2019-02-19 (Tu) DIYTeleprompter V1.0 COMPLETED

Years ago, when I made videos about building longboards, I would talk into a recording camera, and I built myself a teleprompter. It was handy to recite my lines while simultaneously updating them and it ran just fine with a cheap Android tablet. Now I have a 2-in-1 laptop that can fold flat and is what I use for videocasting with Tim in Two Cyborgs and a Microphone. I wanted a new teleprompter that was less clunky than my old one.

Enough background
A sketch was made to outline the parts and operation of a teleprompter. It would be collapsible and capable of connecting to a tripod with standard threads. Materials were gathered:
-Plastic sheet, white
-Plastic sheet, clear polycarbonate
-Cold-rolled steel bar (do not use cold-rolled)
-Cabinet hinges
-Tripod head or security camera mount
-Hook-and-loop meant for fabric adhesion
-Light resistance fabric

Sketch of teleprompter, without camera

Three holes were drilled in the bottom of the steel bar. At one end was a 3/16" (5mm) hole was drilled to add a stabilizing screw later. In the middle was a hole drilled with a #7 drill bit that would be tapped for 1/4-20, which is the standard for tripods. Opposite the 1/16" (5mm) hole was a 1/4" (6.5mm) which would line up with the tripod head mounting hole.

Steel bar, drill bits, and taps

In case you accidentally bought cold-rolled steel, stop at this point and figure out something else to use. Probably hot-rolled steel. When a #10-32 tap was used on the steel bar, it broke off before the hole could be completed. This was frustrating and disappointing. The exact length of the steel bar was never significant, so the end was trimmed off, and a new hole was drilled.

Broken 10-32 tap

The new hole was successfully tapped although it was a time-consuming process with involved a lot of making a twist, removing the tap all the way back out, blowing a few chips out of the hole and reapplying oil. It seemed possible to use this metal, so the vital 1/4-20 tap was started and probably got 75% of the way when it also broke off. Rage quitting was on the table.

The purpose of the steel bar was to provide a mounting point for the tripod, and that was all. Rather than storm out of the hackspace and pout, I discarded the idea of a tripod mount; it could sit on a desk. A desk was better than through a window.

Broken 14/-20 tap

Measurements for the plastic base had already been sketched out based on the size of the laptop. The cabinet hinges were selected because they could hold themselves open. The size of the polycarbonate (Lexan) sheet was based on the best fit, although it was no perfect.

Shape and size of clear sheet and platform

The white plastic sheet was cut on a table saw. The edge was not perfect, and it melted a bit. All the rough edges were sanded off. The white plastic would not be visible to the camera, so it was just enough to get it smooth.

Cut plastic

A 1/4" (6.5mm) hole was drilled for the tripod head. This was put right against the edge. The original position of the hinge was right against the tripod head, and the mounting holes were the two black dots on the large piece of masking tape.

Drilled hole for the tripod head and original hinge position

Before the white plastic sheet was drilled for the hinge, mounting holes were drilled into the polycarbonate sheet. The purpose was to test if the hinge could support the clear plastic by itself or if two hinges was a better idea.

Hinge mounting holes

The hinge was fastened to a work table with an F-clamp and raised until it seemed like it would stay on its own. The hinge should hold the polycarbonate at forty-five degrees and a little more and less. When it was tested, it had to be opened wider than that so it would get two hinges instead.

Testing angle for clear sheet

The holes in the middle of the transparent sheet were ignored, and two hinges were mounted at the edges of the sheet. Holes were also marked in the white plastic so the hinges could be installed on the base.

Two hinges for the clear polycarbonate sheet

When the clear sheet was raised, it stayed at a shallow angle without falling under its own weight. Additionally, it would snap shut for transport.

Clear sheet mounted

Black fabric with a vinyl layer was selected from a fabric store. It was limp, soft, thin, and light-resistant. Hook-and-loop (Velcro) with adhesive backing meant for fabric was also purchased from the fabric store. The hook-and-loop was cut into four 35mm x 15mm rectangles which were placed on the front and back of the polycarbonate sheet. The mating sides of the hook-and-loop were put on the fabric. Enough fabric was cut so that it would form a "cape" which entirely covered the camera and the back of the clear sheet.

Finished with phone adapter

A webcam was mounted on the tripod head, and it fit nicely. If a second version is made, or improvements to this one, the camera would attach further from the glass to make room for lenses in case a DSLR camera was put in there. Phones and webcams fit nicely. It would also be nice to mount them higher. A different mount could be used.


A phone was placed in the teleprompter, and my laptop was put on the white plastic base. I managed to take a photo of myself taking a photo. The two pictures below were shot simultaneously. A preview of the phone's view can be seen on the watch in the foreground in the top picture and the hand holding the watch can be seen in both images. The important part is that there is no glare from the computer screen visible on the top picture.

Simultaneously taken pictures

When the fabric is wrapped up around the transparent plastic and folded down, it is safe to transport. Nothing should scratch the plastic, and it folds flat. In the picture, the phone adapter is still attached and laid flat.

Some improvements to the design would be moving the tripod head back and elevate it as well as provide a couple of places to attach a tripod depending on the weight of the camera and computer.

Wrapped up and ready for transport

First time here?

Completed projects from year 1
Completed projects from year 2
Completed projects from year 3
Completed projects from year 4
Completed projects from year 5

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