Instructables

How to Make a Cell Phone / iPhone Camera Boom and Tripod

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Picture of How to Make a Cell Phone / iPhone Camera Boom and Tripod
Building projects is fun, but it is even more fun when you can share them with other people.  I was looking for a way to use my iPhone camera to videotape some of my craft projects but couldn’t find what I needed, so I just decided to build it and document the process as my first Instructable.  I wanted to record overhead looking down at the table with my hands free to work with my project.  I first thought about a tripod but after trying it out I realized that wasn’t going to work.  The solution I came up with is the basis of this Instructable.  This boom allows you to securely mount a cell phone and adjust it horizontally and vertically directly over your project without another person.  As a bonus, the boom adapter plate will allow you to mount your cell phone on top of a regular tripod just like any other camera.  This project is built custom sized to your phone while still in its case, so it does not require you to remove the case each time you want to use the boom.
 
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Step 1: Overview of construction...

Picture of Overview of construction...
The boom is quite simple.  I’ve tried to use as inexpensive materials as possible and I figure it shouldn’t cost more than $10.  I’ve written this assuming that a person has no experience with woodworking or basic tools; more skilled individuals can easily determine its construction from the photographs.  Make sure to click on the pictures for details of how it is put together.

The boom uses hose clamps to hold two wooden dowels at a 90 degree angle to each other. The vertical dowel sits in a hole drilled in a piece of common 2" x 4" dimensional lumber that is used as the base.  At one end of the horizontal dowel is an ‘adapter plate’ that holds the camera phone.  In the photograph above you can see the boom is arranged over the workspace (the white paper towel with scissors and cordage).  The base of the boom is secured with a heavy box on it and the camera can be adjusted to just the correct field of view by sliding the horizontal dowel up and down the vertical dowel and tightening the hose clamp.  At the other end of the horizontal dowel is a cord tied to the base to balance the camera and keep it parallel to the table top.

The second photograph is the view as if sitting in a chair looking down through the camera at the top of the table below.  In the third picture you can see the camera recording my hands working with the project.  The adapter plate and camera is easily slipped off the end of the horizontal dowel by loosening the adapter plate hose clamps.  Some “scrunchie” elastic hair bands allow the phone to be quickly and easily held in the adapter plate.

What you will need:

I picked the ½” inch size dowels for two reasons; first they are slightly cheaper and lighter than the next size up, but also because the largest common size drill bit is ½” inch.  Therefore the easiest size hole to drill in the base will be ½” inch, and the dowel will need to be that size to fit the hole.  You can probably substitute some of these items according to what you have available but here is what I used:

- Two 1/2” inch hardwood dowels, 36” inches (3 feet) long (any hobby or home improvement/hardware store)
- One 15” inch or so piece of 2” x 4” lumber or something suitable for the vertical dowel to use as a base (home improvement/hardware store, etc.)
- One screw eye to tie the stabilizing cord to the end of the horizontal dowel (home improvement/hardware store)
- Approximately 3 feet of cord to counterbalance the camera weight (any hobby or home improvement/hardware store)
- Five 1/2” inch hose clamps - 2 to connect the dowels, 2 to attach the adapter plate to the horizontal dowel on one end and 1 clamp at the other end to attach the cord to (home improvement/hardware store)
- About 3” inches of ¾” x ¾” inch of square wood trim to mount the hex nut in (home improvement/hardware store)
- About 10” inches of ¼” by ¼” inch square wood dowel to frame the phone and hold it in place (any hobby or home improvement/hardware store)
- One common plastic grocery bag (must be a grocery bag because epoxy will not stick to this type of plastic)
- One common ¼” hex nut, coarse – 20 threads per inch (TPI) (home improvement/hardware store)
- 5 Minute epoxy to glue the wood pieces to the adapter plate and the hex nut into the adapter plate (any hobby or home improvement/hardware store)
- A flat piece of wood or plywood approximately ¼” inch thick and a few inches wider and taller than your cell phone to use as an adapter plate (any hobby or home improvement/hardware store)
- Very thin wire to make an easy way of fastening everything together (any hobby or home improvement/hardware store)
- Two hair “scrunchies” or suitable rubber/elastic band (wherever hair products are sold such as discount stores and drugstores)

The following tools may be necessary or helpful, if you do not have them, perhaps you can borrow them:

- A jigsaw or table saw is helpful for cutting the adapter plate down to final size; if you do not know how to use a table saw then don’t use it
- Sandpaper or a file/rasp
- Flat headed screwdriver to tighten hose clamps
- A drill and bits sized ½” inch and the smallest size bit you can find to make the holes for the wire.  Also a  ¾” inch spade bit for making the camera eye hole (bits available from a home improvement/hardware store)
- A miter box and handsaw if you don’t have a way to cut the wood trim to size (home improvement/hardware store)
- Wire snip or pliers (needle nose preferably) to cut the wire and help twist the ends
SIRJAMES092 months ago

cool project!!

TY for sharing!

I have but one idea I wish to share...

would not it be more secure using PVC or CPVC? There is a website that carries 4 way connectors, 3 way connectors, & various other connector you won't find at the hardware store....they call them"furniture grade" connectors.

Because I seldom go anywhere, I'll be making mine out of PVC & gluing all the main connections(vertical pieces & possibly the horizontal ones as well.

TY for the inspiration Sir! a very enjoyable read. :)

marhar1 year ago
Here's my version:

http://eastbay-rc.blogspot.com/2013/03/new-downshooting-rig.html

It looks like it's going to work really well... thanks again for this great instructable!

hyperfocused72 (author)  marhar1 year ago
Wow ! That's great! Since almost everyone who builds something needs to photograph it I figured a better over head camera might be of some use. Keep up the good work and let us know of any improvements you make!
That little hose clamp trick is brilliant. Great solution!
marhar1 year ago
I had some ideas for a boom mount, but none of them as simple and efficient as your hose clamps. Thanks a bunch!

I'll be clamping my base to my hobby table,
iceng1 year ago
You must be very steady.
I would jiggle the image pushing ( touching ) the take picture button.
I wonder if asking Siri to take the picture would work.

A
whoofoto1 year ago
Thanks for this idea. I like the platform which holds the camera not only facing down but also adapted to work with your little tripod. I'll make a platform for my TMobile MyTouch smartphone. I'll tinker with this for holding the smartphone in a safe to view position when using the GPS function in a car.
BryGy1 year ago
That's a great instructable! I know my next project. Thanks for the inspiration.
auntikays1 year ago
This is a really cool instructable! I've been wanting something like this so I could take pictures for my blog and keep both hands frree but I could never figure out a way to get a tripod-ish device that would aim my camera down or on an angle. Never thought to make a boom! Thanks for sharing!
hyperfocused72 (author)  auntikays1 year ago
At last my evil genius is appreciated! I'll be at my secret laboratory hidden in an extinct volcano if anyone needs me...
tjk19391 year ago
Inventive idea. Nice ible on your first time. Lots of food for thought.
simple but magical! great instructable