Super Specs - 3D and Much More




The title for this Instructable was really hard to pick because these Super Specs have so many uses.
So many uses? Let’s list a few:

* 3D stereo glasses that will work on any screen that uses passive split polarity for 3D regardless of brand.
   (Will not work for electronic switched 3D stereo.)
* 3D stereo glasses that work with any color code of anaglyph (common type of color coded stereo image).
* Preview a scene so you can see how it will look when you later photograph with a filter.
* Magnifying glasses with a whole range of magnifications.
* Sunglasses with any shade of darkness or color you like.
* Exploit the extended sensitivity of human vision to see infra red light.
* Protect your eyes from UV or just about any wavelength of light.
* Have different things happening with each eye.

All this and more from one pair of glasses by simply screwing in your favorite filters in a few seconds. Moreover you can make a pair of these quite cheaply in about an hour if you already have the parts.

OK, OK there is a little catch; to achieve all this you are going to have to get various camera filters to use in your Super Specs. I can guess you are thinking “Oh Oh! This is going to be expensive.” But there is a way to get a whole range of cool camera filters that are very cheap and will still work on your camera too: get them on eBay and try clicking that box so you can search worldwide; what you need are the Chinese suppliers. I have bought polarizers for as little as $3 and you can often get bundles of mixed camera filters for less than $20 all brand new.
Having said that I guess it will be no surprise that I bought everything for this project on eBay. Even though I did the purchasing some months ago, I have done fresh search to get prices for the parts list (including postage). Your mileage will vary depending on patience and luck finding bargains.
To attach the filters to the lenses so that they can be easily unscrewed and changed I glued two lens adapter rings into the glasses frames.
(Please vote for me, I would really like to win the Epilog laser cutter. Thanks)

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Step 1: Step 1, What You Will Need:

Listed below are the parts you need together. It pays to be patient and wait for bargains. Get the glasses first and measure them to determine the size of the adapter rings and filters. I was lucky, my first pair of "Ga Ga"s were just the right size for 52mm-55mm adapter rings and my camera filter collection for my FZ50 are all 55mm.
If you plan to screw in heavy filters or lenses (for example fisheye lenses) then you may need a glasses frame strap to keep them on your face.

Parts List:
One pair of “Lady Ga Ga” fashion glasses or other glasses with large circular framed lenses. ($13.20)
Two lens adapter rings to fit the glasses. ($1.82 each)
At least one pair of filters to start. eg. 2 circular polarizers at $6.18 each.
Some metal/plastic adhesive (eg. 5 minute Araldite) (You only need a tiny amount.)
So all up less than $30 or much less if you have filters already for your camera.

Miniature (Jeweler’s) screwdrivers
Dish of boiling water

Step 2: Step 2, Modifying the Glasses:

To get the glasses ready you only have to get the lenses out. Did I say "only" this was actually the hardest part of the whole job. Usually the lenses are just plastic on these cheap copies. Take the arms off the glasses so you won’t break them while removing the lenses, and store the tiny screws somewhere safe.
If you are not reasonably rugged when it comes to handling hot things then some water proof gloves might be useful for the next part.Also test the frames in hot water first mine didn't soften in hot water but the lenses did. Your frames and lenses may be made from different plastics.If so you might have to use a different method than below.
Place the frame into a dish of boiling hot water. When the plastic lenses are soft enough take the frame out of the water and use a flat blade jeweler’s screwdriver carefully to start the lens coming out of the frame. Then re-heat the frame back in the boiling hot water and push the lenses out of the frame with your fingers; it isn’t easy, so be patient and careful.
I guess if you are expert with a tool like a Dremel you might be able to just cut the lenses in pieces but I never tried that (I saved my lenses for another project).

Step 3: Step 3, Final Assembly

Dry the frame and test the rings in the frame to make sure the male thread will fit where the lens was and that the step behind the female thread will support the ring.
Then glue the adapter rings into the frame making sure you have the female thread pointing to the front. It is a nice touch to make sure that the labels are at the top of the glasses. Use just enough glue to do the job.
After the glue has set reattach the arms to the frame and you have finished your Super Specs. Screw in your first pair of filters and try them out.

Step 4: Step 4, Using Your Super Specs

In the photos you might notice I have used circular polarizers (CPL); I also have linear polarizers and I think they work better for 3D glasses but they are harder to find. The manufactures of 3D TVs use different polarization angles from brand to brand. Most camera polarization filters have the ability to rotate to any angle so you can adjust each lens to suit the screen you are viewing.

Test out your polarizers by looking at an ordinary LCD screen, closing one eye and rotate the polarizer for the open eye until the screen goes black; repeat with the other eye. Eerie eh?? Now rock your head a little and you will see your screen appear and disappear. To tune them for a 3D screen is a similar one eye at a time deal, but you turn the lenses to get a clear image in each eye. If the 3D image doesn't look 3D you may have both lenses at the same angle, try rotating one lens by 90 degrees and try again. If the image sort of looks 3D but not quite right you may have switched left and right if so rotate each filter about 90 degrees and try again.

When you are using filters for photography you can first put the filter you are planning to use in one side of the Super Specs and look at your subject. It is very convenient to experiment by opening and closing each eye to see the effect and how the shot will look even before you get out the camera, tripod etc. You can even rapidly compare two filters to make a selection.

Other filters to try:

* You can buy macro lenses in sets of 4 (+1, +2, +4, +10) for $20 delivered. These make excellent magnifying glasses and you can combine them in different ways because they have both male and female threads.

* An extremely large range of colored filters are available.

