Sunday, June 05, 2011

GoPro Hero 3D with LCD/viewfinder

Clearly there is no better 3D camera system for POV shooting than GoPro Hero 3D kit. If you already have a couple of Hero HD cameras, adding $99 for the 3D housing, sync cable and accessories is a no-brainer -- you got to do it. But what about non-POV, hand-held shooting? The 2D GoPro Hero HD allows you to add the LCD BacPac, for simple point and shot image framing, but the connector it uses (the HERO Bus™) is occupied by the sync cable required for the 3D to work. So we need to use the camera's video out drive another display.

I saw someone with a 7" Marshall monitor on a 3D GoPro at NAB, so I knew it could be done. I believed they had modified the camera, and I didn't want to do that, plus I wanted to expend much less on the screen. Also a large screen is not need for focus, everything is in focus on a GoPro. I found the perfect screen on that was prompted as a "2.5" LCD WRIST CCTV CAMERA TESTER" with its own battery and NTSC/PAL video input, shipped for under $60.

The technical issue is the video out is in-between the stereo paired cameras, but there is a little bit of room if you modify a cable and trim the 3D housing, the cameras are untouched. The video connectors are tiny, I didn't have any of this size, so I hacked the video cable that comes with the camera, taking connector down to it core by crushing the plastic connector exterior in a vice repeatedly until it basically fell off. Using wire cutters I trimmed off the solder pads for the audio (red and white lines) so only the solder pad of the video (yellow) connection remained. Now only about 3-4mm of the connector will extrude from the camera. I removed the BNC connector from the cable that ships with the 2.5" LCD and soldered the video and ground lines the remaining connector elements.

To make this 3-4mm extrusion and newly attached video cable fit, I trimmed out a 'V' shape from the plastic wall that separates the two cameras using a pair of tin-snips or were they garden shears (whatever was laying around, did the job great.)

To mount the LCD, everything needed comes with camera or 3D housing. I used a flat sticky mount on the back of the LCD (on the lid of the battery compartment) and used the multi-jointed mount from the 3D kit to attach the LCD to the 3D rig. This allowed for nice controlled placement of the LCD.

At this point I've only spent $60 on the LCD and used exclusively parts and accessories that came with the camera/3D housing. To make this one step better, I used a spare magnetic LCDVF mount, so I can share my viewfinder between my Canon 7D and my new 3D rig. This has been so much fun to shoot with.