Exploring different camera rig designs
Because I expect to eventually have more hardware than can fit into a 1 liter bottle, I decided to start exploring different ways to suspend and protect a camera. This is my first pendulum prototype that I made after learning that my picavet setup would not work well with a balloon. Eventually I'm going to try similar designs for dual camera surveys and then the addition of a Raspberry Pi (testing wireless control of cameras and access, etc).
My attempt and results
I built a very simple rig made mostly of 3/4 inch flat aluminum stock. The pictures below probably demonstrate the design better than I can describe, but I'll add a few notes about the choices I made. It is a simple cross of two pieces of aluminum with one piece bent down to provide a place to mount the camera and further extensions to protect the lens in case of a fall.
3/4 inch aluminum stock
2 - screws and bolts - for attaching aluminum pieces
1 - bolt for camera mount
1 - nut for camera mount
fiberglass rod or other thin, light material for the tail
thin, stiff plastic for vane
electric tape or other for attaching vane to tail
file or Dremel (to de-bur holes so they won't cut string)
vise, clamps, or edge of a table, brick etc to bend aluminum
The cross is secured by two screws and bolts. A fiberglass rod passes through the bent piece of aluminum and has a plastic vane attached with electrical tape to reduce spin. The camera is secured with a nut and bolt using the camera mount.
The 50 lb kite string loops through the holes on the top of the rig and meet in loops at the top, 30 cm above the rig. They do not slide like a picavet would, the knot at the top holds the rig in a level position below the loops. I added a 2 meter extension to this when I saw that the rig was swinging too much.
The long cross and the bent piece of aluminum keep the camera from touching the ground if it falls. I forgot that the camera mount is not centered so when lying on the other side, it barely touches so that should be extended in future builds.
The full rig weighs 80 grams alone and 220 grams with Canon A2400 camera. It worked really well for our purposes. The battery and SD card door is accessible without removing the camera, and all the buttons and screen can be used with the camera in the rig.
Questions and next steps
The only thing I'd change at this point is making sure the cross piece is long enough to protect the camera, but this isn't enough of an issue for me to fix this prototype at this point. You could probably shave off a lot of weight by using thinner aluminum stock, but I just used what I had on hand. Future iterations will accommodate dual cameras and other gear, but this one is a keeper for single camera use.