Steampunk Goggles: Personal Vision Enhancers




Introduction: Steampunk Goggles: Personal Vision Enhancers

These Steampunk Goggles inspired by, amongst others,  the work of Gogglerman on Instructables and Jake Van Slatt at The Steampunk Workshop, are an attempt to combine the Steampunk aesthetic with production of some functional eye-wear which would produce excellent lighting and variable magnification. I use commercial loupes in my day-to-day job and have an old pair for use in my shop as needed, so really this was just an excuse to make something I considered aesthetically pleasing, satisfying to make and well into the Steampunk genre. I apologize for any lack of detail, but I would think that this would be more of an inspirational jumping-off place to go out and make something of your own, rather than a detailed "how-I-did-it" account.

Step 1: Making the Lens Holders

The actual goggles, the part that holds the lenses in front of the eyes is the body of the design, just as the frame holds the spectacle lenses. I made these from 1/8" recycled brass sheet which I got at the metal recycling plant. I annealed the sheet by heating to red-heat with a gas blowtorch and then quenching in cold water, before cutting with tin snips to fit the paper template. Annealing makes brass and copper soft and easier to work with. I used a stainless steel former, again acquired from a scrapyard, around which to bend the sheet and held the curvature with a wire wrap before soldering. The external brass ring was used for aesthetics rather than because it was absolutely necessary.

Step 2: Bridge and Noseguard

To join the two lens-holders I used solid brass bar, appropriately cut, filed, drilled and soldered together. On the front, a threaded worm-drive screw was used to raise or lower the nose-guard or footplate which carries the weight of the headset on the bridge of the nose.
As you can see, my work, which is entirely self-taught, tends to be a bit rough and ready. Due to impatience and haste, holes get drilled off-centre and solder is over-used. These sorts of details improve with good planning and a measured approach.

Step 3: Headband and Holding Strap

Being made entirely of recycled metal, mainly copper and brass, and some genuine lambskin leather, this device is quite heavy, albeit well-balanced on the head (1.1kg/ 2.5lbs), so it's not something to wear for prolonged periods, but it does amplify vision really well. To keep it secured on the head, it has a well padded over-the-top of the head supporting strap, made of a piece of steel from an old clockwork motor spring which I wrapped in foam to pad it and then sewed into the lambskin leather. It's attached at each end to a box-like extender which can lengthen the strap for taller heads ( vertical adjustment). To keep the eye-cups well secured around the eyes, the two paddles, made of brass sheet covered with foam and leather and secured by a bootlace drawstring can be tightened against the back of the head (horizontal adjustment). The eyelets on each paddle through which the drawstring pulls are old mounting posts from a bronze  chest drawer handle, soldered to each paddle before covering with leather. The length of each paddle can be adjusted by loosening the lock nut on the barrel of the earpiece frame and adjusting the stem length to suit before re-tightening and locking the stem in place. This aspect of the construction owes a lot to Gogglerman's ideas.

Step 4: Lights

The principal lighting unit here was from a Cree LED headlight which I bought online and then hacked. I have kept the lens, the push-pull focusing system and the battery pack with attached circuit-board and micro-switch. To maintain the Steampunk aesthetic I have made from scratch a new brass barrel for the Cree headlight and a brass case to hold the battery pack and micro-switch. This was simply made from folded and soldered brass sheet metal. The lid catch was made by annealing a piece of scrap brass sheet and pounding a steel ball-bearing into the metal to greater than its equator, while the metal was still hot. As the brass shrank, it kept the ball bearing securely in place. This construct was then soldered to the front flap of the box and a dent made in the face of the front of the box in the appropriate place to accept the ball-bearing catch when the lid is closed. Simple, but it works surprisingly well.
The two sidelights were made from scratch, using three LED bulbs, bright white, in each. These are mounted on a wooden disc, in turn fitted precisely into a copper tube. The LEDs, each soldered to a 67ohm resistor, are wired together and connected to the output of the Cree circuit board, so that all three lights function together. The value of the resistor used will vary depending on the LEDs selected and the power voltage you want to use. I used the power output of 4.5v from the Cree headlight, so tailored my design to that.
The lenses for the sidelights were recycled from an old box Brownie camera I got for $2.00 at the scrapyard. I mounted these in a brass pipe offcut which I had that would just cover the copper pipe in which the LEDs were mounted. I narrowed the end of the brass pipe by heating and hammering over a solid rod former. This enabled the back end to go over the copper pipe while not allowing the lenses, which were the same diameter as the i.d of the brass pipe, to stay in place without falling out of the pipe. The brass pipe was then screwed to the copper pipe shaft with a transverse screw. The completed side-lights were then mounted in a circle of brass, cut from a brass pipe. screws fix the mid-point of the brass circle to the mid-point of the shaft or barrel of the light, allowing for movement around this central point. The brass circle is then mounted in a friction-fit ball-bearing mount.
Each of the three lights can move about an axis through a range of about 45deg. in all directions, using a ball-bearing mount. The holders are made crom brass sheet, folded into a c-shape and having holes drilled in the ends of the "arms" to take a ball-bearing. similar holes on the shaft barrel of each light allows a friction grip of the ball-bearings between the holder arms and the light shaft barrel. If the arms of the C-shaped holder are too far apart, the ball is not held securely enough and the light will not maintain its desired position. If the arms are too close together, it's hard to get the balls into position. I found that this design worked best with non-annealed metal for the C-arm holders.The balls were simply harvested from an old ball-race bearing found at the scrapyard.

