It has happened to everyone. You’re surfing social media, minding your own business and cursing the rich and fulfilling lives that everyone on your friends list seems to lead, while you consider arranging the food from your microwaved dinner onto a plate and passing it off as home cooked when you see it. A video, of an animal doing something cute or a kid saying something silly, pops up on your feed. You click it, settling in for 60 seconds of viral hilarity, only to be greeted with video shot in portrait mode. Why? You say to yourself. Why would anyone think portrait mode is an ideal way to shoot video? Shooting video in portrait mode is like saying “irregardless” instead of “regardless,” so many people do it without even realizing that is slowly killing our souls.
While senior mechanical engineering student at University of Maryland, College Park (UMD) Ethan Reggia claims that he created his 3D printable Universal Smartphone Tripod Mount for use in his Engineering Information Technology (EIT) classes, we all know the truth. He’s really just attempting to save us from ourselves. His tripod mount, wisely, only holds smartphones in landscape mode, the way that the cats of the interwebs intended. Of course his tripod mount has plenty of other, nearly as important, features that make it a pretty great device. For starters, it can be mounted onto any size or brand tripod, be it a large full-size model, or one of those small pocket models. Reggia specifically needed something versatile that could be used with all sorts of tripods, mainly because he needed to be able to film a wide variety of subjects.
“At the university, I do a lot of work with a course called ENES100 – Introduction to Engineering Design. We have 10 Replicator 2 3D printers available in the labs where the teams work, that they get to use directly. A colleague and I do the maintenance on the printers, develop CAD homework, and also record videos to teach the students CAD and how to use the 3D printers. We do a lot of filming for the educational videos used in the course, and we’ve started using phones to do a lot of the filming, because it simplifies the process a lot. Up until recently, we’ve basically been stacking chairs and chunks of wood to place the phone correctly, and I’ve wanted to find the time to make something like this for a while, but this semester, we’ll be recording more interactions with the students, and it became worthwhile to design something we could make readily to use in those situations,” Reggia told me via email.
Reggia scoured Thingiverse looking for tripod mounts, hoping to find an idea to solve his problem. While he found several nice designs, none of them were entirely 3D printed and none of them seemed to do what he needed them to do.
But he had an idea to make his own using a tensioning mechanism similar to the way vernier calipers work. This would allow him to 3D print the entire device and create discrete locking points that required minimal spacing. Reggia took his idea to SketchUp and got to work designing his own smartphone tripod mount.
“My account on Thingiverse explains my intent for most designs: ‘Every part I design is intended to be as printer-friendly as possible, and is specifically designed for the MakerBot Replicator 2, as that is the printer I use most frequently.’ So it prints without support material, or gaps in the thin walls, and any part I post, I always print it, and use it for a while to make sure there are no obvious problems,” Reggia explained.
The three PLA parts of Reggia’s design printed easily on his personal MakerBot Replicator 2 in under three hours. The soft, NinjaFlex jaws that are used to grip on to the smartphone took him about two hours. The device that he uploaded to Thingiverse is actually the second iteration of his tripod mount, so it has already been pretty heavily tested and improved. So far Reggia reports that the mount has worked perfectly with every make of smartphone that they’ve tested it with. And, it should be noted, all of the videos made for his class have been filmed as they should be, in landscape mode.
You can download your own tripod mount and the instructions to print and build it directly from Thingiverse. Let us know if you’ve 3D printed this mount in the 3D Printed Tripod Forum thread on 3DPB.com.