Introduction: PVC Camera and Light Mount

About: I am a Engineer-in-training who makes comic books, a Capella covers, and absurdly long scarves. I come in a variety of fabulous rainbow colors and have trouble not starting projects.

I've been wanting to do time-lapses of my art work for a long time, but never had the capacity to record any art I was doing non-digitally.  When I bought a webcam I thought I'd found the answer but I realized I never had the right angle.  
Because we're engineers and solving problems is what we do, my friend Silas Hughes and I designed and built a super simple mount for both my webcam and overhead light.

For this build I used 4' of 1/2" PVC, an L joint, a 4-way joint, a handfull of zip ties,  and a borrowed PVC cutter.

This build took me ~ 20 minutes and only cost about $6.  Super easy, right?

Step 1: Measure Twice...

The idea behind this design is that friction is your only fastener.  I live in a dorm room, so nails, bolts, screws, even tape can be a really bad idea.  What holds the PVC protrusion perpendicular to the wall in our design is a vertical portion of PVC which is sandwiched between the ceiling and shelf. This portion of PVC needs to be juuuust right.  Too long and it won't fit.  Too short and the whole contraption will fall over, useless and under-constrained.  

Step 2: Rotate and Tighten

There are a million and a half ways to cut PVC, many more dangerous than others.  The least dangerous and most practical way is with a PVC cutter.  It's a handy little device that looks like the bastard child of a c-clamp and a can opener.  You clamp it on where you want your PVC cut, tighten it down, rotate, tighten, rotate, tighten, and repeat until the PVC separates.  This makes for a nice clean cut with no nasty dust or sharp edges.  

Step 3: A Very Ugly Pipe

Join the L joint with your short piece of pipe by shear force of will.  You should have something that looks like a pipe most unworthy of Hobbit's Leaf.  

Step 4: Proper Planning

So, to be honest, I went out and bought my PVC without measuring any of the lengths required for proper dimensioning for this project.  I guesstimated.  Upon inspection, we came to realize that we would need the entirety of the remainder of the pipe to get out from the wall as far as desired.  This turned out to be just fine.  

Step 5: Stabilization

Next, cut off a length of pipe from the remaining long piece.  It's length is unimportant except that it needs to be shorter than your shelf is wide by at least the length of your 4-way joint.  
Join this new short piece to the L joint from the previous steps.
Put the 4-way joint on the other end of that such that it is orthogonal to the original pipe.  This acts as a stabilizer preventing roll.  If you had any extra length of pipe you would stick pieces in the side holes of this joint to further increase stability.  

Step 6: Finish the Pipe AssemblyD

Attach the remaining length of pipe and pose dramatically.

Step 7: Don't Break the Ceiling.

Very carefully shimmy the assembly into place making sure not to put any holes or dents in the ceiling.  Even if the pipe isn't perfectly vertical, it should be fine, it won't experience any extreme torques.  We put a bit of tape down over the pipe near the front of the shelf to keep it from wobbling side to side.  This could also be accomplished if your L joint had side-bars that pressed against the wall.

Step 8: Wire It Up!

Your webcam and light source can be easily secured to the pipe with a few intentionally placed zip ties.  

And that's how you do it!

Thanks for reading and please check out some of my other stuff at: