Friday, August 31, 2012

PPG and flotation

Many people think that almost any PPG flying over water, under almost any circumstances ranks pretty high on the foolish scale.  I can't really fault their reasoning, but I will go so far as to say that I think that flying over water - without flotation - is foolish beyond words. 

Few sensible people will go boating these days without auxilliary flotation, and yet boats are designed to float on water, whereas two-stroke paramotors are pretty much guaranteed to sink.
When I plan to overfly water, I'm never without an "Agama" Emergency Flotation Device.  There is a new product on the market from an Australian manufacturer called PowerFloat, which is similar, but a little bigger, and may fit some paramotors better.  PowerFloat also makes a two-piece system mainly designed for trikes, but it can be used for backpack style PPG also.

Agama is the industry leader, but PowerFloat has given this idea a lot of thought, and has produced what appears to be a quality product.
Agama on the left - PowerFloat on the right
I believe that these purpose-designed flotation systema will not only protect the safety of my person in the event of a water landing, but will make it easier to recover my equipment. In Canada, probably like most places, recovery of sunken gas-powered motorized equipment is not an option; if you drop your snowmobile into a lake, you either pull it off the bottom yourself, or you can expect a bill for someone else to do it for you wether you like it or not.

You can see some pool tests of the Agama here:

And Ryan at Paradrenalin replacing the firing fuse here:

Installation of the PowerFloat here:

The Agama/PowerFloat are designed to float both you and your motor in the event of a water landing until you can be rescued.

In the event of a face plant, or a landing that results in injury or unconsciousness, these units may not self-right an immobile pilot lying in a face down position if the fuel tank is empty, (and providing buoyancy from the back/rear of the motor, but tests prove that a conscious pilot can easily achieve an upright, head above water position even with a dry tank.

But what about a situation where self-rescue is the only option? If no one is coming for you, then you're going to have to disengage from the unit, and make it to shore on your own. The overriding question becomes: Can you make it? Are you injured? Are you close enough to land to be confident of your ability to swim the distance wearing your flight gear and boots? Is hypothermia going to sap your strength and zap your muscles before you make it to shore?

It is important to understand a few facts about hypothermia before beginning any debate on this latter point. This video presentation of cold-water survival is excellent:

To sum up, the most important lesson to learn about hypothermia is the "ten-minute rule".

In ten minutes, in water only as cold as 49 degrees Farenheight, your body will lose voluntary muscle control, and you will drown without flotation. Full stop. That proved true in 100 percent of the cases studied.

You will be unable to keep swimming, you will be unable to walk onto the beach, and be incapable of climbing onto a dock or into a boat on your own. Your arms and legs will be only so much dead weight. Without flotation you will die.

You can survive with flotation for up to an hour, however, even in ice water, you're just not going to be able to do anything about your situation.  With flotation, you're in trouble, but at least you won't sink and immediately drown. 

One of my favourite flying sites is just east of Toronto, along the beautiful line of cliffs bordering Lake Ontario called The Scarborough Bluffs.  The trouble is, is that there are very few safe landing options on that route, except Lake Ontario itself, as the cliffs in some places come out right to the water and a lot of the shoreline is tree covered.  I had a motor-out last year, but fortunately happened to find a safe spot to touch down without incident, as you can see in the video below.  I say "fortunately" because despite the lack of visible snow cover in the video, it was mid winter, and maybe 45 minutes before dusk.  Had I ditched, it is very possible that I could have died of hypothermia, in an "urban wilderness", only a few hundred meters "as the crow flies" from a busy road, with buses, cars, and occupied houses, but all unfortunately at the top of a rather sketchy bit of cliff.


The point is, with nobody around to see me go in, there would be nobody coming to get me.  I might have had to detach from the Agama, and try to get to shore on my own.  From there, I'd still be in trouble, but could activate my FastFind PLB, or if my phone still worked, call 911, or in a worst case maybe make it up a switchback to a house.  That is, if I could be sure of my ability to make it to shore.  

With these thoughts in mind, I began looking into some auxiliary flotation options for PPG use.

Personal flotation devices, (PFDs) come in two basic styles: semi-solid, bouyant foam/neoprene or CO2 inflatable bladders.  The CO2 inflatables are less bulky when worn with a PPG harness, and generally cooler, and more comfortable when worn for long periods of para-waitnig. The only drawback is in their being slightly more expensive.

