$40 Laser Cut Teleprompter

Apr 30, 2024

This is a project 4 and half years in the making. If you're interested in that journey, you can read about it here.

You can purchase the laser cutting pattern for Glowforge Proofgrade Medium thickness plywood here.

Goals

The goal was to create a lightweight, affordable and large format teleprompter with the following criteria:

Original goals Final product
100% laser cut parts 4 rubber bands and one 1/4-20 nut
One 12x20 plywood sheet Additional sheet of black paper
No adhesives required No adhesives required
Support large monitors Supports up to 15.6" monitor
Support camera mounting 1/4-20 tripod mounts & LWS rails
Tool-free assembly Tool-free assembly
Optional beamsplitter Supports PET sheet or beamsplitter glass
Sub $40 material cost Sub $50 material cost

The bill of materials

Minimum BOM $18.00 (not including shipping) - Plywood, rubber bands, paperboard, 0.020 sheet

Full BOM $62.25 (not including shipping) - Prefinished plywood, rubber bands, paperboard, beam-splitter glass, square nuts, and premium thumbscrews.

Item Price Link to purchase
1/8" (3mm) Plywood - Baltic Birch $2.40 Ocooch Hardwoods
1/8" (3mm) Plywood - Baltic Birch $2.50 Makerstock
1/8" (3mm) Plywood - Baltic Birch Prefinished $5.25 Laser Wood Supplies
1/8" (3mm) Plywood - MDF-core Maple/Cherry/Walnut $18.95 Makerstock
1/8" (3mm) Plywood - MDF-core Maple $22.00 Glowforge Direct
Assorted rubber bands $6.50 Amazon
0.020 PET/PC/Acrylic Clear Sheet 8x10" $8.00 Amazon
Optional 8x10" / 256x206mm 70/30% Glass $34.00 AliExpress
>12x20" Black construction paper / paperboard $1.00 DollarTree (In-store only)
$0.99 Hobby Lobby
1/4"-20 Square Nut $1.25 2-pack Home Depot
Optional 1/4"-20 Thumbscrews and square nuts $1.25 2-pack nuts Home Depot
$12.50 4-pack thumbscrews Amazon
Optional Alt. 6mm Thumbscrews and square nuts $3.75 5-pack thumbscrews AliExpress
$12.99 8-pack thumbscrews Amazon
$4.00 10pack nuts AliExpress

Pivot Options

45° Static Pivot

This is the default option for the kit. Loop two rubber bands together and loop through end of J-hook as shown. Use a small hook or flathead screwdriver to extend the rubber band through the other side and loop onto second J-hook.

This allows the unit to lock at 45° or to unlock and collapse down flat for storage or transport.

Variable thumbscrew pivot

This option uses any standard 1/4-20 screw and square nut and allows you to set whatever incident angle works best for your configuration.

Mounting options

Tripod mount with direct camera attachment

Separate tripod mounts

LWS 15mm x 60mm Rail Mount

Glass Options

PET Sheet

This is the default option. This unit is designed to fit a standard 8x10" (approx. 256mm x 206mm) sheet. Through a lot of experimentation, I found that 0.020" represents the best option. Thinner than this will result in significant distortion as the sheet flexes over such a large surface area. Thicker than this begins to see significant double-image artifacts due to reflection off of the back surface of the sheet.

These sheets are commonly found in inexpensive 8x10" photo frames as well.

A higher brightness tablet or display will help with contrast - most inexpensive portable monitors max out at 250-300 nits. This can be a bit dim for a brightly lit studio environment, but still usable for white-on-black text.

The Kindle Fire HD10 sports 400nits, and the iPad 500 nits, iPad Pro 12.9 600+ nits. Most Samsung tablets are also 400+ nits.

Beamsplitter Glass

Fortunately since this project began, a handful of Chinese factories have begun selling beamsplitter glass directly to consumers. The cost of an 8x10" sheet has come down from $140.00+ from US suppliers to ~$35.00 direct from the factory.

The quality on these is well worth the price if you find yourself using the teleprompter often, and makes it useful as a passthrough display for things like video conferencing with colleagues to maintain real eye contact with the camera.

Assembly Instructions

Assembly instructions are provided through Cadasio. Really solid service for providing interactive assembly instructions, especially important for projects like this that require a number of potentially complex steps.