Build a Steam Engine with Ferris Wheel, a Stirling Engine, a Nitinol Engine, a Wimshurst Machine, a Sextant with Artificial Horizon, a Soprano Ocarina, and other models with our AstroMedia cardboard kits that really work!

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Other Kits

Although AstroMedia have started out with astronomical kits, they now also have a variety of other models ranging from fully functioning Steam and Stirling Engines, over models for navigation like the Sextant and the Magnetic Compass, to little gems like the Soprano Ocarina.

The Sextant

The classical instrument for measuring angles as used by sailors and discoverers. A sturdy kit with two unbreakable stainless steel mirrors and a sun filter.

This sextant is not a toy but a fully functional instrument with an accuracy of 5-10 arc minutes!

Ideal for everybody who wants to explore the fascinating world of astronomical navigation.

Download Instructions


The Artificial Horizon

Fits onto the sextant and upgrades it for use on dry land when the true horizon is not visible or difficult to see.

Also available as a set with the Sextant for a reduced price: see Special Offers

Download Instructions


The Soprano Ocarina

Our soprano ocarina is tuned to C major and has a wonderful velvety tone. Like all ocarinas it is very easy to play and even comes with an introduction and some simple songs. Kit made from gold printed, pre-cut cardboard with moisture barrier.

Simple and very stable construction, built in about 45 minutes.

Download Instructions


The Magnetic Compass

Build a beautiful fully functional magnetic compass to take bearings and find the cardinal points. This excellent kit is more than a toy and allows an accurate fix on land and sea marks. Comes with its own protective case

Size: 15 x 15 x 8 cm

Download Instructions


The Steam Engine

A steam engine made from cardboard, running with proper boiling steam - is that really possible? Oh yes!!!

See for yourself: this model not only looks great, it also works, happily chuff-chuffing away. The boiler, made from an aluminium tin, has a magnetic safety valve. The aluminium fire box underneath holds five tea lights. Both are enclosed in a safety cage made from galvanised wire mesh. The steam is conducted through a closed system of tubes and plastic foil before being emitted through the chimney.

This clever construction keeps cardboard and steam separated with the piston being moved by a bellows made from the finger of a plastic glove.

Pre-punched kit with gold printing.

Construction time: 20-30 hours

Includes: aluminium sheet, aluminium tin, wire mesh, bearings, syringes, silicon tube, ring magnet, plastic glove, steel axles, and other parts needed for construction.

Size: 300mm x 210mm x 210mm

Download Instructions

Construction in pictures



No 429.DMS

The Ferris Wheel

This Ferris Wheel can be driven by the AstroMedia Steam Engine (429.DMS) or the Stirling Engine (228.STM). It stands in the tradition of tin models meant to be driven by toy steam engines produced for the children of wealthy families at the end of the 19th century.
To make sure it can be driven by the moderate power of the AstroMedia Steam Engine, the construction minimises friction as much as possible and includes a gear reduction of 15:1. That means that the diameter of the driving wheel fitted to the ferris wheel is 15 times as large as the diameter of the one fitted to the crank shaft of the steam engine.

Pre-punched kit with gold printing.

Construction time: 5-6 hours

Includes: PVC bearings, wooden axles, and other parts needed for construction.

Diameter: 20cm

Download Instructions

Construction in pictures



No 435.DMR

The Stirling Engine

Yes, with this cardboard kit you can actually build a working stirling engine. Just place the engine on a cup with boiling water and it will move silently for up to an hour! Here you can see it running on YouTube.

The kit comes complete with all necessary parts like laser-cut aluminium plates, low-friction PVC bearings, steel crank, and vinyl seal. The instruction booklet also contains information about the historical background and tuning tips for longer running time.

Construction time: 10-20 hours

Size: 12.6 x 12.6 x 16.5 cm

Download Instructions

Construction in pictures


Runs on a cup of hot water! The top-selling stirling engine in Europe!


No 228.STM


No 206.SXT


No 207.KHZ


No 218.GMG


No 470.OKS

The Steam Gyro

The very first steam engine was a spinning copper ball, invented by Hero of Alexandria in the first century.

This swimming spin top uses the same principle. A tea light (not included) heats the water in the copper spiral and recoil from the steam makes the Gyro spin. Then the steam condenses and sucks fresh water into the pipe. This process is repeated several times per second as long as the candle burns.

A neat little model that fascinates young and old. Add a paper cylinder and turn it into a spinning buoy, a revolving lantern, etc.

The kit contains a cork plate (80 x 10 mm) with pre-drilled holes, a copper spiral with soft-annealed ends, and a bending tool. Construction time: 15 min.

Download Instructions



No 418.DKR

File set

Set of three files (each fine and medium), ideal to smooth and clean edges and burrs of our cardboard kits. Also suitable for wood and soft plastic.



No 400.SBF

The Wimshurst Machine

The classical high voltage generator - with limited current for safe experiments! For many people this machine is the most vivid memory of their physics classes at school. Everybody is fascinated by the crackling flashes of lightning that appear between the electrodes when the crank on the back is turned. Two counter-rotating acrylic discs with aluminium segments produce static electricity of up to 70,000 volts that is stored in two Leyden jars made from PVC and aluminium foil. The Leyden jars are discharged via two spherical electrodes, producing bright sparks. The capacity of the Leyden jars is limited by design, so that the produced electricity is completely harmless (rather like the light electric shock one receives sometimes when touching a door knob). A fantastic kit!

Size: 240 x 160 x 270 mm

Download Instructions

Construction in pictures



No 469.WIM

Here are a couple of videos of the machine:

Video 1, Video 2

Here is an email we received from one of our customers about his experiences!

The Slide Rule

Cardboard kit for a fully functional slide rule, the predecessor of the pocket calculator. Allows for easy multiplication, division, calculation of squares, cubes, square and cubic roots, as well as the inverse. The AstroMedia Slide Rule is the first new slide rule development in the world after the advent of pocket calculators. Rediscover the most important tool of the engineers of a bygone age!

Size: 200 x 40 x 4 mm

Download Instructions



No 681.RSB

The Royal Cubit of Egypt

The Royal Cubit played a central part in the culture of ancient Egypt since its very beginnings 5000 years ago and is therefore one of the very first standards of measurement. In nearly every historical egyptian building and artefact you can find parts made to fractions or multiples of this cubit. Beautifully made cubits, sometimes cladded with gold, were dedicated to temples or were used as burial gifts. Six wooden cubits were found in Tutankhamun’s grave, for example.

This carefully designed replica of the cubit of Amenemope, a royal cicil servant under King Horemheb, lets you touch ancient history! The hieroglyphs of the divisions (finger, hand, fist, span, upper arm, etc) are easily recognised and the centimetre and inch scales on the bottom allow for interesting comparisons to modern measurements.

Our Royal Cubit is made from beautifully gold-printed cardboard and can be assembled in under 30 minutes. It is a fantastic present for everybody interested in ancient egyptian history and a great subject for history lessons at school.

Dimensions: 523 x 42 x 20 mm

Download Instructions

Construction in pictures



No 680.AKE

Here is a link to a very interesting PhD Thesis about Egyptian cubits. Chapter 3 is dealing with the cubit our replica is modelled on.

The Golden Dividers

“The Golden Dividers” is not the name of a secret organisation, nor are they made from gold either. It is a kit for a set of dividers with a third leg that allows for determining the golden ratio in nature and artificial objects, like photographs, sculptures, drawings, etc.

The third leg is fitted in a way so that it automatically divides the distance between the two outer legs into the golden ratio.

If you don’t know about the significance of the golden ratio, have a look at this beautiful video!

Includes barrel bolts for the joints and wooden tips.

