Optomechanical Design Process
The optomechanical design of optical instruments is a tightly integrated process involving many technical disciplines. It begins when the requirement for a particular hardware item is established by the potential user, such as the military, other governmental organizations, or commercial representatives who seek ways to expand sales with a new or improved product. Once approved, funded, and staffed, the design effort proceeds through a logical sequence of major steps and concludes only when the instrument is awarded a pedigree establishing its ability to meet all its technical specifications and capable of being produced, within cost limits, in the required quantity—whether that is as a one-off (such as the highly successful Hubble Space Telescope) or as a large number of a much simpler item (such as a new spotting scope with an integrated digital camera for nature study). In this chapter, we treat each major design step in a separate section. Admittedly, our approach is idealized since few designs develop as smoothly as planned. We endeavor to show how the process should occur and trust that those planning, executing, reviewing, and approving the design will have the ingenuity and resourcefulness to cope with the inevitable problems and bring errant design activities into harmony with minimal effect on schedule and cost.