Last year I worked on a project with Angelic Films for Nokia converting some Steadicam Smoothee’s for the Nokia N8. See here for details. Time has progressed in the mobile word and Nokia have now released the Lumia 800 into the world and again come back to us to see if we could again adapt the Steadicam Smoothie for their new phone. The phone’s camera is head and shouldered above Nokias previous N8 it terms of quality, ease of use and control. If I wasn’t so wedded into the Apple ecosystem this is the phone I would choose right now.
The Lumia 800 has a slightly larger form factor that the N8 but after testing it we found that it still fitsthe Quick Release Stedicam Smoothee Mount for iPhone 3GS, which was also the mount we previously modified for the Nokia N8. There was however on additional modification we had to make, milling down the top clip so it didn’t rest on one of the buttons.
We did this using a Dremel with a barrel sanding attachment. Without this modification the clip presses the button stopping the camera working and potentially turns the phone off as well. The sander actually heats up the plastic whilst it spins sometimes leaving a melted area on the edge which can easily removed by snapping it on once cold. When milling out the recess for the button it is important to have the Smoothie mounting plate does not move. I found the simplest way was to use my tripod as the Smoothie mounting plate actually has a 1/4 inch threaded hole in it’s base precisely to do this.
Next we created the aperture for the camera to look though. The Lunia unlike the N8 is flat which is a great thing for your pocket but also means that the camera lens sits a few mm’s back from front plate of that of the Smoothee mount. This means the hole needs to be slightly bigger that that of the previous N8 Modification. Drilling though the actual mount requires care because it is a sandwich of plastic and metal, the metal being in the middle. We found the best way was to first of all drill a small pilot hole using a 4mm HSS drill bit then using a 13mm HSS drill bit in a drill press. It is important the drill bits are sharp or the friction created with actually cause so much heat it will melt the plastic. This won’t actuallybe big enough but it is the most efficient way of doing it cheaply. To keep the metal heating up too much I spayed it with water whilst drilling.
The Steadicam mount is quite tricky to hold securely because of it’s shape and because it, being made mostly of plastic it flexes under presure. To get around these issues I used an old cork sanding block and cut a section out so the mount would grip around it. This solved the shape problem. to solve the flexing problem I added a small bit of MDF on top of the sanding block
This meant The mount could be clamped down securely onto the drill press.
Once the 13mm hole had been been drilled out it was time to move onto enlarging the hole. Initially we used the Dremel with metal cutting bit this is very quick and efficient but doesn’t always leave the prettiest of finishes. So to finish of the camera aperture I used a Rucko HSS step drill bit. As the hole needed to be approximately 18mm in diameter the step drill is ideal. The only minor problem using the step drill I used was that the actual steps were not deep enough as the Steadicam mount is about 5mm thick and the steps on the drill 4mm. Not insurmountable but worth being taking into consideration as it means tuning the mount over briefly to drill out the extra 1mm from the mount. All that was need next was a small bit of filing, a quick wash under the tap to get rid of any metal dust, and a permanent black marker pen to colour in the exposed metal. The reason for this is not just because it makes it look pretty but it also stops the metal reflecting light into the lens, preventing ugly flares which would spoil all the hard work. Job done!