Above: A sketch (left) inspired by Pat's comment on Tony's Note and a rig inspired by the sketch (right).
I was intrigued by Tony's notes about new designs for simple camera rigs for kite and balloon mapping. I was especially inspired by Pat's comment on one of the notes in which he suggested combining a juice bottle with a rig that attached to the camera's tripod socket. I posted a couple of sketches (including the one in the lead image above), and several days later ordered some aluminum strips to see if such a rig was possible.
The goal was a rig that was as simple as possible but made a secure connection between the suspension (Picavet or pendulum) and the camera's tripod socket. As Pat noted, using the tripod socket would allow a plastic bottle to be used for camera protection just by sandwiching a side of the bottle between the tripod screw and the rig and camera. A rig like this could allow a smart attachment to the flying line (Picavet or pendulum), very easy camera attachment (thumb screw), and good camera protection that allowed the camera controls and LCD to be easily accessible (open plastic bottle).
I ordered five different size strips of 6061 aluminum from McMaster Carr, and none of them was what I needed for a rig. But I cut a two inch wide strip down to 1 1/2" wide, and that was perfect. So I think a good size is 1/16" thick strips which are 1 1/2" wide. The McMaster Carr number is 8975K199 (http://www.mcmaster.com/#catalog/122/3691/=10smbys).
This material is really fun to work with. It is easy to cut with a sabre saw (fine tooth blade), easy to drill with any power drill, easy to neaten up with a belt sander or sanding blocks, and easy to bend with a vise and some sturdy bars or boards. It seems to be the appropriate strength for rigs for point and shoot cameras.
It was easy to make a rig for taking mapping (nadir) photos that involved nothing but a suspension (Picavet or pendulum), the piece of aluminum, a 1/4" 20 thumb screw, and part of a plastic bottle (see lead image). But I thought it would be good to be able to take oblique photos as well. This required some not-so-simple additions. I haven't figured out how to allow oblique photos in landscape orientation without adding a lot of complexity and expense.
The video below describes the current impasse.
Maybe this rig will not be as simple as hoped, but will be very functional and mostly simple.