The Wide Field Upgrade presents a five-fold increase in mass for the Hobby-Eberly Telescope’s tracker system. The design of the Hobby-Eberly Telescope places the Prime Focus Instrument Package (PFIP) at a thirty-five degree angle from horizontal. The PFIP and its associated hardware have historically been positioned along this uphill axis (referred to as the telescope’s Y-axis) by a single screw-type actuator. Several factors, including increased payload mass and design for minimal light obscuration, have led to the design of a new and novel configuration for the Y-axis screw-drive as part of the tracker system upgrade. Typical screw-drive designs in this load and travel class (approximately 50 kilonewtons traveling a distance of 4 meters) utilize a stationary screw with the payload translating with the moving nut component. The new configuration employs a stationary nut and translating roller screw affixed to the moving payload, resulting in a unique drive system design. Additionally, a second cable-actuated servo drive (adapted from a system currently in use on the Southern African Large Telescope) will operate in tandem with the screw-drive in order to significantly improve telescope safety through the presence of redundant load-bearing systems.
Details of the mechanical design, analysis, and topology of each servo drive system are presented in the paper, “Design and Development of a Long-Travel Positioning Actuator and Tandem Constant Force Actuator Safety