Introduction: Left-Handed Camera Adapter
A modular camera adapter designed to allow a user to easily manipulate and activate a camera using only the left hand. This system is compatible with any point-and-shoot camera, and was originally designed for a user with right-side paralysis who needed focus and shoot capabilities with the left hand.
Step 1: Material List
3D printed Slider (STL file attached)
Additionally, in case you desire to adjust the CAD files or 3D print/laser cut components that we manufactured using different methods, we are providing (attached) the full SolidWorks assembly containing models of all components for the device.
Step 2: Tools and Machines Used
Box and Pan Brake (sheet metal bending machine)
Phillips Head Screw Driver
220 Grit Sandpaper
Step 3: Print the Slider
3D print the slider with the STL file attached to the materials list. We used a Stratasys Objet with PLA plastic and a removable support material in order to achieve the fine detail needed for the interior threads. Make sure to scrape off the support material thoroughly to allow the slider to glide smoothly. If using a lower-resolution printer, it may be better to print a larger hole and press or glue in a metal threaded insert. You can also try printing the slider and interior threads with very high infill (above 60%) and a very small layer height (1/4 the diameter of the printer nozzle).
Step 4: Drill or Lathe the Bolt
Use a drill or lathe to hollow out the ⅜”-16, 2”long threaded rod. The interior diameter of the hollow rod should be 0.23”, so that it fits securely around the end mechanical shutter release cord. We used a lathe to tap and then drill out a bolt, but with a secure enough fixture it could also be done on a drill press. Make sure to peck drill to avoid material build-up inside.
Step 5: Glue Thumb Nut Onto Bolt
Screw the ⅜” thumb nut onto one end of your hollow ⅜” threaded rod; use superglue to attach it permanently in place.
Step 6: Drill Holes Through Handle
The first hole will go through the finger grips, towards the top of the handle. This hole will house the shutter release button (which you use to activate the camera), so angle the hole in accordance with the most comfortable button placement such that you can hold the handle and push the button with one hand. We decided to angle the button downward about 7 degrees from horizontal. The hole should be 0.25” in diameter all the way through the handle. Then, an additional hole should be drilled overlapping the original hole only on the front side (i.e. the side with the finger grips where the button will be located) with a 0.4" drill bit. This allows the larger button system to slot into the front of the handle while the thinner cord comes out the back.
The second hole, for the purpose of connecting a side bracket, is on the top section of the handle above the downward angled button. The hole should be 0.25” from the top and 0.2” from the edge on the side with the finger grips. Drill through with a #9 drill bit (0.1960”), so it creates a tight fit for a 10-32 screw.
Step 7: Cut the C-clamp Parts to Size on Bandsaw, Drill Screw Holes on Drill Press
Use a bandsaw to cut the 1"x1/2" Delrin rod to the appropriate lengths, and to cut out the slots/end teeth on the three C-clamp bars; then use a drill press to drill the holes for screws and magnets. The dimensioned drawings are attached for each of the three pieces listed below.
(General note: If you want to thread the holes currently marked as 0.1440", use a #36 drill bit to make clearance holes, then go back in with a 6-16 tap. It is likely easiest to make these holes on the C-clamp top and C-clamp side piece at the same time, by first bandsawing the pieces into their proper shapes and then slotting them together with clamps to drill through both at once.)
1. C-clamp top (NOTE: To cut on bandsaw, rotate piece slightly as you approach the end, as pictured.)
2. C-clamp side (NOTE: 0.25” holes should only be drilled 3mm deep - these are for placing the magnets.)
3. C-clamp bottom (NOTE: 0.25” holes should only be drilled 3mm deep - these are for placing the magnets.)
Step 8: Make Brackets (Delrin & Metal) Using Bandsaw and Drill Press
1. Outer bracket: Use a bandsaw to cut sheet metal to size, then a machine or clamp set-up to fold it, then a drill press to drill the two screw holes.
2. Inner brace: Use a bandsaw to cut the 1"x1/2" Delrin rod to length, then drill on the drill press - as with the C-clamp pieces, the 0.25” holes should only be 3mm deep to fit the magnets. The 0.1440” holes should be about 0.5” deep. (Note that the rounded corner is mainly for comfort and aesthetics, so the radius of curvature is arbitrary - it can be done using a power sander.)
3. Side brackets (X2): Like the outer bracket, use a bandsaw to cut sheet metal to size and a drill press to cut the screw holes.
