Introduction: Easy Boom Pole for Under $30.00!!!

Picture of Easy Boom Pole for Under $30.00!!!

As an amateur videographer/filmmaker, money is always an issue, especially when the discount stores sell products for thousands of dollars. Enter guerrilla filmmaking. (dramatic music).

Guerrilla filmmaking uses super low or no budget methods to make quality (oftentimes low quality) films. This is the method that spawned such indie classics as El Mariachi (Robert Rodriguez) and Pi (Darren Aronofsky). One tool essential to making one of these quality films is the microphone and its portable support, the Boom Pole.

Everyone can imagine in their head the poor guys that have to walk around a film set, their arms above their heads for hours at end holding a ridiculously long pole with some kind of furry animal at the end. This is the Boom Operator, the furry animal is the dead-cat containing the microphone, and that stick is the boom. A really good boom pole can cost upwards of $1,000. Now granted, this is a 36 footer carbon fiber job but even the lower end poles can be expensive. A midget sized 4.5 footer aluminum pole costs about $70.00 and decent starter pole can punch a $185.00 hole in your wallet... Yes, there are some deals out there, but who cares when you could make your own 12 to 16 footer for under $30.00?!

Project Overview:
Build a functional boompole for under $30.00.

Painter's Pole
Roller Holder
3/8" screw
additional screws (optional)

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

The first step in creating your brand new super cool custom boom pole is a trip to the local hardware store.

You need to purchase:
(1) Painter's pole - Look for something around or over 10 feet. 12 - 16 feet is good. Remember though, don't get some huge indestructible pole because some poor sap will have to hold it. Make sure it's light enough to hold but heavy enough not to bend. Expect to pay around $15.00 - $20.00. Maybe a little more, maybe a little less...

(1) Extension piece - This is kind of hard to describe. I used a roller extension and cut off the arms for the rollers however there are several other types. You can usually find these right next to the poles. They simply screw onto the end of the extension and are used to actually mount the brushes. Expect to pay about $5.00 - $10.00.

(1) 3/8" screw - This is used to hold your microphone on the pole. This is the industry standard for all tripods, mic-stands, boom poles. Expect to pay about $0.05.

Step 2: Construction

Picture of Construction

Construction could not be simpler.

1. If there are any burrs, lips, or edges that may interfere with the placement of the microphone, sand or saw them off.

2. Paint the attachment if desired. I recommend flat black as it will not glare in the middle of your scene. If you want you can try to paint the painter's pole as well but it will probably not stick to the metal for very long.

3. Drill a hole into the attachment for the 3/8" screw to fit into. The hole does not need to be tight but should be fairly snug.

4. Screw the attachment onto the painter's pole.

5. Place the microphone on the attachment, lining up the holes and proceed to screw in the screw.

6. If needed, use a nut or bolt on the screw to make the distance it must be turned shorter.

7. If possible, you may want to add a second screw so the microphone does not wiggle back and forth.

That's it, your done!

Step 3: In Conclusion

Picture of In Conclusion

Congratulations on your new boompole! You just saved yourself at least $100.00 that you will invariably end up spending on yet more film equipment.

To answer some questions I know will come up:

Q. What type of microphone do you have?
A. My microphone is a Rode VideoMic designed for use with consumer and prosumer cameras. I highly recommend it if you plan on doing any type of filmmaking. Any mike will be better than your onboard microphone and the shotgun design with the built in shockmount is amazing. The quality of sound is unbelievable making this sound like a microphone many times more expensive.
Their website:
To buy: B&H Photo and Video currently $149.00

Q. I get a loud banging noise when using this. My boompole is broken!
A. Sorry but this is because of your handling characteristics. The pole is made out of metal which will conduct sound if banged against. That is why I have my boom operator wear gloves. In addition, the extension cord will often bang against the pole - something you just have to train your operator to avoid.
Here are some tips on using boompoles.

Q. I still get noise even after following the above advice!
A. This time its not your fault. You probably don't have a shockmount. Get one, now. A shockmount will isolate your microphone from, shocks. Shocker huh?
Here is a list of shockmounts. You can get an adequate one for about $20.00 and a decent one for $50.00. Or you could buy a VideoMic or similar microphone that has one built in.

I hope this guide has been helpful. Enjoy your filmmaking!


windozed (author)2009-07-21

Ok, I got the mic you reccomended from Ebay (* Actually got it for $90!)
I'm still very new to this what exactly are the switches inside the battery compartment supposed to do? They really don't explain it. It says in the manual:
The PAD switch provides a 10dB or 20dB reduction in sensitivity which will reduce the amplitude of the output signal to your recording device

I read it as "Makes it less sensitive to background noises"

Is that right?

AlternateLives (author)windozed2010-12-28

I worked as an audio tech for a few years, so I might be able to help.

