Picture of Underwater Housing for miniDV
Well, I took a good look at the possibility that I'd be diving again anytime soon and figured that since I already sold off all my dive gear, this housing was just on the shelf due to pride. In an effort to get some of my clutter out, I put the housing and camera up on Ebay so that someone else might enjoy it.  If interested check out http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=260769233083
The auction ends on April 21. Good luck!

Scuba housings are not cheap to buy, but they are cheap to build. Home Depot parts + internet mail order + time = Housing for about $70 worth of parts. Start your cam recording, seal it in the housing, edit later.

This one has been down to 92 feet salt water and has made a total of 6 repeat dives with open/close cycles in between. In other words, I didn't just get lucky.

By the way, we also plan to use this at the beach and in the pool. Enjoy!

Step 1: Will your camera fit?

Picture of Will your camera fit?
If you have one of those full size VHS shoulder mounted bazookas, you might want to skip this project. 10" diameter PVC is not easy to find.

Take your cam into Home Depot or plumbing supply of your choice and sticking it in 3, 4, or even 6" Schedule 40 PVC pipe. Note, it MUST NOT say "cellcore" or "not for pressure applications". This will not take the pressure. You need real, solid, PVC.

My design uses 4" and most of the new compact DV cams will fit, I think. The new JVC harddrive cams might even make it into 3" which is SWEET.

If it will fit in 4" with a little room to spare for the tray, cool. Get the 10 foot length of pipe, three 4" couplings, and a can each of PVC primer and cement.

You'll also need Devcon 5 minute epoxy (buy a few, they're cheap) (two part that mixes in the nozzle) in the glue section and twelve 6/32 x 3/8" stainless steel screws (or allen heads) from the specialty hardware drawers.

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Hi Bobby_m
Are you sure about the O ring part number being #425? I got it, and it's a good fit to go over the coupling pipes, not the 4" housing pipe (it's too big for that one). As per the schematics, the ring needs to fit right over the housing, so it has to be a bit smaller. Are you sure 425 is what you used?
Bobby_M (author)  David Catriel2 years ago
Wow, I'm really late in this reply but yes, I'm sure about the #425 ORING. 4" schedule 40 PVC pipe has an ID of 4" and an OD of 4.5". The #425 ORING has an ID of 4.5" which should just slip over the 4" PVC and mate properly with a 4" coupling edge. If your oring slips OVER the coupling, it must be a #428 or similar or you ended up with some odd PVC that is measured in pipe OD (I'm not aware of any of this stuff).
8699oriel2 years ago
Hi - I'm very excited to make this to project to lower underwater in the local pond with my kids to see what fish we can see (they love to fish with me). My camera won't fit the 4" model described in the instructions - I bought 6" PVC.
My questions:
1. The O-ring for 4" (#425 EPDM 9557K377), on mcmasters.com has a listed and actual size described as 4.5" and 5", respectively. Does that mean then that for a 6" project, I should get #439 with listed and actual sizes of 6.5" and 7", respectively?
2. freckleface.com, the recommended site for acrylic, advertises polycarbonate as much stronger than acrylic (it descrbes acrylic as 10x glass and polyC as 250x glass). Is there any reason (clarity, quality, etc.) if the local ponds/lakes are no more than 50' deep why it might be better to use polyC rather than acrylic?
Thanks for publishing such an awesome project to try!
Bobby_M (author)  8699oriel2 years ago
PVC pipe is rated for its inside diameter and for the most part, schedule 40 is about 1/4" thick. A 6" PVC pipe would be about 6.5" OD. I'd go with a #438 which has an actual ID of about 6.25" and it will easily stretch and stay securely in place.

While polycarbonate is stronger, I think what feature they mostly associate with "stronger" at least in use for windows is that it is less likely to shatter. To achieve that, it is actually a little softer than acrylic which makes it more prone to scratching. If you don't mind buffing out scratches occasionally, it would be a fine choice. Don't set it down, window side down, onto any hard surfaces.
Bobby_M (author)  Bobby_M2 years ago
Oops, sorry.. Once you get to 6" PVC (sched 40), the actual OD is closer to 6-5/8" so your estimate of ORING #439 is a better fit afterall.
Hello Bobby,
Greetings from Germany. I'd just like to say "thank you".

