In early 2020 a team, made up of members of BARN and the Battle Point Astronomical Association completed the up-grade to the Ritchie telescope and the Helix Building facilities at Battle Point Park.
“The telescope has always been difficult to use because of mechanical issues. With the new parts made in the BARN machine shop we now have much better pointing accuracy that will reduce the time taken to acquire objects and improve the experience of the public.” stated Frank Petrie, President of BPAA and Machine Shop Treasurer at BARN.
BARN and BPAA member David Browning previously made 3D drawings of the telescope and the new parts that were needed, but the BPAA didn’t have the funds to get these parts made in a commercial shop. So a BARN/BPAA collaboration was put together and funds were raised from the City of Bainbridge Island.
“Precision work was required to properly fit the high quality bearings on the axles and in the pillow blocks” stated Peter Moseley, then Machine Fabrication Lead. Stan Stumbo led the axle making team, including Ken Warman, Frank Petrie and Stephen Rule. Peter led the team making the pillow blocks using the CNC milling machine. The axles had to be heat treated prior to grinding to final size and Mark McComsey did that at his home shop. “We were able to get pro-bono help from several businesses including Everett Engineering who shaped the leaves that connect the body of the telescope to the axles and Morley Machine Tool Alignment who donated their time and talents to help us make critical alignments during installation using state of the art laser trackers.”
With the new computer and software and a “pointing model” the telescope reliably moves to what ever object you pick off of a digital star chart. Chief Astronomer Nels Johansen says he is “delighted with the performance improvement. With our new digital camera we can build up very nice images.”
A light shroud has been added to the telescope and the dome was recently sealed and re-painted to extend its life.