The first design concept was based on the use of wire cables to control the locking and unlocking of the two swivel balls at each end of the telescopic arm. The locking of the telescoping feature also utilized the action of the cable controls. After 12-months of design, prototyping and testing we were stuck.

It was then that Zen Mount engineer Matt Tarnay proposed a new approach that seemed more direct and simple in achieving the simultaneous locking of the two ball joints. An encouraging prototype paved the way for refinements that led to today’s Zen Mount that applies the rotary motion of an internal shaft to a linear motion that creates high forces against a steel ball joint to prevent movement.

A minimum force of at least 250-pounds was needed to lock the ball joint and this level of force could only be achieved by using a mechanical threaded shaft where a small torsional twist could be translated to a high linear force with a ratio of 30:1. Then, we needed to figure out how to lock both ball joints simultaneously at any telescopic arm length.

Zen Mount founder James Lin and co-founder, Matt Tarnay

Our solution? 

Not one but two threaded shafts were needed to torsionally connect, collapse and expand with the telescoping movement of the arm, activated from the exterior of the arm by an easily-rotating control knob.

We spent a significant amount of effort testing various mechanical connections including a relatively complex gearing system. In the end we decided on a simple drive pin design that interlocked the control knob and drive shaft so the knob and shaft turned together.

Once the operation of simultaneously locking of both ball joints was refined, we addressed the challenge of how to lock the two arm tubes, simultaneously with the ball joints locking and with the same twist of the control knob. The telescope tube lock feature had to be timed to the rotation of the main drive shaft and also create a friction lock between the two tube diameters.

Six months and countless configurations passed. Then, bingo, the unique solution of using a cam and brake lever system in our final design came about.

During the two-year development process, we also improved design of arm and adapter anchoring systems to accommodate the universe of devices that could benefit from Zen Mounts positional capabilities.

With design perfected, we moved on to ensure the manufacturablity of the product’s arm assembly and accessories.

The performance and durability of the Zen Mount products was enhanced with use of high quality engineered molded resin, stainless steel where exceptional strength is needed and high grade aluminum where strength and weight are a factor.

All the components were designed on Solidworks 3D CAD system that is compatible with the manufacturing processes to eliminate any errors between design intent and the final product.

Our selection of vendors was based on capabilities to produce Zen Mount parts at specific dimensional tolerances needed for function. All metal parts are made by CNC machining or extrusions. Plastic parts are made from precision steel injection molds that were machined using the original Solidworks 3D data.

With our relationships solidified, we are confident that they can deliver quality parts in a timely manner the knowledge of which is at the basis of our high confidence in the success of Zen Mount.