Introduction: Make a Kaleidoscope

About: My name is Randy and I am a Community Manager in these here parts. In a previous life I had founded and run the Instructables Design Studio (RIP) @ Autodesk's Pier 9 Technology Center. I'm also the author of t…

In this project I will show you how to make a teleidoscope, which is basically a special type of kaleidoscope with a lens on the end. For those who want a more traditional kaleidoscope in their lives, you can easily modify it to become one by replacing the lens with a clear plastic container.

The kaleidoscope body is made out of 1.5" aluminum tube. Throughout this project I'm going on the assumption you understand how to do some basic metalworking. However, for more in-depth instructions on how to modify the aluminum tube for this project, please take my Metalworking Class.

Total Time: About 1 hour

Step 1: Materials

Follows are the materials you will need for this project.

⁕ indicates Amazon
⊚ indicates McMaster
⍙ indicates other suppliers

(x1) 1.5" x 12" aluminum tube
(x1) Pack of 5 6-32 thumb screws
(x1) 1.5" plastic washer
(x1) 31.52mm flashlight lens
(x3) 6.75 x 1.0625 front surface mirror
(x1) 30mm crystal ball
(x1) Clear packing tape
(x1) 3M 30NF Fastbond contact adhesive (or contact cement of choice)
(x1) 50 count 5 gram plastic jars (optional)

(Note that some of these are affiliate links. This does not change the price of the materials.)

Step 2: Cut the Aluminum Rod

Cut the aluminum rod to be 7-5/8" in length and deburr the edges.

Step 3: Drill

Drill three equally spaced 7/64" holes approximately 0.2" from one of the edges.

Step 4: Tap

Thread each of the holes with a 6-32 tap and then insert the thumb screws to make sure the threading is okay.

Step 5: Polish

Sand with progressively finer sandpaper and then polish the aluminum to a nice shine.

Step 6:

Once the tube is complete, apply contact cement around the edge of the aluminum tube that was left uncut, and the outer edge of the plastic washer.

Wait until the contact cement has dried to a tacky consistency, and then firmly press the two together.

Step 7:

Next, peel the protective coating off the lens and drop it into the tube.

Step 8:

Peel the protective coating off of the front-surface mirrors.

Form a triangle with the front surface sides facing, and then wrap a piece of packing tape around the center of the assembly.

Slide the mirror assembly into the tube. It should be a very tight fit, but do not force it in. Just wiggle it very gently until it slides in freely on its own.

Step 9:

Drop the crystal ball into the top of the tube.

Step 10:

Finally, insert the set screws one half-turn at a time. In other words, turn one in a half turn, then the next, and then the next. Keep doing this until the ball is firmly held in place in the center of the tube. If you do one screw at a time, the first screw will push the ball off center.

Do not tighten them too tightly or you might damage the ball.

Step 11:

Now that you have made it, it's time to play with your cool new toy.

These also make great gifts!

Step 12:

As mentioned, you can also easily convert your teleidoscope to a kaleidoscope by getting some clear plastic 5 gram cylindrical jars.

Fill them with whatever you like, and then insert them into the tube in place of the crystal ball. I filled one of mine with electronics components.

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