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Old Sunday 2nd July 2017, 20:30   #1
Hauksen
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Digiscoping Adapter as 3D-printed Part

Hi everyone,

Since Kowa doesn't offer a digiscoping adapter for my specific smartphone type, I had a go at filling the gap by 3D-printing an adapter of my own design.

This is what it looks like:

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I preferred this over a universal adapter because universals are usually quite expensive, have a lot of parts that need adjustment, and prevent normal use of the phone.

My adapter can be left on the phone like a standard phone case and makes it only slightly bulkier than normal. (It doesn't fit in a shirt pocket elegantly, obviously.)

All buttons and sockets can be accessed normally, too (except for the headphone socket, where I made a slight mistake ... might have to fix that with traditional methods, i. e. a drill).

I'm not quite sure of how to achieve the best fit over the eyecup. The original Kowa adapters have some very fine felt of 1 mm thickness glued in, which is just perfect. However, I've been unable to find a source for such self-adhesive felt strips, and the best approximation I could find had a kind of glue that came out at the edges under pressure, and made a minor mess. I removed all of it, and for now am using a loose strip of rubber instead.

(If you have any tips on where to get optics-grade self-adhesive felt, they would be greatly appreciated! :-)

Other than that, I'm quite happy with the adapter. It's really easy to use, and I actually found it works with the current Leica as well as with my Kowa 883 (though that is partially owed to the loose rubber strip ;-)

Not visible in the pictures is an additional eye on the adapter that can be used to fasten a lanyard to secure the phone. The adapter fits so well I didn't even think of trying the lanyard yet, no fear of dropping anything.

Regards,

Henning
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Old Monday 3rd July 2017, 15:20   #2
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Cool! May I ask how much does it cost to have sth like this printed?

For those lacking the CAD and design skills, the alternative would be to buy a fitting smartphone case and glue it to the metal plate of the Kowa adapter ...
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Old Monday 3rd July 2017, 16:49   #3
Hauksen
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Hi Dalat,

Quote:
Originally Posted by dalat View Post
Cool! May I ask how much does it cost to have sth like this printed?

For those lacking the CAD and design skills, the alternative would be to buy a fitting smartphone case and glue it to the metal plate of the Kowa adapter ...
Excluding postage, around 40 EUR ... it would depend a bit on the smartphone model, the second adapter I just ordered for my girlfriend is slightly cheaper.

I actually showed my adapter to the Kowa guys at the Hansebird fair, and they tried it out immediately on the 883 at their booth :-) Unfortunately, they didn't know a source for the felt lining of the original Kowa adapter either.

They told me that there is a special service to have a custom adapter based on original Kowa parts machined on a CNC tool, but the cost was high - 130 to 140 EUR, I believe.

The tip on glueing the original Kowa adapter onto a new hardshell case is a good one, if you already have that adapter.

(My girlfriend bought one, with an additional Leica adapter for her scope - available from Kowa :-) However, when her old smartphone failed, the new one "naturally" didn't fit the old adapter.)

Regards,

Henning
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Old Monday 3rd July 2017, 20:55   #4
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40 Euro, that sounds ok! Fascinating, this 3D printing. I like DIY, but this brings it to an entirely different level.

Adapting the Kowa adapter to different phones is really easy, I already switched the adpater twice. Just pull it off carefully from the original case and stick it to a new one. I didn't even need to use new double sided tape, the original one was still fine.
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Old Monday 3rd July 2017, 23:18   #5
Hauksen
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Hi Dalat,

Quote:
Originally Posted by dalat View Post
Fascinating, this 3D printing. I like DIY, but this brings it to an entirely different level.
The great thing is, it puts all of the intricate, fragile parts into the reach of the amateur that previously required industrial manufacturing.

(A digiscoping adapter is actually not that intricate ... in an older forum post, someone presented a very nice example made from wood.)

A replacement eye cup adjustment ring I printed for my Nikon ED50 is more the kind of intricate and fragile part I'm thinking off ... I know it's fragile because I broke it ;-)

Quote:
Originally Posted by dalat View Post
Adapting the Kowa adapter to different phones is really easy, I already switched the adpater twice. Just pull it off carefully from the original case and stick it to a new one. I didn't even need to use new double sided tape, the original one was still fine.
That's a great tip, and I think a couple of days ago I actually came across an old post from you where you had mentioned it. Almost stopped me from printing the second adapter for my girlfriend, but the fascination of the new technology proved too strong :-)

Regards,

Henning
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Old Tuesday 4th July 2017, 14:42   #6
Hauksen
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Hi Dalat,

Quote:
Originally Posted by dalat View Post
Adapting the Kowa adapter to different phones is really easy, I already switched the adpater twice.
Now that I think about it, maybe I should have designed the phone holder and the eye piece adapter as two separate parts to make mixing and matching easy!

