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The very latest piece of hardware is a new Star Projector. Our old model lasted 22 years after re-building it three times with new wiring etc. A friend of mine, Simon Ould of www.spaceodyssey.co.uk offered me his old star projector as a potential upgrade. After a few tests, I knew it wasn't going to be bright enough for my large domes, was far too heavy, nor was the power supply at it's full efficiency. I realised I would have to rebuild it from day one.
I thought I only had a 70% chance of succeeding, I took the gamble, purchased it and took off some of the components. After several months of planning and 3 weeks construction, I made the new design. It now has many advantages over other projectors in the mobile planetarium market.
Central axis is now driven via a belt and pulley normally used in a 3D printer. A spring from a deck chair became a tensioner to keep the motor on the belt. The drive motor was from a model railway turntable.
These are the original components to commence the project. A friend (Steve Goldsmith) who is an engineer made the brass rings as an electrical pick-up. As the projector will rotate, wires cannot connect the lamps to the power supply. I used the similar principal to a power drill. The lamp holders were destined for a dolls house.
The completed project with an extra laptop for sound effects, music, and eventually digital Greek mythology character projection.
Such a projector would have cost around £9000, I managed with £650 and includes some features not found in any other star projector in the UK.
I always believe in providing a service that every potential customer can afford, rather than buying in ready-made technology because it's there then pricing myself out of part of that market.
It doesn't look very pretty as yet, but this is one of the lamp holders. A star hemisphere will attach to it. Two of these will be required.
The North Hemisphere mounted with axis and drive ring in place. The axis was a sawn off broom handle and the metal axis holder is normally used as wardrobe pole mounts.
This project was completed 16 May 2016. Other recent improvements include an automatic / random shooting star projector, two mini data projectors and sound system.
The mount for the Star Hemispheres had to be built first.