Instructables
Picture of Star Map
Light up your home with this breathtaking piece of sky!
I made this star map last year for my wife, and everyone who sees it wants to know how it was made.

Be warned, to build something like this is a *big* project. You should expect to know:

* Basic woodworking skills
* How to handle a soldering iron
* How to design LED-based circuits
* How to safely deal with AC voltages

And above all, you'll need plenty of spare time.

This star map is a little over 2m wide, and 1.2m tall. It weighs 12-15kg, has somewhere between 1500-2000 optical fiber stars, and 108 LED stars.

You could quite easily use some of the techniques in here to make a small version, and it would still look really nice. This instructable then, can be used as a general reference for building star maps, not just how to replicate mine exactly. There is some additional info for small maps in the Addenda section.
 
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Step 1: Materials - Optical Fibers

Note: You can't use fishing line. Don't even think about it. It just doesn't conduct light in the right way. [ref]

You can buy optical fiber by the reel, but there are better and cheaper ways to get it*: For large star maps; a fake Christmas tree works very well! This time of year, it's not hard to find one cheaply.

For smaller star maps; the retro-tastic 'UFO Lamps' are a great source of fibers, and are pretty easy to find in dollar stores.

Both of these sources are great! They are cheap, and they terminate all the fibers into one place, so it is easy to light the stars.

Just consider:
* The more stars you have, the better it will look. Try to find a tree or lamp with plenty of 'points'.
* The size of the tree/lamp will determine how large your map can be. For example, if you have a 120cm / 4ft tree, you can build a map about 2m / 6.5ft wide. (Of course, the exact shape of the tree and your frame will affect the maximum. Get your measurements right before you buy/cut anything expensive. ;-) )


[*] Some fiber-by-the-reel is sold here. The 0.5mm fiber is probably the closest to what is found in trees/lamps, and costs 8c/ft, or 2c/ft if you buy 19,680ft worth. A $5 UFO lamp might have 400 x 1ft strands, already cut and terminated - at 1.25c/ft.
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cwoodlief2 years ago
Do you sell these?
MrTrick (author)  cwoodlief2 years ago
No, not yet. :-)

At some stage I might sell kits for smaller star maps, if people were interested.
MultiPhoton4 months ago

The universe is a mystery,

as this invention has to

Oscelot8 months ago
So one thing that might be interesting to try.. I've got a large christmas tree (3-4 foot or so) that's fiberoptic. It has a motor in the base that turns a coloured plate above the lamp, under the fiberoptics, and makes them different colours. Just thought I'd throw that in to the hive mind creativity pot. Love the instructable! Been wanting to do something like this for years. Saw a reading nook done this way about a decade ago, been in love with the idea since.
MrTrick (author)  Oscelot8 months ago
That turning wheel might be re-usable, if you have room. I didn't want my star map to be too thick, so it wouldn't have fit.

A reading nook would be a great place for stars overhead, absolutely!
fido9dido1 year ago
(Y)
kimsxs31 year ago
I wouild like to be able to do my entire bed room ceiling like your star map, do you think tht it would be possible?
MrTrick (author)  kimsxs31 year ago
Sure!

What I'd suggest though, is to make it out of lots of small pieces and tile them together. That way each part is relatively easy to build and move around.
You would also need a frame on the ceiling to hold them, I'd recommend magnets, and connectors for power.
dan11212 years ago
Would Anyone who lives in Southern California be down to help me build one of these?? :D this is such a spectacular piece of art; im having trouble getting all of the material down to order. and im not the brightest when it comes to LED lights haha
I live in southern California and would love to make one of these... Message me if you are still interested. (Am in Los Angeles)
I live in Long Beach, would you like to make one?
Your e-mail was nearly lost among a slew of others I received. But I got it! first my regular e-mail address is Schroeder.kirby@gmail.com. Contact me there from now on. Second, what do you propose we do?? I am intrigued and will be looking forward to hearing from you.
MrTrick (author)  dan11212 years ago
As some have suggested, using a big string of Christmas LED lights might make the electrics simpler. :-)
Kristen.p1 year ago
Instead of making my own frame, do you think I can use an art canvas? I was hoping to do it on a darker piece of art so it looks nice during the day. Can't wait to start making this! :)
MrTrick (author)  Kristen.p1 year ago
Sure!

The only thing I'd be concerned about is whether the canvas on its own would be stiff/sturdy enough to support the fibres. I suggest you get some foam-core or cardboard, and fit it behind the canvas. That way the fibres go through *both* layers.
lirk2 years ago
能有中文的说明书吗,,
littlepetry2 years ago
I am having an incredibly hard time find any fiber optic lamps, trees, or anything in southern wisconsin in April. Any suggestions?
MrTrick (author)  littlepetry2 years ago
I'm not in the U.S., let alone Wisconsin... How about amazon, though?

