Introduction: Cheap 'n' Cheerful Underwater Webcam

Picture of Cheap 'n' Cheerful Underwater Webcam

This idea came to me today while watching fish in the pond.  I used a flat sided perspex box (a Ferrero Rocher chocolates box), a cheap webcam, a length of duct tape and plenty of hot glue to get up close and personal to those aquatic chums.

I'd already made the box when I remembered Kiteman's Zeroth Law so the photos don't show the whole process.  Remember to set the focus first if you're using a manual focus webcam; I used about 8" (200mm).  The webcam is held in place with 4 dabs of hot glue.  The PSU block is only for ballast, but I needed the tiles too to stop the box floating. Seal the cable entry and the box join with hot glue.

This took about ten minutes to make and I'm treating it as a proof of concept for a more engineered version on a pole to use later in the year when the pond plants have grown and there should be some newts around. 

Warning - Bubbles  coming from the box are a bad sign.  I had to get the webcam out after 20 minutes or so due to a small leak - those boxes are very brittle!


scientist80 (author)2013-09-14

true, but your warning talked about possibility of a cracked lenses, which can drown it out and maybe ruin a camera. if you cover it up, you may get a worse picture, but it's a small price to pay for camera protection, as opposed to getting a new one

AndyGadget (author)scientist802013-09-15

The warning was about a crack in the box which holds the webcam (and was slightly 'tongue in cheek'), not the webcam lens itself. The box I used was very brittle and may have had a hairline crack already.  The webcam is totally enclosed in what should be a watertight box.

scientist80 (author)2013-09-14


AndyGadget (author)scientist802013-09-14

Ahhh.... The wonders of autocorrection!  (The windows of astrocontortion? ;¬)

With my webcam the front was flat and there was room to glue around the perimeter without obstructing the lens.  Other webcams may be different, but it shouldn't be difficult to find a couple of glueing points as this bit doesn't have to be watertight.
The disadvantage of the way I did it was that the webcam turned a bit on the lens and that's why all the pictures are on a bit of a slant.

scientist80 (author)2013-08-31

Hey so if you do it right you could cover up the license and out won't mess with the picture

AndyGadget (author)scientist802013-09-01

But you don't need a license for a fish!
(I think you may have posted in the wrong Instructable #;¬)

scientist80 (author)2013-08-31

Hey so if you do it right you could cover up the license and out won't mess with the picture.

scientist80 (author)2013-08-31

Hey so if you do it right you could cover up the license and out won't mess with the picture

AndyGadget (author)2013-08-20

Blimey, I just want to chase the newts around the garden pond with it, not circumnavigate the globe #;¬)

It's amazing how often those odd shaped plumbing parts come in useful.  I find it's useful touring the local DIY shops occasionally just to see what's available in case you need it at some time.

redfoxtrystman (author)2013-08-19

Now rewire it to have a 25' cord and do a cut plexiglass case with silicone. Hook it up to a laptop and take it fishing. Better with some cam that has night vision or you can add a few leads. You can use it to see that big bass under the dock and know right where to drop he worm. Or do what divers use to show boat owners add a extendable stick and you can control it without getting wet.

Yep, that's the "Deluxe" model ;¬)  I really am going to do a more rugged rebuild of this sometime, maybe not quite to that extent but certainly better than this ten minute job. 

Ed0nG (author)2013-08-18

How is this cheerful

AndyGadget (author)Ed0nG2013-08-18

Maybe "cheap and cheerful" is an expression which doesn't travel well, but it's widely used in Britain for something which is far from the the highest quality but brings pleasure or amusement for little financial outlay.

tsturtevant (author)2013-08-18


trooperboots (author)2013-08-18

Do you think the cable needs to be waterproofed?

AndyGadget (author)trooperboots2013-08-18

No, the cable will be fine, but as I've said below, for long term use, hot glue isn't the best thing to use for sealing as it slowly absorbs water. For a more long-lasting device the best thing would be
silicone sealant.

Nerade (author)2013-08-17

It would be a better approach to use silicone instead of hot glue. Hot glue is water soluble. But still a nice idea!

AndyGadget (author)Nerade2013-08-17

This was a short term, knock it up in a hurry sort of project so I couldn't wait for silicone to cure. I'd also use something more resilient than the brittle case if it was for long-term use. I may do a ruggedised rebuild of this (and post an Instructable) sometime. 
Hot glue doesn't dissolve in water as it's a thermoplastic, but it is somewhat hygroscopic so isn't the best thing for making a watertight seal.  I think the crack in the plastic was more to blame for my leak though,

Nerade (author)2013-08-17

It would be a better approach to use silicone instead of hot glue. Hot glue is water soluble. But still a nice idea!

foobear (author)2013-08-16

ooh I love this.

terriradke (author)2013-05-20

Andy....You never cease to amaze me! I know a friend who's B-day is coming up and has a pond full of fish that would love this!!

AndyGadget (author)terriradke2013-05-21

Thanks Terri!  That
Ferrero box is very brittle so if you can find a stronger clear box it would definitely last longer.

Josehf Murchison (author)2013-05-20

How deep did you get before the box cracked.

The brittleness of the plastic is why I use a soldering gun to make holes in them for my proto boxes.

My wife likes it

It wasn't the pressure as it was only 2 foot underwater max.  I think the crack was already there when I started making it. Soldering iron is a good idea for making holes in these.
It was actually your 'candy boxes to proto boxes' Instructable which reminded me I had a Ferrero Rocher box when I was thinking what I could use.

I was just wondering how deep you got.

The photos are good I could even identify the tadpole.

This was just a ten-minute job but with a bit more care I think the project has potential. I'll be making a sturdier version sometime. The photos are a bit tilted as the camera swivelled on the focus ring. On a rebuild I'd lightly glue the ring. The pond is 30" deep. Some of the photos were taken at full depth and some on a shallow shelf.

jessyratfink (author)2013-05-20

I love this idea. I would have had a lot fun with this as a kid :D

AndyGadget (author)jessyratfink2013-05-20

I often find it's the little, simple things which bring me most pleasure.
Don't ever lose that feeling of being a kid at heart #;¬)

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