Help me find a decent (but relatively inexpensive) binocular or monocular scope.
November 26, 2006 9:23 AM   Subscribe

Can you help my friend find the morning newspaper? Question about a binocular/monocular scope and

At my friend's house, the morning newspaper gets delivered to an open mailbox about a half mile away. Because of the way the streets are lined up, he has a straight line-of-sight into the mailbox (across a couple empty lots). He currently uses a small pair of binoculars to try to see if the newspaper has been delivered before making the trip to the mailbox, but the magnification is too small (the binoculars are 8x25).

I would like to get him a more powerful scope of some sort, either a pair of binoculars or a monocular. I know good optical devices are expensive, but I would prefer something in the <$50 range. Quality is not that important, as it won't be used very often. Does anyone know of a good place (online or otherwise) to find such a thing, or do you have any other suggestions? Thanks in advance!
posted by homer2k1 to Grab Bag (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Well, how about something like this? this froogle search will probably help
posted by delmoi at 9:44 AM on November 26, 2006

Does he possibly already have a camera with a good telephoto lens? I use it for looking at birds a ways off, even if I'm not taking pictures.
posted by Katravax at 10:54 AM on November 26, 2006

Super-low-tech "any other suggestions" answer: Can he put a little red flag on the side of the newspaper box, the way there would be one on a mailbox? It would be easier to sight something red (especially if it were on the far side of the box) than something grayish.
posted by bcwinters at 11:46 AM on November 26, 2006

My parents had a similiar problem with their mail. I used to solve it by leaving their mailbox open. When they looked down and it was shut, they knew the mail had arrived. Obviously newspaper boxes, at least most of them, are always open, but maybe your friend's newspaper company would let you replace it with one with a door.
posted by GaelFC at 11:51 AM on November 26, 2006

If it's REALLY direct line of sight, how about painting the inside highly reflective color of some sort... When the paper goes in, the contrast disappears and it's time to take a walk. Cheaper to try than new binox, I think.
posted by FauxScot at 2:23 PM on November 26, 2006

I would rig a bright flag like bcwinters mentioned. Rig it to a lever inside the newspaper tube, in a way that pushing the newspaper in raises or lowers the flag.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:47 PM on November 26, 2006

You can get spotting scopes (20x50) for less than $50, esp. when they're on sale:

Natchez Shooter's Supply is a good company with fairly good prices.
posted by aberrant at 9:05 PM on November 26, 2006

Thanks everyone for the great responses. I had not even considered a telescope; I just assumed they would be too expensive. I think an inexpensive telescope combined with a flag of some sort will do the trick. Thanks again!

FauxScot: Your idea made me think of rigging a high-power laser with a reflector in the mailbox (more as just for fun instead of practical), but it is *just* barely out-of-line.
posted by homer2k1 at 9:20 PM on November 26, 2006

Note that this sort of thing is, actually, pretty much all that a cheap crappy telescope is good for.

Department store telescopes are famous for having big impressive magnification figures and piddly little lenses. This is exactly the opposite of what you want for astronomical observation - many sky objects are actually rather big, but they're dim, so you need a telescope with a great big lens at the end that sucks in a lot of light. Department store telescopes are responsible for turning untold numbers of people off of astronomy, because you can barely even see the moon through them.

One of those awful 250X MAGNIFICATION SUPER PROFESSIONAL Tasco-or-worse telescopes should work just fine for mailbox-spotting, though!
posted by dansdata at 11:15 PM on November 26, 2006

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