Introduction: Planetarium

We created a planetarium for a summer class in STEM skills. We used a combination of 3D printing, woodworking, and electronics to create this project. Have fun recreating it for your own use!

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Step 1: Materials

- piece of 3/4 inch outer diameter PVC pipe

- 3/8 inch diameter dowel rods

- 1/4 inch diameter dowel rods

- 3D printer and 3D printing software

- 19 in x 12 in x 2 in piece of Styrofoam

- 19 in x 12 in piece of wood

-(2) 5 in x 2 in x 2 in pieces of wood

- black spray paint

- nickel spray paint

- wood shop tools

- Arudino

- Wires


- 330 ohm resistor

- Laptop with Arduino software

- Gorilla Glue

- Wood Glue

Step 2: Design and Print the Planets

Use a 3D printing software to design the planets you will print. Each will be a sphere with a different diameter to roughly represent the scale of the solar system. You can change the size of the planets if you wish, but keep in mind that larger spheres will take longer to print as well as use more material.

- Mercury: 15 mm diameter

- Venus: 23 mm diameter

- Earth: 25 mm diameter

- Mars: 20 mm diameter

- Jupiter: 66 mm diameter

- Saturn: 51 mm diameter

- Uranus: 30 mm diameter

- Neptune: 29 mm diameter

- Pluto: 15 mm diameter

For Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, and Pluto the spheres should be solid. They are too small for hollowing them out to make a difference. However, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune are too big to be printed solidly. Make these hollow with a 10 mm thick wall.

Each planet should have a 6.5 mm diameter hole from the center to one side.

For the Sun, design two half spheres with a 96 mm diameter. They should be hollow with a 2 mm thick wall. One of the halves should have a 20 mm hole in the center.

Each planet should also be printed in a specific color to represent their actual colors

- Mercury: grey

- Venus: orange

- Earth: blue

- Mars: red

- Jupiter: red-orange

- Saturn: yellow

- Uranus: blue-green

- Neptune: blue

- Pluto: brown

The sun should be printed with a transparent material so that the light we will hook up later can shine through

Step 3: Creating the Base

Materials used in this step: Styrofoam, Plywood, Scraper, Wood shop tools, Black and Nickel Spray Paint

1.) Take the piece of Styrofoam and measure a piece that is 19" by 12".

2.) Cut along the marks using table saw or any utility knife.

3.) Do the same for the piece of plywood - measure the piece and make mark at 19" by 12".

4.) Cut along the marks of the plywood using table saw

5.) Now for the Styrofoam, take a scraper a cut a hole into the center of the piece that is 7/8" diameter so that the PVC pipe can go down smoothly into it. Scrape all the little pieces to make the hole as deep as possible without going all the way through.

6.) Now, cut a hole of the same diameter into the plywood with some kind of drill.

7.) Cut a rectangle in the Styrofoam the size of your Arduino on one side of the hole. It should be about an inch from the edge of the Styrofoam. Scrape the area out so that the Arduino can sit in the pocket included the wires that will stick out of it.

8.) Now cut a tunnel about 1/2" wide that goes from the arduino pocket to the hole for the PVC. This will allow you to run wires more smoothly. Scrape out the excess Styrofoam to the same depth of the Arduino pocket.

9.) Cut a tunnel about 1/2" wide that on the other side of the Arduino pocket to the edge of the base where the USB cable will attach to the Arduino. Scrape out the excess.

10.) To paint the base, set the plywood on top of the Styrofoam.

11.) Take a can of black spray paint and paint two coats on the surface of the plywood and the sides of the Styrofoam. After dried, paint one coat with a can of nickel paint and go back over with a black coat.

Step 4: PVC Pipe

Materials needed: PVC pipe and wood shop tools

1.) Take the PVC pipe and mark it to 11 1/2"

2.) Cut the pipe.

3.) On the side of the PVC, towards the bottom, drill a 1/2" diameter hole. Do NOT drill it all the way through the pipe. This hole is to fit wires up to the sun so it can be lit up. The whole should line up with the tunnel you cut through the Styrofoam towards the PVC pipe

Step 5: The Woodworking


3 2*2*5in blocks of wood

3-4 3/8in dowell rods

3-4 1/4in dowell rods

1.) Drill a 7/8in hole in the 2*2*5 block of wood. Leave a dead end on the wood to mount in on a lathe. Once you have a hole through the center, put the block on the lathe and smooth it out. You should end this process with a 5in cylinder. Saw it into five pieces and you should now have four rings and one dead end which you can toss out. Repeat this for all the blocks. You'll end this step with some extra rings, but that's good because the next step can possibly split the wood.

2.) Now take each of your ring and drill a 3/8 hole in the side of each ring.

3.) Now cut the 3/8in dowell rods to the lengths that you want each of your planets spaced apart, and slide them into the holes you made in the ring.

4.) Cut the 1/4in dowell rods to the height that you want each of your planets to be at.

5.) Made a small 1/4in pit in each of the 3/8in dowell rods to mount the 1/4in dowell rods.

6.) Glue all the 1/4in dowell rods into place, and then glue anything else that seems loose. Most of our woodworking fit pretty well though.

7.) Now spray paint it all the same way you did the plywood.

Step 6: The Arduino

Materals: Arduino, Wires, LED, resistor, SIK guide, laptop with Arduino software

1.) place the PVC pipe in the hole in the Styrofoam

2.) put the Arduino in the pocket created in the Styrofoam and lead the USB cable through the tunnel to the edge of the Styrofoam block

3.) Following the instructions from the SIK guide, circuit 1, set up the Arduino for a blinking LED

4.) extend the connection to the led and feed the LED and wires through the PVC pipe until they sit near the top

5.) bring up the code for circuit 1 on the Arduino software and delete the lines of code that make the light blink. This will change the circuit so that the LED remains on

6.) upload the code to the Arduino

Step 7: The Assembly

1.) place and glue the 19 in x 12 in piece of plywood on the block of Styrofoam

2.) stack the wooden rings with the dowel rods attached on the PVC pipe in order

3.) Put the planets on the dowel rods, gluing when necessary

4.) Glue the two halves of the sun together and place on top of the PVC pipe, hiding the LED and wires from view

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    3 years ago

    Looks good! Thanks for sharing your project :)