Ask MAKE: Crawl space camera

Ask MAKE is a weekly column where we answer reader questions, like yours. Write them in to or drop us a line on Twitter. We can’t wait to tackle your conundrums!

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:

RC boat with cheap wireless video

From the pages of MAKE, Vol. 14 (Optics):

Living Room Baja Buggies by John Mouton. With wireless cameras on board, these radio-controlled racers give you virtual reality telepresence; Living Room Baja Buggies in the Digital Edition.

Covert Spy Sunglasses by Kip Kedersha. Record what you see and hear with these low-cost stealthy sunglasses; Covert Spy Sunglasses in the Digital Edition.

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Becky Stern is a Content Creator at Autodesk/Instructables, and part time faculty at New York’s School of Visual Arts Products of Design grad program. Making and sharing are her two biggest passions, and she's created hundreds of free online DIY tutorials and videos, mostly about technology and its intersection with crafts. Find her @bekathwia on YouTube/Twitter/Instagram.

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