How Long Does Star Testing Take?

The short answer is to plan for at least three weeks for Software Bisque to star test a mount.

Unfortunately, we cannot provide exactly how long star testing a mount will take, primarily because of unpredictable weather conditions.

We do our best to turn around a mount that needs testing as fast as possible. At the same time, that can not happen until the supporting data is collected that validates it is okay to return the mount. The validation process takes time.

Below are some additional factors that might additionally delay star testing, in no particular order:

  • There may be other mounts that are being tested before your mount.
  • Scheduling limited employee time for “after hours” time in the observatory, in conjunction with clear skies, is not one for one; just because it’s clear one night does not guarantee a mount will be tested that night.
  • Often mount star testing occurs during weekends, and the the above estimate typically includes a sufficient number of weekends. However, poor weather over a weekend or employees who are capable of mount testing have scheduling conflicts with clear, after hours skies, or some combination of both, can easily add a week or two to the above estimate.
  • Software Bisque observatory might be conducting other critical projects that could add delays. (This is rare but can happen.)
  • Depending on the reported symptom(s):
    • A mount may need star tested over multiple nights, before repairs and after repairs.
    • Multiple employees across several disciplines (engineering, software, machining, firmware, design, etc.) may be required to get to the root cause and address whatever aliment is causing the mount to not perform . This collaboration is time consuming and can cause additional delays.
    • Testing requires specific, scarce instrumentation, so some mounts simply might have to “wait their turn.” Obviously, astronomical instrumentation is extremely expensive and is sometimes a limiting factor, but usually only when several mounts that need star tested are in the que. This is not the norm, but can happen.
  • There is not always a first in first out (FIFO) order to star test mounts. Your place in line may change, for example, based on the reported symptoms and the available corresponding instrumentation (pier, telescopes, cameras, focusers, etc.), plus other factors specific to symptoms.
  • There are a lot of steps involved. It takes time, from unboxing the mount, mount setup, doing pointing run, collecting necessary data specific to symptoms, analysing the data, isolating issues, performing repairs, possible re-test, and once the data is validated, tear down the mount, rebox the mount for return.
  • If you are an astronomer, you understand that maintaining a working imaging system is an uphill battle and sometimes things go bad, power supplies die, camera’s stop working, computer memory goes, cables go bad, etc. Again, this is not the norm, but sometimes adds to delays.

Your patience and understanding is greatly appreciated.