Backyard Planetarium with Magnets

If you are a Hackaday reader, you probably like space in real life, fiction, or both. A trip to a planetarium is a great treat, but what if you could have a planetarium in your backyard? [Ecasill] thought so and used a Zip Tie domes kit to create just such a thing. It takes some sewing and a projector, but there’s a problem. The dome needs to come down if there is going to be bad weather. The answer? Magnetic dowel rods.

Because the magnets are brittle, plastic dip covers them after epoxy sticks them in place. The cloth has steel bolts to adhere, too. All in, the setup cost about $2,000. That includes a projector, a mirror ball, a sound system, and all the construction.

There were a few items that need improvement. In particular, [Ecasill] wants to use Velcro to tighten up the dome fabric to make it smoother. We were impressed with the dome construction and the clever use of magnets. If you didn’t want a planetarium, you might be able to use this idea as a makeshift observatory or some other backyard structure.

The projector has to, paradoxically, project to a small area big enough for a mirrored ball. [Ecasill] provides a link to the site that gives all the information and software about setting up such a projector.

This isn’t the first planetarium we’ve seen. A lot of planetariums do as many laser shows as space shows and you could do that, too.

8 thoughts on “Backyard Planetarium with Magnets

  1. Could be made even cheaper sturdy enough to resist bad weather.

    – Slatted frames can be found for free from the dumpster. Gather a bunch of these, and unmount the slats.
    – A simple varnish will protect them from the rain. If you´re fancy and have time+funds, wrap them in glassfiber+epoxy.
    – Then all you need is to shorten them at the same size, group them by width/thickness, use the strongest ones for the base, drill holes at the ends
    – visit the hardware store for large washers, bolts, nuts. Screw everything together.

    That flexible yet incredibly robust construction should last years, even in the rain/snow/ice and strong wind. Would resist a hurricane is sufficiently anchored.

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