DIY Orb Display Puts The Earth In Your Hands


[Nirav] liked the idea of having his own personal Earth at the tip of his fingers, and since that’s not happening any time soon, he decided to build the next best thing. Sure, he could have simply gone out and purchased a globe, but there is no fun in that. Instead, he shows us how he put together an interactive spherical display that won’t break the bank.

The sphere uses a Microvision SHOWWX to drive its display, which projects an image inside of a frosted glass light fixture. The pico projector gets some help from a 180° fisheye lens along the way, enabling the picture to be stretched across the entire inner surface of the globe.

[Nirav] used his 3D extruder to build a base for the globe, which attaches to the projector via a printed mounting plate. A GorillaPod was used to keep things upright while he dusted off his trigonometry skills in order to figure out how to get the image just right.

We think that he did a great job – it definitely looks to be on par (albeit a bit smaller) than the eye of Sauron globe we saw a while back. We can’t wait to see a video of this thing in action once it’s completely finished!

24 thoughts on “DIY Orb Display Puts The Earth In Your Hands

  1. Can you combine this with a video phone and a kinex so you can have a 3d like video calls? I would do it but my idea of high tech work skills (duct taping a flash light to a hammer for night time nailling)

    1. Reminds me of the Santa Trap I came up with when I was 6 or 7. Connect a flashlight to an alarm clock, so when Santa noticed my flashlight was on and went to turn it off, the alarm would wake me up and I’d get to see him.

      Grandpa wouldn’t help me make it, though. XD

  2. Not only link it to Google Earth, but get cloud and weather data displayed on there. That would be amazing if you could write software to get the reported cloud data (I think it is updated every 5 minutes) and have it be 5 minutes behind, meanwhile interpolating a smooth animation from the previous frames to create a continuous moving, smooth cloud animation on there as well. I’d drop $1000 for something like that.

  3. It’s just a pity that if you push pixels through a lens like that the whole thing becomes either extremely pixelated or needs a very expensive high-res projector.
    However I see the projector is mounted with elastics so you can just use the 3D thing when you want and use the projector normally the rest of the time, smart that!
    It’s more a 3D projector screen, to be used whenever you want, so it’s a pretty nice hack.

    1. The point about the distortion from projecting a flat, low-resolution image through a fisheye lens reminds me of the project that used hanging filaments to create a volumetric display, by offsetting each level of depth by one pixel width. Of course the device was limited by projector resolution, but it was still quite cool.

  4. Brad beat me to it.. I was about to post that link. If SOS opened up.. It could be done on a smaller scale with cheaper projectors by DIY-ers.. Maybe even taken into the classroom. They have hundreds of datasets publicly downloadable for the system. Maybe it could be made to work with this guy’s hack.

  5. Dude! This is straight out of SnowCrash!
    Good read, but this is literally what I see in the book when they describe it. :P

    Imagen having live weather output onto the globe as well!

  6. That is awesome. I think it would be very cool if it could display the location of orbiting satellites, clouds overhead or even demonstrate the amount of light pollution coming from different parts of the world. I want one so badly lol

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