To conduct the Balaton laser tests, we designed and built a laser aiming device called the Super Accurate Laser Aiming Device, or SALAD. It served us as well as could be expected. It allowed us to visually aim the device during the day and then fine tune the aiming from the observation location after dark.

As a follow up to the efforts by FECORE at Balaton Lake, Mike Cavanaugh has integrated GPS data into the aiming abilities of the laser mount. This upgraded device is known as Terrestrial Laser Targeting, or TLT for short.

The TLT uses the same hardware of the SALAD’s stepper motors and controllers, but now the laser operator inputs a latitude and longitude position where the laser should point.

The mount does have a limited range of motion and is not a 360-degree swivel mount. But the TLT’s range of motion is significant enough to allow the mount to be pointed only once then permit the laser operator to fine tune from there. The footings were also improved to reduce vibration and movement of the TLT.

The TLT’s movements are entirely controlled by computer. Once the target data is input, the stepper motors turn at 600 rpm on any movement more than one degree and then automatically slow down when the targeted position is adjusted by less than one degree. This significantly increases speed and accuracy of the aiming device and will allow more data to be collected during a given observation session.