Intro: Make a GoPro Tripod Adapter
Video link in case it doesn't play above: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgYX7iyjJHA
Who doesn't love the GoPro cameras? Does everyone love their mounting system unequivocally? Didn't think so. It's a great system, but if you want to be more traditional and mount your GoPro to a tripod you're a bit out of luck, unless you buy a tripod adapter for around $10. Sure, it's not a huge amount of money, but why buy when we can make?
For this instructable you will need:
- 1x 1/4-20 hex nut
- 1x Domed M5 cap nut
- 1x 45mm long M5 hex bolt (optional)
- Epoxy glue
- 3D printer (or means of getting access to one)
- Random X-Acto knives, files, pliers
So what are we waiting for, let's get started?
Step 1: Model the Adapter
First we need to plan out and 3D model your adapter. Feel free to be creative in this step, but make sure the areas where we will insert the nuts as well as the slots where the GoPro mount will fit are as uncreatively correct as possible.
So, why do we use actual nuts instead of just printing the threads? It all comes down to strength. Printing the threads would work just fine, but because plastic is a somewhat weak material in comparison the threads would be easily damaged and be stripped out if you happened to tension the screws just a little bit too much.
Here we modeled the adapter in two parts, and I will get into why in the next step.
Step 2: Print the Adapter
The reason we modeled the adapter in two parts is because of how the FDM printing technology works. It lays down layers of molten plastic, each new one adhering to the one below, but not fully, and not enough to create a homogeneous piece. Therefore there will be weaknesses along the layer structure, and shorter layers, like the ones around where the GoPro mount would be inserted if it was printed standing up, are more brittle. If you make sure your layers are longer any bend forces get distributed down along the layer and is much likely to break the print during use, and this is what we achieve by printing the top part of the adapter laying down.
You may also need to do a few test prints, changing the tolerances of the model between the parts each time, to ensure that the parts fit together properly and can be glued in place.
Don't want to go through all the trouble of modeling it yourself? Well, you're in luck! Follow this link to download the models yourself: http://www.switchandlever.com/plans/goprotripodadapter.zip
Step 3: Clean Up the Print
Unfortunately prints generally don't come out out 3d printers in a usable condition, especially not from FDM printers, so some cleanup is required. There is really no magic to this process, just pry off whatever support material you can get access to, scrape and cut away the rest and fine tune critical areas (like where the GoPro housing will fit) using files or sand papers.
Step 4: Assembly Preparation
Do a dry fit and test that all parts fit together properly, if not remove material where they snag using knives, files or sandpaper.
It's also a good idea to rough up the surfaces of the nuts which will have glue on them, as it gives the glue something more to bite into than just shiny metal. If you have a Dremel or die grinder it's even not a bad idea to gouge up the metal even deeper for an even better hold.
Step 5: Gluing
Time to put all these things together and see what we got!
Resist the temptation to reach for the super glue (cyanoacrylate) here, as it tends to leave a quite brittle joint. I rarely recommend superglue for applications which need to hold over time, even though it's a great glue for other applications. Instead, reach for the five minute epoxy glue. It will give you plenty of working time, and a joint which is much more tougher and resilient to force than the superglue.
Mix together the glue according to the manufacturer's specification, although usually it's just mixing together equal parts resin and hardener. Once you've done that there is no dillydallying, no going for coffee or a pee break, the glue will set before you're back!
Using a toothpick or other small tool spread glue on the surfaces of the base of the adapter where the tripod nut will fit, and on the nut itself and push it in. Make sure it seats flush with the bottom of the adapter
Do the same with the top and bottom parts of the actual adapter, pushing it down thoroughly to make sure it goes all the way down.
With the M5 cap nut make sure you're not getting any glue up inside the nut as you push it in.
Wait at least a few hours before first use. Even though it cures to a semi-hardness in a few minutes it usually takes at least 24 hours to reach full hardness so if you're going to use it for anything critical be on the safe side.
Step 6: Thumbscrew
Using these same methods you could also print yourself a thumbscrew, so you can colormatch your new tripod adapter.
Don't worry, the thumbscrew model is also included in the file linked in previous steps, so you don't need to model it yourself. You do, however, need to get a 45mm long M5 hex bolt and glue it into the printed thumbscrew, I can't help you with that I'm afraid.
Step 7: Mount It!
Put it on your tripod and enjoy!
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