Aquascope and Aquacam Hack
I was out canoeing with my wife and two young naturalist, 4 and 7, on a bay down near a local marina. It is a reasonably safe place to paddle as the area is protected by an island and a breakwater. However this day there was a little bit of chop breaking the surface and frustrating the oldest because he was wanting to see Red Rock Crabs. Also impacting this were the ripples caused by the paddler at the bow. For some reason the image of an almost 200 year old bathyscope came to mind. I did a little searching and realized I could make something for each of the boys.
I would not call this a pure hack because there is a technical end to it in that one needs access to and some skill with a hand saw/chop saw, coping saw/scroll saw, and some kind of sander of sorts.
I made this out of 4"ABS pipe with a coupling to protect “lens”, Optix acrylic sheet, Cabinet pulls, ABS glue.
The initial length of the pipe was 18 inches - half the length that pre-cut short lengths were being sold at the big box hardware store - I was making two so this was perfect. Then one end was cut at an angle.
The “lens” is placed at an angle to the pipe such that back-light is not reflected directly back at the person viewing. The angle can change relative to the length of the pipe but such that a line perpendicular to the pipe hits the upper edge of the pipe instead of the centre. Care needs to be made that the surface of the pipe that the “lens” is glued to is flat so that there is a good seal. The acrylic comes with a protective coating - you can leave the outer side coating until you finish gluing and sanding. I place a coupling as a protector - drill 2 holes through this, perpendicular to the handles, so air can escape before final placement so that you don’t accidentally drill the lens (don’t ask).
This passed the field test and the pipes float.
To make a hack for my smart phone I made a modification of the above with an increased length - I ended up with 30 inches by the time I was done. Plus, the angle of the “lens” was increased and no coupling.Triple check the seal before using with your device.
This also passed the field test very well.The small challenge is to turn on the video to record before one gently places the smartphone into place. Software can be used to edit the video and to grab still images.
Link to first video from the aquacam of siphonophore Nanomia bijuga: https://youtu.be/vJDAVVmpPVE
As a seasonal gift, I have also made an Aquascope each for a neighbour and for a nephew for their canoe-faring children to use.