Underwater Camera Housing on a Budget.

For some reason, I decided I wanted to be able to take pictures underwater. I looked at waterproof housings and was discouraged by the prices. So I decided to build my own.

Step 1: Materials/Tools

A "T" intersection of 4" PVC pipe
An inset cap
Some plexiglass
A pair of rubber gloves
A Hose clamp
An old "mini jug" water bottle
and some silicone adhesive/sealant.

I tried super-glue and some marine sealant, but neither performed as well as I'd hoped. There was a lot of head scratching and going "now what?" on this project.

I didn't have a lot to work with.
I had a belt sander, a dremel tool (borrowed), a pair of scissors, my old bench grinder, and a pocket knife.
(sad, I know)

Step 2: Some Assembly Required

I started by shaping the front lens. I traced one end of the T onto the plexiglass and cut out a square as close to the edges of the circle as I could get. I then used the belt sander in a very unsafe manner and rounded off the corners until I had a circular disc of plastic. I also slightly beveled the edges as well as I could with the sander.

The next step was to cut a hole in the back of the "T", opposite the "nose" or "stem of the "T". I didn't do a very good job at first. (I drilled a bunch of holes close together and cut through them with an old coping saw.) I discovered that a dremel tool with a coarse sanding drum on it will go through PVC with no problem.  

Now that I had a hole in the back, I could put one hand through to help with the installment of the front lens.

I peeled off the protective film, applied a ring or clear silicone to the PVC and to the plexiglass, and stuck it on! It worked!
I then applied a liberal amount to the outside of the joint as well. Once that was dry, I added a few more layers. 


Step 3: Rear Window

So I enlarged the rear window using the dremel tool, and tried a few different materials for the window itself. I ended up cutting up a perfectly good water bottle. It was one of those little jugs that resemble a miniature office water cooler jug. 

I cut a rectangular panel out of it, slapped it over the new and improved rear opening, and slathered on the silicone.

With the "optics" taken care of, I then cut a strip off of the wrist of the LEFT rubber glove and glued it rubber side up around the RIGHT side opening of the "T". This is basically a gasket. I also applied a layer of the ubiquitous silicone to help it seal. 

Step 4: Does It Leak?

Next I glued and sealed the cap onto the LEFT side opening of the "T". So this just leaves the right side open with that weird gasket around it.

Almost all the controls on a digital camera are for the right hand. 

To operate this odd contraption, you stick the digital camera in it, put the right rubber glove on your right hand (Surprise!) reach into the housing with your be-gloved hand to a depth that lets you hold and operate the camera, then fold the rest of the glove over the opening and seal it with a hose clamp.

I eventually added a piece of foam to wedge the camera in place and keep it from flopping around.

So it worked. 

I later cannibalized the parts from this project and made a periscope with the housing at the bottom. Will post that at some point.

I have no idea how deep this thing is good for. I've only put it down about 2 feet.
I take no responsibility if you build this thing, it leaks, and ruins your camera. :D

Step 5: Pics.

it worked.

I took it to a small boat harbor, lay down on the dock, stuck it under the Cold, Cold water, and took pics! Yay!



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    15 Discussions

    I live in Alaska, and while people DO scuba dive here, I am not one of the brave ones.

    As I mentioned, I'm not sure how deep you could take the silly thing before it decided it'd had enough and gave up. Huh. I bet it would hold up better it you put some kind of cap, (there's a name for the plumbing fitting but it escapes me)
    Basically, a cap with most of the center cut out. Slap that on over the front lens and silicone the heck out of it. That would make me feel a bit better about having it down deep. Since it is air tight, it is extremely buoyant. You'd have to hang on tight.
    If you "dropped" it, it'd shoot to the surface.

    I figure if you're going to shell out all the money for scuba gear, the $75 for a decent camera housing probably won't put most people off.

    Thanks and keep building!

    Have you considered attaching a wrist strap in case you do "drop" it? That way it will only go as far as the length of the strap. I like the 'ible. Good use of common plumbing products.

    I wouldn't dive with it. Any teeny tiny hole or opening will cause a water leak due to the pressure.

    The best solution for diving is to buy one of the small "water proof digital camera." Canon and Olympus have the best ones for your dollar. Avoid Fuji and Kodak.

    Then buy the "underwater" case that goes with it. Again, Canon and Olympus make cases specifically for their camera models that work great.

    The camera by themselves can only go down a meter or two. When you put them in the case (housing) you can take them down to 30-40 meters. Big difference.

    The IMPORTANT reason to have both a "water proof" camera AND a case is on the off chance the case leaks your camera will still be alright because it's "water proof."

    I learned this lesson the hard way when my little Canon camera underwater housing leaked while on a SCUBA diving trip. My own fault. Ruined my little camera.

    Ohhhhh and yes, I am talking about a little digicam. Small compact camera. $150 - 300 range. They take great photos, are inexpensive, and you can do HD Video as well. People are always amazed by the photos I took diving with my little 6 MP Canon. How I miss it...... and diving....


    6 years ago on Step 5

    What camera are you using? for a homemade housing the pictures look like they turned out fine...all i can say is a flash or strobe would make a good addition to this device...to be honest i probably wouldn't build it since we got a housing already for our camera (the darn thing cost more then the camera...200 in camera and a grand in housing and strobe) but this looks like it takes about as good of quality as ours without the strobe. my only suggestion is to replace the glove periodically so it doesn't wear out, get holes, and leak

    Thanks to everyone for the great comments! This is my very first instructable.

    I was told about this site just a few weeks ago.

    If I was going to SCUBA dive, I think I'd get a real waterproof camera and housing as JoshuaZimmerman suggests. This seems to be an ok toy for the neighborhood pond or lake. I

    I had not thought about the aspect of the water pressure down deep would indeed push the glove in too far to be operable and at some point wither tear it or just slip it out from under the hose clamp.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    The best thing is to take it down to depth with nothing in it to see if it leaks. That way, nothing lost if it does.

    Well done!!!

    I wasn't sure where you were going with this (I tend to just look at the pics and try to figute out what's going on), but it turned out very well!!!!


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I would also insert some cloth and a bag of drying agent inside, to take care of possible humidity.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Whoo... Nice bit of lateral thinking.

    I often wonder about some of these home made waterproof housings when you can buy a camera with a bespoke housing for about £30 (in GBP). Yours easily beats that, and no complex seals to leak.

    Do you know how deep it can go before the glove inflates too much to be usable?


    6 years ago on Introduction

    The gloves are what makes this clever. I've seen a lot of PVC housings but none with such a simple way to work the buttons on the camera.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Beautifully done! I would never have thought to orient the camera that way, or to seal it with the heavy-duty rubber gloves. Simple and elegant.

    1 reply

    I built a periscope for the same camera using another "T" piece. I was tired of getting wet.

    In that project the camera is insert through the stem part and looks out one of the...arms..I guess. I hope to post it this weekend.

    Thanks, and keep building!