Problem Solving with 3D Printing

Inspired by another maker, I created a quick-release camera mount for a vintage tripod. Modeled in Fusion 360, sliced in Cura, and printed on my Ender 3 printer.

by Dave on March 8, 2020, 8:46 p.m.

John over at GrazMakes (Youtube, Instagram) posted his solution to a common problem on Thingiverse. Specifically, he needed to create a modified quick-release camera mount for his tripod, with room to open the battery door on his camera. There isn’t much point to a quick release, if you need to remove the camera to change the battery or put in a new SD card. After seeing this idea, I wanted to try it out myself! I printed out his version and tested it on my camera. I have a different camera, so it was almost right, but not quite. John graciously provided his Fusion 360 files, so I could experiment and come up with a custom version for my camera.

It seemed like it would be an easy project, but first I had to learn how to use Fusion 360 to make a part to specific dimensions! I have made a couple of things using Fusion, but mostly to extrude designs created in Illustrator. This was a little more complicated. I learned quite a bit by pressing all the buttons in Fusion to see what effect they had on the model. Eventually I have figured out a few things about creating a sketch, extruding that into a body, and manipulating multiple parts to get them to fit together.

After creating a camera mount, I needed a base to connect the camera mount to the tripod. The classic, yet sturdy tripod wasn’t designed for this. I found a similar model for a quick release base on Thingiverse. I spent way too long trying to make it work. I was able to create a body out of the STL file, but it was just too complicated to get a precise part that worked with my existing camera mount model. I decided to start over. I created a basic shape for the tripod base, and used the camera mount part to cut out the space where it needed to fit on the base. This worked, but I couldn’t get a perfect fit between the parts using my $200 3D printer.

Next I modeled a locking cam to keep the camera attached and allow easy removal. After many, many test prints, I got it working. This was a really fun way to learn a little more about 3D modeling parts for use in the real world, and to realize how much more I need to learn. I already have some cool ideas on what to build next.