Introduction: Making a Tripod Quick Release Plate

About: Jack-of-all trades, master of some. I would probably be much more modest if it wasn't for these delusions of granduer that I suffer from.

I was recently fortunate enough to acquire an Ender 3 Pro 3D printer. It is an absolutely awesome printer that is super easy to use.

The Printer arrives in a few pieces but goes together very easy. After I got done putting it together and doing the obligatory test printing to make sure it was proper set up and configured, I decided that it was time to start making things.

One of the first things I wanted to make was a replacement quick release plate for the one that was missing on a tripod that was given to me.

The only marking on the tripod is the brand name, Sakar. There was no model marking anywhere on the tripod that I could find.

Armed with that tiny bit of information I tried to find a premade 3D model to use. I did not have any luck. Although I have discovered several cool websites with tons of free 3D models in all sorts of topics.

If anyone is interested in the setup of the Ender 3 Pro (test prints and parts made to improve the performance and looks of the printer) either leave a comment on this IBLE or send me a message and I will write an IBLE for it. :)

Step 1: If at First You Fail ...

Looking at the quick release plate of my small tripod, it is sort of mushroom shaped when looking at the side profile.

What I failed to take into account is that the head of that tripod is a completly different shape than the head of the Sakar tripod. (Fail #1)

I took the basic dimension measurements of the area the plate was supposed to sit. I then reduced the measurements by 1.5mm on each side. That was way too much of a tolerance adjustment. (Fail #2)

Rather than making vertical grooves to account for the alignment tabs on either side I just added a taper on both sides to fit underneath the tabs. (Fail #3)

So in hind sight it was no suprise that the first plate I made did not fit very well at all.

Step 2: ... Design a Better Part

Having failed to find a premade design for the plate, and realizing my first attempt at making a plate would never be a useful part, it was time to get out the calipers and measure the heck out of the tripod head.

After I measured every part I could think of, It was time to draw a 3D model. There are lots of good, free modeling softwares available, I chose to use TinkerCAD

All of the measurements in this project will be in mm since the software I am using has metric as the default settings.

The bottom portion of the plate is 48mm x 42mm x 8mm

The notch on each side for the alignment tab is 8mm wide and 4.5mm deep into the side and it is slightly off center. 21mm from the back edge and 19mm from the front edge.

The crescent at the front of the plate to accomodate the quick release lever is a 26mm circle that is set into the front face 7mm deep. It is placed 3mm above the bottom of the front face, and it is 6mm high.

The empty space in the Bottomof the plate to accomodate the bolt to fasten the plate to the camera is 35mm x 30mm.

The top of the plate is 1mm wider than the base in each direction 50mm x 44mm x 5mm.

The hole for the fastening bolt is a 6mm hole centered in the top plate.

Attached to this step is the .STL file

Step 3: Slice It

There are several free options for slicer programs available, I chose to use Cura.

A slicer is a program that cuts your 3D model into very thin layers an provides that information to the printer so it can extrude the filament layer by layer to make you item.

This model is 13mm high. The printer is currently set to use a .2mm high layer (about as thick as 2-3 human hairs), so this small model is 65 layers high.

The layers in the pictures are color coded to show the different parts of the print.

Dark blue shows the path the printerhead will travel.

Light blue is support material, plastic that is there to support overhanging parts during printing, it will be removed from the final model once it is done.

Red and Green are the exterior and interior walls of the model. For this print I made the walls 3 layers thick.

Orange (in these picture it is hard to tell the difference between the yellow and the orange) is the infill material. Infill is used to provide structural support to the model without having to make it solid. I am using a 10% infill, so there is 90% open space inside the model between the interior and exterior walls)This pattern is called gyroid and it provides equal strength in all directions.

Yellow is the top and bottom layers of the print, so it is smoother than interior lines.

Attached to this step is the gcode file.

Step 4: Print

Once the model is sliced it is time to transfer it to the printer.

About 13 grams of filament (I used PLA) , and an hour later (depending on your printer settings) you have a quick release plate.

Step 5: Assemble

I used a 5mm drill bit to get the few fuzzy bits of filament out of the bolt hole.

Since I did not have a spare 1/4-20 bolt I took the bolt out of my little tripod quick release plate and used it for the Sakar.

Step 6: Ready to Use

The plate fits perfectly to my camera and holds it in place securely.

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