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Thread: Build your own underwater camera housing

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    Valued Member 12ozLife's Avatar
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    Last edited by 12ozLife; 2007 August 8th at 19:30.

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    It's indeed a cheap and simple solution.
    I'm looking also for a good solution to use my HV20 underwater with Scubadiving, and I have made an underwater light a few years ago from aluminium. (It was a small and lightweight handheld 'flashlight' type, with a cable to an external power supply mounted on back of my scuba gear...)

    I'm thinking of making such a device for the HV20, something simular as in this film, but instead a small lens opening, I would prefer to use a greater lens opening (for example to use with a wide converter) and more would wish some small basic control like rec on/off and zoom function.
    And this is were the miss of a LANC function really bothers me because it would be made a bit easier to implement these funtions.

    I'm also thinking of using the remote control. Using a seperate, special kind of case / bag for the remote and with a opticla cable like elsewere on this forum is shown on a tripod. (see here)

    Does anyone else have any ideas or thoughts about this issue?
    Maybe if there are more people who want a cheaper solution than $900+ I'll can start make drawings and start experiment with this.

    Maybe we can start some kind of a wishlist here, and start to discuss about this.

    What is important for me for an underwater case?
    - waterproof (duh...)
    - durable housing
    - some very basic functions (rec on/off and zoom)
    - maybe extra functions like power on/off,
    - use of some extra's like wide angle lens

    Any comments on this???

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    Legend DaFireMedic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 12ozLife View Post
    I don't know if this would fit the HV20 but still a pretty good idea and give you some ideas so you can make your own for cheap

    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/76309/...amera_housing/

    Also, a good idea is to glue some padding inside of the tube to prevent the camera from moving around while inside. I personally would also make the view hole bigger.
    This one would work, I have slid the HV20 into 4" PVC to test it, but it won't go very deep with this type pipe. You need to use at least schedule 40 PVC to safely get down to the deeper recreational scuba diving depths. I built one for my PV-GS300 based on this design:

    http://www.instructables.com/id/EKU3DUKR8WEPA8KXRG/

    I also added controls for On/Off and Start/Stop recording. Fairly simple to make the controls, I'll post some pics when I get the chance.


    I bought a generic housing (well, now its generic, they don't make the camera it was designed for anymore) on Ebay for $79 to use with the HV20, see thread here:
    http://www.hv20.com/showthread.php?t=1534

    I am currently modifying the controls for the HV20, but one like it could be used just by placing the camera inside and starting the recording with the remote prior to entering the water.

    As far as the foam padding goes, it works also, but I prefer to make a tray to secure the camera inside the housing as shown in the DIY housing link I posted. Its more secure and you can look through the housing while diving.
    Last edited by DaFireMedic; 2007 August 1st at 14:46.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DaFireMedic View Post
    I also added controls for On/Off and Start/Stop recording. Fairly simple to make the controls, I'll post some pics when I get the chance.
    I'm wondering about those controls.
    Maybe I'm thinking to hard, but isn't it a hard time of making a control for the HV20 zoom or power function watertight?
    I have a simple drawing in my mind for an simple aluminium housing wich I can let someone make rather cheap. I want a aluminium one because Í might going tu use it pretty often, not only in 'deep' water but also like on rainy day's and 'dusty' moments. (So you might call it an all-weather housing )

    But I'm still thinking of how to implement a mechanical design for a switch to make it watertight... A do have a few designs in my mind but still hoping to figure out wich one will be the best choice...

    But thanks for the first link! All info will help!

    BTW; would like it very much to see some pics, preferably from the controls. How did you move the controls???
    Last edited by Stefan_hv20; 2007 August 2nd at 14:31.

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    Legend DaFireMedic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stefan_hv20 View Post
    I'm wondering about those controls.
    Maybe I'm thinking to hard, but isn't it a hard time of making a control for the HV20 zoom or power function watertight?
    I have a simple drawing in my mind for an simple aluminium housing wich I can let someone make rather cheap. I want a aluminium one because Í might going tu use it pretty often, not only in 'deep' water but also like on rainy day's and 'dusty' moments. (So you might call it an all-weather housing )

    But I'm still thinking of how to implement a mechanical design for a switch to make it watertight... A do have a few designs in my mind but still hoping to figure out wich one will be the best choice...

    But thanks for the first link! All info will help!

