Introduction: Make Cool Onboard Videos on Tools: Custom Mounts & Closer Focus for Polaroid Cube
Being small and having a magnetic mount first thoughts of using this camera in the workshop came before it was even available for sale. Oh, and it's also cheap enough not to require saving up for a long time to get one. It seemed like a cool tool to make interesting videos which I could post on my instagram or other platforms.
Around the same time I decided to get one I also started thinking that there may be issues with using it as intended. And that is how I started thinking about making my own mounts for it and eventually making them even before my friend brought me the camera from the US (due to price differences).
Before I really start, a disclaimer: I do not have any kind of for profit relation with Polaroid, meaning they do not sponsor me with product, nor pay me. It just so happens, that this camera was the closest to what I needed.
If someone from Polaroid is reading this though - I wouldn't mind some sort of relationship. In case of interest - email me.
EDIT: It seems that videos are unavailable on mobile app (tried both iOS and Android ones), so here are the video links.
Comparison with & without magnification on a Dremel
Angle grinder action
Step 1: Tools and Materials
- A metal plate 35x100x2.5mm - 0.25$
- 2 Metal corners 40x40x20x2mm - 0.2$ for 2
- A piece of wood (ash scrap in my case) - 0$
- 4 5mm Screws - 0.7$ for 20
- 4 5mm Lock nuts w/nylon inserts - 1$ for 50
- An old bicycle tube - 0$
- 2 Metal rings (25x5mm) - 0.6$
- Magnifying lens (around 2X) - 1.7$
- 6 Magnets 10x2mm - 11.5$ for 110 (needed more for another project)
Total price: below 6$ given a magnet price of 0.2$ for one as it is locally.
- Dremel w/router, cutting, grinding bits
- Drill w/according drill bits for screws
- Angle grinder
- X-acto knife
- Hand riveter
- Glue (E6K and epoxy)
You should be able to find all of this stuff locally, but eBay or aliExpress and alike might be useful for magnets and magnifying lenses. As Nick aka PowellMade suggested, it's likely to find small lenses under the term watch repair magnifier.
As always - the tools are those I used because of availability or other reasons and can be substituted for other stuff. Added the amounts I paid for the parts for reference and comparison and sort of for the On a budget contest I didn't manage to write this on time. :D
If you're not going to use the corners alone, this could be done without magnets at all since Cube's magnet is pretty strong and the camera is unlikely to move around or vibrate too much.
Step 2: Magnetic Strap Mount: the Idea
I was considering going the easy way and simply buying the strap mount together with the cube, but almost immediately there were some red flags. Reviews on Amazon weren't that good, then there was the fact that I couldn't mount it as freely on original strap (no tilt) and I wanted to use stretchy straps as well. Not to mention the mount is an almost 20% extra to the camera price. Enough reasons to spend some time making a mount yourself I guess.
As you can see in the sketch simple and proven materials and locking techniques were used. This allowed to keep the price low, while reliability and functionality remained high. The extra magnet on side was not used (see note on picture).
Step 3: Slice and Dice the Materials
Making the parts is pretty simple. You need a piece of wood and two metal plates with holes sized around 35x40x9mm in my case. Grooves are to be made in this piece of wood and later it will be sandwiched between the metal plates.You'll also need a similarly sized piece of semi-soft foam, double sided tape and inner tube for the bottom to avoid both rough feels with the mount on and avoid slipping of it when it's mounted. The soft bottom also helps it to adapt to whatever form it is mounted on which certainly helps. This will be explained in more detail in the assembly step.
For cutting and sanding I used a regular hand saw for wood and an angle grinder - Dremel combo for metal. Drill holes in wood and try to sandwich now too, so you see the max width of a groove you can make in the next step.
Cut the bike tube longitudinally into two possibly flat parts to glue the band from because with crappy adhesive properties of E6K in this case it wont last long together. See the last picture here for proof.
Step 4: Making Holes & Grooves
You need two grooves made on the piece of wood. One for the bike tube strap, second for the metal slide in corners with magnets. They can be made pretty easily using a flat chisel, although I'm sure there are faster ways to do that with fancy tools.
