Upgrades to the Observatory
Latest update: March 24, 2016

The drive system upgrade project as described here has been discontinued. This decision was made because of ongoing problems with interface between the strain wave reduction gears and the telescope's equatorial mount and optical tube assembly.

The original dual chain drive designed by George Carroll has been returned to use with the addition of a modern telescope control system.


In 2005, Stony Ridge members of the Faint Object Follow Up (FOFU) project began to encounter problems that involved the tracking operation of the telescope that had operated for over 40 years without major issues. After about a year of unsuccessfully trying to determine the source of the problem and to understand a solution, SRO's chief engineer, Timothy Cann, suggested that it was time for a major drive system upgrade to the telescope.

You can see and hear Tim describe the process in these 4 video clips, produced by SRO member Kay Meyer and listed below:

  1. May 3, 2008 - In the dome at Stony Ridge Observatory, President Dave Hadlen makes introductions and acknowledgments (7.6 MB wmv) to a gathered group of members and friends. Notably present this night, was one of the original 15 Founding Members of SRO, John Sousa. Being that this was the 1st major upgrade to the telescope since its completion in 1963, it was appropriate that John be the first to view through the "new" 30-inch "GOTO" telescope.

    Acknowledgment for building and installing the new harmonic drive system was given to members Charlie Ascher
    , Tim Cann, Andy Gero, Bill Patterson and John Rogers.

  2. Tim Cann narrates (4.6 MB wmv), reporting on the process that led to that night's celebration.

  3. Tim continues (7.6 MB wmv), describing the decision to "start over" by designing and installing a completely new drive system.

  4. The final segment shows Tim explaining the new features on the telescope, the new harmonic drive system and costs (8.6 MB wmv). In this clip, Founding Member John Sousa is portrayed standing, in the red baseball cap, at the south end of the telescope (far right).


While the new drive system was being built in Tim Cann's machine shop in Temecula, CA, other SRO members prepared the telescope by removing the old drive system, the balance arms, all the old electronics, essentially everything that was no longer needed when the new harmonic drive was in service. In the image below, Dave Hadlen and James Hoff prepare the telescope tube structure for a fresh paint job.

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