I focused my choice on manual inflation, as opposed to automatic for a PFD which I plan to wear/carry on my body. While the Agama system is automatic, designed to charge within seconds of complete submersion, the Agama inflates around the motor itself, and the pilot is free to detach or remain as circumstances warrant.

If an automatic PFD were to charge and inflate while you were belted into your unit, you could potentially find yourself unable to unclip from your harness and might end up strapped in for the duration.

Bearing this in mind, I focused on MANUAL activation PFD's only.

VEST STYLE PFDs - are typically Horsehoe-shaped units, that pop open into the familiar life-jacket orientation around your neck.

These may or not be a workable solution for PPG, as some might not be compatible with being worn while moving around with your particular motor harness assembly on your back. I felt that the ones I tried on would probably work with my Nirvana Rodeo, but I'd suggest that it might be prudent to try one on and test the feel of it while actually donning whatever paramotor harness assembly you normally wear.  Some brands I looked at included:
Revere Comfort Max at 3 lbs is $113 on Amazon  
It provides 33 lbs of bouancy.

The lightest and most compact unit of this type, I could find, was the West Marine Coastal Comfort, weighing only 2.2 lbs and only $69.00 (22 lbs of buoyancy)
BELT PACK PFD's -are small and compact, and when triggered pop out a full-size life jacket which the wearer then pulls over his/her head to provide flotation. One potential problem for paraglider pilots, is that the inflated life preserver will not go over a flying helmet, especially ones with communication headphones, and maybe even a GoPro attached. A pilot must be prepared to get their helmet off, and then deal with any reluctance to let go of the thing if necessary, to then get the preserver in position.
The Revere Comfortmax at 1.7 lbs is $73.00 on Amazon
As you can see, there would be no way to get this on over a helmet.  It takes some doing to fit it over a normally sized adult head.  They are designed this way so they don't pop off a person's head if the preserver is donned inflated and then the wearer jumps off of a dock or a boat.  This requirement for "second stage donning"might make this style less than optimal for PPG.
Other brands in a similar style include: Absolute Onyx belt, at 1.5 lbs and $78.00 on Amazon
Units with 22 lbs of Flotation are considered insufficient to flip an unconscious person face up, but I'm of the opinion that that isn't a typical concern for PPG water emergencies. Situations where a pilot might find himself unconscious in the water certainly exist, such as a pilot who routinely takes off over water, or practices such maneouvers as low-level wing overs, and foot drags, but such a pilot should be relying on the safety element of a motor floater, like an Agama, with automatic activation. 

               My current choice for PPG auxiliary flotation.
Since 22 lbs of buoyancy is plenty enough to float most people, and translates into a lighter, more compact unit, I think this is the way to go for PPG.  Even 15.5 lbs is more than plenty, and Stearns, just happens to makes an ultralight, very low-profile belt unit, called the "Inflatabelt" is currently listed on their website for $69.00but is actually $74.99 plus shipping/tax totalling $91.00. 

They are common on eBay in the $70.00 range with shipping included, and you can nearly always find  a couple of "used" units for half that price. 

The Inflatabelt is different from the other belt packs listed above, in that it doesn't pop out into a traditional life preserver shape, but rather into a pillow-shaped bladder, with a nylon loop that the wearer puts over his head, and then cinches up.  This can be accomplished while wearing a helmet, which is a big positive for PPG usage.  

The Inflatabelt is small, very light, (400Gr) 12.8oz, unobtrusive, and simple to take on and off.  And while the Co2 cartridge only delivers 15.5 lbs of buoyancy, you can top it up to 22 lbs using the mouth tube.)
This is how the bladder looks when it is released from the Velcro tube/sleeve.
The side being viewed will be up against the wearers chest, with the red inflation tube near your mouth.
Second-stage donning requires looping the yellow strap around head/helmet and cinching snug.
 I ordered a second Co2 cylinder, and I'll be posting a video review shortly.

SPECIALTY INFLATABLE VESTS - Another PPG option is an inflatable fishing chest pack, which can do double duty as a holder for radio, GPS, or a small tablet computer. If the chest storage pouch doesnt have two cords to let the panel lie open flat, drawbridge style, then they can be easily added. I know guys who fly with these fly fishing chest packs, to carry navigation aids, and they find them very handy.

The chest packs below is by Stearns. and uses the same kind of pillow bladder/and cinch strap as in the aforementioned inflatabelt.

