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This portable Starmap could be your guide to the cosmos

Arduino TeamJune 21st, 2024

Estimates vary, but there are generally a few thousand stars bright enough to see in the sky on a clear, moonless, cloudless night away from city lights. You might be able to identify a couple of them, along with a handful of constellations. But what about the rest? If they intrigue you, you might want to build this Starmap designed by Shabaz over on element14.

Star charts aren’t anything new and astronomers (both amateur and professional) use them all the time. But we like the portable nature of Shabaz’s Starmap, which would be easy to carry along on a camping trip to a dark sky area. It doesn’t require any internet connectivity to work, so it is perfect for use in rural settings. And the round LCD display is pretty darn attractive.

That screen is a 1.28” GC9A01 round TFT LCD with a resolution of 240×240, intended for use in smartwatches. It receives its graphics from an Arduino UNO R4 Minima, modified for 3.3V logic levels to suit the display. Shabaz also added a flash memory chip large enough to contain the star chart data.

The stars visible in the night sky at any given time depend on where you are on the planet, so this uses a GPS receiver module to find the user’s coordinates. Its Arduino sketch then determines the positions of the visible stars and draws them to the display. 

Shabaz doesn’t provide one, but a simple 3D-printed enclosure would make StarMap ready for the road. Power can come from a USB battery bank for off-grid use. 

Boards:Uno R4