Photos, photos, photos! Thank goodness we live in a world where trophy fish are (generally) returned to the water and an angler only takes home a photo and a memory. Admittedly this puts a lot of emphasis on getting a good photo that really captures the moment, the environment and the emotion.
Given the rise in popularity of Hobie kayaks I was surprised to find a hole in the market for an easy and cheap camera mount. Try searching google and you’ll get a couple of unwieldy looking creations and a lot of DIY and backyard jobs. Not one to shy away from a little DIY, I decided to create my own using components from RAM mounts. So come with me on a journey over a couple of years as I tried to get good quality photos from the Hobie. I hope by sharing the insights gained from several hours of my life spent studying the endless array of RAM sockets, ball sizes, bar heights and compatible parts, it will save you the trouble! (A full parts list is provided at the end).
In the beginning – Mark I
The obvious spot to install any sort of camera mount is the sail mast hole at the front of the kayak. No drilling and it’s nicely out of the way. I stumbled across the RAM ‘wedge mount’ on my travels and soon had one in my hot little hands. Simply pop it in the mast hole and twist the screw downwards. The two wedges push outwards clamping onto the inside of the hole. So now we’ve got the little black RAM ball sticking out of the kayak, let’s add a double-ended clamp and a mounting plate with the screw thread for the camera – we’re done right!?
To be fair, Mark I did a pretty good job from its low vantage point. Although I now have several hundred megabytes of photos of my feet, the back of the sounder and the base of my rods. And occasionally a few nice fish to boot. Some examples of Mark I photos are here and here.
Back to the drawing board – Mark II
OK, so it’s obvious that we need a bit of extra height on the mount. So again, turning to internet land, I found what I was looking for… well nearly. An extension bar. But in a typically frustrating moment, I couldn’t find a bar that had sockets on the end, only balls <insert pun here>. What this means is that I needed to buy another (2nd) clamp to connect to the ball of the wedge mount or the camera mount.
Admittedly there is one extension bar with sockets but it fits a 1″ ball at one end (perfect fit) and 1.5″ at the other end (wtf!).
So back to the pole I ordered. In my defense I may have decided to play it safe and get the longest pole on the market – 24 inches. Also in my defense is that we use metric units in Australia and I may not have thought particularly hard about the conversion. For the record 24 inches is 61cms! Once installed, it was comically high. Worse than that, it was quite unstable, shaking and flexing as the boat moved.
DIY time – Mark III
When the extension pole arrived it had the ends loose in the bag which was fortunate. It made it much simpler to chop the pole down without having to remove and re-fit the ball attachments. After a little trial and error I came to the conclusion that 15cm was about the right length. You lose a few cms when the end attachments slide over the pole but gain quite a few with the height of the two clamps. On reflection the RAM 14″ (35cm) extension pole would have been plenty long enough – and even then I could have cut it in half and given half to a mate …
Simply glue the end attachments onto the pole using PVC cement (that awesome pink and blue stuff), let it dry and assemble.
How does it look on the boat? Pretty tidy! But more importantly it is stable, secure, out of the way and has the flexibility to shoot different angles.
I’m yet to land a ‘trophy’ fish from the kayak but when I do, I’m confident that I have the right camera mount to capture the moment – and not the back of the rod holders or my feet!
For those playing at home or wanting to make your own, here is the parts list and the RRP from the RAM website.
Mark III camera mount
RAP-B-354U 1″ WEDGE MOUNT HOBIE SCOTTY (suits 7/8″ – 1″ hole) $14.39
RAM-B-201-A Short Double Clamp B Size $16.00
RAM-B-202AU RAM BASE WITH 1/4″-20 STST STUD $10.44
RAP-BB-230-14-201U 14″ (35cm) Pole Double Socket Arm $23.00
RAP-BB-230-24-201U 24″ Pole Double Socket Arm $25.00
Since concocting this engineering marvel, I’ve come to the mind-numbing conclusion that a 1.5″ ball wedge (rather than 1″) would have allowed me to use the extension pole with the 1″ and 1.5″ clamp sockets, saving a piece of hardware.
The Mark IV solution
RAP-354U 1.5″ Ball Wedge mount to suit holes from 7/8”- 1” $17.19
RAP-CB-201-14U 14″ (35cm) Extension Pole with 1″ and 1.5″ Open Sockets $26.99
RAM-B-202AU RAM BASE WITH 1/4″-20 STST STUD $10.44
Presumably in response to mind-boggled customers, RAM has recently released its camera mount wizard, which lets you select all the different bits you need. I’m proud that I worked it out for myself and to be honest the wizard is still really hard to find if you’re just browsing around the web.
Anyway, enough! Go and catch an amazing fish from your Hobie already – just remember to capture the moment for posterity 🙂
See you on the flats!
Graham ‘graz’ Fifield