Public Lab Research note

DIY Pole Mapping Camera Mount

by Natalie |

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What do I want to do

So after my first post of DIYing it with the plastic pen caps I decided to go back to the drawing board for sourcing a camera mount. The key things I wanted to keep were: 1. The tripod ball mount, (these are pretty universal so any camera could be mounted. 2. A way to fix it directly to the pole.

I considered Chris Fastie's picavet and pendulum suspensions but came to the conclusion that these would both require more assembly than I wanted in an out of the box mapping tool. The suspension is probably superior for orienting the camera but after several tests with the new parts we have come to see that they are in fact pretty secure and more so, since they are able to be tightened down with these nifty thumbscrews picked up at the local hardware store.


First thing I did was go to and after searching around, I found these things: IMG_1230.JPG The metal clamp is called a Swiveling I-Beam Clamp for Pipe and Conduit. I also searched for rubber strips and found an adhesive backed one which was pretty inexpensive for a 10' roll.

The thumbscrews and bolts I sourced at the local hardware store as mentioned and will be included in the pole kits. The pole you see pictured is our very own: IMG_1129.JPG Ron Thompson Gangster Carp Drone Swatter

Next thing was to attach the clamp to the pole: IMG_1231.JPG But first I needed to put a piece of rubber strip inside the clamping part to buffer and keep the clamp from sliding around too much. IMG_1232.JPG Next I slip it over the end of the pole and down close to the base of the second section from the top. IMG_1233.JPG And using the trusty thumbscrew and wingnut, clamp it down. This is a semi-delicate part. Although the rubber helps to pad the pole section from the metal clamp, you need to be careful not to tighten too much. Carbon fiber is strong but at this particular point thinnest and also hollow inside. Over tightening could very easily crush the pole.

(ecta64 posted a research not and included a suggestion for buying and using a gorilla tripod. This is definitely not a bad idea. Would be cool to have cameras at different heights together. We are going to test is the pole can support the weight of multiple cameras. As a side note here, we will be offering different size mounts as an upgrade/bundle pack through the Public Lab store. We want to encourage folks to use smaller cameras and get the maximum height with the pole. The mount that is included in the kit I think works best at the base of the section that is second from the top (2A). This way the clamp is actually secured around 2 sections, the inner and outer parts of the put over. At this location it gives you a camera height of about 30ft. That being said, some will want to use a larger or heavier camera, such as a compact or a super zoom. That is why we are going to offer the various sizes.)

After the clamp was securely attached, it was time to attach the tripod ball mount. There are 2 small bolts included with the hardware and when we start shipping should be already in place for easy attachment. IMG_1234.JPG Since the hole and bolt are both 1/4-20 the bolt needs to be manually screwed tight. After this it needs to be secure and not turn when attaching the tripod mount. So for this, (as pictured above) I added a nut to lock the bolt in place.

After that it's pretty self explanatory. Attach the tripod ball mount and the camera. IMG_1235.JPG And Voila'! IMG_1236.JPG The world's longest selfie pole is born!

As mentioned, this set up is surprisingly secure. Even torque from the weight and rotation of the heavy camera I used was not enough to know loose the rig. I am currently shipping a few of these out to beta testers for feedback, but if anyone else has some insight or has tried this process before, let me know what you think. mathew, ecta64, cfastie. Anticipated snags? When fully put together, this pole extends to over 36ft. You get a little dip due to angle and gravity when its at that length but not so much that it's unmanageable. I'll try to post a picture of the full extension with mount soon.

aerial-photography polemapping pole-photography pole aerial-mapping aerial-photos pole-aerial-photography pole-mapping tool aerial aerial-imaging poles


I really like this mounting setup. Makes for easy attachment and looks extremely sturdy. It also keeps the weight close to the pole which would likely keep bending to a minimum (especially when angled for oblique imagery). At what point is it meant to attach to the pole (are there some sections removed to create better rigidity)? Overall I like it.

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Here is Benson's setup which is somewhat similar. His cameras are typically Micro 4/3 (he even has a really reinforced DSLR mount but he can only use 7 meters of the pole when he shoots with it) so his setups are quite reinforced.

DSLR rig here

I found this really fantastic page below on Carp Pole imaging for archeology

And here is the strangest rig I found for a carp pole

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Ecta64 How sturdy is the mount? Does it stay in place after moving the pole around? I'm just wondering if we need to consider any reinforcement for larger cameras...

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It stays in place very well. My camera only weighs 120 grams though I have added an extra 90 grams to see what the effects were. Honestly I think the pole would need reinforcement (IE similar to Benson's rig I posted above which could be done with 2 of these brackets with a long bolt running through the bottom hole into the second bracket with the bottom hole turned up to thread into the bolt) before anything more is required for the bracket. I would say anything beyond a large point&shoot or smaller EVIL(electronic viewfinder interchangeable lens)/DSLR could benefit from a second bracket (only because of the pole bend if held at lower angles, nothing to do with the bracket design the bracket does not move once in place). Here is a video test I did:

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