Another Shop Project: Automated Flatlight Calibration Box

Discussion and instructions for astronomy-related projects
User avatar
mark.m
Posts: 86
Joined: Fri Feb 03, 2017 1:13 pm

Another Shop Project: Automated Flatlight Calibration Box

Unread post by mark.m » Tue Mar 31, 2020 1:17 pm

Until very recently, I hated making "flat" calibration images with my CCD camera. It involved lights and bedsheets and a chair sitting on its side and extension cords and every time I did it, things were a little bit different than the last time. Plus, it required me to actually go outside to set things up and then take them apart later, so that I couldn't just have the computer create flat calibration images whenever the software wanted it.
So I've been using the past few weeks to create an automatic flat light system. It's got a lightbox that moves up and down by itself, driven by a little motor under computer control. Here's a picture of it in its "down" position...
DSC_0106.jpg
Lightbox Down
DSC_0106.jpg (316.09 KiB) Viewed 720 times
... and here's a picture in the "up" position, with the telescope pointed at it.
DSC_0107.jpg
Lightbox Up
DSC_0107.jpg (299.12 KiB) Viewed 720 times
The little motor is controlled by an Arduino single board computer that also handles the limit switches and turns the light on and off. The Arduino connects to the main computer via USB, so that everything can be under computer control.
DSC_0002.jpg
Motor and Controller
DSC_0002.jpg (442.84 KiB) Viewed 720 times
The lightbox moves in a wooden channel using roller skate bearings and a pair of 5-pound workout weights as counterweights.
Seems to work great and has made it easy for me to get flat calibration images every single night!
Mark M
Portsmouth, RI
10" Meade SCT
SBIG ST-9E
GM2000 (10Micron)
American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) observer code: MMU
User avatar
Dr. Powell
10+ Years Member
Posts: 299
Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2009 11:24 pm

Re: Another Shop Project: Automated Flatlight Calibration Box

Unread post by Dr. Powell » Thu Jun 11, 2020 8:07 am

That is pretty cool, Mark.
Mike
Mark Gibsonian 6" Newtonian Scope with a Spence mount.
16 X 50 Binoculars
60mm Bushnell Refractor
Jason Comet Hunter
5 1/4" Meade Reflector
User avatar
Pete
Astro Day Coordinator
Posts: 3256
Joined: Fri Jun 13, 2003 9:03 pm

Re: Another Shop Project: Automated Flatlight Calibration Box

Unread post by Pete » Fri Jun 12, 2020 10:04 am

It's only taken me 12 years to get my flats acceptable. But they're only redone 2 or 3 times a year and it doesn't take but 1/2 hour at the most. Envy you your low horizon Mark.
Pete P.
Post Reply