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.

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.
Do you sell these?
No, not yet. :-)<br><br>At some stage I might sell kits for smaller star maps, if people were interested.
Yessss, do that! That's good idea :)
<p>Wow! This is a very thorough, well done, Instructable. I have been thinking of doing a ceiling star map, using actual star data, for some time. I have read about many versions of this, using luminous paint or fiber optic cable, but this is, by far, the best I have seen. Some of the highlights of your implementation are the following. First of all, using actual star maps. Most people just wing it and use random patterns, which, IMO, look awful. Second, you actually differentiate the lower magnitude stars, somewhat, with LEDs. I'm thinking, instead, of using multiple fibers, and having several magnitudes. I really like the idea of simply printing out the star maps and using them on the reverse side of the substrate. Brilliant! These ideas could be combined with the ideas of another Instructable, </p><p><a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/Fiber-Optic-Panel-Star-Ceiling/" rel="nofollow">Fiber Optic Panel Star Ceiling</a></p><p>. Thank you for sharing your great ideas. You get my vote for a PRO membership!</p>
Thanks Laral, I'm glad you enjoyed it!<br><br>A full ceiling map would look fantastic, though I think it'd be a *lot* of work to do with real star maps.
<p>You're right. I'll probably never do it. I originally wanted to do it with luminous paint, which would be easier.</p>
Could the star map be cut using a laser cutter to save all that drilling/poking? Guessing the challenge it getting the star map rendered in a way that can drive the laser cutter? Thanks for a great project/work of art.
I've made a similar project, although I didn't use fibres for the lighting, and the drawing I made only took about 15 minutes in AutoCAD. Many of the holes would have been the perfect size to take the fibres, and I'm planning on doing a second version using that lighting method.
Interesting - so are the points of light all LEDs, or is there a backlight?
in the fist version, I used led strip lighting around the inside of the frame, and diffused the light through a piece of parchment paper. I've since replaced the led strips with a 4x4 neopixel array, so I can alter the lighting patterns and brightness easily.
<p>Nicely done. :-)<br></p>
It could...<br>I didn't have access to a laser cutter when I built this one, and it is way too big to fit into any laser cutter.<br><br>A smaller one, definitely. It might be a little bit complicated to convert your design into the right format, and to make each 'point' a little circle for the laser to travel around, and to ensure that the laser is actually cutting all the way through every hole... <br><br>Total effort vs using a cordless drill may actually be higher, depending on your source design and how many stars there are to cut out.
<p>I'm not sure if you're brilliant or simply insane. </p>
&iquest;Porque no los dos? :-D
<p>&iexcl;Eso que s&iacute;! Aunque lo que algunas personas consideran locura es<br>s&oacute;lo la libertad del pensamiento.</p>
<p>Ciertamente. ^_^</p>
<p>Great gift idea for the wife. I'm doing this. I have 6 months. Thx for the writeup!</p>
It took me at least 3 solid months to get done, while the wife was away. (lots more free time)<br>Best of luck, and get cracking!
<p>could you make a small one whith a battery powered string of LEDs (20 long) and put them in a bottle cap and add some small length of fibre optics to them and for some brighter ones just have the led on its own I think this would work but what size do you think is best for it Is 1ft by 2ft about right would be great if you could tell me Thanks </p>
You certainly could do it this way, and the size you've chosen seems fine. (It makes it a bit easier to buy a ready-made frame, so that would give you your size)<br><br>The main thing I'd be concerned about with using ready-made LED strings for both the 'big' stars and the fibre optics is relative brightness.<br><br>LED strings are not that bright, and the fibres in the bundle have to all &quot;share&quot; the brightness of the LEDs attached. I think it might end up making the fibres too dim. <br>It might be better to use the LED string for the big stars, and maybe a LED torch for the fibers?
Thank you for replying and for the useful tips
<p>Might I suggest you record the various scenes onto a HD video disc and offer them up for sale. People could then play them back on their HDTV's and enjoy the views.</p>
Not sure what you mean - it looks cool, but it doesn't move.
<p>I thought I read or saw a photo with constellations shown, I don't see it now. Because it doesn't move is not really a deterrent to selling DVD's. People play DVD's with loops of serene scenes and fireplaces</p>
<p>Thanks RubenS13. :-)</p>
<p>I'm very impressed. A friend of mine is going to make one. Very good work.</p>
<p>Thanks smartrem. :-)</p>
Thanks uwezi. :-)
<p>For a good selection of LEDs, power supplies, and some technical information for selecting components, try LED Supply (www.ledsupply.com). (This is not an advertisement.) I've bought LEDs from them and found them very helpful.</p>
<p>AMAZING!!! </p>
<p>I made a very similar display back in 1970 or so with the &quot;amazingly new invention&quot; of fiber optics! I made a cardboard box of about that same size, about four inches deep and covered in a velvetteen type of fabric. Inside was a single tube 24-inch florescent light fixture. </p><p>I had scale up the map with paper grid squares from a smaller paper star map. The stars were scaled to magnitude by combining various numbers of one-half lengths of the fiber optics glued into holes in the box. Some aluminum foil was glued into the box's interior to spread the light evenly. </p><p>It was really unique in its day. Eventually the black fabric faded and I discarded about my only ever original art work.</p>
Nifty. It must have been difficult to make it work with a flourescent light!
<p>Great one.. but need a loooot of patience to do it. </p>
<p>Great work. Are you in the UK or the USA ? I couldn't find a fibre Christmas tree in any store near us in the USA, we ended up buying one for serious money for our first Christmas here. </p><p>I'd really like to make one of these things.</p><p>Steve</p>
Hi Steve,<br><br>Sorry, I'm in Australia, so couldn't really advise on local stores.<br>You could certainly try eBay or aliexpress?<br><br>If you are just going to disassemble it anyway, it's probably better to buy just the strands; see for example http://www.aliexpress.com/w/wholesale-fiber-optic.html?SearchText=fiber+optic&amp;CatId=39<br><br>(There are a lot more supply options now than back when I originally wrote this instructable.)<br><br>Best of luck with your project.<br>-Patrick
<p>hello mr trick i know this is an old project but i would like to ask you two questions if i may.first how many hours one needs for a project like this if you have all material?second how much did it cost you alltogether?thank you,best regards,and awesome project!</p>
<p>Hi Elmagiko,</p><p>If you make a smaller map, I'd say about $10-50 in materials, and maybe 8 hours of work? (not including time for glue or paint to dry, etc) </p><p>The most time-consuming part is putting each optical fiber through the map - a larger or denser map can take *much* more time, but it'll look great!</p><p>The costs are not very high - you can buy a nice frame cheaply from a dollar store, and a 'UFO' lamp from a dollar store or ebay.</p>
<p>just amazing work. well done looks great and the instructable is great. thank you</p>
<p>Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it.</p>
<p>well done looks amazing instructable is great too. seriously well done</p>
<p>Outstanding. Clearly a labor of love.</p>
<p>Thank you. :-)</p>
<p><em>The universe is a mystery,</em></p><p><em>as this invention has to</em></p>
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.
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. <br> <br>A reading nook would be a great place for stars overhead, absolutely!
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?

About This Instructable


1,388 favorites


More by MrTrick: Broken "Quick-Grip" Quick Fix Star Map LED Christmas Tree
Add instructable to: