Flex-Cam Arm For Wheelchair
A few weeks ago I was out poking around on the land across the road from my house. About 60 yards in front of me, partially concealed by a small bush, was an animal which I first thought was a deer. Many times when I see animals they are not initially afraid of me because I don't look like a "normal" person. I started driving toward it and realized it was a coyote which had just killed a woodchuck. It started running to the opposite hedgerow, but dropped the woodchuck on the way. After pulling in the into to some cover I waited to see if it would come back. Finally, I decided to leave when a turkey vulture flew in and then in a minute a second one landed. I was pretty sure the coyote wouldn't let them have the woodchuck so I waited. After about 10 minutes of standing there and doing nothing the vultures went airborne and disappeared. I waited a little while longer and then came home.
I had my camcorder, but it only had a Wooden Handle on it because my four-wheel-drive wheelchair has no place to mount a camera. I filmed the coyote, but the video was very unsteady and I was unable to use the zoom to any effect. As a result, I was only able to salvage a few pictures of the coyote in the distance. I decided to create some type of the adaption that would provide a stabile base for my camera and enable me to better control the zoom.
For a while I had been thinking about creating a mount which would attach to the post from the Deadshot Treepod which is always on the four-wheel-drive chair. It would, however, be just as easy to attach a 4' piece of 3/4" PVC pipe directly to any chair using one of the Deadshot Treepod mounts shown under the Hunting Category on the home page. In an effort to create a mount with maximum flexibility I decided to use a 3/4" Loc-Line system. Except for the 3/4" rigid PVC pipe everything needed was available from Modular Hose's website.
Figuring I needed no more than 3' of tubing I ordered 6 pieces of Loc-Line 3/4" hose sections. Each piece is a little less than 6" long. The sections snap together if you can generate enough pressure, which I couldn't. Next came a PVC collar. The smooth half of the collar is slid on the PVC pipe and is glued in place. The other end is threaded to accept a 3/4" adapter which then connects to the hose. A 3/4" double socket snaps on the other end of the hose, that then snaps to a camera mounting disk and you're in busines. This flex arm can be used with a camera, camcorder, spotter scope or any other piece of apparatus that connects to a regular camera mount.
Once the flex-arm began to take shape it became obvious there would be a number of different ways to attach it to a wheelchair. The simplest way would be to use hose clamps and attach it to a tube on the chair's frame. U-bolts would certainly be another option. Attaching the Loc-Link directly to the chair meant that it would be on the chair all the time, so I started looking for a way that I could attach it when I wanted to use it and then easily remove it when I didn't. A piece of 3/4" PVC pipe about 6 inches long was cut and attached with hose clamps to the lower portion of my leg lateral. Once glued on the PVC it would just be a matter of screwing the flex arm into the PVC and unscrewing when I want to remove it. On my manual chair I cut a piece of PVC pipe to replace the Deadshot Treepod and the flex-arm could be attached or removed from the top of the pipe.
Much to our surprise once attached to the wheelchair the flex-arm moved much more easily than we had anticipated. Even with the lightweight camcorder the arm had a tendency to drop over from the extra weight. With my Nikon camera it was almost impossible to get the arm to stay upright. We removed 6 inches of Loc-Line from the flex-arm itself and placed superglue on the first three pieces of Loc- Line sleeve that held it to the PVC pipe. When using the arm we first bent it across my thigh and then straightened it in front of me which worked well. If you look at the pictures you will see that both the Nikon camera and the camcorder are below my line of sight. This was done on purpose since I can see the LCD screen where it is and still see all of the buttons I need to operate the camera.