Video Gear

Light Eliminating iPhone Video Rig

If you watched my YouTube video on my Hawker Hurricane RC plane, then you might have noticed that there were only a few clips of me actually flying after the airplane was fixed. The reason for this is because when my brother was recording me flying, it was hard for him to see the screen on my iPhone due to the the sun. If you have an iPhone, you probably understand that it is very difficult to see the iPhone screen outside on a bright sunny day. Recording a flying airplane with this problem is quite difficult. To fix this, I made a little box that you can use to block out the sun while recording video with an iPhone.


My plan for this light eliminating rig was to have a rectangular-ish box with two open ends. One end will have an iPhone attached, and the other end you will hold up to your eyes to look through. When looking through the rig all you should be able to see is the iPhone screen. Since there will be no light in this box, it will be very easy to see the iPhone screen.


This rig is constructed out of 4mm corrugated plastic (Coroplast). Before cutting the coroplast, I had to know what to cut. Instead of wasting a lot of Coroplast while trying to find exactly what I want, I made some cardboard templates that I tweaked until they were right. I know that I wanted the rig to fit nicely around my eyes, so I knew one end of the rig would have to be rounded. I started by cutting cereal box cardboard into the shape that the top and the bottom of the box will be. One edge of this shape had a concave curve in it that looked like it would fit my forehead/nose-area well. I then held it up to my face, realized where the trouble spots were, and tweaked the template’s curve a little. I repeated this process until I got a curve that fit my face nicely. After I finished the template for the top/bottom of the rig, I made a template for the side of the rig. The side template had nothing special about it. I just used the width dimensions of my iPhone and the dimension from just below my nose to the middle of my forehead. I used these two measurements to create a trapezoidal shape for the side pieces. The length of the rig was determined by how close I could have my iPhone to my face and still focus on it well.


After I had two cardboard templates prepared (one for the top/bottom and one for the sides), I began tracing them onto the Coroplast. After the last template was drawn, I drew an extra ‘piece’ that will act as a tab that will help join the box together. After I had the plan traced onto the Coroplast I cut along the perimeter. After the piece was cut out, I began folding the coroplast along the lines where the templates started/ended. When the piece of corplast had all the appropriate bends in it, I used hotglue to affix the  tab to the outside of the ‘box’.


At this point, I put the box against my face to try how it felt….and it felt horrible. The curve fit my face really well, but the edge of the Coroplast hurt! So I added some foam. For the foam, I just cut a piece of PVC pipe insulation (it’s the stuff that you buy in a hardware store that looks like a small, gray pool noodle) and then I ripped it down length ways. When I had the little strip of foam, I used the tip of a hot hotglue gun to melt a groove into the foam for the coroplast to go into. I then hotglued the foam to the curve. I found that I had to put the glue onto the coroplast and then stick the foam on and not put the hotglue onto the foam because the hotglue melted right through the foam!


After the foam was on, I tried it again and it felt amazing this time! When I did this though, I realized a problem: My nose was inside of the box. Now this may not be a problem for some people, but when I tried the box with my iPhone on one end and my face on the other, I found that when I breathed my breath would fog up my glasses. This would make it harder to see than if I never even made this rig, so I cut out a nose hole and padded it with foam.


The next thing that I added was a coroplast ‘plate’ to the front of the rig that my iPhone would be up against. The plate had to have a rectangle, the size of the iPhone screen, cut out as well as little grooves so the Home button could be accessed if need be. I then hotglued this plate to the inside of the rig, on the front. Then I added wooden dowel posts to the side of the box near the front. These were for me to attach a rubberband that will hold my iPhone steadily in place.


Originally, the rig would’ve been completed at this point, except I thought that it would be really nice if I (or my brother) didn’t have to hold this thing up while recording. So naturally I added a headstrap! haha


The strap itself is a piece of denim (from an old pair of jeans) cut 1.5″ wide. I then used rivets, and homemade washers, to attach the straps to the box. To tighten the strap, I made a little strap-tightener-thing out of a thick piece of coat hanger wire and a little bit of thread+superglue. I then ran the strap through the tightener-thing and tried ‘er out. It worked. It held the rig to my head while I videoed. I went outside to try it and it worked, but I noticed another problem. The sun could shine right through the white coroplast, so I fixed that.


To fix the sun shining through, I blacked out the inside of the rig. To do this I covered the inside of the rig with black vinyl. This was probably the hardest part of the building process because it was difficult to get the vinyl inside the small box without sticking to itself or the box. If I were to build this box again, I would add the vinyl before the bending step. It would have made it much easier for me and would have resulted in a nicer project. But, after the vinyl was attached, the rig worked great!


So there it is. I found a problem and made a fix for it.


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