Adding a ball head to a GoPro suction cup mount

A ball head attached to a GoPro suction cup mount
The finished mount used for filming the in-car portion of automotive reviews.

I have a GoPro, and bought a handful of mounting accessories to go with it, including their suction cup. If you have one of these, you’ll know that the GoPro mounting system is pretty orthogonal – you can tilt and roll easily, but not pan (short of undoing the suction cup and repositioning).

For my gig of shooting car review videos for YouTube, getting fine positioning of the camera has been a huge pain for our in-car shots in particular. I didn’t want to buy a new suction cup that featured a ball head, and I didn’t want to make any permanent modifications to my existing gear.

I found the Giottos MH1004 mini ball head for under $15 that would work well for the Hero 3, especially since I already had the tripod mount.

But, how to attach it to the suction cup?

Check out beyond the break for more detailed images and how I made it.

The parts:

In my bag of accessories, I noticed the J-mount (aka, vertical mount?) had a GoPro buckle attached to the J and hinge with 3 small screws. Taking that apart left a relatively flat base I could mount the tripod head to.

Since the shaft of a 1/4″ machine screw and subsequent countersinking would probably take too much plastic out of the mount; I thought of ways to attach the head to something that could be screwed to the base. I had a 1.25″ diameter dowel in the garage that seemed ok. Some salvaged screws, and a button head 1/4″ bolt rounded out the materials.

The process:

  1. I took apart the J mount and inserted the screws through the buckle. This allowed me to mark the dowel so I could cut it at the proper thickness.
  2. After cutting the wooden disk, I drilled a hole to accept the 1/4″ screw, and then drilled a larger hole to countersink the head.
  3. The 3 screws were then used to attach the disk with ball-head attached (since there’d be no access to the 1/4″ screw after it was assembled).

The problems:

  • I’ve had one time where the 1/4″ screw loosened allowing the ball head to turn and wiggle. I was able to re-righten it without removing the 3 small screws and the buckle, but this might be a problem in the future.
  • The GoPro buckle has some play in it. I probably need to keep a shim on hand to jam in there and keep it stable.
  • It is kind of ghetto looking, but the performance is still an improvement over the original due to the quick adjustment and fine positioning control.

 

 

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