Transform Your Photography: DIY Kaleidoscope Camera Attachment

Friday, July 12, 2019

Transform Your Photography: DIY Kaleidoscope Camera Attachment

If you're looking to add some creative flair to your photography, a DIY kaleidoscope attachment for your camera is a fun and easy project that will allow you to take stunning abstract images.

In this tutorial, we'll show you how to make this attachment using simple, inexpensive materials that can be easily assembled with just a few tools.

First, we'll start by cutting three strips of mirror using a glass cutter and a straight edge. Make sure to wear gloves and safety glasses for this step, as broken glass can be sharp and dangerous. If you have trouble getting a clean cut on the first pass, don't be afraid to give it another try. It might take a few tries to get the hang of it, but once you've scored the mirror, it should snap easily along the scored line.

Next, we'll tape the three strips of mirror into a triangle shape to hold them in place while we glue them together. Using a hot glue gun, run a generous bead of glue along each seam to secure the mirror in place. Hot glue is a great material to use for this project because it sets quickly and holds things together firmly.

With the triangular mirror assembly complete, we can move on to creating the mounting plate for the camera. Cut a piece of plywood to the desired size and drill two holes in it. One hole should be slightly larger than a 1/4 inch and will be used to hold the camera in place with a bolt. The other hole should be closer to the top of the plywood and should have a 1/4-20 t-nut for tripod mounting.

Finally, attach the triangular mirror assembly to the mounting plate using a couple of unions and a bolt. Make sure everything is securely in place before mounting your camera on the attachment. Once everything is set up, you can start shooting through the kaleidoscope attachment and creating unique, abstract images.

This DIY kaleidoscope attachment is a great way to add some creativity to your photography and capture unique and eye-catching images. With just a little bit of time and effort, you'll be able to transform your photography and see the world in a whole new way. So why wait? Gather your materials and get started on this fun and rewarding project today!

Additional resources

Originally invented by Sir David Brewster when experimenting with light, kaleidoscope comes from three Greek words. "Kalos" meaning beautiful, "eidos" meaning shape and "skopion" meaning to observe. So literally, "to observe beautiful shapes.”

There’s a great video talking about some philosophical ideas related to the kaleidoscope: Veronica Soare: We are kaleidoscopes

Here's another video featuring abstract photography: burning bulb filament.

Here at House of Hacks we do tutorials, project overviews, tool reviews and more related to making things around the home and shop. Generally this involves wood and metal working, electronics, photography and other similar things. If this sounds interesting to you, you may subscribe here.

If you’re interested in learning more about the House of Hacks' values, here’s a playlist for you.

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  • Intro/Exit: "Hot Swing"
  • Incidental: "Welcome to the Show" and "Riptide"


Interested in abstract images? Both stills and moving?

Today we're going to be doing this at the House of Hacks.

In today's project, I'm going to show you how to make this. It's a DIY kaleidoscope attachment for your camera.

It's basically a mounting plate that your camera bolts to and a triangular mirror assembly that can be rotated around if you want.

You just shoot through it and take a picture of whatever you want and whatever you're making becomes a kaleidoscope image.

This is easily made from inexpensive materials, most of this was actually just scrap that I had lying around from previous projects.

The only thing I really had to buy was a couple unions at the hardware store.

I think that was it.

Everything else I had on hand.

For this build, we only need a few materials.

I've got a base that's 3/8" thick plywood, 3 inches wide and 18 inches long. The dimensions aren't super critical.

I've got a 2x4 that I'll be using to make some brackets out of.

Two unions, ABS, 3 inches in diameter.

And a piece of 12 inch square mirror.

A couple tools that we need:

Some hot glue.

Some tape.

Glass cutter.

And a little bit of hardware.

I've got a t-nut, that's 1/4-20 and a bolt that's 1/4-20 that's long enough to go through the plywood and into the camera and a couple washers to make it so it snugs down tight.

I think that's everything we need. Let's start making this.

Welcome! If we're just meeting, I'm Harley and this is the House of Hacks where I make stuff, usually out of wood and metal.

Today it happens to also include mirrors, tape and a little bit of hot glue.

This is the base that, off camera, I drilled two holes in. One is a little bit larger than a 1/4" where the bolt will go through from the bottom and hold the camera in place.

