to Make Your Own Waterproof Camera Enclosure
click any picture to see a big hi-rez
You need a waterproof
enclosure to get close to the action without killing your camera.
Here's how to make one. This design will work with almost any camera,
digital camera, or camcorder. It gives you access to all the
camcorder's features. You can either look throught the bag into the
viewfinder or use the lcd, although most lcds aren't any good in
sunlight. I wanted mine for kitesurfing, but it'll work underwater too.
If it leaks you'll be able to see water in the bottom of the bag or
bubbles escaping and return to the surface before your camera is harmed.
Make the Bag:
Fold over a piece of clear flexible urethane or pvc and weld the edge
with a hot iron. Put a piece of kapton or tinfoil over and under the
plastic to keep it from sticking to the iron. Experiment with scrap
material til you get the iron to the right temperature and get the
knack of it. Rub the kapton on your nose to make it greasy and keep it
from sticking. 12 mil urethane sheet from API inc. is being welded
here. Your grandma's couch cover, a kite bladder, storm window vinyl
from a hardware store, or a clear shower curtain will also work.
Urethane is better than vinyl because it's more flexible and maybe less
toxic to the planet. Polyethylene is too stiff, cloudy, and prone to
fatigue. Don't use it.
the Internal Camera Bracket:
Cut out a piece of 1/2" thick plastic, clamp it like this, and soften
the "neck" with a hotair gun as shown. This plastic is polypropylene
scrap cut from a big sink discarded by a darkroom. Polyethylene from a
plastic cutting board or any thick thermoplastic will also work. A hair
dryer might work instead of an official heat gun if it's a mean one or
if you choke the air intake in an unsafe way.
it over using a board to keep it straight and so you don't burn your
fingers. Hold it til it cools and gets hard again. If you get impatient
pour cold water over it or dunk it in cold water.
Finish shaping the outside of the bracket using a saw, rasp, beltsander
Mark the center of the piece using a spring-loaded center punch.
Firemen, paramedics, and vandals use this tool to shatter car windows.
Scribe a cross at the center. The centerpunch will naturally slide down
one groove and drop into the center of the cross. You'll be able to
punch the center of the cross without even looking. Then the drill bit
will seek the center of the punched dent with equal accuracy. This is
how old guys with beards do accurate work without machine tools.
is a circle cutting tool tool used with a drill press. It's really
dangerous. If you're lucky it won't cut your fingers off and fling the
sharp fragments into your eyes.
the piece securely and don't put your hands anywhere near it. The tool
is invisible when it's spinning. It must be used in a drill press. In a
hand drill it'll just dig in and cause mayhem.
deburring tool with swivelling cutter.
it to bevel the inside edge.
the Outside Bezel:
Cut a ring out of thick plastic.
most of the way through with the circle cutter and finished cutting
with a knife to keep it from getting ripped up. Bevel the inside edge
with the deburring tool as shown above.
big groove in on the outside edge. This is where the bag will be lashed
on. Use lathe cutter, rat-tail rasp, and sandpaper. Smooth any sharp
edges. Take the key out of the chuck before turning the lathe on. It
makes an unpleasant sound when it hits you in the face. And just once
doesn't seem to be enough for anyone.
the window: This sheet of glass
came from a junk flatbed scanner. Score it with a carbide scribe.
it across tangent to the circle, hang it over the edge of a table, push
on it a bit and tap by the end of the scribed line with something hard.
Visit a glass shop to see how it's done.
not done like this. I beat on it with increasingly large hammers until
it shattered. This tempered glass doesn't crack at a scribed line like
regular glass. So I gave up on that and got some lexan sheet and cut
the round window out of that instead. Lexan is softer than glass and
more likely to get scratched so I cut a couple of spares. I used a
fine-tooth saw and some sandpaper on the edges. Lexan is a lot tougher
than lucite, but that would work too. If you really want a tempered
glass window, you could probably cut it with abrasives or a diamond
gasket out of thick rubber sheet. The gasket is the black thing.
Shown here with the other major parts.
is a center finder. Rest the 'V' arms against the outside of the disk
and draw a line across. Rotate the disk and repeat. The center of the
disk is where the lines cross.
up the components. Lay out, drill and countersink some evenly spaced
holes for stainless flathead screws. The gizmo on the drill is a
quickchange chuck. It's got a drill and countersink on one end and a
screwdriver bit on the other.
a 1/4" mounting hole for the camera, bolt it on, and make sure it fits
the way you want. Three views of the finished assembly.
Pull the bag over the end of the bezel and lash it on with nylon
monofilament fishing line. You could also make the bag differently, cut
a round hole as big as the porthole, and sandwich it next to the
gasket. I'll probably make the next one that way. The method shown can
leave a pinhole leak where the seam in the clear tube makes a bump. If
you're careful or use a dab of silicone sealant that won't happen.
Turn the bag inside out so the camera bracket is inside. To close the
bag roll up the end like a toothpaste tube, fold the two ends of the
roll inward, wrap it with a strip of rubber and tuck the end under.
It's a lot quicker than it sounds and makes an excellent seal. If the
bag is loose enough and clear enough you'll be able to look throught
the bag into the viewfinder and use all the camera controls without
much trouble. If condensation is a problem put some desiccant pouches
in the bag. Get desiccant from a shoe store, McMaster-Carr
(mcmastercarr.com) or save it from your vitamins. To prevent water
droplets on the outside of the window use hair conditioner or cobra
spit. If you find something you like please let me know.
Now go shoot that extreeeem
Tue, 20 Jun 2006 12:13:02 -0700
From: Nick Papadakis <nick[at, you know the
Subject: Put alka-seltzer in your water camera bag
When I made a hacked underwater camera housing to take video of the
stingrays in the Caymans, I
put two alka-seltzer in the bag with a weight and the camera.
In case of a leak, the seltzer foams,
blowing up the bag and making it more positively buoyant (probably also
tends to expel the water). It
worked too! You certainly notice when you get a leak ...
Copyright Tim Anderson 2003