Photograph Sound & Heat Waves with this $9 DIY Schlieren Flow Visualization Setup

Schlieren Flow Visualization is a rather fascinating technique by which you can see and capture the differences in air pressure caused by various forces such as sound or heat.

And if the video we shared recently explaining/showing off this photographic trick had you yearning to try it for yourself, you’re in luck, because there’s a way you can create your own DIY Schlieren Flow setup for only $9.

Usually, Schlieren Flow Visualization requires expensive contraptions of mirrors that can easily cost upwards of a few hundred dollars. But Instructables user jlansey has shared a setup that will let you try out this technique using a few materials you likely have lying around the house.


The first thing you’re going to need is a pair of rigid page magnifiers. Once you have those, you’ll need a light source — jlansey suggests a small, cheap LED light — and something to attach it to.

The rest of the setup requires a camera to capture the visualizations, some cardboard, some tape and, of course, a number of hot, cold or noisy objects you can use to distort the air pressure.


Once you have the components, it’s just a matter of piecing it all together to end up with the final product. As you can see from the graphic above, the setup isn’t terribly confusing, and with the help of the full instructions it should make for a fun, unique DIY project this weekend.

Beyond personal satisfaction, this would also be a rather neat project to show off to friends, family and children. So head on over to the full Instructable by clicking on the link below and get started.

DIY Schlieren Flow Visualization [Instructables]

  • Frank Martinez

    Why do I feel like I was watching a video of some underground drug culture? Or have I just watched too much Drugs Inc.™? Regardless the effect is cool :)

  • mahirh

    There is an easier way.

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