The other is up here closer to about a third of the way up that has a 1/4-20 t-nut in it and this'll be for tripod mounting.

The dimensions of this piece are 3/8" thick plywood. It's 3" wide and 18" long.

The dimensions aren't super critical just as long as you have a good base to mount the camera to and it's long enough for the mirrors that we're going to be cutting.

OK. I've got the gloves on because I want to be safe.

We want three strips of mirror out of here that are 1 and 3/4" wide each and so I'm going to make a mark on where I want that cut.

And I'll lay a straight edge down on those marks. I've got the glass cutter.

We need to give ourselves a little bit of extra room to compensate for the thickness of the glass cutter.

We just press down firmly and we want to just do a single pass.

And then we'll see if this breaks. And I do have my safety glasses on.

And that didn't work too well. I don't think I was pressing down quite hard enough.

Generally, you don't want to try to do two cuts. You want to score it in the first pass. I'll give this another try.

That looks better. I should be able to just... snap it like so.

And we didn't get as good a cut as I would have liked.

If you notice, this edge didn't get cut very well. We'll try again.

And you should hear a creaking sound.

That's much better!

OK. So now we have our three pieces of glass.

And now I'm going to take a piece of tape and tape this into a triangle.

That's just a temporary thing to hold it while we glue it.

Now that we have the mirror in a triangle formation, temporarily held in place by the tape, I'm going to just use the glue gun and run a bead along each of the seams.

And this will be what really holds it in place for good.

We just want to take out time and run a very generous bead along each of the edges.

Hot glue is one of those things that I don't think is really given enough credit in the workshop.

It is a really handy material to work with when holding things together either temporarily or even permanently on projects.

It would be nice if it set up a little bit faster.

One of the cool things about this project is it doesn't have to be perfect. There's a lot of leeway for kind of imperfections that really won't show up in the final product.

This is definitely one of those cases where we're looking for utility over beauty.

OK. I'm going to let that sit for a couple minutes and let that really setup well.

The hot glue has setup and I took the temporary tape off and finished up the seams with some more hot glue there in the middle where the tape was.

And so now we don't really have any sharp edges on this glass. The corners are a little bit sharp but we don't have any cut edges exposed like we did before so we don't really need the gloves.

The next step is to wrap this whole thing in tape. That will do a couple things.

It will make it light tight along the edges so we don't have any light leakage.

It will also, if anything should happen to this and it should break, then it'll help contain the mess and won't get glass all over the place.

I've got some duct tape, so let's start wrapping this up.

Now I'll take the utility knife and just cut the edges here.

I think we have everything now ready to assemble.

The unions I have have a little tab on them from the manufacturing process and I want to put those on the outside of this assembly so I want to make sure I know where those are relative to the mounting brackets.

So, those just slide inside the mounting brackets like so, so now that'll help hold everything together so this part doesn't slide in and out as much.

And now, if everything is setup right, this should just kind of have a pretty snug fit inside these unions. And it's looking really good.

The tape gives it a good snug fit and if it's a little loose, you can just wrap a little tape around this and it'll hold it nice and tight.

So we've got one side in and now the other side should just kind of go in the same way.

And now we're ready to glue this down.

Now when I cut this, I did put one of these edges thinner. So I want to make sure that's on the bottom.

And then when this gets glued in, it'll be just like that.

We're ready to mount this.

I've got the camera bolted to the base plate so that I know exactly where I want to mount this.

So this will mount in front of the lens and I want to make sure that I have enough room for the lens to move in and out but I don't want it so much that I have a lot of light leakage around it.

I made sure I have the thin part of my wood down here and so I think that's pretty much where I want to put it is right about there.

I'll just turn this over and run a bead of hot glue along this edge.

Now I'll turn it over and I have a little bit of set time where I can get things lined up just right.

I want to try to get it as centered as I can and get it going as straight as I can with the camera going along the axis of the mirrors.

It's just a matter of letting the glue set now.

Assembly is complete. Let's go make some images.

I'll see you in this video where I show you how to make some other abstract images using light bulbs.

But in the mean time, let's go make some images.

Remember, perfection's not required.

Fun is!