I’ve been a big fan of the $14.00 Steadicam, created by Johnny Chung Lee, for some time, seeing it online years ago.  I built one myself, but was not, however, not a fan of exposed galvanized pipes and trying to use such a thing around kids.  Additionally, the original design wasn’t very ‘modular’ and also could not stand up on its own, as you actually had to lay the whole Steadicam complex (camera and all) on its side when not in use (equipment scratches anyone?)

Given the inconceivable challenge of improving upon such a brilliantly simple device from Mr. Chung Lee, I decided to muster up my own version, but instead it would be built out of lightweight, structural PVC.

Here is how it looks.  The changes I made are minor, but still functional and do add some features:
  • It’s made from furniture-grade PVC & fittings from formufit.com, so I don’t need to worry about whacking one of my kids in the head with it, scratching furniture or our hardwood flooring.
  • It uses sand, as the counterweight, built into the base, to counterbalance the camera.
  • It has a base that will allow you to stand the camera up, when not using it.
  • It can be customized with different handles and weight balances, depending upon the end user’s equipment.
Personalization to Your Equipment

Obviously this is tailored to my personal (old & cheap) video camera, and you will need to tailor it to your camera, as needed.  I needed approximately two pounds to counterweight my camera, but if yours is heavier, you may want to up the weight from sand to packing it full of nuts/bolts, or even a small segment of galvanized pipe, metal pellets or another weighty substance, which I attempt to explain in more detail in the following steps.

Additionally, if your camera needs additionally stability, you can always bring out the PVC pipe segments in the base even further than the small jaunts I have.

NOTE:  This is a pretty solid build, and is very stable for what I use to record videos of family events and kids, and what not.   Its my call to use this with my equipment, and your best judgment can be used for yours.  If you want to build this for your RED camera, you must be completely broke now or are freaking crazy.

As Mr. Chung Lee warns on his page “Improper or irresponsible use of a camera stabilizer can quickly result in the destruction of your equipment and/or injury to yourself and others. Be careful, watch where you are going, pay attention to where you are swinging your camera, and just try not to do anything stupid for your own sake.”  Well said, sir.

Read on to discover the build…

Step 1: Materials - What you need

To build the entire structure out of PVC, I tapped by favorite resource, formufit.com.  I decided I needed the base to be flat, and have some form of ‘legs’, which will be wide enough to balance the whole thing, so I opted for a 1” 5-Way PVC Fitting as the bottom of the unit, which also acts as  part of the ‘ballast reservoir’, which can be customized based upon the camera weight.

I build the entire structure out of furniture grade PVC, as it will last longer, looks a lot nicer and doesn’t contain any lead or other heavy metals.  You can certainly build it out of plumbing-grade PVC if you like, but you will need to find a few equivalent parts. 

To build the basic version, here’s the list of parts you need:

PVC Parts
  • Six (6) External PVC End Caps
  • One (1) Internal PVC End Cap
  • One (1) 1” PVC Tee
  • One (1) 1” PVC 5-Way Fitting
1” PVC Pipe Cut to (total of 30”):
  • One (1) 10” PVC Pipe Segment
  • One (1) 6” PVC Pipe Segment
  • One (1) 4” PVC Pipe Segment
  • Four (4) 2” PVC Pipe Segments
Other Parts
  • Sand or other form of ballast
  • One (1) 1” long 1/4” bolt
  • One (1) 1/4” Hex Nut
  • Two (2) 1/4” Flat Washers
Tools Needed
  • PVC Cement
  • 7/16” Wrench
  • Power Drill
  • 1/8” Drill Bit (optional)
  • 1/4” Drill Bit
  • Screwdriver or Screwdriver Bit for drill
<p>I know I'm waaaaay late to this, but I thought I'd ask two questions. First, did you experiment at all with the lengths of the pipe above and below the handle? I'm wondering whether you chose the 4&quot; and 10&quot; segments for a reason, or simply because it felt right.</p><p>The other question is because this is a few years old: Have you developed any improvements? </p><p>Thanks!</p>
Great instructable!<br><br>By the way, I have been to the plumbing section of my neighborhood Home Depot several times. Nothing made of PVC (Smallest bend) costs no less than $2. With that said, is it really $14 steadicam?
he bought a high grade pvc pipe. glossy too
&quot;biggen&rsquo; it up&quot; - catchy phrase, mind if I steal it now &amp; then?
Bigger it up - smaller it in.

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