Stearns - Nova™ 16 Gram Manual Inflatable Chest Pak
Other options include inflatable fishing vests which incorporate a lot of pockets in a cotton or nylon vest.  A nice example is this older Stearns model, shown below. Good news bad news... The bad news is that it is no longer produced. The good news is that they show up regularly on eBay for about $40 dollars or so, and I just saw one go recently for only $20. Try searching "inflatable-fishing-vest", and "inflatable-angler's-vest." The rearm Co2 cartridge for this model 444 vest is the 25 gram  #0905 kit and is about $17.00 from Stearns but probably a lot less from your local big box.
Stearns will recertify a 2nd hand vest like this for $35.00 but you can do a basic check yourself, by examining the jacket and buckles for physical integrity, and testing the interior bladder by blowing it up with the mouth tube and leaving it inflated overnight. The service rep at Stearns said the bladder should not be adversely affected by age, but the only way to test the auto inflate function is to just pull the release handle, and then subsequently rearm the unit with a fresh cartridge.

Other manufacturers of inflatable fishing vests, with a sort-of combat photographer vibe, that in my opinion, look kind of cool, include Hodgman and Mustang, and newer ones from Stearns updated 33 gram inflatbable, shown below, available for about $177.95 on Amazon, and often seen for less on ebay.

Stearns SOSpenders Fishing Vest PFD

POCKET VESTS - This is an option for the financially challenged - Manual inflatable life vests designed for commercial-aviation, come and go for only a few dollars on ebay. Switlik is a well known manufacturer of these vests, and one style they make for airlines, called "Air-Mate", is available from  for $69.50.  Plenty of older ones come up for sale on auction sites all the time, either having been swiped from airplanes, or purchased in lots from airlines as planes and even airlines themselves are decommissioned.

Searching "Switlik" on eBay, I found this PFD AV-8 life vest for five dollars and another five for shipping. They show up regularly on ebay, and $15.00 seems to be about average.  The dimensions of the packed unit are: 7" X 7" by about 1" deep.  Such a vest can be worn uninflated around the neck, or stuffed in a pocket so your next ditch won't be a last ditch.
(You can also try searching: Airline-life (which will include vest, jacket, preserver in the results) and, Flight-life.)

FLOATER JACKETS AND COATS - These provide both good flotation and good thermal protection from cold temperatures. Floater coats, therefore,  not only provide buoyancy but will help delay the onset of hypothermia. Even better are one piece or two piece survival suit combinations. Some have draw string enclosures on sleeves which will further enhance survivability in very cold water. And there are also pockets and compartments in which to keep signaling devices or a VHF radio and other survival items.
The few I’ve seen are kind of bulky, but would be perfectly suited for cold weather PPG. Just not necessarily well suited for balmy summer days.

REGARDING WATER LANDINGS - John Fetz commented on the yahoo group, PPGtruth Unlimited, that in the event of a controlled water landing it would be advisable to try and land sitting rather than standing up, to avoid a "face plant" leaving you face down with 70+ pounds of equipment on your back.

Another piece of advice I've heard was from Ryan Shaw.  Assuming that you're not wearing an Agama, and you have a somewhat controlled descent and time to disengage your harness, is to wait till your feet are just above the water, like you're about to do a water foot-drag, before dropping clear of the harness. It is very difficult to accurately judge height over water, so wait till your feet are just skimming the surface.

Jeff Goin said he will never commit to a takeoff over water.  He said, "Any water overflights should be an altitude that will allow for an engineless glide back to land.  Which isn't bad advice.

Most skydiving related water fatalities are caused by line entanglements, which is another argument for flotation, as well as proving the importance of a hook knife should there be a need to cut clear of lines.

Paragliders that end up in coastal surf have caused fatalities.  This guy probably wouldn't have made it without help, and someone finally showing up with a blade. 

UPDATE: PECI makes a device for SOF soldiers who might find themselves in water distress.  It is a paired set of flotation bladders that clip on either side of a person’s belt, and can be popped to open into U-shaped bladders under each arm.

Late in 12012 they came up with a system that is automatic, after 6-seconds immersion that might be useful for PPG applications.  I'm going to try and get a hold of one of these guys, and do some testing.  

They’re small, about the size of a tall boy beer can, (6.5” X 2.5” approx) and a single unit might be clipped to a pilot’s chest strap to augment an AGAMA system,  or the pair could be clipped to the swing arms, to float the whole unit. They cost around 300 dollars a pair, but one might be all a PPG pilot needs, as they are very powerful, each providing 40 lbs of buoyancy, and together giving 80. 
They could also be used as a throwable rescue flotation device to a swimmer in trouble.  Like the Mustang Rescue Stick, which some pilot’s carry.

