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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AzK9-Hyo338

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.       

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