Camera, Fish, Action!

Over the last couple of years I’ve become interested in shooting videos of kayak and boat-based fishing trips.

I started out with a waterproof compact camera that shot stills and video, but ultimately produced average results.

I then bought a GoPro Hero which delivered far better results and later a GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition – featuring a remote control – which is a step up again in HD quality.

While there are a number of accessories available for “wearing” GoPros using chest, head, wrist mounts and more, I wanted a mounting system on my ‘yak that would allow easy access to the cameras and provide more interesting shooting angles.

I also liked the idea of remotely controlling the cameras and easily adjusting their direction.

Internet research provided some options for pole camera mounts but nothing that could remotely “steer” a camera. I decided to see if I could make such a gadget.

Eventually I came up with the idea of a small 12-volt motor mounted inside a waterproof box containing a rechargeable battery.

A shaft would need to be fashioned to attach to the motor and GoPro and a remote switch would rotate the camera.

With this rough plan in mind I visited my local Jaycar electronics store. I told the young store attendant of my idea, and waited for a shake of the head.

Surprisingly, he enthusiastically pointed me to all the bits and pieces I needed. He also suggested including small red and green LED lights which would light up when the motor was running to signal direction. I liked it. He also sketched out a circuit diagram.

All up, the bits and pieces cost just under $80 and I left the shop confident my little project might actually work. After a few hours of messing around in the shed it did.

I’d connected the motor to a two-position (up/down) switch wired to red and green LEDs which alternately light up depending on motor rotation direction.

The switch clips to a carabiner mounted under the seat of my Jackson ’yak and connects to the motor box via 3m of black double insulated cable.

While I’d thought the project’s box and motor aspect would be the most difficult to sort out, the camera pole mount proved to be.

Fast forward several months and the pole is at “version three” stage. Version one was a short length of timber dowel mated to the motor shaft via drilled hole and grub screw. A GoPro tripod mount was Araldited to the top.

After a few trips the dowel got wobbly so I made a new pole around 100mm long from a carbon fibre rod blank cut off.

This worked well but was too short when the camera faced forward, putting the ’yak bow in frame. I’ve now fitted a longer rod blank section which allows shooting at a higher angle. I added a key chain float to the camera in case it goes overboard.

To mount the camera box on the ’yak I used velcro-style double sided tape on the front hatch. I had to try a couple of brands of tape before finding one support the box’s weight and stayed in place.

Apart from ongoing tweaking the only other negative of the project would be  motor speed, which at 36 RPM is a bit fast and results some back and forth on the switch to position the camera.

It also adds motor noise to the camera audio. Overall it works pretty well at rotating the camera, which is very handy when fishing with other yakkers or filming something of interest nearby.

To further complement “the rotator” the GoPro Hero 3 can be operated remotely with a wrist mount remote. I’ve also added a Wi-fi Bacpac to the origina1 GoPro Hero so both cameras can be operated simultaneously via the remote.

I initially ran the second GoPro on a pole in a rod holder but this restricted the number of rods I could carry.

I then discovered the NZ-based Railblaza range of marine products which feature a host of mounting systems for rod holders, electronics, lights and more.

The CameraBoom 600 Pro Series is a versatile camera mount system with five adjustment axes, giving a huge range of shooting angles from overhead to water level.

While I had to fork out around $120 for the CameraBoom Pro 600 and two Railblaza Starmounts, it is clearly a well made product.

Attaching it to the port side of the Jackson was easy using the quick-release Starport system which I flush mounted using the supplied stainless steel screws.

The Starport’s attached plug keeps any dirt and debris out when not in use. I fitted the second mount to the port gunwale of my new (second hand) Quinnie Hornet to also accommodate the CameraBoom. Cameras (and other items) mount to the CameraBoom’s platform via the supplied 1/4” BSW tripod screw.

Railblaza also makes the CameraBoom Pro in a shorter 150 Series which looks ideal for mounting electronics.

While I’m yet to give this quality product a comprehensive on water workout, the initial impression is promising.

Stay tuned to www.fishingworld.com.au for the results.

More info on the range of Railblaza products is available at: www.railblaza.com.

This story was originally published in the Fishing World February 2014 issue.

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