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JB80

Astromedia Solar projector Kit.

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I feel like this should be underscored with the tagline 'An epic journey' because it was starting to feel a bit like one after a while. Now I know this isn't a completely home built kit, after all it comes from a manufacturer but it is essentially a DIY kit. I did toy with putting this in the 'equipment reviews' section as this is not a complete how to. This is my first detailed post in this section so I'm not sure if I'm doing it right.

If the mods feel this is the wrong section please feel free to move it.

Now you may of come across these astromedia kits before, they are basically cardboad sheets with different shapes cut into them that you pop out and fold and glue the edges to create whatever the product is you have bought. In this case it was the Solar projector kit. The kit itself comes in 8 seperate A4 sheets with the pop out pieces, a lens a couple of convex mirrors and a larger plane mirror. You will also need to have a few things on hand yourself like glue, a ruler, a stanly knife, a book or two for weighting down glued edges(I even used a box of wine), a steady hand and patience.

You could be forgiven for seeing this kit as being a simple task, and to be fair it it quite straight forward but you shouldn't under-estimate it either. It has an estimated build time of 5 to 7 hours. This kit is perfect for those who are into model building and if you have expeirence in that area there are plenty of tools you can use to make life easier rather than using books as weights etc...

So, here I will attempt to go through some of my experience in building this kit.

The instruction hunt.

OK, this was the only area I encountered a significant problem. The problem being that the shop it was ordered was from a shop in Germany and and it is manufactured in Germany, so you guessed it... the instructions were in German. Now I figure no problem, I will just look online for an English version but that lead to a dead end so I fired off an e-mail to the manufacturer and still no joy, the response I got left me scratching my head but did make me giggle.

"we have many kits with different languages,

but our solar projector ist too special for expensive translations.

Sorry,

"

But then I found an English distributor of astromedia products(just google astromedia uk) so I gave them a try and promptly got a response which included all the instructions they have in English. YAY! I thought, but the instructions were incomplete as it turns out it covered all but the last section of the build but it was mostly all there. It would of been a bit more clear if there were pictures or diagrams as well but beggars can't be choosers, you needed to take your time with the pieces first to get acquainted with what each step was. I did however find a German blog which had pictures of the build but no instructions, this was to come in useful for reference when I got a bit confused.

Now I was ready to begin.

The Build.

So I was ready to begin, as mentioned before it could take between 5-7 hours to complete, most of that would be glue drying time. For me I spread it out over 3 evenings so I can't say exactly how long it took.

The process itself is rather simple, just fold along the indicated lines and glue the appropriate areas in place. However while simple in theory the task is rather finnicky and precise and because it is made from cardboard it can be quite fragile. It is suggested that you use a sharp knife to cut the perforations that are not popping the pieces out in preference to just forcing it out and risking a tear in the piece. It is also suggested to use a ruler to act as a guide for folding the flaps over otherwise the whole piece may bend. Both of these methods were incredibly useful as I had no major disasters(which is rare for me).

It can also be a bit tricky gluing some of the different size and shape flaps, for the most part my box of chenin blanc worked fine but I used a couple of different sized books as well. If you had little modelling/woodworking clamps I would advise the use of them, as I did not have clamps I just used my fingers to hold the offending pieces together.

The kit comes with the lenses and mirrors you need but it may also be handy to have some white spirit or other solvent at hand if, like me, you manage to get glue in a thick coating over the majority of the lens. It's amazing how that was really the only accident I had with excess glue and it happens when I'm doing the lens.

I then reach a point where I run out of instructions all together but thankfully the main part of the build is complete, I was only missing the part for the base, and this is where the blog with the pictures came in handy. It was quite straight forward really and now it was complete and ready to go. This was also the time I had managed to convince myself that I had done something wrong and it wasn't going to work at all and testing it with a torch and the kitchen lights did nothing to put me at ease.

But it was night time anyway and I was ready for the sun in the morning with my freshly built piece of kit.

Using the projector.

Well I was ready to go but as the law does clearly state, as soon as you have something new to try it will cloud over immediately.

It did.

Luckily by lunch time we started to get some clear patches and during one of them got to give it a go and straight away it put my fears of it not working to rest. It was simple, just point it at the sun. You can adjust the angle easily and sliding the focusing tube is again very easy. It is very portable as well. The image project is quite sharp too and sunspot 1117 was clearly visible. You can even see pretty shading if you point it through a tree and can see the whispyness of the clouds.

I then realised that you can even do this through a clear window and I had no reason to be out in the cold and wind.

So to sum it up, it is very easy to use. Anybody could get it right first time.

Conclusions.

I definitely enjoyed the whole process of this build even if it was made difficult at times, and the reward at the end to me was well worth it, you can see in an instant what the sun is like on any day, take it anywhere you like with minnimum hassle and it looks quite nice too.

I imagine this kind of kit would be not only one for the perfectionists(which I'm clearly not) but for the everyday person or student.

The important thing to remember is to really take your time and try and be as precise as you can and it will make a difference, I even surprised myself as I normally rush into these type of projects and make a mess of it.

I would definitely consider building another one of these kits as astromedia do all types of cardboard telescopes, orrery's, sundials, etc.....

I would however make sure I order from the UK distributor next time.

9/10

So I guess that is it, if you have any questions feel free to ask and I apologise for any wayward spelling.

I have included some pictures of some of the process and I will explain what they are of.

1. Is everything laid out at the start, I had started popping some things out before I though about the camera.

2. Is having to use a book to help with the glue, I had to use a lighter bokk here as the box of Chenin Blanc would of crushed it.

3. Is the stage I got to when the instructions ran out and what was left to do.

4. The end product.

5. Then sun with sunspot 1117, not the best picture but I can assure you it looks a lot better in person. The camera doesn't do it justice.

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Nice work.

I bought one of their Newtonian telescope kits a while back and was pleasently surprised by the images it gave. I have since used them with students to help learn the basics of telescope design.

Mark....

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I got one of these kits for Christmas, I've not assembled it yet. I do have the British instructions, but again, no illustrations.

I did however find a German blog which had pictures of the build but no instructions

Do you happen to have the URL of this site to hand? It would certainly help somewhat.

I'll let you know how my build goes...

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I apologise for not seeing this question earlier, like 4 years ago. Sorry about that.

Just wanted to say that with the upcoming eclipse these kits are the perfect little projector for public viewing.

Get in quick and grab one and build it. :D

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I bought mine a year ago and only got round to assembling it the day before the eclipse.  Amazingly it worked first time with the eclipse and it really is fantastic.  Yes - I had problems with the instructions as the lack of any pictures does rather hinder the construction.  You do need to take your time - I had to unstick a couple of the walls as I didn't get it right to start with - not a good idea.

What I would suggest is that you FIRST pencil the numbers A1, B1, etc., on the BACK of each item - a great help in finding everything as the pieces are all scattered around - A's with B's, C's D's.

Fantastic value for money and I am looking at their other pieces of kit.

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