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Build Your Own Binoculars kit review

This sustainable build your own binoculars kit encourages STEM learning for kids, gives 6x magnification, and is completely mess free thanks to its slot-together design.

Build Your Own Binoculars Kit_main-image (21 by 9)
(Image: © Future)

Live Science Verdict

Fun to put together, these binoculars are great for encouraging STEM learning and the best part is it’s completely mess free as each part slots together into one tidy package. There’s even a tripod to store them on when not in use and all the packaging is recyclable. We think this is excellent value for money.

Pros

  • +

    Promotes STEM learning

  • +

    Sustainable materials

  • +

    Recyclable packaging

Cons

  • -

    Optical quality not great

  • -

    Some steps require adult assistance

  • -

    UK only

Key specs:

Average price: £19.99

Material: Sustainable cardboard

Build time: 1.5 hours

Difficulty: Easy

Parts: 71

Dimensions: 7.7 x 6.3 inches (19.5 x 16 cm)

Magnification: 6x

Recommended age: 8+

This mess-free Build Your Own Binoculars kit is made from sustainable cardboard and is shipped in recyclable cardboard packaging. Aimed at children ages 8 and up, this DIY project is ideal for family time when you need to get eyes away from screens.

Promoting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) learning, the builder will go through the process of constructing an optical assembly and housing to produce a set of binoculars that are durable enough to be used outside and on trips (provided it’s not raining). In this day and age a STEM-friendly education is important, so if you’re after one of the best STEM toys for your little one, this is for sure one of them.

It’s relatively easy to put together, although there are some harder steps as outlined in our review below. And, while the optical quality isn’t comparable to the likes of Celestron or Olympus binoculars, we’re frankly impressed with the sharpness and clarity in the center of view and feel these are one of the best binoculars for kids out there.

Note: This Build Your Own Binoculars kit is currently only available on Amazon UK (opens in new tab). We've contacted the manufacturer to ask if they'll be releasing the kit in the US, but for now, this one is a Blighty exclusive. 

Build Your Own Binoculars kit review: Design

Build Your Own Binoculars Kit_packaging

(Image credit: Future)
  • Made from sustainable cardboard
  • Packed and produced with efficiency in mind
  • Attractive green color and design style

The real stand-out part of the build your own binoculars kit design is that the binoculars and the packaging is made from sustainable cardboard. This eco-friendly approach is a big plus for us. It also makes it much easier to recycle once you’re done using the binoculars, than it would traditional binoculars which are filled with intricate parts that are glued and screwed in place. It’s even an eye-catching green color, and fun patterns too, which really hammers home this point.

We’re impressed with the layout of parts on the cards supplied (flat pack makes it easier to reduce package size and shipping impacts) as the company have clearly made efficient use of space on the cardboard. The parts themselves are not in any particular order, from what we can tell, though some parts that are meant to fit together are located right next to each other. Some may struggle with the fact the parts aren’t laid out alphabetically or in order of color, but anyone who’s had a play with Airfix models will know that this is rarely, if ever, done in build-your-own kits.

Build Your Own Binoculars Kit_binos and tripod

(Image credit: Future)

The perfect size in the hand, the barrels hinge apart opening wide or narrow, ideal for all eye spacings. The focus slider also functions remarkably well and affords simple shifts back and forth to fine-tune focusing on subjects in the distance. There’s even an eyepiece diopter to adjust focusing which, for a self-build made from cardboard, we’re really impressed with.

Build Your Own Binoculars kit review: Performance

Build Your Own Binoculars Kit_eyepiece complete

(Image credit: Future)
  • Surprisingly sharp for plastic lenses that are slotted together with cardboard
  • Understandably poor optics around the edges of view
  • Bright and clear when using during the day

As you’d expect from a pair of binoculars made from flat-packed cardboard and containing small plastic lenses, the observing quality is poor. However, we were surprised how sharp subjects were considering we had just constructed these binoculars with our own two hands. We were able to easily read the license plate of a car from 300 yards away.

Blurring around the edges was significant, but the center was clear enough (provided the focus was appropriately set). The image also wasn’t particularly big, presumably because the ocular lenses are small. Eye relief was good though and we note that it’s possible to use these with spectacles without issue (with enough focus shuffling that is).

