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).
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.
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.
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…