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If your vision’s not perfect it helps to have a good magnifying glass. I saw a commercial video magnifier – basically a small video camera on a swing arm which you connect to a television set and realized a DIY solution could be far better – using a webcam for far higher resolution than a television set.
An adjustable desk lamp which can be aimed down.
A webcam and computer display. It helps to have a large monitor.
A 1/4"-20 bolt, about 1.5 inches long.
A 1/4"-20 nut.
A 1/4"-20 free spinning washer nut.
The hardware is available at any decent hardware store for about $1.50.
This project is very similar to my swing-arm lamp, but fixed in a single position to optimize it for magnifying reading materials.
Step 1: Drill Hole
Drill a 1/4 inch hole in the lamp’s light shield. Clean any burrs out the hole.
You’ll want to place the hole in a place where the mounted webcam will face down toward the table.
Step 2: Insert Bolt
Insert the bolt into the hole you just made with the bolt sticking out. Screw the normal nut on top. You can glue the nut and bolt in place for a more permanent and stronger setup.
Step 3: Add Free Spinning Washer
Screw the free spinning washer on the bolt with the washer facing out.
Step 4: Attach Webcam
Screw the webcam on the bolt and tighten it in place with the free spinning washer.
Use a couple of bread twist-ties or nylon ties to attach the USB cable to the lamp to keep the cable out of the way. Make sure the cable won’t interfere with the lamp’s normal movements.
Install the webcam’s software on your computer.
Step 5: You're Done
Just run the webcam software in full screen mode and point the lamp down and put the material you want to read under it. The lamp can help illuminate the material. This is especially useful for reading fine print on maps, bus schedules, and similar fine print documents.
Make sure you check out my other instructables and web magazine for other interesting projects.