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3D Printing + Raspberry Pi Camera = PiKon Telescope

Welcome to PiKon

April 27, 2017



Welcome to the PiKon blog web site, the world’s first 3D printed, Raspberry Pi powered astro-cam telescope. This site is intended to give you all the information you need about PiKon.

The project was originally funded by the University of Sheffield’s ‘Festival of the Mind’ in 2014. The idea was to show the citizen scientist, maker or enthusiast just what could be done with disruptive (low cost) technologies. The project combined affordable 3D printing with the low Raspberry Pi computer and its camera.

The project was an instant hit, and after presentations in Sheffield city centre, found its way into the national press as well as specialised magazines and web sites. There was a huge response from people who wanted to build their own PiKon telescopes and in 2015 the project was crowd funded and parts are now available at an on-line shop:

The PiKon is an open hardware project, which means you are free to download our STL files and instructions from a Dropbox. The project is also features on, and

Help PiKon develop new and innovative ideas.

Because PiKon is an open source product, donating will help us develop new and innovative ideas.



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The whole PiKon build is captured by Make:Live on a 30+ minute YouTube video.

Makezines article about the PiKon is HERE.



First image using the prototype PiKon.

PiKon Open Hardware, Shop, Makezine and more.

July 22, 2016


Now you can buy everything you need at


The PiKon telescope was created for Sheffield University’s ‘Festival of the Mind’ in 2014. We wanted to show just what could be done with disruptive technologies such as 3D printing and Raspberry Pi computing. In particular we wanted to encourage the maker and amateur scientist to simply “have a go”. We never expected it to be so popular. From the onset at our Festival of the Mind talk we received considerable press attention and this WordPress blog jumped fro 6 hits a day to 1,500 hits a day.

On the strength of this, we crowd funded the PiKon through the Indiegogo platform, exceeded our target and were able to invest in a better design as well as source mirrors and other components at a better price for the maker. Everything that you need to build a PiKon (including mirrors) to full kits and pre-printed parts is available on line at the shop.


At the same time, we have released all STL 3D printer files, build and operating instructions as open source information. The files can be dowloaded from this Dropbox location:

MetroUI-Apps-Dropbox-icon PiKon files and Instructions


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The August 2016 issue of Make Magazine features a two page section on PiKon along with 3rd party equipment and users moon shots. We really would like you to get involved and send us your ideas, designs and photos. The web version of the article can be found here: PiKon in Makezine.


We are also pleased that are helping us distribute our open source designs. The link gives detailed descriptions of the project.

We are hoping that PiKon enthusiasts will be able to share results and information. If you’d like more information or simply want to be kept updated, please leave your e-mail below.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

May 8, 2015


Don’t do this at home

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Since we presented the 3D printed PiKon astro-cam at Festival of the Mind for the University of Sheffield, things have gone viral. Our story was shared by the press and our web site has had thousands of hits. Our initial thinking was to make the 3D designs available for anyone to print, but it clear that not everyone can do that. So we’ve decided to crowd fund the project and we’ll be offering everything from 3D files to assembled telescopes and more.

You can follow us on Facebook and Twitter where we also post anything to do with 3D printing, Raspberry Pi and disruptive technology that takes our fancy!



We are now preparing for our launch, so if you want us to keep updated on PiKon please leave us your e-mail>

Here are some of our rewards:

  • 3D Printer files
  • Set of 3D printed parts
  • Full kit of parts
  • Fully assembled telescope
  • Raspberry Pi Camera eye piece adaptor
  • PiKon+ 150mm (6″) model


Prototype PiKon part files available

November 24, 2014


Linux3 small

Issue 146 of Linux User and Developer (published 20th November 2014) contains interviews with the PiKon creators along with details to download the prototype PiKon 3D printer files. There is also a competition to win a PiKon. The prize will be awarded to person who can write the best software programme for the PiKon.


The PiKon is still in its prototype state. There will be some post printing finishing required on 3D printed parts. We are now working on a refined design which will be available through crowd funding in 2015.

What is the magnification?

November 24, 2014


The PiKon telescope has a magnification factor of about x160.


We’ve worked that out based on a standard 35mm film camera. A 50mm lens there gives a x1 magnification. A 100mm lens gives a x2 magnification. The focal length of the objective mirror in the PiKon is 800mm. So, for 35mm film that would give a magnification of x16. But the Raspberry Pi Camera sensor is just one tenth the size of a 35mm film frame. So effectively the magnification is increased by a factor 10 to x160.


Another way of thinking about the power of the telescope is the angle of field of view. If we place a 3.6mm wide sensor at the focal point of an 800mm lens, it subtends and angle of view of about a quarter of a degree. The moon subtends an angle of about half a degree at your eye ball, so we’d expect the PiKon to have a field of view that could capture about half of the moon. And that’s just what we get:


What is the limit of magnification?

The ultimate magnification of the PiKon is limited by something called Airy Disks. These are circular halos of light which surround a point image in the telescope. They are caused by defraction effects which depend on the size of the objective mirror and limit the ultimate useful magnification.

The rule of thumb is that maximum useful magnification is 60 times the size of the mirror (in inches) or 2.2 times (in mm). The PiKon prototype has a mirror diameter of 4.5 inches or 113mm, which means its maximum useful magnification is x270.

PiKon in the News

September 20, 2014


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The Pikon astro-cam is a collaborative project by the Department of Physics at the University of Sheffield and Mark Wrigley of Alternative Photonics, a small company based in north Sheffield.

The project was set up to deliver a working telescope for the Festival of the Mind event with live demonstrations in the Spiegeltent located at Barker’s Pool, Sheffield, South Yorkshire (outside John Lewis).

Presentation times 11.00 am on Friday 19th and Sunday 28th September 2014.

We have had a fantastic response to our project with many people wanting to download parts and make their own telescope.

Thingieverse: The current build is a beta model and we will revisit the 3D printed parts design to reduce the amount of plastic and take out a few errors. The current build does require some post processing, mainly drilling out holes. Once we have the design perfected, we will post the files on Thingieverse.

Contact, join us:

Follow us:

In addition to this blog, we also have a Twitter feed and Facebook page. We’ll be using Twitter to publish photographs from the telescope and keep people up to date:

Join in:

So far, we have a working telescope which is operated by entering command lines into the Raspberry Pi. We are looking for enthusiasts and educators to help us take things further. We want to encourage people to create, innovate, educate and share their efforts on an open source basis.
Get in touch:

If you need more information please leave a comment here or contact me by twitter: @Markwrig

What we’ll do next:

As well as posting our 3D printed part designs, well be setting up ways to help build your own DIY telescope. This will include supply of printed parts and other components. We’ll do this initially by a crowd funded project. Follow us on Twitter and/or follow this blog and we’ll keep you posted.

How it works

July 15, 2014


The Raspberry Pi Camera Sensor (Lens Removed)
The telescope Design:
Newtonian Reflecting Telescope

The PiKon (Disruptive Technology) Telescope is based on the Newtonian Reflecting Telescope. This design uses a concave mirror (Objective) to form an image which is examined using an eyepiece. The mirror is mounted in a tube and a 45 degree mirror is placed in the optical path to allow the image to be viewed from the side of the tube.



The PiKon Telescope is based on a very similar design, but the image formed by the Objective is focused onto the photo sensor of a Raspberry Pi Camera. The camera sensor is exposed by simply removing (unscrewing) the lens on the Pi Camera. Because of the small size of the Raspberry Pi Camera board (25mm x 25mm), it is possible to mount the assembly in the optical path. 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.