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​How to Make a Man Crate Pinhole Projector to View the Solar Eclipse

Posted by Tim Kennedy on

For a few minutes on August 21, the solar system will remind us that, despite our disagreements, we’re all out here living together on a tiny rock floating in the middle of a vast universe of unknowable size and scope. On that day, a total solar eclipse will be visible across the entire continental United States for the first time in more than 99 years.

Millions of Americans from Oregon to South Carolina will witness day turn to night in “the path of totality.” (Scientists have a way of making stuff sound like a Game of Thrones episode title.) The event is expected to trigger the biggest mass migration in modern American history.

There are a few ways to get a good look at this breathtaking, once-in-a-lifetime spectacle. You could drop $40 on some overpriced steam punk-style goggles that will make you look like the bad guy in Men In Black III (underrated movie, by the way). You could also cobble together a pinhole projector using a dreary, flimsy cardboard box and impress exactly no one at your viewing party.

Neither of those options are particularly appealing. Might we suggest an easier, more eye-catching option: repurposing a Man Crate.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Scissors
  • Duct tape
  • Aluminum foil
  • A pin
  • A piece of paper (thin material once used for writing and delivering messages to others)
  • Probably a drill and/or saw of some sort
  • A Man Crate bigger than your head

Before we get started, a quick PSA:

Don’t look directly at the sun (good rule of thumb for daily life)

Just so we’re all operating from the same reference point here: Don’t ever look directly at the sun. It is very bright and will damage your eyesight beyond repair. Not good!

Here's a handy diagram of the steps, for those who are more visually oriented...

Awesome gifts for men

And now, those steps in more detail, for those who like to dive a little deeper...

STEP 1: CUT A RECTANGULAR HOLE AT THE END OF THE CRATE (OR CARDBOARD BOX)

The hole should be about half the size of a credit card. We recommend using a drill and not trying to punch a hole through your crate using a crowbar or your thumb or anything like that. Man Crates are made using plywood, the number one splinter producer in the lumber industry.

STEP 2: COVER UP THAT HOLE WITH SOME ALUMINIUM FOIL

Using safety scissors (or, if you’re an ultimate alpha male, a super-sharp folding knife), cut out a piece of aluminum foil large enough to cover the rectangular hole in the side of your Man Crate. Resist your most primitive instinct to crinkle up the foil. We want that silver stuff to look as untouched as the snowfall of before the street plows come through. Keep it smooth, and tape the foil over the rectangular hole.

STEP 3: USE A PIN TO POKE A TINY HOLE IN THE CENTER OF THE FOIL

Poke a hole in the foil. Did you accidentally rip the foil? Return to Step 2 and maybe don’t be so aggressive with the pin next time around. Foil tends to be very thin.

STEP 4: TAPE THE SHEET OF PAPER TO THE INSIDE OF THE OPPOSITE END OF THE BOX

The blank white piece of paper will serve as your projector screen for the eclipse. We hope you didn’t think it was okay to use colored construction paper.

STEP 5: ENJOY THE WONDROUS SPLENDOR OF THIS RARE CELESTIAL OCCURANCE

We’re almost ready to soak in the eclipse. Be sure to stand with your back toward the sun. Place your Man Crate Pinhole Projector over your head with the pinhole towards the sun. Move around until the sun peeks through the pinhole and projects the eclipse on the blank sheet of paper in front of you.