After Three Successful Campaigns…
We started in 2016, when Clemens launched his first Kickstarter campaign: ”The Universe in a Sphere”. He wanted to earn some money for his upcoming wedding without knowing how many people will like his idea and without suspecting how big this is going to become. The first campaign failed with around 200 highly motivated backers. Slightly disappointed, but still confident and with the support of his backers he relaunched the campaign and it went through the roof.
After the first shock, he realized, that this campaign will need more than just one person to work through. He asked his brother Christoph, who already was a little dissatisfied with his former job, so he agreed to work together with Clemens on this project. Within the next one and a half years, they managed to build up the company CinkS labs, go through all the processes from production to taxes and were able to not only satisfy the 3,663 backers from the relaunch, but to successfully launch two more campaigns. "The Universe Sphere - A Christmas Special" offered the same Sphere, but with a guaranteed delivery before Christmas 2017.
"The Milky Way in a Sphere" was our second sphere and third successful campaign. The beauty of the spheres and the scientific background convinced again over 3,000 backers to support the campaign. In this campaign, we also came up with the Pocket Milky Way and Pocket Universe. Small and pretty affordable gifts for your friends, family, and pupils. We also offered a classroom edition with both spheres and 30 Pocket Milky Ways. This lead to the idea of an educational game for the next campaign.
The Universe Sphere contains 380.000 precisely lasered dots, each standing for a whole Galaxy. This is only a fraction of the entire Universe, but that's what scientists pictured through measurements and simulations to be the structure of the Universe.
Thanks to Ray and his channel @physicsfun for this beautiful video. The movement of the stucture inside a sphere is an optical illusion, the sphere is made of solid glass and the dots don´t move.
The Milky Way Sphere is the pendant to that. Each of the 200.000 dots stands for one Sun, but in reality, the number is a thousand times higher. We also know the structure through measurements and due to photos of similar galaxies made with the Hubble telescope.
Within this very campaign, we want to create another beautiful sphere, but also an educational fun game for young and old. At first, we wanted to create the Sun in a Sphere, but then we came up with the idea of showing our night sky. Technically, all of the stars we show are suns, so that seems to be a good compromise. We built a prototype of the sphere and many friends found it beautiful and fascinating. Also, during the research about the star constellations, we found many interesting facts and characteristics, so the idea was born, to make a game similar to Car Quartets.
We also want to give any new backer the chance to become an owner of the previous spheres. So we let you decide which spheres you want after the campaign end, but you have to choose how many with your pledge level. Every Sphere you will get includes an LED Baseplate as a simple, but still beautiful stand. It spreads beautiful light and improves the experiences with the spheres a lot. As an addition, you can order add-ons like 3D printed bases or the Pocket Milky Way through Backerkit.
The different 3D printed bases will be offered as an add-on in BackerKit and can also be ordered on our shop at Shapeways.
The Star Constellations in a Sphere
Within the final sphere, you will find 5,068 stars and 88 star constellations. The star's size depends on the brightness on our night sky. For the prototype, we used an open source dataset of stars and connections we found online, containing only the stars that are connected but missing many stars that are actually visible on our night sky. After processing this data we were able to produce the first version.
We are already working on a second prototype. In this prototype, you will be able to also see the unconnected stars. The connections themselves will be designed by a professional astronomer, who studied the names and connections of the stars. Dr. Dr. Susanne Hoffmann already promised us to help and started to work through the 88 star constellations for our sphere.
The music from the teaser, just in case you wanted to continue listening while reading
While working with different star catalogs on the new star constellation sphere, I learned about the brightest stars, how many stars we can see with the naked eyes, how many star constellations are designated and about the distances between the stars and our earth. I was often reminded of the good old card game “Car Quartets”. I can only tell for Germany, but I guess everyone here owned a car quartets when he/she was a child. So the idea was born to make a card game together with a new sphere.
The Star Quartets, short The Startets...
I asked a friend who works as a designer if he might work for us for a while and if he wants to design the card game with us. He instantly accepted and started to draw the designs for the cards. Most of the drawings are already finished and you can find some of them on pictures, but we don´t want to spoil too many.
