For a long time now I've wanted a way to secure both my digital SLR, and GoPro camera to my belt or strap of my backpack for easier handling, security and accessibility. I found ones online but they were too expensive ($60.00 and up) and the GoPro versions could not do double duty. So I set out to see if I could make my own.
Step 1: DESIGN CRITERIA
1. The clip has to attach to both my pants belt AND the strap of my backpack easily, securely and quickly.
2. It has to hold the weight of my Canon 7D WITH a long lens.
3. It has to hold my GoPro Hero 4 securely and be light weight.
4. It has function in a way that allowed me to attach and detach the camera with one hand.
5. It has to be able to be constructed with simple tools and materials.
6. It has to be cost effective.
I studied the designs of the ones online and new I could do as good a job for a lot less money. Going over the numerous ways to approach this in my head, I realized I could re-purpose some of my existing photo gear and adapt it to fit my needs.
At the heart of this design is the camera mount that use on all my tripods and mono-pods, the Manfrotto 323 RC2 quick release connector. This connector is made of light weight aluminum and is rugged and secure. it has a flat bottom that would work well with the clip I'm building. It can be operated with one hand and it has a lock that will not allow it to separate from the mount unless I want it too.
Step 2: MATERIALS AND TOOLS
A. 1 set. Manfrotto 323 RC2 quick connector and plate (online as low as $6.)
B. 2 pcs. 1/8" x 1-1/4" x 3" aluminum flat stock. (Home Depot $9.)
C. 2 pcs. 1/4" "T" nuts (Home Depot $2.)
D. 2 pcs. 1/4" x 1-1/4" round head bolt (Home Depot $2.)
E. 4 pcs. 3/4" x 8-32 flat head machine screws (Home Depot $2.)
F. 2 pcs, 1/4" thread thru plastic knobs (Home Depot $5.)
G. 1 sheet thin rubber for inside cushion (Craft store $2.)
H. 1 Set JB Weld epoxy (Home Depot $8.)
Power jig saw with metal blade
Power drill with drill bits
Power disc sander
Power bench grinder
Spray adhesive or double-stick tape
Step 3: THE PLATES
CUT AND SHAPE THE FLAT METAL
Decide how wide and high you want it. I chose a dimension wider that my pants belt and the width of my backpack strap. I chose an oval shape to limit the weight but square will work as well. Draw an outline of the shape and cut the flat aluminum with a power jig saw and metal blade. Aluminum is a soft metal so use a fine tooth blade. GO SLOW! Make sure you leave the hook part of the outer plate for later. Don't cut it yet. It needs to be shaped around the bolt from the back plate for a snug fit.
DRILL THE HOLES
Now clamp the cut-outs together and drill the holes so they will align with both plates. I drilled a pilot hole of 1/8" to start. Now unclamp the plates and drill 2 19/64" holes in the back plate for the "T" nut to slide through. Then, drill 2 1/4" holes in the front plate for the plate to slide on. Remember, don't make the holes in the front plate too big otherwise the fit will be sloppy.
SHAPE AND SECURE T NUTS
Time for the T nuts. Bend the spikes flat in a vise and squeeze them in to the central shaft to keep the base nice and round. Now mix up some JB Weld and apply it to one side of the back plate where the T nut drops into the drilled hole. Careful, this stuff is sticky! Once it's squished against the JB Weld, turn the plate over and apply some more JB weld to the base of the shaft sticking through the hole. You'll sand everything later. Once the JB Weld has tried overnight, remove the excess epoxy with a disk sander and hand files. Leave enough material as shown.
CLAMP PLATES AND SHAPE
Now run the 1/4" x 1-1/4" round head bolts up through the T nuts through the back plate and secure both plates together with a 1/4" nut. Shape the edges of both plates together at one time on a disk or belt sander. Clamping them together ensures a consistent shape of both plates once you're done.
SHAPING THE FRONT PLATE HOOK
This will take some time but it's worth it. The hook that slides down over the left bolt needs to be shaped so it fits right and looks finished. Using hand files and the disk sander, I shaped the hook as shown. The fit should be snug (sorry for repeating myself but this probably the most critical for a good fit).
Step 4: THE QUICK CONNECTOR
DRILL HOLES IN THE CONNECTOR AND PLATE
Now that the plates are almost finished, drill 4 11/64" holes in the base of the quick connector as shown. Several of the holes are almost there due to the metal casting at the foundry. Let's use them and add 2 more. Remember this connector base needs to be really secure to the plates as it has to support the potential weight of a DSLR and lens. Once the holes are drilled, clamp the connector against the front plate in a position that when turned, the plastic knobs won't hit the connector while tightening. Take your time. Now using a sharp pointed scribe or nail, rotate it in the center of the connector holes to indicate where to drill on the front plate. Drill 4 9/64" holes and thread them with a 8-32 standard tap. Even though the metal is soft, go easy on the tap so you don't break it.
MOUNT THE CONNECTOR
Now mount the connector to the front plate with the 4 8-32 flat head bolts. If you have any excess 8-32 bolt threads sticking out of the front plate. grind them off with a bench grinder.
Step 5: FINISHING UP
On the inside of both plates, cut and glue 1/8" rubber material so the plates will grip your belt or pack strap. I used double stick tape on mine. Cut the material so it's a little smaller than the shape of the plates and away from the securing bolts so it won't rub the threads.
I chose not to paint mine yet for this instructable but will probably paint it dessert tan to match my pack. Make sure to mask the rubber material and bolt shafts to avoid problems later.
EXTRA WEB LOOP
When you mount the camera clip to your pack strap, it's oriented in the proper direction so the plate attached to the camera faces down. When you mount the camera clip to your belt, the camera plate faces in front of you and you may need to twist it 90 degrees on your camera so the camera faces down to the ground. Am I making sense here? To alleviate this, run an extra piece of black webbing through you belt, then attach the camera clip to that. This will re-orient the clip pointing down as shown. This is an option and may not be suited for all uses.
Step 6: CONCLUSIONS
This has been a great project to develop and make. I'm not sure how often I'll use it but I'll have it if I need it. Some projects are like that. I'm passing it along to all of you in case you want to build one.
Difficulty scale: On a scale of 1 to 10. This project ranks about a 4.
Cost: About half of the cost a commercial one. $34.00
Fun Factor: Off the charts.
Enjoy!! and tell me about yours.