A camera support for my powerchair…

I need some sort of support for my rather heavy d-SLR plus 140-600mm (35mm equivalent), zoom lens, which would also be capable of taking a spotting scope.

My idea was to use an Opticron 42605 BC2 hide clamp, a relic of my birding days (used once, the day I discovered the nearest RSPB hide was at the bottom of a heart attack-inducing hill!). (And a word of warning to any budding birders who happen to be arachnophobic – hides are full of the buggers!)

Clamping it to the armrest of my Shoprider Lugano – the perfect position – proved impossible as, moulded from polyurethane over a steel core, it was just too soft. There is, however, an alternate mounting position – not entirely sure what for – near the front of the seat, on the side of the base, but that put the camera way too low.

So, an old monopod, a hacksaw, and some duct tape to get the right tubing diameter, and that slipped neatly into the hide clamp – er – clamp.

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In use, there will be a strap securing the clamp to the chair’s base – I’m taking no chances with it coming loose. I’m also going to make some metal shims (soft drink cans are perfect for this, and can be cut with scissors), to bring the monopod tube up to the correct diameter, and remove the duct tape. That way the assembly will be rather more rigid (unless, that is, I can buy the correct size insert for the clamp). What I did instead was remove the screw from the side of the clamp, dropped a couple of washers of the right size in the hole, and replaced the screw (a small nut or even a ball-bearing would have done just as well) – this gives the effect of having a longer screw, and locks everything up immovably.

The tripod head is from my Slik Able 300DX, rather than the Opticron unit, as it’s my favourite.

  Click pic to view full size, Back to return.

However, the pan and tilt locking arms get in the way too much, even though they’re shorter than many, including the original, so I’ll replace it with a ball head that has a quick-release plate and locking pin, like this Manfrotto 496RC2 Compact Ball Head.

  Click pic to view full size, Back to return.

As you can see, the armrest can be folded down against the support as a brace, and looping a strap around the support and the back of the armrest will lock them tightly together for added security.

  Click pic to view full size, Back to return.

And this is the thing fitted and ready to go. The support isn’t quite vertical, which matters not at all – the head will compensate for that.

  Click pic to view full size, Back to return.

Update: Going with this head, the Manfrotto 056 3D Junior 3-way, about half the price of the ball head, above. No quick-release, but I can live with that.

  Click pi – oh hell, you know how it works by now . . .

This does work well, but as received, would not rotate around the base. I had to peel back the graduated sticker on the base to access a socket-head screw – luckily I have zillions of Alan keys – and back it off a few turns. Problem solved, but I expect better from a company like Manfrotto.

And this is how the support now looks, strapping it to the arm as well, to make it more rigid.

  Click to view – you know how it goes.

And the Manfrotto 3D head in situ – nothing sticking out to get in the way or poke the user.

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4 thoughts on “A camera support for my powerchair…

  1. It looks like you’ve done a great job with your DIY project Ron. Hopefully, we’ll have some fine weather soon and you’ll post some of the photos you’ll take with this combination.

    I was thinking of doing something similar using my Road King scooter to support my oldish Canon 30D D-SLR and 70 – 200 f/4 L lens combo but I reckon that it would be too big and bulky.

    Therefore I’m contemplating buying one of the GoPro video cameras instead as they can utilise a variety of secure mounts including helmet, wrist and body harness mounts. These cameras are small, waterproof (when fitted in their waterproof housing) and are very capable of producing high quality HD video. Though they are expensive, they cost pennies compared to top professional video cameras so they are very popular with cyclists, extreme sports aficionados and professional cameramen alike.

    http://www.actioncameras.co.uk/GoPro_Hero_Range

    Do you no longer have your mobility scooter since getting your Shoprider Lugano?

