The Complete DIY GoPro Underwater Video Tray Solution

There are a few undeniable facts in life that we have to make peace with every day. You have to eat. You have to sleep. And you can’t shoot amazing GoPro video by holding it in your hand like an apple.

Such is life.

Over time as people have realized and started making peace with these facts, they have been coming up with solutions. Today the web is covered with solutions for both steadying your camera as well as providing light, but these come at a cost as outrageous as that of the little device itself.

Today I’m going to point you in the right direction if you’re on a budget and you want to get the gear required to shoot great (or better) video. As you might remember from an article I wrote a while back, the key hardware requirements for shooting great GoPro video is an LCD screen, two handle tray and video lights. Now unfortunately making a screen is out of the question, and although lights CAN be made the process is rather grueling and the possibility (and cost) of failure is of such a nature that once you’ve established the value of video lights, you might be better off just buying some. We’ll get to that in a second. The tray however is so easy to make, that it borders on insanity to go out and spend a single cent more than the required components on this rather foolproof piece of hardware.

GoProTwoArms

So let’s get going!

INGREDIENTS

2x Loc-Line Packs – 1/2″ x 11″
2x Silicon Bicycle Grips (open ended, or you’ll have to cut off one end like I did)
2x Aluminium Pipe – 25mm x 140mm
4x Aluminium Bar – 30mm x 260mm x 2.5mm
2x Stainless Steel 316 Bolt Bar – 6mm x 180mm
10x Stainless Steel 316 Nut – 6mm Nylok
6x Stainless Steel 316 Washer – 6mm x 20mm
2x Stainless Steel 316 Washer – 6mm x 15mm
1x Stainless Steel 316 Bolt – 1/4″ x 1/2″
2x Stanless Steel 316 Bolt – 1/4″ x 1″
2x Stainless Steel 316 Washer – 1/4″ x 1/2″
3x Stainless Steel 316 Washer – 1/4″ x 3/4″
3x Stainless Steel 316 Washer – 1/4″ Spring
2x Nylon cave line (or similar) – 40cm

TOOLS

1x Drill
1x Steel Drill Bit – 6mm
1x Steel Drill Bit – 3mm
1x Roll of insulation/masking tape
1x Measuring tape
1x Hacksaw / Metal File
2x Adjustable wrench / 10mm and 11mm wrenches
1x Drawing Compass / Amazing guessing skills
1x Bottle of LocTite

You will also need:

1x GoPro Action Camera (I always recommend Black, but it really can be anything)
1x GoPro Tripod Mount
2x Knog Qudos Action video lights

RECIPE

1. Pour yourself a beer
2. Using your compass or keen sense of guessing accurate measurements,  measure one spot on each send of the aluminium bar that is equal distances away from all three of the closest edges.
3. Stack all of the pieces of aluminium bar directly on top of each other, tape them all together and carefully drill the holes you just measured.
4. Remove two of the bars, measure the middle between the two holes you just drilled and mark and drill another hole there. You should now have two bars with just two holes, and two bars with an extra hole in the middle.
5. Thread the 1/4″ x 1/2″ bolt along with a 1/4″ spring washer and 3/4″ washer through the center hole you just drilled, put a drop of LocTite on the other end and secure the GoPro tripod mount, taking care to ensure that the camera will be facing the right way and not into one of the handles for example.
6. Take your 180mm stainless bolts, put on a drop of LocTite and thread a Nyloc nut onto each until the bolt protrudes about 1mm on the other side.
7. Thread one bolt through each end of the 3-hole alumium bar and turn it over so that the nuts are at the bottom and the rest of the bars protruding on the same side and the GoPro tripod mount.
8. Now add one 20mm washer and another Nyloc nut to each and run it all the way down until you are about 10mm from the bar, then add a drop of LocTite and tighten it down.
9. Add another group of nut-washer-nut to each post and apply it, with LocTite 100mm from the bottom bar.
10. Next apply a bit of dish washing liquid to your finger and apply a thin coat to the alumium pipes to ease the application of the grips. Slide the grips on and center them.
11. Pop one aluminium pipe, now containing a grip, over each bolt. You’ll notice that the washers below help center it.
12. You can now slip over the top bar, followed by another 20mm washer and nut to each post. Remember to add another drop of LocTite when you get close to the bar. Tighten FIRMLY.

At this point you’ll have your two-handle tray with a middle hole on the bottom bar and two bolts protruding a few centimeters at the top. Next, we’ll fit the arms.

13. Pop one section off each of the lengths of Loc-Line and add it over each of the protruding posts with the open end at the bottom. Push down firmly to force it over the secured washers.
14. Next up, add one 15mm washer and one nut to each post, LocTite and tighten down to secure.
15. Now pop off the top section from each Loc-Line arm and put a spring washer, 1/2″ washer and 1″ bolt washer through each from the open end (bottom).
16. On the other end, put a 1/2″ washer followed by a drop of LocTite and thread the tripod adapter snugly on to each until the pressure almost forces the top washer into the top end of piece. The arms are now complete.
17. Drill a 3mm hole into the middle section of the second-last piece on each end of the Loc-Line arms. Thread the nylon cave line through the center of each arm, out the drilled holes and tie to the middle of the following section. This will prevent the arm falling into the depths of the ocean should it separate during a dive.
18. Lastly, drill one or two holes through both the top and bottom of each handle, on either side of the grip. This will allow water to enter and exit freely.

NOTES:

i. Although 6mm and 1/4″ might LOOK the same, do not confuse them. One is metric, the other is imperial. Tripod mounts use 1/4″ imperial thread whereas the rest of the project uses Metric 6mm, or M6 as it’s known.
ii. This particular project mentions “GoPro” and “Knog Quodos”, but in reality you can use any combination of hardware you desire. I would recommend these though, since they have been proven to be the perfect combination of cost and quality.
iii. The suppliers used were: Builders Warehouse (Aluminium parts), Topfast(Stainless parts), BuyCycle.co.za (Knog Qudos lights & Grips), Gumtree(GoPro Hero 3 Black)

Aaaaand you’re all set! Now you can secure your GoPro and video lights using the familiar action camera mounts before a dive and have all the lighting freedom that a much more expensive setup would have given you!

(PS: If you are one of those people who despise DIY and don’t feel like going through the above effort, there is a MUCH EASIER way… 😉 )

Happy building!