Most three to eight year olds are budding artists. They love to paint, draw and build. So why can't they be great photographers too? Maybe because cameras designed for kids don't actually work very well and who wants to splash out of a nice digital camera for their child when they are probably going to drop it all the time and end up breaking it in five minutes. Well, with a bit of Sugru and massive amounts of ingenuity your children can now become budding young photographers. By covering a camera with soft Sugru walls it can be made drop proof so even the most wild child wont be able to break it. The key to this hack is in the making of the walls. Once you've got that down its a doddle. Enjoy.
You will need:
1 x digital camera
1 x scissors
1 x child
Step 1: the original kids camera by Stefan
Step 2: Open your Sugru.
Start by washing your hands then cut open the Sugru that you need to build the wall. Cut along the red line and then pull open the two sides of the packet. You may need more than one sachet depending on the size of your wall but best to start with one as you can always add more (Sugru sticks really well to itself).
Step 3: Mould your Sugru.
Once your have your Sugru out of the packet move it around in your fingertips to get it warmed up. You should do this for around 10 seconds. Once this is done roll it into a thick sausage the length of your wall. The sausage should be about 1cm in diameter so make sure you use enough Sugru.
Step 4: Build your Sugru wall foundations.
First ensure that the surface you want to build on is clean. Next press down your sausage where you want your wall to sit. Make sure the bottom of the wall is firmly stuck to the surface but don't squish your sausage flat.
Step 5: Make your wall tall.
Next use your thumb and index finger tips to build up the wall from the base. Build your wall up from the bottom but keep a firm base so that your wall forms more of a vertical wedge with the wide base on the bottom. This helps keep the Sugru attached firmly to the surface.
Step 6: Finishing your wall.
You can get nice square sides by pushing with your fingertips with both hands. Use your fingers to gently smooth the surface of the Sugru to get a shiny finish. Leave your wall to cure overnight. Curing works best when the wall is left vertical. Now you have mastered the art of the Sugru wall you just need to place them in the right place on the camera.
Step 7: The Lens Wall
Building the lens wall is probably the most important parts of the hack. You build the Lens wall the same as you would build any Sugru wall but it is circular and has to be quite high (enough to cover the lens, roughly 4.5cm). Because of its height it is probably best to build it in two parts out of TWO sausages. Start by creating two sausages the same length as the circumfurence of the outside of the lens. Remember your sausages should be about 1cm in diameter to ensure a strong wall.
Step 8: The sausage foundations.
Place your first sausage round the lens ensuring the bottom edge is firmly stuck down. Turn on the camera so the lens comes out to ensure that your Sugru wall will not prevent it from extruding. Check this regularly while developing the wall. Put the lens down to carry on shaping the wall. Then squeeze the sausage like before to begin the formation of the wall. Only build the wall about half the size of the lens. It should be more squat than the wall you have tested with. This will be the foundations for creating your taller lens wall.
Step 9: Building up your wall.
Once you have created a foundation with your first sausage, use your other sausage of the same size and place it on top of the foundation wall. Then build up the wall in the same way as before until it is higher than the lens. Smooth over any join marks gently with your fingers to get a nice clean finish.
Step 10: Lens Wall Tip
I found that when building the lens wall, it would sometimes grows outwards rather then straight, if this happens just fold over the walls and push together to bring them in. Then smooth over the join with you fingers. Keep checking that the lens can open out properly. Continue to build up your wall until it is higher than your lens.
Step 11: Finishing your lens wall.
To finish your wall it is wise to strengthen the edge slightly as the lens needs a lot of protection. Fold over the edge slightly to give it a bit more thickness but make sure that it is still higher than the opened lens. Smooth the surfaces with your fingers but be gentle as to not damage your wall. Leave the camera on its back to cure so that the wall remains straight.
Step 12: Walls walls walls....
Now its just a case of covering the camera with enough walls so that if it is dropped from any angle it will be protected. These walls don't need to be quite as high as the lens wall. I would recommend going for about 2 cm. As this is a camera for kids it also seems like a good idea to use the full range of Sugru colors available. It is best to build up your walls a side at a time (top bottom, front and back) allowing the walls to cure overnight before starting another side. This ensures that you do not damage the walls you have already built while trying to build more. When leaving the walls to cure leave them vertical to help keep them straight. However, before you get wall building there are a few top tips that could really help you out......
Step 13: Extra Sugru
When building your main walls their will be times where you may have some leftover Sugru. Don't just drop it in the bin. Look around the camera, search for any small little vulnerable areas where your extra Sugru chunks could come in useful. It would be a shame to get to the end and realise that you need more Sugru after just letting some go to waste.
Step 14: Grip Tips
When building your walls it is worth keeping in mind how a child would hold the camera and how your walls could perhaps help direct and enhance their grip. Think about where their fingers would lie and then shape the walls accordingly. Remember that children have smaller fingers than you probably do.
Step 15: Functionality Tips
Because there are so many parts to a camera (such as buttons, dials, battery cases, etc) it is important that you do not cover them with your walls. Make sure your walls go around these elements so that the camera is fully functional once the hack is complete. However don't worry if you make a mistake, its not the end of the world, there are things you can do...
Step 16: The "OH NO I"VE RUINED IT ALL!" Tip
While constructing my camera I got a little carried away and didn't notice that I had built a wall covering the opening to the battery so I couldn't get to it. Fortunately, cured Sugru is removable and so mistakes can be amended. To remove just carefully tear away the Sugru from the surface. Any remaining Sugru can be scraped off using the back of your fingernails and finished off with some tissue paper. Panic over. Just try not to make the same mistake again.
Step 17: Finishing Touches.
There are a couple of nice finishing touches that can really make for some expert hacking. First add little bits of Sugru on the shutter button to make it easier to find and press amongst all those walls. Also a bit extra Sugru protection added to the edge of the lens wall gives it that little bit more protection and makes for a fancy finish.
Step 18: Checking your hack.
Once your think you are all done and have left your final walls to cure for 24 hours (this time is necessary for an aggressive use hack such as this) it is worth checking that you camera is fully protected before handing it over to the child. Check that there would be enough Sugru walls to protect the camera by pushing it into a table surface from every possible angle. If you are fully confident that your camera is covered then start doing drop tests beginning from a small height, I would recommend starting at 10 cm, and working your way up. Remember it is better to be safe than sorry so if in any doubt, build more walls.