Henry writes in:
There are several ducts and wall spaces I would like to be able to look in. They sell pipe inspection cameras but these are expensive because they are based on fiberoptics. I think an inexpensive video camera and a few LEDs would give you the length of a USB cable and the image could be captured on a laptop. Has anyone made such a thing?
Well, I haven’t seen this particular setup DIYed for such a purpose, but I’m sure you could rig up something quite easily. They even make wireless spy cameras small enough to do the job you’re talking about. A piece of flexible conduit would work nicely, as you could run the wires for the LEDs down to the handle, but a wooden rod would do the job. Just wire up your LEDs/battery circuit with the battery and switch at the handler’s end of the operation, and surround the camera with the LEDs at the business end of the contraption (3 white LEDs wired in series with a 9V battery should do the trick).
When I was a kid, my parents took on a home remodeling project that ended up exposing the long-hidden colony of carpenter ants in the wall above the old sliding glass door. If they had one of these things, it probably would never have rained ants all over my dad! If you find anything cool in there, let us know! Here are some projects to get you started:
From the pages of MAKE, Vol. 14 (Optics):