The best price I’ve seen is $309.00 from Combat Solutions LLC

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

DIY GoPro Extension Arms that don't suck

For some reason GoPro doesn’t make extender arms in a variety of lengths, nor do they make simple extension parts that do not change axial direction.  Consequently, you always need two separate arms, to create an extension on the same axis you started on, which, apart from looking a bit odd and unattractive with thumbturns pointing in all directions, is a fiddly pain in the butt.

If you want to extend 3 inches out, you need two 1 ½” arms, and to go a mere six-inches you’re going to need four, and a weathervane of thumbturns all over the place.

I have wanted to extend the camera’s reach several times, but I have NEVER, wanted to change the axis to the right or left.

GoPro, you reading this? 

But to make simple arms, in custom lengths is pretty easy.  You need some ½” aluminum flat bar stock, of a 1/8” thickness.  I bought ten-feet of the stuff for ten bucks.  You actually want 15mm X 3mm aluminum flat bar stock, but good luck finding it.  And I’m not even actually sure if its actually 3mm thick that you want, and not 2.5, but it is a metric dimension to be sure.

Not all of the local big-box hardware stores carried 1/8” X 1/2", in their metal tube and flat stock section.  One did, but it was sold out.  I found some in a "Metal Supermarket" chain store not to far away.  You might even find some at your local scrapper.

Cut two, or three pieces to your desired length, and round the edges into Popsicle stick shapes with a grinder, or a Dremel tool, and finish with sandpaper.

Now drill holes in either end.  If you don’t have access to a drill press, start small and move up your drill size until the m5 thumbturn bolt slides in easily. I clamped my pieces together while drilling so the holes lined up perfectly.
That would be it, if your stock was exactly the right thickness.  But since 1/8" was the closest thing I could easily source, I had to thin it a little.  I just took a metal file, and in a minute or two, I was able to thin down the last 5/8” on each end of the flats, (one side only) so it slides into the receivers on the camera's base, and whatever quick-release buckle one plans to use. 
Poster "Daewootech", on "GoPro User's Forum" made a more elaborate mount here, seen here, out of acrylic of the right thickness, but he told me the acrylic was a bit flimsy feeling.  You can use three arms, as he did, but two is fine with aluminum, and the standard thumbturns all fit. If you want three arms, no problem, you'll just have to source a slightly longer m5 bolt than GoPro gives you to reach the acorn nut.

These hex head bolts are only friction-fit into the thumbturns, by-the-way, and will come out with a light tap with something heavy.
I opted to use a pair of 1/2" nylon spacer/washer at the camera end, and it works fine, and the mount feels very stable overall.   I'll hunt down some bolts though, and show a comparative image.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

LCD monitor / NVG Helmet Mount interface

Shown below, is a copy of an old-school, US Army issue, NVG Rhino mount, used for attaching an NVG (night vision goggles) system to a helmet.  I purchased this mount from one of several eBay Airsoft sellers in Asia for about thirty dollars including shipping.
Airsoft NVG Rhino Mount with "Ops-Core" style attachment shroud
Ops-Core style VAS Shroud (Airsoft)  $19.98 incl. S&H
This slot will allow the viewer to move laterally left/right if needed.
Here is the setup attached to a FAST Base Jump helmet.


This one cost me $13.75 including shipping from seller - greatfoto, but there are multiple other sellers of this item on eBay.
Coming up next: Attaching GoPro with LCD Backpack to the Rhino Mount.
You can try multiple. alternate eBay searches for the same thing: NVG mount, PVS mount and Rhino mount.
The final element to the project, is an LCD viewfinder/shade hood which acts as a magnifier, as well as a shade hood for viewing the monitor in bright sunlight.  The eBay item was listed – “2.8X V3 magnifying lens LCD Viewfinder FOR Canon 600D/60D.”

