoiding high ambient temperatures. Early in the design of the corrector assembly it was assumed that cable isolators would be the key element to isolate the payload from vibrational inputs, however, few documented references were available to provide the assurances required for transporting a load so key to the success of the telescope program. Tests were designed to simulate the load conditions, and inputs and outputs to the test load were measured for verification of the isolator performance. This was followed up with monitoring of vibration throughput during the actual shipment of the WFC. Upon arrival at the destination, the alignment of the assembly was checked and found to have no appreciable change in the alignment. Data and lessons learned are presented on the performance of air-ride trailers as well as the performance of cable isolators.
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John M. Good, Gary Hill, Emily Schroeder-Mrozinski, Hanshin Lee, Herman Kriel, Richard Savage, Scott Benjamin, Robert Stone, Eric Frater, "Performance of cable isolators in the transport of large optical assemblies", Proc. SPIE 9906, Ground-based and Airborne Telescopes VI, 99060F (18 August 2016); doi: 10.1117/12.2233876; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2233876


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