Step 9: Assemble: Glue Magnets
Glue the rare earth magnets into the shallow holes drilled for the magnets on the C-clamp bottom, C-clamp side, and inner bracket pieces. We used a small dollop of superglue to secure each magnet into place.
Check that they align and the poles are mated correctly such that the magnets on the C-clamp bottom will lock with those on the bottom of the C-clamp side, and those on the flat face of the C-clamp side will lock to those on the inner bracket. (The magnets on the flat face of the C-clamp side should face inwards when everything is assembled.)
Step 10: Assemble: Attach Inner Brace and Outer Bracket
Screw the inner brace and exterior bracket onto c-clamp bottom piece, using two 6-32, 1”-long screws screwed in from the bottom. You may want to use a small clamp to hold the inner bracket in place to make sure it doesn’t twist out of place when screwing the pieces together.
(Note: The outer bracket shown has an extension piece that is not necessary for the device, thus we are only providing specs for an L-shaped bracket)
Step 11: Assemble: Attach C-Clamp Bottom to Handle
Attach C-clamp bottom piece to handle using the two side-brackets. (Note: For this prototype, we only used two of the three screw holes shown in the dimensioned drawings.) Use three 10-32, 1.5” long screws, securing them with hex nuts on the opposite end; you can also use epoxy or superglue to hold the ends of the handle and the C-clamp bottom firmly together.
Step 12: Assemble: Put Together the Slider
Insert ¼”-20, 1.5” long square-neck screw into slider: the square hole on the bottom of the slider locks into place with the square neck of the screw, helping it hold in place. If it’s loose, you can also add a ¼” nut on the inside to lock it in place.
Then, screw ¼” thumb nut onto the bolt on the top of slider. This thumb nut will be used to lock the slider in place, so do NOT permanently attach it to the bolt.
Step 13: Assemble: Attach C-Clamp Top (With Slider) to C-Clamp Side
Insert slider into C-clamp top piece, with the screw and nut end facing the open end of the C-clamp top.
Once the slider is in place, screw C-clamp top piece (with the slider in it) to the C-clamp side piece, using two 6-32 1”-long screws. We screwed one in from each side so that the heads of the screws did not interfere with each other.
Step 14: Assemble: Cord and Handle
Thread shutter release cord through handle, so that the button sits near the top of the finger grips.
(Note: If you would like to disable the locking mechanism of the mechanical shutter release's button, you can push down and twist the base of the button and super glue it in that orientation to prevent button locking. Be careful not to let the glue reach the long button shaft, which could prevent the button from pressing down.)
Step 15: Assemble: Cord, Rod, and Slider
Push shutter release cord into z-axis bolt, so the tip of the chord sticks out from the opposite end of the thumb nut. It should be a tight fit: the metal neck of the cord (circled in the picture) should grip the inside of the threaded rod. You can glue the metal neck to the inside of the bolt if necessary.
Lastly, screw the z-axis bolt, with the shutter release cord inside it, into slider. This bolt can now be screwed up and down to adjust the z-axis of the device.
Step 16: You Have a Camera Adapter!
You can fit the top c-clamp into the base via the magnetic connection for full assembly
(Note: If it is a tight fit, use sand paper to sand down the back of the c-clamp top until it is easy to put in and take out. A tight fit will make it significantly more challenging for an individual who can only use one hand to work with it.)
Step 17: How to Set It Up:
1. Pull out the top piece c-clamp from the base so that the magnets unlock.
2. Screw the camera to the base, using the handle's thumb screw to tighten it securely. Make sure the camera button is on the side with the long base extension.
3. Snap the C-clamp together using magnetic joint.
4. Adjust the axes in the order most comfortable for you. The adjustments needed are as follows:
a) Adjust the z-axis by rotating the bolt until the mechanical shutter release is within a comfortable range to focus and shoot the camera.
b) Loosen the thumb nut on the top slider to slide along x-axis. Position the slider so that the mechanical shutter release bolt is directly above the camera button, then tighten down thumb nut to lock the slider in place.
c) Adjust the camera in the xy plane by loosening the camera slightly from the handle, twisting the camera to the desired location, and tightening the handle again. This adjustment is only necessary if the shutter release is not aligned with the camera button along the y-axis.
5. Once the shutter release bolt is directly over the camera button, turn on the camera and press the handle button to take a picture with your left hand!