These Airsoft devices are NOT designed to hold actual NVGs, which are both very heavy and very expensive, but these reproductions, are fairly solidly made out of metal parts and can easily and safely carry the minimal weight of my mini-monitor system.
The Airsoft Rhino Mount I bought included an aluminum VAS (Vision Augmentation) shroud which can be installed on a helmet if your helmet doesn’t come with an NVG attachment point already.  It comes with mounting hardware, and can be easily installed on some motorcycle and PPG helmets by simply drilling 3 holes.
VAS base shrouds are also available separately.  Apart from adding a kind of cool, technical look to a helmet, NVG base shrouds can also be set up to mount visors, flashlights, headlamps, and as this project shows, you can attach a monitor to frame your shots while in the air.
GoPro produces an NVG camera mount which is available for between 30 and 40 dollars, or you can make one yourself for around ten dollars using a NVG QD cover plate available from various Airsoft suppliers around the world.  See my post for a Do-it-Yourself NVG mount for a GoPro Camera.
My flight helmet is a non-ballistic, sport version of a military helmet made by Ops-Core, called a “FAST Base Jump Sport" helmet.  See my review of the Ops-Core helmet here.  It has an NVG mount integrated into the front of the shell, which can hold either a GoPro in an NVG Camera Mount or this project's monitor mount system.  Or actual night vision goggles, if you’re crazy enough to fly at night like this guy is doing.  (Youtube – "Paramotor flying with nightvision.3gp") All completely illegal, of course, probably pretty much everywhere, but pretty cool nonetheless.

Authentic Rhino mounts sell for upwards of a couple of hundred dollars brand new, but I have seen used mounts regularly sell on eBay for LESS than what I paid for my copy.  Trouble is, there are strict rules about the export of these items out of the USA, so unless you live in the US, you will probably have to be satisfied with the Airsoft version.  A real unit would be preferable in my opinion, however, if you happen to live in the US, and have the time to wait for a deal on eBay.  My copy is a little bit crooked, and the detachment button is a bit sticky. 

NVG Rhino mounts have a second part, called a J-Arm, that snaps into the front of the mount and holds the actual NVG monocular or binocular in place, but the J-Arm isn’t necessary to make this project, and good luck getting one of these parts if you live outside of the USA.  The Airsoft version of the J-arm is reputed to be junk.

Also, I don't think a J-arm will work for this project, as most people will probably want the monitor to be a few extra inches from their eyes in order to focus anyway, so the J-Arm isn’t actually needed.

Are we sitting comfortably?  Good, then lets begin.

You’ll need:
An NVG Rhino mount - or a copy, costing about $30.00 shipped.
An Equinox 2.5” monitor, (about $55 shipped via eBay) and appropriate connectors and cables.  You can also use the GoPro Backpack LCD monitor, and these aftermarket cables here: This cable is engineered to use the GoPro's HD backpack "bus" interface, and allow you to view the LCD Backpack separated from the camera, but the Equinox provides a larger view area, is only about half the price, and also features internal power.  The GoPro LCD back pack is a power pig, and will significantly cut into your GoPro battery power.

You’ll also need:
-A strip of aluminum, steel, or steel scrap, about 3” long, and between 1 3/8” and 1 1/2" wide. 
-Some zip ties, and,
-a drill, and maybe a Dremel tool with a cut-off wheel.  And a small Torx screwdriver.

The object is to create a new J-arm for the mount that will be a little further forward than the one designed for actual night vision devices.  It will also be flat, perpendicular to the horizon, unlike an NVG arm which is curved downward.
You'll need a piece of aluminum scrap about  1.5" X 3" and at least 1/16" thick.  Cut a basic J shap, and drill four holes for the zip ties.  You will also need to make a slot for the 1/4" tripod screw so you can attach the shade hood.  I drilled two holes and Dremeled out the space between them, so I can later adjust the mount when worn on a helmet.  The completed mount can now slide a little left to right as needed.

Drill a hole (2-holes actually) for the 1/4 inch tripod screw you will be attaching.  Dremel the holes to make a slot, so you can ultimately get some sideways adjustment for your viewer.
Using a small Torx screwdriver, remove the plastic block behind the J-Arm receiver on the mount.
Zip tie the monitor to the J-arm receiver.  I spray painted mine with black laquer paint firs
The J-Arm receiver will slide forward and backwards and lock into eight different positions.  When not being used, the monitor can be slid into the rearmost position, and then slid forward when you’re in the air, and want to frame up your shots.  (The arm is currently in its forward-most position in the pictures above.)

Attaching the monitor itself to the Viewfinder, shade hood was a challenge, and here is my solution.  

You'll need two very small zip ties, (100mm) attach two holes drilled at the corners of the strap attachments on the monitor, and two corresponding holes in the metal of the attachment frame.

