Sometimes, it's not possible to use a tripod or other camera mounting system, and you've got to get creative.
This instructable will run you thru the process of making a simple, stable, and flexible camera mount from a store bought clamp. It is designed to use your camera's standard 1/4-20 tripod mount. Still, if you're using a GoPro or another camera with a proprietary mounting system, this plan can easily be adapted to your needs.
Keep in Mind!
- It's possible to damage the internal components of a camera by threading a mounting screw too far into the camera body! About 1/4" of threading into the camera is all that's necessary to achieve a secure mount. If you feel any resistance while attaching the camera to your mount, stop threading the camera onto the mount!
- Avoid adjusting the mount's position by pushing and pulling on the camera itself. The tripod mounting hole in your camera is not meant to withstand these types of forces, and could be damaged if you're too rough with it.
Whenever using chemicals or tools that cause little bits to fly randomly thruout your workshop, USE EYE PROTECTION.
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Step 1: Parts and Tools
The parts list for this instructable is very flexible.
Your exact needs, such as the mounting object and camera type, will dictate what parts you need to buy. You may need a different type or size clamp, or your GoPro or other camera may have a unique mounting system that differs from the 1/4-20 screw (1/4" diameter, 20 threads per inch) tripod standard that many cameras use.
Adjust as needed, and feel free to comment here if you need help making the clamp mount work for your application!
Parts, as pictured:
- 6" DeWalt Medium Trigger Clamp
- 1/4-20 screw for the camera attachment point
- 1/4-20 nuts
- 1/4-20 wing nuts
- 1/4" thumb screws
- 1/4" washers
- 1-1/2" corner braces
- The longer your corner braces, the more prone to vibration your camera will be. Keeping the braces shorter, or thicker, will create the most stable platform.
There is a tradeoff between corner brace size and adjustability. If you want to be able to adjust your mount without tools, you'll need to use finger-adjustable hardware. These parts take up space, and will require longer corner braces to avoid interfering with one another.
The number of screws, nuts, wing nuts, and brackets will be dictated by how adjustable you want your mount to be. Your best bet is to read thru this instructable, then visualize/draw your project and decide quantities for yourself. Get a sketch pad and figure it out!
- Drill and a variety of bits
- Screwdrivers and Pliers as necessary to match screws and nuts
- Rotary tool with cutoff wheel/grinding stone (Dremel, angle grinder, etc.)
- Hammer and Punch to set the drill point
Step 2: Prepare the Clamp
Mark the clamp where the mount will be installed. This will vary depending on the clamp that you decide on.
Drill a 1/8" pilot hole first, then step up to your final 1/4" bit.
Use these tips for drilling in metal:
- Use a vise to hold your work in place, if possible.
- Use a punch to create a dent for your drill bit to avoid slipping.
- Drill at low speed. This will allow for greater accuracy and safety.
Step 3: Test Fit the Parts
Screw everything together.
Make sure to use a washer in between wing nuts and corner braces. Once you secure all the joints this way, they should stay tight even as you adjust the angle of your mount later on. Best Practice: Rotate the joints only in the direction that will tighten them.
The wing nuts have a tendency to impact screw heads, so test fitting will allow you to find problem areas and either buy smaller hardware or trim down the offending parts.
If any screws or wing nuts need to be cut down, mark them as necessary.
Corner braces aren't really manufactured with this use in mind. They may be out of square, which means you'll need to use a vise and pliers to ensure that they sit at 90 degrees. Also, you may need to enlarge the holes to accommodate your 1/4" screws.
To make it easier to put it all back together, make sure to note each part's place in the assembly.
Step 4: Trim Screws and Other Hardware
This step will vary depending on the hardware available to you. Test fitting should have made it clear where adjustments need to be made.
The screws/thumb screws holding the joints together shouldn't extend any longer than they have to. Use a rotary tool to cut these down to size.
If your screw heads and wing nuts are impacting, making it difficult to adjust/tighten your mount, trim the "wings" on the wing nuts as necessary.
Step 5: Assemble the Clamp!
Use a nut to secure the screw that will go into the camera's tripod mounting hole. Two nuts above this one will allow you to first set the camera's rotation angle, then lock it in place.
Screw everything else together tightly, and you should have a stable platform on which to mount a camera!
When using this mount, remember to rotate the joints only in the direction that will tighten them, and you'll never have to worry about losing that perfect shot!
Check out the next step for some ideas to modify your clamp mount.
Step 6: Tweaking Your Clamp Mount
Here is a brief list of modifications to trick out your clamp mount:
- Bubble levels allow you to perfect the angles of each joint. A trip to your local hardware store or a quick internet search for "bubble level" should give you some ideas. Some of these are available with adhesive backing, so you can stick them right onto the angle brackets with not trouble at all.
- For tool-free adjustment of the mount, look around for screws and wing nuts that allow for easy finger gripping. This mod will require you to use longer angle brackets, however, since the adjustment hardware will take up more space.
Please share your ideas for improving the clamp mount in the comments!
Step 7: Uses
This mount is quite versatile, and often works well to replace a tripod, even when a tripod would work fairly well.
I'll add pictures here as I use my mount, and I hope you'll share your experience with it, as well!