Chronicles of periscope and MC alignment
Yesterday morning I started aligning the periscope but it turned out to be trickier than usual. With the ASC (Alignment Sensing Control) off and only the length controls on, the Mode Cleaner didn't lock easily, although I knew I wasn't very far from the sweet spot.
In the afternoon the struggle continued and the matching of the the beam to the MC cavity became just worse. At some point I noticed that the ASC inputs somehow had got on - although the ASC still looked disabled from the MClock MEDM main screen. So I was actually working against the Wave Front Sensors and further worsening the periscope alignment.
That hurled me to the weeds. After hours of rowing across the stormy waters of a four-dimensional universe I got to have occasional TEM00 flashes at the transmission but still, surprisingly, no MC locking. Confused, I kept tuning the periscope but that just kicked me off road again.
Then at about 7pm Koji came to my rescue and suggested a more clever and systematic way to solve the problems. He suggested to keep record of the MC mirrors alignment state and re-align the cavity to the periscope. Then we would gradually bring the cavity back to the original good position changing the periscope alignment at the same time.
That would have worked straight away, if we hadn't been fighting against a subtle and cruel enemy: the 40m computer network. But I (as John Connor), and Koji (as the Terminator) didn't pull back.
Here's a short list of the kinds of weapons that the computers threw to us:
We then proceeded with Koji's plan. In an iterative process, we aligned the MC cavity maximizing the transmission and tuned the periscope in order to match the Faraday input of the interferometer. The last thing we did it by looking at the camera pointing at the Faraday isolator.
We found that we didn't have to tune the periscope much. That means that all afternoon I didn't really go too far, but the autolocker wasn't working properly, or it wasn't working at all.
Then we ran the alignment script for the X arm but it didn't work before we aligned the steering mirrors.
Then we ran it three times but could not get more than 0.87 at TRX. That means that there we still have to work on the alignment to the Faraday. That's job for today in the trenches of the lab.