I’ve always had an interest in astronomy at least ever since Haley’s comet came close to earth in 1986. My brother bought me a small telescope and I tried to find that comet, unsuccessfully. Since then, I’ve never really liked going outside and searching for stars. Recently however the thought occurred to me that I could build a robot which would search for the stars for me. When the Infineon / Arduino IoT Bundle road test was announced, I thought it was the perfect time to put my idea into motion.
My idea is to build a robot which will maneuver its way around my yard and find a good spot to take a picture. It would avoid tree limbs and other terrestrial objects and work to get a good view of the sky. It will be connected to the internet and have a web interface for use in requesting a picture of a certain constellation, star, comet, or other celestial object. It will upload the pictures it takes to a server for safe keeping. Finally, it will notify me by text message when it has taken a picture for me to view.
The heart of the project is the Infineon / Arduino IoT Bundle, of course. The Arduino Yun supplies the brains. The Infineon motor control board and a pair of motors supply the motion. The Infineon lighting control board is the wild card. I’m wondering if I can use the lighting control board to detect clouds. It may not work, but I’m going to give it a try. Outside of the road test bundle, I will need a servo for steering. I will need azimuth and elevation rotators to aim the telescope and a linear actuator to focus the telescope. I will also need a camera with adjustable slow shutter speeds to take pictures of the stars. Finally, I will need a telescope to bring the stars up close.
The timeline for the project is two months long, so there’s not much time to bring everything together. Here’s the list of basic tasks which need to be accomplished:
- Build a base with wheels, motors, and servo for providing motion for the robot. The telescope, camera, and electronics will attach to this base
- Attach the electronics to the base and test out the motion aspect
- Attach a linear actuator to the telescope to allow focusing the image
- Mount the telescope to the base with azimuth and elevation motors for aiming the telescope. Test out the aiming feature.
- Attach the camera to the telescope and test out the picture taking, focus, and exposure settings
- Write the web interface for the robot
- Write the software to download the stars location from the internet
- Write the software to aim the telescope
- Test out the ability to detect clouds with the lighting controller
- Write the software to text my phone, upload the pictures, and do anything else that needs to be done
I think this will be a fun project and it will be a good test of the Infineon / Arduino IoT Bundle. I hope everyone reading this will enjoy my posts and be encouraged to do their own unique projects.