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It’s 6 years since the PiKon project started and in that time, I estimate that there have been over 500 built. I say estimate, because this is an open hardware project. The project started because I wanted to show the home enthusiast exactly what was possible using disruptive technologies such 3D printing and low cost Raspberry Pi computing. Over the years the project and the technology has evolved. 3D printers are cheaper and easier to use and the Raspberry Pi has evolved into a very powerful computer. The very latest 3rd version of the camera – see below – has much better time exposure capabilities and is already exciting some amateur astronomers.
The PiKon project was intended as a talk at the University of Sheffield’s ‘Festival of the Mind’. But it soon became clear that people wanted to ‘have a go’ and the project was crowd funded and a Shopify shop set up selling components.
The project is an open hardware project. It can be found on Thingiverse, Instructables, Cults, Wikifactory and other file sharing sites. A good starting point for links is the PiKonic web site. There you’ll also find links to .stl files, instructions and even a ‘Make Live’ 30 minute video about building a PiKon.
The new Raspberry Pi High Quality camera
At the end of April Raspberry Pi announced a new camera. It has a 12.3 megapixel sensor with 7.9 mm diagonal size. Its printed circuit board is larger than earlier versions but it is capable of longer time exposures than previous Pi cameras. The camera comes with a detachable lens mount and no lens. I’ve had difficulty getting hold of one, but while I’ve been waiting,I’ve designed an adaptor which will allow the new camera to be fitted to the PiKon.
Like many people with 3D printers, I have been working with a local maker space to produce face visors for protection against the COVID-19 virus. Otley Maker Space responded to the COVID-19 emergency by printing face visors to a design by 3D Verkstan which uses A4 acrylic sheets and standard hole punch sizes. Collectively Otley Maker Space printed 1600 face visors and sewed 200 sets of scrubs.
1201 Alarm Project
2019 was the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Moon landings and in celebration; I contributed to the ‘Hello Universe’ exhibition at the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford, Yorkshire. 50 years earlier I was inspired by the Apollo programme and in the days before domestic video recording, I decided that I would capture the events for television. First with a still camera and reel-to-reel audio tape, and later with high speed standard 8mm movie film. This archive plus books and magazines from the time went on exhibition along with an explanatory video.
Future projects and articles include:
Black is black – an investigation into the blackest paint that you can buy and apply with a brush. The need to paint the inside of the PiKon telescope tube with black paint lead to the investigation of Stuart Semple’s ‘Black 2.0’ and ‘BLK 3.0’ paint and a comparison with matt black spray paint.
Digital Negative Copying with a Digital Single Lens Reflex Camera – A 24 megapixel camera is used with an enlarging lens to photograph 35mm negatives. Negative Lab Pro and the curve function in Lightroom are used to ‘invert’ the image into a positive and there’s even scope to 3D print bespoke negative carriers.
Interpreting Sound Mirrors – Before radar, early warning of aircraft was performed by sound detection. Large concrete structures were erected on the British coastline with parabolic sound reflectors to concentrate sound energy on listening devices. Many of these iconic structures have survived and this project is aimed at producing 3D printer files of scale models.
How is all this funded?
So far, sales of PiKon components, support from the Institute of Physics and fees from the National Science and Media Museum have helped fund these activities. I’m hoping that in the future I’ll be able to do more by adding the membership platform ‘Patreon’ to sales of PiKon.
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