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Orrery Plans Answered

Hi folks, I have a little project in mind and I was wondering if anyone knows of anywhere I can get plans to build an orrery for our solar system? Alternatively a mains powered orrery mechanism that I can build around would be good as well. Many thanks in advance


so a question, did anyone actually find plans to build an orrery.. wooden or brass.

Would so so love to start this project....

I found this link. I would like to try it.

Hi folks, just reading all your comments on not being able to find plans for an orrery. I've just finished designing and building one. Would me producing plans for it be of interest to anybody? Here's a couple of links to it before and after staining/varnishing that I posted on youtube:
I'm going to be building more of these to sell, and will also be doing different versions (less planets etc.). It looks more complicated than it actually is, but like anything, just do one bit at a time and get that bit right, and before you know it's finished - well, that's the theory anyway... Mine was all cut using an electric fret saw, sand paper and a drill press, no lathes needed (I don't even own one, darn it), so tooling up for it doesn't cost a fortune. The planets are hand painted wooden balls available from craft shops, all the shafts are brass tube (K&S tubing is great), but the majority of it (including all the gear wheels) is cut from 6mm marine grade birch ply. Available from most hobby shops, this wood is great for engineering application like this as its easy to work, stable, takes stain and varnish, and because it's ply, you can cut gear teeth without running the risk of them shearing off, and believe it or not, even looks nice when varnished!
Let me know if there's any takers and I might just get off my backside and draft up some proper plans. Take care all.

I would be very interested in plans of a eight/nine planet system with orbiting moons. If you ever decided to sell plans please let me know as well Jeff jjanes@dmjhost.com

I'd really like to see some orrery plans. If you ever produce them, I'd buy a set.

I've been looking for plans for months! Would love it if you would offer yours for sale!


I have always wanted to make one and yours could not come at better time as I have some extra time to devote to it. Where can I get your plans. Thanks

I would also be interested in receiving the plans. Thanks

I would also appreciate the plans. I have looked longingly at these great orreries and making one would be a great way to learn the motions and gain an orrery organically....

This seems a bit of an old subject now, but I would really really like to have these plans! Me and my boyfriend would love it to be our summer project.

I've just come back to this and I would very definitely be interested in some plans if you manage it :)

I like the clip on youtube. I do wont to make one and would like any help I can get. Have managed to do your plans?

Yes please! I have built wooden clocks and this would be a great addition.

I spent the afternoon searching for plans to build a nice-looking, functioning orrery. My wife is a physicist who loves space and I want to build one for her birthday. However, I am a history major who knows nothing about math nor where to start. Plans though, I can follow. minimoa69, you might have a taker for plans... Or someone can point me in the right direction so the orrery actually functions. Thanks.

Hi all. I've just finished designing and building an orrery from brass and wood. I've put the complete instructions, including a list of the gear part numbers, on a website, http://brassorrery.blogspot.com. Check it out, the actual craftsmanship isn't particularly sophisticated but the design itself features all the planets out to Saturn, the moon revolving around the earth, the earth at a set 23 degrees and the earth itself revolving. If you're interested in building one this should provide all the information you need.

This may not be helpful, but "31 Projects for Beginners Junior Mechanics Handbook" by Garry Winter (1964, published by Arco) has instructions for an Orrery. I have a copy out from the local library, though I cannot find a copy for sale, you can always check for an inter-library loan.


9 years ago

The intricate balance between art and science displayed by an orrery in motion is truly something beautiful to behold. I have collected countless images of both modern and historic designs over the years and find yours to be truly unique. The elliptical character of its framework housing its gear assemblies, compact size, suitably sized planets and view-ably paced rotation during operation represent a tour-de-force example of artistic craftsmanship. I wish to add my sentiments to those expressed by the individuals above and say that should you elect to “get off your backside and draft up some proper plans,” I would most certainly wish to obtain a copy.


9 years ago

I am very impressed and love what you have done. Definately interested in plans!

Hi to you all. Has this item moved on a bit ? I am looking to construct a mechanical orrery hopefully by using off the shelf motorcycle, car and general hardware items. I need the plans as well as you all, the ratios and formulaes being all important. Good luck to you all. Regards Stick


10 years ago

I would be really interested in this. I have been watching the ads for the new part works "Build Your Own Solar System". I would really love one of these but it is totally out of my budget. However, my boyfriend has said he would make me one if I can find plans.

Despite 3 days of searching, I haven't come up with anything useful except possibly the Mechanno one.

The next idea is to design out own. However, the "rules" are that I have to design it and he will make it. This means learning about the solar system and learning about gears then learning how to put them both together.

Maybe he thinks I will give up? He reckons that by the time I have managed to do all this he will have worked out how to make gears and cutters.

Any help will be appreciated. Anybody who would like to collaborate on this project will be even more appreciated.

Thanks for the links. I had come across those, but I'm more looking for a traditional brass 9 planet type, preferably with a moving moon. (Actually, when I say traditional, think steampunk ) As far as tools go I'm fairly well set up and anything I don't have I can either improvise or acquire over time as this isn't going to be an overnight project. As far as accuracy go's, the ideal would be to have it accurate to a few minutes a year, but a few minutes every couple of months or so would be good. Materials will be scavenged or bought as and when I need them, I'm hoping to build it mostly from brass, copper and that kind of thing.

Hi Motorbikeman... I too have always wanted to build a traditional style brass Orrery, one of those hand cranked versions seen at the turn of the Century would be very nice! However, although I can design an Orrery on paper/computer I have no engineering experience and no access to the sort of machinery I think you would need to build the project (ie: Lathe, CNC Milling Machine etc). So it was a real surprise when I walked into the Newsagent yesterday and found a new magazine called "Build A Model Solar System" - each issue comes with brass components to build one!!! OK it will take 52 weeks and be quite expensive, but it still looks really good!!! See: www.build-solar-system.com for more information. Hope this helps a bit! Cheers, Steve

Yeah I'd seen that as well and it's actually what's spurred me on to make one myself. I've had bad dealings in the past with those kind of partwork collectibles as there is no guarantee that if enough people don't subscribe, they wont simply cancel it part way through leaving you with a pile of very nicely made but relatively useless parts which is exactly what happened to me.

One way would be to use stepper motors, but that would require the use of some microcontrollers and programming (is rather cheap though)

I had thought about doing it that way and it's still an option, especially if i can give it the steampunk look I'm looking for. However there is something in me that really likes the idea of a mechanical device. There's no deadline or anything so who knows what might happen :)

Does the (Linux) download from this link help any?