Richard Russell (lderlore@XMISSION.COM)
Fri, 2 Dec 1994 17:04:02 -0700
On Thu, 1 Dec 1994, Gene Novak wrote:
> Dear Friends,
> Does anyone out there have any information on a heliograph? A heliograph is
> a device for sending messages using the sun, a mirror and, I think, some kind
> of aiming device.
> Please send me an answer at
> Thanks from an old scout,
> Gene Novak
Gene, the Varsity Scouts in the Western Region have been using homemade
heliographs for about 13 years which they then use for National Operation
"On Target." It is a Varsity Scout Jamboree on mountain tops with teams
signaling to each other using their simple, inexpensive devices.
I will try to be as simple and clear as possible:
Each heliograph needs two pieces of polished (edges dulled) glass mirror
about 3" to 8" square (or somewhat rectangular works just as well). Turn
both pieces face down so you can see the back of the silvering and locate
the very center of each by tracing two diagonal lines with a straight edge
and a pencil from the opposite corners so the lines cross at the center
point. Use a knife or razor or exacto knife blade to scrape away a small
area at the point the lines cross. Clean away all of the
silver backing so that clean class shows through. This clean space should
be about 1/4" in dia. Use a pencil erasure to finish off the cleaning of
the "hole." When such a "hole" has been scraped in both pieces, place
them back to back and make sure that the twoholes line up. Use either
superglue or tape to join them together.
One side is a mirror and the other side is a mirror and there is a clear
"window" 1/4" or so in the center. One side is the reflective surface
that sends the suns rays at the target and the back side (other side) is
the aiming device. Assume the sun is at about 60 degrees and you wish to
send a flash down the street or up to a mountain peak or accross a
meadow. Hold the mirror fairly close toyour aiming eye so that you can
see through the 1/4" "window" at your target. Through this same window a
beam of sunlight will be passing and landing somewhere on your cheek,
lips or shirt. You will be able to see that sun dot as a reflection on
the back side of the heliograph. All you have to do is line up the
target, the "window" and the reflected sun dot and you know you are
hitting the target with a beam of sunlight. A good way to practice is
with street signs or car tailights. They really light upand send back a
bright reflection when you are "On Target!"
Good luck and if you have trouble keeep in touch.
Richard C. Russell
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