OPT OPE Archive Optical Archive


We designed an interactive and educational imaging system. The guest will be able to project an image onto a screen.


  • Benjamin A Cohen
  • Noah P Woerner
  • Yifei Huang


Calvin Uzelmeier


The Rochester Museum and Science Center project is a senior design driven educational museum exhibit project. As such, the design considerations and inputs were derived from conversations with our project customer, Calvin Uzelmeier, and project advisor, Andrew Berger.


The desired product is an interactive and educational optics exhibit that is the size of a tabletop or wall mount. The goal is to create an exhibit that the Rochester Museum & Science Center can build as a display to put out for kids to have and interact with while teaching them about optics. This exhibit will be an imaging system. The audience will be able to choose an image from a gallery displayed on a screen. There will be a set of lenses in front of the display that will be used to image the display onto a screen. The goal is for the guests to gain an understanding of how differently powered lenses can be used to change the magnification and clarity of an image.

Project Deliverables

  • Blueprint of final working prototype
  • Bill of materials
  • How to build, set up and troubleshoot document
  • Label text to display with exhibit

Proof of concept

Initial setup of the proof of concept at the museum for first day of testing
Key takeaways from testing proof of concept
  • Our temporary lens mounts were to large and heavy
  • Forceful visitors may interact with the exhibit
  • Need guidance on what to do, look for, and how/where to move the lens and mounts
  • Visitors focused on the mounts more then the lens
  • The system had a low depth of focus, image came in and out of focus to quickly for the visitors to notice
  • Visitors enjoyed to puzzle aspect of trying to create images
Initial revisions

Created new temporary lens mounts using museum’s 3d printer. These mounts were lighter, smaller and could be used as a permanent mount. This will be tested with the more forceful visitors.

We created a quick prompt for the visitors and made a more suitable prompt to display with our exhibit with images for easier understanding.

We designed a rail system that would keep the lens in the optical axis. This also fixes the problem of the mounts being the focus.


Initial setup of the proof of concept at the museum for second day of testing
Notes from testing prototype
  • The revisions made from the proof on concept day improved our testing of the prototype significantly
  • Largest problem left to solve is prompting visitors what to do without help
  • Visitors would leave first lens alone when adding in a second lens to find second image
  • Visitors focusing on lens and not the image being displayed on the wall
Second revisions

We need to revise the label text to be friendlier younger visitors and use more passive language.

Our relay system needs to be adjusted to better fit inside the projector and should 3d print a stand to hold to front of the system up.

We added markings on the side of the rail system to give the visitors an idea of where the lens need to be for each experiment. This should help with the quick depth of focus of the system and the issue of visitors not adjusting the initial lens when needed.

Look into seeing if we can use a raspberry pi to display the image and if we can use it to select between multiple images.

Minor adjustments that need to be made are

  • Fixing the rough sliding of the lens in the rail system
  • Find alternate way to clamp down the mounts on the lens
  • Label experiment prompt pictures with different colors for labels on the rail system
  • Color match the mounts to correspond to convex and concave lens that are displayed in the prompt picture

Mounts and rail system

The full rail system with three offshoots and two mounts

The rail system was made at the museum using their MiniTec Aluminum Profile 45×45 UL rails. These rails come pre-slotted on all four sides. This made fabrication and connecting the side rails easier. As a result we had to redesign the lens mounts.

Optical mount made to fit into the rail system

Our redesigned lens mounts to fit in the MiniTec rails is shown above. The redesign consisted on changing the base to fit into the rail system, no other major modifications.

First order optical design

We are looking to form an image in three separate configurations where the image size in the smallest configuration is approximately 300mm (1ft) in diameter. To keep the exhibit size reasonable, we are limiting the overall length of the system to 2m (6.6ft). Below is a first order calculation for a single lens system with a desired magnification of 15. 

For the lenses with the same focal length in a relay system configuration, the distances must be as calculated below. Since there will only be 3 lenses in the exhibit, the focal lengths of the two lenses in the relay system must match that of the lens in the single lens configuration above. In this configuration, we aimed for the same magnification as in the first configuration. To constrain the system, the length from the object to the internal image was constrained to be 750mm:

For the third configuration, we are looking to achieve an image diameter of 600mm, which is a magnification of 30. Taking the negative lens to produce a magnification of 45, the lens positions and focal length can be calculated as:


  1. Smithsonian Accessibility Program, “Smithsonian Museum Guide to Accessible Exhibition Design”,
  3. Lucien Wald. “Basics In Solar Radiation At Earth Surface. 2018. 
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