The iPhone 4 shoots some really impressive HD video but I want to be able to mount it on a tripod. I’ve seen some solutions for $30 and up but I’m a DIY-minded guy. I wanted to see if I could build something functional for much less. I knew it wasn’t going to win any design awards and would probably be ugly but all I was looking for was something that would do the job.
A quick trip down to my local Loews hardware emporium yielded the solution. A twin pack of free spin washered nuts as the tripod mount and a 2.5″ x 1.5″ corner bracket (Plus I had to pick up some Loctite Weld epoxy for another project but I knew it would work for this one as well).
The washered nuts are basically a nut pre-attached to a washer (duh). 1/4″-20 size is the same size as a tripod screw (1/4″ is the diameter, 20 is the threads per inch). Using a file (or you can use sandpaper) you scuff up the washer side of the nut and the space underside the corner bracket to help ensure the best bonding. With a toothpick, mix a tiny amount of Loctite on the back of some old cardboard (or something you can throw away) and stick the washered nut to the bracket. I didn’t realize it in the store but the washered nuts I bought were free spinning so I put enough Loctite around the base of the nut where it meets the washer to affix it in place. It sets fast so you have about 3 minutes after mixing the epoxy so work swiftly. You still want it to set overnight for the best bond so clamp it and move to the next step.
I knew I’d be using an old silicone iPhone case I had for my 2nd Gen iPhone to actually hold the phone in place. With an Xacto blade I carved the camera hole out a bit more to accommodate the iPhone 4’s lens placement and LED flash. In retrospect, I should have used a small pair of scissors to cut the hole because it came out a bit rough looking like I used a chainsaw. Again, not going for aesthetics here, just a proof of concept. Like I said, I already had this silicone case so that saved me a few bucks. If you don’t have one lying around, you can get them for about $2 nowadays.
Next, I first tried Gorilla Glue to adhere the silicone iPhone case to the Zinc coated corner bracket but that didn’t work so well so instead I used some DAP silicone sealant which worked like a charm. I clamped that into place and let it sit overnight. The next morning I unclamped my tripod mount, gave everything a good hard tug to make sure all my bonds were solid.
So yes, if you add in the cost of having to buy some Loctite epoxy, DAP silicone sealant and some kind of silicone iPhone case the initial outlay would be more than $5. However with some stuff I had lying around and some Loctite which will get a lot more use around the house, I built a functional iPhone tripod mount for $5.
Next up… I’m going to build a small handheld grip out of PVC then I have plans for a small teleprompter, the kind where you shoot through a piece of beam splitting glass that will use my old iPhone. If and when I get those done, I’ll post some pics.
UPDATE: Here is my prototype iPhone mini-teleprompter box.
Mark Yoshimoto Nemcoff is the bestselling author of several books including: “The Killing of Osama Bin Laden” and “Where’s My F*cking Latte? (and Other Stories About Being an Assistant in Hollywood)”