Introduction: Digital Document Camera Stand

One of my many hobbies is genealogy. I go to a lot of courthouses for research, and inevitably need to copy large documents. I also digitize old records for our counties genealogy society. I purchased a good quality digital camera(20 megapixel with antishake) that can get a decent image of as large as an entire newspaper layout if needed. However, holding the camera manually for digitizing 800 page ledgers didn't work so well. I suppose there are commercial stands out there, but I have always tended to DIY. I kept the design and construction pretty simple, and as small as possible. The size is important mostly because of todays paranoia with security. Whatever I try to carry into a courthouse has to be very unimtimidating and transparent. I also purchased a remote(cable) to trip the shutter, it is fast, and I don't bump the camera doing it.

I apologize for the finished images above, as my good camera is in the pictures and my phone camera leaves a lot to be desired, but mostly my age is the culprit(shaking).

Step 1: Base

Although it looks a little flimsy, the simple two "feet" design is adequate for the load of the camera, and provides clearance for documents up to 28". I used 1 1/2" x 3/8" for the feet, bottom and upright. The braces are 1" x 1/4".

The actual piece lengths are not critical, so build to fit your own personal needs. The one I built is a little taller than some might need, and was based on the zoom out limitation of my camera. Experimentation here beforehand will be of benefit.

I countersunk holes for screws to fasten the 3/8" material for the bottom to upright, and bottom to feet joints. I used a micropin(23gauge) nailer to attach the braces since they were smaller.

Step 2: Camera Arm

The design of the camera arm was based on the need to extend, tilt, and secure the camera with standard 1/4-20 threads. My solution was to cut a ready rod and drill a very tight clearance hole length ways through the 3/8" material. I cut out part of the arm specifically to make the drilling easier. The T knob and star knobs are standard off the shelf 1/4", I got mine at Woodsmiths. The T knob is locknuted to the ready rod and is used to screw the rod into the camera mount snugly. The star knob is then tightened against the arm end which pulls the camera tight against the arm(be sure the camera is level by centering the feet in the camera viewfinder.

The yoke at the top of the upright is made from the same material as the upright, and is pretty self explanatory. The extra holes in my pictures are left over from earlier experimentation. The slot for extension in the camera arm is about 3" long, again build to your specific needs. I find that I haven't used it yet. I DO use the tilt adjustment everytime, as the parallax is very apparent if your camera is not centered vertically on the document.

I have used it for several thousand documents already, happy with it.