Introduction: DIY Solar Projector for Watching the Eclipse Safely

Picture of DIY Solar Projector for Watching the Eclipse Safely

I wanted to create a way to view the sun during the solar eclipse that was safe, and also that projected the sun in a larger way so several people could gather around it, and not rely on using the solar eclipse glasses to experience the event. So I made a simple projector using a few things I had around the shop.

Step 1: Materials Needed

Picture of Materials Needed

To create the solar projector I used the following materials:

- scrap plywood

- screws

- spotting scope / photography lense

- foam board

- rubberbands

Step 2: Assembly

Picture of Assembly

The basic concept is to create a holder for the spotting scope and place a white surface (foam board) directly in line with it.

I cut up two square pieces of plywood which I cut a circle in each, in order to hold the spotting scope in place. The two squares are connected together with a narrow strip of plywood underneath, which the two squares are screwed into.

On the end of the narrow strip I attached another piece of plywood with screws, and then I attached a piece of white foamboard to that.

Step 3: Connection

Picture of Connection

So the end of the spotting scope or the lens, is what you place towards the sun, and the section which you usually view through (or connect to a camera) is what you project towards the white screen.

I placed a couple of screws on each plywood piece and secured the spotting scope in place with a few rubber bands. I also added some additional cardboard on top of the plywood to block the sun as much as possible.

Step 4: Tripod

Picture of Tripod

On the underside of the narrow strip of plywood, I added 1/4- 20 connection piece so that I was able to screw the whole unit onto a tripod.

Another option is to hold the unit on your shoulder as you find the position of the sun.

Step 5: Focusing

Picture of Focusing

By using a spotting scope I was able to focus the image on the scope, as well as zoom in and out as needed. If on the other hand, you're using a camera lens, then you may need to be able to adjust the distance of the lens in relation to the white board. You could also use a pair of binoculars, however the distance between the binoculars and the white board would need to be a lot greater.

Step 6: Benefits

Picture of Benefits

By creating a projector like this, you will be able to see a much larger image of the sun, than if you made a pinhole camera, or if you were simply looking at the sun using eclipse glasses. Anyone who will experience a partial eclipse, or total eclipse would benefit from making a similar projector, and then you can always take cool photos of the projection!

Step 7: Conclusion - Watch the Video

For a much better perspective, and to see the projector in action, make sure to check out the video!


JohnW51 (author)2017-08-26

I tried this with a 35 mm camera lens, 55-125 zoom. It didn't work for me. I had the lens zoomed out to the max and had the focus ring exposed so I could adjust focus, but not zoom. All I ever got was a round circle. I was able to move the projection screen from about 8 inches to over 24 inches from the lens, but that didn't make any difference in what I saw. Any idea what may have gone wrong?

friscomac made it! (author)2017-08-21

This was a great project for me. Great in that I didn't have to go to the store for anything. Everything was in the garage. The one item that she should have mentioned was to have as great a distance as possible between the end of the scope and the projections screen. My first try was on a piece that was too short and the picture was way too small. I live in the Dallas area, so we only got about 75% max coverage,which is the second picture.

Doing this in my driveway gave way to a small eclipse watching party for several of the neighbors.

I'm glad that this project showed up when it did. Thanks to Ms. Orvar, we had a great time.

Neil the geeky (author)2017-08-20

I would respectfully suggest a couple of modifications to this and similar rigs posted elsewhere on instructables.
Some kind of obstruction (other designs have used a chopstick for example) to make it physically difficult to position an eye (or even other objects) near to the eyepiece of the optical unit. Perhaps a 'cage', even of string between the eyepiece and the projection screen.
Also, my telescope came with a solar projection system which includes a lens cap with a quite small hole in it. When placed over the objective lens this reduces the amount of light, and so energy and heat, entering the lens of the scope. This helps avoid damage to the scope and the reduction in brightness on screen is actually helpful for comfortable observation.

About This Instructable



Bio: Hi I'm Linn and on my Youtube Channel I have lots of great videos about building, construction and fun projects. You can also check ... More »
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