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=fiber-optic
lukefrice2 years ago
Any thoughts on using foam or expanding foam on the back? I have just gotten all my fibers in and did my gluing, but since I have so many fibers and they are so close together, I would have had to use a syringe to apply the glue. I watered down the glue a bit, poured in onto the map (while flat) and then used a shop-vac on reverse to blow it around. It seems to be holding the fibers so far, but my friend just suggested foam. I'm not sure if it would eat the fibers or not, but it's worth a test sometime I think.
Oh, and great instructable! I'm now almost done with my monster. 40"x60" with about 5200 stars. I only did the major constellations accurately (with 1mm fibers), then a few spaced out .75mm for accent stars, and then several thousand .25mm stars. The couple major stars in the sky are 2mm as well. I might make another instructable that adds onto this with my personal tips and experiences.
Thank you so much for the ideas and inspiration.
MrTrick (author)  lukefrice2 years ago
Wow, 5200 stars sounds awesome! I'd love to see your photos, and instructable.

(Glueing after putting fibres in is difficult, that's why I glued as I went)

Definitely test the foam before you put it near your hard work! The cyanoacrylate in superglue ruins fibres, I'm sure some of the components in that stuff would have a similar effect.

Luna!2 years ago
Its NOT a instructable, ... its a piece of art! Beautiful!
tinker2342 years ago
i love this i might make nut and GA the sky goddess of ancient Egypt and here husband is the earth just to clear it up
MrTrick (author)  tinker2342 years ago
Sounds like it'll look great!
Luna!2 years ago
LOVE IT! Congrats !! It looks like a windows ...to space!!

Rated!!

congrats!!
MrTrick (author)  Luna!2 years ago
Thanks. :-)
kendrkin2 years ago
Thank you for the inspiration. My kids and I completed a small one using an astronomy poster of a nebula ($5 from a local planetarium), a 4 ft fiber optic tree ($13 from large chain department store), appropriate sized frame with glass ($30), and some scrap wood to box out the frame. The LED's in the base of the tree were set to shift colors, so we just kept it so the stars twinkle and change color. It was a great family project that turned into a Christmas gift for a relative. (Now, we have no idea how we are going to top this one for next year!)
MrTrick (author)  kendrkin2 years ago
Awesome! :-D

Please post a photo of it, if you're able.
Here's a picture of the finished project: 


100_3447.JPG
MrTrick (author)  kendrkin2 years ago
Looks great. :-)

Well done!
kerec62 years ago
Why do you need 2 light sources?
MrTrick (author)  kerec62 years ago
My fibers were all the same size. I wanted small and large 'stars', so I needed the LED sources to do the large stars.

One could alternatively:
a) Have all stars the same size.
b) Collate the fibers yourself, and use some different sizes of fiber.
OR
c) Clump several fibers into one hole for larger stars.
dan11212 years ago
Does anyone know where I can buy a fiber optic Christmas tree for a good price either in stores or online? I am most likely going to purchase one after Christmas since the prices will go down (hopefully). Thank you!
MrTrick (author)  dan11212 years ago
eBay? Or maybe one of those "Christmas Specialty Stores" that pop up in the lead up to Christmas, a day or three after the 25th?

No idea where you are, so that's the best I can do. :-D
Djandco2 years ago
Well, the dead is done, just have to mount the thing on the wall and think of a fun way of turning it on and off :-)

I ended up making a cluster of white LED's and added one blue LED to the mix. This gave mostly white with a splat of blue which was quite nice.

Also, with the Arduino running 6 PWM outputs I had to change the random number from 255 to 40 as the fading effect took too long!

We sit there at the moment watching the "stars" looking at which ones will fade out first, it is mesmerizing to watch.

Thank you for building yours which in turn made me build mine.
2011-11-21 23.39.48.jpg
MrTrick (author)  Djandco2 years ago
Looks awesome!!

If you took enough photos, I think you should do a writeup on Instructables, I'd certainly be interested to see how you built it.
Djandco MrTrick2 years ago
I took a few pics as I went along. but probably not in enough detail, you know what people are like, they just keep asking questions!

I will see if I can detail the electronic side as an option for you and I may even post as my first i'ble :-)

Anyway, mine would still sit in the shadow of yours :-)
MrTrick (author)  Djandco2 years ago
Yes yes, flattery will get you everywhere. :-P Get writing!
Djandco MrTrick2 years ago
Tis done!
My first one is published http://www.instructables.com/id/Arduino-Star-Map/

Thank you :-)
madameghost2 years ago
Simply amazing. I quite wish I could commission you for one, but I suppose I will have to coerce some handier, craftier people than I to build it for me ... thank you for sharing!
Djandco2 years ago
Just a little tip, I found the perfect device for raising the board off the desk so you can feed the fibres through, I am wondering if I can paitent the idea :-)

The advantage is if you poke a fibre through and you hit the "paitent pending raising device" it doesn't damage them !
2011-11-14 20.13.32.jpg
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