Inspired by an excellent post on constructing prop electrobinoculars from Star Wars, I decided to try my hand in making a variation. The end result is as follows.
My purpose wasn’t to out perform (or what have you) the author of the cited piece. In fact, had I the time, resources, and patience, I probably would have followed his detailed instructions to the letter to create exactly what he created – a reasonably decent replica of a film prop. Frankly, I like what that gentleman did and give him major credit for posting his easy-to-follow instructions. At the same time, however, I started thinking on what I could do to make such a project my own. The end result was that I wanted to create a “knock-off civilian” version of the electrobinoculars, something that could have been used for non-military purposes, but that eventually found use during the Rebellion.
Now, realize that this does happen in our own world, so it should be seen as ridiculous when considering a fictional one. I have three pairs of civilian binoculars manufactured in Paris before WWI, yet all three came from the estates of veterans who, after arriving in France, purchased them for use in the field. So why not here? It does not strike me as strange or odd that a Rebel soldier, pilot, or sympathizer might have use of something non-military to help them in performing their mission.
* * * * *
Rather than cutting down a plastic water pitcher to create the body of these binoculars, I opted instead to find something that was reasonably suitable right from the start. In this, I was fortunate to find a Rubbermaid 10-cup storage box with lid. Nothing fancy about the container or the lid, and save for the imprinted “Rubbermaid” logos and some miscellaneous stamping on the bottom, the storage box is free from any major disfiguring marks.
For the eyepieces, I picked up two (2) 1″x3/4″ PVC Bushing Reducers, and a 1-1/2″ PVC Slip Joint Trap Adapter fitting for the main lens. I also used several 4-1/2″x1/8″ wooden dowels, random plastic bottle caps, a pair of rubber test-tube stoppers, and a pair of D-ring picture frame mounts. Finally, I had some 1/2″ rubber bumpers (the four white squares in the center) to use as buttons. To this, I added several wood screws (for appearance), and a cotton-tape strap (although leather works just as well). You can see the end results below – front, back, top, and bottom.
You can’t tell from these shots but the Trap Adapter is actually in the case – I cut a small hole to allow the male screw portion of the adapter to come out and then affixed the cap on the outer side of the box. This was much easier (believe it or not) than trying to glue the cap on to the outside of the box. It also allowed me to create a lens (which you can see if you zoom in on the first photo). The bushings used for the eyepieces are also cut into the lid and glued in place. They too, have lenses.)
I toyed with painting the entire thing in white or a light gray, but in the end, I felt that an olive drab green would be the best choice. Later, I painted the eyepieces in black, the various “buttons” on the front and side in black or aluminum, and the then used a brush with a flat steel colored paint to create the illusion of wear and tear. In some spots – notably that large spot in the center of the bottom (last photo), I went over it again, this time using a rust colored paint. I used a clear sheet of polystyrene (.10″/.03mm) to create “lenses” for the eyepieces and the front lens, using black on the inner side to darken up the lenses.
The project took about three (3) days, although if I had been focused exclusively on it, I could have finished in maybe half of that. Technically, I ‘m still not finished, because I’d like to seal it all with a coat of dull clear paint. My home already smells like a chemical factory; I figured that I’d give my olfactory nerves the day off.
It’s hard to put a price on the project because some of the items used were things I already had. That said, were I doing this fresh, the entire project would have cost less than $20 USD (not including paints or epoxy).
I’m contemplating making another pair in either a sand (which for Testor’s paints is techincally a faint yellow), or in white. Having made this pair, I have some ideas on how to improve any subsequent version – mostly correcting errors that I made. The binoculars have a little heft to them, but not much. As I’m only doing this for me, I have no idea as to how they’d hold up at a convention or in game play. But they look great on the shelf and in the limited use that I’ve had for them.
EDIT: I added a side view (the last photo) that should have been with the initial set. The only difference that the right side has from the left are the inclusion of the two dial buttons near the D-ring. (I figured I’d better add some sort of controls to the equipment.) The left side lacks those dials but makes up for this with more ‘wear and tear.’