Instructables
Picture of steadycam
I've been looking at steadycams for awhile now but haven't been very keen on the price of the brand name ones. There are a few that go for a fraction of the brand name rigs but they look simple enough to make, so here we are...
 
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Step 1: Materials List

MATERIALS:

-1 - 36" L, 1" W, 1/8" T aluminum flat stock
-gimbal handle ( I used a 1" aluminum outboard motor shaft but later found a much lighter jump rope handle with bearings already attached )
-2" L piece of 1" x 1" square aluminum tube
-1/4" drive universal/swivel socket adapter
-bearing to fit inside the gimbal handle or just find the afore mentioned jump rope handle.
-1/4" drive socket that fits tightly in gimbal bearing
-1 - 1/4"-20 x 5/16" T-nut
-1 - 1/4"-20 x 1/2" ss* carriage bolt
-3 - 1/4"-20 x 1" ss* bolts ( I used button heads but use what you have / prefer )
-3 - 1/4"-20 ss* or plastic wing nuts
-1 - 1/4"-20 ss* bolt for mounting screw ( I used a phillips pan head but suggest a thumb screw )
-2 - #10-24 x 2" ss* bolts with 2 lock washers, 2 flat nuts & 2 wing nuts each
-assortment of #10 & 1/4" ss* fender washers ( weights )
-throw away level with at least 1 good bubble vial that's between 7/8" & 1" long

     * - ss = stainless steel

TOOLS:

-measuring / marking tools
-drill driver ( I recommend using a drill press for the level vial mounting holes )
-hacksaw
-files
-drill bits: 5/32, 3/16, 1/4, 5/16, 3/8 & 1/2"
-super glue
-6" diameter wheel

     

andrew_h2 years ago
Great work! I made one of these not long ago but i found that the socket type uni-joint was just too stiff for my setup (a very light camera and a light steady). Being that i also have a heap of RC car parts lying around, i ended up using the uni joint from a spare RC driveshaft. The difference was huge. The uni joint is really the key part to a steadicam like this. If there is too much friction the rig will just not work right. I have seen other people also use the Traxxas drive shaft uni joint too.
mzungu andrew_h2 months ago

The problem with using the socket type uni-joint is that the rotational axis of the 2 axis do not intersect(there is a 1/8`1/4 inch distance), so there is some coupling, and unwanted motion, I have this problem to with my version of this DIY.

The Traxxas worked, because those 2 axis do intersect, and the coupling is eliminated.

spiderham (author)  andrew_h2 years ago
Too stiff as in friction in the joint? If so, I don't have that issue. The "uni-joint" I'm using is very loose with almost no play. I chose this specific one, from 4 in my tool box, for that reason.

One thing I did with all four universal / swivel joints was thoroughly clean them with 2+2 gum cutter ( a strong cleaner ) and then soaked them in kroil.
Thanks for the great instructable!!! just finished and powder coated it Bass Boat Red! Time for the testing phase.
Pic0017.jpgPic0015.jpg
spiderham (author)  imakenosense2 years ago
That looks awesome, I hope it fits your needs. Thanks for posting pics
texabyte2 years ago
This is a well made instructable! I hope you win the shopbot!
Only piece of advice, Steadicam is a trademark of Tiffen. It's unofficially agreed that DIY stabilizers are steadycams.
No capital S, no i.
spiderham (author)  texabyte2 years ago
Thanks for the info. I will edit immediately.
Nice design.
As it is made from aluminium you could finish it by anodizing:

http://astro.neutral.org/anodise.shtml
http://coloured.net/designresources/anodize.html

bfk2 years ago
Beautifully done. I sold my Steadycm JR when HD camera sizes and weights went down, but my videos aren't as pretty as when I had the ability to fly shots. This is perfect for those lightweights.

Yours also allows operator guiding using the lower gimbal, a negative of the Steadycam (capital "S"). With theirs, any finger movement has to be perfectly done, otherwise the camera goes with where your fingers does. With yours, the gimbal is above any mechanical motion you put to the camera mount and unwanted movement will be eliminated... (potential Patent material).

You've done a magnificent job of detailing your method and step-by-step instructions (and thank you for that jump rope trick). I'm voting for you to win that bot...

And then I'm out to rummage through my aluminum bar stock!
Light_Lab bfk2 years ago
I think Spiderham has done a great job too but I am not very clear on what you mean about the position of the gimbal. I have been looking back and forwards between pictures of a Steadycam HR and Spiderham's excellent design and I cannot see the difference in the geometry that you refer too. Can you clarify?
Thanks
bfk Light_Lab2 years ago
Glad to:

Fun Fact... Most people don't know Tiffen's "JR" isn't pronounced "Junior", it's pronounced "JR".

Back to business... Look at the Tiffen Steadycam picture. See where the gimbaled shaft goes from the handle into a lump of plastic attached to the bottom of the camera mount?

That lump is the gimbal and where the operator's thumb and fore finger can pan the rig left and right, up and down. Because the fingers touch the gimbal and bottom of the camera mount directly, any un-wanted, un-planned movement on the operator's part is transfered directly to the camera, and subsequently, the image.

Spiderham's beautiful rig (Spidey, if your Am. Radio... 73) doesn't appear to work that way. His shaft connection between the handle and camera mount appears to have enough material below the gimbal for a finger and thumb to grasp (no lump), effectively separating the operator from direct contact with the camera mount (which in Spiderham's rig, is even further separated by the leafspring style level mount). His horizontal and vertical axis are separated with the horizontal bearing mounted in the handle. Left and right panning is all done below the vertical, more balance-critical bearing. Panning up and down with Spidey's rig still requires the operator to grasp the upper shaft, above the gimbal, but vertical panning is rare with this type of rig, as the balance and vertical camera angle are set beforehand. When the operator attempts to change this angle, the rig becomes unbalanced and the image suffers.

I don't know if Spiderham's mounting is unique. That would be his task to research... But if it is, he has one year from the time he first showed it to the public, to apply for a utility or provisional patent, if he so desires.

I hope I've answered your question. If not, let me know and I'll take another kick at the cat.
Screen shot 2012-02-20 at 5.57.48 AM.jpgScreen shot 2012-02-20 at 6.22.23 AM.jpg
Light_Lab bfk2 years ago
Got it. Thanks for the added detail. I have been looking at lots of steady mount designs with a view to making one. It is cool to get feedback from someone who has used the commercial product in the field.
spiderham (author)  bfk2 years ago
Thanks! I was really hoping to get feedback from someone with experience with stabilizers, although, I wasn't expecting it to be so positive.
djimdy2 years ago
really nice design and build! that speed rope handle is an EXCELLENT idea!!
Those look to be the same bearings in rollerblade wheels. They fit perfectly inside of 3/4" CPVC pipe, but the jump-rope handle makes this build easier and cleaner by far. Steadicam does make a cheaper version called the Smoothee for only $150. With the pro gimbal, quick-release plate, and micro-adjusters, it's hard to beat, but there is some modding to be had to extend the capacity to heavier SLR cameras.
GiovanniNRG2 years ago
Excellent thought process on this screw. So simple. You don't need a lathe, it's one dimensional dopes like me that need a lathe. Great thinking method and great instructable all around. Well done, thanks for putting it up.
notingkool2 years ago
great instructable, i was making one for me, but i have problems with the gimbal. Im using a small steel ball, but is not really eficient. Maybe y use an adapter like you.
good luck.