Introduction: Blade Runner Binoculars

Picture of Blade Runner Binoculars

"They're coming..." - Rick Deckard

These 3D printed binoculars are based on a photo from Wired featuring Bladerunner 2049 props. They're an enclosure for a $13 monocular you can buy on Amazon, so they actually work!

I used a weathering technique I learned for my 3D Printed Animatronic Puppet project so they look like Deckard dropped them a couple of times while fleeing the authorities.

I don't go into the specifics of modeling all the parts here, but all the files are included along with the Fusion file, so you can do some forensics to get some tips.

Source: Wired

Step 1: Tools + Materials

Software

3D Printer + Filament

  • 3D Printer
    • I use a Creality CR-10. It's the best bang for your buck, in my opinion.
    • Use this coupon code at Gearbest to get it for $359: GBCRUS
  • 3D Print Filament
    • I used Matte Fiber HTPLA from Proto-pasta for this project, but pretty much any filament will work. I like this stuff because it's very easy to sand and it takes paint well. I used black and gray for this build.

Parts

  • M3 Screws + Washers: ($20) I used two M3 screws with washers for the monocular bracket (you'll see that part later), so a whole kit might be overkill. That said, M3 screws are what I use for most of my 3D print builds, so I think they're useful for all kinds of things.
  • M4 Screws: ($20) I used these for all the other screws. You could do the whole project with socket cap screws, but I used flush ones for the exposed ones on the back because it looks better. The only ones you can see in the picture of the prop are socket cap, on the bracket that holds the strap.
  • 1/8" Ø Aluminum Rod: ($5) I used this to make the hoop for the side strap. It's used for TIG welding, but you might be able to find a cheaper / easier to find option that's also 1/8" Ø. Bailing wire would probably work.
  • 1/16" Black Fun Foam: ($10 for 12) I used this for the hood and the strap. You might want to go with something more durable if you're planning on using these heavily.
  • Monocular: ($13) This model is designed to fit this particular monocular perfectly.

Spray Paint

Montana Gold / Montana Black: Either brand will work. I use this brand because the paint is water based acrylic. That means it's non toxic, responds well to various kinds of sealing finishes, and it responds well to wet sanding.

  • Primer: this is clear, it just provides a base coat for the paint to stick to.
  • Silver: I used this as the primary coat for everything so I can expose it for a damaged / weathered effect. It makes the parts look like they're painted aluminum.
  • Olive: for the main shell and the back trim.
  • Brick: for the front trim.
  • Matte Finish: a clear coat for the finished product.

Step 2: Design + Files

I'm not going to get into the modeling process here (lots of steps) but suffice it to say that I made a lot of 2D sketches, extruded them, and combined them to make all the features and different parts.

After using Fusion regularly for around 3 years, I've gotten really quick with it. I finished this design in a day!

You might notice the proportions of mine are a little different from the prop in Wired. That's because mine had to be built around a manufactured monocular which was a bit bigger than the lens you can see on the original prop. If I'd kept the proportions the same they would have been too big.

Here's a list of the included files:

STL

These are 3D-print ready files. Bring them into any slicer and they're ready to go. They're all designed to need minimal support structures.

F3D

This is the Fusion 360 archive file. You can download it, then upload it to Fusion and do with it what you like.

PDF

These are 2D files that include the hood cutout template, the acrylic pieces, and the decals.

UPDATE

I added a "fake monocular" STL file in case anyone wants to make these without the real monocular. Fair warning, this thing is pretty big and you probably won't save much money by printing them instead of buying a real one for $13, but here it is.

Step 3: Assembly Diagram

There are 23 parts in total. Everything fits together as shown using screws for the larger parts and CA glue for the smaller parts.

The diagram above uses the same names as the STL files in the previous step to help you keep track of the assembly.

Step 4: Assembly- Test Fit

Picture of Assembly- Test Fit

Once the 3D parts were printed and the 2D parts were laser cut, I did a test fit before painting. It's something like measure twice / cut once. You don't want to spend any more time painting than you have to.

Step 5: Front Trim

Picture of Front Trim

The front trim has a press-fit display part, a cap, a pair of sensors on a black trim piece, and a cap above the lens. All of these fit just fine given the .15mm tolerance I built into everything.

The shell has hole features in the front for screw that attach it to the trim. M4 X 6mm screws work well for this. You can't go any longer than that because the trim is shallow.

Step 6: Monocular Fastening

Picture of Monocular Fastening

The monocular slides through the hole in the trim piece. There's a feature on the shell that stops the focus knob on the monocular and exposes it so it's still functional when the whole enclosure is finished.

