Introduction: Make a Pro Waterproof Camera Case (+ Video)

Make sure to check out my blog!

This is how I made a waterproof case for my digital camera. It's not a super detailed instructable...more like a build-a-long. It's full of great ideas on how you can make your own...

One great hurdle this case solves is the camera interface. Mose DIY waterproof (hard) cases don't have a way of operating the camera's shutter. It's usually just turning on the camera and sticking it inside a box while it films.


My lake is frozen, so I'll need to wait until it thaws to get some good pics. I'm stuck with the sink for now!


Step 1: The Box I Used...

 This box is just an airtight food storage box from Dollar General (cost $2.00). If you don't have a dollar store nearby, Meijers ALWAYS has them in stock, but prepare to pay $3.00 and up. Just look in the Tupperware section :D

Step 2: Hole for the Lense

 By itself, this box isn't clear enough for taking picture. You'll need to cut a circular hole in it, and mount a piece of plexiglass/lexan/plastic/ as a lens. I used a hole saw...but a spade bit would work if you can find a large one.

WHEN YOU CUT YOUR HOLE: make it like 3 times larger than your camera's lens assembly! You can't make it too big! But you can make it too small... and that means you have a shadow around you video, called a vignette.

The hole in this photo was too small, so I later enlarged it.

Step 3: The Lens

The lense is just a peice of clear plastic with holes in it. It's mounted with bolts and nuts.

Step 4: Gasket

 Use sticky-backed craft foam as a gasket. You are going to silicone the outside cracks anyway, but the foam makes a darn good secondary defense against water.
The sticky side of this foam is on the lens.

Step 5: Waterproofing the Screws

 Make sure the screw heads are facing inside. Before you tighten them, put some silicone on the threads.

Step 6: Viewing Port

 Cut out a window on the lid of the container so you can see the screen of your camera. Using the same technique you did to make the lens, mount a piece of plastic on the INSIDE with screws, foam, and silicone.

Step 7: My Mistake...

 OK, up to this pint, unknowingly, I made the lens-hole too small! I had to go back in time, and fix it. Don't make the same mistake! Don't make the hole to small!
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Step 8: Mounting the Camera

 One of the hard parts of making a custom case is actually holding the camera still! Without some way to mount you camera, it would just jumble around inside...

So I decided to wrap my camera (with the lens extended) in a plastic bag, tape it inside the waterproof box, and inject Great Stuff expanding foam around it. It worked great! Just make sure you don't get any foam on your camera or the plastic lens you made.

Some tips when using Great Stuff: It expands...Just put a little bit inside the box, and it will triple in size after just 10 minutes. Never EVER put to much foam in. It will never dry...If you put too little foam, you can always add more! Just paint some water on the already cured foam, and spray some more foam in.
If you think your foam isn't drying, DON'T FREEK OUT. Just wait 24 hours, and it will almost always be cured.

After the foam is dry, pull it out (it won't stick to this kind of plastic). Trim it with a knife, make it look pretty. I painted mine black so it looked better from the outside.

Step 9: Pushing the Shutter Button

 Ok, this is a pretty iffy solution, but it works! 

It's hard to explain, but here I go..
Get a plastic cylinder that it small enough to push the camera's button. Cut it really short so that it touches both the inside of the box and the shutter button of the camera (when the camere is inside the foam insert, inside the case).

It WILL take some fiddling to get right, so don't give up if it's not quite working.

Now all you have to do it gently squeeze the box, and the plastic cylinder pushes the button! 

Step 10: Silicone...

 Ok, now silicone EVERY SINGLE NOOK AND CRANNY. 
let it cure..
..and get wet!

Comments

author
Ryan+Whitsett made it!(author)2017-05-04

I put kids clay in then I put foam over it so that it would be more dense and be easier to dive with but the foam made it fit snug and didn't get all over the camera. Nice instructable! It's my favorite so far. It is both useful and cheap. I have a Panasonic Lumix dmc-lx100 camera and the cases cost from $300-$1050 for a case... it's outrageous...

author
net2005 made it!(author)2010-04-07

quick an easy: ziplock bag

author
LeenM1 made it!(author)2016-04-24

Ziploc bag: cheap and easy

Oh hey disclaimer might cost you the exact price of your camera, just so you know!

