PAN016: Building Thread for Oakland CA Middle School AstroHawks

I lead a team of middle school builder/makers, who have enthusiastically embraced the Panoptes build. We are a parent-led group, informally associated with Head Royce School in Oakland, CA. The name “AstroHawks” was chosen for this particular project from the school mascot, the Jayhawk (there isn’t really such a bird).

My own background is electrical engineering (now retired), having spent several decades in the semiconductor industry in silicon valley, working mostly on chip and board level designs.

We have completed the pier and the camera board. We wrote some simple Arduino sketches for successful testing of power switching to CON3 and 4 (9V for Camera 1 and 2) and also successfully tested the humidity/temp sensor. We still need to write a sketch for testing the accelerometer, but assume that works since everything else functions properly.

Next for us is building and testing the control board.

Here are photos of some of the kids at work:

Toward the end of the pier construction:

Soldering the camera board:


Fantastic progress AstroHawks! Look forward to seeing how you go with the next phase.

Congratulation for what looks like a great start ! I am somehow jealous of the kids that will be able to work on this project ^^

Testing is complete on the camera board. Instructions were clear. Now we’re on to the control board.

Nem kindly sent us a pre-release version of the control board build instructions, based on v0, and we knew that they were not fully updated to reflect the v1 board we’re building. By using a combination of the parts list and schematic, I believe we’ve completed the control board. Now on to testing . . .

Great to hear. Let us know how you go

Great job, AstroHawks! I can’t wait to see it when it’s finished!

Continuing the discussion from Building Thread for PAN016 - Oakland CA Middle School AstroHawks:

Proud middle-schoolers. Making good progress:

A few images of the kids at work:

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Any updates in the last couple of months? Or have you been busy with “end of the school year” activities?

Hi James. Thanks for checking in. I was just getting ready to post on our progress.

The hardware is built except for weatherproofing and the weather station. Everything appears to be working. I’ll post some photos of the build.

We ran into problems with pytest failures. We are working our way through the problems with the help of someone knowledgeable with Ubuntu. We tried a few POCS commands, which worked, so I think we’re close, but pytest is still failing. We also ran into trouble getting arduino sketches to load, but I think I’ve worked that out.

This week we hope to run more POCS commands, and see if we can capture some images. I’ll keep you updated on progress and any problems we may need help with. best regards, Richard

The completed control box:

The camera box:

The kids explaining the unit at the Chabot Space and Science Center Tinkerfest:

Wow! This is great to see. The unit looks exactly like the PAN012 unit. Fantastic effort team! Super impressive.

How far are you away from doing some on-sky tests/observations?

Hi Nem,

I’m guessing/hoping we’re not far away from being able to capture some test images. We have made progress working through errors when running pytest, but not done yet. Our own test arduino sketches ran okay, and we’ll try loading the Panoptes sketches this week. We only ran a couple of POCS commands, which seemed to work, but we haven’ tried much yet due to pytest debugging.

Once we can capture an image in the workshop and can control the mount, the astronomers at Chabot Space and Science Center will help us set up and align the unit and try tracking some stars.


Thats great to hear. Wilfred should have the new version of the code uploaded so you can test pulling it from github and running it to see it works perhaps?

I agree about the test strategy. Try running POCS inside first. You can test the polar alignment procedure is executing correctly as well. Then when all the elements work, head outside.
Good luck

We’ll download the new version of the code and see what happens with pytest. We’ll keep you updated on progress.

Is there a doc somewhere providing settings for the Canon cameras? If not, can someone provide the info?

Sorry for slow reply. We thought there was one and @james.synge is going to dig through his notes (he’s flying back from a conference today).

If not then this a good excuse for me to pull one of my cameras out of the box and get it set up from a clean state. We’ll try to get back to you within the next day.

There are some notes buried over in the PAN012 topic but we definitely want to get a more comprehensive document together.

Thanks. I found the info in the PAN012 topic. Maybe that will be enough. I’ll keep you updated.

Hi Richard
Aru set up our cameras. Check the operations guide/system test document that is in the build sequence and see if the information is there while others jump in with more information.

SW bugs we’re aware of are worked out and we can now talk to the cameras. Here’s our first test photo taken in the workshop:

We’ll be on vacation until early July and will continue progress when we return.

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Looks like you found a star! :wink: