How to Build a PVC Periscope

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Long periscopes require a magnifying lens system at the viewing port.
Long periscopes require a magnifying lens system at the viewing port. (Image: Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

A PVC periscope is a fun craft project that allows you to peer over walls and around corners. It basically works by bouncing light though a tube with a mirror at each end. The mirrors are tilted at 45-degree angles so that the reflected light from an object that is out of sight bounces from the upper mirror down to the lower mirror and then to your eye.

Things You'll Need

  • Reusable adhesive putty
  • One 18-inch length of 2-inch outer diameter PVC pipe
  • Two 2-inch inner diameter PVC pipe elbow joints
  • Two small, round cosmetic compact mirrors measuring 2 inches or less in diameter

Heat two cosmetic compact cases in a pot of hot water. Typically, compact mirrors are held in place with just a spot of glue on the back. The hot water will soften the glue. Remove the two mirrors.

Place two 2-inch inner diameter PVC pipe elbows beside each other; treat the elbows identically.

Apply adhesive putty to the top and bottom back edges of both mirrors. Place the mirrors inside the PVC elbow joints so that each mirror sticks to the bend of the elbow. Adjust each mirror so that they rest at a 45-degree angle inside the PVC elbows.

Connect one PVC elbow/mirror to one end of an 18-inch-long 2-inch outer diameter PVC pipe. The PVC pipe will fit within the PVC elbow. Connect the remaining elbow/mirror to the other end of the PVC pipe. Orient the elbows with the bottom elbow facing you and the top elbow pointing away from you. The periscope is now complete and ready for viewing through the bottom elbow.

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