Mount an action camera on your car's headrest! This quick packaging hack makes it easy to capture action and 360 degree videos from the viewpoint of a passenger in your car.
Check out our first "passenger cam" 360 video at https://youtu.be/yHkQfrkRYjg - and make sure to set the quality to maximum!
Step 1: Packaging Potential
I'm pretty new to the action camera scene, only being introduced when I won a GoPro Session in an Instructables contest recently! There are so many different mounting options available, I love the 'jaws' mount especially, and just the general feeling that you can capture great video from angles and in environments where a phone or camcorder would normally never go.
While experimenting I wanted to take a wrist-mounted shot, but didn't have the right attachment - then I remembered that in its retail box the GoPro had been clipped to a flat piece of plastic, which I'd not binned 'just in case'. A couple of rubber bands later and I had myself a temporary wrist mount! More importantly I was able to make the HamCam video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8XcltO4Zzmk&t=45s).
Step 2: Drilling and Bolting
I've been messing about creating VR videos since picking up a Gear 360 camera, and have found they're most immersive when the camera is stably mounted in a natural 'head' position. One of the best things I did to help with this was to pick up some cheap tripod adaptors from ebay so that I could use GoPro mounts with the Gear 360 and vice versa.
I really wanted to capture video from the point of view of a passenger in my car, but neither the "jaws" or the sticky mounts were right for the job, I wanted a semi-permanent mount at head level that would be as subtle as possible in the finished video.
The GoPro packaging I used for my thrown-together wrist mount turned out to be ideal! I firstly thought that I could maybe fix it in between the headrest posts, then realised that with the headrest removed altogether it could be attached to the headrest supports, they're naturally strong, and ideally placed.
In the workshop I drilled a hole in each end of the packaging mount and popped in a short 6mm bolt, using large washers next to the plastic as, being just the display box, it's not all that thick. Next I added some extra nuts on top as spacers with a smaller washer sandwiched between them. The washer has just enough space underneath it for a cable tie to sit snugly, with no danger of it slipping off.
Step 3: Installation
With the packaging mount centred on the top of the car seat I simply ran a cable tie around the nut and headrest mount on each side, making sure it was tucked securely under the spacer washer. When I fully tightened up the cable ties the whole assembly was pulled downwards into the top of the seat, so no pointy plastic edges were left sticking out. Just a quick couple of snips to tidy up the cable ties and it was finished!
This was a fun little hack, and one of the best parts is it's so unobtrusive, the headrest just goes right back on and covers it up when not in use.
Step 4: Road Test
With the mount installed it was time to give it a test!
We decided on the school run as a first experiment, setting the Gear 360 pointed straight forwards so that the "stitching" in the 360 video wouldn't be right across the kids' faces. For safety we set the camera running on a 10 second delay before heading off, and pulled over to stop it recording a few minutes later (the file sizes are huge so we didn't want to record the full 20 minutes of traffic!)
We're still experimenting with the various resolutions and capture settings but for a first attempt it came out really well - viewing the video on a swivel chair in the Gear VR headset or Google Cardboard gives just the "in-car" effect I had in mind, and the mount proved to be really stable and in just the right place. Maybe the car seat even helps absorb some of the juddering, who knows?
We're hoping to capture some more interesting "road trip" videos using the seat mount, maybe a whizz through the car wash next!