2014 January 11
We promised we won't spam your mailboxes, it seems we are doing a great job on this :). Here are some updates about the Fly's Eye Project. In late May, the first set of the Sloan g/r/i filters have arrived. With these, the instrument was moved to Piszkesteto Station of our observatory (about 100kms from Budapest, easy to access, but far enough from its light pollution). Here, the first tests were started in early June, currently still with one camera (this is a change in plans, but integrating only a few additional CCDs is almost as a challenge as adding all of them). The experiences to now are really positive, the observations are going smoothly on almost every clear night without troubles. The instrument is hosted now in a telescope dome, so the issues of the housing is not a problem yet. Meanwhile, a small concrete block was also built on the site, which will host the instrument at a later phase (current we expect summer of 2014 for relocation). Now observations are done completely autonomously: after opening the dome and removing the lens cap manually, the instrument notices that it can see the sky (using infrared thermometers), and starts the tracking/observing without any further interaction. There are some photos of the progress in the gallery: http://flyseye.net/gallery.
There are some interesting spin-offs of the project. The system logs should be stored on an independent, rewritable, failsafe drive. Traditional hard drives and SSDs are have a lifetime only of a few years while the lifetime of pendrives and memory cards is limited to few thousands rewrite or erase cycles. To solve this problem the team developed a USB drive that is fast, and can be rewritten infinite times, at the cost of low capacity (currently only few MBs, but more than enough for the task, or in, other words, the specific price is relatively high). Another interesting development is an accelerometer board in which a MEMS (microelectromechanical system) accelerometer is mounted and performs attitude measurements with respect to the vertical direction. Our goal is to achieve an accuracy with a magnitude of sub-arcminutes.
For demonstration purposes, we also made a small working model of the hexapod. If you have access to a 3d-printer, and want to have one on your desk, you can download the model here: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:202673.