Monday, March 1, 2010

Periscopes and Periscope Rifles

While browsing a survival web site the other day I came across a post (and replies!) that proves paranoia is alive and well. The original poster was worried about getting shot by a sniper while in his own home.

The responses ranged from digging a secret tunnel so as to be able to sneak away (which begs the question; how ya' gunn'a know when the sniper is out there without looking) to moving (er… wouldn't that become the OP's new home?) to cutting holes in the roof to shoot back through.

In the spirit of paranoia I pointed out the problem (of shooting back from a fixed position) was solved during WWI by the Periscope Rifle.

Aside: note what happens when the concept goes from a makeshift contraption cobbled together by a corporal to wiz bang almost Government Issue contraption. (Development of both the Cameron/Yaggi device and the Thompson submachine gun were cut short on "the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" of 1918 by the end of WWI which also ended immediate government need for such devices.)

But wait, by morphing paranoia and camouflage we get periscopes! Whether we're confronting pesky snipers or observing pesky neighbors a periscope eliminates the problem of human head shape showing when looking over walls and windowsills. Remember the Killroy was here graffiti? A small 4" X 4" square box or round "eye" peeking over the wall would be less likely to be seen or noticed than the top of a human head.

The human eye looks at everything, but the human mind edits incoming information and "sees" mostly what it's looking for. Those flashing/revolving headlights on motorcycles are there (along with the brightly colored clothing) in an attempt to jar the motorist's mind into seeing what their eyes are reporting i.e. there something there besides the cars and trucks they're expecting to see.

Camouflage takes advantage of our mind's attempts to see what we're expecting to see by rounding off corners, turning straight lines wavy and mimicking the color/texture of surroundings.

A small bump on a fence top is less noticeable than the larger bump of the top half of a human head, particularly if the small bump appears against a dark backdrop.

Since making a periscope out of mirrors and milk cartons is cheaper than knocking holes in the roof I decided to look into the subject. A periscope is little more than two aligned mirrors. You'll note that in the pictures of periscopes being used by WWI soldiers there often isn't even a tube around them, just two mirrors attached at angles to pieces of wood.

It occurs to me that constructing homemade periscopes would be a good project for fighting off cabin fever if you choose to remain in place during a world changing event. And, if paranoia proves justified, could come in handy.

How to make your own periscope

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