Help your friends get prepared by sharing!

Archive for March, 2017

How to Make a Periscope out of PVC

How to Make a Periscope out of PVC


A periscope can be an advantageous tool to have at your disposal.  This is especially true if you don’t want to risk giving up your position while looking around.  Making one doesn’t need to be complicated and time-consuming process, and the following project outlines the underlying principles about how periscopes work as well.  This is also a great project for kids as it helps them develop their skills while training them to think tactically. 

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 9.12.57 AM

Required Items:

2 feet of PVC pipe that is around 2” in diameter

2 corresponding elbow joints


Heat source to soften PVC (optional)

2 mirrors (trimmed to match the dimensions of the periscope)

Adhesive or epoxy

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 9.12.57 AM

Getting Started


The first step is to choose the length of the periscope.  It can be as long or as short as you want it to be, but keep in mind that the longer the periscope is, the image will get smaller when looking through the view hole. 


The next step is to trim the mirrors and insert them into the elbow joints.  You have a couple of options to consider.  First, you can use circular mirrors, such as those found in cosmetic products, or you can use square ones.  If you use square ones, you will need to cover the edges that protrude outside of the elbow joints later.  You can also carefully trim the mirrors so they don’t protrude at all with a glass-cutter.  In any case, it’s important that the mirrors are properly placed inside of the periscope.


To do this, you want to put them inside both of the elbow joints so they rest at a point above and below where the elbow bends.  The mirrors also need to be situated at a 45 degree angle in order for them to properly reflect the image being viewed.  The easiest way to install and anchor the mirrors is to cut two slits through the outside of each elbow joint.  Make the slits at a point above and below the bend, and make them wide enough for the mirror to slide through.  You can also install the mirror from the inside if it is small enough, and then push the edges into the slits so they stay in place.

You also have a couple of options when it comes to making the slits.  First, you can use a knife, razor or small saw in order to cut them out of the material.  You can also take a torch or other heat source and soften the spots where the slits will be cut.  This may make it easier to cut them out, but it’s important that you use a heat source that is narrowly-focused so that it won’t soften the rest of the material.  This is why a torch or a torch lighter may be the best option.

In any case, make the slits wide enough for the mirrors to fit and rest at the appropriate angle.  Next, take the adhesive and apply it to the slits in order to hold the mirror in place.  It’s best to do this from the outside in order to prevent any of the glue from dripping or getting smeared on the mirrors and impeding the view.  Wipe off any excess material and allow it to dry.

Next, attach the elbow joints to the main PVC shaft.  The top one should face outward and the bottom one should face inward.  This will make it easier to view targets because you can rest the periscope against something while looking through the view hole.   All you need to do now is decide whether or not to anchor the elbow joints to the shaft with adhesive.  The parts will obviously be more secure if they are anchored in place.  However, doing so will also prevent you from being able to adjust the viewing end as you use the periscope.  Consider both options and decide on the one that best suits your preferences.

Finally, take precautions to make sure that any glass that is protruding from the elbow joints is covered with some tape in order to create padding and prevent accidental injury.  It is highly-recommended that you trim the glass before installing in order to get it flush with the pipe as possible.  However, this is not necessary in order for the periscope to work, rather it is an important safety feature.  Even if the glass is trimmed perfectly and flush with the elbow joint, it may be a good idea to cover it with tape just to be on the safe side. 

Try this out for yourself, and see how this simple project can help kids to create something useful while also giving them the chance to improvise as they go along.  Keep in mind that you never know when you may also benefit from the periscope, even if it seems like a remote possibility now.  Consequently, this is a worthwhile project for everyone involved, and it can give users a tactical advantage during a million-and-one different survival scenarios.   


Practical Uses for Smartphone Components in a Survival Situation

Practical Uses for Smartphone Components in a Survival Situation


Smartphones are only good if they work, have power and can receive a signal.  If you’re ever in a situation when your phone goes kaput, don’t throw it away.  There are a lot of uses that you can get from of the components of a dead phone, and the following examples are just a few to consider. 

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 9.12.57 AM

Breaking Down the Components

Let’s take a look at the different components that can be useful in the field.  These include the speaker, LCD screen, metal frame, circuit board, wiring and battery.  You can probably also find a way to put the plastic cover to good use with a little bit of ingenuity as well.  The trick is going to be able to disassemble these components as they are either glued or screwed together with tiny screws.  It’s a good idea to keep an eyeglass repair kit in your bug out bag or survival kit. This will give you access to a small screwdriver for this and other projects that you may run into out in the field.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 9.12.57 AM

Battery and Wire


The most important use for the battery and wire is to create a fire starter, and it can work even if the battery is almost drained of power.  All you need to do is take one end of the wire and press it against one of the positive terminals and place the other end against the negative.  However, it’s important to note that the wire will get very hot, very quickly.  If you are using a wire from the dismantled phone, it will most-likely disintegrate within a few seconds.  Consequently, you want to make sure that the wire is next to your tinder when you use this method because you don’t have a lot of time to position things once the leads are attached.  However, this remains is fast and effective way to start a fire.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 9.12.57 AM

Signal Mirror


The LED screen has multiple layers of material that produce a reflection when angled toward the sun.  To use this screen as a signal mirror, all you need to do is hold it horizontally in one hand while you make the peace sign with your first and middle finger in your other hand.  Hold the mirror just below your nose, with your arms extended.  Place your peace sign in front of the mirror until the light reflects on your fingers.  Position your fingers so that the rescue plane or other vehicle is centered in the space between.  Make adjustments, but this is sure-fire way to know that the reflection from the mirror is pointing toward the rescuers.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 9.12.57 AM



To make a compass from the speaker, the first step is to detach the magnet and wire.  You can also use a pin as an alternative.  Run one of the wire over the magnet in the same direction a few times before placing it atop a leaf or any material that can float. 


Put the leaf and wire over water in a bowl or puddle and the leaf and wire will orient itself to the north.  This rudimentary compass will give you a general idea of your position and help you choose the right path out of the area.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 9.12.57 AM

Making a Cutting Tool


Take your circuit board and run it along the surface of a smooth, flat rock in order to create a sharp edge.  Try to keep the board at a 45 degree angle with respect to the rock while honing the edge.  Use enough pressure to wear down the material, but not too much that the board cracks.  Once you’ve sharpened one edge, you can flip the circuit board over and repeat for the other side if you prefer as well.  You can also create a sharp tool by breaking the metal frame in half by bending it around the rock.  Once you make the crease, simply rock it back and forth until it breaks off.  Scrape the edge against the rock to file down any remaining shards and make the edge as uniform and sharp as possible.

These are just a few of a long list of possibilities that you can take advantage of by using the components of your broken smartphone.  Do some experimentation and find ways to improve on these tricks while also coming up with some ideas of your own.  You never know when these tricks will come in handy in the field while helping you to conserve resources at the same time.