Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Mechanical Engineering


Mechanical Engineering


College of Engineering


John Ridgely

Advisor Department

Mechanical Engineering

Advisor College

College of Engineering


This thesis approaches the task of designing a control system for the Parallel Actuator Mount developed by Dr. John Ridgely and Mr. Garrett Gudgel. It aims to create a base framework that directly controls the telescope and can be expanded to accept external command. It incorporates lower priced components and develops more easily approachable software with great functionality. An open-loop method for velocity control is established. Developing repeatable tests is a major focus. Testing finds the control methods developed result in velocity error of less than 5% and position error of less than 1.5% despite several mechanical issues and inaccuracies. Design guidelines are established that allow for the easy implementation of a Parallel Actuator Mount on other systems.

This paper proves that the Parallel Actuator Mount is a potentially viable system for aiming a telescope when an astronomer does not require full sky coverage. The tests showed too much error to fully recommend the system as built and tested, but there are paths to increase accuracy of the system without greatly increasing the complexity or cost. The inclusion of a method of feedback, including a plate solver and an inertial measurement unit, would greatly improve the system. It may also be of use to modify the software to include a variable time step for the velocity control.