Optimally, the grooves should be as wide as corners are, but this was not the case for me due to screws being too close to each other. To work around this I simply did some grinding on the corners so they fit the groove I made.
When you're making the groove - test for fit often, so it fits in just right. Not too loose, not to hard. This will help to avoid possible video vibrations while using the mount. Keep in mind, that the fit depends on how hard you tighten the screws as well since wood compresses.
I later did some bending and drilling with a 10mm drill for magnets. The one bent corner was bent to around 30 degree angle (no need for precision here, see what suits you best). A non-fatal mistake I made was to first bend the metal mounting corner and only then drill it. You should drill for magnets first, bend afterwards. It's simply easier to clamp a 90 degree corner, not a 30 degree one.
Also, while you're on this - glue the rubber band together using some stretchy glue like E6K, if you need to.
Step 5: Putting It Together
When all the grooves are done it's time to put it together. As you can see I have marked the screws, holes and nuts with numbers so it actually fits back together as intended after I cut the screws to size.
Assuming you have the band glued already, add the loops to the end of it as shown and fix that arrangement in place with a rivet (4mm here) or screw. Washers are obligatory on such soft material as rubber.
Glue in the magnets as well. I used quick drying epoxy for that, seems to work fine. The black vinyl in the picture is there while gluing to avoid glue going through. Especially useful for the mount magnet, since the hole was bigger than needed on the plate. The direction you glue the magnets in is not important since Cube's magnet has one polarity on sides and other in the middle. Wouldn't say it's too useful, but can't complain either.
While all of that dries get some double sided adhesive tape, a piece of foam you probably cut earlier and another patch of inner tube for grip. Make sure there are spots for locking nuts made in the foam to avoid unnecessary tension on the adhesive tape and glue it all together to get something similar to that shown in 4th picture here.
There probably is some glue on top of the corner mounts so scrape that off once it's dry so there are no issues with fitting the corners in the main mount.
With all of that done - you're set to go. If you feel like it, sand the edges of the wood and metal even. I just needed this to function well, looks don't really matter.
Step 6: Make the Camera Focus Closer
I found out about the focus issue already after I had the camera and was so excited that I was now going to film all the things. Well, not exactly, it turns out. It's sort of an action cam after all and therefore has wide angle lens and defaults for focus somewhere further.
Luckily, after some research I found out that there was the same problem experienced by GoPro users and it was solved using an adapter for DSLR macro filters. X2 seemed about right based on video footage online.
The issue is that the Cube is small and I need it like that. The way I solved that is by using a plastic magnifying piece of 2.5x magnification, cutting it to size and then gluing it to the camera using 2 sided adhesive tape.
There are some issues with using the plastic magnifier however. It's soft and therefore scratches very easily. It has these ridges for creating magnification (I believe) which reduce clarity of video and create reflections at some angles of light towards camera.
Update: as alames mentioned in comments, this type of lens is called Fresnel and does indeed reduce image quality according to Wikipedia article: Fresnel lens design allows a substantial reduction in thickness (and thus mass and volume of material), at the expense of reducing the imaging quality of the lens, which is why precise imaging applications such as photography still use conventional bulky lenses.
See the video footage in the intro step for yourself and make your own conclusions. I already got a new magnifying glass which I will try to cut with a regular glass cutter And hope that it works. Will update this step when I do that. See next step for that.
Step 7: Update: Glass Lens
Didn't go as smooth as planned, so I just added another step. You can see the story as well as the lens I used in pictures. I'm not sure what magnification it is, since it was the cheapest available (1 EUR) with no mention of that. To keep it short:
Cutting with a handheld glass cutter was a fail. After scoring a nice line on the lens and trying to break the part off nothing happened. After heating mildly along the score line nothing happened either. Therefore, given the low price of the lens I just decided to go nuclear on it.
First I intendedly overheated the lens part with the scored line thinking that maybe it would crack along it. Nope. I got a nice spider web pattern however (picture 2). Thinking that maybe it would just easily chip away under pressure or some gentle hits I tried that. I wouldn't call the chipping easy at all, meaning that didn't work either.
