Video conferencing is nothing new, but the recent world events have made it much more mainstream than it has been in the past. Luckily, web camera technology is nothing new and most software can also show your screen. But what about your paper documents? Turns out that [John Nelson] can show you how to spend $5 for an old laptop camera module and put your documents center stage on your next Zoom, Skype or other video conferences.
This is especially good for things that would be hard to draw in real time during a conference like a quick sketch, a schematic, or as you can see in the post and the video demo below, chemical molecule diagrams.
It isn’t hard to imagine how this works, but getting a steady holder for the laptop does take a little workshop effort. There’s also an earlier version made to work with a desktop computer and has a few more dollars tied up in more substantial base.
We might have been tempted to make an Elmo clone by taking a nice desk lamp and just strapping the camera to it. However, that would cost a lot more than $5 unless you are good at shopping thrift stores.
We have seen a few projects using these laptop cameras lately. They are cheap, easy to stick into things and work with normal USB connections. Of course, conferencing also involves audio, so you might want to think about adding a mute switch.