Introduction: Front Mounted GoPro to Shoei GT-Air
Everyone is doing it, now you can too!
I wear a Shoei GT-Air helmet when I ride. It's nice, but mounting a GoPro is difficult. I don't like the look or feel of a camera appendage off to the side, or the top. It creates drag and wind buffeting. It makes the neck tired, and the video shaky. When I think about an optimum place to put the camera, the front seemed the most obvious. It cuts the wind, gives the video a POV perspective which is nice, and it's easier to control the camera which is a bonus.
The challenge is that my helmet (and maybe yours) has a vent right in the front, as well as a stylish ridge molded into the helmet. There is no large enough, flat enough (or regularly curved enough) surface onto which you can stick the standard GoPro sticky mounts. I searched everywhere I could... local retailers, online stores, forums... nothing. Until I ran across this guy on YouTube who inspired me! His video is linked.
Step 1: Gather the Materials
I'm all about scavenging and re-purposing, trying to use as much of what I have laying around as possible. Plus, I don't enjoy spending money on things if I have a quick solution at my finger tips. If you own a GoPro, chances are you have the main component already. Did you open the packaging and see the large, square mounting plate which you might not have thought of a use for? Well, we're going to use it here. Obviously you need your helmet as well. The white sheets of fuzzy stuff is called Wonderflex. Cosplayers might know what this is already, but if not... it's a fabric batting type material which can be heated gently with a heat gun or hair drier, molded and massaged into custom shapes, then retains the shape after it cools. We're going to use it to try matching the contours of the helmet under the mounting bracket, after we've shaped that.
There's something else which isn't shown: microphone (I got mine on Amazon, $20 with the GoPro adapter), and a small, thin rubber pad. If you don't have this laying around, maybe an old mouse pad would work, if it's the thinner kind. You'll also need a few (at least 2, maybe 5 in case you break some) HEAVY DUTY zip ties. Grab some smaller zip ties while you're there, they're useful for securing the microphone.
I also used a 1500W heat gun, dremel, and some two part epoxy. Don't panic, that was just to secure the Wonderflex to the bracket... you shouldn't get anything on your helmet.
Step 2: Shape the Mounting Bracket
I skipped a ton of in-process pictures here. You'll get the idea: heat the bracket up, and bend the sides to create a C-shape. The flanges you just made will offset the mounting clip surface from the front of your helmet, and the space behind the bracket is where the Wonderflex and rubber pad will go. Use your dremel to shape the flanges so there's clearance for the ridges. Don't worry too much about the clip angle relative to the helmet alignment. You can adjust the camera angle later.
Step 3: Add Rear Support and Paint
You can see the Wonderflex is pretty good at taking the shape you force it into. I epoxied it to the bracket after it cooled. Then, I just hit the whole thing with some black primer coat to dull it out (matches the helmet better, no other reason). I did add a bit more Wonderflex than I needed, so after I painted it all, some of it was removed. That first layer seemed to work fine.
I didn't take pictures of the rubber mat, but it's fairly straight forward. Simply put it between the helmet and the bracket (it helps keep the bracket in place) as you use the heavy duty zip ties to secure the whole thing.
Oh no! I forgot to take pictures of the holes I drilled into the bracket! Four of them total, in each "corner" on the front face. Not the flanges! Make them big enough to allow your heavy duty zip ties to pass through, but not wiggle too much.
Step 4: HEAVY DUTY Zip Ties
Did I mention I used heavy duty zip ties? I even went as far as to get UV stabilized zip ties, just in case. The camera isn't cheap, and it would be horrible to lose it because cheap zip ties were used.
Try to note the orientation of the zip ties. It's hard to explain... put the buckle down, with the entry facing into the helmet. Bring the end up through the bottom hole on one side of the bracket. Loop it over the bracket, and feed it into the top hole. Then, run the zip tie through the front vent, second slot in. Now, just insert the end into the buckle and tighten snugly, but gently. Repeat this process for the second zip tie on the other side. Make sure the rubber mat stays centered between the helmet and bracket as well.
Step 5: Camera Is Ready to Install! Almost...
I used the curvy mounting clip and oriented the camera upside down. It hung low, and very forward. I actually changed this arrangement later, but not before taking it out for a few test rides to prove it did, in fact, catch too much wind and cause all kinds of annoying image instability, etc. Check out Update #1 for how I fixed that.
Step 6: Prepare the GoPro Case for Microphone
This part is actually really common. I won't go into too much detail here. Just make sure the camera is out of the case before you go drilling into it with the dremel. Friendly advice, from someone who definitely didn't start drilling with the camera still in the case like a doofus.
Step 7: Route the Microphone
It will take some experimentation on your part to figure out the best way to route the mic wires. I'm still working on it. The cool thing is I had space between the bracket and helmet to wrap the wire around, taking up a lot of the slack. I tried putting the mic near my ear pad, in my cheek pad, in between those two spots, with extra foam, etc. Sorry, you'll have to work this part out on your own. Do what feels right. Do what makes you happy.
Step 8: Update #1!
I used the same curvy mounting clip, but turned it around. The camera went right side up, and I actually added a short, straight link in to help tilt the camera properly. This is the best, and tightest to my POV, set up I've played with so far.
The only thing I don't like is the mic adapter is too short, so it forces me to point it straight down (as of right now). When I set the helmet down, the surface and the wire at the bottom collide. Just be careful if you do it this way, don't cause damage to your mic wire after repeated or prolonged bending. Otherwise, it's fine.
Step 9: Update #2
I picked up a Microphone Windscreen DIY Kit from Amazon, sold by Cat-Ears, LLC. It came with 3 squares of fuzzy muff stuff, some 3M VHB tape, and some velcro. It was a bit pricey, I think, but I couldn't find any really fuzzy stuffed animal skin in my kid's collection... so I gave in and purchased something.
The microphone was wrapped in foam, on top of the foam it came with, and buried in the cheek pad. It was removed, uncovered, and wrapped around the heavy duty zip ties on the inside of the helmet. I made a pocket using the new fluffy muff stuff, and placed the mic with the native foam into the pocket. Then, it was tightened and zip tied into place. The initial sound tests are ok. I'll go ride with it. If you don't see an update on this, assume if went splendidly and solved all of my problems perfectly. One thing, I might put the fluffy muff stuff over the native foam and bury it back in the cheek pad if I need to make another improvement.
Step 10: Conclusion
That's it! Go ride and make videos!
Thanks for stopping by to see my work! And of course, if you have ideas feel free to share them in the comments.
For future work, maybe one day I'll get around to making a 3D model of the mounting bracket adapter so I can 3D print it. If you do this before I get the chance, please send me a 3D print! I'd love to try it out!