Regards,

Henning
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Old Tuesday 4th July 2017, 19:32   #7
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I think that is what Phoneskope is doing: https://www.phoneskope.com/
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Old Tuesday 4th July 2017, 19:56   #8
Hauksen
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Hi Dalat,

Quote:
Originally Posted by dalat View Post
I think that is what Phoneskope is doing: https://www.phoneskope.com/
Hm, the site is a bit hard to navigate ... I didn't manage to get a clear idea of what their system looks like, except that they split it into an adapter ring and phone case, obviously. They seem to interlook with a petal-like arrangement, not with a machined thread like Kowa's adapter rings.

Shapeways just informed me the adapter for my girlfriend's phone was printed succesfully.

In the meanwhile, she is using the phone camera without aids, so she can only capture big birds, up close. So far, she's doing rather well - she just emailed me a picture she took today, showing the black-browed Albatros of Sylt island, soaring right past her ! :-D

Regards,

Henning
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Old Tuesday 4th July 2017, 20:54   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hauksen View Post
showing the black-browed Albatros of Sylt island, soaring right past her ! :-D
Ohhh envy...
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Old Wednesday 5th July 2017, 15:03   #10
pete_gamby
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We eventually decided to include four ridges on the inside of our 3D printed adaptors to prevent the phone/adaptor from rotating or falling off.

The attached image should show how these ridges are placed.

The push fit parts are designed to be a friction fit over the eyecup but older eyecups tend to become more slippery so we needed a better solution. Felt-type lining wears relatively quickly and/or becomes unstuck, especially if it gets wet.

We use Tinkercad to design and print via i.Materialise.

More info and a video here:

http://www.opticron.co.uk/Pages/smartphone_adapters.htm

HTH

Cheers, Pete
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Old Wednesday 5th July 2017, 16:15   #11
Hauksen
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Hi Pete,

Quote:
Originally Posted by pete_gamby View Post
The push fit parts are designed to be a friction fit over the eyecup but older eyecups tend to become more slippery so we needed a better solution. Felt-type lining wears relatively quickly and/or becomes unstuck, especially if it gets wet.
Ah, thanks a lot for the explanation and the excellent 3D view!

Since the view seems to be non-isometric, I might be wrong, but it looks like the inside of the adapter is slightly conical to ensure it "grips" properly when pushed down?

The reason I thought a lining might be a good idea is that I wasn't sure the structured surface of my printed part wouldn't erode the rubber of the eyecup, long term. I guess you have already looked into this, and found it to be not a problem in practice? (The structured surface sure is a bonus for the desired friction.)

Looks like 3D printing is already proving its value with your amazing range of adapters ... I really love the technology!

Regards,

Henning
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Old Thursday 6th July 2017, 08:57   #12
pete_gamby
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Actually, the sides of the part are perpendicular i.e. it's a cylinder, not a cone.

We're using polished polyamide and thus far no complaints about abrasion. But we often find people want to replace scope eyecups after some time anyway as they wear and become more slippery and/or get looser (or get lost altogether!).

Cheers, Pete
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Old Friday 7th July 2017, 09:24   #13
Hauksen
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Hi Pete,

Quote:
Originally Posted by pete_gamby View Post
Actually, the sides of the part are perpendicular i.e. it's a cylinder, not a cone.
I see, must be a trick of the perspective then. My version is slightly conical, but the diameter reduces by just 0.5 mm over the width of the ring, so I'm not sure whether it makes much of a difference. Must be nice to be able to make a couple of different prototypes to find what works best in practice!

Even in the isometric view, it's hard to tell the inside is in fact conical:

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Quote:
Originally Posted by pete_gamby View Post
We're using polished polyamide and thus far no complaints about abrasion. But we often find people want to replace scope eyecups after some time anyway as they wear and become more slippery and/or get looser (or get lost altogether!).
Ah, if it's easily replacable, it becomes a non-issue of course!

My adapter is indeed the non-polished variant (Shapeways does not have polished black), which has a noticably rougher surface. The version for my girlfried is going to have the polished surface, it'll be interesting to compare these.

Regards,

Henning
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Old Monday 17th July 2017, 12:00   #14
Hauksen
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Hi again,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hauksen View Post
My adapter is indeed the non-polished variant (Shapeways does not have polished black), which has a noticably rougher surface. The version for my girlfried is going to have the polished surface, it'll be interesting to compare these.
The adapter for my girlfriend arrived, and the polished surface is in fact quite nice:

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(Her choice of colour! :-)

However, the phone is not held tightly enough since it does not quite match the dimensions from the sales brochure. I should have physically measured her phone instead of trying to cut corners there.

Another issue is that I took the lens-eyepiece distance from the Kowa adapter. It turns out that this requires the twist-up eyecup of the Leica to be twisted up, and my girlfriend would have none of that because that eyecup already broke twice. I seem to remember we were told the replacement part is supposed to be stronger, but we don't trust it anyway.

Additionally, I had an reduction ring printed for my Kowa adapter, which without the felt lining (which didn't work out) was oversized. It's red because I had to pick a colour to get the polished surface, and the red seems to be a good match for the Kowa-red highlights on the scope body.

Regards,

Henning
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