I've already talked to John Hayes about some of my ideas. Basically, what I'm thinking is that it would be useful to exchange ideas about how to make DSW a better place for imagers. I am not thinking about vendor bashing but I have noticed a few things that a group might be above to agree on with an eye toward improving the customer experience.
Let me explain what I'm thinking and say at the outset that these same issues would apply to most remote sites.
First, on two occasions when I was working on my equipment I received calls when no one was in the observatory as it was night time. On one occasion a light had been left on inadvertently. I could hear the observatory phone answering machine with someone saying "Turn off the Wall Light". That led me to find the switch and turn it off. (I wondered why it was on in the first place.) Problem solved. On another occasion, a fellow imager was having trouble focusing and called the observatory. Since I was the only one there and the "network" room was open I answered the phone. I'm pretty sure fixed his problem by just tightening a screw. Now, there are something like 20 telescopes in that big room and there's often an imager out there. I'd be willing to try to fix simple problems that others are having in return for the same courtesy. John Hayes thought this was a poor idea because an attempt to fix something could just make things worse, people don'k know each others equipment, and you might be trying to help someone and then it gets cloudy and then you'd really be in a pickle. Still, I wondered what others thought of this.
Second, there are things that I'd like to see improved but I'm just one particular customer and improvements might well extend across different venues. I thought that if there was an exchange of ideas we as a group could better guide the owners to make the changes we'd like to see in a constructive manner. I really have nothing particularly spectacular in mind at this point. I'll give an example. It would be nice to know when someone is on site who can do adjustments and have white board kind of arrangement for those requests. Maybe there's a need for earlier or later open and closes. Or better weather integration, etc.
Third, it seems to me that it would be useful to quantitatively share results. I'm not talking about swapping finished mosaics, but rather what kind of results we're getting night after night. I know that my own results have been quite variable. Some nights it's wonderful and some nights not so much. If I'm interested in getting better and more consistent results it would be nice to know what others with similar equipment are achieving. The telemetry at DSW (for instance) is terrific. I'd love to see how some things like sky temperature or the dark sky chart correlate with actual user experiences.
All of these thoughts come from my long experience in dealing positively with vendors providing complex solutions in situations for a single customer has little control. They are things which could be applied to any other remote imaging venue. I'm only singling out DSW at this point because this is where my equipment is currently located.
A forum about remote imaging would be really terrific. I've imaged remotely from four different places over the past 5 years and each one has had pluses and minuses. It would be nice to have a neutral forum to - NO VENDOR BASHING - discuss the pros and cons. Some have permanent onsite help, some do not. Some have better weather or internet connections than others. I could go on and on, it's just a thought that I'm forming at this point.
Comments more than welcome - criticism (but no name calling) also welcome.