Introduction: Improved Steadicam for Under 40 Dollars! Also Boom Mic Attachment!

Picture of Improved Steadicam for Under 40 Dollars! Also Boom Mic Attachment!

Did you ever want a steadicam that perhaps actually looked and acted like the steadicam the pros use? Well, my easy steadicam design involves no cutting of metals and the hardest things are perhaps cutting pvc and cutting wood (which in fact we all love). I tried to build one with strings, but there was no apparent souce that was easy enough to understand with springs etc.

-no fabrication of metal needed
-no welding
-under 50 dollars (or so....i stopped counting)

With this design, its design is more similar to a steadicam in that it is not a "pogostick" that is vulnerable to moving due to a change in speed.

my design inspirations:
(this had the simplicity of design that i liked)
(he had the simplicity to use pvc as the rib cage. though its hard filming when your laughing....)

Step 1: Make the PVC Vest With Polystyrene Insulation

Picture of Make the PVC Vest With Polystyrene Insulation

Well, i actually built a design that this guy on another website (, but the only difference is that i put some polystyrene foam insulation (the insulation is usually for your heater but i got a 6 ft lenght for 2 dollars. its just for looks and confort) but i feel he is not that desciptive with his explanation. Anyways i too have the same principal (okay, i forgot to measure how big they were, but i just did a "do as it fits" approach because i had to build from a picture.)

(i too also advise you to consult from his picture because they are very useful)

Here are some convenient parts descriptions:

Rib cage (all pvc parts are in 3/4 inch)
1 3/4 inch pvc pipe
7 1.75 inch "ingots" (parts you need to put in between parts)
11 45 degree pieces
2 90 degree pieces
3 "T" pieces
1 "cross" piece (has fittings for 4 tubes)
2 "bended pieces" (can be obtained in your electrical department. should be
grayish looking)
1 1 inch polystyrene plumbing insulation (optional, but just for looks and
1 cover cap (it should screw in without an ingot)
1 premixed pvc cement

estimate: ~20 dollars
(if that seems too much, it is useful if you want to attach it to your boom mic, which usually requires lifting your arms for a long time. but if you simply attach it to the rib cage, no pain, no game! But more on that later....)

As the guy that i got it from, here are my following tips:

1. Pre-fit all your parts before gluing
2. make sure you are gluin the right part to the part is was originally connected to (or else the scale of it gets all ugly and tends not to fit well)

The finished product should be the picture above. Notice that i added the insulation and didn't buy or add the "bogen swivel" because i felt 30 dollars was too much anyways. anyhow, i solved that problem later on as we build the swivel attachment.

Step 2: Make the Swivel Mechanism

Picture of Make the Swivel Mechanism

Here is the "swivel" part that attributes all my genius. it has the the concepts of "inertia" and "low center of gravity." now only that, but the design is pretty simple because its like a steadicam, except you don't have to involve yourself with cutting metal and involving yourself in the arduous process of using springs as the mechanism. anyways here is a parts list of my endeavors

"swivel part"

12 1/4" x 3/4 bolt
12 1/4" lock washer
18 1/4 nut
2 inch casters w/break (rotates 2 ways. should be rotable and have a nut on it)
2 iinch caster (the only part that rotates is the wheel. should have nut on it)
2 pieces of wood (preferably about 1.5 inch wide by 2 feet long and 1/4 inch thick)
1 bag of 10
4 1/4 x 2 inch bolts
1 3.5 inch bolt
4 flat washers
1 3/8 x 1 hexbolt
1 3/8 nut
1 3/8 washer
2 1/4 x 2 bolt
2 water risers
2 "water caps"

Well, that may not be the complete descriptsion, but its my best try. if you want more details, simply e-mail me. i might post more about this.

Step 3: Making a Boom Mic

Picture of Making a Boom Mic

sincei am not that great with descriptions, i will instead show my artistic abilities and show you my description of how to make a boom mic and attach it to the rib cage.

why do this you ask?
-well boom mic operators need really strong arms.
fact: not everybody has strong arms with lots of endurance
-also, it is near effortless. enjoy!

Step 4: Putting It All Together.

Picture of Putting It All Together.

well if you did it correctly, than it should probably look something like the pictures below.

-It laying in the grass
-when its actually assembled


JasonB (author)2008-01-01

Here's another newer version of a Home Built Steadycam design.

View sample footage at:

cecilomar (author)JasonB2008-12-06

Yeah, it's awesome. I will build it next month but I will add some static and design changes.

jimtran93 (author)cecilomar2010-08-21

the site has been down for a while. do you think yo can post an intructable on how to make one? i know a lot of people would love to know how to make one!

texabyte (author)2010-03-27

This is not a steadicam. Please change the title

noobhax (author)texabyte2010-06-27

You're a steadicam

texabyte (author)noobhax2010-06-27!/photo.php?pid=31338874&id=1258756889

noobhax (author)texabyte2010-06-28


plinkoking (author)2010-04-20

Hey everyone, I have been using the smoothmount for a while now and I love it. It only cost $130 and in my opinion works as well as a merlin. check it out at

guy90 (author)2010-03-25

 Thank you for the upload :) 

ejf (author)2010-01-27

wood is only 1/4 inch thick?? how is it holding the weight?

gumshu (author)2009-02-01

Anyone familiar with a type of steadycam which focuses on the person wearing the camera? Such as in the movie "Any Given Sunday," when they are filming the ball carrier. The camera focusing on the ball carrier leads me to believe the ball carrier is wearing a type of steadycam. Any leads?

