Camera Mount and Control System

Designers: Justin Scott Lee and Raphael Alford
Client Coordinators: Juli Trautman
Supervising Professor: Dr. Larry N. Bohs

Our adult client has paralysis in his right arm and leg, and aphasia, which limits his speech and his ability to understand visually complex layouts. He desires to return to his former hobby of photography, which he had not participated in since his stroke. We designed a camera mount and control system that stabilizes a digital camera on his wheelchair, and allows full function selection and aim using only his left hand. This system includes a simple remote control and a height adjustable, locking swing arm that allows him to independently move the camera into place.

How this project helped
The client can independently use the Camera Mount and Control System to take accurate, quality pictures. The client’s wife relates, “This will help him re-integrate into the community. Photography is something that he has enjoyed and he hasn’t been able to do it much since his stroke.”

The Camera Mount and Control System components include a remote control, which attaches to the monopod and also provides a handle for aiming. A monopod attaches to the upper arm, which connects to the lower arm. The black pipe to the left is the base clamp, which clamps to the client’s wheelchair. Each component is described in more detail below.

The first step in the design was to help the client select a digital camera. Based on our recommendation, he purchased a Sony Mavica CD-250, which has a 2.5″ LCD. This large LCD allows him to view the image from a distance, rather than having to use the viewfinder.

A Sony Tripod with Remote Control (model # VCT-D680RM) was modified by removing the tripod legs, leaving a monopod mount that can attach to the camera, and allow the client to pan and tilt. The remote control was a wired, ambidextrous control with 5 large buttons: power, shutter release, video, and zoom in/out. Two minor problems made its use more difficult: the video button had no function with this model camera, and the separation between the zoom and shutter release buttons required the user to slide his hand up or down to use one or the other. Adding a lever that covers the video button and presses the shutter release button when operated with the client’s thumb solved these problems.

The mounting arm assembly was constructed by modifying a shower head attachment. The lower arm included a twisting barrel lock, which allowed it to telescope and rotate. This rod was covered with rubber (not shown) to aid the client’s grip. The bottom of the lower arm was machined to 7/8″ outer diameter to fit tightly into the base. A notch was also machined in this end to rest on a pin in the base, allowing the mounting arm to be lifted, rotated 180 degrees, and then lowered back into a locked position. The upper part of the lower arm had a 90 degree bend before connecting to the upper arm. The upper arm contained twist locks at both ends, allowing easy adjustments to the camera’s height.

The base was designed to contain the lower arm securely in a locked position either in front of the client or to the side of his wheelchair. A quick release pin can be inserted through one of two of holes, setting the height of the mounting arm assembly. The base was attached onto the lower frame of the wheelchair using a pair of framesaver clamps (Bodypoint, Seattle).

The cost of parts for the Camera Mount and Control System was about $200.

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