Machining an Orrery

machining-an-orrery

What in the heck is an Orrery? If you’re looking at the image above we’re sure you’ve already figured it out (kudos to the big brains that knew the word). For those that don’t get it, an Orrery is a mechanical device that represents the movements of planets and moons. We never thought of building one ourselves. After seeing the machining process for what’s shown above we’re not sure if we’re excited, or scared off by all the work that went into it.

You might want to bust out the Chromecast and hit the sofa for this one. There are dozens of YouTube videos showing the build. From cutting sheet stock into round slugs, to making teeth, teeth, teeth, and more teeth it’s not just the gears that go into this one. You’re also going to needs the orbs themselves.

We have fond (perhaps scary) memories of the first time we saw an Orrery as a part of the set in The Dark Crystal.

Build Time-Lapse

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmNuG15cqNw

Finished Piece:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aj47IJW_DRA

[Via CNC Cookbook via Make]

 

Comments

  1. Mithrandir says:

    I LOVE these things, wish I’d have one of those…

  2. mark g says:

    Oh, reary?

  3. F says:

    I grew up in Vermont’s “Precision Valley” where gear tooth cutting was high art. My friends worked at “Fellows Gear Shaper” and “Bryant Chucking Grinders” and “Jones & Lampson Comparators” The “hard disk” as we know it today was first made in Vermont’s Precision Valley. Yankee craftsmanship at its finest. Alas it’s all moved offshore.

  4. ET says:

    I really enjoy reading/watching videos about stuff like this.
    I was immediately reminded of the Retrotechtacular posts on HaD about naval targeting computers and pocket watches!
    Although a lot of our modern gadgets are digital, electronic, etc, there’s still applications where you need mechanical bits to get the job done.
    The knowledge of this “old” tech is definitely something that shouldn’t be lost to time, and I’m glad there’s still people who are willing to teach themselves, and to write up their experiences, to further disseminate the information.

  5. 0.zer0 says:

    I wonder how accurate that movement is. It looks pretty close as far as the Moon goes.

  6. Pointy Teeth says:

    Nice build.

    Those gears are under almost no load, so all of the complex gear math, etc, is not necessary. Gear wear would also not be a major consideration. Point being, it isn’t necessary to extensively fuss over the gear tooth interfaces.

    I would cut the gears from flat sheet, on a CNC. Whether from plastic, brass, or aluminum.

    Perhaps more interesting would be an Orrery of a planet and it’s many moons. Did you know Uranus has 27 moons? Bonus points for getting all the planets and moons, and even those chunks that they say don’t qualify for moons. Double bonus extra credit for the ability to add new objects to the mechanism as they are discovered.

  7. truthspew says:

    Yeah I think it’s pretty impressive even if the orbits are circular instead of elliptical.That said, watching the guy machining the parts is pure maker porn!

  8. Mike Morrow says:

    Would one use a planetary gearset to make this? Anyone… anyone? I’ll show my self out…

    Awesome job, would love to have one of these, I have always found them fascinating.

  9. Orion says:

    As an amateur astronomer, I can’t help but be impressed by this, even though if I were on the Starship Enterprise coming back home to that solar system I’d be initially confused as to whether that was Earth or that Neptune had somehow taken its place and ask Spock for a confirmation. But then I’m not trying to take anything away from the build, I really admire the effort!

  10. Hirudinea says:

    Wow, now that is craftsmanship, well done!

  11. Oh wow… I desperately want to make something like this. I’ve been wanting to get into gear-cutting for a while now, but those cutters are so damned hard to get and/or expensive. :(

    Man, I’d love to make one of these, even just a smaller Sun-to-Mars one, inside a bell jar.

  12. PPz says:

    Don’t forget the solar Orrery in Pitch Black !
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSWXlm9I05o (1:23 – 1:30)

  13. Alan says:

    Hackaday Concept: Place a small camera where Earth is, allowing you to compare the calculated positions with the real sky.
    Bonus points: cameras for all the major planets.
    Extra bonus points: Mirrors instead of cameras, in a periscope configuration, for a purely mechanical visualisation.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 96,545 other followers