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My end goal is getting high quality dash footage from a 6 month road trip I'm going on. From my research, very few dash cams support 4k 30fps filming, and the ones that do overwrite their own footage really quick, so instead of that I'd like to use my iPhone. I have a wide angle lens for it, and I figure I can mount it to my windshield, behind the rear-view mirror.

But here's the problem: there are no windshield phone mounts that allow for the angle I need. They're all designed to point the phone screen at the driver, and the little ball joints that let you set the angle just don't work to point the camera straight ahead. I've tried like 5 different ones, and they all have this problem.

What I need is a solid thing that sticks to my windshield and holds my phone in the correct direction. Once stuck, it never needs to be adjusted. I think I could use 3M strips to stick something to the glass, so the only remaining part of the mystery is this: A piece of plastic the exact right shape to hold my phone and point it at a specific angle.

My question is: Is this a good use case for 3D printing? And if so, how would a complete amateur get started on this?

A few more requirements that I'm not sure if 3D printing can meet:

  • It would need to withstand heat, as it would be left in the car on hot days in the south.
  • It can't be too brittle, as speed bumps and dirt roads will knock it around a fair bit, and it has to support a large phone with an added lens.
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to 3dPrinting.SE! Ever thought of adapting GoPro mounts? Put together correctly, they are infinitely adjustable. There are a ton of them on Thingiverse. $\endgroup$ – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Jul 7 '19 at 20:11
  • $\begingroup$ Have you looked into phone holders? Like this one amazon.com/iOttie-Touch-Connect-Android-Universal/dp/… Holds your phone, but looks like it can also pivot around so you can see the controls to start/stop recording, etc. $\endgroup$ – CrossRoads Jul 9 '19 at 15:39
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You'd need to print in a heat resistant material - ASA for example - and design the part for your needs, but this project is certainly feasible and doable with 3D printing. If that isn't enough for you, you could drill a hole to the internal cavity (it's best to have an infill pattern that does not split the internal cavity into several ones. Gyroid is one of these) and fill it with resin to make it even more sturdy.

With the right design, you could also go for SLA/DLP aks resin printing, but I am not well versed in the properties of printed resins but that they have some of the best inter-layer bonds.

If you don't want to get a 3D printer yourself, order the part printed, which usually comes cheaper than an entry-level printer with better quality for a one-off project as you won't have to learn the ins and outs of your printer and how to ensure the quality in the material you choose. Some print services also provide really exotic materials.

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This certainly is a problem you could use a 3D printer to solve, but it requires getting good results with printing in materials that aren't the easiest to work with. It might be easier to go with one of the mounts you already have, and just adapting it for a different range of angles by mounting a wedge-shaped piece between it and the windshield. This could be done with 3D printing (note the materials requirements still), or if you have access to tools for cutting, drilling holes, etc., by just starting with a chunk of material, cutting it to the right shape, and adding some holes to mount suction cups and attach the existing phone mount.

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Why not try a GoPro camera? They now have 4K, image stabilized camera with all kinds of accessory mounts.

https://shop.gopro.com/cameras/hero7-silver/CHDHC-601-master.html

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  • $\begingroup$ While a GoPro might solve the issue in itself, you don't answer the question if this project is suitable for 3D printing or not, which is a Yes-No-Maybe question. $\endgroup$ – Trish Jul 9 '19 at 9:30
  • $\begingroup$ I think it would solve the heart of the question: "My end goal is getting high quality dash footage from a 6 month road trip I'm going on. " and "very few dash cams support 4k 30fps filming," $\endgroup$ – CrossRoads Jul 9 '19 at 12:21
  • $\begingroup$ Hmmm... after re-reading the question, you actually make a good point! :-) Although, as @Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 states in the comment, adapting a mount from Thingiverse could be an idea. Maybe add an example or two from there to your answer, to make it more complete? Just an idea. :-) $\endgroup$ – Greenonline Jul 9 '19 at 13:08
  • $\begingroup$ I haven't found a phone holder at thingiverse that I am satisfied with, even for desktop use. I have a folding cover on my phone, and am not skilled enough yet with the a design tool like fusion360 to design my own, and there are not many available with design files that can be modified. I found one that sorta works, but it falls over a lot - I have it taped to a wood block to give it some stability. We're just getting into designing, coming from electrical engineering background with no 3D tool history, so it's been a challenge. A multi-part design would be a real challenge! $\endgroup$ – CrossRoads Jul 9 '19 at 19:27

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