I shot a wonderful total cut of 50min on a recent red sea dive safari. Among others, the housing went into the SS Thistlegorm.

My housing dove down to 25.5m. I've noticed a tiny leakage when ascending from the depth to in between 7m-0m. Funny..an accompanying noise was audible on the video. That's the fact..still looking for a theory for the necessary side conditions. Didn't happen every dive.

My Specs.
Inner pvc pipe: 120mm, 6.7mm thickness, 10bar
Outer pvc pipe: 140mm, 10mm thickness, 16bar
Acrylic ports: 12mm thickness
4x compression latches
Name: "DeepSea Challenger mini" in dei gloriam Mr. Cameron;-)

Many thanks for this superb instruct able,

Martin Streller
Bild 1.jpghousing.JPG
RC Guy3 years ago
Hey is a cuboidal shape for the housing or a Cylindrical one capable of taking more pressure? And what is a good sealant for taking on high pressures of about 50m-60m. What will be a high pressure taking material other than pvc?
Just wanted to say thx for the instructable. Finished building my housing, and am very happy with it. Didn't get to try it out under 10ft yet, but it looked promising in the tub and I'm confident with all the seals.

A couple of things I changed/noticed - the handles were filled with lead shot, but I found it easier to just plug it with a hot glue gun. Much easier to tear open later on if I need to. Also, the total weight of the housing remains negative even with the handles filled to the brim, so I guess I'll need to stick a pair of pliers or something heavy inside to add weight. I'm thinking of a zip lock (or two) that I can fill with sand right at the beach, and I can stick it under the shelf.

Lastly, I found a whole line of Rustoleum spray paint that had primer in it and was good for multiple surfaces, including plastic, so that saved me a step or two.

Lastly, just thx again for posting the instructable!
Having a hell of a time getting latches shipped to Canada. McMaster doesn't ship anything over here unless it's to an established customer. Tried Home Depot as well as local hardware stores, and they have nothing. Any other ideas? Otherwise I'm left with some guy from hong kong selling his stuff on ebay, and it's only listed as being made out of "metal" ...
For anyone interested, I found that Fastenal has several stores in Canada, and sells pretty much the same stuff McMaster does. Hope this saves someone else some time!
asmith4333 years ago
just out of curiosity how deep can it go because I'm going to use it on an under water robot
Bobby_M (author)  asmith4333 years ago
I had it to about 95F but I'm sure it can go a couple hundred. I wouldn't put a camera in the first time you break depth limits empty first.
silent_c13 years ago
thanks to you Mr bobby_m
I already done half work of mine, and already tested to the 15 feet pool and succed ,a few changed from your plan I made and now i planning to make the operating button , i'm promise after done i'll pose the pic
many thanks bro, keep the good work
ermaclob4 years ago
as im making mine i start to notice that it is kinda hard to take the coupling of the pipe once it goes all the way in. how do you easily remove the end coupling once its all done?
Bobby_M (author)  ermaclob4 years ago
If you look at the drawing, the coupling that becomes the removable cap only overlaps the pipe about 1/4" before the oring stops it. On mine, it provided no resistance to removal.
im using 6" pvc, 1/4 into the coupling is very loose . thats making me worry. i want ~ 1 1/4" in the coupling. any recommendations on longer latches?
Chornbeak4 years ago
Well I decided I wanted to build this housing so I did, managed to gather all my parts without ordering online. Unfortunately I think this was the cause of my leaking housing. I ended up using a o-ring that I found at my local hardware store that was a smaller diameter than yours. My second issue was that I didn't have a machine which I could cut square edges with. Finally I think the sealing edges of my removable end needed to be angled differently. I used the existing smooth edge of 2 couplings to seal it, but the edges were rounded in towards the inside rather than flat. Either way the housing looks great, and I will definitely still use it as a crash cam case, for it feels indestructible.

