The GoPro HD Hero 2 comes with its own waterproof case, but that case wasn't tough enough for Marc Ellis. So, he built his own Hero housing made out of aluminum and stainless steel. We can't verify that it's more rugged in the field, but it definitely gives the GoPro a tougher, no-nonsense look.
The GoPro has made a name as the ultimate action sports voyeur. It is used to film professional and amateur video for every type of outdoor sport imaginable. As such, it has to be burly, and it has to be waterproof.
Ellis, who films marine life in support of environmental conservation, found he loved the GoPro and its filming capabilities but wasn't as keen on the plastic housing. Determining that it was insufficient to stand up to the trials of repeated underwater use and that it blurred some of his footage, he got to work on designing his own casing. He calls it Hero Armor.
Unlike GoPro's plastic build, the Hero Armor uses a blend of milled aluminum and stainless steel to stand up to harsh salt water environments. It is waterproof to 300 feet (91 m), an improvement over the stock GoPro case rating of just under 200 feet (60 m). A quartz lens port provides superior optical quality over the GoPro's plastic lens port, according to Ellis, and a series of nine mounting points make for versatile mounting options. Making the casing as up to date as the HD Hero 2 itself, Ellis even offers it with or without a transparent back panel for viewing the optional LCD BacPac. It fits both HD Hero and HD Hero 2 models.
Hero Armor is currently up on Kickstarter, where Ellis hopes to raise the money for production. His statement that US$99 (which is the lowest pledge that will score Kickstarters a Hero Armor unit) is below his build costs provides a glimpse at what the eventual price will look like.
Ellis might have jumped the gun a bit. In May, well after Ellis had the Hero Armor underway, GoPro released its own dive housing, which uses a flat glass lens for clearer underwater filming. At $50, that dive housing is a fraction of what the Hero Armor would retail for. It's only waterproof to 197 feet (60 m), like the regular GoPro housing, and doesn't have the aluminum-steel build of the Hero Armor, however.