    • Yep, still got my scooter – it’s just too much of a battle to get in and out of the building – too many doors. Leave the flat, get off, lock door, get back on. Go to the next door, get off, open the door and wedge it, get back on and ride through, get off, close door, get back on, ride to the next one – repeat! By the time I’m out I’m already buggered, and got to go through the same crap when I get back. The biggie, though, is having to lever the back of the scooter sideways a few inches with a pick-axe handle, so I can get it through my flat’s door – not sure that’s wise with my heart problem

      With the chair I can just push through the doors without getting off, and getting back in my flat is no problem. Plus I can put the chair in a black cab – can’t do that with a scooter.

  2. I know what that’s like too, though I have only one doorway, a step and a gateway to negotiate when I use my scooter (and in reverse order upon return.)

    However, what used to really knack me up (as I’m no longer able to carry much) was having to slowly “walk” a heavy 5 foot Aluminium access ramp whilst trying to maintain my equilibrium to the front of my property to place it at a step that I’ve been unable to use for over five years first thing in the morning and then retrieve it before dusk. I had to stop doing that after only a couple of times as it was proving to be far too dangerous to my health and after all, the shiny metal was definitely attracting far too much attention from the glut of metal thieves that are constantly patrolling my local streets every day and night.

    Long before I bought my scooter, I endured over two years of earache from my GP who constantly badgered me to contact the Social Care Direct for much needed help, I finally gave in and telephoned them because of the problem I was having with my access. I was given the usual third degree and made the fatal mistake of asking for an access ramp so that I could safely leave and enter my property using my mobility scooter. Well as soon as the SS bitch heard the words ‘mobility scooter,’ she screamed down the phone line that ramps can only be installed for wheelchairs, NOT for scooters! I told her that I have a wheelchair too so there shouldn’t be a problem. Yeah right!

    To shorten a very long story, the only help I got off the SS was a variety of three stools and one Derby step installed at my front door only (according to them I can only use one doorway at a time so they refused to install another step at my rear door.) I had better keep my fingers crossed that I don’t need to use that particular door in an emergency, such as in a fire.

    However, what was really annoying was that during the so-called assessment from one of their OTs, was that before she had even entered my home to start the assessment, she told me of all of the things that had been refused me with the ramp being at the top of her hit list. So much for assessments. Annoyingly, due to the very poor condition of the concrete step which had a crack across it as it was suffering with badly undercut, the SS contacted my landlord (who’s in bed with my local authority) and one of their inspectors agreed that it needed replacing ASAP! I begged him to install a concrete ramp instead as, after all, they were going to rip up the old concrete step in order to install a new step in its place. This inspector just said, contact the SS and have an assessment from one of their OTs. Catch 22!

    So my new concrete step is installed which I still cannot use, and I have no alternative but to carry on using my very bumpy side garden to bypass that damned step. A neighbour’s son removed and stored the metal gate at the boundary wall for me and now I very carefully negotiate around the step and squeeze out past where the gate used to hinge on my scooter and finally onto the public highway. So I’m riding “off road” before I even leave home. I also have to use my bumpy side garden to do a “3 point turn” then freewheel my scooter in reverse into its storage. Space is at a premium. The garden is slowly cutting up, changing from a grass meadow into a muddy mire. Perhaps I should have some flagstones laid down but it may only benefit someone else as I may end up being mandatory moved when the changes to housing benefit finally hit. Oh what fun!

    I also found out just how much help I can expect from my local Labour county councillor too, which is zero. She couldn’t even be bothered to reply to my Email. She’s lost my vote for the next local elections.

    It amazes me to this day whenever I meet people who think that I only need to contact the SS and I’ll get all the help that I’ll ever need. About as much help as I would’ve gotten from that other SS group, The Schutz-Staffel…

    • In hospital last January – pneumonia and empyema – I was diagnosed with heart failure (turned out to be rather more terminal), and the consultant summoned the OT and told them “This man needs help, can you organise it?” At which point both he and I were firmly told to bugger off, and I had to fund it myself. Fat bloody chance of that happening!

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