Henry here. Even though the author is listed as Erik, where he is about to introduce his DIY GoPro Camera Tray, I’m going to add bit of an introduction to his first writing for Salty Endeavors. 

Recently it seems one of the first “must-get” items for most new scuba divers is a GoPro underwater camera. It is not at all uncommon for students asking us to train them in scuba diving to already own their underwater camera. The y have no mask, no fins, but the obvious first question is, “can I take my camera with me?” The first and only response to this question is always “no.” Sorry, but you’ll have to wait at least until you you are fully scuba certified before we can let you take that camera along for the dive. And truthfully speaking, you shouldn’t be able to take it even then, in my humble opinion. Not until you can multi task while maintaining proper neutral buoyancy should you be allowed to dive with a camera in hand. But I digress…

Usually when guests arrive to us with their own GoPro camera they have failed to purchase or build a proper GoPro camera tray  or mount for it. Sorry folks, but selfie-sticks are awful for underwater videography as the result is anything but a steady image. Same can be said for cameras mounted to the wrist or, the best one yet, the mask – also known as the bubble videos among our staff. All of these mounts result in nauseous viewers 30 seconds into watching. There really is only one good, reliable way to consistently achieve decent videos (assuming your skills as a diver and videographer are adequate), and that is a two-handed GoPro camera tray. And if you’ve been on our boat before you’ve likely seen my GoPro camera tray. This is an affordable and easy Do-It-Yourself (DIY) project and this is where Erik comes in. My camera try was built for me by Erik and gifted to the shop by him. So without further ado, the following text is a reprint of Erik’s original copy published on his blog ErikCarrillo.com

GoPro Camera Tray

After reviewing much of my footage from Cozumel, I came to the realization that I needed a much more stable setup for my camera.  It seems that the selfie stick that came in the cheap accessory pack seemed to twist quite a bit, and it was evident in the footage as well.  Well, I do some research, and it looks like most people use a tray that holds their GoPro and usually some underwater lights of sorts.  I also find out that these GoPro Camera Trays as they are called are quite expensive!  Many of them that include lights are usually priced starting at well above $400 for a tray and a pair of cheap lights!  Prices over $799 are not unheard of for a similar setup with better lights.

Well, I knew I could build my own GoPro Camera tray.  They looked simple enough from any photo, it really was just a matter of finding the parts that I would build it with.

DIY GoPro Camera Tray

All of the components used to make my dive tray.

Grip to Grip is 12″ at the furthest out.  I can also put the grips 7″ apart if I want to.

Stainless Steel threaded rod and Stainless Steel nuts for grip spacers.

I had to drill out the end of the Snake River Prototyping locline holder from 1/4″ to fit 5/16″ Stainless Steel threaded rod.  Then used a nylock nut to hold it in place.

1/2″ PVC fits perfectly inside my Oury ATV grips.

Partially assembled handles, locline adapters on the right.

When you install the nylock nuts, make sure you thread them all the way on.

Otherwise they will not stick in place.  This one is in just far enough.

Basic tray assembled with the arms bolted to the tray.  Stainless Steel washers separate the grips from the aluminum tray.

Mount the GoPro in the center of the tray.

Using a 1/4-20 screw I attach my GoPro adapter.

GoPro adapter in place.

The dive lights are held in place by two O-Rings.

Notice the lack of reflectors in the lights.  This provides a nice even dispersion, and no hot spots that I can see so far.

The Parts List

Cost Quantity Total Description
$9.95 1 $9.95 1 1/2″ x 1/4″ x 12″ Aluminum Flat Bar
 $14.95 1 $14.95 5/16″ x 24″ SS Threaded Rod
$0.55 4  $2.20 5/16″ SS Nylock Nuts
$0.35 4 $1.40 5/16″ SS Nuts
$0.40 2 $.80 SS Fender Washers
$9.99 1 $9.99 Pair of Oury grips
$1.99 1 $1.99 12″ of 1/2″ PVC
$45.00 1 $45.00 Loc-Line Arms with SRP Torch Mounts
$23.00 2 $46.00 2000 Lumen Cree XM-L2 Diving Video Flashlight (Chinese – bought on eBay)
$4.99 1 $4.99 SprayCan of Plasti-Dip
$0.25 1 $0.25 1/4″ Screw
$3.99 1 $3.99 GoPro Mount
$8.99 1 $8.99 4 PC 18650 Batteries & Charger

Dive Tray Grand Total (with lights!): $150.50

(Editors Note: Without lights this same setup can be built for under $50 and with the right filters takes excellent quality images. Look for future blogs discussing filters.)

Anxious to see how the cheap eBay dive lights perform, but not too worried if they have issues as I have alternatives with me, and I did okay without lights in Cozumel.  The macro lenses will benefit most from the added lights, as would any night dives I do, so I hope they perform as expected. (supposed to be good to 100 meters and I don’t plan to dive that deep anytime soon, so we’ll see!)

(Editor’s Note: This is the first blog post of hopefully many more to come from Erik Carrillo. Although Erik is not in Cozumel full time yet, he has been instrumental in many aspects of the development of the Salty Endeavors brand. Look for more contributions from Erik coming in the form of multimedia and blogs focused on videography.)