Instructables

Photo studio compression pole MK1

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A cheap and easy way to support backdrops, lightweight lighting gear, and generally add an extra hand anywhere you need it in your DIY home photo studio.

Update Note: I found a few better parts at the Depot last night that eliminate metal on metal contact and increase the extension range. The price goes to $9.43 mostly because the longer threaded rod is more expensive. Changes to the process are noted in bold

Strobist is having a week of Home Depot based postings. The photo studio compression pole is my contribution.

This device uses light spring pressure to hold a pole between your ceiling and the floor. This pole can hold up a backdrop or be used to mount other lightweight devices like flashes and reflectors.

To move the pole you simply push down and the tip comes away from the ceiling allowing you to reposition the pole.

This version is only adjustable within about a 2 inch range. If you need a different length you'll need another $1.79 length of metal electrical conduit (EMT).

The parts to build one cost me $11.24 but that leaves lots of parts for more. The unit cost is $6.86 each.

Here is a video of the compression pole in use.

 
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Step 1: The parts

Parts List
Galvanized electrical conduit 1/2 inch X 10ft (EMT)
Compression springs package 16084
1/2 X 12" threaded rod
1/2" EMT Bushings
1/2" wing nut
1/2" SAE washers
3/4" rubber leg tips
A few feet of Permacel or duct tape
A few feet of parachute cord

The updated version uses a 1/2 X 24" rod, a pair of "1/2 Adapter SxMPT" (item 436-005) and does not use the EMT bushings

There are a number of different spring packages at the Depot. I used the one marked 16084 in the lower left corner of the package.
brupi896 years ago
Wonderful!!! This is a very useful gadget! But...if you "swap" top-down, the cord isn't necessary, because you press down directly the pole...isn't better? P.S. Excuse me for my bad English...I'm italian :-). And again compliments for your idea!
gnach brupi895 years ago
Usefulguy- great instructable! I had a hard time differentiating between 1st assebly and the update, the older photos threw me off. Very good work. Thanks. ~brupi89 - The cord keeps the assembly together.
enonorez5 years ago
I made 2 of these this past weekend. Worked out great. I was a little concerned that the conduit tubing might eventually wear through the rubber tips. To prevent that I just placed a penny in the rubber tips before inserting the conduit. I also agree with steventrotter above and subtracted 8" to get the pole to fix easily in a room with an 8' ceiling.
One could always search out old compression lights from the 1950's at thrift stores, etc. They worked on the same principle and actually had about 3 swivel lights attached. I don't think the lights would be good for photography or videos, so if they didn't work, it would not matter. You could still use the pole.
fredso6 years ago
Wow. Thanks for figuring this out. They sell a kit at paint stores which does this for plastic barriers...the poles are ridiculously expensive. I love this site. Your great construct has applications beyond photography. Well done!
Built 4 of these this past weekend. Worked perfectly. You can see photo of them in use here: http://flickr.com/photos/steventrotter/2324910109/

A couple of tips when going shopping at HD:

• I had never used gaffer's tape and don't bother asking the people at Home Depot, they just gave me the "I have no clue what you are talking about" face. I never did find any here where I live, so I used duct tape.
• On the "1/2 Adapter SxMPT" (item 436-005), look in the plumbing department (aisle 8 here in our store) or ask them to search for PART NUMBER (not item number) 436-005 in the plumbing department. All 1/2" plumbing adapters have red labels on the box. This might be helpful as well.
• On Step 5: Cut to Length, the instructions say to measure floor to ceiling and add 1.5 to 2 inches to this total. I had to measure floor to ceiling (8 foot in my case) and then *subtract* 7". Which left me with 7'5" pieces of conduit. And this is a VERY tight fit in an 8 foot room.
• Also, don't ask for parachute cord at Home Depot, again, you will get the long face from them. Just ask for poly rope. Here it was on aisle 14.

Excellent instructable!!! The videos and detailed instructions made this a VERY quick build. It took longer to find all the parts in HD than it did to put it all together. I'll be making a few more of these for sure.
udijw6 years ago
Great instructable, usefulguy.
It is featured in DIYPhotography.net.
keep on the great work.
- udi
leebryuk6 years ago
That was well done. I'll have to give it a go.
John Smith6 years ago
I get it! Great idea!
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