High Tech Periscope

About: Engineering Physics Major Biola University, Civil Engineering concentration USC, Minor in Biblical Studies. Philippians 4:8

Webster's New World Dictionary defines a Periscope as an optical instrument consisting of a tube holding a system of lenses with a mirror at either end arranged so that a person looking through the eyepiece at one end can see objects reflected by the mirror at the other end: used on submerged submarines,  etc. With today's technology we can accomplish the same principle with electronics. Using things we found around our house and garage, we built a High Tech Periscope.

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Step 1: Pieces and Parts

My grandpa and I found the following parts around the house and garage.

1. Electronic surveillance camera.
2. Portable analogue TV.
3. Aluminium pole.
4. Radio control car batteries.
5. Power Connector to fit camera.
6. Audio/video connector to fit TV input.
7. Metal part to mount TV and battery  onto aluminium pole.
8. Wires with connectors spades.
9. Zip ties and black electrical tape.

Step 2: Putting It Together

Depending on what you find around your place, your periscope may vary from ours in outward looks, but the function will be the same. It will allow you to look over, or around things. We are going to modify our periscope as time passes just as you most likely will.
Arrange your parts on a table so you can see how things will work together.  We started with the camera, then the pole and then the TV. Deciding to drill a small hole in the end of the pole we mounted the camera on one end of it. Then we looked for a part to mount the TV.  Finding  a preformed metal TV mast mounting part that worked for mounting the TV as well as the battery, we drilled a hole in the  pole  to mount the metal part and then used one sided tape to hold the TV and battery to the mount.

Step 3: The Battery!!!

The battery for us was the hardest part of the whole project. We had to build a battery that supplied the proper voltage and amperage  to run the camera for several hours at a time.  We needed 12VDC at .5mHr, it also had to be small enough to mount on the pole and operate the camera for at least 2 hours. The TV has its own AAA batteries and can operate for several hours on a set of batteries.  Finding two 9.6VDC radio control car batteries, we rebuilt them into one 12.13VDC battery. This allows us to recharge them and should last a long time.

Step 4: Camera Power Connector and Polarity

Looking at the power connector of the camera, we saw that the camera required 12VDC and the connector needed to have the positive from the battery to the tip of the connector, and the negative to the barrel of the tip. This is called polarity of the connector. Doing this I learned how to use a multimeter to check the voltage, and resistance for a complete circuit.  I also learned a lot about Ohms Law and the math involved. I zip tied all the wires down to the pole to stabilise the wires and prevent them from unconnecting. 

Step 5: Connecting the TV

All that remained to do is connect the camera to the TV and power everything up. To turn on the camera all I have to do is connect the ground side of the camera power cable to the battery. To turn on the TV is just a matter of moving a switch to the on position. For a final test we simply went outside and raised the camera above the fence and looked into the empty yard next door to us. Now that everything works, have fun, and have respect for others privacy. 

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    11 Discussions


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I'd be willing to bet that your aluminum pole is hollow. If so, you could probably drill a hole at each end and fish all of your cabling through the inside of the pole, thereby doing away with the zip ties and making the whole thing a little "cleaner" looking. If you go this route, see if you can find or make little grommets for the holes so that you don't damage the cables. Cool instructable, regardless. I'm probably going to make one for my boys to play with. :)

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Great observation, will consider when I up grade my project. And use your suggestion on other up and comming projects.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    If you add an IR light source it will be a NIGHT VISION periscope! Example ebay item no 220638819241.

    2 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you for your comment, will consider doing that.
    I have been thinking about making it submersible.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I made a similar project using a game boy camera and an old game boy color. I just extend the camera wires so that the camera could be placed a few meters from the game boy. The game boy camera is just such terrible quality that it wasn't very effective.

    I have been looking to do redo the project, but utilizing an old mobile phone for the parts. I need to find a way to extend the wires of the camera from the phone so you can still use the phone to view what the camera is seeing while the camera is 2 or 3 meters away. This seems to be a nice way for me because the phone has the battery to power the camera and there is no need to really adapt parts to fit.

    I just need to find a good way to extend ribbon cables as all mobile phone cameras I can find use a ribbon cable.

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you for your comment. I have no idea how to do it with a cellphone, but I will be thinking about it.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Great Job Austin, will be looking for more from you on this site.