How to make your own parabolic microphone listening device

Written by ava fails
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A parabolic microphone is a listening device that captures sounds from a distance and funnels them into a pair of headphones or a recording device. It looks somewhat like a small satellite dish. A parabolic listening device can be made from cheap household items. This is a great weekend project to do with kids.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Umbrella hat
  • Wire cutters
  • Razor saw
  • Hobby knife
  • Reamer (optional)
  • Gaffer tape
  • 9 inch paint roller handle
  • Cable ties
  • Small microphone
  • Recorder
  • Headphones

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Separate the umbrella from the cap by cutting the four plastic holders connecting them with your wire cutters.

  2. 2

    Slice off the knob on the top of the umbrella and smooth the hole using your knife or reamer.

  3. 3

    Place a small piece of gaffer tape on one section of the umbrella near the centre. Use your knife to cut a small "X" through the tape and umbrella. This will make a reinforced hold for your microphone wire.

  4. 4

    Remove the plastic ends and wire frame from your paint roller handle.

  5. 5

    Push the shaft of the paint roller through the spot in the top of the umbrella where you removed the knob so that it sticks out the underside 6 inches, with at least 1/2 inch clearance between the top of the umbrella and the bend in the shaft of the paint roller handle.

  6. 6

    Wrap the shaft with tape just above the knob and wrap it with a cable tie tightly.

  7. 7

    Wrap more tape around the shaft on the underside to make a gripping area for the microphone.

  8. 8

    Attach the microphone to the shaft either with the provided clip (if applicable) or with tape about 3 inches from the inside surface of the umbrella. Push the microphone wire through the hole you made earlier in the umbrella.

  9. 9

    Plug the microphone into your recorder. Plug in your headphones.

  10. 10

    Aim the microphone and begin recording. Try recording the same sounds without the parabolic frame to compare.

Tips and warnings

  • Your umbrella hat must be made of plastic and not fabric; plastic will conduct sound more accurately.

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