Homemade Back Deck Go Pro Mount
I have attempted several times in the past to make a back deck mount to attach cameras to the back of my kayak to get those cool over the shoulder shots. None of them in the past have been particularly successful either not being very stable resulting in shaky footage or not sufficiently strong enough to take the weight of the camera being shaken around at the top of a pole resulting in the failure of either the pole or the fixing mechanism. Another problem with previous attempts had been the attaching of the camera to the upright. Having recently bought a Go Pro I decided to have another shot at building a back deck mount.
Attaching an Upright to the Boat
I did some research and found several ways of attaching an upright pole to the boat. The different methods I found and their pros and cons in my opinion were:
|Method of Attaching||Pros||Cons|
|Drilling holes in the plastic of the boat to attach a tripod like system.||Very stable and quite strong due to 3 points of fixing, Simple design so relatively quick to build.||Involves drilling holes in your boat, Paddle may get tangled when rolling, May be heavy as three uprights must be used to make it stable, A hit to the mount may rip out the bolts which hold it to the boat causing damage to the boat. Takes a while to attach.|
|One point clamp mechanism which clamps onto a grab handle.||Light weight, One upright so will have little effect on normal rolling, Can be fixed to any of the grab handles so many different angle s available. Fairly quick to attach.||Not very stable, Grab handle must take all the twisting force put on it by the mount which may cause damage to the boat or grab handle.|
|Three Point clamp mechanism which clamps to the three back grab handles.||Very Stable due to three points of fixing. Very Strong as it is fixed to three grab handles which are designed to take a lot of force.||Paddle may get tangled when rolling, May be heavy as three uprights must be used to make it stable, Fairly complicated design, Would only fit on the back of one type of boat, High material cost as a lot of parts needed to make 3 clamps and 3 supports Takes a while to attach.|
|Grab handle replacement with custom grab handle.||Fairly stable as by removing the need for a clamp any play in the clamp is removed, Fairly strong as fixed straight to the boat, light and cheap as very few parts needed, Single upright so will have little effect on normal rolling, Front and back grab handles on boats are usually the same so a number of different angles may be possible.||May be difficult to make without a workshop, A hit to the mount may rip out the bolts which hold it to the boat causing damage to the boat, May still have significant wobble as only one point of fixing, Takes a while to attach, possibility of losing grab handle when it is taken off to allow the mount to be attached.|
|“Jackson Levator” style grab handle clamp.||Stable as there is more than one point of contact with the boat, Does not put a twisting stress on the grab handle, Fairly light as only one upright, Single upright so will have little effect on normal rolling, Versatile as can attach to many types of boat and grab handle so many angles can be achieved, Quick to attach.||Quite complicated to build, Cost may be high as quite a lot of parts needed.|
The attaching method I chose was the “Jackson Levator” style grab handle clamp as it seemed to be the one which had the greatest versatility stability and strength while not affecting rolling or having a high risk of causing damage to the boat or grab handles.
Attaching the Camera to the Upright
Having selected my boat fixing I now needed to figure out how to attach a camera to the top of the upright. Before I had a Go Pro I had previously used my waterproof Panasonic Lumix FT-10 when attempting to take back deck footage, however now the aim was to attach my Go Pro to the end of the upright. There were numerous considerations to be taken into account the most important being avoiding damage to the camera should it take a knock when in use. As with the boat fixing I did quite a lot of research into the best way to attach the Go Pro. The three main methods I considered were:
|Method Of Attaching||Pros||Cons|
|Adhesive Go Pro Mount stuck to the upright.||Very Simple, Would most likely break off if it took a hit protecting the camera from damage. Very easy to attach and remove the Go Pro from the mount.||Would need a flat smooth surface to attach to.|
|1/4″-20 UNC Threaded Bolt which would attach to the commercially available Go Pro tripod mount.||Could be quite simple, Easy to attach and remove the Go Pro from the mount. Strong stable fixing.||Would require an epoxy resin or a complicated mechanism to attach the bolt to the end of the upright so may cost quite a lot, Go Pro tripod mount would add to the cost. May not break or bend easy enough if hit causing damage to the camera.|
|Commercially available Go Pro handle bar mount clamped round the upright.||Very Simple, Can be detached from the upright easily if broken or needed for another use, The “Three-way Adjustable Pivot Arm” which comes with it would bend at one of the pivots if hit protecting the camera, Cheap (£5) on Ebay.||The large fitting will add extra weight to the top of the upright.|
To attach the camera to the top of the upright I chose the Commercially available Go Pro handle bar mount clamped round the upright as although not the cheapest option was very simple and quick to attach.
Building the mount
1m 19mm steel tube, Steel curtain rail sockets which are the right size that the tube can fit through it, 38x2mm steel plate, I used scrap that I found lying around, a small 15cm aluminium pan (cut all handles etc off), many M4 bolts and nuts of different lengths 4×90° angle brackets, a long M8 bolt (must be long enough to bend into a hook at the bottom which can hook onto the grab handle while still having enough poking through the top of the pan to tighten it), a large M8 washer or metal plate and M8 nut (to tighten the M8 bolt hook)
I started by drilling a 10mm hole in the very centre of the pan. I then drilled a 22mm wide hole in the base of the pan just over half way between the centre and the edge of the pan. The distance from the centre depends on how much of an angle you want your upright to be at to the vertical – more distance to the centre = more angle between the upright and vertical. The hole needs to be wider than the tube to allow for the angle of the tube going through it.
Once the hole was drilled in the pan I positioned the curtain rail socket so that it was centred slightly further from the centre of the pan than the hole and marked out the holes I needed to attach the curtain rail socket. Having drilled the holes I bolted the socket to the base of the pan.
I then cut my steel plate into two lengths which were slightly smaller than the internal diameter of the pan and drilled a 10mm hole in the centre of each of them, with 4x4mm holes round this central hole to attach them together at right angles to each other, and also to attach the end of the 19mm steel tube which I flattened and bent at an angle to the rest of the tube. In this flat bit of tube I drilled the same arrangement of holes as in the steel plates (4x4mm holes around a 10mm hole)
I then drilled 2 holes at either end of each piece of steel plate along the middle of the steel plate spaced so that the angle brackets can be fixed to the steel plate and then to the pan walls.
The next step was to measure and drill the holes in the pan sides allowing the angle brackets to be bolted to the pan. The holes in the sides of the pan were drilled so that one was in line with the 22mm hole in the base and the rest were positioned at 90°, 180°, and 270° around the centre from the set of holes in line with the 22mm hole. All these holes were positioned so that there would be a 17mm gap between the top of the angle brackets and the top edge of the pan.
With all the holes drilled, the next step was to bolt it all together. Once bolted together the steel tube was held firmly by the hole in the base of the pan with the flat end bolted to the crossed steel plates.
The final part of the construction was to make the hook that connects the mount to the grab handle of the kayak. I bent one end the long M8 bolt up into a hook shape using a hammer. The other end of the hook then fitted up through the steel plates and then through the base of the pan where a large steel washer was put on it along with a nut which is used to tighten the hook pulling the edge of the pan against the boat.
The camera attachment was simple, as all that was required was for the handle bar mount to be clamped onto the steel tube.
I will make some proper plans for it on some CAD software when I get back to uni so if anyone wants to build one then they can.
I will also put up some photos and video taken with this mount and some photos of it attached to my boat and in use when I have them.