Is this the perfect GoPro mount?

Ever since I bought my Isaw A2 ACE (GoPro ripoff) camera I’ve been searching for the ideal mount for it. I first tried telescopic poles (the first was a cheap Chinese one bought off eBay however there was nothing stopping the sections from rotating relative to each other, so I ditched that in favour of the excellent XSOIRES UShot 2.0, again bought off eBay), but the downside is that you have to hold them, which is fine much of the time (and it’s what I used when I spent three days around Annecy and Chamonix last April and in quite a few other videos), however when the going gets tough you don’t want to be holding anything apart from the brake handles.

I’ve also used the standard helmet mount and have got some quite nice results from it, notably during my 100 mile flight from Hambledon Hill, however I missed having the ability to alter the camera angle. Also it’s quite easy to forget whether the camera is on or off, and the only way to check is to take your helmet off – not ideal! Then we mustn’t forget the risk of getting lines caught around it during a violent collapse, so again, it’s not ideal.

I tried fixing the telescopic pole to the karabiner using a “Cool-Ballhead-V4 Multi-function Double BallHead w/ clamp” bought off Amazon. And whilst it’s good quality the problem I found with it was that a) with the boom facing straight out in front of you (well, off to the side a bit), it felt like it was really in your face and very distracting, and b) it was difficult to swivel it to a different angles because the clamps are designed to be either tight or loose, not some nice swively middle-ground, so you have to keep untightening and tightening them.

So that’s when I hit upon the idea of a flexible arm like I have on my bedside reading light, and sure enough good old eBay came to the rescue (click on the image for a link to it on eBay).

"Flexible Long Arms Mobile Phone Holder Desktop bed mobile for Galax S4 Iphone"

“Flexible Long Arms Mobile Phone Holder Desktop bed mobile for Galax S4 Iphone”

At £7.99 I was prepared to take a punt on it, and so when it arrived from China a couple of weeks later I was pleasantly surprised with its quality and set to work modding it.

The first job was to remove the clamp at the top of the arm to just leave a flat base to stick/screw the GoPro flat mount onto. I heated an old kitchen knife on the gas cooker until it was glowing red hot and just melted it all off to leave a nice small flat plate.

The swivel head with clamp removed and GoPro mount attached

Upside-down view

I went for my first test flight at this stage and two things became apparent:

1) there was a small bit of rotational movement where the flexi-arm is attached to the main clamp

2) the big clamp, although strong, was still moving around a lot on the karabiner

Still, I was pleased with the results of my waft at Westbury…

I solved the first problem by unscrewing the flexi-arm from the main clamp and attaching it to the other “jaw” of the clamp using the not-quite-circular hole that was already there. This was a perfect fit and clearly the right “female” shape for the “male” flexi-arm fitting, and there was now no wiggle at all. I wonder if the flexi-arm on my unit was screwed into the wrong jaw of the clamp by mistake during manufacture? It was quite a tricky job because of the strength of the spring but I got there in the end…!

As for the whole arm moving on the karabiner, I shaped a small bit of wood to fit the inside of the karabiner then screwed it onto the clamp. Sorted. Well ok, so there’s still a bit of movement but it’s miles better.

Wooden insert fitted

The first opportunity I had of testing it was on 19th January when I had a lovely flight on the Dorset coast at Eype. Have a look at the results here…

So, third time lucky and I reckon it’s a pretty good solution. As for it being the perfect mount, I don’t know, maybe there isn’t one, but it’s not a bad compromise.

Edit 4th Feb 2015 – It’s apparent that this setup works fine on coastal sites, or during the winter when the air is smooth, however when it’s bumpy and thermic the arm does suffer from brewer’s droop somewhat. As a consequence I didn’t use it over the spring / summer last year, however this year I will try attaching some elastic from the clamp to just under the ball joint to see whether that fixes the problem.

Anyway, here are some more videos I made using it last year…

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~ by Tim Pentreath on February 4, 2014.

19 Responses to “Is this the perfect GoPro mount?”

  1. Hi Tim,

    I have purchased a clamp but not sure of your below sentence:

    You state – “I solved the first problem by unscrewing the arm from the clamp and screwing it to the other arm using the hole that was already there. This was a better fit and there was now no wiggle.”

    Did you mean to say,” I solved the first problem by unscrewing the arm from the Top end where camera was attached reversing the arm and screwing to the Big clamp which attaches to Karabiner using the hole which was already there.”

    Please clarify

    Regards,

    Anand

  2. Sorry Arnand, that’s not clear at all. I’ve re-written it to say “I solved the first problem by unscrewing the flexi-arm from the main clamp and attaching it to the other “jaw” of the clamp using the hole that was already there. This was a better fit and there was now no wiggle.” I hope that’s clearer.

  3. Thanks Tim that makes sense, fortunately for me my unit has the correct fitting and I don’t have to do the change it is fitted in right hole.

  4. After trying many solutions, this seems like a perfect compromise. I’ll be using it in my next Moroccan vol biv. This review is really appreciated.

  5. Just bought this and will be trying it in a couple weeks. All in all cost me about 8 quid! Awesome stuff.

  6. Any chance you can take a picture of the back of the swivel head where the GoPro mount is attached. having a little trouble working out how best to modify the swivel head clamp. Thanks!

  7. Very cool, I’m definitely going to try this. Is there no chance of the clamp detaching from the carabiner if you bump it accidentally?

    • Hi Grant, the clamp fixes pretty securely to the carabiner, however I obviously have a lanyard attached as well, just in case. One thing I have found though, is that whilst it works very well for smooth coastal or winter flying, it does droop down in bumpy thermic air. In order to prevent that from happening I’m going to try attaching a bit of elastic from the clamp up to just below the camera mount.

  8. Hi Tim, Great idea. I followed your instructions and made one, added some elastic to minimize the shaking, haven’t tried it yet but seems that it still isn’t perfect.
    Here are some pics:

    Probably using it with a stabilizer mount will be the best solution.
    Ordered one at Indiegogo (https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/slick-stabilizer-a-motorized-camera-steadycam/x/12508227#/) it’s weight around 300g.

    Wondering if it’s not too much weight for the goose neck.

    Thank you!

    • I’ve added some elastic right from the clamp straight to the gooseneck – seemed to do the trick when I tested it last month (unfortunately my new video cam was playing up so the footage was rubbish, but the clamp didn’t sag as it sometime does).

      I imagine if you add another 300g you’ll need to use stronger elastic to prevent the whole thing sagging…

      • Hello Tim. I thought that could happens. In order to make the clamp still I pretend to use a velcro around it.
        Do you believe that could help?

      • I’m also considering buy something like this (what is your opinion?)

      • I’m not sure adding velcro will really help – you need to make an insert which matches the shape of the inside of your carabiner and attach it to your clamp in order to prevent it from slipping.

        As for the clamp, yes, it might work, but when I tried something a bit similar I didn’t really get on with it – it felt a bit “in my face” because I couldn’t swivel it out of the way easily when I wasn’t using it.

  9. Hi Tim…thank you for your help…I will let you know as soon as I test it.

    Best regards

  10. great idea tim just made two,i bought off ebay a 360deg swivel that works too.

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