Working Night-vision Periscope. (Steampunked)




About: Happily married, self employed, full wood shop, some metal work as well as electronics, antique collector.

This is a project I made while on Holiday for Christmas, it took about 20 hours and was cheep if you can find the supplies at a second hand store.
It is fully functional and works with infra-red quite well, the iris lens cover was a left over from a pair of goggles that were never finished their construction is much the same as found in my steampunk goggle instructable.

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Step 1: The Electronics

This will be a bit tricky if you have no electronics expierence, the Periscope has two basic components, the camera, and the picture tube.
The tube assembly is off an unkown brand of cam corder monitor, it was lose on the shelf and I bought it for a buck.

You most likely will need to purchase the entire camera, (cam corder) and remove the monitor, usally the recorder breaks leaving you with a lens and monitor, if your skill level is up there you may be able to remove the video camera and monitor from the same unit.
I was not lucky enough to find one whole.

Usally the camera power input wire is labled on the board, in this case it was 12 volts DC, most of the other wires will be of no use to you,
they will be for different exposure modes, switching the zoom, ect.

The most important thing to know is the voltage needed, and which wires are for this purpose, input and out put signals are very low voltage and incorrectly connecting them will not likely cause a board failure, if however you hook up 12 V to a video out wire you may have just ruined that board. ( I apologize I can't offer a more conclusive way to determine the exact wire of choice, I only know the one I found by the deduction.)

I saw a small 12+ marking on the back of the monitor board and hooked it up, in about 5 seconds the monitor began to glow.
The ground wire generally goes to several places on the board, while signal and command wires go to a single point on the board.

All you need are 4 wires, ground, 12v positive, video, and sync.
If your monitor board has wires from a zoom and other lens functions they can be clipped, these wires are just routed through the board and do not effect monitor use, often times they are a different gauge, plus you can see they are hooked to switches.

Once I got the tube to glow, I just tried the input wires from the camera to different ones on the monitor board until I got a picture, be sure to tape the 12v wire so you don't accidently touch it with a signal wire.

In the pic you can see the red, black, blue, and white wires from the lens command switches all clipped off.
This only left 4 wires the 12v was labled and the ground was "obvious" only two to choose from for my video input,
easy right?

Fortunately the camera I found was still in the box so the wiring was very easy, resist the urge to think that you can hook up the wires from the different components color for color, yellow was 12v on the monitor, while from the camera box you can see red was the 12v supply wire.

Step 2: Camera Holder

I chose to make my camera mount shaped like an eye ball, the ball is a "make your own Christmas tree ornament",  it was reverse painted from the inside, starting with the iris and vein colors then white, this leaves it shiny and the paint won't scuff off.

The bulb was taped first because it is rather thin plastic, I cut it in half on a band saw, a red hot box cutter would work too,  the neck was trimmed, and both sides painted, the iris assembly was glued on using super glue after carefully fitting it to the bulb half.

The actual camera is mounted to 9 ply birch plywood cut to fit the inside diameter of the bulb, the area behind the camera board was removed so it would sit flat and allow the wires out the back.

Tape prevented scratching the plastic and over-spray since I used spray paint, it might look better if brush on was used,
especially for the iris detail and veins.

The Iris assembly actually works for all you STEAMPUNK Fans, you can see it in various positions through the instructable.

Step 3: The Box.

The box is very simple the pictures should give you a pretty good idea how it was done, I used the last bit of Bolivian Rosewood from my mirror project,
 and Poduk, it's a pretty red now but it will brown down in time. (kind of a shame)

The side and top boards started at 13/16ths I cut them in half to save weight, space and wood, after sanding they are about 1/4 inch thick, the front peice I left 3/4" thick so the tower pole could have a firm foundation, the bottom is 9 ply birch.

If you need some scraps of this ply wood just go to the junk store like Habitat for Humanity and buy a drawer that's made of it, most craft people don't want to buy a 5x5 sheet, it's handy stuff to have for all kinds of projects.

Fir gussetts were added to the Monitor Side to allow plenty of glue surface for the thin wood panel.
The small brass screws are mostly for show, except the ones holding on the brass monitor tube.

The 3/4" front peice also allowed me to place two anchor screws for the brass balls off an old bed, I just used the machine screws the balls came with, and drilled the holes for a lose fit then glued them in place.

The rear ball is anchored in the gussett material and has a notched slot so the top can be lifted off,  only the front two need be unscrewed to remove the top.

Step 4: Details

The monitor tube is a drain pipe if you didn't figure that out yet, it was used because the TV tbe fit nicely in it and it's brass what can I say?
 The periscope is a painters extension pole, the glass bulbs on the top are halogen bulb protectors, the meter is a real antique off an old radio, the side glow tube I'll describe in the next step.

