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Thread: Planetarium Star Projectors

  1. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bradfo69 View Post
    Hi,

    I haven't responded to this thread but, have followed it closely. In that affectionately good way, I'll say your "nucking futz". I'm glad to see that someone is so passionate about this type of endeavor. It's a huge undertaking. I recall having that same fascination with planetariums as a kid and get a little depressed when you hear about the closure of yet another for budgetary reasons. My job keeps me busy just about every weekend but, I too, would offer any assistance if you ever need a hand in the Philadelphia/Baltimore/DC area and that's the kind of adventure I would find extremely rewarding and interesting. (I'm the boss so, I can schedule that. :-) ) I have recently been thinking about contacting my old middle school about a "re-live the memories" tour of the building and it had both a planetarium as well as a large professional caliber theater. Since getting into lasers, I've thought often about being able to arrange a show in the planetarium there and now you have me curious as to whether it still even exists. I'm about 31 years removed from middle school but, it's only located a mile from my home and been on my "to do" list for some time.

    Welcome to PL! You'll find it's an unbelieveable forum and knowledge base.
    ~Brad
    Hi Brad, I am truly honored to be in here among all of you who clearly share the passion with the immersive planetarium experience, creation and display of kinetic artforms, artistic expression, astronomy, and the instruments that are the tools of this endeavor. The degree of planetarium closures is alarming, with many institutions suffering budget cutbacks and interest waning in the science programs that so desperately require support. Advancement in digital technology has produced better projection devices to replace the older opto-mechanical star projectors, although there are still some companies producing these types of instruments. I for one, grew up with the A3P-series machine - the interesting, odd-looking contraption in the center of the dome that captured my imagination more than the stars above. My last visit to a public show no longer had that magic, as the have a Digistar projector which is nothing more than a black box with a lens on top. The stars that are projected from it look more like pixels and do not even come close to replicating what one can see when they look up at the sky on a dark night. Although the digital systems can produce a range of effects that far exceed their mechanical counterparts, I for one prefer the crisp star images that only a mechanical instrument can produce along with the smell of electrolytic capacitors, old insulation gear oil and ozone. There are still hundreds of the older machines in use across the USA, but they are a dying breed. The only thing that seems slows their disappearance are the lack of funds which prevent the purchase of an upgrade hence many places are still using the same equipment they had during the Apollo era some 30+ years ago. It is a testament to the quality of the older instruments that they are still in use. I have seen so many of these instruments trashed, parted out, brutalized and scavenged and it is a shame to see that happen. With my interest in laser projection, a seed that was planted in the late 70's after seeing my first Laserium show, all these years later these two paths converge.. how to have BOTH in the realm of hobbyists and have wondered, why not ? I love nothing better than to see a few of these get into the hands of those that will USE them, and to whatever degree I can inspire that to occur, is a good thing. Sure, they're big.. they won't match the living room decor.. the wife will throw a fit.. I don't have a dome.. and some will think its a tad nutz.. some say I am a tard.. that's o.k., I'd rather be enjoying star fields than cruising the cable tv. Not having a dome is not that big of an issue, as the starfields are still mesmerizing as they wrap around angles in the ceiling and I am obviously not going for accuracy, but rather, the experience. It is so good to have a few contacts, spread out over the USA so if I find more projectors, the odds are better that it will be given a good home as opposed to being scrapped. I cannot afford them all, nor do I have room for them all, and I already have enough. I think it will be great to see more of them enter the hobby realm. And, share through this forum their restoration and use, particularly in conjuction with laser entertainment and artform. So Brad, YES thanks I will add you to my contacts list, and I am thrilled to see the support for this activity. It warms my soul, to see that there are others out there that share a similar passion. This picture shows a couple of star machine cores coming off the truck a few weeks ago.
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    Last edited by SpitzSTP; 08-14-2011 at 13:18. Reason: spelling, grammer correction

  2. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by allthatwhichis View Post
    Hey Spitz, I'm down to help if you find anything in Florida.
    That's COOL !! Florida is a long way from Arizona, and at times I neglect that part of the USA because of the distance. These trips are ALOT of fun. Sure, it's hard work but I like doing it, particularly if it helps the facility save on removal costs (and therefore, free up funds they can spend on upgrades). One recent project I did, permitted the theater to re-upholster all of the seats by saving them the cost of removing the old equipment. That's a win-win in my book. So many of these places suffer from inadequate funding, that I find it to be one way that I can help out.
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  3. #53
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    Interesting. I was at the UNC-CH planetarium last weekend and they are in the process of removing the big Starcaster that they had been using for years and years. They replaced with some fancy digital setup. The experience just isn't the same without that big Starcaster rotating around in the middle of the room.

