Step 1: Find a CAD Model of the Samsung Galaxy S3
Step 2: Start Designing
I'll apologize right now for the vagueness of this step. It is time to let your creativity flow!
The goal of my design was to hold the phone in a stable position while allowing it to rotate around a vertical axis that goes through the camera. I also wanted to be able to mount it on a tri-pod in addition to being using it on a tabletop.
Since this was my first 3D printing project I wanted to have a little fun and incorporate some of the freedom of design that you are given with 3D printing. I typically design machine parts that are milled on a CNC and have to obey the design laws that go along with that method of manufacturing.
Step 3: Iterate.....many Times
Step 4: Make It!
I chose to make my model out of the white strong and flexible nylon, which is laser sintered. I was impressed with the surface finish of the parts. They are slightly textured, but I was expecting the layers to be more noticeable.
I immediately noticed that I made the walls of the phone holder portion too thin. I guess I'll need to add some more support structure for the next revision.
Step 5: Some Assembly Required
I bought (3) 1/4" diameter ball bearings from the hardware store. There is 1 ball bearing at the tip of each arm of the phone holder to give it a smooth rotation (like a lazy susan). I also bought a 1/4-20 threaded insert from the hardware store for the center of the base. I cut down the length of the threaded insert using a dremel and a cut-off wheel. The theaded insert will do double duty. A bolt will thread into it from the top to hold down the phone holder. You can also thread into it from the bottom to mount it on a tripod.
On the bottom of each arm tip there is a hemisphere cutout for the ball bearings. The center has a thru hole for a bolt to pass through and hold the holder to the base. I had to very carefully drill out the center hole so that the bolt fits freely though the hole. The bolt is only meant to hold the two pieces together, but still allow the top portion to rotate freely, so don't tighten it down too much.
The mount for the phone doesn't hold on to the phone as planned. In revision 2 I'll have to wrap the corners around further to the front of the phone and stiffen up the cradle and the supports. For now a little double sided tape will work to try it out.
Step 6: Summary and the Next Revision
I've tested my finished product out and compared panoramic pictures taken with and without the fixture of the same scenes. Does the fixture help? A little. Was it fun to make? Absolutely! The pictures that I have taken are connected together more seamlessly. However, they are less focused. When I rotate the phone I can see it shaking. I'll post some pictures soon. I'm trying to get some good horizon pictures, but haven't had much luck yet (I accidentally deleted some and other nights it's been too cloudy and there wasn't a good sunset). So my final conclusion is that this could be a very handy tool to have with some more refinement on the design.
Upgrades for Revision 2
- Add ribs to stiffen up the supporting arms that connect the phone holder to the base. This will keep the phone from bouncing around while the picture is being taken.
- Add ribs to strengthen the phone holder.
- Lengthen the 'Fingers' on the phone holder corners so that they wrap around to the front of the phone. The material is flexible enough that you should be able to snap the phone into the holder.
- Make the design into one printed part rather than two parts that need assembly. From what I've read 3D printing is completely capable of printing moving parts. Printing the bearings, center connector and tri-pod thread could result in an instantly ready to use fixture rather than requiring extra time to assemble and running the risk of breaking something in the process.