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How to Make a Pinhole Projector

How to Make a Pinhole Projector


Have you ever wanted to view a solar eclipse safely? Or maybe you just want to project an image onto a wall or screen in a cool way. Well, a pinhole projector is the perfect solution! This simple device uses the principles of optics to project an inverted image onto a viewing surface. Best of all, you can make one yourself using just a few everyday items.

What You’ll Need

To get started, gather these materials:

  • A cardboard box (a shoe box or cereal box works great)
  • Aluminum foil
  • A sewing needle or thumbtack
  • White paper or a white surface to project the image onto
  • Tape (optional)

Step 1: Prepare the Box

First, use the box as the main body of your pinhole projector. Make sure one of the smaller sides is removed to create an opening. This opening will allow light to enter the box.

Next, line the inside of the box with aluminum foil. The foil will reflect the light and make the image brighter. Use tape to secure the foil in place if needed.

Step 2: Make the Pinhole

Now it’s time to make the pinhole! On the side of the box opposite the open side, use the needle or thumbtack to poke a tiny hole in the center. This pinhole is essential for projecting the image.

Tip: The smaller the pinhole, the sharper the projected image will be. But don’t make it too small or not enough light will get through.

Step 3: Set Up for Viewing

Finally, set up your pinhole projector to view the desired image or scene. First, position the open side of the box towards the image you want to project.

Then, place a piece of white paper or find a white wall or surface inside the box opposite the pinhole. This surface will display the projected image.

Step 4: View the Projected Image

When everything is set up correctly, you should see an inverted image of the scene projected onto the viewing surface inside the box!

For the best results, view the pinhole projector in a dimly lit or dark room. The darker it is, the more vibrant and clear the projected image will appear.

Uses for a Pinhole Projector

A pinhole projector has many cool uses beyond just projecting images. Here are some ideas:

  • View a solar eclipse safely by projecting the sun’s image
  • Project artwork, photos, or patterns onto a wall or screen
  • Use it as a camera obscura to trace images
  • Teach optics principles like how lenses and cameras work

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Making a pinhole projector is an easy, inexpensive way to explore light and optics. Give it a try using basic materials you likely already have at home. Project everything from solar eclipses to your favorite photos in a unique way. Get hands-on with science while having fun!

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