Introduction: Turn Your Cellphone Into a Document Camera

About: Teacher of Engineering and Mathematics at Cedar Grove High School

As the proverb goes, 'Necessity is the mother of invention.' Last March, when the school buildings closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, I found myself struggling to provide meaningful demonstrations for my students as I taught from my basement. Holding breadboards and Arduinos up to the camera on my Chromebook wasn't cutting it and I found it difficult to hold my phone as I demonstrated concepts during class.

Looking around my basement for a solution, I found an old microphone stand sitting in the corner. At first I tried taping my phone to the stand. This was an utter disaster. My phone would slip, it was a pain to change angles, and I had trouble seeing the screen while it was taped to the boom arm of the microphone stand.

I turned to Tinkercad and developed a solution. I designed, printed, and installed a cellphone holder capable of attaching to the end of a microphone stand. I was able to easily reposition the holder during my varied demonstrations, center my phone over my notebook during note-taking activities, and steadily mount my phone while I recorded asynchronous lessons. This was a game changer.

I've used this cellphone holder every day during my virtual and hybrid teaching schedule. I even traded the music teacher a copy of the cellphone holder for an additional microphone stand so I could have a cellphone mount at school for hybrid instruction and another at home for our virtual instruction days.

I hope you find this build as useful as I have.

Stay well.


1 boom microphone stand with microphone clip

4 rubber bands

3-D Printer. I used the Lulzbot Taz 6, but any 3D printer with PLA should work

PLA filament

Tinkercad app for 3D design

Step 1: Measure Your Cellphone and Microphone Clip.

Did you know that microphone clips come in two styles? Neither did I. I found this out as I was designing a second cellphone holder using a different brand of microphone stand. The microphone clip I had in my basement straddled the base that attaches to the boom arm of the stand (red version). The second microphone clip I used was the opposite, the base straddled the mic clip (black version). A few quick measurements and adjustments to the attached Tinkercad file will guarantee that your holder will attach to any brand of microphone stand and will hold any size cellphone. The cellphone pictured is an iPhone 8 in a protective case.

I included both versions in my Tinkercad design file, as well as a larger one designed to fit a iPhone 7+.

Step 2: Adjust the Tinkercad Design File

Dismantle the microphone clip on the stand and measure the diameter of the mounting screw, width of the clip insert, and gap in the mounting base. Next, adjust the length of the phone bed and side rails according to the dimensions of your phone. The files in Tinkercad can easily be adjusted to meet these new specs. Be sure to adjust all of the interlocking pieces or they will not fit.

Step 3: Print and Assemble the Cellphone Mount.

I printed the cellphone mount out of PLA using my Lulzbot Taz 6 printer. I set my printer to 20% infill and included supports. The bottom of the cellphone mount has two small rails to keep the sides from opening too far and slipping off. I printed the supports at 15% and they were easily removed. Pushing the sides onto the base takes a little force in order to make it past the security rails on the bottom of the design. But once on, the sides will not slip off (see video). Lastly, install the rubber bands on the completed design. These help keep the phone from slipping out of the mount.

Step 4: Connect the Microphone Clip to the Cellphone Mount and Attach to the Stand

I tightened the mounting screw as much as I could before attaching the cellphone mount to the end of the boom arm of the microphone stand. This still allows for movement of the cellphone mount while preventing it from slipping out of place on its own.

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