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MAKE Volume 27 $30 Mobile Document Camera Stand

One of the hardest aspects of documenting a project build solo is getting those clear overhead process shots while you work. Our own Adam Flaherty offers up his solution in the newest issue of MAKE, Volume 27. From his intro:

Hollywood grips solve this problem with what is known as a gobo arm, a lightweight mount that lets you position your smartphone (webcam, etc.) down where the action is without getting in the way. Commercial units run $100–$150, not including the $30 clamp you attach it to. But for the price of one of those fancy clamps, you can piece together your own Mobile Document Camera Stand using easily sourced parts. It’s easy. If you can make cuts with a hacksaw, you can build this project.

Adam’s project is one of six from Volume 27 that we’re sharing on our DIY wiki, Make: Projects. Check it out below in snapshot mode, and head over to the site for a more robust version. And after you build your gobo arm, you’ll be all set up to share your next build with us on Make: Projects. We’ll keep our eyes open for it.


From the Pages of MAKE

MAKE 27MAKE Volume 27, Robots!
The robots have returned! MAKE Volume 27 features a special package with robotics projects for every age and skill level. They play music; they outwit your pets; they learn from their mistakes! In addition, we’ll show you how to build a special aquarium to keep jellyfish, create pre-Edison incandescent lighting, spy via the internet, and make a go-anywhere digital message board! All this and much, much more, in MAKE Volume 27.

On newsstands July 26! Buy or Subscribe

Goli Mohammadi

Goli Mohammadi

I’m a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

I was an editor for the first 40 volumes of MAKE. The maker movement provides me with endless inspiration, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. Covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made.

Contact me at snowgoli (at) gmail (dot) com.


  • http://twitter.com/adfm Adam Flaherty

    Oddly enough, I noticed that they use similar articulated arms all over the ISS while I was researching that SPHERES post from earlier today. These things are handy for more than just shooting video or taking a photo. This particular version isn’t suited for anything larger than a tiny point-and-shoot, but there are plenty of times where an extra hand could be useful. Just remove the tripod mount and attach an alligator clip or clamp to hold something in place where you need it. Use a “curved disc spring” instead of an internal tooth lock washer and you’ll get a smooth variable friction joint.

  • http://twitter.com/adfm Adam Flaherty

    Oddly enough, I noticed that they use similar articulated arms all over the ISS while I was researching that SPHERES post from earlier today. These things are handy for more than just shooting video or taking a photo. This particular version isn’t suited for anything larger than a tiny point-and-shoot, but there are plenty of times where an extra hand could be useful. Just remove the tripod mount and attach an alligator clip or clamp to hold something in place where you need it. Use a “curved disc spring” instead of an internal tooth lock washer and you’ll get a smooth variable friction joint.

  • Anonymous

    I have a couple of different versions that I use with my phone.  The first is a ring stand that you may recall using to heat beakers of water over a bunsen burner in chemistry class.  If I move the ring to its highest position and set the phone on the ring, a piece of notebook paper just fills the frame on my Droid.  I teach chemistry so I have access to loads of these, but I bet you could order a ring stand and an iron ring online for less than $30.

    The other version is an LED magnifying light.  It has a large round magnifying glass and a light to illuminate your specimen mounted on a spring tension arm.  I got it at Office Max for about $60.  Because the magnifier is large and basically flat in the middle, the tiny lens on my phone is not terribly affected by the curvature so no magnification or blurring occurs when I align the camera lens with the central axis of the magnifier.  It allows me to position the camera higher above the table than the ringstand.  With the LED’s there is not need to rely on ambient light.  Furthermore, I can use it as a magnifier.

    I didn’t even need a hacksaw.