Econo-Heli-Cam Arial Photography Mount Project
This project is now obsolete as I never finished it and haven't worked on it in years, but I'm leaving it here just in case it inspires anyone...
6/18/2008: As long as I've been flying r/c helicopters I've wanted to have a nice tilt/pan cam mount but I've been put off by the upper triple digit price tags on the better units (or more!). So while I was wandering the isles at Home Depot one day, I spotted a 10" NDS plastic valve box, very similar to what is pictured here (Note that there appears to be a variety of different versions of this same model, based on many different pictures I found on the net, so your local hardware store may not have one that looks like this - and this was the best looking one I saw IMHO). I picked it up, noticing it weighed about 2lbs (without lid) and thought, what a cheap (~$15) AP helicam mount this would make! I am currently in the process of removing un-needed plastic to reveal the mount hidden within. This, combined with some tilt/pan modules from servocity and some elbow grease should get me a 1st class helicam mount for about $200 that (I hope) will rival units costing 3 to 4 times more. More photos to come as I make progress.
Step 1 - Cut out camera access doghouses
6/19/2008: I've cut the doghouses out of the front and rear of the box. You can see in this photo what it looks like with the lid off. Still some lightening to do, but it's down to 1.5 lbs as you see it here...not bad. Plenty of work is left but it still looks encouraging. I'm thinking I might be able to get this part down to 1 pound by cutting off the top inch and adding some more lightening holes to the sides.
Step 2 - More progress with the hole cutter
6/23/2008: Using a 2inch hole cutter, I measured off and drilled 16 holes, giving me this. It only weighs 1.15 lbs now, and will still support over 150 lbs of load! I'm still considering cutting off the very top inch but first I need to engineer the camera holding mechanics before I go any further. Needles to say, I'm very pleased with the outcome thus far.