Picture of DIY: Bicycle - Steady Cam - mount
I wanted to shoot some video while riding my road bike, but didn't want to deal with a helmet mounted camera and of course I didn't want to hold the camera in my hand. An initial attempt at mounting the DV camera was totally unsatisfactory, so my next step was to build my own "steadicam" camera mount that would absorb some of the shock, providing a better quality video.
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Part required

Picture of Part required
All of the parts are available at a well stocked hardware store. Most of the parts came from one of the following: The Home Depot, Ace Hardware or Blain's Farm & Fleet. All totaled the parts came to ~ $45.

QTY Description
5 Stanley Strap hinges (this brand has bushing that keep the hinge from wobbling)
1 3" Pulley
1 6" x 6" "L" angle bracket
1 PKG Clear Bumpers
1 PVC "T" - 1-5/16" Inside Dia.
1 PVC "reducer" fitting 1-5/16" to 1"
1 4" x 4" "L" angle bracket
1 EXT Spring 1/4"
1 EXT Spring 3/8"
2 1-1/2" Dia. Hose Clamps
1 PKG(2) Rubber Washers
1 PKG(10) 1/4"-20 nuts
1 PKG(4) 1/4"-20 lock nuts
1 PKG(20) 1/4" lock washers
1 PKG(10) 1/4" brass flat washers
2 3/8"-20 nuts
1 PKG(4) 1/4" flat (fender) washer O.D. 1"
1 PKG(4) 1/4" Bolts (1/4" - 20 x 1")
1 PKG(4) 1/4" - 20 x 3/4" countersunk bolts
1 3/8" x 1-1-1/2" machine bolt and 3/8" lock nut
1 PKG(4) 1/4" - 20 x 1-1/2" machine bolt with flat allen head
1 PKG(5) 10 - 32 x 1/2" machine bolts and nuts
1 PKG(10) #10 lock washers
1 PKG(10) #10 x 1/2" wood screws

Step 2: Tools required

Here are the tools you'll need for the construction:
3/8" Electric Drill
Drill bits - 3/8", 1/4", 5/32", and 3/32"
Center punch
4" Bench Vise
Assorted wrenches, 3/8" socket set and ratchet or adjustable wrenches.
A small "bubble" type level
a ruler (I used a small metal rule)

Step 3: Skills required

Just your basic mechanical skills: measuring, drilling, sawing a straight line.
Oh yeah, and riding a bicycle, if you intend to use the camera mount.
thytum4 years ago
hi, i didn't understand so weel about the 2nd swing arm, why does it have some metal's on side?
thanks =) 

fireballxl5 (author)  thytum4 years ago
The picture you're looking at was a a version of the steadicam arm with the two hinge units mounted on different axis. The final version of the steadicam arm is quite a bit different and I wrote is up in an entirely new Instructable;

