Introduction: How to Make a Copper Pipe Kaleidoscope

Picture of How to Make a Copper Pipe Kaleidoscope

Hi, I'm Stale56; and I'm here to teach you how to make a kaleidoscope.
Last year, I had to make one for a school, project, and I just decided to post how to make one.

I made mine out of copper pipe (you can use PVC if you choose), to stick out above everybody elses.

It works pretty well, and I'm happy with mine. If you have any questions or don't understand something, please ask me. I'd be happy to post pictures of other people's kaleidoscopes if you post this.

If you see any typographical or grammatical errors, please PM me.

Step 1: Gather Materials

Picture of Gather Materials

• Copper pipe (2” diameter by about a foot long)
             This can be PVC if you choose, and you can make it as long as you desire
• Copper pipe end cap (still 2")
             This can also be PVC, but I recommend using PVC only if the pipe is PVC.
• Pipe cutter and gloves (if the pipe isn't the right length)
• Copper pipe coupling (again, 2")
              Again, this can be PVC
• Reamer (for smoothing the sharp edges of the pipe)
• Sand paper (for cleaning the pipe)
• 3 pieces of mirror (1.732” by a quarter-half of an inch shorter than the pipe)
• 2 pieces of plastic circles (2” diameter)
            Can be from plastic packaging
• Tape (to hold the mirrors together)
• Beads
• Adhesive caulk (to hold the plastic in place)
• Drill and ½ inch drill bit (to drill an eyepiece)

Step 2: The Pipe

Picture of The Pipe

Cut the pipe into the right length (I suggest having it around a foot long) using the pipe cutters (picture 2). Make sure you are wearing gloves. After the pipe is cut, use a reamer on the inside to smooth away the edges of the pipe (picture 3). Use sand paper to clean the mirror (picture 4).

Put the sand paper around the pipe, like in the picture, and rub the paper over it (by pulling each arm up). When one side is clean, go to the other side.

Look at the pictures and follow the image notes.

Step 3:

Picture of

Take the three mirrors (make sure that they are slightly shorter than the pipe and about 1.73 inches wide) and tape them into a triangle (picture 1). Slide it into the copper pipe (picture 2). It should be a snug fit on the inside of the pipe (picture 3). If it is slightly too small, then put another layer of tape over the mirrors to make it slightly thicker. If it is WAY too small or too big, then you may need new mirrors.


Step 4: The Parts the Beads Go In: Part 1

Picture of The Parts the Beads Go In: Part 1

Cut out the 2 plastic circles if you haven’t done so already, and make sure that they fit in the copper coupling without bending. It's alright if it isn't a perfect circle, but be as close to a circle as possible. I used the packaging from an XBox 360 headset (picture 1), but you don't need to use that. Use anything that fits your needs. But if you happen to have the plastic packaging (the stuff that is really hard to get open), I would use that (Yay, recycling!).
Make sure that the plastic circles can fit inside of the copper COUPLING, not the pipe (picure 2).

Step 5: The Part the Beads Go In: Part 2

Picture of The Part the Beads Go In: Part 2

Put one piece of plastic inside of the coupling, until it is halfway in it (there should be a ridge that stops it) and caulk it in there (pictures 1 and 2).

Wait for the caulk to dry and insert the beads on the plastic. Make sure there are enough in there, but not so much so that they can’t move (picture 3).

Caulk the other piece of plastic onto the coupling, so the beads are sandwiched between the plastic, but can still move. Gently shake the end cap to make sure that the beads aren’t caulked to the sides of the end cap (picture 4).

Step 6: The Eyepiece

Picture of The Eyepiece

Find the center of the other end cap by finding half of the diameter. Make sure that it is half of the diameter by checking the distances from the center point to the end; the distance should stay about the same. It’s all right if it isn’t perfectly centered (picture 1).

Attach the eyepiece to a piece of scrap pipe*** (picture 2) and drill a hole using a ½ inch drill bit (picture 3). If the whole is too small, use a bigger drill bit. Remove the end cap from the pipe and sand away the edges of the new hole; to make sure small shards aren’t on it.


Step 7: Putting the Ends On

Picture of Putting the Ends On

Attach both end caps onto the copper tube, making sure that the end with the beads can still rotate, and neither end will fall off without being pulled off (picture 1).

Putting the ends on are pretty simple, and self-explanitory.

You may need to GENTLY hit the eyepiece against a hard surface (not a wall or somebody's head), so it will slightly dent and stay on.


Butterface67 (author)2010-11-26

Where did you get your mirrors from? Did you cut them yourself from an old mirror or did you buy them that way?

I like the kaleidoscopes with the glass ball and the end which gives you cool effects from the world around you (what you are pointing it at.) I believe it's called a teleidoscope.
Do you think this one could be adapted to that style?

stale56 (author)Butterface672010-11-26

I got the mirrors from a friend of mine's father, he works for something where he has to cut a lot of glass. Any type of mirror should work, but if the mirror is bent or curved, it may not fit inside the kaleidoscope. You may be able to buy some that size.

I never heard of a teleidoscope before, but I think that if you know what you're doing, you can adapt it to a teleidoscope. I don't know how to make a teleidoscope, here is a link to a teleidoscope Instructable. I think that this can be adapted to one, again, I never made one so I'm not entirely sure.

kelseymh (author)2010-08-25

Great little project! Pretty well written, although there are some typos here and there (extra commas, a few misspellings). You might consider switching the order of the two images in the intro. The kaleidoscope view would make a much better thumbnail than the boring old copper pipe :-)

stale56 (author)kelseymh2010-08-26


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