author
ClandestineIntestine made it!(author)2012-09-03

I like your solution to the shutter button problem. Much more elegant than mine. :)

author
frits297 made it!(author)2012-07-03

look really good, thanks for the instructable, i'm going to give it a try

author
bananabumgarner made it!(author)2011-02-21

where would you be able to find a piece of plexiglass like that?

author
ADIAN+HERRERA made it!(author)2010-06-09

what if you used caulking, it wouldnt look all that bad. in fact it looks great on mine

author
VadimS made it!(author)2010-03-29

Shouldn't the plastic be on the outside? So that the water pressure will help it seal.

author
nepheron made it!(author)2010-03-29

 It's not going very deep. Practicality overpowered functionality in this project.

author
VadimS made it!(author)2010-03-29

I was mainly wondering wy you specified the inside as I can't see wy it would matter.

author
nepheron made it!(author)2010-03-30

The outside of the lid has rough texture, with an embossed logo and such. I was afraid that the rough surface would effect the gasket, so I mounted the window on the smooth inside.

author
VadimS made it!(author)2010-03-29

Just wanted to recommend using 2-part epoxy instead of a gasket, I can't think of any reason you would need to remove the lens and epoxy will be a lot stronger.

author
nepheron made it!(author)2010-03-29

 Epoxy has the tendency to look really bad.

author
VadimS made it!(author)2010-03-29

I guess if it's not put on properly it could. When I get my new camera I do plan to build something like this, but probably just out of Plexiglas (I dive).

But anyway nice Ible.

author
yardguy00 made it!(author)2010-03-15

Im sure most of you are doing this because its fun to be crafty.... thats great, but just incase; you can buy a waterproof camera bag off ebay for 3 bucks! Works good! They also sell pricier version for like 30 which I also own.
Oh and a bonus to the bag is you can actually mess with your setting through the bag.

author
Fishpail made it!(author)2010-03-26

You're probably right that the poster did this to be crafty, but
this would be useful if you have a camera like mine:
www.elitezoom.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/fujifilm-s1000fd.jpg
it's technically a digital camera, but it's still not a DSLR.

Have a fun time trying to find a case for THAT, and if you do, I'll be surprised, but my point still stands that this is a cheaper alternative :)
(in case the link doesn't work; it's a fujifilm finepix s1000fd)

author
yardguy00 made it!(author)2010-03-26

I, like you ,doubted that aswell but it turns out they do have DSLR waterproof bags... makes sense.. they are just bigger bags ;)
But you are right...in this case  its cheaper to go the crafty route as they Dslr bags are $30-$120. However you will have slightly better control over your camera thru the bag.  I personally wouldnt trust a DSLR in one of these. Stick to cheapo $200 cameras for your snorkeling.

author
nepheron made it!(author)2010-03-26

  This actually the cooler and more fun alternative :D

author
isacco made it!(author)2010-03-23

Congratulations for the idea, the quality of assembling, and the clear explanations. Very good Instructable

author
juanoporras made it!(author)2010-03-12

hey nepherton, pretty cool instructable, I was going to buy a waterproof bag for my camera, but it runs around 15 dollars; this is a great idea instead of buying those.
It would be pretty cool if you added a hole for the flash so you could take pictures underneath the water when is dark.

where did you get the black sticky foam?

thanks for sharing

author
axist47 made it!(author)2010-03-18

 I would avoid those waterproof bags. They're alright if you're going to take your camera near water, but not in it. It'll keep your camera dry for a little bit, but I almost lost a point and shoot to one of those.

author
nepheron made it!(author)2010-03-20

 And hard cases look cooler than a bag...

author
nepheron made it!(author)2010-03-12

 Thanks! Most craft stores sell this sort of thing. I got mine from Micheal's...
It's a hard thing to find in the store, so you should ask an employee for 'sticky-backed foam'.
It comes it tones of colors...real cheap, too.

author
Halomaster222 made it!(author)2010-03-18

How can you tell how big it needs to be?

author
Ejstructables made it!(author)2010-03-20

I think it says 3 times bigger than the lens or smaller, I think.... : )

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nepheron made it!(author)2010-03-20

 3 times the diameter of your lens, or you will see the edges of the box when you film :)

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ThePolrBear made it!(author)2010-03-17

Righteous!  Have you put it to depth yet?  I was wondering how deep the box would let you go before leakage.

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nepheron made it!(author)2010-03-18

 I'll test it in a few months. It's too cold now...
I'll test it to it's limit (until it springs a leak), and then post my results here.

author
ThePolrBear made it!(author)2010-03-19

Awesome, I'm heading to the beach in August and would like to try it.  I'll probably make one just for surface shots anyway.  If we're lucky a pod of dolphin will swim by and I'll have something with me this year.

