PAN019 to PAN025: Pleiades Cluster of PANOPTES Units

We recently deployed four new units at the Maunaloa Observatory on the Big Island of Hawai’i. These new units replaced PAN001, which was the first baseline unit for Project PANOPTES. The new units will be the baseline unit for future PANOPTES builders.

We built 7 new PANOPTES units over the last ~15 months from the Subaru Telescope office based at Hilo. ‘Subaru’ in Japanese refers to the ‘Pleiades’ cluster and hence we name the 7 new PANOPTES units after the brightest stars of the Pleiades cluster.

The 7 new PANOPTES units are as follows:

PAN019 - Maia
PAN020 - Electra
PAN021 - Alcyone
PAN022 - Taygete
PAN023 - Asterope
PAN024 - Celaeno
PAN025 - Merope

4 of these 7 were deployed at Maunaloa:

PAN019 - Maia
PAN022 - Taygete
PAN024 - Celaeno
PAN025 - Merope

Highlights of the build:


Constructing & assembling a camera box:

Mistakes in drilling!

Brainstorming control box design:

Replicating the design to make multiple PANOPTES units:

January 2021

Control box build continues:

Fabricating piers:

February 2021

Installing software:

More hardware assembly & testing:

March 2021

Filing a counterweight to increase inner diameter to fit a wide diameter counterweight shaft:

Pier assembly:

Army of PANOPTES units fully assembled!

On sky testing a fully assembled unit at Subaru office:

First light by Maia [PAN019]: Field shows Pleiades cluster and Mars:

Designing a 4 camera PANOPTES unit!

How to deploy 4 PANOPTES units at Maunaloa on existing concrete slab?

May 2021

Designing weatherproofing for iOptron CEM40:

Deploying 4 PANOPTES units at Maunaloa:

Assembling the metal framework indoors:

Removing PAN001: Stalled by rain!

Deployment continues despite rain:



Observing Total Lunar Eclipse with PANOPTES units

June 2021

PANOPTES unit set up at Subaru telescope for elaborate testing and software development

Issues with mount homing & parking!

  • We need to rotate the camera box by 90 degrees on the mount to solve it.
  • Should we redesign the hardware to rotate the camera box?
  • iOptron has provided a way to rotate the mount plate (not documented by iOptron though!)

July 2021 - August 2021

Brainstorming how to polar align a PANOPTES unit:

Can we use the information from how a star drifts when a unit is not aligned, to correct for polar misalignment?

September 2021

Maunaloa visit to rotate all mount top plates by 90 degrees & to fix network issues:

November 2021

Polar alignment:

Creating star drift models for different errors in mount azimuth and mount altitude:

We can now predict how any star in the sky will appear to drift for any polar alignment error in mount azimuth or mount altitude. We can then fit data to model to predict the errors in polar alignment!

Now that we can predict how misaligned the mount is, can we polar align the unit in the daytime?

Yes we can!

PANOPTES units at Maunaloa observe another lunar eclipse!

December 2021

Start of building 4 camera PANOPTES units!

January 2022

Can we trigger the shutter of the cameras while simultaneously downloading previous images?

We made our own shutter release cables that connect to the pins of the Raspberry Pi. We can now trigger the cameras independent of the image transfer.

4 camera PANOPTES units build continues:

One of the units at Maunaloa will have faster lenses with higher optical quality:

Left: Rokinon 85 mm f1.4 lens, Right: Canon 85 mm f1.2 lens

February 2022

All 4 PANOPTES units at Maunaloa upgraded to 4 cameras each!