The Lovell Radio Telescope at Jodrell Bank, Part 2

CGI Lovell telescope rendered in Vue

The first part covered the background and references.

This part will cover the actual CGI model building.

As is clear from even a casual glance, the main challenge was going to be making sense of all those struts. Doing them indiviually would not be practical so I had to understand the various repeating patterns and symmetrys in them. If you look through the structure at an angle, it can seem very complex:

Lovell radio telescope
Complicated stuff!

But from other angles the patterns are a lot clearer

Lovell radio telescope
Distant view from the side

jodrell-dish-side-view1End elevation of the telescope.

So once I had the basic shape in place, thanks to accurate dimensions of the overall structure kindly provided by the staff, I started counting the repeating elements, putting a rough version of that element in place, and checking it against photos. In some cases I might have to try two at a time, to check they intersected accurately.

sat03I also found it useful to have differeent sections in different ;ayers, and adjust transparency to better see what was going on.

And once I was happy I had nailed the symetry, I replaced the simple version with a more complex, accurate one.

Initially I thought I would be using clip maps / transparency maps for the finer cross struts, to keep the polygon counts under control. But fortunately Rhys Salcomb on Foundation 3d, convinced me to do it all with proper geometry.

The final lightwave model had over 1.2 million polygons.

Here are a few final Lightwave Renders:


sequenced000764Now that was not quite the end of the project though. Lightwave is not that great at natural environments. So I wanted to try and render it in Vue.

Now I have something of a love hate relationship with that software. It’s superb at environments, but not very stable. The surfacing is horrible, and their DRM regularly has me swearing.

But if I wanted nice skies and trees, I needed to use it, so I managed to import the model into Vue, patch up the surfaces as best I could, and got some renders out.



3 thoughts on “The Lovell Radio Telescope at Jodrell Bank, Part 2”

  1. This is amazing work. Tackling a structure with that complexity had to be daunting – I know because I too am attempting a 3-D model of the Lovell Telescope, though using a much less powerful program (Sketchup). I’m retired Air Force on disability, and working at projects such as this provides endless hours of enjoyment for me (and helps to keep my mind busy 🙂 I was wondering if you could find it in your heart to share some of those dimensions you obtained from the staff there. They would be a great help to me (and any reference photos you might want to throw in).
    Again, this is an incredible model, thanks for sharing
    Steve M

    1. Well, the development thread os over on Foundation 3d.

      You can see quite a few of the refs, and how I approached it there.

      Also my starting point was a mesh by Selden Ball, which you can find here:

      That should give you a flying start with your own project!

      (PS – This was nothing like as challenging as the Jodrell Bank Lovell Radiop Telescope!)

      1. Nick,
        I appreciate your response, but neither reference is for the Lovell Telescope, which is what I am modeling. Anything you can provide for that?
        Thanks in advance
        Steve M

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