How To Build A DIY Teleprompter For Your Tablet Or Smart Phone

I'm still pretty new to making YouTube videos and being in front of the camera doesn't come very natural to me. I'm a fairly competent communicator in real life, but when I press the record button I start sounding like an idiot. to combat this I try to write down an outline of what I want to say. Many times I'll even write out an actual script that represents word for word what I want to say in the video. Trying to memorize lines is way too time consuming so I thought it would be a good idea to use a teleprompter. In case you haven't priced these out, teleprompters are crazy expensive for such a simple technology. So I set out to build my own out of a tablet (phone will work too), some wood, and a piece of clear acrylic (or glass) to reflect the words. Eventually I will become more comfortable in front of the camera and I won't need a teleprompter, but this is a great project in the mean time. 

materials:

  • 2' x 4' sheet of wood (MDF or plywood will work). I used 1/2" thick material, and it turned out really heavy. 3/8" or 1/4" may work better. 

  • 1/4" 20 tpi bolt (1"-3" long)

  • 1/4" 20 TPI T-nut or threaded insert needed for attaching to tripod (optional). 

  • wood glue and nails

  • tablet or phone

  • 10" x 12" sheet of clear acrylic (glass or lightly coated see-through mirror will also work). 5" x 7" sheet for a phone

Step 1: build a box

from the sheet of plywood cut the following:

  • (2) 12" x 12" these will be the top and bottom pieces of the teleprompter
  • (2) 12" x 7 1/2" these will be the left and right sides of the teleprompter.

In the video I cut the sides to be 7 1/4" but since then I've modified the design and assembly which requires slightly taller sides. on each side piece draw a 45° line from one corner inward to the opposite side. your going to cut a slot for the reflecting material to sit inside. In the video I cut this 45° slot all the way through the material leaving me with 2 pieces. This made it difficult to glue and assemble. When you make this cut, start from the corner like I did, but stop the cut about 1/2" from the opposite side leaving a little wood to keep the two pieces connected. I used a miter saw, but a circular or jig saw will work. Now place the bottom piece flat on the table and set the sides on top. Look at the video and the images below to make sure you have the orientation correct. The corner where the 45° slot starts should be facing up, and the small section of wood remaining after the unfinished cut should be mated with the bottom piece. apply some glue and nail these joint together. 

After letting the glue dry, test fit your acrylic or glass reflecting material and make sure it fits. now place the top piece on and drill, countersink, and drive screws in to secure it to the rest of the assembly. I wanted to be able to remove the top piece for convenient access to the inside of the teleprompter. 

step 2: camera/tripod mounting

To mount the teleprompter on a tripod I drilled a hole in the bottom large enough for a 1/4" 20 TPI T-nut, but you may also use a threaded insert. This standard sized thread will fit most tripod mounts. 

To mount the camera inside the teleprompter I cut a piece of wood 8" x 11" and glued and nailed it about 3" above the bottom piece. I used a router to cut a 1/4" slot down the middle of the platform. I used a round scrap piece of wood and 1/4" 20 TPI bolt to make a knob that slides into the slot. This knob can be used to adjust the camera backward/forward then tighten it down when the desired position is set. 

step 3: painting and inserting the reflecting material

I used some black spray paint to give the teleprompter several coats of paint. Try to find a flat finish paint if possible. Once the paint is dry insert the acrylic or glass reflecting material into the 45° slot. I drilled some holes from the front and secured the reflector with some small screws. Mount the teleprompter on a tripod and adjust the height. Finally mount your camera inside and place the tablet/phone below the reflector. 

 

 

Zach HippsComment