The Shark-Viewer 5,000!




This is my Periscope project. With this little beauty, you too can take pictures underwater from the safe and dry comfort of the dock or boat. (weather permitting)

I recently posted my very first instuctable, Underwater Camera housing on a budget. 
This project is related. I actually used some parts from my first camera housing.
Basically, it is a periscope for looking at stuff under water and taking pics.

The materials I used.
  • Two  4" PVC 90o  'elbow' joints.
  • A 4" "T" section of PVC.
  • A 4" rubber cap. Found in plumbing department. The kind that comes with a hose clamp.
  • Some 4" PVC drain pipe of some sort. I found it in the plumbing section at Lowe's. (The good part: it was less than $10.00 USD. The bad part: they only sold 4" diameter in 10' sections. Now I can make more!)
  • The finger of a leftover rubber glove I had from my last project. 
  • Some angle-iron type steel with holes already drilled in it. I have no clue what it is called.
  • 4 3/8" lag bolts with nylon insert stop-nuts.
  • A paint stir stick made for stirring 5 gallon buckets of paint. (Free!)
  • Some adhesive backed "industrial" Velcro.
  • Some silicone sealant in a 'Squeezy' tube. (Whatever kind of waterproof stuff you find and trust your camera to)
  • One 1/4" 20 thread count machine screw. (the universal post size for mounting cameras. I think)
  • Two small mirrors. I had a heck of a time finding them. I eventually got two little mirrors from the camping section at Wal-Mart.
You'll also need a wired remote shutter release for your camera. From what I've read, it seems that most wireless shutter remotes need direct line of sight. Not really practical if you want to stay dry using this thingy.

TOOLS     (Still have a very sad tool box, no work bench, and a teeny budget)  
  •  Small crescent wrench.
  • Old coping saw.
  • Old hack saw.
  • A belt sander. (age unknown)
  • Old hand drill. (big wooden knob on top, wooden handle off to one side. Crank style. Older than I am.)
  • Probably a pair of pliers.

I'm sure modern power tools would work, but I didn't want to anger my "Do It By Hand" Ancestors. Either that, or I'm broke. I forget.

Step 1:

I started working on the main camera housing first.

For this project, the camera goes in through the stem of the "T" and looks out through one of the arms.

I took the lens from my first project and trimmed it a tiny bit so it would fit inside the opening, instead of sitting on the top of it. The drain pipe I got to make the main shaft fits in the flared ends of the "T" and the elbow pieces. I cut a small section of the pipe to make a spacer in one of the arms so that there was something else to secure the lens to.

The lens was made by tracing the outside diameter of one end of the "T" piece onto a piece of clear plastic, acrylic, lexan, plexiglass, whatever, cutting out a square as close to the edges of the circle as possible, and using a belt sander in a very unsafe manner to trim off the excess at the corners.

I used a paint stirrer meant for 5 gallon buckets as a platform for my camera. A piece of wood 1/4" by 2" should also do the trick. I used the same piece to make a couple of braces to keep the camera from tipping too much. The velcro holds, but not as well as I'd like.

I'm guessing the shape of the piece of wood, along with the placement of the velcro and braces will vary and be dependent on the size and shape of your camera.

Step 2: Shafted!

Before I put anything else together, I stuck the mirrors into the elbow joints. I just eyeballed the locations and put a blob of silicone at the corners of each mirror..

Next, I cut a piece of the drain pipe to act as a coupler between the "T" piece and the lower elbow joint. Observe my mad Photoshop skills. I smeared silicone all over the coupling piece, slid both sides on, then siliconed the seam where the "T" and the elbow met as well. MAKE SURE that the elbow piece and the "T" are at right angles to each other. Use a flat surface and use a level across the top opening of the elbow. I did not do this. My camera only sits a little cockeyed. 

The length of the main body, or shaft of the Cheap periscope  SHARK-VIEWER 5000 is ultimately determined by the length of the cord on the remote shutter button. Since you now know where the camera will sit, you can plug in the remote, set the camera in the housing, feed the rest of the cord down the back of the "T" and up through the elbow, and you're ready to measure the length left over.
Be sure to leave a little bit of cord at the end so that you have a little slack for mounting the button on the outside. Also be sure to account for the bit of pipe that will be fitted into the top of the elbow piece.

Once you have your shaft cut to the length you want, it is a good time to start thinking about handles. 
I used the angled steel because It's what I had laying around. I bolted them on using 3/8" lag bolts. I applied silicone around the holes and to the back of the steel before I cinched them down.
At first, I was going to use a dowel and just make a one piece crossbar handle, but then I realized that the dowel would obstruct my view down the shaft. One advantage I also discovered about having vertical handles is LEVERAGE. The camera housing part wants to float, so being able to hold the SHARK-VIEWER 5000  straight up and down when it's partially submerged is made much easier by the vertical handles.