When the monocular is in place, the monocular bracket slides in from the back, pressing it in place. There are two holes in the bracket that line up with the slot feature on the inside. M3 screws and washers hold it in place- this was surprisingly snug!

The angle to reach these screws is awkward, so the little bendy attachment on my driver kit came in hand (you can see it in the background).

Step 7: Details

Picture of Details

All the detail parts (buttons, rollers, knobs, bumpers, lens trim) will be glued in place, so this step was just a matter of placing them to make sure they fit.

Step 8: Strap Hoop

Picture of Strap Hoop

To hold the strap in place, I bent the aluminum rod with two pairs of pliers to make a rectangle as shown. This stuff bends really easily with a pair of pliers, but if you try to straighten it again it tends to snap off. This took a few tries to get it right.

Step 9: Sanding and Masking

Picture of Sanding and Masking

With a successful test fit, I sanded all the parts down to a smooth finish and masked out the features that would need to be glued.

You could probably skip the masking and just glue the details straight to the paint, but I didn't want to risk them coming off.

I used 220 grid sandpaper for the first round of sanding.

Step 10: Prep, Prime, Base Coat

Picture of Prep, Prime, Base Coat

First, I checked the reference photo to see where the damage was on the original prop. I used a rasp (shown in the first photo) to scrape some of the edges to make it more realistic.

I primed all the parts, then made a base coat with Silver Chrome spray paint so I could expose it later to make the paint look scratched and damaged. All you need is 15 minutes between coats with this paint.

Step 11: Damage Effect

Picture of Damage Effect

To get the damage effect, I mixed some table salt and water to get a sticky paste as shown. I stuck this to the parts of the trim I wanted to look scratched, then painted the finish coat color on top of the parts. This protects the base coat from the finish color and makes for a gritty, non-uniform edge.

Step 12: Scrub and Sand

Picture of Scrub and Sand

After 15 minutes of drying, I scraped the salt off with a rigid brush (a toothbrush would work well for this). As you can see, the part looks like it's made of aluminum with scratched paint now.

A round of wet sanding with 320 grit wet / dry sandpaper follows this step.

Step 13: Finish Coat

Picture of Finish Coat

For best results, multiple rounds of sanding and painting are necessary. This can be tricky when you're trying for the scraped edges. To protect those parts, I brushed on some vaseline, then sprayed over that, brushed the vaseline off, sanded avoiding the silver parts, then repeated that process.

I didn't worry too much about wearing down the edges with sanding, since exposing some of the gray plastic beneath adds to the weathered effect.

Step 14: Final Assembly- Glue Small Parts

Picture of Final Assembly- Glue Small Parts

With the finishing done, I glued all the small parts in place. I forgot to mask the cavity for the sensors on the front but found it was really easy to scrape off the paint with a sculpting tool.

Step 15: Assemble Enclosure

Picture of Assemble Enclosure

As in the test-fit, I secured the monocular with the bracket.

I had etched a kind of inclinometer graphic into the screen for the back of the piece. To make this pop a bit more, I wiped acrylic paint into the etching with a paper towel.

The front trim is also glued in place to contain the front lens.

Step 16: Hood + Strap

Picture of Hood + Strap

I laser cut a template for the foam hood, but you could do this with a printed piece of paper with a steady hand. The trim piece on the back of the binoculars has a groove in it that snugly fits the edge of the foam. It took a couple of tries to get it centered, but it worked just fine.

The strap was easy- all I had to do was cut a 1" wide strip along the edge of the foam sheet, fold it over, punch some holes, then fit an M3 screw and nut through it. The right way to do this would be with a rivet gun, but I didn't have the right rivets so I went with the screw.

Step 17: Decals

Picture of Decals

I printed the decals on the vinyl cutter, but these could be done on any desktop photo printer and attached with rubber cement.

There's a circular decal that looks like it has measurement on it in the picture from Wired, and another one that says "OPTICAL VIEWER" beneath the lens.

Step 18: Scan the Orange Horizon

Picture of Scan the Orange Horizon

As I'm writing this, there are severe wildfires all around the Bay Area, so the photos actually have a hazy orange tint to them that looks like the movie.

I'm generally pretty happy with the result except that the shell didn't print so well because I did it on a printer I'm not used to. If you look closely you can see some rough lines in it that I wish were smoother.

The monocular still works just fine, so they're actually functional, which I like.

