Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fisheye Lens Webcam

I video conference often for work, and fret that I can only see one person on the other side of the call. Wouldn't this be easier and more natural if I could see everyone? Time to get creative and mount a fisheye lens to my webcam.

I started with a door viewer a.k.a. peephole. Fail.
side by side3

Then I upgraded to a Vivitar 0.21X 37mm fisheye lens made for a video camera. Win. I estimate the "before" viewing angle at 75º and the after at 115º. More than 90 is what I was after (stick it in the corner, see the whole room), so this is very good.

Next I needed a housing; preferably one that was non-destructive to both the lens and the laptop. Below is a 1 1/2" EMT insulated bushing (the blue ring) super glued to a plastic faceplate. You can see I drilled holes through the ring so that nuts and bolts can hold the lens in place – the lens barrel has a concave shape, so friction in the lowest point keeps it stable.

1" C-clamps hold the rig in place on the rim of my laptop's display. The clamps should work on pretty much any laptop screen thickness.

Sure it interferes with the display – but that wasn't a design goal since I have a second display.

And of course since I'm an engineer, the housing started with a sketch. Total project cost was under $50.

Here are some other like-minded projects on the Internet that inspired me:

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