Printable iPhone 4 Tripod Mount

Over the weekend I stumbled upon this awesome Instructable by jtsubotaiPhone 4 Tripod Mount“. The parts list was short and I decided to try to pick up all the required parts after work Monday night. Unfortunately for me, my local hardware store was missing a handful of the (already short) parts list. I almost gave up and was prepared to head home empty handed when I realized I could easily modify the project using my Makerbot and make this work with what I was able to find.

I started by picking up just the bare necessities:

  • 1/4 inch hex nuts
  • 30mm suction cups

When I got home I opened up my modeling software of choice Google Sketchup and got to work replicating the basic design I found on Instructables. Rather than secure all the parts in place using screws like jtsubota did I modeled everything to press fit in place. The nut fits in very snuggly and the suction cups snap into place with a firm push. Once everything is attached it feels really solid. So much so that I can shake my phone by the tripod mount without fear of it disconnecting.

If my calculations are correct, I believe the cost of this project breaks down like this:

  • 1x 1/4″ nut $0.40
  • 2x 30mm suction cups $0.59 each
  • ~$0.50 woth of Makerbot plastic.

Right around $2 for a really solid tripod mount ready to be printed on demand. Not bad at all!

[thingiverse thing=11711]

Gadget test drive: LED Strip light

This is a review of the “OMC – FFSB1 – LED MODULE, STRIP, BLUE, 32LM“. The nice folks at element14/Newark Electronics provided it for evaluation. It’s available for purchase on their site.

I’m in love with LED strip lighting, it runs on relatively low power, low temperature and very easy to install and hide. The blue strip I picked up from Element14 comes in an anti static bag without terminal connections pre-soldered. One of the really cool things you can do with these lights is cut them down to smaller peices to fit your space. Every 100mm there is a spot to chop off a piece of the tape and solder connections to your power supply.

So power, how do you get these pretty little lights to work? Since these run on 12v I was able to grab an old wall wart adapter and solder it directly to the LED tape. That’s pretty much all you need for power. If you want to get fancy you can throw a toggle switch in there or wire it straight into your ATX power supply, but as a quick and dirty setup the wall wart works great. As you can see in the gallery below the output is pretty darn bright.

Now the fun part will be picking something to sneak some LED lighting into. Maybe I’ll pimp my work bench or upgrade the lighting on my Makerbot like the folks over at Makerbot Industries did because…well because LEDs are awesome!


The only downside I found with this particular LED strip lighting is that it lacks the self adhesive backing that many LED strip lights have. This makes mounting and installation a little trickier but I suppose also allows for alternative adhesives to be used in place of the 3M peel off adhesive most strips come with.

Listed below are the specs for the LED strip:

  • Series:Front Firing Flexistrip
  • LED Module Type:Board + LED
  • LED Color:Blue
  • Luminous Flux @ Test:32lm
  • Power Module Configuration:Strip
  • Supply Voltage:12V
  • Forward Current @ Test:240mA
  • RoHS Compliant: Yes

3D Printing for the Classroom

A couple of months ago I was looking for a vector outline of my home state of Illinois that I could turn into a 3D print using Google Sketchup. I was lucky enough to find a United States map in DWG with a little Google-fu. I pulled out Illinois but then while I was working on it I started thinking about other uses for the map. First things first, I’ll need the states in a printable form.

I went through the USA map and broke it down to individual states in Sketchup. So now the only question was, what do I do with an extrudable and scaleable map of all 50 states?

I knew I wanted to print the shapes at different levels to make some kind of interesting looking map. Rather than extruding each state an arbritrary ammount I decided to extrude the states based on the number of electoral votes each state holds in the presidential election. It gave my map both some much needed depth and variety and turned it into an education tool. Printed out it looks great (if I do say so myself) and I’m thinking about mounting it on a nice old map and hanging it in a shadow box on my wall.

My other thought for the map that might have some educational significance would be printing the states with the height of the state representing the order in which the state joined the nation. I had somewhat forgotten about this map and had only printed about half of it in the past month or so until I saw these great map puzzles that were posted on Thingiverse for Africa and Central America. You could easily do the same with the USA map.

In the gallery below you can see the completed electoral vote map. I’ve also included a couple photos showing how it was split up into separate print beds. My Makerbot did a pretty spectacular job on the more intricate parts of the map and the states fit together almost perfectly.


I’ve uploaded this map to Thingiverse for public consumption. I’d love to see something like this printed for use in a classroom. Makerbotted 3D maps, how cool would that be?! Each state can be pulled out individually and scaled as well. I’ve also uploaded the 11 “print beds” worth of prints I used to print my “electoral votes by state” map.


[thingiverse thing=11178]