We present in this article some of the techniques applied at the Instituto de Astronomía of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (IA-UNAM) to the mechanical structural design for astronomical instruments. With this purpose we use two recent projects developed by the Instrumentation Department. The goal of this work is to give guidelines about support structures design for achieving a faster and accurate astronomical instruments design. The main guidelines that lead all the design stages for instrument subsystems are the high-level requirements and the overall specifications. From these, each subsystem needs to get its own requirements, specifications, modes of operation, relative position, tip/tilt angles, and general tolerances. Normally these values are stated in the error budget of the instrument. Nevertheless, the error budget is dynamic, it is changing constantly. Depending on the manufacturing accuracy achieved, the error budget is again distributed. That is why having guidelines for structural design helps to know some of the limits of tolerances in manufacture and assembly. The error budget becomes then a quantified way for the interaction between groups; it is the key for teamwork.
COATLI is a new instrument and telescope that will provide 0.3 arcsec FWHM images from 550 to 920 nm over a large fraction of the sky. It consists of a robotic 50-cm telescope with a diffraction-limited imager. The imager has a steering mirror for fast guiding, a blue channel using an EMCCD from 400 to 550 nm to measure image motion, a red channel using a standard CCD from 550 to 920 nm, and an active optics system based on a deformable mirror to compensate static aberrations in the red channel. Since the telescope is small, fast guiding will provide diffraction-limited image quality in the red channel over a large fraction of the sky, even in relatively poor seeing. The COATLI telescope will be installed at the Observatorio Astronómico Nacional in Sierra San Pedro Mártir, Baja California, México, in 2016 and will initially operate with a simple interim imager. The definitive COATLI instrument will be installed in 2017. In this work we present the general optomechanical and control electronics design of COATLI.
COATLI will provide 0.3 arcsec FWHM images from 550 to 900 nm over a large fraction of the sky. It consists of a robotic 50-cm telescope with a diffraction-limited fast-guiding imager. Since the telescope is small, fast guiding will provide diffraction-limited image quality over a field of at least 1 arcmin and with coverage of a large fraction of the sky, even in relatively poor seeing. The COATLI telescope will be installed at the at the Observatorio Astronómico Nacional in Sierra San Pedro Mártir, México, during 2016 and the diffraction-limited imager will follow in 2017.
DDOTI will be a wide-field robotic imager consisting of six 28-cm telescopes with prime focus CCDs mounted on a common equatorial mount. Each telescope will have a field of view of 12 deg2, will have 2 arcsec pixels, and will reach a 10σ limiting magnitude in 60 seconds of r ≈ 18:7 in dark time and r ≈ 18:0 in bright time. The set of six will provide an instantaneous field of view of about 72 deg2. DDOTI uses commercial components almost entirely. The first DDOTI will be installed at the Observatorio Astronómico Nacional in Sierra San Pedro Martír, Baja California, México in early 2017. The main science goals of DDOTI are the localization of the optical transients associated with GRBs detected by the GBM instrument on the Fermi satellite and with gravitational-wave transients. DDOTI will also be used for studies of AGN and YSO variability and to determine the occurrence of hot Jupiters. The principal advantage of DDOTI compared to other similar projects is cost: a single DDOTI installation costs only about US$500,000. This makes it possible to contemplate a global network of DDOTI installations. Such geographic diversity would give earlier access and a higher localization rate. We are actively exploring this option.