Design Review: Solar System Gadget

I challenge you to name one person who hasn’t look up at night an wondered what is outside our atmosphere. Space has always drawn my interest and I don’t go one day thinking about how we could access it easier or find other objects that harbor life just like our earth. These reasons are why I want to follow this interest and create something much smaller than whats out there. This is where the Solar System Gadget comes in. I thought it would be great to create a gadget, more of a model, of the solar system. However, as I started to think about how I was going to incorporate all nine planets, it became apparent that I was digging myself into a hole for the end of the semester.

This is where I pivoted and cut back just to the sun, earth and moon. This will still be a challenge but much more do-able. And after doing some research, stumbled upon similar idea to what I had in mind. This can be seen in the figure below and these models are called orrerys. (model is by Eaglemoss)

Although this is called a tellurion, it is a type of orrery. These are not scale models and only depict the relative motion of the planets to the sun. After doing some calculations myself I found that to create a 6in radius scale model, the moon would be .002″in!!! Thats smaller than your hair. Therefore I backtracked and decided to only scale down the length between the planets and sun. Even then that proved challenging and the angular velocity is so small that you wouldn’t even see this thing moving. Again, I will have o increase the angular velocity and only focus on making sure the motions of the moon to the earth and earth to sun are relative to what actually happens.

For my prototype, I threw together a quick piece that gave me a pretty good size estimate. Seen below is this prototype that has a sun, earth and moon. After putting this together, the radius was a little large for my desk so I shrunk down the size to around 5in.

Next I started putting together a model in solidworks to get a better sense of what I would need to buy and fabricate for this project. This is by no means my final design, but it does give a good sense of what the end product will be.

As seen above the sun is cut in half to provide a placement for some sort of light. the back of the sun will have holes in it to create stars on the walls and else where in the room. The earth and moon will be on a boom both rotating. The boom will also rotate around the post. I plan on having all the gearing exposes like the first image above to provide a Davinci type feel to the design. All the components will be a brass or bronze, or at least colored like that. I believe that this shows the function of the object while also appealing to the complexity that people like.

With all of this come some big fences to leap over. First is getting all the gearing down and sourcing out all my components. I havent limited my self to a price but I want to try and keep it on the cheaper side. Time is another factor. Im trying to limit the amount of machining that will have to be complete. The aesthetic will be a challenge but i believe that this can be completed by showing the gearing functionality of this piece.

Previous Post
Design Review: Zoetrope
Next Post
Design Review: Wine Coffee Table

5 Comments. Leave new

  • Jimmy Speedy
    April 24, 2017 3:30 pm

    I really like your project idea! I too have been very compelled by space and can see how much your interest has played a part in your project design. I think it’s super cool you have come up with the idea of creating a project that captures both your love for the beyond. Do you plan on using any constant scaling method to make the objects’s size relative to each other as true as possible? Or are you just going to eyeball it? Either way it’s an awesome project!

  • This idea is crazy! I actually have never really seen anything like it. I enjoyed reading about the inspiration for this project, because it seems like you truly wanted to do this and are excited for it. I like that you consider center of gravity and other aspects of space when you designed this. Great job! Can’t wait to see the finished product.

  • Avery Anderson
    March 19, 2017 10:59 pm

    As far as your challenge is concerned, I can’t name a single person, so well played. It is awesome that you’re scaling the angular velocities of the earth and moon to be relative to what actually happens. This would be a great thing to kind of just mess around with to get a better grasp on whats going on up there in space. Great job, cant wait to see it.

  • Scott Lowenstein
    March 17, 2017 12:50 pm

    What a cool idea! I like that you are shrinking down your design to fit on top of a desk. I enjoyed hearing your discussion of your inspiration for the project, and some of the technical design constraints that you would like to achieve. Specifically, it was also interesting to hear how you determined that the appropriate scale that you would like to use for the model. Great job!

  • I like the iteration to simplify the design. The earth moon and sun design sounds great. The scaling is good too. Thinking about the center of gravity of the model is smart. I like the idea of showing the gear system on the outside. A slight light inside the sun would be great.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.