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.

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