PAN012, the unit at Caltech was completed yesterday. It marks the end of the main build phase and took 8 weeks, which I believe is the fastest build completed to date! Id like to acknowledge Aru and Montu for their hard work during their internships. They did a fantastic job and should be very proud.
This particular build is even more significant because it is the first time the generation 3 electronics, based on using a single interface board to control the head unit and power distribution, has been implemented. Other improvements from the pre-2018 design include:
- The head unit makes use of the new larger box, which will allow others to use different and larger cameras.
- The mass of the head unit is balanced on the dovetail rail, which should improve observing stability (this remains to be seen).
- The plates in the head unit have been simplified.
- The pier is entirely new and extremely compact giving the counter weight more clearance.
- Several other parts have been modified/simplified to reduce cost including the power supply,
- The control box now has a removable platform making it a lot easier to fix things.
This build allowed us to test a new refined parts list that James Synge kindly worked on and optimized. With this build we have now tested these new parts and refined the instructions for the entire build. In the next few weeks we will hopefully clean up the instructions and parts list in the hope of launching them in about 1 months time. This will greatly simplify the purchasing and building process for everyone from this point on.
Id like to thank Garreth Ruane for funding the build through NSF. Dimitri Mawet for funding Aru’s internship. Aru and Montu who worked tirelessly to get it done in an incredibly short time (especially as a lot of it was untested). James Synge for all his efforts on optimizing the parts list and instructions. Luc Boucher for the huge effort on the design on the new generation of control electronics and finally Wilfred for support with the control software. Without all these people this would not have been possible.
Please enjoy some of the cool images of the final robotic observatory. Hopefully there will be transit data in the not too distant future.