Camera ‘L’ Bracket – V2

The previous version of the ‘L’ bracket had two main problems:

  1. It needed an extra tripod mounting plate rather than having the dovetail profile printed as part of the bracket.
  2. Access to the remote shutter release and external power socket was blocked by the bottom of the bracket.

Version 2 was designed to fix both of these.

Design and Printing

Rather than modify the original design I thought that it would be easier to start from scratch but using the general dimensions from the previous version.

I used OpenSCAD to draw the model. It’s a parametric modelling tool and I find that it’s much easier to use when it’s critical to get exact dimensions. The downside is that it’s not so easy to get things like rounded corners, bevels and chamfers which can make the final model look and feel much nicer. However I only wanted a functional bracket, making it look nice can wait for version 3. 🙂

The 3D printing was straightforward except that we managed to print it with 10% infill rather than 50% for the previous version. However the final bracket seemed to be pretty stiff so we didn’t bother re-printing and it gives a useful saving in material.

After a little bit of fettling the bracket turned out OK and fitted into the tripod. I had access to the remote shutter release and all the controls on the back of the camera were accessible.

 

Problems and Solutions

Naturally it wasn’t all plain sailing and I had some small problems but managed to fix all of them with some small mods:

1. I had deliberately left zero clearance for the shaft of the screw that holds the camera to the bracket because I wasn’t sure how much was needed. A couple of minutes filing generated the necessary clearance and the screw works fine.

2. My biggest concern was the dimensions of the dovetail that fits into the tripod. I measured the original very carefully but the dovetail part was at bottom of the print and hence the first section to be printed. This is never the cleanest part of the print and by the time that I’d tidied it up the fit was a little loose in the tripod. However a few layers of duct tape applied to one edge of the dovetail made it a snug fit 🙂

To be fair, although the original tripod plate was a good fit, the third party spares that I bought were not quite as tight a fit as I would have wanted. So I didn’t feel too bad about applying the duct tape fix.

3.There’s a small tendency for the camera to rotate about the screw when it’s fixed into the bracket. It’s not a bit deal but the inside of the base of the bracket could do with some thin rubber gluing to it to hold the camera more firmly. If the rubber was thin enough then it could also be used instead of the duct tape.

4. I got slightly lucky with one dimension on the tripod mounting plate. There is a limited clearance on one side when clipping into the tripod ( see “note about clearance” in image above ) and by chance my design just fitted with a small gap. This was fortunate otherwise some sawing and a probable reprint would have been needed.

Results

The bracket seems to work fine in practice. Below is a Hugin preview window of an 8 photo stitch of the hedge in the field behind our house. I did the levelling by eye so it’s not quite perfect but I got 3022 vertical pixels out of a theoretical maximum of 4608 so we’re getting closer 🙂

 

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Nordic Skiing in Lapland

We’ve been going to Austria for the past few years for our winter sports fix. However the snow hasn’t always been totally reliable so this year we decided to try something a little different. I decided that 150 km inside the Arctic Circle should have good snow so we booked a week in Levi in Finland.

Getting there, accommodation and getting about

Location

We booked a package deal of flights plus half board accommodation with Inghams, flying from Bristol. It wasn’t advertised as a ski trip as such and there was a mixture of holidaymakers ranging from skiers to people who just wanted something different. The nearest airport to Levi is Kittilä and it’s only a 20 minute transfer by bus which is very convenient. Flight time from Bristol is about 3 and a half hours.

Accommodation

We stayed in the Hullu Poro ( Crazy Reindeer ) hotel and we picked a “Flying Reindeer” double room which was very comfortable. The food was buffet style but it was very good and there was plenty of it. My wife is diabetic and lactose intolerant but she had no problem finding a range of dishes and the staff were very helpful and knowledgable when she did have queries about the food. The hotel also has a ski storage room and is convenient for both the downhill slopes and the cross country tracks.

Things To Do And See

Cross Country Skiing

The nearby Immeljärvi lake has a walking path, a nordic track and a snowmobile track across its frozen surface in winter.

As might be expected the snow conditions for cross country skiing were excellent with no slushy snow or bare patches. A very pleasant surprise was that there is no charge for use of the nordic tracks and there was a range of blue and red routes with the odd black route if you were feeling brave. The nordic routes usually had a couple of classic tracks cut on the outside with a skating track up the middle.

The tracks are quite spread out so it’s not quite as easy to get the same variety of routes as some Austrian or Italian resorts. However there are snow buses which make it easier to get to some of the outlying areas. We were there during the Finnish half term holidays but the tracks were never crowded and were always kept in good condition.

I can’t really comment on the downhill skiing but there were a quite a few people on our flight who were obviously there just for the alpine skiing. The first alpine slalom World Cup event of the season is held in Levi and it’s possible to ski that course if you’re tough enough.

Walking

There are a number of marked walking trails through forests and across frozen lakes. It’s advisable to stick to the paths because they’re pretty well compacted but the snow either side is quite soft and quite deep ( as I found out 🙂 ). If you want to venture “off-piste” then there are a few snowshoe tracks as well. One walk which we didn’t do, but is recommended, is to take the gondola up to the top of the alpine slopes and walk back down through the trees. On a clear day the views from the top are quite spectacular.

Other Activities

There are a myriad of, mainly snow related, other activities available. These include snowmobile safaris, dog sledding, reindeer sleds, ice karting etc. We didn’t try any of these, partly because we had plenty of other things to do and partly because we felt that they were a little expensive. Pretty much any activity will cost upwards of 75€ per person.

Lainio Snow Village

One excursion that we did go on, and was well worth it, was a trip to see the Lainio Snow Village. Comprised of snow and ice, it contains hotel rooms made of ice, an ice chapel and an ice bar. It’s built from new every year and lasts from November to April. In 2018 the theme was “Game of Thrones”  and, not being familiar with the series, I had to rely on my wife’s commentary but the sculptures were undoubtedly impressive. It’s also very hard to take photos inside without a tripod so apologies for the quality of the images.

Finally, as you can stay overnight in rooms made of ice then the snow village is classed as a hotel. So, fire precautions are very important, if a little incongruous 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion

Overall it was a thoroughly enjoyable holiday. We both agreed that it was the best winter holiday that we’ve had and will certainly be booking again next year. The only disappointment was that the weather didn’t cooperate to let us see the northern lights but that’s just another reason for a repeat visit 🙂

 

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