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3D Printed Spectrascope- Ian Tracey

So you want to make a spectroscope, eh? And you want to 3d print it too? Well, this guide’s for you.

How to 3d print a spectroscope.

First off, we must define what exactly a spectroscope is. defines it as [A device] used to split light into various wavelengths...also used to help astronomers identify the motion, temperature and structure of celestial objects.”
Now that you’ve got a good idea of what a spectroscope is, let’s get ready to make one.
Go to TinkerCAD is a very helpful program that lets you design a 3d model, and export it to a slicer (we’ll discuss this later). An example screenshot is shown below.

Screenshot 2016-12-07 at 5.58.01 PM.png

You should create an account and then take the tutorial provided. You don’t have to do all of it, just do enough until you feel comfortable using the program. Next, you should take take a look at my spectroscope design, and tinker it a bit. Try ungrouping the whole design, and see how the whole thing was put together. Here’s the link for it...

Now that you’ve goofed with my design, I’ll show you how to make a very basic spectroscope. Once you complete this design, you can print it, or add on to it. Anyway, let’s get to it. Just follow my steps, and you’ll be ok.

  1. Open up a new design on tinkercad
  2. Drag a box onto the Workplane
  3. Stretch it out to the dimension of 75x42x4mm (LxWxH)
  4. Add another box.
  5. Make the dimesions 30x30x95mm
  6. Make the angle 45º and put it  the middle of the other box. It doesn’t have to be blue, I just did this to make it easier to see.

  1. Add a hollow box on the bottom to get rid of the excess blue box from step 6.

  1. Now move the workplane to the top of the blue box.
  2. Duplicate the blue box. Make it hollow, and make its size 28x28x100. Make sure it’s centered with the blue box.
  3. Now, push the hollow box until it is a few (1-3) millimeters within the blue box. You can tell when you’ve done this when you can only see the blue box.
11) Add another hollow box. Make its dimensions 2x20x8 mm. Place it a 6 millimeters within the blue box.
12) Now group it all together.
13) Move the workplane back to its original position.
14) Off to the side of this design, make a box with dimensions 36x28x4mm.
15) Now add a hollow box (10x19x11) within the green one. Place it near the middle.
16) Group the two together. Place them in the hole at the bottom of the original design.
17) Now group everything together. Congratulations, you just made your first spectroscope! Now, you can either add more onto this basic design or print it out.

  1. Ok, so now that you’ve finished your design on TinkerCAD, you’ve got to download it. Go to design, download, and download as “.stl”.
  2. Now you have to get a Slicer program. This is a program that allows you to transfer your design from TinkerCAD, and actually print it out in real life! “Cura” is the best Slicer program that I’ve found, so go google and download it. Note: This program won’t work on a chromebook!
  3. You should import your design now. Do this by going to file, then import your design. Make sure that when your design is yellow, and not grey- this will ensure that it will fit on the 3d printer!
  4. Now, you can download it. Click “download to SD” in the top left corner. A notification will appear on the bottom of the screen. Click it, and eject the card.

The cura program is shown above.


Finally, we’re at the good part!

  1. Your design is ready to be printed now. Let’s do it! Place the SD card into the machine (located on the right side). Push it in until it clicks.
  2. Level the plate. Hit “move”, then “home axis”. Use a wrench or whatever to make sure that the plate is about uniformly level- you should be able to slide a piece of paper around with a little resistance.
  3. Now, let’s print it! Go to “print”, then choose your design. It’ll probably take a few hours, so get get a snack and wait until its done. However, you should check on it from time to time to make sure nothing goes wrong.
  4. It’s finished! Congratulations, you just 3d printed your first Spectroscope!

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