Inner Planets Clock

About: I am an inventor and an aquarist. I am currently in 8th grade and hoping to become an electronics, or mechanical engineer.

Intro: Inner Planets Clock

In this instructable I will show you how to turn an ordinary analog wall clock into three unique designs. I have a file here with the original TinkerCAD design. The first and main one we will be making is an inner planetary clock, where as time goes by, planets orbit the sun. The second is a clock with the Earth in the center, and the moon and a satellite orbit Earth. The third is a clock with Mars in the center, and its two moons, Phobos and Deimos.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

For this project I went to Target and bought a small, cheap clock ($3.99). You will need a clock like this one - a similar size would work best. The clock needs to have a second hand that has a part protruding from the center on the opposite side. Materials needed include:

Black Spray Paint (Regular paint works too, but not as well)

Cardstock (thick paper)

White Chalk Markers (optional)

A Screwdriver (for the back of the clock)

A Printer

A knife and scissors

Hot glue gun (or any other glue)

Step 2: Selecting Your Design

Here are the three designs as shown in the intro. The one I made, and kept, is the inner planets one. The other two, Earth and Mars, were created temporarily from a clock I had in my room. When reading the instructable, keep in mind what design you want, and follow the instructions according to your choice. Before constructing, read the conclusion (step nine) as it contains advice.

Step 3: Begin

We will start by taking the front off of the clock. There are five screws on the back of the clock I used. Simply remove them, carefully lifting the back up and setting it down face up. I recommend putting the front piece with the glass in a safe place while you work. Next, you will very carefully pop the hands off. Tip: do this with the battery out, to keep the hands from moving, and use your fingernails to pull it off. Then, pop the actual clock mechanism out of the back, as seen in the photo.

Step 4: Painting

Bring the back panel (the part with the numbers on it) outside, or in a ventilated area, and begin to spray paint the whole area black. Don't paint the back. Do not paint too thick a coat, as it will take a very long time to dry, but do not make it too thin. Also, let it dry well, as I had trouble with some of the next steps because it was still a bit wet.

Step 5: Printing

For the planets, you will print out the PDF files below. If you don't have a printer, then you can paint or color the planets and sun. Here are the PDF files to print out. My clock was a nine inch wall clock, if you have a larger clock, increase the size of the planets one inch per extra inch on the clock. The planets are not to scale, because they would not be visible if they were. I also have the bibliographies for the photos on the Works Cited PDF.

Step 6: The Sun and the Stars

Cut out the sun (or Earth or Mars depending on the project you have selected). Then determine the center using a ruler to find the diameter, then dividing by two to find where the middle is, the mark the middle with a writing utensil. Use an X-ACTO knife, of some other sharp knife to carve a hole that is the same size as the knob that the hands were attached to. Then, slide the sun onto the clock face so that the hole fits over the clock mechanism. For stars, use a chalk marker, and make dots. To give a more realistic look, try adding constellations, and making small "clusters" of stars. Also, for a twinkle effect, make small "plus signs." This wouldn't occur if you were in space because the atmosphere of the Earth distorts light entering it.

Step 7: Assembling the Hands

Here you will add the planets or satellites (satellite just means something that orbits another body such as a planet). I used hot glue because it takes only a few seconds to dry. You may use any other types of glue, however you do not need any really strong glue. If you want, you may even paint the parts of the hands over the sun the same color scheme, or even put the sun on top of the whole set. I glued the planets to the hands, and cut any glue hanging off. For Mercury and Venus, you have to glue Venus so that it is close to the sun, away from Earth. Mercury was a bit difficult, because I had to extend the arm on the other end, seen in the fourth picture, using leftover cardstock. When cutting out the planets, a smaller pair of scissors is more precise, and you have more control. When cutting out the satellite from the Earth and Moon project, I used a larger clock, so you may have to "shrink" the photos, I also recommend not cutting out the exact shape of the satellite.

Step 8: Adding the Hands

To put the hands back on, simply pop them on in the same order they were in to begin with. Tip: put the hands on before you put the whole thing back together, as when I did that I found that the glue for Venus obstructed Mars's range of motion. Also, you may want to make sure that the weight of Venus does not cause the hand to slow or stop, I had that problem due to low battery, but also Venus weighed much more than Mercury (resulting in myself taking apart the mechanism looking for problems [then losing gears]).

Step 9: Conclusion

After putting the whole thing back together it looked very cool, and a lot better than I expected. Things I would change include patience to get the project done. I constantly found myself visiting the clock while the paint was drying, touching it to see if it were dry (resulting in fingerprints everywhere). I also tried adding lines to mark the numbers, which was difficult, and I added them going 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. I instead would have found the top, made a line, and using a ruler to add the six line, then going to the center and adding 3, and 9, and so on. You can even replace these with numbers, or both, or none as I did; However I found it difficult to set. Also, before you take it apart you can even make tick marks with a pen or pencil where the numbers would be to make it easier. Also, The planets order, is also in order of how long it will take to orbit the sun; although I had to put Earth on the hour hand, and Mars on the minute, where really it should be the other way around, as to be correct. If you want, you can create white circles to display orbit, and even create all the planets, having more than one per hand. To sum things up, this was a great project, and was very fun to build.

Step 10: Other Ideas

I have a few other space related clock ideas, one includes a clock with a satellite background, except the solar panels are actual panels, these would then power the clock. I was going to add a micro LED to the original inner planets one, with a switch on the outside, connecting to the battery. I was also going to have the moon orbiting Earth as it orbits the sun, but that would require either stronger hands,or a larger clock. If you want the file for it, I have it right here down below. Another idea would be to paint the stars on with glow in the dark paint. I hope you enjoyed building this!

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