How to Make a Pinhole Viewer Out of a Coffee Can

Опубликовал Admin
30-08-2017, 14:00
Viewing an eclipse can be both exciting and fun but there is a hazard with damage to your eyes if you're not cautious with your method of viewing. This pinhole viewer is a great way to view an eclipse without having to look directly at the sun, and it's easy to make with a coffee can or similar cylindrical box.


  1. Get your container ready. On the bottom of the container, make a hole in the center. Placing the pin hole in the exact center is not necessary. The viewer will work as long as the hole is placed somewhere in the center area. Placing it in the exact center simply looks nicer and will, of course, project the image on the center of the viewer section. To
    • If another box, like a cardboard oatmeal container, is used, be careful in handling since it will not be as durable as the coffee container.
    • To determine the center, use the ruler to measure and mark the top and bottom fourths of the container. Use a marker to mark two lines on the upper and lower sections of the metal portion of the coffee can. Use a pencil to gently mark these lines if using the oatmeal container.
  2. Use the ruler to join the ends of the lines together creating an "X" pattern. The center of the "X" will mark the center of container. This is where the hole will be pierced.
  3. Use a push pin or small nail to push it through the center of the "X". This will allow enough light to project an image of the sun. The size of the hole should not be larger than the width of a push pin or paper clip.
    • If you no longer want the lines on the container after the hole is pierced, erase the lines on a cardboard viewer. On the metal coffee can bottom, use a tissue and small amount of rubbing alcohol to clean and remove the lines.
  4. Carefully grab the blade or craft knife. Lay the plastic lid on an old magazine or pile of newspapers to protect your table and cut away the center of the lid. Leave an eighth to quarter inch border from the cut to the edge of the line.
  5. Place the lid on the corner of a sheet of white paper.
  6. Draw around the outer portion of the lid. This will serve as your guide line as you cut out the circle. Placing it on the corner of the paper will make it easier to cut the paper into a disc.
  7. Cut out the circle to create a small disc. At first, the disc will not fit into the plastic lid. Continue to trim the disk until it fits inside the lid.  The disc does not have to fit snugly. It should lay flat without being pushed up by the edge of the lid. This paper will serve as the viewing screen.
  8. Place the lid with the paper disc inserted on the table. Take the can and and fit open end onto the lid.  The disc should be held firmly in place by the can. The lid will anchor the paper, creating the screen for the viewer.
  9. Use the viewer. Hold it at an angle away from you. Point the pin hole side of the viewer toward the sun.  You should be able to look at the screen of the viewer without looking at the sun.
    • Keep adjusting your angle until you can see a small projection of the sun on the paper disc. As the eclipse progresses, you will see the small dot of light began to disappear as either completely or partially depending on.


  • Always hold the viewer at an angle away from you and do not look directly at the sun. Serious damage could occur to your eyes if looking directly at the sun for even a few seconds.

Things You'll Need

  • Coffee can or similar round box (eg an oatmeal box)
  • Marker
  • Scissors
  • Craft knife or blade
  • Ruler
  • White sheet of paper
  • Push pin or small nail
  • Old magazine or newspaper (for use with blade)
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