Fast Fresnel Hack Embiggens The Smallest Of Heads

Aside from frightening small children, we have absolutely no idea why anyone would need a face-magnifying headpiece. But the video below gives us a chuckle every time we see it, and we figure a good laugh that incorporates a quick optics hack is worth a look.

When he’s not playing geek in a box, [Curious Marc]’s videos usually have more of a retrocomputing theme, like his recent conversion of a vintage terminal to a character set from a made-up language, or helping to revive an Apollo Guidance Computer. Given gems like those, we were surprised to learn that [Marc]’s background is physics – optics, to be precise – and that he studied at École Polytechnique, the same school famed physicist Augustin-Jean Fresnel attended. Which fits right into this build since it features one of those large, plastic Fresnel lenses. After a fascinating detour into the history of Fresnel’s namesake lens, [Marc] proceeds with the build.

It’s simplicity itself – a box big enough to wear on the head with one end replaced by the Fresnel lens. A strip of LEDs – warm white, please, lest the wearer takes on a deathly pall – lines the edge of the box just behind the lens. If you want to get fancy, maybe attaching a hard-hat suspension piece would make it more wearable, but even as is it’s just a hoot to see someone with a magnified and distorted head walking around. One probably should be careful not to look at the sun while wearing this, however, for reasons that become apparent beginning at the 3:24 mark of the video.

Thanks to [Marc] for perhaps the oddest YouTube face-reveal yet, and for a great idea for a quick cosplay hack.

17 thoughts on “Fast Fresnel Hack Embiggens The Smallest Of Heads

  1. I like it, but I am surprised that he did not figure out that it is much easier to cut cardboard than plastic. In the build I would have modified the box to hold the lens instead of chopping the lens to fit in the box. Still a cool idea.

    1. From em- +‎ biggen or em- +‎ big +‎ -en, possibly analogous to belittle. The literal meaning is to make something larger,[1] with the morphology (em- + big + -en) being parallel to that of enlarge (en- + large).

      The verb’s first recorded use is in an 1884 edition of the British journal Notes and Queries: A Medium of Intercommunication for Literary Men, General Readers, Etc. by C. A. Ward, in the sentence “but the people magnified them, to make great or embiggen, if we may invent an English parallel as ugly. After all, use is nearly everything.”[2]

  2. I did have to wonder after setting fire to the box some one thought this is a good idea “I’ll put my head in there “

    When I was 5 or 6 my father picked up a fresnel lense about the size of A3 paper – that was damn good for setting fire to stuff ;)

    1. Gah, wish I could have edited in this afterthought..

      You in North America?? Dollartree and Dollarama have A4ish/Letter sized Fresnel panels on and off. Think they are available at twice the price in Staples/Office Depot as well.

  3. I searched Amazon and found a variety of lenses.

    Would something like this work? (The groove pitch is 0.5mm. The focal length is 320mm)
    8.3″ x 11.75″ LARGE 3X Fresnel Lens FULL PAGE Magnifier

    Or does it need to be much larger like this one?
    Linear Fresnel Lens 300 * 300mm Focal Length 300mm Optical Linear Lens, Focal is a line

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