On a recent show, I needed to have a view of the stage. Normally there's plenty of room to put a tripod up at the back of the room and have a camera send me a feed of what was happening. In this particular venue, there was no extra space at the back of the room, and no room for a tripod.
What I needed was something stable with small footprint that I could slide between two seats and not take up any space in an aisle. I spied a microphone stand on stage, which was just what I needed. The remaining obstacle was to figure out how to mount a camera to a microphone stand.
Cameras come with a 1/4"-20 hole in the bottom to affix a tripod or a shoe. Microphone stands use a 5/8"-27 thread for mounting clips and goosenecks. Hmm. 1/4"-20 is common... but 5/8"-27 isn't and I figured I wouldn't find "just the right thing" so I set off to the hardware store.
Step 1: The Pieces
My criteria was simple: my solution had to be small, attach securely enough to the mic stand to allow the camera to stay in position and not fall off if it got nudged. Oh, and cheap and easy. I had limit tools and no desire to dump a bunch of money on an untested project.
After wandering through the local hardware store, I came up with the following list of pieces to fashion my camera mount.
A non-threaded female-to-male threaded adapter for 1/2" PVC
A threaded PVC cap that fit on the previously procured adapter
One each 1/4"-20 nut, wingnut and 1-1/2" long bolt
The minimum purchase (12" in this store) of 5/8" ID flexible water hose.
I probably could have done this with just the non-threaded version of the PVC cap, but I figured that building it this way would give me a way to interchange caps that might have new and different purposes in the future.
Step 2: Modify the Threaded Cap
What needs to happen first is we need to drill a hole in the cap to accept the bolt.
First, I used a paperclip heated over a lighter to make a dimple in the center of the cap. Then drill an 1/8" hole using the dimple to keep the drill bit from skipping and sliding.
After the 1/8" hole's been drilled, change out your drill bit and use a 1/4" bit to make the hole the final size.
(Note: I didn't do this on the first cap, and the hole ended up off center. Luckily, knowing my personal handicap when it comes to doing things right the first time I bought spares.)
Step 3: Assembly
This part is easy...insert the bolt up through the inside of the cap and snug the nut up nice and tight.
Then, put the wingnut on. In this case, though, we want to put the wings on the cap-side so we have a nice flat surface to tighten up against the camera later.
Now it's time to turn our attention to the PVC adapter.
Step 4: This Will Won't Hurt a Bit, Mr. Gopher
The non-threaded side of the adapter has an inner diameter of about 7/8 of an inch. The 5/8" ID water hose has an outside diameter of a little more that that.
It's not tough, but sliding the tubing inside the adapter takes a bit of effort. The upside of this is that the fit is snug enough you don't need to glue the pieces together. Just make sure to insert the hose as far into the adapter as it will go. You can peek in the threaded end of the adapter to check your progress if you're in doubt.
Step 5: No Bloodletting Allowed
With the tubing inserted fully, grab your trusty razor knife. Using the adapter as a guide, draw the knife through the tubing. Don't saw as back-and-forth motions will cause the tubing to flex and produce not-so-smooth cuts.
This is the step your mother warned you about. Be careful not to cut yourself or gouge your cutting surface. Go back two spaces if you use the palm rest of your audio mixing board as a cutting surface.
Step 6: The Pudding
Here you see the finished product.
One you've cut the tubing flush with the adapter, assemble to the two pieces of PVC. Hand tight is fine...the threads are tapered, so you don't go too many revolutions before you've achieved a tight fit.
You can now thread the assembly onto a microphone stand. Sure, you could just push it down, but I twisted it into place so as to not mess up the threads of the mic stand or rip up the tubing on the threads.
Once it's on the mic stand, you can mount your camera. Spin the camera onto the the bolt until it bottoms out, the back the camera off about an 1/8 of a turn. Spin the wingnut up and tighten it against the camera.
Now here's the only downside to this design. You can adjust height and you can adjust the pan. Angle adjustments are limited. As you can see, I'm using this for a Pan-Tilt-Zoom camera which gives me lots of latitude. If you need more tilt adjustment, you can either install this device on a boom arm or you can buy a ball mount and mount it onto the cap.
But for less than $4.00, I had a nice, secure, portable camera mount to use with a mic stand.