American Birding Podcast



PhoneSkope Mods

I'm pleased that several manufacturers are producing phone scoping adapters, giving folks a stable option for recording distant birds with their smart phone through their scope.  Meopta and Kowa have nice models that work well, and I'll have a detailed review of these coming up in the Feb. issue of Winging It.  Their main limitation for now seems to be that they are only made for iPhone 4/4s and only come in adapter diameters matching their scopes and bins (though they will work on other optics if the eyepiece diameter matches closely enough.)  

Another outfit, PhoneSkope, has a much more universal solution in their phone scoping adapter.  They have many stock smart phone options beyond the iPhone 4/4s (including iPhone 5, Samsung, and Motorola) and will also custom fabricate a phone adapter if it works within their production specification limits.  The adapter portion that connects to the scope is also customizable, locking onto to the phone bracket via a bayonet mount.  

The PhoneSkope adapter has interchangeable, customizable components- the phone bracket and the eyepiece adapter, which connect by bayonet mount.

The team at PhoneSkope went out of their way to mill me a custom adapter to use with my Nikon EDG scope so I could review the product, but the large diameter of the eyepiece was slightly beyond their machining capabilities.  But I've always believed that digiscoping (or in this case, phone scoping) is pretty experimental, so I dug around my garage to see what might work.  I found an unused shop vac connector that fit my eyepiece like a glove and decided to go for the mod:

First, I knocked off the needed end of a shop vac adapter with my band saw (a hacksaw would have worked just as well but hey, Power Tools!)  Still had all of my fingers when I was finished, which is good…

Next step was to clean up the cut on the belt sander.  (Hand sanding would work as well but hey, Power Tools!)


Size check looks good!

The scavenged tube fits like it was custom-made for the task.

And the adapter tube looks like it will fit well on the phone bracket!

Convinced it would work, I decided to to glue it up.  Unfortunately, this took away the great PhoneSkope feature of interchangeable eyepiece adapters but you gotta do what you gotta do.  (Epoxy would work well but hey, Super Glue!)

To the field!!  The PhoneSkope gives a nice centered image and stable mount.  On my zoom eyepiece it starts somewhat vignetted at full camera wide, but by zooming in the phone a bit a full-frame image is obtainable.

Another look at the rig, & what's that bump on the branch? 

Hey, it's a distant 2nd-year Bald Eagle brought into iPhone range with my spotting scope and PhoneSkope adapter!


Smart phones shoot video too.  My iPhone won't zoom when filming movies so the side vignetting is there, but it isn't too distracting and opens the possibility of capturing behaviors in a way that still photos can't.