Starbugs - Australian Astronomical Observatory

What are Starbugs?

An autonomous fiber positioner called ‘Starbugs,’ which walks across a glass field plate to its intended target with micrometer accuracy.


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Thursday, June 26, 2014 at 18:00 (9147-357)


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Thursday, June 26, 2014 at 11:50 (9147-357)


SPIE Paper Abstract

SPIE Astronomical Telescopes + Instrumentation 2014: Ground-based and Airborne Instrumentation V

Paper Number: 9147-357

The Australian Astronomical Observatory has extensively prototyped a new robotic positioner to allow simultaneous positioning of optical fibers at the focal plane called ‘Starbugs’. The Starbug devices each consist of two concentric piezoelectric tubes that ‘walk’ the optical fiber over the focal plane to accuracy of several microns. Ongoing research has led to the development of several Starbug prototypes, but lack of performance data has hampered further progress in the design of the Starbug positioners and the support equipment required to power and control them. Furthermore, Starbugs have been selected for the TAIPAN instrument, a prototype for MANIFEST on the GMT. A need now arises to measure and characterize 100’s of piezoelectric tubes before full scale production of Starbugs for TAIPAN. The manual measurements of these piezoelectric tubes are a time consuming process taking several hours. Therefore, a versatile automated system is needed to measure and characterize these tubes in the laboratory before production of Starbugs. We have solved this problem with the design of an automated LabVIEW application that significantly reduces test times to several minutes. We present the various design aspects of the automation system and provide analyses of example piezoelectric tubes for Starbugs.