How to Make Adelmar’s Laser Eye

This may sound overly technical or expensive to you, but I assure you that materials are quite cheap and the assembly is not difficult (but will probably take ~2 hours).

Adelmar’s eye is a false eye with a laser module inside, which, when fitted into a stand, will point the way to the next secret in the treasure hunt. I’ll go through how to build the eye and how to build the stand. First, the stand:

Building the stand for Adelmar’s eye

What you’ll need:

  • scrap wood
  • a battery case
  • wood glue
  • hot glue & glue gun
  • beam clamp (2x)
  • saw
  • optional: paint
  • optional: crimp-on electrical disconnects (2x male, 2x female)
  • optional: shims

Step one: Prepare the base. You need to find a place to affix your stand (so that it can point at the next location in the treasure hunt). I picked a square post on a deck against the house. I glued wooden feet to my base (the walnut in the photo above) so that it would fit snugly around the post.

The important thing is that there be no wiggle room because if the lateral angle of your stand can be changed, then your laser will not point to the right location. If you find that you have wiggle room (that’s bad), add shims, hot glue, felt, or something else to the feet until you get a snug hold (that’s good). If you put on too much hot glue, file it thinner until it’s just right.

Step two: Attach the beam clamps to the top piece of wood. The beam clams will hold the shaft (optic nerve) of Adelmar’s eye. Use two beam clamps so that the angle of the eye will be fixed. Glue them in a straight line. They do need to be pretty close to a straight line, and they’ll be easiest to employ if their line falls pretty close to parallel with the fall line of the topmost wood piece.

I used 1/4″ beam clamps (that is, the bolt that fixes them in place is a 1/4″ bolt). I bolted them to the top piece of wood, but because we won’t put much strain on the apparatus, you could as well hot glue them in place. I used a single segment of 2×4 for the top piece of wood.

Step three: Prepare the top piece of scrap wood. I actually have three pieces of wood for the top part of the stand. Two of them are cut at a 45-degree angle, and they raise the third piece into a proper vertical angle for the laser to hit my destination (some 50 feet away). (Remember that my stand was affixed on the house, which overlooks a declivity; the next secret in the treasure hunt for me lay far below the fixture.)

Glue the angled pieces against the topmost piece. If your angle is very wrong, use shims to lift either the front or the back. We’ll get to fine-tuning the angle later.

Step four: Attach the battery case. I hot glued the battery case to the back of the top wooden structure. If you bought the crimp-on electrical disconnects, attach (solder, preferably) them onto the ends of the two wire leads extending from the battery case.

Because you’re working with very light wires, you should use disconnects built for 18-22 gauge wire.

Step five: Attach the two wooden parts, fine-tune angles:

Fit Adelmar’s eye into the beam clamps and screw it into a gentle hold. Fix the lower wooden piece where it belongs (e.g. on my square post). Turn on the laser by attaching the battery case to it.

Put the upper wood piece atop the lower, and swivel it to figure out the lateral angle you need for stand. Glue the top wooden part to the bottom part so that the lateral angle is correct.

Your vertical angle should already be close to correct, thanks to the angle of your top piece and any shims from step three. To fine tune the angle (if you need it), add blobs of hot glue to the inside of the beam clamps.

Step six: Ensure the proper alignment of the eye. The people on your treasure hunt won’t necessarily screw your beam clamps equally so tight as you did or rotate your eye just as you did, and unless you are a perfect builder, this will create a problem for the angle that your treasure hunters create.

First, mark the very top (or bottom) of your eye or optic nerve, using a permanent marker or pen. You need to indicate to your hunters that they must align this mark with some other mark (e.g. gravitational up) when they lay the eye in the stand.

Second, put tape (I used electrical tape (not pictured)) over the tightening screws in the beam clamps, just outside of the clamp. Thus, when your treasure hunters tighten the screws, the screws will stop when the tape reaches the edge of the clamp.

Building Adelmar’s laser eye

What you’ll need:

  • 5mw laser module (cost: $5)
  • clear nail polish
  • acrylic paint
  • a ping pong ball (any colour)
  • a lighter or lit candle
  • something for making and widening holes in the ping pong ball (e.g. drill, circular file)
  • a coin with smooth edges (e.g. one-cent piece)
  • something to hold the laser module and create an optic nerve (e.g. a Crayola marker, and a standard highlighter)
  • hot glue and glue gun
  • optional: red yarn or embroidery floss

Step one: Shape the eyeball. The hardest part of this process is shaping and painting the ping pong ball. First, draw a circle for the iris. I found a dime to be about the right size and so traced it with a pencil.

Make an indentation for the iris by holding the ping pong ball over an open flame, then quickly pushing the edge of a coin into the hot spot. Quickly turn the coin so that you can make a more-or-less circular indentation.

Important: do not apply an open flame to the ping pong ball after putting a hole in it. It will burst into flames before you can blink an eye.

Put a small hole in the centre of your iris, just large enough for the laser beam to pass through. Directly opposite the iris, put a hole just large enough for your laser module or whatever is going to hold the module. (I used a Crayola marker.)

Step two: Add laser and optic nerve.

I found that a Crayola marker from my childhood was the perfect size to hold the laser module. I cut the ends off the marker (keeping the radial wards on one end to keep the laser sliding too far forward). Slide the marker segment into the back of the eyeball, with the radial wards forward, against the back of the iris; use hot glue to fasten it. Slide the laser module into the marker segment, and add a blob of hot glue to keep it in place.

I found that the shaft of a standard highlighter is the perfect size to fit over the Crayola marker, so I cut the ends off of that and slid it over the Crayola marker (so as to have a longer optic nerve so that it can fit into both beam clamps).

Step three: Paint. Paint the eyeball white, and paint the iris whatever colours you like. The iris should actually be several colours. Study a real eye to see the fibrous-seeming structure of the iris.

Water down some Elmer’s glue just a bit and apply it to the back of the eyeball with a paintbrush. Separate the red yarn/floss into strands and glue them onto the eyeball for veins. (I glued them on straight and used the paint brush to push the front end of each vein rearward; that gave them some nice, curvy contours.)

Paint the back of the eye and the optic nerve red. Don’t water it down. Make it gloopy for cool, ropey textures. This will be easier if you score or scuff the highlighter first.

Let the paint dry (this will take a while if you have gloopy textures). Then apply one more more layers of clear nail polish to the eyeball and optic nerve. (Don’t use Nail Enamel. It is not the same, and it will never dry atop the paint.)

You’re done

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