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24 September 2011 High-precision optical systems with inexpensive hardware: a unified alignment and structural design approach
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High-precision opto-mechanical structures have historically been plagued by high costs for both hardware and the associated alignment and assembly process. This problem is especially true for space applications where only a few production units are produced. A methodology for optical alignment and optical structure design is presented which shifts the mechanism of maintaining precision from tightly toleranced, machined flight hardware to reusable, modular tooling. Using the proposed methodology, optical alignment error sources are reduced by the direct alignment of optics through their surface retroreflections (pips) as seen through a theodolite. Optical alignment adjustments are actualized through motorized, sub-micron precision actuators in 5 degrees of freedom. Optical structure hardware costs are reduced through the use of simple shapes (tubes, plates) and repeated components. This approach produces significantly cheaper hardware and more efficient assembly without sacrificing alignment precision or optical structure stability. The design, alignment plan and assembly of a 4" aperture, carbon fiber composite, Schmidt-Cassegrain concept telescope is presented.
© (2011) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Edward G. Winrow and Victor H. Chavez "High-precision optical systems with inexpensive hardware: a unified alignment and structural design approach", Proc. SPIE 8125, Optomechanics 2011: Innovations and Solutions, 812509 (24 September 2011);

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