MacGyver McCafe Mocha Macro Moto

How I made a cellphone pinhole macro lens while sitting in a McDonald's enjoying my McCafe Mocha.

I wanted to take extreme closeups with my VGA resolution old-school Motorola V551.

Yeah, sure I could use a magnifying lens scavenged from a disposable camera.

But the game here was to be like MacGyver, and only use what was available to me sitting in the booth.

The black cup lid with the pre-punched pinhole gave me an idea.

And the cool Happy Meal dino didn't need any modding.

Step 1: Go Army! (Swiss Army)

Can't imagine life without Swiss Army knives.

My mainstay is the tiny 58 mm Rambler knife because it has a combo Phillips screwdriver bottle opener wire-stripper blade.

Here it is cutting the pinhole out of my McCafe coffee lid.

The pinhole is used to vent the lid so it can be lifted off the dispensing stack.

But a pinhole is a pinhole, and I decided to see if it could let me take extreme closeup photos.

Step 2: Modding the Pinhole

Using my thumbnail, I modified the pinhole by making it smaller.

The raised edges from where it was pierced can be pushed towards the center of the hole.

Just check that it is fairly round by holding it up to the light.

A smaller hole means a sharper image.

Step 3: Mount the Macro Lens

To mount the pinhole lens, I just tucked the plastic lid piece into my folder cellphone hinge.

Careful, don't damage the ribbon cable in the hinge.

I bent over a small edge of the flat plastic so it would sit in the hinge and brace against the antenna.

Step 4: Bring Me the Head of Ronald McDonald

I decide to take a picture of the tiny Ronald McDonald only a few millimeters high printed on my Happy Meal bag.

The first image shows a photo without the pinhole macro lens.

The second shows a closeup of his head with the pinhole.

Next I snapped my receipt without the pinhole, and then with the pinhole.

Remember you'll need a lot of light and a rock-solid table top for the camera.

Experiment and let me know if you have any improvements.



    • Warm and Fuzzy Contest

      Warm and Fuzzy Contest
    • PCB Contest

      PCB Contest
    • Faux-Real Contest

      Faux-Real Contest

    11 Discussions

    Uncle Kudzu

    9 years ago on Introduction

    interesting! MacGyver could also use a piece of aluminum from a soda pop can for this. and if he had sandpaper (or a sidewalk), he could buff off the burrs left from the hole being punched/drilled to possibly get better refraction. anyway, yeah, big points for resourcefulness. who'da thunk it?


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Great, I registered a Starbucks card number 6043659185260812 - Now you can load some moolah (dollars, pounds, euros gladly accepted) and describe exactly which bean, condiments, style, size, of Starbucks Latte I should try. Always glad to learn new vices. The barista said that the most popular latte was the mocha style, but I won't touch it if you say so.

    Here's the load yer pal's card link. Thanks in advance for your guidance.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I kinda like the McDonalds mocha. Though I don't like the iced version.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    lol I must say that I agree with thefunktopus. But Nice instructable. I love the MacGyver style.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you. The best camera is the camera you have with you.

    This is really just a fun experiment. It's not really a good way to take macro photos.

    If you could see the time stamps on the photos, you would see that I didn't spend much time on this idea. Only about the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I'm in love with the simple and functional. I read about this for my optics class but never thought of doing it with a cellphone camera, great combination.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I tried another way to make a pinhole by cutting two lid pieces with narrow V shapes. Each piece had slots on the side so they slid into each other and made a diamond shape aperture. But it was not as simple or good as the original pinhole.

    Another discovery is that since I was sitting at a sunny window, I was able to use nice bright sunlight. I found that the artificial lighting under high magnification produced 60 Hz bands across the image.