In this instructable I show how to make an illuminated star chart.
This is for all the fellow star gazers out there!
Step 1: What You Need
-Mdf wood panel
-Optical Fiber (0.75 mm)
-Star chart image
-Crafting glue (wood)
-Press Drill (or Hand Drill)
-Basic wood working skills
-Heat shrinking tubes
-Soldering instruments and materials
-Basic soldering skills
Step 2: Finding and Printing a Star Chart
First off, I looked up images of star charts and chose a northern hemisphere star-chart. Once I found a chart to my liking, I printed it out in negative (so I don’t waste too much ink!) on four paper sheets. I taped the papers together. The resulting diameter of my chart was 38 cm.
This would be my guide for later.
Step 3: Wood
I chose a mdf wood panel as it is cheap and has a smooth surface so it would be easier to paint on later. I decided that my piece of wood would be slightly larger than the printed star chart so the stars wouldn’t be too close to the edge. I drew a circle of 40 cm in diameter on the wood so I would have a contour of 1 cm large, as the diameter of star chart is 38 cm.
Step 4: Cutting the Wood
I drilled a hole tangent to the drawn circle with a drill bit larger than the saw blade I was going to use so it would be the starting point to saw. Once the hole was drilled, I placed the electric saw blade inside it and proceeded to cut the wood. I then used sand paper to smoothen the edge of the circle.
Step 5: Spray Paint
To paint my star chart I used matte black primer and matte black spray paint (so it’s non reflective when I light up the star chart). I painted the wood outside on old newspapers. I applied 3 layers of primer and 5-6 layers of paint. Make sure to wait the right amount of time between layers and between the primer and the paint (usually written on the spray paint can).
Let it dry!
Step 6: Trial
I also painted and used a discarded piece of wood to test out the size of the drill bits I would use to drill the stars. As the chart showed different brightness of stars,I decided that the stars would be made of 1,2,3,4, or 5 optical fiber strings (5 being the brightest). I used 5 different sizes of drill bit, each allowing the right amount of strings inside.
Step 7: Drilling the Stars
To drill the stars I used the star chart I printed out earlier. I pinned the center of the chart in the middle of the wood piece and used some tape so it wouldn’t move. Then I used the 5 different drill bits I picked out earlier and drilled the stars according to their brightness.
Step 8: Drawing the Stars and Constellations
To draw the contour of each star, I used a silver permanent marker, which worked well on the matte black paint. I also drew lines to connect the stars of the constellations using a ruler and my printed chart as a guide.
Step 9: Optical Fiber
I cut strings of optical fiber in different lengths; shorter for the ones close to the center and longer for the ones at edge of the chart. That way I wouldn’t waste too much of my fiber. I made sure the strings were long enough to reach the center (where they would all be joined together). Once I placed the strings in the holes, I fixated them simply using wood crafting glue. I applied 2 layers of glue on the backside of the chart for each hole. Make sure the fiber reaches the other side of the hole before gluing!
Remember: Place the right amount of strings in the right holes, as they have different sizes (step 6)
Wait till it dries.
Step 10: Joining the Fibers Together
When the glue was dry, I joined the optical fiber together strings by tightly taping them with electrical tape. To ease the process, I taped them in small packs at first, then taped those packs together. When all the strings were joined together, I cut the extremities to make them even.
Step 11: Light Source
For my light source, I used 4 white bright LEDs (Max voltage of 3.4, max intensity of 20mA). I used a 9v battery, so I needed resistors to lower the intensity at the LEDs and prevent them from burning out (V=RI). When I figured the resistors I needed (I used 330 ohms total), I wired the circuit and soldered everything together (the LEDs in parallel). Don’t forget heat-shrinking tubes to protect your soldering.
Once the circuit was built, I used a large heat-shrinking tube and electrical tape to connect the optical fiber and light source together.
Step 12: All Done!
To display my star chart, I bought a book holder for under 5$ and it works perfectly!
Runner Up in the
Space Contest 2016
Participated in the
Summer Fun Contest 2016
Participated in the
Maker Olympics Contest 2016