I have a few questions for my second build which I will build at my friends machine shop.
1) How important is the diameter of the O-ring?
2) Wouldn't putting the acrylic disk on the "outside" of the coupling lip be beneficial for the non-removable side? (full socket depth for pipe=stronger)
3) What epoxy/ adhesive do you use for the acrylic to pvc bond?

I'm planning on making a window for the non removable side and then using an end cap with a glued in support ring for screws for the removable.
No need to build the 2nd version. My camera is small and my housing was too big, so I chopped the housing in half and eliminated the leaking window. Now I have an end cap sealing upon the coupling of the non removable side. It came out really small and solid.
Rich_D7 years ago
OK, another question. I'm going to take your suggestion and install my acrylic disc on the "other side" of the molded-in stop, so that the stop itself, and not an inserted ring, supports the disc against the water pressure that wants to push the disc into the housing. If I do it that way, I wouldn't need the inner ring at all, correct? And if that's true, does the lack of an inner ring affect the gap in any way?
Bobby_M (author)  Rich_D7 years ago
It introduces a few challenges. Notice the latches will have to be longer so that the screws penatrate into or in front of the acrylic. The backing ring provides more gluing/sealing surface for some piece of mind. Maybe it's not necessary but you'd have to experiment. The gap doesn't have to be exacting by the way, you just don't want the body bottoming out before the Oring is compressed well.
couldn't you still glue in a ring behind the molded in step? That way you wouldn't have to use longer latches.
markfftang4 years ago
Have you come across any issues with the refractive index of water causing issues against your flat viewing port - just curious ? Thanks.

Way cool build btw :)
Jakeg4 years ago
Are the handles strong enough to tie a rope + weight to so that I can lower this assembly into my lake... I've always wanted to know what's down there....
yellowcatt4 years ago
A very good project, I just wanted to say that for any one in the UK I found Westward plastics in Bristol http://www.westwardplastics.co.uk/ to be a good supplier of material, they can also cut the acrylic discs for you and flame polish them, I have used them several times. Also if you can get there to pick up your material you may be able to have a look in their scrap bin for useful off cuts. Another supplier worth checking out is Kebrell Nuts & Bolts Ltd, I have only used their Bristol depot but found them to have a wide range of stock and the people there to be very helpful.
neilmac4 years ago
Hi Great 'ible! As a kid I was obsessed with making things waterproof! There was a company back then call EWA-Marine who supplied everything you needed to build your own enclosure - O - rings , latches , glass lens portholes - stainless steel control rods which passed thru the enclosure with special seals for camera control Regarding polishing Acrylic (or Perspex) back to see-thru shiny: No need to introduce flame or torches which may cause nasty gases and can be hard to control....... I have made 3 electric guitars using acrylic for the bodies and headstock Here's how to get a mirror finish - once you sand the surface to the 'hazy' stage using progressively finer papers you can easily bring the acrylic to a mirror see-thru finish by then hand rubbing with Auto cutting compound and cloth! (we call it Cut and Polish Compound in Australia) Use the compound designed for heavy cutting rather than the final polish one Think of the acrylic as a really thick car acrylic clearcoat It works really fast and you'll get a perfect finish! cheers Neilmac
dasclown5 years ago
Instead of using an O-ring couldn't you use the threaded fittings, so you can screw the end on? I'm not sure on how water resistant it is to what depth etc. that would be. Just a thought. Nice instructable and it looks real professional.
Bobby_M (author)  dasclown5 years ago
You could probably get it to seal if you used a lot of thread sealant but you'd have to bring a strap-wrench on the boat with you to tighten. The latch design lets you load the camera in and be in the water within 5 minutes.
Rushboy5 years ago
I have noticed that no firm solutions for controlling the camera have been offered. A company named Hypoxic offers a product called the Hypeye D. It is a single button, wired remote controller that works well in other sport applications (I personally use one on my skydiving helmet to control my Sony CX100). With sufficient waterproofing, it might do the trick...
jack_fetch5 years ago
Great article! Kudos. I will add that I couldn't find the o-ring you described at any local home depot or ace hardware. I did find a site online that sells them $0.79 each which I think is fair. It was called TheRubberstore here is the direct link for the EPDM o-ring mentioned in the article. I hope this helps, as this article has helped me.
Just to let you know the website that you specified has a minimum order of 25 O-Rings. the total comes to around $18.00 for 25 O-Rings. Its still better than $12.00 for 9 O-Rings though, especially if your making more than one of these.
Bobby_M (author)  Jakeg5 years ago
How about allorings.com? You can get THREE -425 rings in silicone for $5.88. I think silicone would be a good choice because it's softer and may make up for minor contamination like a spec of sand.
On my design, if I install the end cap without the o-ring in place, the o-ring can be pushed into the gap with just a small amount of force. Should I shave off some of the 4" pipe to get a more snug fit?

