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DIY Camera Rig for Mobile Testing

Using a toaster to shape a “sled” for user testing on mobile devices.

This project was quick and a lot of fun. The UX researcher on my team wanted to be able to capture video of users interacting with our website on their mobile devices, and she wanted to do this without asking the user to run an app for video screen capture.

She came up with the idea of building a “sled”—a device that would hold the user's smartphone in place, while a second smartphone could be suspended above to capture video of the user’s screen as they interacted with our site. As a bonus the second smartphone also captures audio, so it records any comments the user makes while interacting as well.

To build the sled I wanted a fast way to securely hold the two smartphones. Without any tools in our office, I decided we could use the heat from our toaster to bend a piece of plexiglass into a shape that would support the two mobile devices.

We mocked up a sled using some scrap cardboard, and walked to the local hardware store to have them cut plexiglass to the size we needed. Then we brought it back and used the heat from the toaster to warm the plexiglass enough to shape it in the way we wanted.

The whole project cost us about $20 in plexi and about 4 hours in time, including the amount of time it took to brainstorm a solution, mock it up in cardboard, travel to the hardware store, bend the plexi and test it.