IPhone Camera Spinner





Introduction: IPhone Camera Spinner

About: My name is Randy and I am a Community Manager in these here parts. In a previous life I had founded and run the Instructables Design Studio (RIP) @ Autodesk's Pier 9 Technology Center. I'm also the author ...

The iPhone camera spinner is a setup for using a drill to spin an iPhone really fast for the purpose of shooting video. To be honest, I got the idea to make this device from a Vimeo video I stumbled upon not too long ago. In the video they had zip tied a point and shoot camera to a metal disc. This was a nice solution, but I wanted to use an iPhone, off the shelf parts, and also be able to reposition the camera more easily. With that in mind, this solution was arrived at.

This setup creates some interesting videos and is fun to play around with, but it wobbles too much since it is not balanced. After experimenting a little, I decided to create a fancier well-balanced device. It is currently slowly progressing, but you can see it sooner if you help support my campaign on Kickstarter.

NOTE: Spinning a phone around with a drill at high speeds is inherently dangerous to you and those around you! I assume no responsibility for what you personally decide to do with any of this information. You do so at your own risk.

Special thanks to Becky Stern for help shooting the video!

Step 1: Materials

For this project you will need:

(x1) iPhone 6 (or similar)
(x1) 'Hook and loop' (i.e. Velcro) iPhone case
(x1) 4" wide 'hook and loop' strips
(x1) 8" 'hook and loop' sanding pad
(x1) 5/8-11 x 2" partially threaded stainless steel rod
(x1) 5/8" to 1/2" shaft adapter coupling
(x1) 1/2" x 3" steel shaft
(x1) Drill with a 1/2" chuck**

** For this project I prefer to use a Hitachi corded drill with a pistol grip to help keep is stabilized. For portability, I have found that a Ryobi cordless drill works well on its slower gear setting.

Step 2: Create the Adapter

Unfortunately, the 5/8" partially threaded rod wouldn't fit directly into the chuck of my drill.

Instead, I got a 5/8" to 1/2" shaft adapter.

To make this work, essentially slide both the 1/2" steel rod and the 5/8" partially threaded rod into the appropriate end of the adapter. Lock both of them in place by tightening adapter's set screws.

Step 3: Twist

Thread the 5/8" rod into the back of the 8" sanding disc.

Step 4: Cut a Hole

Cut two 11" sheets of Velcro from the 4" wide roll.

Cut a small hole in on of the pieces of velcro where your phone's camera would be should you center the camera on the sheet of Velcro.

Step 5: Attach the Phone

Line up the camera port on the Velcro phone case with the hole that you just cut in the sheet of Velcro.

Insert the phone into the phone case, and open the camera app.

Step 6: Attach the Phone

Attach the phone to the sanding disc such that the phone's camera is as close to the center of the disc as possible. Stick as much of the velcro as possible to the the surface of the disc.

Place the other sheet of Velcro perpendicularly over the phone. Be careful not to cover the phone's camera. However, try to make as much contact as possible between the strip of velcro and the surface of the sanding disc. The more contact the Velcro makes, the better the phone will be held to the disc, and the less danger there is of it going flying.

Step 7: Attach to the Drill

Insert the 1/2" steel rod into the drill's chuck and lock it down.

Step 8: Hit Record

If you have done it right, you should see the record button of your camera sticking out over the edge of the 8" sanding disc.

Press the record button when you're ready.

Step 9: Spin

Make sure that no one is standing next to the spinning phone (i.e. to the side). Standing a few feet in front of, or a few feet behind it is safer since the phone will launch out sideways if it comes loose.

Also, make sure that the drill is set to spin clockwise. If it spins counterclockwise, it might unthread itself when it stops.

Slowly get the phone up to speed, film something interesting, and then slowly ramp the speed down when you're done.

Step 10: Experiment

The only thing left to do is experiment.

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    39 Discussions

    To avoid that turning into a iphone launcher, you could make a hole for the phone with a router and that easy you will always have it centered. The you also will need a hole trough the whole plate to push the button on the phone.

    You could ask all the 'trolls' for links to THEIR projects so you can learn... Guess they can't read the be nice policy. (It is interesting to see the power of seeing something spinning that actually has the effect of making one dizzy or nauseated. But then it goes away when eyes closed. Mind over matter?)

    2 replies

    I often wonder about that. I think it boils down to the fact that they are just insecure about their own projects not being nearly as good as the thing that I have posted that they perceive as useless. It is basically just an overestimation of their own abilities, and underestimation of mine. I just wish they kept their pathos to themselves. It's unbecoming.

    Anyhow, I also built a machine to make these kaleidoscopic videos that if you watch for a long time will really through off you off. Stare it for a while, and then stare at a fixed object. The object will seem to keep spinning for a while:


    you could make a weighted base and have your drill shank run through a skateboard bearing to help offset the imbalance factor.

    yes adjusting frame rates and shutter speeds (not so flexible on iphone) then pointing it at other rotating objects could give pretty cool efects. Look up aliasing and the Nyquest Theorem for more ideas. Also, either moving the drill or offsetting the lens from the center of rotation then selecting very long exposures at night, could yield very interesting results.

    Neat idea, I look forward to a flood of barf inducing videos on YouTube. ;')

    One thing I don't understand is steps 2 & 3. You can buy velcro sanding pads with a built in drill attachment mandrel just about everywhere and they're cheap.
    The adapter seems unnecessary, and it adds weight and complexity to the end product, as well as adding a potential point of misalignment and vibration.

    1 reply

    When I was making this project I couldn't find one like that wide enough to provide enough surface area for the velcro. That is why ended up going with the adapter.


    Tip 13 days ago

    If you attach two phones or do some small counter mass adjustment the spin will smooth out, give a better rotating image and be less dangerous !

    It would be nice to find someone like Becky Stern to video graph a project right here in Reno :-)

    Cool instructable! I'm wondering though if you could maybe use this to create a slow tilt/rotation to transition into a dutch angle or something - that might have even more uses in video projects than a 360 spin. Would the drill work for that, you think?

    1 reply

    It wouldn't be ideal. You would need a much slower gear ratio. Most drill spin way too fast, even with speed control.


    15 days ago

    I could see this as a cheap way to film a plane crash

    One could also try using a strobe light

    I think it would also be interesting if you filmed a fan using this method.

    woooooooooooooooooo that is intense!!

    This would be an interesting shots but I cant think of why you would want to do this.

    5 replies

    Lately, as part of my art practice, I have been building machines which produce video effects using different optics and motions.

    Basically, I just wanted to see first-hand what happens when you spin a camera very fast. This was a very quick way to get there, and figured I would share it in case anyone else was curious.

    I'm currently building a much more refined machine for making video portraits in a similar manner.

    I'm not really sure why everyone is so upset over this project. There are much worse things in the world to be upset over. However, I guess I rather people be upset enough to respond than not respond in any way at all.

    Didn't mean to upset you. My comments intent was to get some 'thinking outside of the box' ideas for this project. Oops I guess I didn't project that correctly.

    Not offended. I just got a lot of comments calling this the most useless thing they ever saw. I was just happy to get a reasonable response asking about why I wanted wanted to do that. So, I decided to explain myself.

    A lot of people are limited by their imagination.

    Some people have more imagination and like to play with stuff just to see what it might do. Or not do. Not everything is for everyone.

    Ever watch the Batman TV series from the 60s? Many times they used the effect.

    Wow; and I remember when I thought octoscopes were the most awesome things for producing amazing effects...

    Definitely a great idea to experiment with.

    Wouldn't be an idea to add a counterweight? This could give a better video, and it makes handling this spinner more easy.