Planning to make your own? Post an IMadeIt for a free 1 year premium membership!

Comments

countspatula (author)2017-11-08

This is fantastic - really nicely done. I really appreciate that you incorporated actual optics. One note - the original picture you have is actually flipped horizontally. The actual prop is reversed - easy enough to fix with digital files!

JON-A-TRON (author)countspatula2017-11-09

Thanks! The optics are actually the reason why I mirrored it from the original- I wanted to be able to use my right eye for the monocular, so I had to put the big lens on the right side.

PauloS34 (author)2017-10-19

Hello, anyone can help, how that animation its done? all parts separeted then all toggegher

JON-A-TRON (author)PauloS342017-10-25

Here's a instructable on how to make the drawings and animations: https://www.instructables.com/id/Easy-Exploded-3D-Drawings/

JON-A-TRON (author)PauloS342017-10-19

JON-A-TRON (author)JON-A-TRON2017-10-19

It's easier than you think!

gabrieltaft (author)2017-10-18

That exploding view <3

Kenstruct (author)gabrieltaft2017-10-19

yeah, step 3 animated exploded view is absolutely top notch! I like how he got so many details from a still picture and fabricated them all. The hood was a nice touch, very talented and well executed Jon. Plus I love that you kept the viewer functional so it's art and still a useful tool

JON-A-TRON (author)Kenstruct2017-10-25

Here's a instructable on how to make the drawings and animations: https://www.instructables.com/id/Easy-Exploded-3D-Drawings/

JON-A-TRON (author)Kenstruct2017-10-19

Thanks for saying so! My roots in architecture shine through on drawings like that, I tend to get a little obsessed with them.

"Nothing useless can be truly beautiful." - William Morris

mart_man made it! (author)2017-10-23

Well its more work in progress

Can anyone tell me what they used to print the lenses with or have you just
cut it out from an acrylic sheet.

Thank you Jon-A-Tron for sharing this excellent and easy to follow instructable
(apart from the lenses)

MartMan

JON-A-TRON (author)mart_man2017-10-23

Check you out! Well done. I used acrylic and a laser cutter, but if I were you I'd just use some transparency film. You could print directly on it and easily cut it with an exacto.

mart_man (author)JON-A-TRON2017-10-24

Thanks Jon-A-Tron

Hope you dont mide me pointing out that the sensorRectangle item 4 is missing.

JON-A-TRON (author)mart_man2017-10-25

Not at all! That's actually in the Acrylic Parts.PDF file. It's 2D. If you want to 3D print those parts, you can open them in Fusion and export them from the file.

jz1127 (author)2017-10-21

I think this may be the best instructable I have ever seen! Amazing!!!

JON-A-TRON (author)jz11272017-10-22

Thanks!

r1ch999999 (author)2017-10-20

This is neat, my first thought was to add a pi with a camera that pointed out the other side, clearly I'm not alone in that thinking.

Grzybek53 (author)2017-10-19

Hello Do you think to do binoculars for vr gogles that would be nice looking vr headset for phone ? This blade runner binoculars are awesome .

JON-A-TRON (author)Grzybek532017-10-19

That's a great idea. You could keep everything as-is except for the back panel, then add a phone or a screen and raspberry pi.

auto13142828 (author)2017-10-15

Nice. Too bad it's just a prop.

JON-A-TRON (author)auto131428282017-10-15

They actually work

auto13142828 (author)JON-A-TRON2017-10-18

Work like a toy.

JON-A-TRON (author)auto131428282017-10-19

There's plenty of space inside. If you're not satisfied with an analog monocular you could always put a raspberry pi in there with a screen and a camera, maybe add a range finder and make your own GUI...

Blaise_Gauba (author)2017-10-15

Beautiful! As a suggestion for bending the aluminium (British spelling...sorry) rod, with over thirty-five years of prop making and sculpting experience under my belt for the entertainment industry, I would make a flat, little, jig to bend the rod on...so that way you only have to do it once...usually.

Your Blade Runner Binoculars are absolutely beautiful! Really, really nice work! Thank you for sharing.

JON-A-TRON (author)Blaise_Gauba2017-10-15

You’re describing the proper way (excuse the British expression) to do it. A jig would definitely ensure that you get dimensions right. I just marked the rod with a sharpie and bent it by hand.

You sound like a pro, anything you’ve worked on that I might have seen?