Cut the brass plate from a hobby store to the correct size, solder it to the pipe from the back and hit it with a buffer.
A nice counter sink can be made for the screws by placing the screw in the hole and tapping it with a small hammer while the brass rests on a board with a hole to allow the screw to set in. (slightly larger than the screw head.)

The pole is just cut down sections of the painters extension painted gold, I drilled a few holes in the front for decoration, and to place a pin through to hold it in the extended mode.

On the top I had a bit that was close to the glass halogen bulb diameter, but still needed to file out a bit to get a perfect fit, yech.
The domes may be fitted with some cool looking fixture, but for now empty is just fine with me. 

Step 5: The Side Light

This was a addition I wanted to make since the idea was discussed with several other instructables members, I used some neon light tube, but a long halogen tube lamp could be used instead, the ends are phinials from a candle holder and some brass tubing from the Goggles Project. (availible at any hobby store.)

I used UV LED's on the ends, Prestone and gelatine form the core, I glued one led in the end of the tube, then poured the mixture in the other, allowed it to gel, then glued the other in, the gel format does not demand a no leak seal since it's quite solid if you make it as thick as possible, 1/2 or less of the required liquid. It also allows you to work on it with out always having it upright.

The photo shows a bright blue glow but in reality it is a mellow Prestone green.

This is a great supplier and they have a resistance calculator to help you figure out the correct resistor to use to allow you to power the LED's

Step 6: Does It Really Work?

Yes it really works, here are some low and regular light pics, the dark one is using an infra-red flash light, in the day-light shot it's of a wire spool it can be seen in reality in the back ground. The power supply is an old transformer from who knows what, 12Vdc of course.

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    15 Discussions

    Wow! Great! I love your style. This creation is very nice and looks amazing. Thank you very much for sharing and thanks for the inspiration.
    The Chocolatist


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Hi Longwinters,
    another great project - I especially liked the camera hack. Very useful as I have some old CCTV cameras and monitors I've been wondering what to do with. Like the rest of your oeuvre, the aesthetics are great too. Well done.

    Winged Fist

    6 years ago on Introduction

    Wow! i can see you had a busy winter break!;-) This is truly amazing... Worthy of a Hollywood movie prop (if they had the good sense and taste to make a quality steampunk movie). I could also see this work in nicely to an episode of Warehouse 13. `You should enter this in the current A/V competition if you haven't already... 5 stars (if Instructables hadn't scrapped that peer review feature;-)

    1 reply

    6 years ago on Introduction

    Good Job! :)
    Went to my Blog post:


    6 years ago on Step 6

    As mentioned before, That Licenses Camera is a Day/Night camera & comes with built in IR LEDS, So the Night pictures will be much clearer. Also, A Cheap security camera, for under $25.00, (Like the ones I use) Added to the 3 inch dash Monitor, Looks Great & has even Better IR LEDS for a Clear Picture at night, with a range of 40 feet. All of this running off a 12 Volt DC, Power Supply.. Good Luck & yes, Your Project looks Great, Like something from the 1800's.

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Wow thank's for the input, I knew the prices had fallen but that's less than I thought.
    As a self challenge I like to scrounge for stuff on the cheep, if a person was interested in making such a project for practicle use I think a spy-glass format would be much better.

    As a technician I like to try and push myself outside my functional zone and get a bit "artsy"


    6 years ago on Step 5

    another Tip for your Lighting, Try Neon Wire & Ribbon & think of the fun you can have with it?
    Another great effect can be had with one of those Miniature Plasma Lights or Neon-Wire in your glass tubes.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Great Idea & your correct, if your not comfortable around Electronics, this could be a problem, However it's a Fixable Problem, head on over to, look under Reverse or Back-up Auto Cameras. I got mine for a total price of $30.00, That includes;
    3 inch dash monitor & a Day/Night Tag Camera. Both powered off the same 12Volt x 500ma, power source. Well worth checking them out, they also have Bullet Wireless Cams & receiver combos on the cheap.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Hi longwinters

    Great work
    I am really impressed
    Happy new year!!!
    your buddy Aeon Junophor


    6 years ago on Step 5

    very nice, loving this new technique , at least to me of led's in in diffusers for long lasting but aura looking lights. The glow wire and all the new led light hacks are great.
    i haven't had time to look over your whole project, but on first glance it really looks beautiful with the woodwork and brass colors .


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Thank's to the editors for picking this project, I've posted a few that were not quite up to my standards, I'm glad somebody saw the effort and fun that went into this.

    Truth be told I actually started this with the idea of having the camera remote so I can monitor my new kitty who likes to jump on the kitchen counter and pilfer an unauthorized treat, then my true nature came through and it got "punked"

    Happy New Year to all....