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George Ebersole

Underwater housing; build or buy?

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I just got an automated Flood Warning phone call from the Marin county offices, and it specifically told me not to go down to the creek. Kind of hard to do since said creeks runs right behind my backyard.

 

But it got me to thinking, I've been meaning to get some footage of the creek, but have been reluctant to get my camera near the water. I'd like something more than a splash bag, but I don't want to shell out a $1000 plus or more for something I may use only once.

 

Has anyone here ever built their own water housing for a camera? Did you hit TAP plastics, or use something else?

 

Thanks for any reply.

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I found a tongue in cheek YouTube vid of how to make one out of sewer line PVC. The down shot is that it works only for things like GoPro and small consumer SD cameras.

 

Since the neighborhood (and thankfully my home) were not washed away by a torrent of water flowing through the neighborhood, I'm official inspired to make something.

 

I'll keep you posted.

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Ya don't need much if it's just going to be splashing in water. I personally would just shoot with a GoPro not only for the safety of the camera, but also if something were to go wrong, IE camera gets pulled out of hands, then it's just a GoPro that you lost and not something more expensive.

 

I shoot all my UW stuff with a GoPro. All the years of using heavier UW rigs and I'm over it.

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My first thought was plumbing parts. Depends on the camera, of course, but you can get UPVC parts, both pipe and end cap plus the welding solvent to hold it all together, which would create a very waterproof and extremely sturdy case.

 

Years ago I made a very simple underwater remotely-operated vehicle out of that sort of thing. It's possible to cut a circular hole in one of the threaded end-caps and use the threads to clamp a circular piece of polycarbonate plastic in the end, to create a window out of which the camera can look.

 

You can house lighting in much the same way. I can't vouch for how deep you could go with it, but I'd have thought it would stand anything you could swim down to without breathing equipment, and then you're into a whole other area.

 

P

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Yeah, the guy said you can't go too deep with the rig he kludged, but it's just for the river and local beaches. No "Shark Week Learning Channel" stuff. I'm thinking I'll rig a tether to it.

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Again, I wouldn't bother. I've messed around with UW housings for nearly two decades... even good one's are a pain and leak. Just figuring out how to control it is a nightmare. Sure, hitting the record button and putting the camera into a box with a piece of transparent material stuck to the front is easy. Making it functional enough so you can see your shot and make adjustments, that's nearly impossible unless you plan on ruining your camera.

 

I actually shot an entire training video in a pool, with my Pocket camera in my drysuit inflated to give me positive buoyancy with NO housing. When you're 20 feet away from the edge of the pool, with a shoulder kit and a camera that if it gets water on it, dies... yea it's pretty gnarly. Both of my pocket cameras have been soaked thanks to my underwater escapades, one of them REALLY bad, like I set it on the side of the pool to get out and someone knocked the camera over on it's side into a puddle of water. EEK!!!! So far camera still works! Lil tanks those cameras are.

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Tyler, when will this nonsense ever end...

 

..."I've messed around with UW housings for nearly two decades....."

Hey man, I made two half-hour documentaries on scuba diving before I graduated from college.

 

Since then I've worked on dozens of commercial underwater shoots and am a certified NAUI instructor. I helped form a new dive shop here in CA and I'm always out diving.

 

Underwater cinematography is one of my things man.

 

Little promo I made two years ago about my love of diving

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So "messed around with UW housings for nearly two decades" means occasionally using them rather than building or developing them, understanding the engineering..?

Edited by Gregg MacPherson
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So "messed around with UW housings for nearly two decades" means occasionally using them rather than building or developing them, understanding the engineering..?

Why do you constantly berate me?

 

If you have a problem with what I say, then make a better suggestion, don't just throw my comments under the bus for your own satisfaction.

 

Frankly, I don't have the time to go on a treasure hunt for 20 year old slides of me building a plexiglass housing for my DV camcorder. Nor do I have the time to transfer hi-8 tapes to my tower of my first housing.

 

Needless to say, I shouldn't have to constantly prove myself. If you have a problem, go find something else to do.

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If you have a problem with what I say, then make a better suggestion,

 

Everything from this thread is drowned out from hearing you use "then" in the right context. Thank you. :P

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Be cool, guys.

 

Update; I went into the local Home Depot yesterday with my DSLR hanging around my neck, and wouldn't you know it, my Nikon is just a hair too big for the largest sewer line PVC.

 

Which means that if I want to go ahead with this project, then I have to whip out my middle school skill set for working plastic, buy a heat strip, level, and some kind of miter to make sure I bend and cut the plastic at the appropriate angles.

 

I'm thinking I'll just double wrap the thing in a couple of splas bags, get some wet weather clothing, lie on my stomach and grab my footage.

 

Oh well.

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Be cool, guys.

 

Update; I went into the local Home Depot yesterday with my DSLR hanging around my neck, and wouldn't you know it, my Nikon is just a hair too big for the largest sewer line PVC.

 

Which means that if I want to go ahead with this project, then I have to whip out my middle school skill set for working plastic, buy a heat strip, level, and some kind of miter to make sure I bend and cut the plastic at the appropriate angles.

 

I'm thinking I'll just double wrap the thing in a couple of splas bags, get some wet weather clothing, lie on my stomach and grab my footage.

 

Oh well.

 

Or go to a building construction site and beg a cutoff of 6" or larger PVC and just buy the fittings to complete your housing build.

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You can get absolutely enormous PVC pipe for industrial-scale stuff - in this part of the world, underground flammable gas pipe is bright yellow and comes in sizes up to feet across, but as JD says, best to beg an offcut from a construction site or you'll end up buying a forty-foot length.

 

Not sure what the situation is with end caps, though. The 110mm stuff here has neat screw-on end caps available which are extremely convenient for this sort of thing, though they do reduce the clearance diameter.

 

BS431G.jpg

 

They're sometimes referred to as cleanout caps and are available in 150mm (6") too.

 

Edit: If you tire of these pipe ideas, look for waterproof cases by a company called Gewiss. Some of them are available with transparent lids which may, in a pinch, be suitable.

 

Also, a good trick is to wire a reed switch to the shutter release connector, then you can trigger the camera externally using a magnet (built into a slide on the outside of the box, or just waved nearby). That way you can take stills or start recording video, depending on the behaviour of the camera, without making holes in the box.

 

P

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Well, I thought if I could easily make something, then I'd do it real quick before the "flood waters" rushing through neighborhood subsided. It was only meant to be a small project so I could get back into the swing of things.

 

Speaking of water, the rocks lining the creek side are now spanking clean. And, they were invisible because they were submerged. I never realized just how much water that channel handled on an annual basis. Incredible.

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