DSLR Camera mount for manual wheelchair

Author: @tetraplegic

Description of Idea:
I’m looking for a way to attach a mount a for a gimbal, DSLR camera, and telephoto lens to my manual wheelchair for bird photography. All of the commercial options that I see do not hold anywhere near enough weight.

Detachable when not in use
Carrying capacity of 15 lbs
Very stable - it can’t wobble when moving the camera around
Adjustable position

MMC Entry I.D: 6540

Hey @MMC_Jake next time you chat with Kenneth, I think he did a project just like this.

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Hey @tetraplegic - welcome to the site.

It would be helpful to get an idea of the where you would need the gimbal mounted relative to your chair - e.g., what sort of distances are involved from suitable mounting spots on the frame of your chair to where the camera would be located. Would also be helpful to get a rough idea of where you are geographically located, as this will probably require some local help.

The commercial standard for heavy duty applications like this is probably the Rehadapt Monty 3D: https://rehadapt.com/product/monty-3d-plus-hd. It’s a very well designed mounting system, and the price reflects that. The maximum listed capacity is 13.2 lbs.

None of the current Open AT mounting solutions are intended to carry this type of load, so this will require some design work. One solution I have seen for a similar challenge was to use bent/welded piece of metal pipe, though even that had more movement than desired. It will probably be necessary to connect back to at least two mounting points to provide the desired stability.

Here is an example gimbal that I would like to mount (they’re all pretty similar size and use the same standard tripod mounting screw):

To get the camera close to eye level the bottom of the gimbal needs to be about 18 - 24 inches above the frame of my wheelchair. Making the gimbal height adjustable by 6 to 8 inches would be helpful since the camera eyepiece height changes when aiming the camera up and down (the center of rotation of the camera + lens is part way down the lens). My thought is to attach to the frame on the tubes near my knees. That provides two attachment points. Finding a 3rd attachment point would be tricky.

I’m located in Sunnyvale, California, USA.


Note: Tripod mounts usually come in two sizes: 1/4"-20 UNC and 3/8"-16 UNC. The gimbal @tetraplegic linked used the larger variety (3/8"-16 UNC).

New project that looks like a great fit

@tetraplegic, I am in the process of designing a ball joint that attaches to a pipe with a quick-release cam lever. It is quite stable and strong (I printed in Nylon w/ Carbon Fiber), and I’d be happy to adapt the design for your needs.

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I had an old boss who used to say “Every great idea was stolen from a musician.” He was a grumpy old man…

Anyways, you might want to check out a music store and look at the drum kits. It’s all tube & clamp based and you can mix and match individual parts to build a perfect rig. The requirements of a travelling drummer (quick setup, highly configurable, withstand a beating) have a lot of overlap with this use case. https://www.sweetwater.com/c1213--Drum_Clamps

I can help with a final connector to the gimbal if needed.

Edit: I also wouldn’t sweat the rated capacity for any component below the gimbal. That number will assume the product is used at maximum extension. You are going to gain a lot of rigidity using a tripod at 20" vs 72".