Introduction: Tripod Weight Collar

Picture of Tripod Weight Collar

When you are using a tripod for telescopes or cameras, you want a strong, sturdy tripod. In the case of many telescopes, to provided tripod is usually less than idea for many reasons. A simple fix for stability issues is to suspend weight from the tripod to lower the center of gravity. A free swinging weight will also absorb some of the vibrations and help steady the tripod.

If your tripod has the shakes, this is an easy way to help stabilize it.

Step 1: Gather Materials and Tools

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Materials

1”PVC pipe Thin wall
8 pound weight
Para cord (about 9’)
Carabiner clips (3)
Wire key rings (3)
Primer and Paint (optional)

Tools

Miter saw
Table saw
Drill
Rotary tool
Sandpaper
Tape measure
Pencil
Heat gun
18” long 2x4
Metal can of approximate circumference of tripod head
Leather work gloves

Step 2: Make the Blank for the Collar

Picture of Make the Blank for the Collar

To create a blank for the collar cut a 15 3/4” length of PVC pipe with the Miter Saw. Sand both ends smooth.

Several times in this project you will be heating PVC with a heat gun. Do so at your own risk! PVC can release gases so this should always be done outdoors with adequate breathing protection.

Use heat gun to slowly heat the PVC pipe until pliable. When softened, press flat with the 2 x 4 and keep pressed until cool.

Put a fine tooth blade on your table saw and set the fence to 1 ½” and rip the flattened pipe to a 1 ½” width.

Step 3: Mark and Cut the Blank

Picture of Mark and Cut the Blank

The tripod I have have flat areas where the legs meet the head. I will use these surfaces for the collar to rest on.

Now you will cut the notches that will allow the finished collar to rest on the tops of the legs.
Mark a line down the length of the PVC ½” from the cut edge. Now mark for each end ¾”. From this point, mark another line 4 ¼” from each end. Measure from the 4 ¼” line another 1 ½” and strike lines here. In the picture I marked the areas to be removed with a series of X’s.

Use your rotary tool with a cutting wheel installed to cut along the lines making notches on each end ½” x ¾”. Then cut the 2 middle notches to be ½” x 3 ½”.

Sand the notches to make the edges smooth.

Step 4: Drill Holes in the Blank

Picture of Drill Holes in the Blank

You will need to drill three holes evenly spaced along the PVC. Each hole should be centered between the notches. The notches should be 3 ½” apart, so the holes will be centered 1 ¾” from each notch.

Mark the centers between the notches and then mark 3/8" from the bottom (cut) edge of the blank. Drill a ¼” hole here. Repeat for the second hole.

For the third hole, drill a 3/8” hole instead of a 1/4” hole. This larger hole will be used to slip the collar over the screw to secure the head from turning.

Step 5: Form the Collar

Picture of Form the Collar

Now you will need to bend the PVC into a ring that will rest on the flat surfaces of the tripod. To make a perfect ring, you should use a form. This will keep the warm PVC from folding while you are creating the collar. I found a metal can that was 15” in circumference and used that.

Several times in this project you will be heating PVC with a heat gun. Do so at your own risk! PVC can release gases so this should always be done outdoors with adequate breathing protection.

Slowly heat the PVC evenly until it is pliable. The PVC will expand and try to return to its round shape. Don’t worry about this too much as it will flatten when you wrap it on the can.

Now that the PVC is pliable, and using your gloves, begin to wrap it evenly around the can to make the ring. Press it evenly to keep a smooth bend and avoid bumps in the inside wall. Hold the ends together, but not overlapping and maintain pressure until cool.

Step 6: Fit and Finish

Picture of Fit and Finish

Test fit now to ensure the ring slips over and rests evenly on the legs. Make adjustments as needed by trimming and sanding.

After the test fitting is complete, prime and paint black to match the tripod head. This is optional of course, but painting the color of the head will make it blend and look more appealing at your star gazing events.

When finish has dried, put a king ring into each of the three holes in the collar.

Mount the collar on the tripod

Step 7: Prepare the Weight

Picture of Prepare the Weight

Now it’s time to move on to the weight you will hang from the key rings. As you can tell in the image, you may get some assistance if you have a cat in the area.

I used an 8 pound weight from an old weight set in the basement. To hang from the weight I started by cutting three 35” lengths of paracord. The I took one length of cord and tied a loop in one end by tying a figure 8 loop. Then I fed the other end of the cord through the hole in the weight and then trough the loop. I then tied a loop in the free end of the cord to a carabiner with a clove hitch. Repeat this with two matching lengths of cord.

To install on the tripod, slip the PVC ring onto the tripod, place the weight on the ground centered under the tripod and attach the carabiners one at a time to the key rings.

Step 8: Conclusion

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This is an inexpensive and effective method of stabilizing the tripod for improved performance of a telescope of camera. I had most of the materials from other projects, but I did splurge and buy new carabiners for a cost of $2 at the dollar store.

You can use a different sized weight, but this one fits snugly in the side pocket of an old camera bag I use for my accessories.

These instructions are easily adaptable to suit many styles and designs of tripods. Let me know what modifications you may have made to suit your application.

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