This dollar store DIY spy mic lets you
listen from afar. By Jim Lee
This is a ridiculously easy way to build a parabolic
microphone using dollar store items. You’ll attract
lots of attention walking around in public with this
rig. I usually welcome the inquiries, and let people
listen to what I’m doing. Kids especially love it.
1. Make the dish.
Use wire cutters to snip away the 4 plastic holders
that connect the hat’s umbrella to its headband
(Figure A). Slice the top of the plastic knob off the
top of the umbrella (Figure B), and clean up the
hole with a knife or reamer. Cover 1 gore of the
umbrella near the center with a trapezoidal piece
of the gaffer’s tape. Cut a small X-shaped incision
through the tape and umbrella; this will be the
reinforced hole that the microphone wire will pass
through (Figure C).
Umbrella hat Make sure the umbrella part is vinyl,
not fabric, which doesn’t reflect sound as well.
9" paint roller handle
Small microphone I used RadioShack’s discontinued
Stereo Hands-Free Tie-Pin Microphone (#33-3028);
but any decent small microphone will work. Dollar
store purists can instead use earbud headphones
as a microphone, or do surgery on a $1 hands-free
cellphone headset. The sound won’t be as good,
but you’ll have a true $3 parabolic mic.
Gaffer’s tape or other tape with a rough surface
Hammer, wire cutters/side cutters, hobby knife and
razor saw, permanent marker, reamer (optional),
file (optional), laser pointer (optional)
Photography by Jim Lee
136 Make: Volume 14