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View Full Version : (2009) How-To: Make An In-Car Camera Mount For Under $10



phenryiv1
07-14-2009, 02:40 PM
(Mods- Feel free to move to DIY, if desired. The subheading for that section indicated it was to ask questions, not to post unsolicited write-ups...plus, this seems fairly Auto-X-centric.)

I thought that I would do a quick write-up of my DIY in-car camera mount. I wanted something to take in-car video for several reasons:


I wanted to show my wife what autoX was like, from my perspective
I wanted to be able to look over my runs to see whether time differences were due to the lines that I chose, under/over-steer, mistakes (mis-reading the cones), etc.
It is a cool way to brag to my non-car buddies about what I did over the weekend while they were mowing the grass.

That said, I wanted to go cheap for this attempt, in case I end up hating autoX or something (not likely). I read a few google results and decided that rather than spend ~$50, I could do it myself for under $10 (plus the cost of the camera).

Supplies:
Square tubing (Mine is actually “C” channel that is about 1.5” square, and is perforated) that is long enough to span the distance between the inner headrest posts on your vehicle.
Free, from a scrap pile at work. Similar square stock is $8-12 at Lowes
Tripod head or other camera mount. Mine was $6 at WalMart
Camera. I use a Canon S3 IS digital camera and a 4 GB SD card.
Miscellaneous washers, bolts, and nuts (I bought 2 fender washers, 2 lock washers, 4 nylon-insert nuts, and 2 bolts. $2.56 at Lowes. In the end, I re-used the parts from the tripod base.

Pictures of what I used:

http://i90.photobucket.com/albums/k271/phenryiv1/Legacy/Camera%20mount/CameraMount-1.jpg

http://i90.photobucket.com/albums/k271/phenryiv1/Legacy/Camera%20mount/CameraMount1.jpg

Tools needed:
Drill and drill bits
Philips screwdriver
Hack saw

Optional:
Dremel, file, or tape (or all of the above)

Process:

Determine the proper length of the main tube. I measured the distance between my headrest posts to be 22” center-to-center, so I allowed an inch or so at either end and made my cut with the hack saw.


Determine the proper hole size to allow the headrest post to go into/through the main tube. For me, it was 5/16” IIRC. Mark the center, drill a pilot hole, and then drill the larger hole. Do this through both sides of the tube.

Disassemble the tripod. Note: You may have already done this to determine the proper screw thread and length, if you need longer screws or bolts. For the tripod that I used, the proper thread was an M4. (Insert Bevis and Butthead voice) If you spread the legs, there is a screw in there.

http://i90.photobucket.com/albums/k271/phenryiv1/Legacy/Camera%20mount/CameraMount4.jpg

Now measure to the center of the bar and drill a hole just large enough to get the screw into. If you are using a longer screw, you will need to do this on both the top and bottom sides of the tube.

http://i90.photobucket.com/albums/k271/phenryiv1/Legacy/Camera%20mount/CameraMount5.jpg

For my application, I wanted to be able to tighten the screw through the bottom, and since it was C-channel and not square stock, I could easily manipulate the screw into the head of the tripod. If this was square stock, I would have used a longer screw or bolt and tightened from the bottom, so the picture below may not apply to everyone. I drilled a ¼” hole in the bottom to allow access to the screw head with a #2 Philips screwdriver.

http://i90.photobucket.com/albums/k271/phenryiv1/Legacy/Camera%20mount/CameraMount6.jpg

After this, I reclined the seats, put the headrest posts through the drilled holes, and reinstalled the headrests. The hardest part was to incline the seats at the same rate so as to not scratch the headrest posts. I am sure that there was a better way to do that part, but it worked fine for me. Removal was the opposite.

Installed pictures:

http://i90.photobucket.com/albums/k271/phenryiv1/Legacy/Camera%20mount/CameraMountInstalled1.jpg

http://i90.photobucket.com/albums/k271/phenryiv1/Legacy/Camera%20mount/CameraMountInstalled1.jpg

Video, as shot from the mount:

http://i90.photobucket.com/albums/k271/phenryiv1/Legacy/AutoX%20July%207/th_0711095thRun.jpg (http://s90.photobucket.com/albums/k271/phenryiv1/Legacy/AutoX%20July%207/?action=view&current=0711095thRun.flv)

Lesson learned: Secure the lens cap!

vI6ious
07-14-2009, 03:31 PM
nice

Nick325xiT 5spd
07-14-2009, 03:52 PM
Better to secure it to one seat. There's no reason to use both. Rubber grommets can be used to protect the headrest posts.

RedMS3
07-14-2009, 03:56 PM
Better to secure it to one seat. There's no reason to use both. Rubber grommets can be used to protect the headrest posts.

Is that for safety reasons? I rather like the center-cockpit feel to the video.

To the OP,

Nice 3 and good writeup!

gbauer
07-14-2009, 03:59 PM
Hey! THAT'S NOT A BMW!!!

