How to make your own camera lens from sand and rocks

Next: how to make your own sand and rocks. From scratch.

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That was awesome. I feel like this shows through excruciating labor, optical lenses are incredibly non-approachable from a DIY perspective. His first consultation with someone studying optical science is a bit telling. I’d love if there were easily approachable systems for custom lenses and filters, but it all seems the domain of slow prototyping and expensive equipment.

Look at what used to be called “walking around a barrel” to grind mirrors and lenses. I remember reading a book on the topic meant to result in a Newtonian reflector. It was interesting, but definitely sounded like too much work.

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This unfortunately makes the rest of the camera much more of a specialty item; but if you want to DIY a lens sodium chloride might be your friend.

The grinding is still tedious, and needs to happen under controlled humidity; but growing a decent salt crystal is rather more approachable than fabricating a chunk of optically adequate glass.

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What about beryl?

I’d personally run screaming(might as well use those lungs while you still can…) from a plan than involves grinding anything with ‘beryllium’ in the chemical formula to shape; but I assume that a decently clear/unflawed specimen would perform if shaped.

I mostly suggested salt because the guy in the article started by manufacturing his material, not from a premade or naturally occurring blank, and growing a salt crystal of decent size and clarity(while fiddly and likely to require several tries) was substantially the easiest option I could think of for DIY+optical material.

If you are OK with naturally occurring or premade blanks your options are markedly better: ‘optical glass’ is sort of a gimme; but any one of a number of crystalline minerals(quartz would be a pain to grind; but reasonably high quality clear crystals are fairly readily available, so there’s that at least) or manufactured materials would be decent starting points for the grinding and polishing phase.


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