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Mini-DV Camcorder Helmet Mount

I've had a number of requests for information:  how do you mount a camera on top of your helmet?  We aim to please. So, here it is. A quick 'n dirty helmet mount.   - Bruce Argyle

Before you start, here are two critical considerations:
(1) You need a helmet that fits VERY securely - one that won't roll when you tip your head with the weight of the camcorder on the top.
(2) You need a VERY light camcorder - only the lightest mini-DVs will do.

As a test, tape your camcorder to the top of the helmet with electrical tape. Tip your head. If the helmet slides, you need a lighter camcorder, or a tighter-fitting helmet. (A cheap helmet often remains in place better than expensive ones, which are designed for minimal contact with your head!)

Also, I need to warn you that even the lightest camcorder will change your balance and slow your head-motion in tight turns and technical stuff. Need proof? Watch the Alpine Lambert Park video, where I slide into a tree because I couldn't make a tight turn on a wet trail.

Materials needed:
3x4" piece of pine
piece of rubber inner tube
bolt of the right length and diameter to mount your camcorder
small roundhead screw
contact cement
cable ties

Tools needed:
band saw, jig-saw, or coping saw
drill with 1/4" bit
miter saw or hand saw
wood-carving chisel and hammer
socket driver (with you on the bike, to attach camcorder)

First, check your helmet to see where the vent holes will allow you to attach the mount. You may need to alter the basic shape.

Cut out the basic shape of the mount from 3/4 or 1" pine. Because it will be weakest in the side-to-side direction, cut it so the grain of the wood will go from right-to-left (not front-to-back).

Mark the location of the "beam" that will fit into the helmet's top vent hole. Make it a little bit narrower than the vent, to allow room for the rubber strip.

Start the cuts for the slot with a miter saw.

Shape the underside of the wood so it matches the curve of the top of the helmet. Cut away wood, starting from the outside edge, and getting deeper as you approach the center "beam."
Drill a central 1/4" hole for the camera's mounting bolt.

Match the the wood against the helmet to see the ideal location for mounting holes. (The cable ties will go through the top -- center-- vent, go around the nearest solid part of the helmet, and come up in the next vent hole.) Drill the holes for the mounting straps.

Cut a piece of old bicycle inner tube, 1/2" larger than the the wood (you'll trim it later).

Sand the surface of the tube, just as if you were planning to patch it.

Make holes in the rubber to match the holes in the wood.

Coat the underside of the mount and the SANDED side of the rubber with contact cement. Let both pieces dry until they're barely tacky.

Keeping the sides of the rubber up, match the center holes and push the rubber down onto the center of the mount. Then, one side at a time, bend the rubber so you can put it into the groove. Once it's bonded perfectly into the notch, smooth it out to the edge.

Cut off the excess rubber.

Attach the mount with the cable ties, loosely at first. (Make a couple of trial runs with the camcorder to see how far forward or back to place the camera for comfortable straight-down-the-trail recording.)

A small round-head screw fits into a hole on the camcorder to keep it from rotating.

The camcorder is tightened down with a socket-driver, such as the one shown here. You'll pack this tool with you on the bike, so you can remove and reattach the camcorder while riding.

I usually take extra cable ties, so I can move the mount while on the trail. (It's very quick and easy to cut the cable ties with the knife on your multi-tool, then snug new ones into place.)

To shoot a biker who's riding in back of you, snip the cable ties, turn the mount around, then reattach it. You'll need to experiment to see where the mount should be for straight-back recording as you ride. (You may need to drill other holes in the mounting, so you can put it in another location on the helmet.) Or, you can use the cable-ties to attach the camera to an equipment rack on the back of the bike.