We enjoyed bright views during the day. However, it’s important to remember that there are no coatings on the lenses which means that flaring could be a potential issue (though we didn’t notice this) and, more importantly, that light transmission wasn’t restricted, leaving bright subjects like white walls overwhelmingly bright in the binoculars. Care must be taken when looking at bright subjects, and it should go without saying that young children should be observed when using binoculars (of any kind) to prevent them from looking directly at the sun.

Build Your Own Binoculars kit review: Functionality

Build Your Own Binoculars Kit_first-assembled-part

(Image credit: Future)
  • All parts are easy to unpack and assemble
  • Some trickier steps may require two pairs of hands
  • Fun to make and effective

This Build Your Own Binoculars kit is extremely well put together. Once assembled, every piece fits perfectly and the binoculars themselves are actually quite sturdy, despite being made out of cardboard. Each piece of the binoculars is laid out over eight cardboard sheets, you just need to pop them out and they’re ready to assemble. These pieces can be a bit small, so young children prone to putting things in their mouths should be supervised. The package recommends that this kit is ideal for children 8 years old and above.

We put the binoculars together with little to no trouble and it was a fun build. The instructions were simple and easy to follow, but we did find that the final steps of putting together the eyepieces were a little trickier. The eyepiece kept coming apart due to the spring in the paper when assembling the lens. This was because the steps required us to put this to one side for a later stage in the build, but it kept unravelling on us. We’d recommend either using a piece of tape or an elastic band to hold this together while you’re waiting to assemble the rest of the device.

Build Your Own Binoculars Kit_eyepiece held together

(Image credit: Future)

Step 46 in the build (yes, there are lots of steps, but each one only takes a minute or two) is fiddly. It involves threading a central column through the middle of the focusing assembly. We found it tricky to slot through the numerous holes without the entire project falling apart — we’d definitely recommend having a helper here as a second pair of hands will be useful. It’s also very easy to accidently rip one end of the tube, so take care to fold these bits down with your fingertips when it slides it through. If you’re making this with someone that struggles with their motor functions (or a young child) then it’s best to assist with this step and, as noted in the instructions, to ‘take your time.’ Overall, the build took us about 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete, but the pack states that it should take only 60 minutes.

Should I buy the Build Your Own Binoculars kit?

Build Your Own Binoculars Kit_recyclable leftovers

(Image credit: Future)

These binoculars are a good size and of solid construction. Although it’s recommended for ages 8 and up, we think younger children could appreciate this build too (with adult guidance) if they’re already drawn towards engineering or simple mechanics/technology as it supports STEM learning. They’re also incredible value for money as you likely won’t find a pair of new binoculars at this low price elsewhere.

If you want a fun project to work into an afternoon or want to share optical engineering with younger people in your life, this is a great option. Assembly assistance should be given to those with motor or cognitive impairment and young children should be supervised at all times due to the number of small parts in this kit.

This isn’t a binocular that will give astounding views, but, funnily enough, that isn’t really the focus here. They’re an eco-friendly DIY pack that entertains and informs simultaneously, and, for the money, these are astoundingly good value. Plus, it’s so satisfying building something with your own two hands, especially a cool and useful project like this.

If this product isn’t for you

We understand that not everyone is into building their own binoculars. If you want a reliable pair of binoculars that can be enjoyed by the whole family and are of decent value, (though much more expensive than this DIY set) we’d recommend the Opticron Adventurer II WP 10x50 binocular (opens in new tab) which we like thanks to their lightweight design and excellent optical quality.

Looking for the best binoculars for kids to enjoy without wincing every time they drop them? Then we’d like to guide you towards the Celestron Cometron 7x50 binocular (opens in new tab). Sure, they’re not as bright as some others, but children can see better in the dark than adults so this cost-effective option gives the best bang for their buck.

Simply looking for something a little smaller? We think you’ll love the Minox X-Lite 8x26 (opens in new tab) which has high-end build quality and is designed to last long-term. Waterproof and nitrogen-purged, these compact binoculars are resistant to fogging up even in the most extreme environments.

Jason Parnell-Brookes
Freelance Contributor

Jason Parnell-Brookes is an award-winning photographer, educator and writer based in the UK. He won the Gold Prize award in the Nikon Photo Contest 2018/19 beating over 90,000 other entrants and was named Digital Photographer of the Year in 2014. Jason is a Masters graduate and has a wealth of academic and real-world experience in a variety of photographic disciplines from astrophotography and wildlife to fashion and portraiture. Now the Channel Editor for Cameras and Skywatching at Space.com he specialises in low light optics and camera systems as well as acting as a contributing writer for multiple reputed tech brands.