Step 5: Earpieces

Just as a pair of spectacles requires earpieces to locate the lenses appropriately, the Vision Enhancer device uses the same idea. The arms of the earpieces are attached to the lens-holder eye cups by brass hinges which were made from brass rod offcuts and then shaped using an angle grinder and hand files. The stems were made from hollow brass pipe which could carry telescoping flexible ear-hooks (hacked from a redundant piece of eye-wear). The back-of-head pressure pads, held together by the drawstring, were also allowed to telescope into the upper barrel of the earpiece arms. The final position of the stem in the barrel was fixed by a locking screw. This system allowed for some size adjustments between different wearers.The front end of the barrel was formed into a hinge by insetting a short brass rod, soldering this in place and grinding and drilling this appropriately to mate with the other hing component screwed to the side of the lens-holder eye cups.
The main weight is carried on the leather-padded vertical support running over the top of the head and this is attached to the side of the upper earpiece barrel, as is the fixed-length strap carrying the battery case.

Step 6: Lenses and Magnification System

The main lenses in this Vision Enhancer are simple convex lenses with a magnification of 1.5 X and a focal length of 35cm, making them suitable for relatively close-up work such as PC board construction, engraving or reading fine print. The lenses, which were sourced as surplus stock from an industrial lens and prism manufacturer defined the size of the lens holding eye pieces. The lenses are held in place by a washer, distal to the lens, soldered to the eye cup and a simple brass circle made from heavy brass wire or light rod, placed inside the eye-cup proximal to the lens.
To provide further magnification, a pair of redundant Zeiss loupes, 2.5X power, were adapted to fit the Vision Enhancer frame and making use of the stainless steel frame hinges, these were adapted to be able to be swung down into the visual pathway for enhanced magnification of ultra-fine work, or to be moved out of the way for less detailed viewing. When swung down into the visual pathway, the lenses are held inplace by the spring action of the stainless steel stems and a guide-in-hole  friction-fit locating system. Interestingly, I acquired these lenses for free after placing an appeal for such a donation through a local surgical society's website. Surgeons use these loupes for doing fine work and they, like eye glasses, are of little use for re-sale purposes once the surgeon retires or stops operating.

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    24 Discussions

    Nice. Better than nice!

    " I would think that this would be more of an inspirational jumping-off place to go out and make something of your own, rather than a detailed "how-I-did-it" account."
    sorry but your're rather wrong on that. for those who have no idea on what they're doing....have no experience in your field....its too difficult to fathom making something this complicated. it ends up being a jumping point into the depths of nowhere.

    3 replies

    There's a great instructable about working with brass that you should look at. if you appply what you learn from it to this you should be able to create some rudimentary goggles, and the more you work with something the better you get at it.

    I know what you mean, but I'm also entirely self-taught. You learn by picking up a tip here, a technique there and then putting the bits together in your own individual way. Sure, there will be errors and things that don't work out but that's part of the process, as long as you enjoy what you're doing. Bottom line - have a go, you may surprise yourself with what you can produce.

    I am currently on my first pair of Goggles, already I have made 2 pair of iris I'm on my second complete frame and about to completely redo a lens assembly,
    WHY would I mention this to you? Because the thing in your mind needs to come out as you saw it. What stinks is the amount of work your hands must do to get what your mind thought up so easily.

    One of my problems when doing a project like this is when you have a great idea for an assembly and when you go to do it you see physically it can't be done, conflicting intersection points or it's an incompatible sub-assembly.

    If you decide to do another similar project, (and I hope you do) here is a hint that may help, a bench buffer, grinder with a wire wheel will eat away excess solder when curves and small areads need the solder cleaned away.

    Wonderful project, and best wishes to you.

    Very very nice!

    I am studying Jewellery making at the moment, and have been making art/sculpture/props/weird things for years, and you do have the creative/artistic gift.
    Believe me, its actually rare. ;o)

    I will be making something like this for sure, it will give a good laugh to my fellow students, and freak out any of the more 'square' teachers hehe All this while being practical.

    If you have a set of metal rollers, you can roll out the metal after annealing it, which will make it go a lot further, and drastically decrease the weight. all the curves in this will ensure its still rigid with the thinner metal.

    Amazing stuff mate!

    Warmly, Marty

    2 replies

    what kind of gas did you use with your blowtorch when working on the brass? will propane work?
    and also, what kind of solder did you use? did you use a soldering iron for it or did you use the blowtorch?

    1 reply

    Hi, thanks for the enquiry.
    I use two torches: the larger is a propane based torch and the larger uses butane, as is used in cigarette lighters and similar. Both will heat metal to >700degrees, so seem to be adequate to my uses. I use Duzall liquid or gel flux and vary my solder from standard lead containing to lead-free silver solder. I find the key is to have absolutely clean surfaces to solder. I usuually freshen the surfaces with steel wool or fine-grade paper immediately before soldering.

    Very Interessssssting! It does look heavy, I think that is what I like about it though. Improvisation (Mothers Milk of Steampunk in my opinion) and the "crudeness" of the piece. Excellent. Can't wait to see your next pair of goggles or your next piece.

    Well done.

    2 replies

    Thanks for the feedback. It is heavy. I weighed it at 1100g ( about 2.4 lbs); although the fit is very comfortable. It does give excellent vision, but I would think that wearing it for any length of time with one's head bowed, one would soon become very aware of the weight.
    Currently working on a brass steampunk desk lamp - sort of a mash-up of an extendable anglepoise and something Captain Nemo might have had on Nautilus. Watch this space.

    Thanks, that's awfully kind of you but truth be told, I'm just fond of messing about in my shed and I like making stuff. Not really that unusual. The final product often fails to match the awesomeness of what I had in my head but hey, I enjoy the process anyway.

    It's refreshing to hear you say that. I get frustrated that my designs generally look far better in my head than Im able to produce. These are really great looking goggles and something to be proud of. Even if it doesn't match up with what you envisioned. In terms of being a jumping off point for inspiration, you succeeded wonderfully. Thank you for sharing this.