When I got my iPhone 5, I was excited to try out the new panorama mode for the camera. I soon realized my hand was pretty shaky, so I googled panorama tripod mounts and found out they were way too expensive, so I set out to build one for about $10 worth of junk at Home Depot.
Full disclosure: I did get some inspiration from Bill Smith: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uG4XNmtn9nY
About 18" of 1x2 maple ($1.03 per foot)
1/4"-20 bolt 3 1/2" long ($0.24)
1/4"-20 "insert nut" ($3.92 for pack of 4) (more on this later)
One washer ($0.11)
Two 1 1/4" drywall screws (sitting at home, but cheap if you have to buy them)
Crazy glue ($5.77 for pack of 12)
Total materials used on this project: $3.36
Hammer and chisel (router would have been better)
Drill and various drill bits
Step 1: DIY IPhone 5 Panorama Tripod Mount
I had this little tripod laying around which seems to work well for the project. It should in theory work for a full size tripod as well. The standard tripod screw is 1/4"-20 which I believe means it's 1/4" in diameter with 20 threads every inch. The insert nuts I got matched this so that any tripod should fit.
Step 2: DIY IPhone 5 Panorama Tripod Mount
Here are the insert nuts I bought. Home Depot had them in stock. Basically it's a metal sleeve with threads on the inside and spikes on the outside. You drill a hole in a piece of wood and hammer one of these things in so you can screw stuff into wood.
Step 3: DIY IPhone 5 Panorama Tripod Mount
On to the building. Cut the wood into 3 identical pieces. Mine were about 5 inches each to start, but I trimmed them down later. For the top piece, I traced the bottom of my iPhone case onto the wood and chiseled it out. A router would be much faster and easier, but I don't own one. If you have means to fabricate metal or plastic for this piece, I'm sure those would work as well. You are just aiming to get something that can hold the iPhone and case vertically without much wiggle room.
Step 4: DIY IPhone 5 Panorama Tripod Mount
For the middle piece, you have to drill a hole in it with a 1/4" inch bit. You want this piece to spin freely around the 1/4" bolt. As you can see from the picture, it's pretty far off-center. You want to align the hole you drill with the camera on your iPhone for optimum panorama-taking.
I drilled the 1/4" hole, then used a larger bit to create a countersink for the bolt so it would not interfere with the top piece of wood.
Step 5: DIY IPhone 5 Panorama Tripod Mount
Use the hole you drilled in the middle piece to line up the hole in the bottom piece and drill straight through with the 1/4" bit. Then on the bottom of the bottom piece, use a larger drill bit (I think I needed 3/8") to create a spot for the insert nut. Only drill as deep as you have to to get the nut flush with the bottom. The insert nuts I had were about 1/2" long, so I ended up with the 3/8" wide hole being about 1/2" deep, then the rest of the way up through the bottom piece was only 1/4" wide.
Go ahead and hammer the insert nut into the spot you just created for it. This is where you will attach the tripod.
Next on to assembly. I can't take it apart, so I don't have pictures.
Put the 3.5" bolt down through the countersunk top of the middle piece, through a washer, into the top of the bottom piece, and out through the insert nut. You should have a bunch of extra bolt now sticking out the bottom. Measure how long this excess is, then take it all back apart again. Use a hack saw to cut the distance you measured plus about 3/8" off of the bottom of the bolt. The idea is to reassemble everything and still have about 3/8" of threading left in the insert nut for you to use for the tripod.
Dry fit everything back together and tighten the bolt. See that everything lines up and there's enough room left in the insert nut to attach a tripod. Then slightly loosen the bolt so that the two pieces can rotate. My loosening was less than 1/4 of a turn. With the bottom piece facing up, put a few drops of crazy glue down into the insert nut. Turn the bolt a little bit to get the glue onto it then put it right back in that slightly loosened position. Screw the piece of excess bolt you cut off into the insert nut and then remove it to make sure no crazy glue seals up the threads there. The goal of this gluing is to bond the top few threads of the insert nut with the bolt. Give it 10 mins to dry. Now the bolt should be fixed to the bottom piece via the insert nut and should not be able to rotate at all. The middle piece should spin around the bolt. The bottom and middle pieces can no longer be separated.
Step 6: DIY IPhone 5 Panorama Tripod Mount
Use a pair of drywall screws to attach the top piece to the middle piece now. Predrill so you don't split the wood. I chose not to use glue - if I get a new case for my phone, I can just unscrew this top piece and make a new one.
I used the mitre saw again to slice 1/16" of of each end, just to straighten them up.
Step 7: DIY IPhone 5 Panorama Tripod Mount
I also recommend downloading a bubble level app for your iPhone. You can use your phone to make sure your tripod is level before starting your panorama.
Then simply start up your camera, enter panorama mode and rotate it around in a circle.
Hope this helped someone out there - I can't believe no one sells a little device like this yet.