Good luck!

author
sdhardie made it!(author)2010-03-18

This would be fantastic for kayaking too, just in case I drop my camera.  Just one problem.... I have a digital SLR. Can this Instructable be modified for such???

author
axist47 made it!(author)2010-03-18

 I've seen similar containers that are MUCH bigger. I'm pretty sure it would be possible to get a DSLR into one.

author
agis68 made it!(author)2010-03-18

 It's a nice project. But...

The tests you did are doubtful. You test the device in some 10-15 cm of water and not in real conditions. If you aim to use it in lake waters the only issue you have to take care is the pressure. 1 m under the water is scary enough. 
For the salty water please don't try it . Salt is very annoying thing. Penetrates easy and the damage is done before do something else. You have  many holes, so may points of water entrance. You have to do something about it. Also the pressure in salty water is more bigger. Recently i found in stores a waterproof case that fits to any camera (mean compact camera) and costs about 40 euros. 
Nice try anyaway

author
xadevox made it!(author)2010-03-14

and where can i get silicone?

author
Broom made it!(author)2010-03-15

Silicone is often sold as tub & tile cement, "Plumber's Goop" (tm), and so on. It's the flexible stuff that you often find sealing the interface between tub tops & the shower walls. Comes in both clear & white.

author
chuckvideo made it!(author)2010-03-18

 Be careful, "plumber's goop" can also be pipe thread compound which is something you DON'T want to use as it won't seal.   You want to be sure you're using Silicone Seal.  

author
Broom made it!(author)2010-03-18

That's why I specified "Plumber's Goop" (tm), which is a specific product (made of silicone).

author
imthatguy1125 made it!(author)2010-03-15

 lowes

author
Broom made it!(author)2010-03-15

Great idea, but I think I can offer one improvement. Instead of using screws, depend on silicone glue to hold pieces together. Clamp the pieces together after "wetting" both surfaces with the glue, to insure a solid seal, for the "partial cure" time of the silicone.

You will have fewer holes in the housing ( = less points of entry for water = fewer failure possibilities), and since water pressure will always be pushing in on the plexiglass plates (remember to seal the plates on the outside of the box!), nothing will threaten the glue seal.

Bolts would only be needed if there was a chance that the plexiglass would get shear forces, like from a glancing blow to its edge, but that's not really a problem for this application.

author
nepheron made it!(author)2010-03-18

 I bolted it because I wanted to avoid "catastrophic failure". Only small leaks can occur now, but if the whole window fell off...water would rush in!

author
Broom made it!(author)2010-03-18

But that's my point - there no reason for the whole window to fall off, unless the inside is suddenly superpressurized (so don't store CO2 cartridges in there with your camera!), or a strong glancing blow sheers the edge of the plate (bevel it, or else stop using your camera as an underwater hammer).

author
thepelton made it!(author)2010-03-12

Making a hole too small is no way as bad as making it too big, as I found out while working with wood.  You can always remove wood, but you can't replace it.

author
nepheron made it!(author)2010-03-18

 But making it right is better than making it wrong. :)

author
MrRetardo made it!(author)2010-03-13

I was just thinking.... you might be able to use a regular camera shutter remote cable to activate the shutter.   I havent seen one in years to know if that would work or not

author
nepheron made it!(author)2010-03-18

 I don't believe my camera has any kind of remote-trigger function. I know that nikons do, though.

author
Broom made it!(author)2010-03-15

You'd have to seal it into the housing body (silicone would do this), but it ought to work just fine. Good idea.

author
Ninzerbean made it!(author)2010-03-17

 Wonderful idea and wonderfully documented.

author
Jobar007 made it!(author)2010-03-10

The only problem I can see with this is that if you are counting on the flexing of the box to actuate the shutter, then taking it to depth (as in scuba diving) will be actuating the shutter constantly. I could see this working from most snorkeling depths though!

author
Broom made it!(author)2010-03-15

Good point!

author
nepheron made it!(author)2010-03-10

 Yeah, it's only supposed to go a couple feet deep :)

author
LoneWolf made it!(author)2010-03-13

Nice Job!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Bio: Travelling since 2013. I'm currently in Australia for some reason. --- I’m Calvin Drews, and I love to learn, experiment, invent, create, repair, and ... More »
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