How to Build the Mirror Steeror

Years ago a friend offered me a large pile of plexiglas mirror rejects. At the time I was teaching a science and carpentry class for kids, so I was always looking for interesting materials. While turning possibilities over in my mind, I took two pieces (8″ X 24″) and fastened them, side by side, to a board so that one curved in, the other out.

The kids got a kick out of this. They could see their faces in weird shapes, which was good for a laugh, but still left me wondering: could I design it so kids controlled the mirror curvature? How about making it large enough so a child could see her whole body?

In my basement workshop I had a cache of old boat parts, among them a steering gear. Maybe I could use it as a controller for this gizmo. I just needed to figure out how to combine it with a large piece of bendable plastic mirror. I made a frame to hold the mirror first, fastening the bottom of the mirror securely and letting the top slide up and down, between two small boards, as the middle of the mirror bulged in or out. It actually worked well this way. One person could stand behind the mirror and move it in or out while a friend, standing in front of the mirror, gained or lost weight rapidly!

Next, I bolted my steering gear to a small 2 X 4 and clamped it to the stand, moving it around until I could envision a mechanism to connect the mirror to the steering apparatus. I had to experiment with the lengths and positions of the connector arms to get the mirror to move about 8″ (at the middle) as the steering wheel moved through 5 1/2 turns. I worked these details out, and set it up by our front door. It passed this test with flying colors as we received many comments about the crazy contraption on the front porch.

This link to PDF tell how to construct one yourself.

mirror steeror 1