Electronics Department


Currently, in our electronic department there is 5 engineers and 3 technicians.



The primary goal of our group is to maintain the continuous observation without technical interruptions. In order to do this we provide a regular service which is efficient and flexible. This includes maintenance and repair of all electronic and electromechanical facilities of telescopes, domes and instruments.
The astronomical operation has support from the department on a rotational day and night basis. This includes weekends whereby a service electronic technician is on duty. As an exception, on some holidays, an on-call technician will be on duty at home.



The group is responsible for a wide range of electronic / electrical equipment and scientific instruments. In addition, for various controls, such as uninterrupted power supplies, hydraulic systems, production of liquid nitrogen, telephone system, weather station and etc. This requires a versatile knowledge and skills base. Depending on the background, the dedicated group members have experience on:


  • General electronics, hardware, maintenance.
  • Scientific instruments.
  • Software.
  • Electrical installations.
  • Electrical engineering.
  • Interdepartmental co-operation.
  • Working together with other institutes.



The success of the astronomers depends on the quality of technical equipment. Therefore, we endeavour to provide state of the art technical in our observatory. This means all the old equipments / facilities, are upgraded on a regular basis. In order to save long development times and costs, we use in many areas electronic devices which are used in the industry for automation, such as:
Programmable logic controllers (PLC), servo-controls otherwise used in robot drives, industrial VME computer, the ASi-bus or telemetry systems.


An example of our developed systems are highlighted here:


  • The electronic control of 3.5m Tel. and the 1,23m Tel., completely replaced by us. The great advantage of this is that the software modules can be taken over and the hardware modules are identical. This means the astronomical operation is standardized.
  • The electromechanical controls of all domes were renewed with PLC.
  • The TV-Guiders of all Telescopes has been upgraded with PLC.
  • The uninterrupted power supply of the telescopes, instruments, computers and domes has been planned and implemented.
  • The TWIN Spectrograph instruments has been upgraded with a new electrinc control based on a PLC.


Plans for the future:
In order to bring older instruments up to date, we are planning to replace all hardware and software with PLC and industrial servo-controls. The software control and operation is being developed in conjunction MPIA, CSIC and CA. Examples:





To reiterate the role of the electronic department, our main focus is maintenance an repair, and secondly the planning and implementation of new systems. Because of this, we believe we will increase significantly the quality and reliability of CALAR ALTO.



Name Position This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.    950-632-Phone
Luis Hernández Castaño Electronic Dept. Head hdez 558
Jens Helmling Smit Ing. Técnico helmling 577
Héctor Magán Ingeniero hmagan 567
Julio Antonio Marin Molina Ing. Técnico jmarin 527
Jose Ignacio Vico Ingeniero nacho 539
Juan Francisco López Técnico Electrónica jfran 534
Francisco Hernádez Electricista otero 559