So I'm a senior at a lesser known university, I 'believe' I did very well on my PGRE though I don't have my scores yet, and I've maintained a 3.7 average in my physics courses. The only thing holding me back from admission into a fantastic grad program is my complete lack of research experience! So one of the professors has set up to get me some experience through my senior capstone course, and I want to make sure it goes smoothly and looks fantastic on an application, but we're short on resources and experience, as this is a new professor. We want to propose an experiment that can detect whether or not lightning strikes are caused by cosmic rays. So what we want to do is build a parabolic dish that can simultaneously detect Cherenkov radiation and lightning strikes. First off we're building a parabolic dish to the dimensions that can allow us to use reasonably priced photodetectors and electronics to detect the Cherenkov radiation, but we're starting out with only detecting lightning for funding reasons. Here is the issue: I'm delegated to tackle the detectors and electronics behind the dish, and I have no idea where to start. We can't afford photomultiplier tubes and avalanche photodiodes, so it seems we're going with cds cells, and the professor has proposed hooking them up to a raspberry pi, but I really have no experience with computer science/programming so I'm looking for some direction. Also, if anyone has any ideas on how to construct a rather cheap but effective parabolic reflector with a radius of about 1.2 meters, I'm all ears! Thanks in advance for any help!