Have you ever seen those beautiful time lapses of clouds rolling over the sky or cars stopping and going on a busy intersection? This simple construction is for the casual smartphone photographer, without the money to buy an expensive camera and tripod but still enjoys creating the occasional work of art. The best part--it's made from scraps!
- Wooden Dowels (or really just any sticks. You could go outside and break a few from some trees and that could do the trick as well)
- Duct Tape (of course)
- Hot Glue
- Hot Glue Gun
- Water bottles
- Lid -- this is probably the vaguest part, but also the most important, since this is what holds the phone. I used a spray paint can cover, but you can also cut the bottom of a water bottle off and use that. The key is that you should be able to add slots to hold the phone in place.
Step 1: Building the First Side
Lay out the two sides for the first two legs and space them out however wide you need to in order to get the height that you are looking for.
Then, lay some more pieces along the middle and mark off the lengths between the two legs. Cut them to the marked length and tape together with duct tape.
Sure duct tape isn't exactly meant to fix a t-joint, but it gets the job done.
Step 2: Putting All the Legs Together
For the last leg, you want to make sure it is correctly spaced away from the first in order to get the tripod to stand correctly. Slight differences (~1-3 inches) won't ruin the project, because you can just trim the top of the tripod in order to flatten it out, but anything larger than that will throw it off balance.
Once again, join the legs as before, with horizontal beams taped to each leg. Each beam will necessarily be staggered either above or below the one directly next to it, because it makes taping easier.
Ultimately, you should have a project that can stand on its own.
Step 3: The Base
To make the base, cut out a few layers of cardboard and tape them together.
Lay it on the top of the tripod and mark out where you want to put holes in the base. Then, using any point object (I used scissors), put in the holes.
Then slide it over the and frame it on the tripod.
Framing this piece of the tripod is rather important. The phone will be placed on top of this surface, so making sure it is level is incredibly important. Break out your level if you have one. Or perhaps more appropriately, use any handy-dandy level app on the smartphone you will ultimately use to take the pictures. The iPhone has one built into its Compass app, and I'm sure there is a comparable one for Android-based devices.
Once you've gotten it level, hot glue the base to the tripod's legs.
Step 4: Adding Supports to the Legs
You might think that the legs are done at this point. However, one of the issues other DIY tripods might have is that they are too light and unstable to use in all conditions. This happens because the center of mass is too high, since it is concentrated on the top of the tripod, where the layered cardboard and smartphone rest.
To lower it, I've added empty water bottles to the bottom of each leg. By themselves, the bottom of the tripod is still quite light. However, they can be filled with water on site to bring the center of mass closer to the ground, making it less susceptible to tipping over from the wind or shaking from a stray footstep.
To make it, we need to first "waterproof" the legs. I say "waterproof" because its not necessary to actually prevent the wood from getting wet, just from getting soaked in water. It's also more economic to use the simpler solution of covering the leg in tape than to find a more effective waterproofing material, when the water is not likely to be in contact with the wood for all that long anyway.
Remove the cap and had a hole to the bottom of the bottle. Then slide the empty bottle on and mark off which area must be covered by tape.
Once it is taped, slide the waterbottle back on and hot glue the bottom.
NOTE: Hot glue, in retrospect, is not the ideal substance to plug any gaps in the bottle. It certainly works, if you use enough of it, but if you have access to it, finding a sealant or epoxy might work better.
Step 5: Finishing the Base
To finish up the base, we need to add the part that actually holds the phone. Like I said earlier, there are several objects that could accomplish this job, depending on the resources at hand.
One option is what I went with, which is the cover of a spray paint can. Cut slits the width of the phone into the side at one or several angles.
Another option is to use the bottom of a water bottle.
Or you could cut the bottom of a soda can.
Whatever it is you use, hot glue it flat to the base and that's it!