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Tabletop Periscope

by Gary James

Mk 1 LOS-O-TRONICThe Mk 1 LOS-O-Tronic Line-Of-Sight scope was actually invented way back on 19th century Earth by Major General Tremorden Rederring, a British Army Officer posted in Ouargistan.

Following the dismantling of the British Empire the LOS-O-Tronic Scope lay undisturbed in a long forgotten and buried outpost until it was uncovered by an Imperial exploratory party 40,000 years later. The artefact was snatched up by the Adeptus Mechanicus and whisked off to the Tech Priests for examination.

To their delight the technicians found that the device still worked, thanks largely to its solid-state construction which appeared to consist principally of two super-efficient photo-reflective panels, carefully calibrated to obtain the optimum arrangement of incident and reflected light.

Doubting the wisdom of unleashing such a transparent and cunningly simple device on the Universe, the Techno-Magi added spurious, impressive-looking but largely redundant circuitry and controls to obfuscate the true nature of the device. Thus disguised, the LOS-O-Tronic became standard issue to all Imperial scouts.

A week ago last Sunday I popped into my garden shed for some more Polyfilla and, to my surprise, discovered an Imperial scout skulking behind the Black and Decker Workmate. Some strange quirk of temporal instability had resulted in his appearance on 20th century Earth instead of the surface of Angelis in the outer rim (I bet that was a surprise!).

Of course, he was not well adapted to life 40,000 years before he was born and all it took was one British beef burger to finish him off. So, I nicked his LOS-O-Tronic and reverse engineered it. Now you can own one!


  1. Foamcore. Lots of foamcore - the figures in the above picture are actually real people stood on man-hole covers. (Only kidding - you only need a few square inches)

  2. PVA Glue

  3. Two 3 by 2 inch super-efficient photo-reflective panels, also known as mirrors. I got mine cut specially by a glass merchant for 50 pence.


Thanks to the wonders of modern technology you can travel back in time to 19th century Ouargistan and access the Major General's original plans. (Don't forget the diarrhoea pills.) Just click on this portal

I followed the General's plans carefully with just minor deviations.

I covered all joints with gummed paper tape to tidy them up and strengthen them. And I had to spray the inside of the scope black because I didn't have any black foam core.

Painting and detailing

First, stick red lentils on the corners to make big rivets. Then add some broken circuit board bits and car repair mesh just like the Techno-Magi did (or will...but they used/will use landspeeder mesh). The 'control knobs' are the tops of felt tip pens trimmed down. Once these details are done spray the whole thing black (protecting the apertures by stuffing them with paper if you have mounted the mirrors) and dry brush it silver for a metallic effect. Paint the black and yellow band along the eyepiece if you like the effect.

Back of LOS-O_TRONICThe graphics are a mixture of White-Dwarf clippings and computer generated artwork. The skull and ribbon motif across the front of the scope was from the recruitment pages of White Dwarf. The 'Mk 1 LOS-O-TRONIC' manufacturer's label and radar screen are computer graphics, printed out and stuck on with PVA glue.

Once you have stuck on your paper graphics, coat them with watered-down PVA glue and allow to dry. If you don't do this the next stage, ink washing, will ruin them.

Finally, wash all over with 50/50 chestnut wash and water. Add blobs of neat chestnut wash here and there and encourage it to run.

Using your LOS-O-Tronic

  1. Put it down on the table.

  2. Look through the hole in the top.

  3. Say 'Hey! I can see your unit after all!

  4. When your opponent demands a look, tell him to make his own.


The LOS-O-TRONIC is a sci-fi version of David Helber's excellent table-top periscope. Place it on the table and get a miniature's-eye view of the table top. Check line of sight and just have fun seeing your terrain at 'real' size! Thanks to David for permission to reproduce the periscope on my pages. You can visit his superb colonial wargaming web page from the links section.

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