The pad is kind of like a "gain down" on the mic. it simply drops signal output for however much you want.

remember, though, that dB is not linear, but logarithmic. in other words, dropping from -10 to -20 db is not 10 lower than 10, but 10 times lower than 10. therefore, don't use it unless you really need it, such as a really noisy location.

I am sure the mic has many more spicy settings that probably make no sense, such as the hi-pass and low-pass filters. I can't remember which is which, but if my memory serves me correctly, hi-pass lowers high frequency sound, and low-pass does vice-versa. I could be wrong, so correct me if so.

just remember that there is no mic that is perfect for every situation you come across. however, a good shotgun is a great all-around mic to have.

Hope this helps!

Hermes (author)windozed2009-07-21

Congratulations on the great price! The pad is used in extremely loud environments where everything is being recorded at max volume and is consequently being clipped (that annoying grating noise when music is played to loud). By switching on the 10dB or 20dB reduction you lower the recording volume making the mic less sensitive and removing the clipping. This will also, provided your subject is loud, remove background noise. Best of luck!

AlternateLives (author)2010-12-28

This is one of the indispensable pieces of equipment used in filmmaking. I am quite glad you posted this. here is some advice for improvement:

first, to avoid the cord slapping the pole, perhaps tether the cord to the pole. this can be done with gaff tape. you could even make wire clips for the pole.

second, perhaps putting a piece of foam rubber between the mic mount and the top of the pole will prevent a good amount of shock from the handling of the pole.

hope these points help!

nomuse (author)2010-08-19

This worked great...okay, I did modify a little. I got one of those "change the lightbulb" poles. Ground down the threads on the end, jammed a universal clamp-type mic clip on it and filled the joint with epoxy. Used it to capture voice-overs several times, and actually used it as an on-stage practical (for "Bye Bye Birdie" with a wireless mic in the clip. It's become a permanent part of my traveling kit.

TheAquired (author)2010-02-11

 Hey just a bit information I thought I ought to share...
I have found on the RODE website, an adapter called the VXLR. It is a XLR to Mini-jack converter... Really cheap and is definitely good quality. Here is the link:
So yea... Hope that helps someone who thought they couldn't get professional equipment because their cameras are not good enough! 

cwaugh (author)2009-08-12

When do we get to see "My kickass Canon Optura 60 modded with my custom Modest 35 (upcoming Instructable)."? Do you still plan on making that Instructable or know of any good ones that are similar?

windozed (author)2009-07-08

Hermes, you seem like a nice guy. Here is what I need. I have roughly $150 to spend on a nice boom pole, and mic. I plan to shoot a lot outside, and it's windy here. I like your idea, but trust me, I'm not a builder. I am a computer nerd and I do not play well with building things. So what would you recommend? I'm only going to be about ten to fifteen feet away at any given time. But my camera picks wind up something awful. So to recap. I have $150, I need a good boom pole, and mic. I've actually looked at this mic:
Can this bee hooked up to a boom pole? I don't even know how they hook up. Is there anything I should be looking for? Thanks for your help, you are a champ!

Hermes (author)windozed2009-07-08

In terms of just purchasing, no building, you could that Azden mic ($55), a cheap boom pole ($72, a shock mount ($43.95, plus the cable but you're over your $150 limit.

If you build this boom pole, which only requires you to drill two holes extremely simple for even the most challenged of builders, you only pay for $30 for the pole and then can use the additional savings to purchase a Rode VideoMic with integrated shockmount for ~$120. If you go to ebay and offer this guy $120 under "Make Offer" he'll accept (where I got my mic) and you'll be at your $150 with vastly superior equipment (|66:2|39:1|72:1234|293:1|294:50).

You can go the route of not buying a shockmount but your audio will suffer greatly and be filled with clanks from the cord and other objects striking the pole.

Hope this is helpful. Feel free to ask more questions.

boobot (author)2009-06-03

Hermes, a bit off topic.. I have the Rodemic and want to build this boom pole but my main concern is the audio degradation via the cable. I am currently using my Sony HDR for recording both audio and video. Would a 25ft 3.5mm audio cable extension from the HDR to the Rodemic work for this or would there be too much audio interference due to the length?

Hermes (author)boobot2009-06-03

This is a very valid point. 20-25ft is the longest I would suggest running the cable without too much risk of interference. Be sure to by a nice, shielded cable if you can find one. I first purchased a 25ft cable from radioshack but it was terrible. I went to B&H; ( and purchased one of theirs of the same length and it worked perfectly. It's hit or miss, if you get one that doesn't work, try another. There will always be a risk of interference but with a good cable it's relatively nonexistent (at least up to 25ft).

Crash2108 (author)2006-12-12

Yes, but what would you use to record? Simply your camera? What is you just want the sound? Surely you mustn't carry around a laptop.

Hermes (author)Crash21082006-12-13

You use it to get overhead sound (more accurate and crisper) when filming a movie. The microphone plugs into a camera or audio recording device in which case you will sync it later. The sound goes with the video you film during the process... ~Hermes

Crash2108 (author)Hermes2006-12-14

So you just use your camera? Any suggestions on cheap recorders?