(sticks out tongue in jest)

It kept the camera a lot more steady than I expected. Well done!

For those that wonder where I got my mount(s): www.panaviseonline.com

That 3-cup suction mount I have was about $40. Works well for outside camera mounting.

Nick325xiT 5spd
07-14-2009, 04:25 PM
Is that for safety reasons? I rather like the center-cockpit feel to the video.

To the OP,

Nice 3 and good writeup!
You can get to the center perfectly adequately while mounting it to one seat.

irish44j
07-14-2009, 06:07 PM
turned out nice pat...

here's one of my ghetto-fab rigs from the old ride. Lol, it was pretty funny looking but actually worked decently. The out-the window mount was pure money :)

http://memimage.cardomain.com/ride_images/1/1771/861/4425430461_large.jpg

http://memimage.cardomain.com/ride_images/1/1771/861/4425430460_large.jpg

RedMS3
07-14-2009, 06:22 PM
You can get to the center perfectly adequately while mounting it to one seat.


Hmm, good call.

phenryiv1
07-14-2009, 08:29 PM
You can get to the center perfectly adequately while mounting it to one seat.
Agreed. I just wanted to be sure that it stayed steady and did not droop at all while driving.

For the next event, I intend to drill another set of holes to allow it to be mounted to just one seat and relocate the camera, similar to how Josh (Irish44j) has his mounted.

If it stays as steady, then I will stick with the single-seat mount for easy of use/installation.

phenryiv1
07-14-2009, 08:32 PM
Hey! THAT'S NOT A BMW!!!

(sticks out tongue in jest)

Yeah, but it beat yours!

It kept the camera a lot more steady than I expected. Well done!

For those that wonder where I got my mount(s): www.panaviseonline.com (http://www.panaviseonline.com)

That 3-cup suction mount I have was about $40. Works well for outside camera mounting.
For a camera as heavy and large as mine, I don't trust that type of mount. Not that the camera is really THAT expensive, but it is more than I want to have to replace (or explain to my wife) if it gets damaged by a fall or the elements in an outside-of-the-cockpit mounting.

phenryiv1
07-14-2009, 08:33 PM
To the OP,

Nice 3 and good writeup!
Thanks.

What do you mean by "Nice 3?"

RedMS3
07-14-2009, 08:38 PM
Thanks.

What do you mean by "Nice 3?"

nvm, misread the logo on the steering wheel :)

phenryiv1
07-14-2009, 08:40 PM
nvm, misread the logo on the steering wheel :)
Subarrrrrr powarrrrrr :biggrin:

phenryiv1
07-14-2009, 08:41 PM
Better to secure it to one seat. There's no reason to use both. Rubber grommets can be used to protect the headrest posts.
Rubber gromets, rubber tubing, or even regular blue tape.

RedMS3
07-14-2009, 08:42 PM
Subarrrrrr powarrrrrr :biggrin:

Yeah, after addressing Irish by his real name, I then thought you might be the Legacy driver :)

irish44j
07-14-2009, 08:43 PM
Thanks.

What do you mean by "Nice 3?"

I think he thinks you're driving my wife's old car. They do look a little similar, and there was a gray 3 just like hers (except lowered) at the event...

http://i78.photobucket.com/albums/j85/irish44j/4Runner/4RunnerNewandmarina022.jpg

mcoupemindy
07-14-2009, 09:57 PM
That mount looks great! However, I'd recommend padding it just to be on the safe side in an incident. Great DIY job!

noelleslie
07-20-2009, 09:49 PM
My mount is similar with the tripod, but I just used a piece of wood 3" by about 18" and drilled two 1/2" holes in the wood. Then I put a piece of rubber on the top and bottom; the type of rubber strip that is at the bottom of the kitchen cabinet.

I mount the wood on the holes of the headrest. The wood protrudes about four inches inward from the passenger's seat and that is the part that I mounted the camera.

From there, I use the seat recline/height adjust to position the camera's shooting angle.

Works great, but only if you have the posts coming from the headrest (non M Sport Seats).

phenryiv1
07-21-2009, 07:55 AM
Wood would be a lot easier to work with, could (should) be lighter, and is cheaper, but I read somewhere that some instructors in HPDE schools will not allow wood mounts. IDK why, as just about anything other than pine should be as strong as metal or plastic under these conditions.

phenryiv1
10-07-2009, 09:34 AM
Update:

I changed the mount to be cantilever, meaning that the mount is attached to both mounting posts on the passenger seat and the headrest is then lowered to clamp the mount in place. It was just as stout as being mounted to both seats, but it was a lot easier to adjust the driver's seat with it only attached to the passenger seat. If it is attached to both, installing it requires that both seats be reclined and inclined at the same time, and that moving one seat can throw off the aim of the camera. As I like to move the seat up while on the starting line to tighten the seat belt, it could have been an issue. Also, if you drive with a passenger/insdtructor, that could be an issue as well.

I also painted it flat black, just to make it look a little better.

I will get more pictures up showing the new mounting configuration.