wmstadler5 years ago
Rube Goldberg would be proud.
8thDay7 years ago
I'm thinking of building something like this for my power wheelchair but without the pivot assembly
cdmvsf 8thDay6 years ago
did you make one in the end? I am trying to do the same - any luck?
SteveUK7 years ago
This could be useful for tracking shots in amateur films. In professional films they lay down little railway lines and the cameras move on those. A bike being moved slowly with one of these on top would be a much cheaper solution.
John Smith8 years ago
Extremely nice. Only one problem - what if you crash?
fireballxl5 (author)  John Smith8 years ago
Well I haven't tested that, but I would imagine that the PVC mount would probably snap off on the initial impact, so the camera mount and bike get separated at that point. It's not the most expensive camera either, so it can be replaced. I'd be more concerned about what happens to me.
Thanks Very Much. I really appreciate the picture design and test. I agree with Mr. Fireballx15. A dual iso-elastic arm will help a fare bit I think. I love all the sharing that goes on in this site. Cheers
1noriko8 years ago
you can try using r/c shocks with springs and oil damping. you can also remove the spring and just use the damper on the pivot assembly.
fireballxl5 (author)  1noriko8 years ago
Thanks for the suggestion, if I get to the point of doing another version of the mount, I'll look into that.
[Removed by author]
uaw7u648 years ago
(removed by author or community request)
fireballxl5 (author)  uaw7u648 years ago
Ok, but this is a mount for a bicycle, not a motorcycle (i.e., no suspension or shocks), so this camera mount has to incorporate the equivalent into the mount itself.
Nice project. Some of us bikers on the other side of the pond are trying to develop a similar thing, though with much less technical know-how! I found mounting on the handlebars added a lot of movement compared to on the frame, especially at turns. You can visit us at Happy biking, all!
ravn8 years ago
Cool project, would you consider making one to sell to me? :)
cgrossmeier8 years ago
Have you thought about a small set of gyroscopes? It seems that you could dampen much of the vertical and horizontal motion with some active stabilizataion. Mount 2 or 3 gyros so they spin on different axises. A small set of motors with weighted spinning platter connected to a D cell battery may dampen the motion enough to make this a small, portable, and cheep solution that can compete with the semi-pro stuff. The springs would provide support and basic stabilization while the small gyros could provide the last little stability you are looking for.
fireballxl5 (author)  cgrossmeier8 years ago
Good suggestion, but I want to keep this as simple as possible. I'm not sure how much noise the motor might add to the camera mount (I can always edit that out I suppose). Right now I have a new design that elliminates the side to side swinging action, it just needs some dampening and I should have another video posted shortly.
turbovolv8 years ago
If it's strong enough to support, adding a counterweight directly underneath the camera would help prevent the side to side rolling motion.
fireballxl5 (author)  turbovolv8 years ago
Yeap, that's my thought too, just haven't gotten around to trying it yet, I just finished the initial design and I'm planning a longer ride (about an hour - the extent of the battery life and tape length). I want to see what happens in some serious turns and higher speed.
Just move the camera's center of gravity even lower relative to the pivot point. You'll gain stability without added weight. As for the annoying pendulum effect, viscous dampers are the traditional method, but they're hard to build by hand. (If you do, consider silly putty.) You might scavenge one from an old tape deck that has a soft-opening lid, where a curved rack attached to the lid engages a tiny pinion protruding from a viscous damper. Dustbuster's syringe idea sounds right, if you replace the rubber seal with something slipperier and semiporous.
fireballxl5 (author) 8 years ago
I got the pulley replaced with the inline skate wheel and bearing, but now the swinging is worse (the bearing is so good that it takes longer for the ocsillations to stop). But I'm working on something different, using a second iso-elastic arm, except this one is mounted 90 degrees "out of phase" to the current one and has two springs (attached to opposite corners) to keep it centered. I'll attached a diagram of what I'm working on, in Step 9, tonight.
fireballxl5 (author) 8 years ago
The price of a set of eight inline skate wheels and bearings is a little high (~$40), so I went second hand an found a pair of inline skates at Good-Will for ~$7. Now I just need to cannibalize a single wheel and bearing set to replace the pulley. New steps to be added or old ones editted as I get time to work on it.
backtalker8 years ago
Looks very nice. Would you consider replacing the large pulley with something that spins freely but doesn't have so much play in the unwanted directions? I'm thinking of an in-line skate wheel with it's bearings intact. And for a dampener, you might consider a spring-loaded pad that presses against the pully (or skate wheel). The spring could be adjusted for the desired amount of dampening, or changes in the counterweight under the camera. The pad material would be compatible with the pulley/wheel, in that it slips at low pressure, grabs at high pressure, and doesn't abrade too much. Felt, perhaps?
fireballxl5 (author)  backtalker8 years ago
The inline skate wheel is a great idea, I hadn't thought of that. I'll check into it and see how this evolves. I'm trying to keep the weight at a minimum, but replacing the metal pulley with the skate wheel should actually reduce the weight and get rid of the unwanted movement.
What you have at the moment certainly seems to be an improvement on a basic hard clamped setup, especially on less-than-smooth roads. Adding some weight to the swinging part might help, but its also possible that you'll substitute short fast swinging for slower longer swinging (which might be okay!). You have a simple harmonic oscillator at the moment, so you need some damping. I'm not sure from the photos if the wire over the pulley is there to provide friction under spring tension and reduce "free swinging" or whether the springs are directly connected to the pulley. If its friction based, try increasing the spring tension until the camera only just pivots under it own weight. If its directly connected, try adding something to use up some extra energy during the rotation, maybe forcing air out of a syringe or compressing some soft rubber foam. You might find tuning this tricky, but damping is about wasting some energy so that its not available to push the object back to where it started in the return half of the movement. Good Luck and keep us posted
Looks like a big improvement! The real test will be to put one on one of the alley-cat racers in NYC and see how it does!
fireballxl5 (author)  Mark Rehorst8 years ago
That would definately require the dual iso-elastic arm, maybe a triple -- with shocks-- but what a ride to capture on video, through the streets, alleys, and sidewalks of NYC.
dfault3128 years ago
It seems like your basic idea is to convert all of the sporadic movements to rotational movements (rocking) and then slowing that down by adding inertia (a conterweight) Let us know how the conterweight goes.
fireballxl5 (author) 8 years ago
Once I make the changes I'll update the video and project with the results. Thanks.
I'm curious to see what the ffect of the counter-weight is as well. That rocking motion is a lot. You look like you're getting close. Also, how is the footage without the pivot assembly? Since you're not going to be going that fast the tilting of the camera into the turn can accentuate the feeling of speed. On second thought, scrap that, there's sure to be some lateral jiggling as well on any riding. But the counter-weight would give you some tilt from the inertia.