    BTW; would like it very much to see some pics, preferably from the controls. How did you move the controls???
    The one I bought on Ebay is aluminum, very sturdy but heavier than your average Ikelite. But it is neutrally buoyant and feels really stable as well.

    I don't plan to use zoom underwater, only max wide angle. In talking to underwater videographers that I've met, they generally don't like to use zoom as the camera image shakes alot at higher magnification, and unless you are in clear water it just magnifies the murkiness.

    For the controls on my DIY housing, I used automotive tire valve stems. I remember someone posting something like that a long time ago on some website, I dont remember where or I'd give the guy credit for the initial idea. Anyway, I positioned the tire valve stem going through from the outside, with the "inflation" end on the inside. These things are designed withstand gobs of air pressure on truck tires without leaking, so they should be able to handle our scuba depths. I ran a threaded rod into the valve stem from the outside(with 3m 5200 marine sealant around the rod) with about 2" sticking out of the housing. So I merely pull back on the threaded rod, and the valve stem inside the housing moves forward, pressing the record button. If you came in with a valve stem right above the zoom control, you could probably make it work.


    For the On/Off control, most camcorders have a dial type wheel with a push button release, very difficult to DIY a control. So I built an external battery using AA NIMH cells:

    http://boards.theforce.net/Message.a...0015&replies=6

    Using the external battery, I placed an in-line pushbutton on/off switch in the battery wire, which sends/cuts power to the camera when pressed. So I leave the camera in the "on" position, and turn the camera on/off with the pushbutton switch. Then I used another tire valve stem control to press the switch. The camera with the battery, switch, etc. is all attached to a plastic tray and I just slide the whole thing into the housing.

    I am using a similar external battery/switch setup with the ebay housing for the HV20. I found one of those Cellboost external battery things for a Canon Optura camcorder, and the connection was the same to plug into port where your A/C adapter would plug in. But the connection is pretty generic, you should be able to find one at an electronics store. I'm at lunch right now, but I'll try to post some pictures tonight.

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    O.K., here are some pics. Keep in mind that I have done no work yet on the cosmetic aspect of the housing, so please excuse the glue and other stuff that are quite visible.

    Here is the tray assembly with the PV-GS300:


    As you can see, I mounted the camera on the tray and the whole tray slides forward into the housing. The pushbutton on/off switch is mounted right behind it, with the homemade battery pack behind that. The wiring from the battery runs in the space under the tray to keep it out of the way.

    Interior view of controls:


    Once again, please excuse the mess. My intention was to get it all cleaned up, knobs in place, etc before showing it to anyone. Anyway, looking down into the housing from the front you can see the valve stems used as the controls. The tray was inserted for the picture but the camcorder is left out so you can see. One valve stem is placed directly over the on/off switch on the tray and the other is directly behind the record button on the camera. In my tests on land, the controls work easily and flawlessly. I couldn't be more pleased.

    Exterior view of the controls:


    Here you see the threaded rod (Size 10-24) inserted in the center of the valve stem (The valve stem cores are removed). The housing body itself acts as a fulcrum, so as I pull back on the rod, the valve stem inside moves forward, pressing the record button. I used some marine sealant around the outside of the valve stem for additional waterproofing. I will be adding some kind of knobs for looks and ease of handling, as well as some additional shrink wrap tubing around the threaded rod for looks and protection against the salt water.

    As you can see, I still have some work to do on it. I have kind of shifted focus to converting the housing that I purchased for the HV20, but I will come back to this one soon.

    BTW: All these pics were taken with the HV20.

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    Valued Member 12ozLife's Avatar
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    Really.. you only got to worry about the on/off... mostly.. You do have a remote that you can use to hit record and zoom. Though you cannot use underwater.. Unless you put the remote in a waterproof bag.

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    I might have indeed second thoughts about the focus function for underwater use...

    So let's think...
    My battery will last more than the lenght of the tape. No need to switch tape underwater () so what would be the average diving time?
    If I see back in my personal diving log, the average diving time will be between 45 up to 75 minutes.

    So you might run out of tape. So a rec on/off OR power on/off function would be the most important function.
    I think this might be getting to work with the tire valve option as mentioned above...

    I'm also thinking of building a LCD back on the housing as it might be difficult / or unpractical to 'look into the tube' underwater, not to mention the viewfinder.

