Camera Mount

I scoured the Internet, but came up empty. I wanted a camera mount that I had a desk camp at one end, a pole to elevate the camera, and a standard tripod head screw at the top. I looked, and looked, and what I wanted just didn’t exist. The certainty of my mission crumbled around me.

Not finding what I needed, I gave up on the pre-built solution and started an equally challenging search for separate parts that I could put together. Unfortunately, I could not get very accurate specs on the items I planned to purchase. Images rarely showed the bottoms and the descriptions left a lot to be desired when it came to my needs of Frankensteining everything together.

My attempted camera mount solution

So, I took a gamble and bought a heavy duty desk clamp for a monitor stand: the VIVO PT-SD-CP01A. I then bought the Manfrotto Table Centerpost 385. Finding a source for the Manfrotto presented a challenge, with almost everyone out of stock…but I did find one. The big question: does it have a center hole in the column with threads that I can bolt the clamp to?

Yeah, Murphy, I hear yeah. As you can see from the photo below, that heavy duty pole has nothing in it, and more fun, nothing lines up, the bolts are of different sizes, and I can’t send any of it back, unless I want to give up.

Camera Mount Parts

The Manfrotto stand is a table mount, but one that requires damaging the table with bolt holes. A bottom plate helps to old everything secure through the mounting surface. If I wanted to drill holes in the desk, the stand is ideal. But, I want a movable mount, not a permanent one.

Next, the bolt holes don’t line up with the clamp. Not only are they further from the center, but the bolts for the Manfrotto are too big for the desk clamp. Worse, even if I found a bolt to go through the center of the clamp, it would not be stable enough to keep the post vertical.

So far, this had checked none of my requirements:

  • Moveable table mount
  • Non-damaging to the desk
  • Stable

Never give up, never surrender

Tenacity fills my blood from time to time, and in this, I refused to throw in the towel (I might need it if I were to find myself hitchhiking). I got pen and paper, my trusty calipers, and started taking some measurements and sketching solutions. With the center points of each hole mapped, I pondered how I could make a union of the two parts without drilling holes in the plates (I no longer have a drill press, a vice, or a workbench). This meant I needed a way to attach at least one part from the outside when I sandwiched the union between the pieces.

Dusting off the trig from highschool, I converted the polar coordinate system of 120 degree spacing of the holes to Cartesian coordinates and then started building in FreeCad. I then rotated the inner circle 60 degrees, and reconverted, so I could set the holes on oppoite sides for additional strength.

I exposed at the bottom of the outer holes so that I could get a 10mm wrench into the opening for the nut (I should have made it large enough for the 11mm wrench, which just barely fit).  For the inner openings, I made the top part of the channel wide enough to get a 10mm socket into (those nuts were 10mm).

The desk clamp gets bolted on first, then the Manfrotto post second.

For the printer, I set the slicer to 4mm walls (double the default thickness) and set it do do 8 layers on the top and bottom.  I also set the infill to 40%.  All that might have been overkill, but I don’t want the PLA to crack and send my camera crashing to the floor when I tighten everything up.

So after about 9 hours of printing (that is what overkill does to print times) I had my new part. A quick run to get some bolts and nuts (the desk clamp did not come with any) and voilà, finished mount.