I finally bought a doorbell camera when I saw some specials last week. I went with the combination Ring Video Doorbell Pro and Ring Chime Pro, which came with a free 3rd generation Alexa Echo Dot. The Chime is great for the basement, where I can’t always hear the doorbell, especially if I’m using a loud tool. My 2nd generation Alexa Echo Dot moved to the basement as well since I spend so much time in the workshop.
Totals out to $62.45 but I couldn’t find the model on the back of the camera module anywhere. I wouldn’t expect that estimate to be off by more than $5 though and maybe even cheaper. The servos feel pretty hefty compared to the micro ones I have. This will be another neat box to play around with.
I had my new YI Action Camera in one of those strap bags on my back today at Maker Faire Detroit and must have bumped into something. 😦 Hopefully it’s not too expensive for a new screen and easy to replace.
Update: Roughly $70 for a like-new replacement screen on eBay. Apparently it’s pretty easy to replace.
I’ve been recording more videos at my hobby desk and hanging a GoPro from my LED desk lamp via a Gorillapod wasn’t cutting it. Having to run GoPro’s Capture app on my iPhone connected over a WiFi network broadcast by the GoPro in order to see a preview of the camera view was also a pain point in my setup. I think I’ve even mentioned wanting to get a new camera in other posts.
My friend Casey was looking for a GoPro for his 5-year-old son, so it was perfect timing to get rid of my GoPro HERO3 Black Edition. I figured I’d just upgrade to the HERO5 Black, but it’s $400 for just the camera. After doing a little reading, I decided to get a YI 4K Action Camera with Selfie Stick, 2 spare batteries + charger, and an accessory kit. All of that ended up being $100+ cheaper than the GoPro HERO5 Black itself!
I had also been looking at a lot of videos and tutorials for building my own overhead camera rig. Then I remembered I had this lamp stashed away in a storage closet…
I took the whole thing apart.
I started putting things back together, using only the pieces I needed. I immediately noticed an issue. The swing arm would go up to about 20 degrees shy of vertical, but it wouldn’t go down more than this…
I tried to get a decent picture showing how this joint works, but it’s hard to see in the photo below. There is a slot carved out of the edge and then a screw that hits the edges of the slot.
Here’s a better picture at just the notch…
I needed to extend one side of the notch, which was quick work for my Dremel.
After the adjustment, the arm can swing down to about 45 degrees.
The next problem I faced was needing some type of bracket where the light bulb used to be connected so I could attach the camera. I found this old ceiling light fixture bracket in my box of goodies. The threaded hole in the middle was a perfect match to the bolt on the end of the stand.
I didn’t need the entire thing so I cut off one side with my Dremel.
I found another part (the long arm type piece you see below) in my goodie box, which fit perfectly in the camera mount pieces. I had to use a couple of mount pieces from the accessory kit to get the camera oriented in the correct position relative to the stand. There was one trip to Home Depot for the wingnut, thumb screw, and small washers (definitely needed a few for spaces with the camera bracket at the bottom). Here is everything laid out before assembly.
Of course I had to test it out right away, especially since I hadn’t even turned on my new camera yet. I grabbed a couple of fidget spinners and adjusted the rig.
Being able to frame the shot immediately with the camera LCD is amazing compared to the shit show I used to do with the GoPro.
Check out the video…
In case you weren’t keeping track, blue spun for 1:38 and black went 4:58!
Did you notice the shaking at the beginning of the video when I started up the spinners? Not good. I thought it would be super stable because the base of the stand is quite heavy (reminds me of the sand filled base of a moveable basketball hoop). Most of the movement seemed to be coming from the bracket I cut. An unused dead bolt bracket from my goodie box matched up well enough in size after making one of the holes bigger. This allowed me to double up the thickness, which does seem to help.
I’ll have to do some testing while working on a project on the desk, because if this rig shakes the camera every time the desk moves a little bit it won’t be good.
As a bonus, there are some really useful parts of the lamp left. Maybe I can come up with a neat DIY lamp some day. The foot switch is also neat and could be used for a lot of things.
Last month I bought some simple stickers to cover up the cameras on my laptops. My friend Ingrid bought some fancy covers at about the same time. Ever since, we’ve both been having issues with MacOS recognizing the camera when uncovered. Rebooting the Mac resolved the issue so I figured something was jacked up internally with sensors. Found a solution, but wanted to make it easier than typing in the terminal commands.
I’m an Alfred user, so I made a workflow (available on Github). Save the file and open it, which should import into Alfred. Change the keyword (default is camera) in Alfred if you want.
If you don’t use Alfred, I also made a command script you can launch instead of manually typing in the commands. It’s also on Github. Use File->Save Page in your browser. Open up a terminal window and cd to wherever you saved the reload-camera.command file. Change the execute permissions on the file by running chmod 744 reload-camera.command.
By the way, yes, you probably should cover up your camera, especially if you never use it.
I’m usually very good at keeping parts, but for some reason, a couple of months ago, I threw away all of the mounting brackets for an old Dropcam. Sure enough, I moved the camera to the garage and had no way to mount it. It had been sitting on my vise shelf ever since.
While cleaning out the closet in my office this weekend I came across an old cell phone car mount. Took apart one of the elbow joints, removed the big suction cup from the bottom, and screwed the whole thing directly into the wall using a longer screw and an anchor. It squeeze around the camera for a solid hold, but I looped the cable around the bracket just in case the arm springs fail at some point, so it won’t go crashing to the floor.
Getting it up high provides a better view as well.