At the moment the cards show the following attributes and information:
- Latin name of the star constellation
- Name of the brightest star
- Number of bright stars visible in the city (< mag 3)
- Number of stars visible with the naked eye and on a dark countryside (< mag 6)
- The brightness of the brightest star (mag)
- Distance to earth (brightest star)
- The area on the night sky (IAU).
Together with Valentin, our programmer we set up a data bank with all the important values for our stars. We want to be able to do changes within a star constellation and it will affect not only the 3d model but also the cards and their attributes automatically. Also, we can do calculations and groupings of the data we need. Here is just a small example of how some of our data looks like.
The brightnesses and the locations of the stars are known, so we are able, to adjust the sizes within the sphere with its brightness, the brighter the bigger. The smallest stars will be barely noticeable, but they are there. We are also working on the attribute “connected stars” and the “round trip of the traveling salesman”. Our goal is to calculate the shortest path for a salesman in a spaceship to reach all connected stars within a star constellation and come back to earth. We already know the locations and distances of each star and Valentin is programming the solution for our Salesman problem. This could lead to some nice data for our card game and some neat 3D-paths we might print as pendants.
The Star Data and the Constellations
We found out, that there is no common consensus about the line patterns that connect the stars. In 1930 the IAU International Astronomical Union defined the now common 88 star constellations by its boundary and not by the connections.
One day my wife and I visited a planetarium to understand the naming and connections of the stars and maybe to get some help with this. So after the presentation, we asked the presenter if he can help us and he gave us the email address of Dr. Dr. Susanne Hoffmann. A little nervous I wrote an email and got a very friendly answer. Enthusiastic about the idea of a scientifically substantiated glass sphere with the star constellations in it, she accepted to help us and now designs the 88 star constellation connections for us.
There are many different sources for the names and symbols of the star constellations, but the most known are from Johann Elert Bode (Uranographia), Johann Bayer(Uranometria) and the Almagest catalog. Of course, there are many more sources from different times and cultures. Susanne studied the star constellations for years and we are very happy about her help and experience.
Susanne also collects anecdotes about the different constellations and we hope to design a tiny booklet with these anecdotes. For example, the constellation Vulpecula (the fox) has it´s brightest star, called Anser (the goose), in his stomach. Hungry little fella.
Who Are We? CinkS Labs!
We, that´s me Clemens, founder of the Universe in a Sphere and my brother Christoph. We founded the company CinkS labs for our mission, to produce and ship thousands of spheres. Christoph is a lot more structured and I´m the creative part, so we complement each other pretty well. Over time, we needed helping hands for the numerous tasks that came up. So we hired our retired father Bodo to help us with the packing/minor tasks and Veronica for the customer care. From the beginning, Valentin helped us with programming tasks even though his profession is in technical sound studies, but he is an all round talent. During the campaigns, we hired different designer we are friends with. For example, Ronald worked with us on the Milky Way, Jonny is our designer for the recent campaign and Anders created our campaign video.
Special thanks belong to Dr. Dr. Susanne Hoffmann, who happily agreed to work on our star constellation sphere and game to fill and found it on a scientific background.
3D Laser Etching into Solid Glass
The process is pretty simple, a strong laser beam is focused inside the sphere. This leads to microcracks inside the glass that reflect the light afterward. Some people asked me if we later cut and grind the cube into a sphere. The answer is no, we laser directly into the glass ball.
Be Part of the Process
We always want to satisfy our backers wishes, so we thought about a polling system or similar, to get your thoughts and a picture of what our backers want. At least, we will listen to your comments, and we try our best to find ways to make your wishes come true. Within the first campaigns you wished for bases for the sphere, including LED lighting, and we made it happen. Within the Milky way campaign, you wished for star clusters and the Sagittarius galaxy and we listened to you. Follow our updates and write comments to be part of our process, but please stay fair and friendly.
Future Plans and Campaigns
Since the first campaign, we want to offer the spheres in a larger size and we know, a lot of you are eagerly waiting for it, some of you might even be mad about the long waiting time for them. Unfortunately, it is a lot more difficult, even though it is just another size. There are different problems, for example, the thicker the glass is, the harder it gets for the laser to make clean dots. Also, the tension in the big spheres is a lot harder to get rid of and the spheres must be cooled down for more than 40 hours. If there is tension inside the glass, the laser will be refracted and does not laser properly. There are also some more problems, that would take too long to explain, but we promise, we work on it and there will be big spheres in the future, next to some more campaigns I already got in mind.
