Monday, February 18, 2013

Inexpensive Video Camera Sun Shield Project

Of all the times that I have tried to video something outside I always find it hard to see what I am looking at using the flip out screen on my video camera.  The sun 99 times out of 100 will wash out the screen and it is just a matter of luck that I get the shot that I want to get even if I do try to shoot it.  So over the past couple of days I played around with an idea that was stirring in my head to solve this problem using my 3D printer.  The new attachment had to be light weight, easy to store when not in use, and also inexpensive. Plus it had to not look clunky on my video camera when I was using it. A tall list to be sure. So here is what I came up with. 

 The video camera (in red) has a flip out monitor.  This is then enclosed with a collapsible sun shield made of light weight plastic (in blue).  

The enclosure is held in place using two "C" shaped pieces (in yellow) again made of light weight plastic.  

Here is a couple of views of the sun shield without the video camera inserted into it.  To protect the video camera flip out screen from damage a soft padded recessed area on the top and bottom edges of the sun shield  are added to the assembly.  (Notice the black strip on the lower blue part in the image above.) 

Here the sun shield is folded flat for easier storage when not in use. Once I had the design figured out I started printing the parts on my Makerbot 3D printer.  This took about four hours to complete and the only additional hardware that I needed for the assembly was two 8-32 machine screws that were two inches long.  That and about six inches of Velcro for the protective padding of the video camera flip out screen to slide on to.  

Here is what the assembly looked like after I had printed all the parts on the 3D printer.  The assembly is 3 1/8" tall, 3 1/2" deep, and 4 " wide.

This is what it looks likes once it is flattened out for easier storage. The machine screws hold the three main parts together through hinge points.  This allows the parts to pivot so that they can be folded flat or at least nearly flat.  In this configuration the upper assembly is 5 3/4" long, 3" wide, and 1" thick.  The "C" shaped pieces stacked up would be 1/2" thick, 3" x 3 1/2" in size.  

The dark strip in the top section of this piece is actually a strip of Velcro with the fuzzy side up.  The upper and lower parts of the assembly that needed this strip have a 3/4 wide channel with a double lip on the outer edges that I was able to design into the part so that the Velcro could be slid into it.  It was just the right size to hold the Velcro in place without glue yet not so tight that it was difficult to install.  This makes a nice soft padded strip that rests on the top and bottom edges of the video camera's flip out viewfinder. 

I was really glad that I printed the sun shield in black as it does not detract from the look of my video camera once it is installed.  I weighed this new assembly and it is a very light 3.2 ounces!  With it in place the flip out viewer still is able to rotate up or down freely and with the padding on the inside channels for the viewer of my video camera will not get scratched by sliding the sun shield on or off.  The "C" shaped pieces have the right amount of pressure on the upper and lower parts of the assembly so that it will not slide off of the flip out viewer by itself if the video camera is tilted in that direction. So this was another goal met when working on the design. 

 This photo says it all.  Here is a shot of what you see in only fairly bright sunlight without the sun shield mounted on the video camera.  Poor at best.  I know it will only get worse in absolute bright sunlight. 

This is what can be seen using the sun shield on the video camera.  What a difference!  You can even read the icons on the screen. The best part about this project is that it only cost around $5.00 to make using my 3D printer and a couple of little machine screws.  This will make taking video outside much easier and I will get the shots when I want to now without guessing if I got the shot at all.  
  With this project another idea has come to mind that ties right into this one.  I also shoot still photos with my little point and shoot camera.  You guessed it.  It also has a video screen that is worthless in bright sunlight.  So back to the drawing board once again to see what I can come up with for that camera.  If I get it figured out I'll let you know about it here as usual.  Until then I'll be outside shooting video!  Stay tuned for further developments.

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