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Build A Pin-Hole Planetarium Electronics Project

Pin-hole Planetarium

Indoor night sky

By Ari Dubinsky

Description: Homemade Pin-hole Planetarium Project
Assembly Time: 1-2 hours
Skill level: Beginner

Have you ever wanted to stare at the star-lit night from the comfort of your bed? Reproduce nature's majesty with your own homemade planetarium and transform your ceiling into the night sky using a few electronic components and some common household materials. Follow these easy steps and you'll be seeing stars in no time.

It's time to get creative!

Required materials

At the start of a project, it's important to put together a list of materials you will need. This project requires a few electronic components and a few things you may already have lying around.

1. Metal bowl* - this will be your planetarium dome
2. Base*, I used a microwave splatter guard
3. Hammer
4. A few nails
5. A metal file
6. Wooden block
7. Soldering equipment
8. High Power LED
9. Toggle Switch
10. Wall Adapter Power Supply
11. Hook-up Wire

*note that the bowl and the base should be a good fit together (see photo below)

Assembled planetarium Assembled planetarium

Step 1 - Punching holes in the dome

There are a couple of ways to make your dome but I chose to do this very primitively. I had an extra hand help me with this step as I hammered a nail through the bowl into a wooden block, simple, yet effective. These holes should be relatively small since you want your projections to look like the actual night sky. Make sure to file down your dome afterwards as the punched holes can be sharp.

If you want to create constellations, print out a sheet that has the constellations and place the sheet over the bowl as you drive a nail through it.

Punch holes in dome Punch holes in dome (bowl)

Step 2 - Prepare LED

Prepare the LED by soldering wire to its terminals.

Solder leader wire to LED terminal Solder leader wire to LED terminal

Step 3 - Connect switch and assembly

Next I soldered the wire to the switch, attached it to the base and connected it to the power supply. I cut the end off the Wall Adapter Power Supply so that I could connect one end to the switch and the other to the LED. For the best effect, it is important to make sure light doesn't escape from your enclosure except through the designated holes in the dome, so I covered my base with black paper.

Base enclosure Base enclosure contains wiring and switch. Black paper covers the top.

Secure the LED on top of the base with glue or double-sided tape.

Warning: LED is extremely bright.

Placed LED on Planetarium base LED placed on planetarium base with black paper backing.
Switch is seen on bottom right side of base in this picture.

Step 4 - Add dome

Indoor night sky Place dome on top, turn off the lights and enjoy!

Troubleshooting Issues:

Make sure the LED isn't shorting on the enclosure's base.

Check to be sure your soldering is secure on terminal and switch.

Check for damaged components.


Find a great sky chart here.

Lots more night sky info here.
This project was assembled by Ari Dubinsky. Ari currently attends Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in pursuit of a degree in Electrical Engineering. His interests include shredding on the guitar, electronics, and music production.