This is similar to the grenade grip that GoPro sells for $20, but it's more than a short handle-- it can be plugged into standard PVC sockets to give a lot of flexibility. Other people have made similar poles, but I haven't seen anybody using heat, using my flashlight technique to mark holes, and leaving the pvc end unaltered so that it can be used in more ways.
Step 1: Materials
- Gray spray paint
- Philips screwdriver
- Clamp (not pictured)
- powerful flashlight with narrow lens
- Stainless 22mm metric bolt M5 x , Philips head
- Stainless wingnut to match
- 1/2" pvc pipe
- 1/2" pvc pipe connectors. You need at least a female-female coupling, but buy a variety for more options.
- PVC Cutter as shown (don't try a hacksaw for this)
- GoPro hinge mount / pivot arm
- Stepped drill bit (you will love having one of these)
Step 2: Bake and Shape
The GoPro hinge mount won't quite fit into the PVC pipe, but with a little heat we can fix it.
Assemble your tools nearby, we will need to work while the PVC is still hot. Pre-heat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with foil. Cut a length of PVC that will make a comfortable hand grip, plus about 2" extra. Bake the PVC for a short time, about 4 minutes. If it has started to droop just a little so it doesn't roll anymore, that's good. If it shrinks dramatically in length or the ends bloat up a lot, you overcooked it, and you'll have to scrap that piece and try again.
With an oven mitt or glove, take it out of the oven. Witness the vinyl stage of PVC. It's kind of soft and pliable, but also a bit swollen, especially at the ends. Using the PVC cutter, cut off the swollen end, and cram it into whatever female coupling you have available. Twisting a little seems to help. We are doing this to assure that the PVC will fit into a coupling when it cools. If we didn't, in its semi-molten state it might end up being oval, and not fitting in couplings, limiting its usefulness.
Into the other end of the pipe, insert the GoPro hinge. Clamp the pipe so that it caves in to meet the flat side of the hinge. Be careful to keep the PVC pipe straight as it cools. Run water on it to cool it faster.
Step 3: Drill and Paint
You could guess where the hole goes, but we don't have to. To drill a perfect hole, go into a dark room, shine a super-bright flashlight through the PVC while the GoPro hinge is inserted. I was able to see a faint circle of light. Mark the center with a pencil on both sides. Remove the GoPro hinge. Tap the pencil mark with an awl to make a dent, then drill with the stepped drill bit until it will accept the metric bolt. Insert the hinge, insert the bolt, which you may need to screw into place using the screwdriver, and screw on the wingnut.
Stick a piece of string or wire through the hole in the PVC, hang it from a tree outside, and spray paint it. It looks so much more professional, plus you won't confuse it with other random scraps of PVC you might have. I like gray because it blends in pretty well with water, snow and the other backgrounds I encounter.
Step 4: Extending the System
Now you can have fun extending your system in various ways.
The female-to-female coupling will allow you to make selfie poles of various lengths (pictured).
Make a simple tripod (pictured).
Kayak mount (pictured).
Suction cup mount (pictured). Just stuff the pole into the Harbor Freight "Dual Cup Suction Lifter", item#46134
Over the shoulder 3rd person mount (Built this, so cool!)
Underwater two handle rig (Though I prefer a pole underwater myself)
If you use your pole in water, make yourself a floaty backdoor (pictured) with some strong cord, some closed cell foam, and a couple of rubber bands. If the rubber bands break, the cord will keep the float attached to the hinge bar of the camera. You will also want to spray some Good Stuff or other expanding foam inside your poles, otherwise they will overpower the float and drag your GoPro to the depths.