Taking a Worthless Camera Mount and Making Something Useful
October 20th, 2013
by Chris Poindexter
A long time ago I purchased a cheap windshield mount thinking about using my GoPro as a dash cam. Several issues made that unworkable. For one the GoPro can only record for a couple hours before the battery runs out, the second was the suction device was a piece of crap and wouldn’t stay stuck to the windshield, usually dropping off into my lap at the most inconvenient possible time while going around curves or the highway entrance ramp. Not good.
So it sat on a shelf because I lacked the motivation to throw it away. One day I ran across a post about making a GoPro mount out of a plastic clamp. But the camera mounted on 2 1/2 inch bolt was unstable and I couldn’t figure out how to tighten the tripod mount because the bolt would start rotating and the camera wouldn’t stay upright. Even when it would stay semi-upright the plastic handle would torque and I was afraid it would break. Back to square one.
Then I noticed the suction mount on the shelf. Hey, the suction mount connector is threaded!
Okay, so now I can get rid of the part that doesn’t work and substitute in something that does.
I drilled a 1/4 inch hole in the spring clamp and used the bolt connector in the part of the camera mount to secure it to the clamp handle.
It works great as you can see in the video below.
The solid nature of the mount transfers any vibration from the tires to the camera, which you can see in the video. My bike tires are running at 70 psi and you feel every crease in the pavement. It’s not as bad when the camera is mounted at hub level but really bad mounted on the handlebars. Too shaky for any kind of serious video. There are two ways to approach the next iteration: Stabilize the camera or stabilize the bike. There are stable bikes out there, mainly mountain bikes, but they’re also slower. If I strip off the lock and rear basket my city bike can almost keep up with faster road bikes, mountain bikes aren’t built for speed, they’re made for riding over tree trunks.
That leaves stabilizing the camera. A helmet mount works because your body becomes the shock absorber. That’s great if you don’t mind every shot being from the same height and angle, plus the necessity of moving your head to see where you’re going.
So, I’m down to some kind of vibration damper for the mount, which I have to work on. Maybe it’s as simple as some rubber pads at the mount point to dampen some of the vibration. Ideally it would be some kind of spring or hydraulic vibration damper, hopefully inexpensive. It doesn’t have to smooth out all the bumps, just the little ones. A camera like the Sony NX-30 has built-in floating imaging stabilization that’s amazing, but I’d like to be able to get similar results with any camera.