It wont work so well on the thinner bottom edge, and you need that edge clean and flat so the magnets on the shade hood will keep the hood solidly attached.  So I sewed a strip of 3" X 1 1/4" nylon fabric to the bottom, and two strips of hook and loop Velcro.  

A little epoxy cement under the fabric keeps it from moving after it is sewn on. This thin fabric that loops over the bottom section of the mount, in the picture below, does not interfere with attaching the magnetic shade hood.  

And the Velcro allows the monitor can be opened up from the back for battery change-out, if you are using the spare batteries that are cheaply available.  However, you can charge the monitor battery without opening the thing up if you prefer, so this last sewing stage can be a glue job instead of hand sewing, or machine sewing the strap and Velcro.
Here it is with the monitor flipped up and out of the way.
And finally, shown utilizing the magnetic shade hood.  Apart from making a superb sun hood, allowing the screen to be seen in the brightest glare conditions, the 2.8 power magnification eyepiece makes it ideal for people who need reading glasses to see stuff.

You don't need to use the magnifying shade hood, but I like to, and not just because the magnifier helps me see fine detail.

A word on the eyepiece:  The magnets may want to pull away from their plastic slots on the hood.  So I used a drop of epoxy under each of the four magnets to keep them from ever coming out and getting lost.  But once you get them permanently glued, the shade hood clips on pretty snugly, with corner protrusions that center the device, and it sort of "clicks" into place.

When flying, I keep the hood on a lanyard around my neck so I don't lose it.  I wouldn't rely on the magnets alone to keep it attached, as the magnetic attachment alone would never survive the knocks of a typical flight. For the most part, the LCD viewer is visible in daylight conditions, and the hood need only be swung up and clipped on occasionally.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tripod Quick-Release Plate and GoPro Interface

GoPro makes a tripod mount that utilizes a standard ¼ - 20 receiver bolt which will thread into most tripod screws.
They're inexpensive, and just the thing if you want to hook up to a mini-tripod like a Gorillapod.

But any tripod worthy of the name has a quick-release plate that clips into the tripod head by a quick-release lever, and it is a time-consuming pain-in-the-butt, to attach your GoPro to these mounts.  First, you must screw the thing on and off, which takes time, and since your camera is probably attached to one of the GoPro’s other mounts, you have to unscrew the thumb-turn and switch the camera over to the tripod connector as well.  Furthermore, your tripod plate is probably attached to a different, larger camera to start with, so in all probability there was an additional unscrewing step involved as well. 
Instead of all this, why not integrate your tripod's ingenious quick-release concept, with GoPro's unique quick-release format, into one handy DIY project?  It's an easy one.  You can watch a video demo here:

Somewhere in the house you probably have an old VHS tape container, even if you don’t have an actual player anymore.

This VHS plastic cuts easily with a razor knife, and a ruler.  Cut some strips to match the footprint of your tripod’s quick release plate.  Unfortunately, all these plates are different and aren’t interchangeable.  I made two, one for my Sony branded travel tripod, and another for my Rokinon/Fidelity monopod.
You want to make a little step pyramid of plastic squares.  Cement them together with strong contact cement.  I like BARGE general-purpose cement, which is popular with shoemakers.
Build your little pile just a little bit larger than the plate that you are duplicating, and then use sandpaper, a grinder or a file to smooth the sides, while you test fit it intto your specific tripod.
Now, cement a standard GoPro flat mount to your plate, and add a countersunk screw for added solidity and security.The picture above, has an early version with Velcro sewn to a plastic square base.  This would be useful for someone who has a variety of Velcro based camera platforms.  I drilled through the top of the mount right out the bottom and counter-sunk a screw to hold it securely together.  Then I trimmed off the excess from the bottom and applied the 3M Velcro.

Because I use my monopod a lot in the air, I made a plate specifically for it, so I can quickly switch between the GoPro and my Vixia.
If you want, drill out a hole into the bottom, large enough to fit a 1/4" - 20 steel nut, and fill in the gaps with J-B Weld, or 60-minute epoxy. Now your mount can adapt to a mini-tripod as well.
But better yet, just build a simplified, dedicated mount, specifically for your Gorillapod or mini-tripod, skipping the angles, maybe just a simple square, or an oval, and using yet another flat mount that can actually incorporate GoPro's quick-release capability.

Put the "Quick" back into quick-release.  GoPro has made a very clever, quick-release format, and the easier it is to snap over from one mounting platform to another, the more likely you will be to actually USE them all.