I’ve often wished for stable camera mount above the bench where I take a lot of project pictures. It needed to be quite flexible in where it could locate the camera, but still fairly rigid for say good registration of an HDR series. After several months of intermittently mulling over lots of approaches, I ended up with something that’s simple, effective, and doesn’t add a lot of extra hardware to my overcrowded shop.
I found a $3 generic ball/socket tripod head on Ebay that looked like it would be useful, though I still had no idea what it would be mounted to when I ordered it. We’re underway.
A main requirement was a quick-on quick-off clamp mount to the benchtop. There’s a clamp-on soft-jaw Craftsman vise I use for working on PCBs that lives under the bench. It’s kind of clunky, but it’s effective and flexible enough to have earned its keep – and it clamps on quickly. I finally realized that it could hold the camera mount with zero extra junk near the bench. It’s not quite as rigid as I’d like, but it’s easily Good Enough.
A piece of 1×2 furring strip could clamp in the vise easily, but how do I attach the 1/4-20 female mounting hole in the tripod head to a piece of wood?
Of course when I got the hanger bolt, I got an extra. Unfortunately, it’s one of a kind, and doesn’t have a home in my parts/fasteners organization scheme. In looking for a place to stash it where I’d have a prayer of ever finding it again, I was reminded of Wall-E’s dilemma categorizing a spork he’d found. (It ended up in the ‘assorted bolts’ tray, still in its poly bag. That tray embodies the fundamental storage precept that containers of jumbled stuff should never be deeper than maybe twice the typical dimension of the ‘stuff’ they contain.)
The whole mount system works very well, takes up little space, and cost very little. When I finally figured out I could use that PCB vise, it took less time to build than I’d spent thinking about it!