I cycle often, and I usually bring my camera to make photos as I ride. I decided to make a camera mount for my bike, but I wanted one that articulated, so my photos weren't horribly tilted, and had a quick-release like a tripod, so that I could easily remove the camera for unmounted shots.
The end mounting assembly should be sturdy enough that you can attach small video cameras to it as well -- anything that uses a standard 1/4" tripod mount.
There are a few bicycle camera mount Instructables already out there -- kudos especially to MikeIsOrganic's for the inspiration for this one. However, most tend to require unscrewing the camera if you want an unmounted shot, which can get tedious and might cause you to miss those transient or candid shots!
Step 1: Parts and Tools
Here's the full list of parts and tools needed for the camera mount:
Tripod ball head with quick release plate -- $20 on ebay
3/8" x 2" Bolt for mounting tripod head -- $3.50
3/8" Nylon lock nut -- $1.00 for two
3/8" Washer -- $0.09
1/2" Electrical conduit hanger -- $0.50
8-32 x 1.5" Machine screw with nut -- $1.00 for eight
Total Cost: $26.09
Electric drill with suitably-sized bits for the bolt and machine screw
Wrench and screwdriver
Duct tape, electrical tape, or thin flexible rubber (optional)
The tripod head is really up to you -- I'm quite happy with the DynaTran ATH-02H (ebay search) I found -- but most anything should work. The ATH-02H has a single lock lever, with full 360 degree spin capability, as well as 90 degree tilting in either direction, and the all-important quick release plate. It's also possible to remove and attach just the quick release plate, if you don't care about the articulation (which would reduce the overall height of the assembly). Whichever tripod head you choose, just make sure you match the size of the mounting bolt/nut/washer combo to the size of the tripod's mounting hole (remember to check the thread pitch too!).
The electrical conduit hanger I used can be found at Home Depot. Alternatively, if you can find a cheap throwaway bike light, you might be able to use its mounting bracket instead. The key is finding something that fits your bike's handlebar tube. Note that the conduit hangers at Home Depot labeled as 1/2" actually snugly fit a 3/4" tube such as the one on my handlebars.
Step 2: Drill the Mounting Bracket
Chances are, whether you chose to use a conduit bracket or a bike light mounting bracket, it doesn't have a 3/8" hole in it. Use your drill to incrementally widen the mounting hole of the bracket until it will accept the 3/8" bolt. If you use the conduit bracket I used, it starts with a 1/4" hole, so you can just grab a 3/8" bit and have at it.
Step 3: Drill Holes for Cotter Pin Screw
I my original design, I just used some thin rubber to provide friction for the mounting bracket to keep it from rotating around the tube, similar to most bike light mounting kits. However, the tripod head and camera assembly is quite heavy, and had a tendency to rotate when I went over bumps. I decided to add the small machine screw as a sort of cotter pin to lock the assembly's rotation. This has the one downside that the mount isn't really portable, since you can't exactly go drilling holes in bikes you rent or borrow.
That said, it makes the assembly very stable, so I think it's worth it. Place your mounting bracket where it will go on the handlebars and mark the top and bottom of the tube where the machine screw will go through. If you use the conduit bracket I used, it has two small holes conveniently located on the top and bottom -- simply mark where they are!
Then, drill a hole at each mark using a suitably-sized bit -- 11/64" worked well for the 8-32 x 1.5" machine screw I used.
Step 4: Attach the Mounting Bracket
Now that we've done our drilling, it's time to attach the mounting bracket. Place the bracket on the tube and insert the 3/8" mounting bolt through the bracket, pointing up. Add the washer and nut on the top and tighten -- make sure it's quite tight or the tripod head will have a tendency to rotate. Insert the small machine screw through the holes in mounting bracket and the ones you drilled in the handlebars. If the screw is long enough, feel free to put a nut on the end -- it's not wholly necessary though if your screw fits quite tightly.
Optional -- You can also wrap a piece of rubber or tape around the handlebar tube before putting the bracket on. This provides some additional friction, which will be necessary if you decide to omit the cotter screw. Rubber works best but duct tape or electrical tape will also do the job -- tape two pieces together or fold a piece over so you don't get nasty stickiness all over your handlebars.
Step 5: Attach Your Tripod Head and Camera
Now that your bracket is attached, simply screw the tripod head onto the mounting bolt. Screw the quick release plate into your camera, and attach it to the tripod head. Now simply adjust the tripod head using its controls so it makes level photos when you're cycling!
Now you can make photos or videos of your trips, and can still release the camera quickly when you see something cool that's not directly ahead of you!
A nice addition (if your camera supports it) would be to add a shutter release cable routed to the grips near your brakes!