I recently bought a pico projector (Touch Pico Pond) and I was looking for a practical way to mount it to point down onto a table or various other surfaces to create a "smart board" where I wanted. I had already created a magnetic mount for other projects such as the Cake Tracer but the geometry presented a new challenge. I decided to bend a piece of steel that would enable a multitude of different orientations; as long as I can find a piece of metal to stick it to. The Neodymium magnets were harvested from old hard drives, and are powerful enough to stick to ceiling tile dividers, chandeliers, refrigerators, light fixtures, door frames ect. I also realized that I could use it as a video camera stabilizer (see last step).
Step 1: Items
First you will need a few things:
- An old hard drive
- A foot long piece of 3/4 inch flat steel
- Two rivets
- A half inch long bolt threaded for mounting hole in your device. A couple of nuts that fit. (the vast majority of tripods on earth have 1/4-20 studs. ALL DSLR's have 1/4-20. Larger video and motion picture cameras use the 3/8)
- A can of spray paint (optional)
Useful tools include:
- Drill press
- A set of torx drivers
- Flat head screw driver
Step 2: Harvest Magnets From Hard Drive
I am plagiarizing my own Cake Icing Tracer Projector here:
Warning, these magnets are VERY powerful and could pinch your fingers or break if you let them snap into each other. I removed about a dozen in an afternoon, and was paranoid that they would start self agglomerating on the table in front of me... The average household should have 3 old computers gathering dust, if you don't then someone you know does. They are unlikely to be worth anything, so you can go ahead and recycle them: but first, pull out the hard drives and harvest the magnets. All you need is a set of torx screwdrivers (which look like a six pointed star), and maybe some Philips head drivers as well depending on the brand of hard drive. Take off the cover by removing all the screws as well as a few that are likely hiding under stickers or labels. If the cover is not coming off then you likely missed one; rub the labels with the tip of the screwdriver until you find the divot where that last screw was hiding. Once you have the cover off you should find a metal bracket in one corner near the axle for the reader head (see the images). Remove any screws that may be holding the bracket in place and pry off the bracket. It will likely take a screwdriver to get it off because the magnets are very strong. Once you have removed the first magnet, you will see a second one looking back at you. Remove any screw and extract this one too; in fact the bottom one is usually more useful because its bracket is less protruding making it easier to use directly.
Step 3: Making the Magnetic Mount
I was lucky enough to find a bolt that fit perfectly into the socket of my projector/camera. The magnet is already on a piece of steel we can use to make a mount. The bolt head was thicker than the magnet so I filed it down so that the magnet was flush. I then drilled though the steel bracket, put the bolt through and added a nut to secure it into place. Carefully screw it into your projector/camera; don't overscrew as you may break through into the projector and smash something important. I used a second nut to ensure I had the right amount of protruding bolt.
Step 4: Bend Steel
The addition of a bent flat steel piece with a magnet attached at one end provides a number of mounting options for my projector. I was particularly interested in inventing a way to point the projector vertically, and this mount can latch onto suspended ceilings and any number of lighting fixtures and vents that may be lingering overhead.
All that is needed here is to:
- Cut the steel to about one foot length
- File the ends to have smooth rounded edges, a little sanding will help make a nice finish with the paint.
- Bend the first end to 2.5 inches at a 90 degree angle
- Bend the other end in two 1 inch sections, the first at 70 degrees and the second at 90 degree. The reason for the two bends, is that it provides more flexibility on the angle. Particularly when you are trying to avoid losing some of your projection to the ceiling.
- Drill two holes that match the holes in the magnet mount and of the diameter of the rivets. You may have to widen the holes in the mount as well.
- Rivet the magnet
Step 5: Paint
This is optional, but I am a sucker for finishing up with a little spray paint.
First, sand and clean the surface with a damp cloth. Follow the instructions on the spray can (shaking, distance, time between coats, number of coats). I added racing stripes by using some decal stickers carefully placed after the first coat, make sure to flatten them well to seal out the next coat. Apply the second color liberally on all surfaces. Once you have the desired amount of coats, carefully peel off the decal strips to reveal the stripes. This is such a great feeling!!
Step 6: Video Camera Stabilizer
I don't know of any similar mount available on the market, so I thought maybe there could be other uses. One of those uses was as a camera stabilizer. With a very low center of gravity and a high fulcrum, you get a more smooth movement while filming. Just hang the mount off the end of your finger and attach a heavy metal object from the magnet and voila: shots that Spielberg would be proud of.
Please let me know if you have made one of these or something similar in the comments below, I am curious whether anyone else will find this useful.