This article is about how I made a GoPro camera-car for my HO scale model railroad.
With a camera mounted to the train, you can record a first-person-view of the train travelling through the model landscape, across bridges or through tunnels. Using the GoPro Wi-Fi feature, you can also watch the feed live remotely on a smartphone, desktop/laptop, or smart-TV.
A design that allows the camera-car fit through tunnels and under bridges
This particular design, positioning the camera holder close to the tracks, allows placing the camera vertically, without any clearance issues in tunnels and under bridges.
I used the 3D printing technology in designing and making this camera car. But the concept is quite simple, and in lieu of a 3D-printer, you can easily make this car using thin plywood, sheet metal, or strong cardboard, or other similar material.
I designed the camera-car was for use with GoPro Hero 3 and Hero 4 cameras. With some simple modifications, it can probably also be used with other similar-sized cameras.
You need to add your own trucks and couplers. I haven’t tested different types of trucks, so if your truck mounts differently, you can modify the design to fit your trucks.
The couplers I am using are Kadee #158 (compatible with Kadee #5).
You can position the camera either horizontally or vertically, but I specifically designed it for vertical camera position, in order for the camera-car clearance in tight places. If placed horizontally, the camera might have clearance issues in tunnels and curves.
A design that allows an easy mounting of the camera
The way I designed the camera-car, it stays in place, gently clamped, without additional mounting hardware.
Place the camera-car in the front or back of the train, or anywhere in the train, for that matter. But if you place it between other cars and/or locomotives, it will likely reduce the clamping effect. In that case, you want to secure the camera further with some tape or rubber-band
Positioning the camera vertically, turns the video 90 degrees. That can be remedied in post-production, by rotating the video. That also means the recording should be done at a high resolution, so it can be cropped down to the desired aspect ratio. I typically, with my GoPro Hero 4 Black version, record at 2.7k resolution and 4:3 screen ratio. Then, after rotating the video, I crop it to a 1920×1080 resolution (16:9 ratio).
Here is the link to the camera-car 3D design on the Thingiverse site:
A slideshow with additional pictures of the camera-car:
My YouTube video of making this camera-car: