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33: Periscope

November 6, 2010


What’s that? It’s a functional homemade periscope. Awesome? You bet. Here’s the view from the inside:

Would you like to make one for yourself? Well, you’re in luck, because I have so many pictures of the build process. Here we go.

The first step is to assess that you do, indeed, need a periscope. My house is right off a busy street, and most of our windows are ground-level. So in order to avoid becoming an exhibit, we usually keep them closed.

This means that whenever there is a noise outside, we either need to open the blinds, or run to the higher window and attempt to peer out like so:

That’s just stupid. So here’s what you do. Go find a heavy duty cardboard tube, and cut off the end at an angle. 45 degrees.

Then, take that cut-off piece…

… and glue it back on, so it makes a right angle. (See those mirrors up there? You need a big one and a small one)

Then just glue in a little mirror. It may look too small, but the view-limiting factor is actually the diameter of the tube, not the size of the mirror. This mirror is so close to your eye that it doesn’t have to be very big at all.

So once you check that you can see out of the end of the tube, it’s time to prepare the other end.

Now, we could just do the same thing on the other end, and call it good, but I have bigger plans. So, let’s prep the other mirror. Take it out of the case, and round a couple corners, with a Dremel.

Here, you could probably use a small hinge. I used some fleece I had left over from Beaker, because it was cheaper and faster than buying a hinge. I also cut a little 45 in the end of the tube, but left half perpendicular, so the mirror can sit flat.

After that’s done, attach some drinking straws and wire to make this cool little mechanism for adjusting the angle. This will let you look up and down, without moving the periscope.

You can send the wire all the way down the pipe and end it near the eyehole somewhere.

At this stage, the top is undeniably ugly. So to give it that traditional periscope look, we will build something out of heavy paper—the poor man’s fiberglass. I don’t really measure these things, so you’re on your own here.

This next picture is me, when I thought I was done. Later I realized, I didn’t have a plan for actually mounting this to the window.

I needed something that would support it, and allow for rotation. My mounting design is convoluted and just kind of made up as I went, so here are pictures of the process:

These two rings got attached to the scope.

This mount opens, so I can take the periscope out and bring it with me whenever I might need a periscope.

It’s held together with rubber bands, and screwed directly into the window sill.

It actually works, really really well. I’m fairly surprised by that. I used masonite, and put the shiny sides together, so there would be less friction in the rotation.

Up periscope.

And one more video, from the outside. Kind of weird.

Thanks for watching!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Mark Hepworth permalink
    November 8, 2010 10:57 am

    I need one of these. I am old and my neck will not turn well when I am driving a car.

  2. November 18, 2011 1:03 am

    Haha! Creepy, yet awesome.

  3. January 21, 2012 4:15 pm

    How did I miss this?? The title caught my attention when I was checking out the snowplow dots. This is very clever, and I’ve always wanted a periscope. I may have to give it a try!

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