Blaise_Gauba (author)JON-A-TRON2017-10-15

I sculpted and built the wheelchair that you never see in Minority Report. Hahaha! The list of props and sets and sculptures is a looong one. To see some of it, go to my web portfolio page here:

https://blaise-gauba.squarespace.com/

P.S. This is a relatively new portfolio page as the old one was really old...like 1990's old. So I have been slowly adding more and more galleries and adding more and more to my existing galleries on this portfolio website. I haven't really done too much 3-D printing and have been dabbling in Z-Brush on and off for a few years. I guess I should knuckle down and get my head into it. But I haven't been doing too much sculpting or prop work the last couple of years or so. I've been trying to work on my own art lately. By the way, I am looking forward to seeing the new Blade Runner movie. Should be fun. Keep up the great work!

JON-A-TRON (author)Blaise_Gauba2017-10-15

Nice work, man! Have you looked into 3D scanning at all? We've got a photogrammetry program that you might find really useful given that you already know how to sculpt in real life. https://www.instructables.com/class/3D-Scanning-C...

Blaise_Gauba (author)JON-A-TRON2017-10-17

No. But I will look into it...like...right now. Thanks!

Blaise_Gauba (author)JON-A-TRON2017-10-15

P.P.S. Here is my Facebook artist's page:

https://www.facebook.com/BlaiseGaubaSculptor/

bolsoncerrado (author)2017-10-17

OK so now...next project: The ECTO Glasses from Ghostbusters! haha! :D

JON-A-TRON (author)bolsoncerrado2017-10-17

Good one! I've been trying to think of another prop to do next.

PogueMahone1775 (author)2017-10-16

Man, sell this as a kit and folks would be busting down your door throwing money at you! I would be first in line...awesome work!

Not a bad idea! How much would you pay for a kit?

Well, I get carried away with my money so I'm probably not the best gauge for how much folks would pay, but, including the monocular, I'd easily pay $150 for a complete kit.

That's totally doable if the parts are unfinished and unpainted.

bolsoncerrado (author)2017-10-15

Hey ! Thanks for this nice model! Any chances for a mockup "stunt" version of the monocular for those of us who wont need it "real deal" and just cosplay around?


Cheers

JON-A-TRON (author)bolsoncerrado2017-10-16

I hadn't thought of that! I'll add one in a bit, check back later.

bolsoncerrado (author)JON-A-TRON2017-10-16

Much appreciated! :D

JON-A-TRON (author)bolsoncerrado2017-10-16

Done! Just added "fakeMonocular.STL" to Step 2. Out of curiosity, why are you opting for a stunt version instead of buying the real thing? You might save a little money, but the whole thing will definitely be a lit lighter- I could see that being a plus for cosplay.

bolsoncerrado (author)JON-A-TRON2017-10-17

Same as XTL ;)

CheerS!

XTL (author)JON-A-TRON2017-10-16

can't buy real thing - don't live in USA. Amazon will not ship

Salvagione (author)2017-10-15

Enhance 224 to 176....

JON-A-TRON (author)Salvagione2017-10-15

Want to collaborate? These things should definitely be voice activated with 80’s vector graphics.

Salvagione (author)JON-A-TRON2017-10-15

I don't know, what you do in a week takes me a month. I think our next collaboration should be finishing a bottle of scotch. :)

JON-A-TRON (author)Salvagione2017-10-16

I'm for it!

cdavenport (author)2017-10-16

What a spectacular level of effort!

JON-A-TRON (author)cdavenport2017-10-16

Thank you! I've got maker OCD.

kilebrew (author)2017-10-16

I know you included the .stl files for the lens pieces, but what did you use for them? I don't think even SLA printers can get things as transparent as those lenses so did you 3D print the lens pieces and use those as templates for some PC or other clear plastic?

JON-A-TRON (author)kilebrew2017-10-16

The viewer part is a manufactured monocular, the lens parts are laser cut 3mm acrylic. I don’t know of any female printed material that can make clear lenses

MattGyver92 (author)2017-10-12

I can't tell you how much I love this build. Excellent work. I really like the strap hoop design and might have to start adding those to my optics! Also, I appreciate that you're building with functionality in mind. The finishing looks great.

I've been wanting to build a version of something like this with a 7.5-75mm motorized CCTV lens I have laying around. I was thinking about spending the money on a laser rangefinder module and adding some sort of camera/HUD overlay display or beam splitter internally to show distance as well as controls for the zoom and focus. Great instructable.

About This Instructable

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Bio: I'm a full-time Designer at the Instructables Design Studio (best job ever). My background is in residential architecture, film set design, film animatronics, media ... More »
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