Thursday, January 1, 2015

Upgraded Paint Pole Camera Mount Project

With the holidays behind us I find time to once again get back to posting a new or should I say post a revised project that I designed and tested almost four years ago.  At that time I had built a camera mount for a paint pole using my 3D printer.  This would allow anyone to get a higher shot of something they normally could not by just standing on the ground.  Here is what the early version of what my mount looked like.  

This mount as you can see was a very simple design that I could use for my point and shoot camera.  

As you can see for such a simple mount it needed a number of 3D printed parts and the paint pole needed to be modified so that the camera could me mounted to the pole.  This worked "OK" but the idea of having to modify the paint pole and the fact that you could only guess as to where the camera was shooting had some very big drawbacks in my eyes.  No matter what, I posted the files for this camera mount on the "Thingiverse" 3D files website almost four years ago and over 1000 people thought it was a good idea too by downloading the files for the mount. Needless to say this and one other project were the only files I posted to that site.  The other project was for an enclosure for my Makerbot 3D printer.  That was downloaded over 9000 times!  Sorry guys I don't work for free and won't post my projects there again.
  I never gave up on the idea of improving my paint pole design though and that is what this post is all about.  So here is what version two of this mount now looks like.

This is my latest creation and updated version of the paint pole camera mount that I originally started with. As you can see it is quite a bit more advanced looking and rightly so. 

The camera mount is much more refined now with a 90 degree tilting head (45 degree up or 45 degree down).  The eleven foot paint pole that I use also carries a 7 inch LCD color monitor that is connected directly to my Canon HD video camera with a 10 foot long HDMI cable.  Now there is no guessing as to where the camera is pointing when shooting video or still photos.  This head also has aluminum rod legs that allow the pole to be laid on the ground yet keep the camera off of the ground when having to make adjustments to the rig. 

The camera mount has a few more parts in it than the first design had but now is capable of being mounted onto to any unmodified paint pole. The pole mount has been designed with a built in  threaded female end that can be screwed on to a standard paint pole.  A big plus just starting out.  The tilt head has seven different positions from level to 45 degrees up or 45 degrees down.  One carriage bolt holds the tilt head assembly in position and is secured with a simple wing nut on the end.

With the help of a couple of "U" bolts and one 3D printed part I was able to mount the monitor to the paint pole rather easily. The original use for the monitor was to view video in a automobile.  I incorporated the original mount for the monitor into my design and it worked out to be very strong and simple to modify and assemble. On the right in the photo above is the rechargeable 12 volt battery pack that powers the monitor. It is mounted into a battery carrier that is held in place using a simple Velcro strap. 

The monitor is slid onto the mount and held in place using a metal flange and friction wheel to tighten the monitor into place. 

This is a just a simple view of what the monitor sees when the camera is on.  A nice clear image to be sure.  Over the face of the monitor I cut a small piece of thin plexiglass that is held in place again using Velcro strips.  This will help protect the monitors screen from getting scratched or bumped when I am using it. 
  The only thing missing in the photo is a sun shade that is mounted up and over the top of the monitor to keep the sun off of the screen.  The sun shade is held in place again with Velcro for easy on and off use when needed.
  The entire assembly weight of the camera, camera mount, paint pole, video monitor and monitor mount, plus monitor battery and HDMI cable only comes to a grand total of five pounds!  A very light package in all.  I looked into doing this same thing years ago using a GoPro camera and my Ipad.  The cost of a GoPro goes for around $300 - $400 not counting anything else.  Not counting the cost of a Ipad or a IPhone. The camera mount including the video monitor cost around $100.  The video camera and the paint pole I already had.  Even with these items included the entire rig could be put together for far less than a GoPro alone so I am money ahead for sure. 

To illustrate the difference between shooting on the ground I choose one of my favorite subjects..... my Mini Cooper.  This is a nice shot that I took from ground level.  

This is the same shot using the paint pole camera mount.  Quite a difference being up eleven feet in the air.   As you can see I was lucky enough to get anything shot with the lack of really cold weather and snow but it gives you the idea as to why I want to use this kind of mount.  
  This also gives me more ideas once we get back to warm weather!  Imagine shooting a parade using this mount!  You never have someone standing in front of you again with their head in the way.  Or how about a wedding!  The bride would look even more stunning with a camera shot from this view.  Or maybe a car show looking over a sea of classic cars!  The ideas just keep on coming.  Bring on the warm weather.... unless you have some ideas to capture video or photos of skiing or snowboarding of course.

Here's the quick little video that the Mini Cooper photos were taken from.  It gives you a better idea of what video will look like using the new paint pole camera mount.  It will be a nice accessory for my video camera. If there is enough interest in this project I will put together a set of plans with the 3D printer STL files, parts list and instructions so you can build one for yourself.  Let me know and I'll start working on to get it to my plans and projects page.


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