Sep 19, 2014

Above: One of the first test images from PiKon.

University of Sheffield has shown the first picture taken by a £100 reflecting telescope built using 3D printing, Raspberry Pi and camera.

University of Sheffield has been working with Alternative Photonics to develop and build this reflecting telescope called PiKon (a mix of Raspberry Pi and Icon). According to developers, the PiKon is capable of producing 5 mega-pixel images of the night sky.

The objective of the project, the team said, is to demonstrate how anyone can use the disruptive technologies of 3D printing and Raspberry Pi computing to construct an astronomical telescope (10cm Newtonian reflector) and share observations online.

The PiKon Telescope is based on the Newtonian Reflecting Telescope design. The telescope was constructed using as many 3D printed components as possible, and the lens and mirrors were purchased from online stores. The prototype telescope is linked to a Raspberry Pi computer with Pi Infra red camera which are used to photograph and record the night sky.

One of the first image of the supermoon taken with PiKon camera.

A concave mirror focuses an image formed by the objective onto the the photo sensor of a Raspberry Pi Camera. The camera sensor is exposed by simply removing (unscrewing) the lens on the Pi Camera.

Newtonian Reflecting Telescope

"Because of the small size of the Raspberry Pi Camera board, it is possible to mount the assembly in the optical path." notes the team. "The amount of light lost by doing this is similar to the losses caused by mounting the 45 degree mirror in a conventional Newtonian design."

The team hoped the new telescope would be a "game changer".

"The ethos of this project is to show how change brought about by disruptive technology can give greater access to science and technology to the individual." writes Alternative Photonics.

Developer Mark Wrigley will demonstrate the PiKon astrocam at University of Sheffield's "Festival of the Mind" today. Funded by the University of Sheffield's "Festival of the Mind" in collaboration with the Department of Physics, the open source design will be available on Thingieverse for home construction when the telescope is live.

Posted in 3D Printing Applications

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