DFM Engineering, Inc.
1035 Delaware Ave. Unit D
Longmont, CO 80501
Phone: 303-678-8143
Fax: 303-772-9411

LA Valley College Installation
la valley college

LA Valley College was established in 1949. It occupies 105 acres in the Valley Glen district of Los Angeles, California in the east-central San Fernando Valley. LA Valley College is one of 9 campuses that comprise the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) serving over 13,000 students.

NASA awarded LA Valley College campus a three-year $300,000 Curriculum Improvement Partnership Award (CIPA) to enhance earth sciences educational and attract underrepresented, minority students into the program.

retrofitted research telescopeThe goals involve adding courses in astronomy and planetary science, and upgrading Valley's Planetarium with a graphic digital visualization system called the Sci-Dome and required Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance.

Planetarium Director, Professor David Falk said, "The previous planetarium dome was built in 1963, was only 24 feet in diameter with seating for 50. The upstairs observatory housed a 16 inch 'almost research-quality' Celestron telescope." The renovation features a new elevator, NanoSeam projection dome, 50 Mac lap-tops, Dolby 5.1 surround sound, and the 16 inch Celestron telescope and control system retrofitted by DFM Engineering to enhance the students' learning experience.

retrofitted research telescope pierDr. Frank Melsheimer of DFM Engineering consulted with Professor Falk on multiple issues: telescope use, access, visitor flow, optimal seeing conditions, pier vibration isolation, wiring accommodations and dome automation.

observatoryDFM performed the following tasks:
• A new equatorial fork mount and stub axles were added to the existing Celestron tube assembly to adapt it to the new mounting.
• The Celestron steel pier was repainted.
• DFM adapted the tube assembly to a new optical focuser, which allows users to focus with speed and accuracy.
• The existing tube assembly was modified to accept an auxiliary telescope.
• Mirror supports were reworked and counterweights were reinstalled.

DFM also provided handicapped access to the telescope eyepiece with the Articulated Relay Eyepiece™.

The ARE-125™ allows a person seated in a wheel chair to simply pick up the eyepiece and bring it to their eye for convenient viewing regardless of telescope position.

The new planetarium building, with the addition of the new elevator and retrofitted telescope now brings LA Valley College up to ADA standards, allowing wheelchair access so that disabled students may participate in the telescope experience on the roof; a successful install!

telescope control systemDr. Faulk, Director of LA Valley College Planetarium said, ". . . a magnificent, DFM retrofitted, 16 inch Celestron telescope resides on the roof of the planetarium building, so at the culmination of a student's light-speed voyage through the digitally rendered cosmos, they can walk upstairs for some bon-a-fide 'eye to glass' stellar experiences."

Retrofit Telescopes

Retrofit Telescope Control Systems

Retrofit Telescope Examples