Will you serve on the bridge or lower decks? The fab, the pad, the orbiter, or the hab? Humanity needs dreamers and makers to chart our next chapter in space. Here are 20 fun projects you can make — and one party invite!
YOU ARE IN MY SYSTEM
Netherlands maker Illusionmanager created this wondrous orrery, a palm-sized solar system, from laser-cut wood, toothpicks, and a tiny stepper motor. With an ESP32 as its brains, the Grand Planet Spinner retrieves NASA data daily and has a nifty web interface — toss in any date and it will move the planets to their respective positions.
JOE STICKS THE LANDING!
In June 2019, Joe Barnard reckoned he was just months away from vertically landing his Scout thrust-vectored model rocket like Elon does.
“I refuse not to stick the landing in 2019,” he told Make: (Volume 69, “Fly Like SpaceX”). Three years later, he achieved it. Congratulations Joe! Thanks for sharing your saga and your designs so others can try too. bps.space
PRINT A SATURN V
Relive Apollo greatness with a 3D-printed Saturn V rocket model from CAD Class (cadclass.org). Design it yourself in Fusion 360 with their free preview class, or just grab the 3D file and print one. There’s even a version you can launch with our Compressed Air Rocket Launcher!
Like your own starship porthole, Matt Gray’s EPIC Satellite Photo Frame streams each day’s images of Earth from NASA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory to a cute Pimoroni round display. And they’re always on the sunny side because DSCOVR orbits the L1 Lagrange point! Follow Matt’s build and BOM on youtube and get the code on GitHub.
Reinvented is our fave new magazine, celebrating women in STEM fields. Their annual Space Gala is November 11, 2023 at Kennedy Space Center with music, maker activities, dinner, and dancing in the Rocket Garden. Guests include amazing maker Xyla Foxlin, astronaut Katya Echazarreta, Blue Origin and NASA engineers. Why not catch Maker Faire Orlando Nov. 4–5 too, and maybe a rocket launch!
PINHOLE VIEWERS — easiest and safest
Basic pinhole box: make the cardboard box viewer from Make: Volume 86!
NASA 3D-printed and laser-cut pinhole viewers: solarsystem.nasa.gov/resources/2921
Whole-room camera obscura: instructables.com/Giant-Camera-Obscura-Sun-Observer
SOLAR PROJECTORS — lenses and/or mirrors
Add mirror for bigger projection: instructables.com/Hardware-Store-Solar-Eclipse-Viewer
With camera lens: instructables.com/Sun-Spotter
With binoculars: instructables.com/Sun-Viewer-Observe-the-Sun-safely-with-binoculars
DIRECT VIEWERS — special solar filter materials
With solar filter film: from trusted vendors at eclipse.aas.org/resources/solar-filters
With welding glass: instructables.com/Simple-Affordable-High-Quality-Solar-Eclipse-Viewe
Giant eclipse glasses: Adler Planetarium made super-size specs in Chicago in 2017, and now Perryville, Missouri has made a pair for 2023–24. Scale up a real pair, cut from plywood or metal, paint, and add lots of solar filter film. Dimension drawings at makezine.com/go/giant-glasses.
SONIC “VIEWER” — for the sight impaired
LightSound: solar eclipse sonification tool converts light intensity into audio tones. Hear it and make it at astrolab.fas.harvard.edu/LightSound.html
SOLAR FILTERS — for cameras and scopes
Smartphones: Solar Snap lens and app, modify two phones for $13, eclipseglasses.com
PHOTOGRAPHING ECLIPSES — pro tips