As a surfer and videographer, I shoot a lot of GoPro footage and am always looking for a new way to use that amazing little camera. One angle I’ve been wanting to get for a while is from the tail of my longboard, especially as I’m working on a YouTube project as I learn to ride a longboard.
Since the back of the board is often in or behind the wave, the camera needs to be raised up. I did a search, and realized that this is one of the few DIY GoPro tutorials that’s hard to find, so I thought I’d write my own.
Here is a list of the items I used to build this setup:
- GoPro Suction Mount
- Wyrd telscoping pole or “selfie stick”
- longer GoPro mounting piece
- epoxy putty
- 35mm bolt and hex (not pictured)
- 13 lb nylon mason cord
Instead of a telescoping pole, you can use an aluminum pole and a GoPro pole mount. If you do go that route, be sure you get a mount that swivels or you may have a tough time lining up the shot. I decided to go with the more expensive telescoping pole, because I wanted an adjustable height, and I didn’t want to wait on a part that I’d have to order online.
Another thing to note is that GoPro warns that the suction mount is not for surfing or other high impact sports. We’re going to go ahead and ignore that, because if you lose your board you’re actually going to want the camera to detach, rather than have your camera, pole, or board break. Incidentally this is also why I chose this suction cup over a full strength photographic one.
Step 1: Prepping the Pole
If your pole comes with a bike grip, like mine, cut the bottom and roll back the grip.
You’re going to want to tap the pole about an inch from the bottom on both sides. Using my Dremel, I started with a circular disk and finished the cut swith a drill bit. Bore out the holes until the bolt can pass through.
You’re going to need to fit the 3 pronged side of the GoPro mounting piece into the pole. If it doesn’t fit, try cutting off the little hexagon base for the hex nut.
Step 2: Building the Pole
Once you’ve fit the arm to your pole and tested the bolt, pinch off a bit of epoxy putty and knead it until it’s ready to go. pack that around and in the 3 pronged side of the mount, insert it in the pole and fasten it with the bolt and nut.
If you’d like to continue using the pole as a “selfie stick” I’d suggest cutting the bolt just above the nut (yay moar Dremel!).
Let the epoxy set overnight, then roll up the grip and you’ve got yourself a new tail mount pole!
Step 3: Mounting and Leash
Attach the camera and pole to the GoPro Suction Mount. Don’t forget your memory card - it's very important… trust me on that.
Cut a length of mason cord to be a bit longer than your pole and attach it to the camera. Do not tie it to the suction mount - instead tie it to the leash string at the back of your board.
Mount the camera to the back of your board by pressing firmly down on the center button and locking the arm down. Make sure the surface is clear of wax, sand, dust or grime (please ignore the ding on the back of my board - surf's been big and I lost it on the rocks the other day).
You’re ready to go! I’d also suggest pocketing the waterproof wifi remote and using that to start and stop the camera. Reaching behind you to start and stop a camera while surfing is just adding difficulty to your life.
One other note - while I do want the pole to swivel at the base if it hits the ground, I’m also worried that the mounts just won’t have enough grip, and might move when a wave hits the pole. Luckily, the mount comes with a groove-and-tooth bar as well, which could be connected directly to the pole instead of the large mounting arm.
I’ll be posting footage shot with this rig on my blog / YouTube project at http://learningtolongboard.com, so I hope you’ll check it out!
Step 4: First Session
Here's a quick edit of the first time using this mount. Definitly think the base needs to be tightened up, but otherwise am quite happy with the results.