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Mountain bike video how-to: Mounting the camera

(updated: Dec 22, 2010)

I get a lot of questions about what kind of camera I use and how I mount it, so I thought I'd do a post on how I mount my cameras.

My Contour HD 1080P setup:

In this setup have an inner tube strapped to my helmet via cable ties to counterweight the camera on the opposite side. The principal behind why this creates a more stable setup is easy to demonstrate. Try balancing a pencil on its end - it's not very easy or stable. This is like when you mount the camera on top of your helmet. Now try balancing the pencil on it's side - much easier. Same thing with mounting the camera on one side with a counterweight on the other. In fact, the lower you can mount it and wider the distance between camera and counterweight, the more stable it will be, just like a tightrope walker with a long pole. The rest is just doing a good job mounting the camera.

I used the sticky round mount with the velcro, but I used a hot melt glue gun to glue it to the helmet so that it cannot move (the sticky tape will move and come off in the heat).

When I slide the mating velcro piece into the slots on the camera, I slide it all the way in. I do not stop at the notch in the middle, because there is some play in it, which leads to shaky video. Even the tiniest movement will be amplified and wreak havoc with your video . At first I stuck cable tie ends in the slots to take up the slop, but then I just started sliding the camera all the way in and that seems to work.

I weighed the camera and then weighed a bunch of tubes and found a thin 26" tube that matched. You may have to adjust the weight of the counterweight so mount it loosely at first with cable ties and then put your helmet on and see how it feels. If feels lopsided, adjust accordingly.

Your helmet needs to be very secure on your head. I also often wear a bandanna and use extra adhesive backed foam pads in the helmet to take up any looseness (my bike shop had lots of these they just gave them to me).

Next you need to adjust the angle of the camera. Luckily I have a mirror in my garage so I can sit on my bike and turn on the laser alignment ("fricken laser beams") and see where I'm aiming. Then I do some test rides in my neighborhood with my kid or wife in front of me so I get the angle spot on. This takes a bit of trial and error when you don't have a monitor on the camera and have to go download the video each time. Once I find the ideal position, I make a mark on both mount halves using a permanent marker so I know where to set the camera angle each time.

Trial and error and lots of patience is what it takes, but I've had good luck with this mounting method.

My full-size camera setup:

This setup uses a metal right angle bracket (commonly available at hardware stores) bolted through the side of the helmet. It uses bolts and nuts that have the sharp tines that dig into softer material such as helmet styrofoam. Getting the mounting surface horizontal with the ground when you have the helmet on is the key. You may have to use some dense foam or other material in between the bracket and helmet to get it aligned. Otherwise your video will be cock-eyed.

To mount the camera I take advantage of the standard 1/4-20 threaded mounting hole that all cameras have. I drill a hole through the angle bracket just big enough to get the 1/4-20 bolt through. I also glue rubber pads on the mount surfaces to protect the camera and keep the bolt from falling out.

For extra protection I also cut a piece of foam pipe insulation and wrap it around the exposed top and side of the camera and secure it with a vecro strap.

No, it's not light but it's all relative. My newest camera, a Sony HDR-CX150, weighs a lot less and is smaller than my old Sony.

See what you're filming, a big advantage.

Filed Under: How To

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