The Elmo that we've been using for Mobile Monday for a couple years now has started flaking out, and is generally an insanely monstrous gadget to have to lug around (especially to meet-ups in Berkeley) so time has come for a replacement. Inspired by Kelly's DIY Mobile Cam, Miker headed off to Fry's today to see if he could score the parts needed to put one together, then afterwards came over to my place, as I have boxes of electronics and other junk suited for exactly this sort of hack.
After trying a variety of different combinations with an adjustable lamp, we ended up velcroing a Logitec USB travel camera to a piece of plastic that comes out of a disk drive bay, which was then threaded onto a portable tripod. You can see it next to Miker in the pic above. It looks like it'll work well. The tripod was just the right height for the camera's focal length (as tested on an iPhone) so it seems like it should produce clear video for the overhead. The cam does get a bit nutty in different light situations, but hopefully it goes well tonight during the demo.
A couple months ago when the MoMo was at TellMe, some of us got a tour of a couple conference rooms they have there, where they've got these incredible cameras mounted in the ceiling that can focus right down on a phone for presentations with perfect clarity - it was pretty amazing. I think the next version of the DIY Elmo will definitely need to have a better resolution camera, or maybe even an inexpensive portable digital video camera attached via Firewire or something. The little USB cam should work well for now though.