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February 19, 2019
I’m always getting asked “how do you align the mirror?” on the PiKon telescope. For the best images, it good to get the axis of the parabolic mirror lined up with the axis of the PiKon tube. You can do this in 2 ways:
One you have built the mirror assembly you can ensure that the spring loaded adjustment bolts are set right by trapping a 5mm (or similar) drill bit between the mirror mount (3D printed part) and mirror base (3D printed art). By positioning the drill bit near each of the springs and adjusting the bolt until it just releases, you will get the mirror reasonably aligned.
For little more than £20 (GBP) you can buy a laser collimator. I got mine from Sky’s the Limit. In normal use this would slot into the eye piece of a telescope and bounce a laser beam off the primary (and secondary) mirror. There is a target in the device set at 45 degrees where the laser beam is aimed during adjustment of the mirror.
There is no eye piece in the PiKon, so we have just made a 3D printed alignment tool available. It sits where the spider assembly should go and sets the laser collimator in line with the axis of the PiKon’s tube. It is then a matter of adjusting the spring loaded adjustment bolts until the laser beam, which is reflected off the mirror, hits the centre of the target on the laser collimator.
You can download the .stl file here: Laser Alignment Tool
The PiKon is a 3D printed telescope which uses a Raspberry Pi camera capture images. This year sees the PiKon’s 5th birthday with hundreds of kits and mirrors sold all over the world.
The PiKon hardware kit and design are undergoing an upgrade. We’ve decided to use the Pimoroni Nija Pibow case. This involves a new 3D printed case support which you’ll find with our STL files. The printed case support also fits Pimoroni cases for the Raspberry Pi 4 which is different to the Pi 3 and previous Pi cases.
Taking things further
The PiKon design can just be a starting point and it’s always great when someone builds on what we’ve done. So here is a design from Pate’s PiKon web site. He has completely motorised the PiKon, even down to the focusing mechanism.
The One Minute PiKon
As part of the ‘Hello Universe’ exhibition at the National Science and Media Museum, my friends there helped me make this one minute video of assembling a PiKon. The exhibition continues in Bradford (England) until January 2020.
If you want to build your own PiKon you can get all the parts here: https://elektric-tube.shop
We pleased to announce that we are now featured on a new platform for digital fabricators; WiKiFactory
The PiKon Story
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 Thingiverse.com, Instructables.com, and Cults3D.com.
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.