How to Make a Trolling Housing (TrollPro) for your GoPro
In this article we’ll show you how to build a trolling GoPro housing (TrollPro).
You may have seen all the awesome videos across the web of gamefish eating plugs or closely following mooching rigs. It often seems like this amazing footage was captured by specialty equipment, available only to professionals. Not true. With the advancement of affordable waterproof camera cases in the last five years (GoPros) it’s becoming easier to send your camera down to the fish and capture some underwater footage of your own.
There are a lot of ways to do this. The easiest and most risky is simply mounting the camera to your downrigger. This is as simple as buying a GoPro mount and screwing it directly into the ball. As you can see to the left this solution will work fine, but leaves a lot to be desired. First lead is a soft metal. That screw will eventually pull out. We have all pulled our downriggers up covered in seaweed, moss, or sticks. One bad pass and that $400 camera is gone. Secondly the downrigger moves back and forth quite a bit while you are trolling. This will result in unsteady, wobbly footage.
On the other end of the spectrum there is a company which makes trolling mounts specifically for action cameras: TrollPro. If you are looking to get great underwater shots and be confident that your camera is safe this is the route for you. The TrollPro has been engineered to produce steady and consistent shots, free of air bubbles and other obstructions. The con to this system is the cost. Trollpros cost ~ $150. For the avid or wealthy boat angler this is a great option.
Part of our philosophy is to keep the costs low, so we have more money for experiences. We have a long list of gear we’d love to buy before we spend $150 on a camera housing. We didn’t want to shell out for a TrollPro, but also didn’t want to just bolt our camera to our downrigger. Being handy we decided making a housing for our GoPro was the best bet.
What You’ll Need
- 1 – 4″x3″ PVC Adapter
- 1 – 3″ PVC End Cap
- 1 – Section of 3″ PVC Pipe
- 2 – 1/4-20 Eyelets (Stainless)
- 1 – 3/8″ 1/4-20 Bolt (Stainless)
- 1 – 1″ 1/4-20 Bolt (Stainless)
- 2 – 1/4-20 nuts (Stainless)
- 5 – 1/4 Washer (Stainless)
- 3 – 1/4-20 LockNut (Stainless)
- 1 – GoPro Tripod Mount
- 1 – M5 bolt with Allen key head for Tripod Mount
- 1 – 4/5 oz Bank Sinker (we used a 3oz weight but recommend going bigger)
- PVC Glue
We used schedule 40 PVC simply because we wanted it to be black. Any type of PVC will work for the housing.
Mistakes We Made
Being the first time we made a housing like this – we made a few mistakes. Hopefully you can learn from us and avoid these problems.
Use all stainless steel hardware. We don’t fish from a boat often. While adding up the cost of all the materials we opted for non-stainless eyelets as they were 3 bucks a pop. Big mistake. We literally watched the eyelets rust the first time we used the housing. This wont effect performance, but it doesn’t look good.
Line up your eyelets. Measure twice and then drill. Our eyelets are a bit off. It probably doesn’t effect much of anything but ideally the eyelets will be on the same plain so the housing sits level.
Use a heavy weight. Our weight is only three ounces. There is still some swing and play in the video.
Mount your housing well above your downrigger. We mounted our housing directly above our downrigger. When the downrigger swings around, it moves the housing. Having at least three feet of cable between the housing and the downrigger will prevent it from being swung around.
How to Build It
The construction process is actually really simple. If you’ve never glued PVC you should know that once you put the glue on, it sets up fast. It is standard practice to dry fit your PVC connections before gluing them together. Here’s what you should do.
Step one: Attach the Tripod Mount. Drill a hole in the bottom of the 4″ section of your reducer. Use the 3/8″ 1/4-20 screw to screw on the mount. If you’re using a different type of PVC it will be a different thickness so you may need a different length screw. With how cheap these screws are go ahead and pick up a few different lengths.
Step two: Cut your 3″ pipe to length. We used about a 4.5″ section of 3″ pipe. You can use a sawzall, or hacksaw to cut the pipe. Try to cut it straight. This is not such a big deal as both ends will be covered by a cap/coupling. Sand down the burs so the fittings slide on smooth.
Step three: Glue the end cap. Go ahead and glue on the back cap.
Step four: Add the bottom eyelet. Start my taking a string and wrapping it around the 3″ pipe. Take note of the circumference. Dry fit the front coupling and make a mark where you would like to drill your bottom eyelet. Drill that hole. Thread on a normal 1/4-20 nut and washer onto the eyelet. Put the eyelet though the hole. From the inside of the pipe, thread on another washer and a 1/4-20 locknut. Tighten these while keeping the eyelet oriented straight.
Step five: The top eyelet. The top eyelet needs to be inline with the bottom. If it is further toward the front of back of your housing the housing will be cocked forward or backwards when attached inline of your downrigger. If the eyelet is off to the right or left, the housing will rotate that direction and the shot will not be straight. A slight error is not a big deal, and is correctable by tilting the camera.
Here’s how we solved this problem: Measure from the back cap to where you attached your bottom eyelet. On the top make the same measurement and draw a line. Take your string and measure out half of the circumference of your 3″ pipe, make a mark. Hold one end of your string on the bottom eyelet, wrap around your pipe. Where the mark hits the top line is where you will want to drill your top eyelet. Drill the hole, repeat the process of attaching an eyelet.
Step six: Glue the front coupling. This is pretty straightforward. The key here is to get the tripod mount in line with the bottom eyelet. We did this visually. Dry fit the coupling to make sure everything will work. Then add some glue and rotate it in place so the tripod mount and eyelet are in line. This will keep your camera oriented properly so your shot is square.
Step seven: Attach the weight. The weight acts as a keel for the housing. It keeps the bottom oriented down and prevents it from wobbling around. Our camera has a bit of wobble so we believe a bigger weight would be useful. Using a bigger weight may require you to cut the weight to prevent it from hitting the coupling. Or mount it further back. You could even use the bottom eyelet to mount the weight. Long story short this part is going to take some creativity. Figure out the best place for your weight (it needs to be in line with the bottom eyelet and the tripod mount). Drill a hole and attach it.
That’s it. We added a swivel below the housing which is then connected to the downrigger. The swivel which normally clips into the downrigger is then attached to the top. If you don’t want the clip in the video you’ll need to extend your top mount using some cable.
Check out the results: