DIY Camera Mount For An Ultimate 16
Wanting to create a camera mount to use while kayaking in our Native Watercraft Ultimate 16, I decided to tackle the issue in my preferred Do-It–Yourself (DIY) style. I was brimming with ideas after having just whipped up a quick mounting system to use with a microphone boom stand–typically used for micing instrument speaker cabinets–to use while shooting future video tutorials and it seemed like the right time to tackle it. We were, after all, preparing for our first river paddling outing together and wanted to record it.
The basic requirements for a camera mount are pretty simple: (a) 1/4″ bolt with 20 threads per inch, (b) something to hold the bolt in a particular place or position, (c) some method for retaining the camera in its position on the bolt. Really, that’s all there is to it. From there on, it’s merely an issue of design. Here is how I went about it…
The Immediate Need For A Camera Mount
We were leaving on our float trip the next day. That precluded ordering one. What options does that leave a person, then? You might be surprised at just how unlikely it is that you can just walk into some retail location and pick a camera mount suitable for kayaking use up off a shelf, even in a metro area with 1.2+ million people.
The obvious answer for anyone who likes to tinker is not overnight express mail.
Situations like this one are why Home Depot exists…
Specifications For Design Requirements
A camera mount had to meet the following design requirements–thrown together as I walked into Home Depot, 15 minutes before closing time, and which I now call the USERS Design Philosophy For Tinkerers Building Camera Mounts:
- Utilitarian (had to work for both cameras/digital video recorders, meaning universal…but also specifically with the Native Watercraft Ultimate 16 design)
- Simple (they were closing in 15 minutes, you can only shop for so many parts…)
- Easy to assemble (neighbors don’t like power tools at night, so I had only a short time in morning to put it together)
- Reliable (will it work this time and every time thereafter?)
- Stable (blurry photos are just no fun)
Here’s what I came up with…
- 1: 3/4″ plug
- 1: 3/4″ adapter
- 1: 3/4″ – 1/2″ adapter (fits into threaded 3/4″ adapter on one end, receives 1/2″ pipe on other)
- 1: 3/4″ – 1/2″ adapter (threads into a threaded 1/2″ T section)
- 1: 1/2″ T section w/1 threaded connection
- 2: 1/2″ Cross Section (4 way)
- 1: 8′ section of PVC pipe
- Pipe glue or Loc Tite
- Electrical tape
- 1: 1/4″ bolt, 1.5″ in length, 20 threads per inch
- 1: lock washer
- 3: flat washers
- 3: 1/4″ nuts
Assembling The Cam Mount
The heart of the mount is the two 1/2″ Cross Sections, mounted perpendicular and tied together with a 1 1/2″ piece of pipe. This creates the platform for the mount, which is designed to rest in the grooved bow of the Ultimate 16. Yes, this is a very boat-specific mount, however, the basic idea of using 1/4″ 20 tpi bolts and PVC pipe, fittings and adapters is easily modified for just about any situation. Two short pieces of pipe are inserted into two horizontal female parts of the Cross section that will be further forward on the bow.
To create the mount point/bracket I drilled a hole (using a 1/4″ bit) in the 3/4″ plug, inserted the 1/4″ x 1 1/2″ long bolt up into the hole with a washer inside and outside the plug. The washer on the outside of the plug then had a lock washer set on top of that. One of the 3 nuts was then screwed down, locking the bolt in place.
Two more nuts get screwed down on top and a washer goes on last. In the photo above you see the mount point in transport mode…with the topmost washer sandwiched between two nuts. This is only to prevent it from being lost. In actual use, the washer sets against the bottom of the camera. One nut then screws up against that washer to lock the camera in place by putting pressure on the threads inside the camera body. The second/middle nut is then tightened up against the top nut to prevent it from becoming lose
Here’s the mount point/bracket inserted into a digital video camera base, before the nuts are tightened…
Here the mount point/bracket has been tightened to secure the camera…
The bottom/foot of the mount consists of a piece of 1/2″ pipe inserted into a 3/4″ adapter which is screwed into a T section. The pipe has electrical tape wrapped around it. I did this for a couple reasons, instead of electing to insert the pipe permanently into a 1/2″ T section and seal it in, (1) it allows for stability and maintains a snug fit, (2) it offers some flexibility and impact resistance, so that any unexpected hard, jarring blow (such as from an unexpected/unseen object or grounding) has its impact lessened by nature of a less rigid connecting point, (3) I can take the foot of the mount off to pack it more compactly.
Note that the electrical tape is wrapped enough to create a snug fit between the vertical shaft and the adapter. There is also electrical tape wrapped around the 1/2″ pipe ends so that a resting point in the same plane as the T section exists. This fits into the groove in the bottom of the Ultimate 16 kayak.
The foot of the mount has a short end and a long end. The short end is inserted along the groove in the bottom of the kayak up under the flotation foam cell until flush…
The bungee that retains the bow carrying handle snug against the kayak is run over the two horizontal arms of the mount. They are mostly to retain the bungee, however, I intend to put rubber feet on them to further enhance lateral stability.
The finished mount as ready for use…
With a Chevy Blazer mounted… Just kidding, that was Carrie’s joke so I had to use it.
And Does It Work?
A picture is worth a thousand words, they say…
The major drawback is that it is essentially a camera mount for pleasant paddling conditions. After all, we can’t put a bow spray skirt on and use this mount. Once we acquire a bow spray skirt, I’ll address that issue. Speaking of which, please consider supporting Carrie’s Fellowship to Yellowstone and the data collection involved. It will help bring enthusiasm and a practical application of technology into the classroom for the wonderful kids that attend Central Middle School in Edmond.