Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Camera Mount Mayhem

As mentioned in my previous post, I have been working a lot the Riding SoAZ series on the Sky Island Riders site. One of the things I had wanted to do, in order to make it different for most travel blog entries, was to put short videos of some of the roads the I talk about.

For this, I purchased a cheap video camera from Big Lots. I didn't want to risk a expensive camera falling off the bike in the middle of a bumpy road. Found this inexpensive Polaroid. It was actually the second one I tried. The quality on the first was so appalling that I returned it and got this one.

Now the problem was how to attack the camera to this scooter:
In order to get the sensation of riding on the road, I wanted to attach to the front of the scooter. Stella has the front rack and it should be easy, right? Wrong!

First obstacle: How to attach the camera to the rack. I could simply tape the camera on, but that gets sticky residue all over everything. Plus, every time I needed to review what I had just filmed, it would be a pain in the butt to take the camera off, review, then re-tape it. I needed something else.

I decided that I needed to create some kind of cradle in which to put the camera. Then I could attached the cradle to the bike and remove the camera whenever I needed. So, I did what anyone else would do: I grabbed an empty cereal box (Apple Cinnamon Cheerios for the record.)
I cut out the front and folded it to the size of the camera then taped it together with packing tape. I wasn't thinking about it at the time, so I don't have pics of the phase of the build. I then cut out a hole for the lens and another hole, on the opposite side, for the controls. I didn't bother with a window in the box for the camera's screen, since I would be riding as I filmed and it wouldn't be safe to be trying to watch the screen.

I made my first attempt to attach my new "cradle" to Stella's rack. I ran in to two problems. First, the bars on the rack are horizontal. I had cut holes on either side of the cradle and inserted zip ties, but in that configuration, I could only attack to something vertical.
Second, I realized that if I did attach to the rack, anything done tight enough to hold the camera securely, would crush the cardboard as soon as I pulled out the camera. So, I kept thinking. I gathered more supplies:

Zip ties, duct tape (You didn't think I'd try any project without duct tape, did you?) bandage scissors, screwdriver and that corrugated plastic stuff. We had some left over from one of my wife's quilting projects.

I decided that I needed a rigid "cradle" to protect the first cradle from be crushed. Additionally, I needed a way to secure this new cradle to a horizontal bar. (Horizontal Bar - Is that a place people who are ALREADY drunk to go and party?) At any rate, I folded a couple of corrugated plastic strips around the bottom of the cardboard box and secured it with duct tape. ( Insert appropriate work grunt here.) Now it looks like this:

The pic on the left shows the back of the box and camera with the controls visible. The middle pic shows a profile view and the last pic is of the front of the whole setup. Now to attach to assembly to the rack. Where are those zip ties?
The pic above who two zip ties facing opposite directions. I wasn't sure how to place them until I got it on the bike. It mounted on pretty well, until I realized that, in my creative excitement, I had forgotten to think of a way to secure the top of the cradle as well as the bottom. Some more corrugated plastic, zip ties and duct tape later and voila':

I cut two short strips of plastic and taped them on either side of the back of the box, then fed the zip ties down through the corrugs (or whatever they call those tunnels in the cardboard.) Likewise I cut slits in the bottom pieces of plastic and fed another pair of zip ties through there. This allowed me to attach easily to the horizontal bars.

The final hurdle was aiming the camera. Lateral placement was a given. The camera is looking the same direction as the scooter. Vertical aiming was a slight problem. If you look at the two pics above, you can see the springs. The part of the rack I have attached to, is spring loaded and you pull it down and the spring helps you secure things you may be carrying. It neutral position is slightly more than 90 degrees. Wait! Let me get some more zip ties:
They we go! I used 3 zip ties to pull the rack forward a bit. I made several test runs down my street to check the aim and carefully adjusted the ties until the camera's view was what I wanted. The camera fits in the box pretty snugly (so it won't bounce out) so I put a hole in the bottom of the cradle and use the small screwdriver to push it up and out between shots.

How does it work? Here is one of my first attempts:

Ride on,



  1. Howard:

    Ingenious, and it works too . I find it safer to take video while riding instead of still shots using one arm. I think it's nice to have motion and sounds once in a while.

    Wet Coast Scootin

  2. tachyon xc

  3. I have been thinking of trying something like that, but never gotten around to it. You may have inspired me.


  4. You are welcome to come borrow my video camera with the suction cup and helmet mounts anytime :)

    Nicely done.

  5. That video would not be great without the use of zip ties. It keeps the camera in place while you ride.
    cable ties