Airwolf1 (author)gumshu2009-08-14

That has to be the snorricam, think thats the name, can find info here:
not a great design, but seems to work. Good luck and have fun.

moesboy (author)2008-11-06

this is awesome I'm going to build it

Russko (author)2008-10-28

Heyy guys... I went to get the parts and it ended up being heaps for the PVC piping, do you know how i could get them cheaper?

PsyOp (author)2008-10-28

But do you think they would eventually loosen up and get longer?

PsyOp (author)2008-10-28

I recently got some bungee chord that may be substituted for the usage of springs on a rig

veggiefreak911 (author)2007-11-01

could you use a desk lamp arm or hinge as the spring, i looks a lot like this:
and then you could use an old back pack with a hip strap so it would be more snug

if i do it, i'll post it

penfacerat (author)2007-08-10

i can not read this pic please tell me what it says!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

compatta (author)penfacerat2007-08-10

what it basically says is: (assumed you built the cage) you need a 3/4 pvc pipe 30 degree electrical pipe 90 degree electrical pipe (did i mention it was grey? can obtain this in your electrical conduit section) 1 coupler (it couples things) attach the coupler to the 90 degree pipe and than to the 3/4 pvc pipe and than to the 30 degree pipe. Kinda like in the picture. Did that somewhat answer your question?

penfacerat (author)compatta2007-08-13

yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

wingman358 (author)2007-04-01

Nice desgin, but you should add a video to show it in action and give a sample of some video while using this setup

piper1234 (author)2006-12-05

haa hey dog it may look not as sophisticated as a manfrotto thing but ... u have some poseted like that :P hehe, besides from here there's always a way to figure how to improve it

aplusjimages (author)2006-10-17

try the spiderbrace design instead.

I have one and it works great. I think this design could benefit from being a little simplier.

Frodo_13 (author)2006-06-04

I can see some of the benefits of the device it should be noted that the shoulder mount is not preferred for steady cam work do to the movement caused by breathing. (something most union camera operators insist on). A more stable platform would be the waist/ hips. Also the photographs are so poor it dosen't give me confidence that the device is part of a "real" photographers aresnal. MAybe a better descirption would be an over the shoulder camera rest.

Kegtapper (author)2006-05-19

Try this... Get an old Quantum Harddrive (BigFoot) with a 12v battery pack (so you don't use the camera power. Make a screwmount centered on the drive spindle (to attach camera mount) that will give you a real steadycam gyroscopic feel.

compatta (author)2006-04-24

oh yeah...........its for lazy people who don't have the strength to hold it that long (you do notice those guys have really strong arms)

Brentwood (author)2006-04-11

Cool design, but as others have pointed out there is no steadicam aspect to it so the title of the tip is misleading.

pgiambat (author)2006-04-05

I don't see the "Steadicam" aspect. What I see is some VERY smooth panning. The camera operator has the stabilizer and camera fixed to his body, therefore it will transfer at least vertical motion but should cut out some lateral motion due to the caster bearings. NOW, if you could extend the the distance between caster bases 2 & 3 and keep the connections between casters 1 & 2 and between 3 & 4 as well as attaching some push retention springs balanced for the weight of the individual camera and stabilizer unit... you would have an actual "Steadicam"!!!!!! It does look great though, nice job. Personally I use a stabilizer "Pogo" stick made from 1/2" steel pipe 2' long with a 2.5 lb weight at the bottom. Less than $10 and just screw it all together and I had a great improvement in tilt-motion translation, vertical and lateral are still there but not as pronounced. Steadiness starts from the inside......

pgiambat (author)pgiambat2006-04-05

Correction.... ....and keep the connections between casters 1 & 2 and between 3 & 4 LOOSE WITH SOME BRASS WASHERS AND CORRECT BOLT TENSION as well as attaching....

pgiambat (author)pgiambat2006-04-05

Correction.... ....and keep the connections between casters 1 & 2 and between 3 & 4 LOOSE WITH SOME BRASS WASHERS AND CORRECT BOLT TENSION as well as attaching....

pgiambat (author)pgiambat2006-04-05

Correction.... ....and keep the connections between casters 1 & 2 and between 3 & 4 LOOSE WITH SOME BRASS WASHERS AND CORRECT BOLT TENSION as well as attaching....

arnchalooo (author)2006-03-29

Whoa that thing is huge! Cool though. Is there some footage we can see of it in use and of footage shot using it. Nice work.

Gunnar (author)2006-03-17

Creative but is it really practical? It does look like a portable bike rack can be attached behind car,maybe i can use my bike for video? A video stabilizer made from old steering wheel looks and works better my opinion.

Random_Tangent (author)2006-03-17

I'm not sure exactly what the benefit of a static rig-mounted microphone would be. Soundwise, you'd be a lot better off with the whole "big guy holding a mic tied to a stick" set-up, don't you think?

AF-Geek (author)2006-03-16

I like this design very much. I was thinking that you should be able to custom bend the shoulder pieces using a heat gun and a little patience. Do the ball bearings from the wheels cause any physically transmitted noise/sound if you're using the camera's built-in microphone? That's about the only worry I'd have.

compatta (author)AF-Geek2006-03-16

No sound as i know of. also the ball bearing are very well lubricated so they don't make much sound.

mp3dog (author)2006-03-16

one word: UGLY!

cokebottle tuque (author)2006-03-16

duck tape that foam like a boffer sword so that it will be able to stand up to some use without riping.

Lunchbox (author)2006-03-16

Good work... is that hepner hall???? GO AZTECS!!!!

About This Instructable




Bio: i am just like any other guy. i like to build stuff and make stuff (yes, that does include cooking and not neccesarily mechanical car ... More »
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