* You can also buy IR filters that block visible light and pass IR. When deprived of what we normally think of as visible light your eyes can become more sensitive to IR. Because these glasses let light in the sides they are not perfect for this use but will work to some degree with 720nm IR filters (eg. Hoya 720) when looking out from the dark to the light eg. looking out a window on a bright sunny day.

You can even roll your own screw in filters as per:

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    21 Discussions

    Light_Lab, here is a link to a 3D viewer
    which can be made very easily, to view Cross eye side by side 3D photos.

    This simple viewer is for those
    of us who find it difficult to cross our eyes to view such cross eye
    photos and videos. Make one and see how easily you can now view such 3D
    images and videos. Here is the link to the instructable :-

    Happy viewing! :-)


    6 years ago on Step 4

    The trick is getting some "dark" with more pure NIR than the traces of visible light. The best accessible source of NIR is the Sun, hence the filters are required to block the visible light and just leave the NIR.
    In a moderately dark room most people can see the NIR LEDs around a surveillance camera after the eyes adjust, and even the IR LED on a TV remote in a really dark room. Though you should keep a respectful distance and short exposure when doing these experiments, I have heard there is a risk of eye damage if you are not careful with some NIR sources. Keep in mind your pupil opens up fully in the dark and your eye can be easily damaged in that state.


    6 years ago on Step 4

    So maybe modify the IR idea to the kind of "goggles" that block light from the side; I used to have a pair of war-surplus pilot goggles that would have been perfect (See "Road Warrior.") Or maybe get black-framed surfer/diver goggles and colored IR gels? Kind of intrigued by the idea that dark-aclimatization might enable IR sensitivity ... Since there is no visible light, why would I need filters? ("I See IR People!) ;}


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Haha, this is inventive. I'd love to see some steampunk brass Super Specs.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I first encountered pseudo-3D glasses at a Smithsonian Institution presentation. Their glasses were cardboard with a tinted, non-polarized, filter over one lens. The 3D effect was explained as a result of the brain interpreting darkness as an additional indication of depth. I've used one side of broken sunglass for over 20 years to achieve the effect. Any movie theater showing 3D movies based on polarized images will freely give you a pair of their glasses. Just punch out one side and PRESTO! For the effect to really work, there should be some movement in the screen image. If your particular glasses dim the TV too much, just increase the TV's brightness.

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    It's known as the Pulfrich Effect ref and is usually shown by using a pendulum swinging side to side. When a dark filter is placed over one eye, the pendulum bob appears to swing in a circle. I'll have to try it with TV!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I guess I should emphasize Super Specs do provide real 3D information when it the 2 channels are separated optically eg. by different polarization planes or by different color tints. Super Specs can be set up to decode 3D for all of these.
    Usually an optical device will not suffice when the two channels require electrically switched elements in the glasses. So if your 3D TV uses glasses that have some sort of electrical power then it is most unlikely any passive filter will work for you.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I sometimes use elastic support for my normal specs so they don't slip down my nose.
    The super glasses is a great idea and I think they would be comfortable for a long time with my type of support

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Yes those are my thoughts too; I have aspirations of experimenting with heavier lenses and stacks of filters. I have one of those rubber straps on order. I found them on eBay as "Sunglass Eyeglasses Glasses Sports Band Strap Retainer".


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Note stacking most CPL filters wont get you the total blackout stacking non circular polarizer filters will. so if you want to "dial-A-dark" pickup 2 CPL's and 2 regular polarized filters (or another trick is to get 4 CPLs and dissasemble 2 and flip the glass over)

    learned alot about all that when was making steampunk goggles.

    2 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I have only had experience with the low cost CPLs I get from China and I can assure you that even those will completely black out an LCD monitor. Nevertheless the CPL's I have seen do tend to tint (slightly color the image). Hence my comment that I think linear polarizers are better for 3D; they also block more light. I regularly use a pair of crossed linear polarisers as a variable ND filter and they out perform CPL's by about a factor of 2. The good thing about Super Specs is that you can try all these experiments easily. Just be careful to buy light aluminum framed filters if you start stacking as the whole thing can get very heavy. (I have a sports strap coming for my specs.)


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Yah, even cheap cpl's and a normal polarized layer/lens/screen will work, but if the light is going the same direction through 2 same cpl's the 2nd layer causes a roll in the polarized light which the 2nd filter lets through.. (flipping the glass over in the front lens or using a non CPL P filter, works.

    odd effect of polarized filters CPL or not, is if you try and see your own eyes in a mirror though your glasses the lenses will look totally dark. as the light from behind the lens is filtered then hits the mirror and is filtered coming back.


    Reply 8 years ago on Step 3

    5 Minute Araldite (mentioned in the parts list)
    Araldite is a 2 part epoxy glue that is OK for plastic and metals among other things. Other strong adhesives would be OK provided they work with plastic and aluminum.

    These look like a great addition to my lads night in attire for watching footy on the 3D TV, when I can finally afford one (or a clever instructabler makes one).
    I think I'd have to go one step further and pair these with a leather flying helmet fitted with earphones. The googles could be altered to accept an elasticated strap.
    Very clear instructable too.

    2 replies

    You can get glasses straps that slide on each end of the arms and hook behind your head like goggles. I have one somewhere; I was trying to find it to add to the images. Very handy for these specs if you want to screw in heavy lenses or multiple filters.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Update - Got tired of searching for my glasses strap - found they were very cheap on eBay from Hong Kong $2.65. Search for things like:
    "Sunglass Eyeglasses Glasses Sports Band Strap Retainer"
    I have one coming so I can use heavier filters and lenses.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    man, i would just wear these for sunglasses. if they work.