2017-03-13

Machining my own GH4/GH5 battery grip


I'm waiting for my pre-ordered Panasonic GH5 and am looking at different cages for it that are coming up.
Problem is... no cage has all the features I like and the ones announced now are terribly expensive.
We're walking >500€ for basically a piece of Aluminium.

So I'm testing the waters about making my own.

The plan 

I don't have a GH5 yet, but I have a second GH4 that has no cage yet.
So the idea is to make a cage for the GH4 first and then modify the design for the GH5.

Also I want one feature in there, that no current cage has:
I want a cage that works with the battery grip added. So I can rig up the camera and switch batteries from the side while the camera is recording.

However because the dimensions and ergonomics are difficult to get perfect, I'll make a conventional cage first and then create an alternative lower assembly that accomodates a battery grip.

MK1 

I took a 3D scan of a GH4, found that the dimensions are completely off and scaled it differently in X, Y and Z to fit a real GH4.
So here I am, 3D printing an oversimplified cage and fitting it to the camera to see where the dimensions of the 3D scan are off and I need to shift things around. Also this means I can hold it in my hand and see if there is any chance for the ergonomics to work out.

MK1
Result:
Overall a surprisingly good fit.
Some minor adjustments to the battery- and card-doors needed.
Grip needs to be slightly smaller to be comfortable when reaching for the record-button.
Planned on how to do the battery grip support and incorporate a rod-holder and Metabones support.

MK2

The second prototype only had minor issues with allowing the flip out screen to fully tilt, battery door, 2mm additional space for the flash,...

MK2 

MK3

The third prototype needs some minor tweaks at the battery door and has a few cutouts that are a few millimeter larger then they need to be.

MK4

 The fourth prototype finally has 1/4-20 UNC and 3/8 UNC cheeseplatet to mount equipment. It also features holes for the 2 registration pins that keep the camera aligned and has 1/4" and 3/8" holes in the bottom to mount it to a tripod.

MK5

The corners have been rounded and the registration holes in the bottom changed slightly.
This should be the last version before starting on a special configuration that supports battery grips.
To not add too many new pieces, it will probably not be an attachment but have different sides and a different bottom from the regular version. This requires more material but actually only 4 screws to change from one version to the other.
Okay, I messes up a meassurement on the bottoma and had to do another iteration.
Taking the opportunity to give the 1/4-20 UNC camera thread the proper 82° tapper, including 2 unused M3 threads for a possible wooden grip (requires a modified right side) and labeling the name of the camera type this is intended for. After all, the GH5 cage will look very similar.

PERFECT FIT!
1/4-20 UNC thread and both register-pins fit.
Battery door opens.
SD-Card door opens.
Flash unfolds.
Screen rotates fully in both dimensions.
All access panels open.
All buttons reachable.
Camera can be held normally and comfortably.
Lens release button easy to reach.

Next step:  Creating a second configuration for GH4+Battery Grip

BG1

I finished the very first alternative configuration of this design that is supposed to fit a GH4 + Battery grip.
Also....my GH5 has shipped.

I hope to print the BG1 prototype on Monday and check how well it fits.
If things go well I can start the adaptations for the GH5 right after the GH4+BatteryGrip version is considered finished.

Stay tuned....

more to come soon....
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