Bobby_M (author)  paratroopaah5 years ago
Yes, absolutely. You want that gap to be too tight to even push the ORING in because when you start taking on pressure, you want the cap to be able to compress the oring as much as it wants to. You don't want the cap to bottom out on pipe. I'd say take 1/8" off. Just my opinion.
evolving_I5 years ago
 looking at the first hardware site listed, mcmaster.com, I found a slightly better clasp a few lines down, #1794A54.  I say better because these are padlockable, so my idea was to put a pin (google:  5/16 dia. 1.00 grip, quick release pin, $2.18 each from amazon) each clasp, secured via elastic cord (1/16 dia. available from Amazon also, 5 yards for $1.59) to the opposite end of the housing. 

This creates a redundant closure system , essential when the safety of your electronics is at stake. The clasps listed above leave it VERY easy to accidently open one of the clasps underwater if the edge of it catches on something like your BC, gloves, or wetsuit, whatever. 

Bobby_M (author)  evolving_I5 years ago
The clasps don't open very easily at all because they use springs for tension. If you install the catch at the correct distance, it takes a bit of force to close the latch as well as open them.

I have a lot of dives on this housing and I've never unlatched by accident. For sure, you can build any redundant safety into it as you'd like.
divergps6 years ago
**Alternate Latch: I'm using a flat, rubber, adjustable bungee strap (Home Depot)...the strap has reinforced holes every 2 inches or so...I cut a piece...add a loop of line to one end to make stretching easier. The strap attaches to stainless steel bolts. Simple, but very effective....I used this method to make a waterproof tube with 3" sched 40 pvc. I Glued one end cap on, on the other end...Cut a piece off of a coupling...slid this over the pipe about 1 1/2"...glued in place, slid on an o-ring...the cap attaches nicely with the above strap/ bungee method. I just ordered some clear pvc sched 40 from US plastics...unfortunately, must buy 10 feet, at over $13 per ft. **Note: I installed the bolts in the coupling piece mentioned above....and near the top of the cap, alternately, you could install 4 connection points (instead of 3) ...install bolts only in the coupling piece, and cross 2 straps over the top of the lid to stetch down and connect at the other side. 1st attempt, however, I did drill all the way through the cap...used 2 part epoxy to seal.
TB2scuba6 years ago
Used a JVC hard drive camcorder with extended battery - would record two entire dives with no problem. First time using was in May/June 09 in Philippines & took it to 94' with no problems. Dove in Batangas with Aquaventure.

Thanks for the instructions!

Video (has a still of me on dive with housing):
jcub2316 years ago
Can you possibly find any latches at home depot
Found something similar on Lowe's website.... National Steel Draw Hasp Item #: 168962 Model: DPB35 $3.37 each
Bobby_M (author)  jdpphotography6 years ago
Plain steel will rust pretty quickly unless you wash it well with plain water and dry it quickly.
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