StarLab set up and take down instructions
All right, a digital planetarium is the right product for me. Why should I choose the Digital StarLab?
We feel that the Digital StarLab gives the greatest digital planetarium experience for the money. Our Classic StarLab has been manufactured for over 30 years, and we are the inventors of the portable planetarium. Our main focus is education, and we know what educators need in a product and how to supply it to them.
Our software package, Starry Night Small Dome, is world’s better (no pun intended) than the competition, and is only available with purchase of a Digital StarLab. Our software includes millions of stars, plenty of built-in functions and scripts, the ability to customize your own shows, the ability to play full-dome movies, and most importantly, allows student created content with Starry Night Middle School, High School, or College to be “played” inside the dome using Starry Night Small Dome. No other portable digital planetarium can boast this excellent and professional software. In fact, a version of Starry Night Small Dome powers the best fixed-dome planetariums in the world, which are the planetariums made by Spitz. Each purchase of a Digital StarLab includes three licenses of Starry Night Small Dome, allowing the educator to keep one on the laptop that powers the Digital StarLab, one as a spare, and one to “play around with” when not at the dome.
Digital StarLab offers a top-quality 1200 pixel DLP projector with a generous contrast ratio. Our fisheye lens offers a full 180 degree field of view, without distorted or “hot dog” stars that can be seen on some competitor’s models near the horizon. We offer lifetime free technical support and training packages directly from the developers of the Starry Night software program for advanced techniques.
Is there any new content arriving for the Digital StarLab?
Several new curriculum packages are currently in development and will soon be available for Digital StarLab customers.
What should I consider before purchasing a digital planetarium?
Please make sure you see systems you are considering in person before making a purchase decision. Like most things, with a digital planetarium you get what you pay for. Look for a company that has been around many years, so that when you need service in later years, they will still be there to support you. Make sure the system you have selected uses high quality components (such as the projector and lens), and does not simply try to lead with the lowest price. The planetarium must also be easy to use and provide good teaching value for the students.
I have heard that the more pixels, the better. Is this true?
Like so many things in life, the answer is yes, but. Among fisheye lens projectors, the greater the number of pixels, generally the clearer the image. However, projector quality also plays a role in this answer. A lower quality projector likely will not have the same optical components and focusing ability, so simply because the number of pixels is the same or better does not necessarily mean that the image will be noticeably better. Generally speaking, a projector using a fisheye lens (i.e. the Digital StarLab) will use the vertical number of pixels (i.e. 1080 or 1200) as the pixels that are actually displayed.
You may have heard that all that matters in a planetarium is the number or projected pixels, and that one should look for the lowest price per pixel. All other things being equal, more pixels are good. However, a digital planetarium is much more than the image processor. Prisms, lenses, light sources, and the main fish eye lens are equally important. A digital planetarium works as a whole, not as a sum of its components. Every part of the Digital StarLab has been designed to work perfectly with the other parts.
Other systems have a remote control interface. Why doesn’t the Digital StarLab?
A remote control interface has advantages and disadvantages. While it may seem extremely convenient when seeing a digital planetarium for the first time to use a remote control, be aware that by using a remote control, and having the remote control as your only means of controlling the unit, you are sacrificing some of the flexibility that made you consider a digital planetarium in the first place. For instance, you are only able to load a limited number of scripts into the interface. If a student has a in-depth or follow-up question that you did not plan in advance to answer, you may have some difficulty loading the appropriate image or script in a timely fashion. A laptop computer gives you full access to everything that is being displayed at all times, and you can make changes to your program as needed on the fly.
Can I play full-dome movies in the Digital StarLab?
Yes! Digital StarLab fully supports full-dome movies from a variety of suppliers. Just be sure to mention that you are purchasing the movie for Digital StarLab when ordering. Full dome movies are specially formatted to play with little to no distortion in the entire dome.
Can I purchase a dome from you? What are the features of the dome?
The Digital StarLab uses a special dome with a black exterior and a light gray interior. A fabric dome tends to work much better for digital projection systems than our Classic StarLab dome. The Digital StarLab dome has an “airlock” which helps keep the dome darker as people enter and exit. This “airlock” also helps the dome inflated as students are entering and exiting at the beginning and ending of a show. Some of the competitor’s domes simply have a zipper set into the dome itself. This method of entry and egress tends to allow much more light into the dome and the dome tends to collapse upon itself when large numbers of people enter or leave the dome, which can be a safety hazard.
What is the largest size dome you recommend?
We recommend domes of up to 7 meters in diameter. The most common size that is purchased is 5 meters (16 feet).
StarLab set up and take down instructions
What is Classic StarLab?
The Classic StarLab System is a teaching aid geared toward astronomy. In brief, it is composed of a dome made out of opaque vinyl, and a projector, which displays images on the inside of the dome. The projector produces bright light, which is fully adjustable by the user.
The images are produced using StarLab cylinders, which are made out of film. The film used is entirely opaque, except for the portions where the images are. In this way, all the light from the projector is blocked except what is needed to create images. A major advantage of the film is that it affords nearly infinite contrast ratios.
What are cylinders?
Classic StarLab cylinders are made of film, which afford near infinite contrast ratios. This is because film can be entirely transparent and entirely opaque, making the difference between the two striking. Each cylinder is assembled by hand, colored as necessary, and supported by sturdy steel rings. On the base plate of our projectors are four strong magnets, which attract the steel rings, holding the cylinder in place.
As an additional tool, curriculum guides are available, free of charge, for each cylinder. These provide valuable information on the topic, sample lesson plans, and links to additional sources of information.