Machining my own GH4/GH5 battery grip

Project history

  1. Designing+prototype cages for GH5, GH4, GH4+battery grip and GH4+YAGH.
  2. next step: add hand strap
  3. next step: machine cages from Aluminium
  4. Next project: unknown
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 talking more then 5 00€ 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.



GH5 cage - design done (inclusing adjustments for Metabones)
  • Prototype 3D printed in carbon fiber reinforced Amphora™ 3D
  • Field Trials: Currently they have to prove itself during 2 multi-day shots in May.
  • Then I'll machine one from solid aluminium later.

GH4 cage - design done
  • small modification for Metabones lens support needed.
GH4+battery grip cage - design done
  • will 3D print in PLA+carbon fiber in a few weeks
GH4+YAGH cage - TODO
  • will start working on it next week
Atomos Ninja Flame cage - Work in Progress
  • Currently working in the 3rd prototype
  • Mates perfectly and securely with GH4/GH5 cages

GH4 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.

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.


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



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.


 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.


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.

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


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.

GH4+BG MK4 - perfect fit

The 4th iteration of the cage for GH4+battery grip was a perfect fit.
I'll now start work on the GH5 cage...

GH5 MK3 - looking good

It's not finished yet but the GH5 cage is progressing rapidly.
Very snug and comfortable fit.

GH5 MK6 - getting there

The curve of the former flash needed a few design changes on the cage.
Also all cheeseplate holes are aligned now and some accomodations have been made to fit and support my large Metz 64 AF-1 flash.
The curves look more stylish too and I just MAY be able to get this registration pin to work.
Panasonic positioned it way too close to the battery door and removed the second one.
It looks like I can't make use of these shiny new threads intended for the HDMI lock because anything in that place would prevent the user from inserting the camer into the cage or opening the doors on the left side.

GH5 MK9 - perfect fit

Took a ton of tiny changes to get this to be perfect.
I'm, ready to make a carbon fiber version next ween and use that for a few month.
Then I'll decide about making a version from aluminium.
It is designed to need machining from one side only and a few match-drilled and tapped M3 holes that can easily be done manually.

GH5 MK12 - Metabones modifications

Perfect clearance for Metabones now in my GH5 cage. (GH4 is prepared to get the same.)

Also a second angle element in the front makes this even more rigid. (flash sync socket is not blocked.)

When I started this, I thought it would take me a day or two to design a cage.
I never anticipated the amount of details needed to make this work perfectly and ergonomically.

Along with the huge Metz 64 AF-1 flash and Metabones adaptors and various lenses, the giant Rode Stereo Videomic X has also been tested to fit. 

GH5 MK12 - 3D printing in carbon fiber

I'm currently 3d printing a working model of the GH5 cage from Amphora 3D reinforced with 20% carbon fibre. I opted to not make it 100% solid because experience tells that 80% solid is just as strong but doesn't exhibit any of the practical problems of possibly extruding slightly more filament then actually fits into some closed space.

Because this filament is so abbrasive, I'm using an Olsson Ruby nozzle made from an actual, industrial ruby crystal. 

This carbon fiber cage will have to prove itself in actual use during a trip to the Ukraine at the beginning of May and an event in central Germany at the end of May.
If it doesn's show any room for improvement, I'll consider CNC milling a final cage from Aluminium.

GH5 MK12 - field trials

The final imperial screws arrived. The final metric screws are too late for the first of the two field trials.

Atomos Flame/Inferno series recorders

I also have a prototype cage for the Ninja Flame/Shogun Flame/Shogun Inferno series.
It matches the holes on my Shogun cage and mates securely with the underside of the GH5/GH4 cages. Thus for stage events I can mount the camera (with battery grip) on top of the Atomos recorder and it will stay locked in orientation and position during smooth panning motions while being above head-level during standing ovations.
The battery grip also allows me to have the battery inside the camera as a backup in case mains power/Atomos power station fails or I need to hot-swap the battery in the (accessible) battery grip.
So even if a cable is pulled, there is still an internal recording that keep on running without loosing as much as a frame.

Atomos MK4


Made the holes for HDMI plugs larger and the oversized hole for the LANC cable smaller.
Hole for accessing the power button is now rounded.
Added additional 1/4-20 UNC and 3/8-16 UNC mounting holes to top and sides.
Top mates with the 701HDV mating recesses of the GH4/GH5 cages, so a single bolt (assessible without taking out the Atomos) can quickly secure the camera on top of the recorder.

Stay tuned....

more to come soon....

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