  4. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by Displaser View Post
    SpitzSTP,

    Now that's a HOBBY!!!! I'd have to agree, nothing better than a well produced planetarium experience - lasers and starfields

    Welcome to the forum - we're glad that you're here.

    Greg
    Thank you for the welcome, and I am grateful to have a forum such as this to share in some of my experiences. I am glad to be here and I look forward to posting alot more about some of these projects because frankly, you guys are among the few who care. Also looking forward to reading many of the older posts, to learn all that I can.
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    Last edited by SpitzSTP; 08-14-2011 at 14:36.

  5. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnYayas View Post
    Interesting. I was at the UNC-CH planetarium last weekend and they are in the process of removing the big Starcaster that they had been using for years and years. They replaced with some fancy digital setup. The experience just isn't the same without that big Starcaster rotating around in the middle of the room.
    Morehead Planetarium, at Chapel Hill ? If so, I know some of the story behind that one. Unconfirmed reports, that the projector was at least partially parted out, rendering it useless and is a good example of what I don't like to see happen. It was a beautiful Zeiss instrument, from what I have heard. Two acquaintances of mine made earnest appeals to preserve it, but were denied the opportunity.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Morehead.jpg  

    Morehead2.jpg  

    Last edited by SpitzSTP; 08-14-2011 at 14:51.

  6. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpitzSTP View Post
    Morehead Planetarium, at Chapel Hill ? If so, I know some of the story behind that one. Unconfirmed reports, that the projector was at least partially parted out, rendering it useless and is a good example of what I don't like to see happen. It was a beautiful Zeiss instrument, from what I have heard. Two acquaintances of mine made earnest appeals to preserve it, but were denied the opportunity.
    That's too bad. The announcer said where it was going but I don't remember where. They had it on a trolley car on rails to eventually roll it out within a couple weeks.

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    Here is one I have been looking for for over a decade. The Zeiss instrument once installed at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago. It is in my mind, a sort of holy grail to find it. I have been on the trail for over ten years and have contributed to some of the findings documented in this very-well written article by Glenn Walsh. Details can be found here : http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com/
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Adler9-1933Zeissphoto.jpg  

    Last edited by SpitzSTP; 08-14-2011 at 15:15.

  8. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnYayas View Post
    That's too bad. The announcer said where it was going but I don't remember where. They had it on a trolley car on rails to eventually roll it out within a couple weeks.
    OK, good that makes me feel better that somebody might actually have plans for it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by swamidog View Post
    if you need help cracking into the linux system, i can work on that when karl and i come over.
    Thanks Swami looking forward to your visit. I managed to get XP loaded but it was an old copy so I have spent most of the day putting all those Service Packs on it. Hopefully will have the audio card card installed this evening. My brother told me about a freeware program called "Musicmatch" that will allow playlists and I hope to download that later tonight and get it installed. I am amazed at how many 1U rackmount servers can be had on eBay, I got mine for 150, P4 3 GHZ should be fine for storing music tracks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by polishedball View Post
    Starts counting the days until Brad buys one
    Spitz...one of the things you will learn here is that people, uhm, get to know you well....

    John.... A year ago at SELEM I would have told you there was ABSOLUTELY no way in hell I'd ever spend like, $9000 on a projector. Or, $1500 for Pangolin software for that matter. That would be insane! It was fine for YOU nutty people but, not something I'D ever be doing. So, it's best if I not offer a response. (Hey...he DID say sometimes they're practically given away for the cost of removal, right???)

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