I needed a quick and dirty way to mount an action camera, medium sized film camera, or smart phone firmly to a steel structure at my work. I was not happy with the adhesive patches that came with my GoPro and Contour cameras or the mounts they are attached too, because they did not give me enough degrees of freedom, and I could not move them easily to adjust the shot.
So, my simple Idea was to attach a ball head from a tripod to a magnet, and it turned out to be far more functional and effective than I could have imagined.
Required Parts (there are only three!)
1. Magnet with a 1/4" countersunk hole$13.32
2. Small ballhead$12.89
3. A 1/4-20 flathead machine screw.~$0.10
from your local hardware store
Total = $26.31 + S&H
Optional Part #4 is the Square Jellyfish Smartphone tripod mount $14.95
Step 1: Assembly
Ya, this really doesn't deserve its own step.
1. The mini ball head has a dual threaded insert that you can insert two different ways to switch between 1/4-20 thread and 3/8-16 thread, we want 1/4-20 thread.
2. Take your 1/4-20 flathead machine screw and insert it through the bottom of the magnet (the flat side) up into the ball head and tighten it down. If your 1/4-20 is to long, as was my case (only size we had in the shop), just stack up a bunch of washers until you can torque down the screw tight.
I was unable to take my mount apart to get photographs for the instructable because the screw is stripped.
Step 2: Other Options and Important Notes
Important things to note:
- The standard female thread for a tripod ball head is 3/8-16, but the mini ball head that I linked to above can accept either 1/4-20 or 3/8-16
- The Magnet I selected from K&J Magnetics is rated at 122lbs and takes considerable amount of force for me to pull/slide/rip off a piece of steal, for me this is the perfect size/force, you don't have to worry about it going anywhere. Although, if you really really don't want it going anywhere (think permanently attached) K&J does have a few more options for you.
1. P/N MMS-A-Y0 -- 1/4" hole, rated at 168lbs
2. P/N MMS-A-Y8 -- 3/8" hole, rated at 254lbs, will work with standard ball heads because of 3/8" hole
3. P/N MMS-A-Z0 -- 3/8" hole, rated at 350lbs, will work with standard ball heads because of 3/8" hole
- Don't put this on your car, it will scratch the paint
- The constraint on how heavy a camera you can put on this mount will be primarily driven by the ball head not the magnet. The ball head that I recommended works great for my GoPro, Contour and even some of my film camera that weigh between 1 and 2 pounds, but I would not use it for my Nikon D200 DSLR, because the long moment arm of the lens tends to rotate the mount to point down depending how it is mounted. If you want to mount a big DSLR just buy a bigger ball head or cannibalize one from a fancy tripod.