Birdwatchers Beware: Digiscoping Meets 3D Printing!
Day-by-day, digital technologies are becoming more progressive, but no matter how hard companies try, users are constantly looking for more powerful devices to fulfil their needs. Luckily, users’ goals can sometimes be reached by combining two existing devices into one solution. That’s how digiscoping was invented.
Digiscoping is a photo technique that allows users to capture distant images using their digital camera or smartphone by coupling it with an optical telescope. This technology is very popular with birdwatchers. Because they normally already having a spotting scope, birdwatchers interested in digiscoping only need to get an adapter to connect the scope as a lens to their smartphone.
Pete Gamby from Opticron – a company producing customer optics – has come up with the idea of using 3D Printing to create a lightweight, compact, simple-to-use, and low-cost adapter for digiscoping. It allows owners of Opticron telescopes and binoculars to attach their smartphone to those instruments quickly and easily.
“There are competing solutions on the market but they are either expensive, bulky or relatively complicated to use. We looked for a way to make an all-in-one system that we could manufacture in relatively small volumes and with a high degree of customisation to allow us to cope with the ever-changing smartphone market.”
The adapters, customized for various smartphones, are designed in Tinkercad, which is an easy and free-to-use web app. 3D Printing as a production process has also shown a lot of benefits. As Pete Gamby notes:
“The main benefit to Opticron of using 3D Printing and in particular of using i.materialise has been the ability to get a very fast turnaround on prototypes. For the first adaptors (for iPhone 5), we were able to go from initial design to placing a production order in 3 weeks. Stock was in hand three weeks after that and we were able to deliver to our customers the following week.
A further benefit is the flexibility we can offer in terms of customisation. As an example, one of our members of staff uses a Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini phone. This is not one of the models we had selected for mass production but as this person does demonstrate our products to customers, we decided to make a one-off adaptor for her. In purple. And with the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini logo embossed into it.”
Opticron will continue to add new products as new phones are launched, as well as refine the design of the product. They also plan to introduce models that will work with telescopes from other manufacturers.