    So a solution without any control wouln't sound so bad after all...
    I can coat the housing in Black at my work, it's a corrosive protecting coating used in the automotive industrie so my guess it would be very good protected against salt water...

    I think it's time to get my thoughts out on paper soon

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    Quote Originally Posted by 12ozLife View Post
    Really.. you only got to worry about the on/off... mostly.. You do have a remote that you can use to hit record and zoom. Though you cannot use underwater.. Unless you put the remote in a waterproof bag.
    I have heard occasionally of people using their remote underwater in waterproof material of some sort, but I just chose a different route. I'm not sure how deep you could take the remote safely in a waterproof bag, but it is an idea.

    The on/off is important to me in the fact the the camera will go into stand by mode if you don't hit record within a few minutes. Once it goes into stand by, thats it for the dive unless you have access to the controls. Thats why I'd rather be able to turn the camera on at depth. Ideally, I'd like to have access to the manual white balance for better color control, but I won't have that with this housing.

    Certainly at the most basic level, you can just place the camera inside, turn it on and use the remote to start recording before you dive, editing out the first few minutes in post. Many people do this and it works well (and is cheap, which can be important). I had the idea for these controls and wanted to try them. So far I am pleased with how they work.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stefan_hv20 View Post
    I might have indeed second thoughts about the focus function for underwater use...

    So let's think...
    I'm also thinking of building a LCD back on the housing as it might be difficult / or unpractical to 'look into the tube' underwater, not to mention the viewfinder.
    Most people I talk to use auto focus. It usually works just fine.

    The LCD screen is a good idea. I am probably going to do this for the Hypertech housing I bought. The DIY housing is meant to be a "cheap" solution kind of thing, so eyeballing my view is how that one will work.

    Check out this one. This guy makes housings and sells them on ebay. Read down the ad a bit. They look good and he has some good ideas.

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...MEWA:IT&ih=003
    Last edited by DaFireMedic; 2007 August 4th at 14:43.

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    Legend DaFireMedic's Avatar
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    I was thinking about using something like this for an LCD display:

    http://cgi.ebay.com/3-5-TFT-Color-LC...QQcmdZViewItem

    I don't think that it would fit in the 4" PVC pipe, but it would in the Hypertech housing.

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    It would be possible, but you will have to unmount the LCD display out of its original housing.

    Here in Holland, I've seen one in a webshop wich have only the bare basic LCD plate with 4 mounting points on each corner.
    Also has multiple AV inputs and is 7 cm wide, supporting 16:9 video format.
    I don't know if the one on Ebay support 16:9 frame???

    Anyway, it does is much cheaper than the one I saw in store here.
    So it might be worth searing Ebay or a local online market place before buying one in a 'real' shop...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stefan_hv20 View Post
    It would be possible, but you will have to unmount the LCD display out of its original housing.

    Here in Holland, I've seen one in a webshop wich have only the bare basic LCD plate with 4 mounting points on each corner.
    Also has multiple AV inputs and is 7 cm wide, supporting 16:9 video format.
    I don't know if the one on Ebay support 16:9 frame???

    Anyway, it does is much cheaper than the one I saw in store here.
    So it might be worth searing Ebay or a local online market place before buying one in a 'real' shop...
    You are correct, the one in Holland sounds better. In one sense, I just want to see where the camcorder is pointed, but on the other hand it would be nice to have one that supports 16:9 so I can see what is in the field of view.

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    Valued Member 12ozLife's Avatar
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    An idea to fix all the probs with controls while underwater.. It's the idea that I kind of had in my mind but this guy made it.
    http://web.media.mit.edu/%7Etim/pix/...oofcamera.html

    also.. Another cool design:
    http://www.instructables.com/id/EKU3DUKR8WEPA8KXRG/
    Last edited by 12ozLife; 2007 August 8th at 19:28.

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    Just seen on the Ikelight website:

    HV20 underwater case

    It has a bunch of controls, like all Ikelight housings, such as
    • Super-Eye Viewfinder
    • Power On/Off Control
    • Record Start/Stop
    • Zoom Control
    • Photo/Snapshot Control
    • Function Button Control
    • Backlight Control
    • Auto/Manual Focus Control
    • Manual Focus Dial
    • White Balance
    • Joystick (2 Controls)
    • Removable External UR/Pro Filter


    Would be very great, but if you look at the pricetag of $1100,=....

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