Many of you would like to give away our Spheres or the Startets as a Chrismas present, but this obviously won´t be possible. If you are interested, our solution would be a Christmas gift card, we want to design. You can simply download and print it so that your beloved ones have something beneath their Christmas tree. If you add a tinfoil ball wrapped in a clear plastic wrap, you have a really good universe sphere mock-up by telling in a reverent voice: "I present you the Universe...in a couple of weeks".
It is always a pleasure and very heartwarming for us to read the positive and very friendly comments or emails many of you send us. We want to share some of them with you and thank you all for this kind of presents we always love to get!
Walt said: It's great to be backing another CinkS labs campaign! The successful Universe in a Sphere Relaunch remains to this day the most rewarding and exciting Kickstarter project I ever backed. There was adventure, suspense, and drama, but never enough to make me doubt it would be successful in the end. And I still consider the Universe Sphere to be among the most inspiring and beautiful manufactured objects that exist in the world.
Edon said: The Milky Way in a Sphere. A must have. Definitely. It makes comprehension of the Universe in a Sphere just a teeny tiny bit easier. Almost.
Scott said: @Clemens How freaking awesome, I love my Universe in a Sphere....... I cannot wait to get the Milky Way! Thank You!!!
Michael said: I didn't see the pocket cube stretch goal when I back the project! That's awesome. I loved my universe in a sphere so much I just saw the title of this project from you guys and backed it without even reading the campaign page :)
Zinkerland said: Hamlet: O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space...
Steve said: I have a suggestion for Kickstarter: "standing orders" "Any campaign run by Clemens - automatically pledge!"
Yuki said: Hi, Clemens I was able to meet the cute universe from Germany. I thank you for letting me meet the wonderful universe. Danke. Arigato.
Bob said: Strangely enough DPD delivered this 19:30 this evening, I think the tracking number was incorrect as it's missing beginning and end characters on the barcode. The spheres themselves are great, well done this is a nicely executed project, very pleased with the spheres and access…
Gina said: I gave the UinS to my father-in-law, an astronomy nut, and he loved it. I can't wait to give this to him for Christmas!
Craig said: Received, beautifully packaged. Amazing!
Stu said: Received my Milky Way yesterday. Another beautiful sphere, delivered in perfect condition. Wonderful work Clemens and your team. Looking forward to the Sun in a Sphere!
Arne said: Received mine (and one as gift for friend). Like the universe I can't stop "playing" to change the angle / point of view, one is more exciting than the other, first of all with the LED, a must-have. I'm missing a levitation-3D-rotation ;-) GREAT! Go on for the solar System! I'll be there. Viele Grüße, noch mehr gute Wünsche, weiter solche Arbeit und den entsprechenden Erfolg!!!
Barbara said: I received my pair yesterday. They are as stunnt as I imagined. Thank you so much. Also, congratulations in a successful, well run KS campaign. I felt confident the entire way through, from pledge to receiving. Well done.
vicky said: Got my Milky Way sphere, mini Milky Way, and universe cube. They arrived on my birthday. Absolutely beautiful, I could stare at them for hours. Thank you so much.
Just a small attempt for a map made of the zip codes of our backers. With this, I realized there is an Island in the middle of the ocean, and it´s Hawaii.
Risks and challenges
There are always risks and delays, that is basically life. But we can tell you what we can expect within this campaign.
Within the first campaigns, we had quite some trouble with our deliverer, who was truly not the best choice and we lost quite some time and money. Within the Milky Way campaign, we had a new deliverer, Asendia, and this was very comfortable because they also packed the goods. The problems we had within this campaign were, that we had to order a second order of blank spheres and the container had a delay. As if that was not enough one of two production machines broke so that the production had to be made on another machine. But we managed all the problems and hurdles and nonetheless successfully delivered all in all over 10.000 goods to our backers within the past 1 1/2 years.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (59 days)