By now I could almost hear the lens laughing at me and my futile effort, but that wasn't going to last. I got out an electric tile cutter with a diamond disc and did the cutting (picture 3). A little bit of grinding and polishing with a dremel later the magnifying lens was done (picture 4) and ready to be glued. Using some double sided tape it was safely attached in front of the camera's lens and some test shots done.
It's all good now, the picture is definitely clearer with this, than the first plastic version. There's more work involved in making a glass one though. Unless you can find one which is of such size that you don't need to cut anything.
As of now, I've only glued it on 3 edges leaving the bottom unobstructed so dust can get in. On a more serious note, it is for the microphone to be able to pick up something similar to sound. I'm not sure that this helps and am thinking of ways how to pull off this microphone issue better. If you have any ideas - please comment.
Step 8: Capture All the Things!
Now you're set to make all sorts of interesting videos from the workshop or wherever else you need. With the ability to mount a camera in places you otherwise couldn't.
So far I've mounted the camera on a Dremel, angle grinder, respirator filter, knife and chisel and that's only the beginning. If you just want to see videos, you'll usually be able to see them on instagram, most likely on Fridays.
Also, if for whatever reason you need to, it's easy to add some LEDs between the mount and the camera by using a CR2032 3V disk battery which is also magnetic and fits between screws (at least for me). Just bend the LED pins so they are close to the battery and they will touch and close the circuit upon sandwiching the battery between magnets. Visible in two last pictures of this step.
If you need slight tilt adjustments, just use another magnetic piece and put it under camera according to how you want to tilt it. I use a 2 Euro cent coin for that, since it's also useful for opening the end cap of the camera.
Further plans include printing a mount of a similar or same design using a 3D printer if I happen to get my hands on one (which is unlikely). This would allow for a significant weight reduction and making it lower. I'm also thinking about making some round steel clips to attach somewhere on the go.
I'm also tempted to try and find a steel ball of a radius which corresponds to the radius of the Cube magnet's pit. This would allow to ditch the corner mounting altogether and mount the camera at pretty much any angle very conveniently. If you go this way - let me know what size ball do I need to use. Thanks!
If you happen to use this guide for
Step 9: Bonus: Showcase of My Stupidity or Things You Can, But Shouldn't Do
Can't help myself with all of this, I just like to push it to the limit.
I made an assumption that my Cube is not one of those early defective ones and decided to do stuff which obviously voids my warranty. All of this was because of an assumption I had, which is probably wrong. I assumed that an extra lens could be added between the actual lens and the highly convex lens cover to help me with the focusing too far issue and at the same time maintain the clean stock look of the camera.
There were two problems with this assumption, 1st being that the lens I took from an old camera is of the necessary magnification and the 2nd that it's a good idea to pry the lens cover open at all.
The lens I got from the old camera did help focusing closer. Just that it was way too close - while testing, I had the unique ability to observe pores on my nose in 1080 HD which focused at around 1 centimetre away. Maybe getting one of proper magnification and parameters would help, but what's the chance of finding one.
Generally I'd advise against lifting your lens cover for whatever reasons you have. It's glued on with some strong foamy adhesive, something similar to 3M VHB tape series (that stuff sticks) so it's hard to lift, you risk breaking it while lifting, then risk scratching the actual lens like I did and then, if you use the camera in colder environment there's a good chance of condensation inside of that cover. Keep that in mind.
The second thing to avoid is actually common sense. Don't try to mount the camera on rotating things, especially of bigger diameter. Strapping it over doesn't really help to keep it attached. Eccentric forces are serious business. End of story.
All of this with a happy ending though, it seems:
Scratch still hasn't shown up in video footage at various angles to light
The camera survived the impact despite case being literally torn apart (it records just fine)
Memory card seems to have survived it too, just the final video file was corrupted
I'm planning to put the camera back together today or tomorrow using some glue since there is no real need to open it.
If you happen to have questions or simply want to say me something good or bad - don't hesitate to comment, I try to answer all of those.
If you consider my exploration of interesting video angles as well as the technology and techniques used for that useful - show your support by voting for me in the contests I've entered this instructable in at the top of this page.
Until next time!
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