Step 3: Almost Done.

Once the shaft is cut to length, I gooped it up pretty good with the silicone, and made a good seam around the joint of the shaft and elbow. The handles were attached, the notch was cut at the top of the shaft so the remote cord could get out and the top elbow could still be put on.

I cut the finger or thumb off of a rubber glove and glued it to one of the handles. I stuffed the button down in here to make sort of a splash guard. It. won't do a dang thing in the case of total submersion, but I'll have bigger problems than a $7.00 remote if that happens.

I did not glue the top elbow on. That way, you can look in different directions. 

I guess that's it. Thanks for looking, and may none of your projects blow up, unless that's what they're designed to do.

Step 4:

some pics taken with this silly thing.



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    25 Discussions

    very nice that u don't have get in the water and take pics because with this awesome invention water beware

    Wow, this is cool. You could probably use it as a periscope as well. Just one point though, if you have to have your face close to it to see anything and you're hanging it off the side of a boat into shark infested water, you should probably make it a little longer. ;)

    1 reply

    6 years ago on Introduction

    Just an idea:
    Even my fairly basic (by today's standards) 10 year old Canon digital camera has an AV output to display pictures on a TV.
    There are minature TVs and small cheap monitors available which have an AV input.   Just add a cheap AV cable. 
    (At this point I assume everyone can make the connection.)

    So if your camera has an AV out jack, your mirrors and long wide pipe and top elbow could be dispensed with, largely eliminating the buoyancy problem, providing an entirely digital perisope which would also have multiple uses on dry land.

    (Like checking gutters for blockages, shooting over the heads of a crowd, finding bombs under your car, etc.)

    1 reply

    You can purchase a 5" or 7" LCD field monitor for your digital camera. ( or The monitors i have found run about $165 and up. then you have to buy the battery and the battery mounting plate for it. There are a few different input/output options. Some even have a hot shoe mounting option. (kind of pointless if you really want it to be remote) My Canon G11 has a mini HD port, so I would need to either find a monitor that took that kind of cable or fiddle with adapters. I originally did want to make a digital 'periscope' . something I could mount on the side of a small boat. I wanted to build a small waterproof housing for the camera, and mount it on an extendable arm.
    There is actually an instructable for a periscope using an old portable tv and a small security camera.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    This brings back some funny memories,the bottom was turned the same as the top & I gave them to several of my beer bellied friends for Christmas. I called them a penis scope.

    1 reply

    6 years ago on Introduction

    That's awesome. Great job! Too bad I'm terrified of sharks lol. Even if I'm not really under water it's still scary. I shouldn't have watched "Jaws" when I was little. I might use it in a pool though :P.

    1 reply

    I live in Anchorage Alaska. I often forget that we live on the ocean at all. The ocean around here is so full of glacial silt that it's grey. Look down in a can of grey primer for painting. That's what our ocean looks like. The silt forms ever changing 'sand bars' that make recreational boating nigh impossible. Forget walking on them as they tend to act like quicksand. Don't forget about the Bore tides that come ripping in every once in a while. Oh. and the ocean water is usually a nice 34-36 degrees.

    The next closest stop for clear ocean water is at least an hour away.

    Suffice it to say, I won't be viewing any sharks with this thing. Ever.



    6 years ago on Introduction

    The project is cool, as is the idea, but I think what I like the most is the attitude that comes through: you obviously had fun doing it... Hats off, can't wait for the ORCA 9000 :)

    1 reply

    Ah yes! the ORCA 9000! I can see it now!

    Half a mile of carbon fiber and tungsten steel pipe! A camera on the end that puts IMAX camera men to shame! The camera transmitting back to a 102" viewscreen in the theater on my Yacht!

    I will start on it....
    meh. Tomorrow. I'm tired.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I love how the photos turned out. Too bad i don't have a digital camera that will accept a remote shutter release

    Manny B

    6 years ago on Introduction

    Rock on! Huge fan of your cheap periscope, I mean, SHARK-VIEWER 5000.When the 6000x model comes out maybe you can compensate for the 'float' by counterbalancing the sink/float factor by adding small weights? So it won't take too much effort to balance/pull up/push down. Also a nice PING sound would complete the effect. Will it come with a nautical cap?


    looks great, what a good idea.......might I suggest some sort of neck strap so you don't drop it over the side of a boat. I sense Para-Cord project in the works :D


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Excelent idea!!!! thumbs up! I will try to build one! thanks for sharing


    6 years ago on Introduction

    The remote should be infrared; should work OK if you pop a mirror in to reflect the signal from the remote to the camera (though it depends on where the IR detector is on the camera as well.)