Construction time: 45 min

Height: 20cm

Download Instructions



No 465.GZK

Here is a link to a beautiful video about the Golden Ratio

The Day-Night Lamp

In 1910 the German Poet Christian Morgenstern wrote a poem about an inventor and his “Tagnachtlampe”, a lamp that turns day into night when you switch it on. 49 years later, Carl Barks had his Gyro Gearloose invent a similar device, the “gloom light”. Both ideas were never realised, not even filed for patent!

Our Day-Night Lamp takes a tiny amount of light during day time (so the day is darkened by a tiny amount), stores it in a battery, and lets it shine through an amber LED at night.

A perfect night light for the bedroom window sill!

Cardboard kit (not pre-cut) including solar panel with switch, rechargeable battery, and LED.

Construction time: 45 min

Dimensions: 120 x 120 x 85 mm

Download instructions



No 461.TNL

The Platonic Solids

The five platonic solids are named after the Greek philosopher Plato, who described them extensively in his dialogue “Timaeus”. He saw in them the smallest, invisible building blocks of the world and assigned them to the classical elements. However, the five solids have been known for much longer, as for example 5000 year old engraved stones from Scotland show.

With this uncomplicated kit you can build all five Platonic Solids with a uniform side length of 5 cm. The kit also includes four hangers so the solids can be hung as a mobile.

Cardboard kit (not pre-cut), includes hangers to form a mobile

High quality, glossy print

Uniform side length of the solids: 5 cm

Download instructions



No 686.PLP

All prices are including 20% VAT, shipping costs are £3.78 per order within the UK and the EU/EC. If you order from somewhere else, we have to charge an additional £5.00. In this case please click on the following button to order worldwide shipping (once per order):

We usually ship all orders by 1st class mail or standard airmail. For an extra £6 we can also ship your order with parcel tracking. If you would like us to do that, please click on the following button (once per order):

Please contact us if you want to buy larger quantities e.g. for educational purposes. We can offer you the following discounts:

10 of one article: 5% discount

20 of one article: 10% discount

30 of one article: 15% discount

100 of one article: 20% discount

(If you order through the PayPal checkout system, we will manually refund you the correct discount when we process your order)

The traffic lights inform you about the availability of each product:

A green light means that the article is in stock and will be shipped in 1-2 working days.
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Articles with a red light are not available at the moment and will be shipped as soon as they arrive in stock.

To order, simply add the item to your shopping cart. To proceed to the checkout please click the “View Cart” button on top of the page.

Articles with a French flag are also available with French instructions. If you want the French version, just let us know on the checkout page.

If you have any questions about your order, please contact us by email and we’ll get in contact with you:


The Nitinol Engine

The heart of this unusual thermal engine is a thin ring of Nitinol wire (0.3mm). Some warm water is enough to make the Nitinol Engine run. Nitinol is an alloy of nickel and titanium which has exceptional properties: at low temperatures it is soft and bendy, but as soon as it is heated above a certain transition temperature, it instantly becomes hard and flexible like spring steel. As soon as the temperature drops again, it returns to its bendy state. Nitinol is also a so-called memory metal: above the transition temperature it instantly assumes any shape that has been impressed during manufacture.

The transition temperature of our wire ring is 45ºC above which it becomes stiff and straight. Nevertheless the part of the wire that is immersed in the warm water lies around the drive wheel. When it straightens out, it is forced to move off the wheel and out of the water where it becomes bendy again. At the same time it pulls a new piece of wire into the water and the process starts again, leading to a constant rotation of the drive wheel.

The principle of this engine was developed by Frederic Wang in 1985. It works with only a small temperature difference and shows great potential for future applications.

This AstroMedia kit is the first mass-produced engine of its type, worldwide. Anybody interested in engineering and physics will be fascinated by this kit. A fantastic model and a great present!

Pre-punched cardboard kit, includes Nitinol wire ring, aluminium shafts, PVC bearings, wooden axles, plastic drive wheel and running wheel, etc.

Size: 140 x 166 x 213 mm

Download Instructions



No 463.NTM

Here is a video of the running Nitinol Engine