Hermes (author)Crash21082006-12-14

A lot of individuals use various MP3 players to record sound. I-river is especially popular. Another wonderful alternative are the Sony mini-disc recorders. While they never caught on for listening to music, they are almost perfectly suited for recording audio. There are hundreds of other devices that can be use though. Basically anything that has a mic-in line (and power if your not using a powered mic) can be used but not all will provide a quality recording. The big boys prefer to use DATs (digital audio tapes), flash recorders, and hard drive records among other devices but these can set you back several hundred and to many, the MP3 players and Sony mini-discs are just more economical. Try scouting around eBay for some deals. You never know what you'll find... ~Hermes

brassmnkys (author)Hermes2009-01-26 recordermy recorder set me back about $4k. Good instructable, but you definitely have to have some kind of shock mount, as mentioned previously.

Crash2108 (author)brassmnkys2009-01-27

Now I think the best recorder would be a small laptop and a USB interface like this.

totallylikecosmic (author)2009-01-24

I really like this idea, but my only concern is the lack of shock mount. Wouldn't the microphone pick up every tiny noise and squeak on the pole?

lordofthedonuts (author)2008-09-07

Have you ever tried the Audio Technica ATR55 shotgun microphone? If so what do you think about it? Sorry for the double post, btw.

lordofthedonuts (author)2008-09-07

It's a bit out of subject but, what type of 35mm lenses do you use, is it SLR lenses or something else ?

ahead (author)2008-01-03

Thanks for the instructable. This one may go into my media toolbox.

texabyte (author)2007-09-09

my canon zr850 doesn't have any audio input what do i do?

Hermes (author)texabyte2007-09-10

I'm sorry to say it but it looks like your out of luck. Your only option is to purchase a minidisc or digital recorder (many mp3 players can do this) and record the audio directly to that. Hope this helps. ~Hermes

texabyte (author)Hermes2007-09-13

thanks maby i can mod it 4 a mini jack later

DIY Dave (author)2007-05-09

What type of microphone should you use uni-directional, bi-directional, or omni-directional

Hermes (author)DIY Dave2007-05-09

Hey Dave,

It depends on what type of work you are doing. An interview in a closed environment or trying to capture a locations ambiance, would work well with an omni. A bi is a little less useful lending itself primarily to interviews. A unidirectional should be most useful for filmmaking. My microphone is supercardoid/shotgun mike ( and respectively). Checkout for more information on mic types.

Also, if you want to leave me a comment or send me a message detailing more what you are looking for (price range, desired work, current equipment - do you have an XLR port on your camera?, etc.) I can reccomend you some microphones. For more information from far more knowledgeable people than myself I would check the following forums: - look under "Microphones and Sound Management". They have wonderful information for the beginner. - look under "Audio". This is a more professional - but still indy - site. - look under "Now Hear This". This site is the most professional but has an ENORMOUS user base.

Good luck!

DIY Dave (author)Hermes2007-05-12

For a mic I prefer a mic that is $50 or less. I would be using the mic for movies. No my camera does not have a XLR port only a 1/8" port. Right now I only have a camera and a $10 philips brand mic(from walmart).

Hermes (author)DIY Dave2007-05-13

For $50, I would use the onboard camera mic at least in terms of shotgun mics. Don't bother using the one you picked up at Walmart. It's probably giving you worse sound.

For your price range, the best mics you can buy will be Giant Squids. Here are the ones I would reccomend for you in order of best to least suited: - normally $65 but currently on sale for $55 - normally $20 but currently on sale for $25

If you can afford more, I would get the Rode Videomic which you can pick up for about $120. Hope this has been helpful.


DIY Dave (author)Hermes2007-05-09

Thanks for the fast response.

gezortenplotz (author)2007-05-02

All this project does is keep the wind 'rumble' out of your sound recording. The sensitivitiy of your mic and how close you can get your mic to your sound source is what's critical to how much sound is picked up. Preamplifiers and subsequent sound processing may be needed. Your mileage may vary.

stone3408 (author)2006-12-13

Great idea. I use a similar device for taking photos at crime scenes. Just mount the camera on the end of the pole, set the timer, and hoist it up over the scene. It produces wonderful overall shots.

gezortenplotz (author)2006-12-13

I did this boom project right after I created my mic blimp last spring:

I used a paint roller as a grip, so the boom screwed right into the handle. It worked great.

JakeTobak (author)2006-12-12

You may be able to get a similar pole at a pool & spa store.

Hermes (author)JakeTobak2006-12-12

Correct but I wouldn't recommend it. The pool ones are generally a bit more expensive, harder to find, and most importantly don't fold up compact like painter's poles do. Who wants to carry around a 12 foot pole? ~Hermes

About This Instructable




Bio: I am a filmmaker, student, and tinkerer. I love designig and building devices instead of purchasing them. Instructables is a great way to do that ... More »
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